Our Blog


MLB DFS Breakdown (Thursday, 9/5): Orioles, Tigers Popping in Our Models

The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players. 

Thursday features a split slate. There’s a four-game early slate starting at 12:35 p.m. ET and a seven-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Pitchers

Studs

Two pitchers on today’s slates are priced above the rest on FanDuel:

  • Stephen Strasburg (R) $11,200, WSH @ ATL
  • Sonny Gray (R) $10,800, CIN vs. PHI

Strasburg is putting together one of his best seasons in 2019. He’s pitched to a 3.47 ERA and 3.14 FIP while striking out 10.81 batters per nine innings. He’s compiled 5.2 wins above replacement according to Fangraphs, which ranks third among NL pitchers.

Unfortunately, Strasburg owns a brutal matchup today vs. the Atlanta Braves. They’re currently implied for 4.5 runs, which is extremely high considering Strasburg’s salary. Historically, pitchers with comparable price tags and opponent implied team totals have averaged a Plus/Minus of -4.56 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool). That makes him really tough to trust for cash games.

That said, Strasburg still has some appeal for guaranteed prize pools. His subpar Vegas data should result in reduced ownership, and he provides a nice combination of strikeout upside and recent Statcast data. His K Prediction of 7.0 ranks third among today’s starters, and he’s limited his past two opponents to an average distance of just 173 feet. That represents a decrease of -27 feet when compared to his 12-month average, and pitchers with comparable K Predictions and distance differentials have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.02 on FanDuel.

Gray stands out on DraftKings, where his $10,000 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 86%. His matchup vs. the Phillies is also much less daunting than Strasburg’s. The Phillies’ projected lineup has posted a .284 wOBA and 26.8% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months.

Still, Gray’s data points don’t exactly jump off the page. He owns an opponent implied team total of 4.0 runs and 6.4 K Prediction.

His Statcast data from his past two starts is also concerning. Opposing batters have posted an average distance of 219 feet, exit velocity of 93 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 41%, all of which represent increases when compared to his 12-month averages.

Values

Overall, it seems like a good day to pay down at pitcher.

Austin Pruitt stands out as one of the best values on FanDuel, where his $6,300 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 76%. He’s pitched to a 4.78 ERA this season, but his 3.77 xFIP suggests he’s been pretty unlucky through his first 37.2 innings.

Perhaps he can find some positive regression today vs. the Toronto Blue Jays. They’re currently implied for just 3.8 runs, which is the third-lowest mark of the day. Pruitt is also a -184 favorite, and pitchers with comparable price tags and Vegas data have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.61 on FanDuel.

Pruitt also has more strikeout upside than usual in this matchup. The Blue Jays projected lineup has posted a strikeout rate of 27.5% against right-handers over the past 12 months, giving Pruitt a respectable K Prediction of 6.1.

Wade Miley has one of the most appealing matchups today vs. the Seattle Mariners. Their projected lineup has been dreadful against left-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .262 wOBA and 28.9% strikeout rate. Miley’s resulting opponent implied team total of 3.7 runs ranks second on the slate, while his -255 moneyline odds rank first.

That said, his upside is definitely capped for GPPs. He’s pitched six innings or fewer in each of his past seven starts, and he’s posted a K/9 of just 7.15 over the past 12 months. With that in mind, it’s going to be tough for Miley to provide a ton of value at his current salary across the industry.

John Means has been one of the lone bright spots for the Orioles pitching staff this season. He’s posted a 3.55 ERA, and he’s been particularly effective over his past two starts. He’s allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings while striking out 11 batters.

He has a wonderful matchup vs. the Texas Rangers, whose offense has gone ice cold over the second-half of the season. They’ve posted a wRC+ of just 62 against right-handed pitchers, which is the worst mark in the league by a considerable margin. Means is an excellent value at just $6,100 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 95%.

Fastballs

Dakota Hudson: He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in each of his past five starts on FanDuel and has an excellent matchup vs. the San Francisco Giants. Their projected lineup has posted a .268 wOBA over the past 12 months, and they’re currently implied for just 3.7 runs.

Matt Boyd: He struggled to a 5.90 ERA over the second half of the season, but he provides the most strikeout upside on today’s slate. He’s posted a K/9 of 11.90 over the past 12 months, and his K Prediction of 7.5 ranks first on the slate. His $9,700 salary on FanDuel also comes with a Bargain Rating of 83%.

Max Fried: He’s been effective this season, pitching to a 3.36 xFIP and 9.48 K/9. He has a tough matchup vs. Strasburg and the Nationals, but he’s one of the more talented pitchers on a weak slate.

Notable Stacks

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS lineups. On the early slate, the top five-man DraftKings stack per the Bales Model belongs to the Detroit Tigers:

  • 1. Victor Reyes (S)
  • 2. Will Castro (S)
  • 3. Miguel Cabrera (R)
  • 4. Ronny Rodriguez (R)
  • 5. Jeimer Candelario (S)

Total Salary: $18,800

The Tigers have been one of the worst offenses this season, so it’s weird to see them pop as a top stacking option. Still, they clearly have their merits today vs. the Kansas City Royals. Their implied team total of 4.9 ranks fourth on the early slate, while their Team Value Rating of 79 ranks first on DraftKings. Stacking their top five batters will cost just $18,800, which is extremely cheap considering their implied team total.

They’re taking on right-hander Glenn Sparkman, who has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball this season. He’s pitched to a 5.86 ERA and FIP, and he’s allowed opposing batters to average 1.90 HRs per nine innings this season. That’s the 10th-worst mark among pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings this season.

Cabrera is the most recognizable name in the Tigers lineup, and his $3,700 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 82% on DraftKings. He enters this contest in excellent recent form, posting an average distance of 220 feet, exit velocity of 97 miles per hour, and hard-hit rate of 57% over the past 15 days. All of those marks represent increases when compared to his 12-month averages.

On the main slate, the top four-man FanDuel stack belongs to the Tampa Bay Rays:

  • 2. Tommy Pham (R)
  • 3. Austin Meadows (L)
  • 4. Travis d’Arnaud (R)
  • 5. Ji-Man Choi (L)

Total Salary: $13,200

The Rays are another team that presents nice value today. Their implied team total of 5.3 runs ranks third on the main slate, but their Team Value Rating of 87 is tied for first on FanDuel.

They’re taking on Blue Jays right-hander Trent Thornton, who has pitched to a 5.34 ERA this season. He’s been even worse over the second half of the season, pitching to a 6.69 ERA and 6.19 FIP. The long ball has been his biggest problem over that time frame, with opposing batters averaging 2.31 HRs per nine innings.

Choi will be on the positive side of his splits in this matchup, and he’s posted a .362 wOBA and .198 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months. He’s also made excellent contact over his past 10 games, resulting in a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +26 feet and hard hit differential of +8 percentage points.

Other Batters

Mookie Betts went yard twice yesterday, which continued his stretch of hot recent play. He’s in another excellent situation today vs. Twins left-hander Martin Perez. Betts has historically dominated when facing a southpaw at home, averaging a Plus/Minus of +2.59 on DraftKings, and the Red Sox’ implied team total 6.0 runs ranks first on the main slate.

The Astros’ implied team total of 5.9 runs ranks second on the main slate, but Michael Brantley could be a bit overlooked. He’ll be on the wrong side of his splits in a lefty-lefty matchup vs. Miguel Gonzalez, but Brantley has still posted a 148 wRC+ when facing a southpaw at home this season. He’s an elite value on DraftKings, where his $3,900 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 98%.

Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more in-depth MLB analysis.

After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news blurbs.

Pictured above: Orioles SP John Means (67)
Photo credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports