The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Tuesday features a 15-game slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Three pitchers on today’s slate own a salary of at least $10,800 on DraftKings:
- Max Scherzer (R) $12,400, WSH @ MIA
- Gerrit Cole (R) $11,500, HOU vs. PIT
- Shane Bieber (R) $10,800, CLE vs. KC
Scherzer is putting together another dominant season in 2019. He’s pitched to a 2.62 ERA through his first 16 starts, and his 2.21 FIP is the best mark of his storied career. He’s also striking out 12.36 batters per nine innings, and his 4.2 wins above replacement (WAR) ranks first among pitchers by a significant margin. Scherzer has also dominated from a fantasy perspective, posting an average Plus/Minus of +5.08 on DraftKings.
He’s in a dream spot today vs. the Miami Marlins. Their projected lineup has struggled against right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .299 wOBA and 25.1% strikeout rate. As a result, Scherzer owns elite marks in opponent implied team total (2.8 runs) and K Prediction (9.5). He’s also a strong -234 favorite, and pitchers with comparable marks in all three categories have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.44 on DraftKings (per the Trends tool).
Scherzer has personally fit this trend 17 previous times, and he’s averaged a Plus/Minus of +7.01 and a Consistency Rating of 76.5% in those outings. He’s expensive across the industry, but he’s worth it.
Cole has had an interesting season in his second year with the Houston Astros. He’s striking out a career-best 13.78 batters per nine innings, which is the top mark in the league by a considerable margin. That has unsurprisingly led to a lot of fantasy success, as he’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +5.28 on DraftKings through his first 16 starts.
That said, he’s had his warts. He’s posted a HR/FB rate of 20.3%, which is the fifth-highest mark in the league. The result is an average of 1.49 HRs per nine innings, and it’s hard to keep your ERA down when you’re allowing that many balls to fly over the fence.
He’s in a tough spot today vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cole’s Vegas data is pretty strong – 3.2 opponent implied team total, -266 moneyline odds – but what really hurts him is his diminished strikeout upside. The Pirates own the third-lowest strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers this season, and their projected lineup has whiffed on just 18.7% of at-bats vs. right-handers over the past 12 months. If Cole isn’t striking out double-digit batters, it’s hard to see a scenario where he keeps pace with Scherzer on today’s slate.
Bieber is the least appealing option of the stud trio. He’s been solid this season, pitching to a 3.86 ERA and 11.47 K/9, but he’s simply not in the same weight class as Scherzer and Cole.
Unsurprisingly, he trails both starters in opponent implied team total (3.7 runs) and K Prediction (6.7).
If you’re going to use him, it’s best to do so on FanDuel. There’s a larger price discrepancy between Bieber and the other stud pitchers’ salaries, and his $10,800 price tag comes with a Bargain Rating of 87%.
Jack Flaherty has the potential to be a dominant fantasy asset on today’s slate. He’s taking on the Oakland Athletics, and their projected lineup has struck out in a whopping 31.8% of at-bats vs. right-handers over the past 12 months. Flaherty is a capable strikeout pitcher – he’s posted a K/9 of 10.50 over the same time frame – so he can do some damage in this matchup. His K Prediction of 10.0 ranks first on the slate.
He’s very reasonably priced at just $7,900 on DraftKings, and pitchers with comparable salaries and K Predictions have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.85.
He has massive upside, making him an elite target for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).
David Price is another value option who should garner attention. He’s taking on the Chicago White Sox, and their projected lineup has struggled to a .300 wOBA and 30.5% strikeout rate against left-handers over the past 12 months. Price has rediscovered his strikeout ability this season, striking out 9.90 batters per nine innings, and his K Prediction of 9.8 ranks second on the slate.
He also gets the benefit of playing behind an elite Red Sox offense. They’re currently implied for 6.6 runs on today’s slate, making Price a significant -258 favorite.
The biggest concern is the weather, which currently calls for a 57% chance of precipitation at game time. That will make him a risky cash-game option if the outlook doesn’t improve, but it should also lower his ownership for GPPs.
Andrew Heaney: He’s one of the best values of the day on FanDuel, where his $7,300 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 94%. He also has a great matchup vs. the Cincinnati Reds, who rank just 28th in wRC+ when facing a left-hander away from home.
Madison Bumgarner: He’s taking on a Rockies lineup that struggles against left-handers on the road and will be without one of their best hitters in Trevor Story. They’re currently implied for just 3.4 runs, which is the third-lowest mark on the slate.
Blake Snell: He has a brutal matchup vs. the Minnesota Twins, who have been the best offensive team in baseball this season. That said, he does have a K Prediction of 9.7 and should garner virtually no ownership.
- 1. Francisco Lindor (S)
- 3. Carlos Santana (S)
- 4. Jason Kipnis (L)
- 5. Jose Ramirez (S)
- 6. Jake Bauers (L)
Total Salary: $22,500
The Indians are implied for 5.9 runs today vs. the Kansas City Royals, but they could still fly a bit under the radar. There are a whopping six teams implied for at least 6.0 runs, headlined by the Yankees at 7.7.
One thing working in the Indians’ favor is that they’re relatively affordable. Lindor and Santana will each set you back over $5,000, but Kipnis, Ramirez and Bauers are priced at $4,100 or less. That’s important on a day where Scherzer costs $12,400.
They’re taking on Royals right-hander Glenn Sparkman, who has been one of the luckiest pitchers in baseball over his 49.2 innings. He’s striking out a paltry 4.89 batters per nine innings, but batters have managed a BABIP of just .264. His 5.27 xFIP is significantly higher than his 3.62 ERA, which makes him a prime candidate for regression moving forward.
Each of the five stacked batters will also have the splits advantage on Sparkman, who has allowed left-handed batters to post a .351 wOBA this season. He’s also allowed six of his seven HRs to left-handed batters despite the fact that he’s faced 14 fewer lefties than righties.
Kipnis in particular stands out as someone who should be able to do some damage. He’s posted a .363 wOBA and .202 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months, and he’s exceeded his 12-month averages in distance, exit velocity and hard-hit rate over the past 15 days.
The Indians also own the top four-man FanDuel stack, so let’s focus on the Dodgers instead. Their top stack costs just $12,400, making them a strong choice if you’re looking to save salary:
- 1. Enrique Hernandez (R)
- 2. Max Muncy (L)
- 3. Justin Turner (R)
- 5. Chris Taylor (R)
Total Salary: $12,400
If the Indians might fly under the radar, the Dodgers are completely off the map. They’re currently implied for just 4.9 runs vs. Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray, but they will benefit from some elite hitting conditions in Arizona. That game currently owns a Weather Rating of 77, which is the top mark on the slate.
The Dodgers also get a big park upgrade moving from Chavez Ravine to Chase Field. Chase has historically been a hitter-friendly ballpark, particularly when the weather starts to heat up in the summer. Historically, only three stadiums have provided batters with a higher average Plus/Minus than Chase Field during the month of June.
Ray is capable of being dominant at times, but he’s had struggles with right-handed batters this season. They’ve posted a .321 wOBA and clubbed nine HRs against him, and Ray is also walking 5.37 righties per nine innings.
That bodes well for a guy like Taylor, who has developed into a specialist against left-handed pitchers. He’s posted a .351 wOBA and .239 ISO against southpaws over the past 12 months, and he’s posted a 142 wRC+ against left-handers this season. He’s also swung the bat well over the past 15 days, posting an average distance of 231 feet, exit velocity of 94 mph and hard-hit rate of 54%.
Walker Lockett will be making his second start of the season today vs. the Phillies, and he was far from impressive in his first outing. He allowed six earned runs on five hits over just 2.1 innings pitched, and the Phillies are currently implied for 5.8 runs. Bryce Harper is still priced down a bit after struggling for much of the early season, but he’s crushed the ball over the past 15 days. He’s someone to target in this matchup.
There’s a lot to pay up for on today’s slate, so finding some appealing value options will be important. Yuli Gurriel fits that description at just $3,500 on DraftKings. He’s expected to bat sixth for a team with an implied team total of 5.5 runs, and he’s posted a hard-hit rate of 55% over his past 11 games. He also has dual eligibility at 1B and 3B, which is an added benefit.
Hunter Renfroe is one of the best pure values of the day on FanDuel, where his $3,000 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 99%. He’s displayed immense power over the past 12 months, posting a .312 ISO against right-handed pitchers, and he’s facing a very mediocre right-hander today in Jimmy Yacabonis. His 10 Pro Trends is also the top mark for batters on FanDuel.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more in-depth MLB analysis.
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Pictured above: Nationals SP Max Scherzer (31)
Photo credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports