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MLB DFS Breakdown (Wednesday, 8/14): Vintage Clayton Kershaw Is Back

Clayton Kershaw

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

Wednesday features a split slate and differs by site. DraftKings features a nine-game early slate starting at 12:37 p.m. ET and a six-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET. FanDuel features a five-game very-early slate at 12:37 p.m. ET, a four-game early slate at 3:10 p.m. ET, and a six-game main slate at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Pitchers

Studs

Five pitchers on today’s slates are priced above $10,000 on FanDuel:

  • Clayton Kershaw (L) $12,000, LAD @ MIA
  • Shane Bieber (R) $11,200, CLE vs. BOS
  • Trevor Bauer (R) $11,000, CIN @ WSH
  • Stephen Strasburg (R) $10,500, WSH vs. CIN
  • Aaron Nola (R) $10,100, PHI vs. CHC

Kershaw was originally slated to start on Tuesday, but the team decided to push his start back a day. He’s been phenomenal in the second half of the season, pitching to a 1.74 ERA and 2.64 FIP. He’s also been striking out batters like the Kershaw of old, racking up an average of 11.61 strikeouts per nine innings.

The big reason for his increased dominance has been the reemergence of his slider. He’s been generating swings and misses at a 40.9% clip since the All-Star break, which is comparable to his swing-and-miss rate during his prime. He had a whiff rate of just 28.9% on his slider prior to the All-Star break, so he should continue to pile up strikeouts as long as his slider continues to baffle opposing batters.

Kershaw is in an elite spot today vs. the Miami Marlins. Their projected lineup has struggled to a .283 wOBA and 30.7% strikeout rate against southpaws over the past 12 months, and their implied team total of 3.0 runs is the lowest mark on the slate. Kershaw is also a massive -268 favorite, and pitchers with comparable Vegas data have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +6.05 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool). He’s an elite option in all formats.

Bieber has had a breakout year for the Indians in his second Major League season, posting a 3.28 ERA and 3.22 FIP. He’s also been one of the best strikeout pitchers in the league: His K/9 of 11.11 ranks 10th among qualified starters.

Unfortunately, he’s in a brutal spot today vs. the Boston Red Sox. Their projected lineup has posted a .328 wOBA against right-handers over the past 12 months, and they rank fourth in wRC+ against right-handers this season.

His Statcast data from his past two starts is also concerning. He’s allowed opposing batters to past an average distance of 218 feet, exit velocity of 95 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 48%, all of which represent increases when compared to his 12-month averages. He’s tough to trust today.

Bauer struggled in his first outing as a member of the Reds, but he was excellent in his second. He racked up 11 strikeouts over seven innings and limited the Cubs to just one run.

Overall, his Statcast data from his past two starts has been more good than bad. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 197 feet, exit velocity of 90 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 24%, all of which are better than his 12-month averages.

That said, he’s a solid underdog today vs. Strasburg and the Nationals. He also owns an opponent implied team total of 5.0 runs, and the Nats have posted the fourth-lowest strikeout rate against right-handers since the All-Star break.

Strasburg seems like the preferred target in this matchup. He owns the better opponent implied team total at 4.1 runs, and the Reds have also been much more strikeout prone than the Nationals. Their projected lineup has posted a 28.7% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months, and Strasburg has posted a strong 10.69 K/9 this season. He has nice upside today.

Last but not least is Nola, who is one of the more interesting pitching options on the slate. He’s been excellent over his past 10 starts, posting an average Plus/Minus of +7.28 on FanDuel, but he recorded just 15.0 FanDuel points in his last outing.

His Vegas data doesn’t jump off the page today vs. the Cubs – 4.4 opponent implied team total, -114 moneyline odds – but his K Prediction of 8.1 ranks second on the slate. He also owns the best 15-day/12-month distance differential among the stud pitchers at -21 feet. Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in both categories have posted a Plus/Minus of +1.68 on DraftKings. He’s an interesting pivot off Kershaw in guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).

Values

It seems like a good day to pay up at pitcher, but there are still some value options worth considering.

Wade Miley stands out as one of the best options given his matchup vs. the Chicago White Sox. He owns a 3.9 opponent implied team total and -279 moneyline odds, both of which rank in the top two on today’s slate. The White Sox projected lineup has also posted a 27.7% strikeout rate against left-handers over the past 12 months, so Miley has more strikeout upside than usual. He’s a better value today on FanDuel at $9,000.

Homer Bailey is usually someone you’d rather stack against than roster, but he has some appeal today vs. the San Francisco Giants. Their projected lineup has been absolutely dreadful against right-handers over the past 12 months, struggling to a .255 wOBA. They’re currently implied for 4.2 runs, which is the third-lowest mark on the early slate.

His Statcast data from his past two starts is also fantastic. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 179 feet, which represents a decrease of -28 feet when compared to his 12-month average.

Fastballs

Steven Matz: He has a brutal matchup vs. the Atlanta Braves, resulting in an opponent implied team total of 5.4 runs, but his Statcast data from his past two starts is excellent. He should command minimal ownership on DraftKings despite his Bargain Rating of 95%.

Robbie Ray: He’s pitching in Coors Field – which is always a tough task – but at least he gets to do it against the Rockies. Their projected lineup has posted a .276 wOBA and 28.2% strikeout rate against left-handers over the past 12 months, and Ray is a -139 favorite despite being on the road.

Chris Archer: He’s pitched well over his past two starts, allowing just three earned runs while racking up 15 strikeouts over 12 innings. His Statcast data over that time frame is also excellent, and his $8,200 salary on DraftKings comes with a Bargain Rating of 77%.

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 Houston Astros:

  • 1. George Springer (R)
  • 3. Michael Brantley (L)
  • 4. Alex Bregman (R)
  • 5. Yordan Alvarez (L)
  • 7. Yuli Gurriel (R)

Total Salary: $26,000

The Astros are going to set you back quite a bit on the early slate, but their upside is undeniable. They’re currently implied for 6.7 runs against White Sox left-hander Ross Detwiler, who has pitched to a 5.35 ERA and 7.14 FIP this season. He’s also allowed a whopping 32.4% of fly balls to turn into HRs, resulting in a HR/9 of 2.94. The Astros rank second in ISO against left-handers this season, so they can do some serious damage in this matchup.

This stack also possesses decent value despite the high price tag. Springer and Brantley in particular stand out as values on DraftKings given their Bargain Ratings of 87%.

Alvarez may be slightly overlooked in this lefty-lefty matchup, but don’t make that mistake. He’s crushed left-handers in his young career, posting a 216 wRC+, and he’s absolutely smoked the ball over the past 15 days. He’s posted an average distance of 260 feet and exit velocity of 95 miles per hour, both of which lead the Astros over that time frame.

On the main slate, the top four-man FanDuel stack belongs to the Seattle Mariners:

  • 1. Mallex Smith (L)
  • 3. Domingo Santana (R)
  • 4. Dan Vogelbach (L)
  • 5. Omar Narvaez (L)

Total Salary: $13,100

The Mariners figure to be one of the highest-owned stacks on FanDuel. They lead the main slate with an implied team total of 5.5 runs, and they also represent one of the best value. They own a Team Value Rating of 88 on FanDuel, which is the top mark on the slate by a comfortable margin.

They’re taking on Tigers right-hander Edwin Jackson, who has been nothing short of a disaster this season. He did find some success in his last start, allowing just one earned run over 6.1 innings, but his ERA still sits at 9.35 for the year. He’s also allowed opposing batters to average a ridiculous 3.38 HRs per nine innings.

Narvaez has been excellent against right-handers this season, posting a 128 wRC+, and his $2,600 salary on FanDuel results in a Bargain Rating of 92%. Rostering a catcher is not required on FanDuel, but Narvaez is someone who deserves your attention even if you’re not stacking the Mariners.

Other Batters

Tim Locastro is expected to bat leadoff for the Diamondbacks at Coors, which makes him a steal at just $3,000 on FanDuel. It results in a Bargain Rating of 96%, and leadoff batters with comparable salaries have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.76 on FanDuel. The Diamondbacks also lead the afternoon slate with an implied team total of 6.8 runs, which makes Locastro almost impossible to pass up for cash games.

Bryce Harper remains underpriced at just $4,600 on DraftKings. He’s been productive over his past 10 games, posting an average Plus/Minus of +2.07 on DraftKings, and his recent Statcast data suggests he’s making elite contact. There’s really no reason he should be priced this cheaply, even in a lefty-lefty matchup vs. Cole Hamels.

If I were the Orioles, I’d probably just forfeit instead of having to get stomped by the Yankees for what feels like the 100th time this season. As long as that doesn’t happen, Giovanny Urshela should continue to warrant fantasy consideration. He tallied three hits on Tuesday and has hit seven HRs over his past eight games, and his Statcast data from the past 15 days is outstanding. He owns a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +44 feet, which is one of the best marks on the slate.

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: Dodgers SP Clayton Kershaw (22)
Photo credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports