The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Monday features a nine-game slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Four pitchers stand out above the rest today on FanDuel:
- Trevor Bauer (R) $11,200, CLE @ SEA
- Clayton Kershaw (L) $10,800, LAD vs. CIN
- Noah Syndergaard (R) $9,900, NYM @ PHI
- Aaron Nola (R) $9,300, PHI vs. NYM
Bauer was the best pitcher of this quartet last season, posting a 2.21 ERA and a career-best 11.34 K/9. He’s carried those impressive results into this season with a 2.29 ERA and 10.98 K/9 through his first three starts. His strikeout potential in particular makes him really appealing for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs), and his K Prediction of 7.7 ranks second on Monday night’s slate.
Unfortunately, he has a brutal matchup against the Mariners, who have been nothing short of an offensive juggernaut to start the season. They lead the league with an average of 7.00 runs per game and rank second in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. Bauer’s resulting Vegas data is pretty uninspiring for a pitcher of his caliber: 3.5 opponent implied team total, -108 moneyline odds. Historically, pitchers with comparable salaries and Vegas data have been mediocre investments, posting an average Plus/Minus of just +0.58 and a Consistency Rating of 55.0% on FanDuel (per our Trends tool).
Kershaw will be a no-doubt, first-ballot Hall of Famer when he ultimately retires, but he did start to show some signs of regression last season. His 3.19 FIP was his highest mark since his rookie year in 2008, and his K/9 decreased to just 8.65. That’s a pretty average mark considering that strikeouts continue to rise to unprecedented rates.
He has even less strikeout upside that usual given his matchup against the Reds, whose projected lineup has struck out in only 21.8% of at bats against left-handers over the past 12 months. Kershaw’s K Prediction of 5.7 is the seventh-lowest mark on the slate.
Kershaw also doesn’t provide his typically-elite Vegas data in this matchup. His opponent implied team total of 3.4 runs and moneyline odds of -152 are still quite good, but they’re not nearly as good as usual. He’s only had an opponent implied team total higher than 3.3 runs in 28 of his past 201 starts in our Trends database, and only one of those games have come with Kershaw pitching at home. Add in the fact that this is his first start of the season — and could therefore be on a slightly limited pitch count — and he’s far from a sure thing.
Syndergaard and Nola will be squaring off in a battle of marquee pitchers.
Nola has the slight edge in Vegas data — he owns an opponent implied team total of 3.7 runs and moneyline odds of -114 — but he lags behind Syndergaard in virtually every other metric. The Mets have been very good against right-handed pitchers over the past 12 months, and their projected lineup’s .363 wOBA is the top splits-adjusted mark on the slate. Nola has also been roughed up a bit over his past two starts, underperforming his 12-month marks in average distance, exit velocity and hard-hit rate.
On the other hand, Syndergaard’s Statcast data from his past two starts is elite, limiting batters to an average distance of 173 feet, exit velocity of 84 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 21%. He owns the advantage in this matchup despite the slight disadvantage in Vegas data.
None of the top pitching options really jumps off the page, which makes it a good day to potentially pay down at pitcher. Luckily, there are some strong options to choose from.
The lowest opponent implied team total of the day belongs to Padres left-hander Joey Lucchesi. He isn’t a household name yet, but he’s posted an impressive K/9 of 10.33 over the past 12 months. His advanced metrics also suggest that he’s been really unlucky to begin the season: His 4.40 ERA is drastically higher than his 1.83 FIP.
Lucchesi benefits from an elite matchup against the Rockies, who have been anemic against left-handers on the road this seaso, posting a wOBA of just .202 and a strikeout rate of 32.3% in that situation. They’ve also averaged only 2.27 runs per game when playing outside of Coors Field this season. Lucchesi is a steal at $8,200 on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 92%.
Yu Darvish is another pitcher with an elite matchup. He’s taking on the Marlins, whose projected lineup has struggled to a .274 wOBA and 27.9% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months. Darvish can still do some damage on the mound — he’s averaged a K/9 of 10.22 over the past 12 months — and his K Prediction of 8.1 is the top mark on today’s slate. His Statcast data from his past two starts is also strong, resulting in a 12-month/15-day distance differential of -16 feet.
Antonio Senzatela: He’s a pretty mediocre pitcher, but he gets one of the biggest park upgrades in baseball moving from Coors Field to Petco Park. He pitched to a 4.01 ERA and limited opposing batters to a .277 wOBA when on the road last season, and the Padres have posted a 27.4% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months.
Luis Castillo: He’s been insanely good through his first three starts, posting an average Plus/Minus of +18.75 on FanDuel. He has a difficult matchup against the Dodgers, but that could work in his favor for GPPs: He’s projected for just 2-4% ownership on FanDuel.
Matt Shoemaker: He’s pitched to a 0.89 ERA through his first three starts this season, and he’s historically posted an average Plus/Minus of +1.86 on DraftKings since 2014. He isn’t getting much respect from Vegas against the Twins — he owns an opponent implied team total of 4.9 runs — but his K Prediction of 7.4 is tied for the fourth-highest mark on the slate.
- 1. Whit Merrifield (R)
- 2. Raul Mondesi (S)
- 3. Alex Gordon (L)
- 4. Ryan O’Hearn (L)
- 5. Hunter Dozier (R)
Total salary: $21,200
The Royals have been a really fantasy-friendly team this season. They rank 13th in the league in runs per game and, more importantly, first in stolen bases per game. Their implied team total of 4.6 runs per game ranks sixth on the slate, and they have a great matchup against Ervin Santana: He pitched to a 8.03 ERA in five starts last season and got demolished for seven earned runs of 3.2 innings in his first start this year.
The Royals also present an excellent value on DraftKings. Four of the stacked batters own a Bargain Rating of at least 94%: O’Hearn (94%), Merrifield (96%), Gordon (96%) and Dozier (99%).
On FanDuel, the top four-man stack belongs to the Chicago White Sox:
- 1. Leury Garcia (S)
- 2. Yoan Moncada (S)
- 3. Jose Abreu (R)
- 4. Yonder Alonso (L)
Total salary: $12,200
The White Sox are on the other side of the above matchup, and their implied team total of 5.0 runs is tied for the third-highest mark on the slate. They’re taking on right-hander Heath Fillmyer, who has gave up some really loud contact during his most recent start. He allowed batters to compile an average distance of 235 feet, exit velocity of 96 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 46%, all three of which represent massive increases compared to his 12-month averages.
The White Sox also enter this contest in excellent recent Statcast form. Each of the four stacked batters owns a positive distance differential over the past 15 days, headlined by Moncada’s mark of +28 feet. Moncada, Abreu, and Alonso also combine their excellent distance numbers with a hard hit rate of at least 45%, so they’re in a good position to take advantage of Fillmyer.
The top implied team total on the slate belongs to the Angels. They’re implied for 5.6 runs against Rangers’ right-hander Shelby Miller, which should make them a popular team to target. Kole Calhoun is a nice way to get some cheap exposure to them on FanDuel. He’s priced at $2,500 resulting in a Bargain Rating of 83%, and is expected to occupy the leadoff spot in the lineup. Historically, leadoff hitters with comparable salaries and implied team totals have averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.75 on FanDuel.
Matt Carpenter is a notoriously slow starter, but he has scored at least 13.0 DraftKings points in each of his past two days. He’s priced at $3,800 on DraftKings against Brewers’ right-hander Freddy Peralta, which is extremely low for a hitter of Carptenter’s caliber. He’s averaged a Plus/Minus of +0.90 with a comparable salary last season, so there’s a lot to like with him on this slate.
Mitch Garver and Curt Casali both provide fantasy owners with the rare opportunity to roster a catcher as a leadoff hitter on this slate. Catchers historically provide the least value of any fantasy position — they average a Plus/Minus of -0.30 — but catchers hitting in the leadoff spot have provided an average Plus/Minus of +1.63 on DraftKings.
Garver is the more expensive option and has the superior matchup, but Casali will be on the positive side of his batting splits against Kershaw. Casali posted a .414 wOBA and .189 ISO against southpaws over the past 12 months, which makes him a really interesting target at a projected ownership of less than 1%.
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: Los Angeles Dodgers Pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22)
Photo credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports