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

Tuesday features a 14-game slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Pitchers

Studs

Four options on today’s slate are priced at $10,000 or greater on FanDuel:

  • Justin Verlander (R) $12,000, HOU vs. CWS
  • Zack Greinke (R) $11,000, ARI @ SD
  • Caleb Smith (L) $10,100, MIA @ DET
  • Domingo German (R) $10,000, NYY @ BAL

Verlander headlines the position, and he’s off to another fantastic start to begin the season. He’s pitched to a 2.38 ERA and 10.77 K/9 through his first 10 starts, resulting in an average Plus/Minus of +4.07 on FanDuel.

He’s in a dream spot against the White Sox, whose projected lineup has struggled against right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .302 wOBA and 25.7% strikeout rate. As a result, Verlander leads the slate in three key pitching categories: opponent implied team total (2.9), moneyline odds (-349) and K Prediction (8.6). Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in all three categories have averaged a Plus/Minus of +7.74 and a Consistency Rating of 85.7% on FanDuel (per our Trends tool).

Justin-Verlander

Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Justin Verlander

There’s no reason not to lock Verlander in as your starter for cash games.

Greinke has also gotten off to a strong start this season, posting a 6-1 record and 2.78 ERA through his first 10 starts. The big difference between him and Verlander is the strikeout upside. Greinke has managed a K/9 of just 8.63 this season, which is below average for a stud pitcher.

That said, it shouldn’t be a huge issue on Tuesday. He’s taking on the Padres, whose projected lineup has posted a 27.6% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months. Greinke’s resulting K Prediction of 7.3 is tied for the second-highest mark on the slate. He also benefits from getting to face the Padres in San Diego, which has historically been a pitcher-friendly venue.

Smith has been one of the lone bright spots for the Marlins this season. He’s pitched to a 2.25 ERA, while his K/9 of 12.00 ranks fourth among qualified starters. The result is an average Plus/Minus of +11.14 on FanDuel through his first eight starts.

Unfortunately, his Statcast data from his past two starts is pretty alarming. He’s allowed opposing batters to post an average distance of 237 feet, exit velocity of 96 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 41%, all three of which represent large increases when compared to his 12-month averages. That might not come back to bite him vs. the Tigers — their projected lineup has posted just a .293 wOBA vs. southpaws over the past 12 months — but there are safer options available.

German rounds out the stud quartet, and he’s taken a massive step forward for the Yankees this season. He’s pitched to a 2.50 ERA, and his 2.95 FIP suggests that mark is deserved.

He’s in a very appealing spot against the Orioles, who rank just 24th in runs per game this season. German’s moneyline odds of -245 rank second on the slate, while his opponent implied team total of 3.7 is tied for sixth.

That said, he was hit very hard in his last outing. Opposing batters averaged a hard hit rate of 60% in that contest, which represents an increase of +23 percentage points when compared to his 12-month average. His K Prediction of 6.3 is also the lowest mark among the stud pitchers, making him a risky in both cash games and guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).

Values

It feels weird to see guys like Smith and German priced above Clayton Kershaw, but that’s the case on this slate. Kershaw is not the same pitcher that he was in his prime, and he’s struggled to a 3.40 ERA through his first six starts. His K/9 has also decreased to just 8.17 which is the lowest mark of his illustrious career.

Still, it’s hard to ignore him against the Rays, who have struck out in 30.9% of at bats vs. southpaws this season — 30th in the league. With that in mind, Kershaw’s K Prediction of 6.7 feels conservative.

Unsurprisingly, Kershaw has also posted strong Statcast marks over his past two starts. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 185 feet, which represents a decrease of 10 feet when compared to his 12-month average. This seems like a spot for him to turn back the clock and remind everyone why he’s a surefire first-ballot hall of famer.

Jose Quintana should be a popular SP2 option at just $7,900 on DraftKings. He’s taking on the Phillies, whose projected lineup has posted a .309 wOBA and 26.5% strikout rate against southpaws over the past 12 months. Quintana’s resulting opponent implied team total of 3.3 runs ranks second on the slate, and pitchers with comparable salaries and implied team totals have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.31 on DraftKings.

He doesn’t provide much in terms of strikeout upside — his K Prediction of 5.8 ranks just tied for 14th — but he has excellent at limiting the hard contact against him over his past two starts.

Fastballs

Chris Archer: He’s been a disaster for the Pirates, especially considering they gave up two potential All-Stars to get him, but he does provide an appealing combination of strikeout upside and recent batted ball profile on this slate. He owns a K Prediction of 6.6 and has posted a distance differential of -30 feet over his past two starts, and pitchers with comparable marks in both categories have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.39 on DraftKings.

Eduardo Rodriguez: His K Prediction of 7.3 is tied with Greinke’s for the second-highest mark on the slate. His 2.97 FIP is also drastically lower than his 4.89 ERA, which suggests he could be due for some positive regression.

Zach Wheeler: Another pitcher who has been unlucky to start the season, posting a 4.85 ERA and 2.85 FIP. He’s increased his K/9 to a career best 10.35 through his first nine starts, which gives him solid upside at what should be minimal ownership.

Notable Stacks

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS lineups. Today’s top five-man DraftKings stack per the Bales Model belongs to the Texas Rangers:

  • 1. Logan Forsythe (R)
  • 2. Willie Calhoun (L)
  • 3. Hunter Pence (R)
  • 5. Joey Gallo (L)
  • 6. Asdrubal Cabrera (S)

Total salary: $23,800

The Rangers were the top five-man stack yesterday and did not disappoint, scoring 10 runs and clubbing five HRs against Seattle. Their implied team total of 6.1 runs is tied with Houston’s for the top mark on the slate, while their Team Value Rating of 83 ranks first on DraftKings.

Their lineup looks slightly different than yesterday’s since their facing a left-hander instead of a right-hander. They’re taking on Tommy Milone, who will be making his first start at the major league level this season. He pitched to a 5.81 ERA last year, so this is an excellent matchup.

Joey-Gallo

Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Joey Gallo

The matchup vs. Milone gives Pence the splits advantage, and he’s absolutely smoked the baseball over the past 15 days. He’s posted an average distance of 252 feet, exit velocity of 100 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 75%, all three of which represent huge increases when compared to his 12-month averages. He’s been priced up to $5,100 on DraftKings, but he has a lot in his favor tonight.

The Astros look like the preferred team to target on FanDuel:

  • 1. Josh Reddick (L)
  • 2. Alex Bregman (R)
  • 3. Michael Brantley (L)
  • 4. Carlos Correa (R)

Total salary: $15,500

Their Team Value Rating of 90 ranks first on FanDuel, and their Vegas data is also slightly more appealing than the Rangers’ despite an identical implied team total. The Astros’ mark has increased from 5.7 to 6.1, while the Rangers’ has fallen from 6.7 to 6.1.

They’re squaring off with White Sox right-hander Dylan Covey, who has pitched to a dreadful 6.95 FIP through his first 16.1 innings. He’s been crushed by left-handed batters in particular, allowing them to post a .401 wOBA through 34 plate appearances.

That makes Reddick an elite target at $3,100 as the likely leadoff hitter. He’s recently moved up in the order to replace the injured George Springer, and his salary has yet to reflect that change. He’s also outperformed his 12-month averages in distance, exit velocity and hard-hit rate over the past 15 days.

Other Batters

Steve Wilkerson looks like an interesting contrarian target for GPPs. He should command minimal ownership in a difficult matchup vs. German, but Wilkerson has posted a .446 wOBa and .295 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months. He’s also going to occupy the leadoff spot in the order and is very cheap across the industry.

Albert Pujols is another value option worth considering. He’ll be on the wrong side of his splits vs. Michael Pineda, but Pujols has actually performed better against right-handers than left-handers so far this season. He’s also smoked the baseball over the past 15 days, posting an average distance of 241 feet, exit velocity of 95 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 54%.

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