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
Today’s slate is loaded with high-end pitchers. Five command a salary of at least $10,000 on FanDuel:
- Trevor Bauer (R) $11,400, CLE @ MIA
- Blake Snell (L) $11,200, TB @ KC
- Gerrit Cole (R) $10,300, HOU @ MIN
- Zack Greinke (R) $10,300, ARI vs. NYY
- Luis Castillo (R) $10,000, CIN @ NYM
Bauer has picked up right where he left off last season, posting an ERA of just 1.99 through his first six starts. He’s also averaged 115 pitches per start, which is the top mark in the league by a wide margin. That’s allowed him to provide a solid floor and ceiling for fantasy despite a slight decrease in K/9 to start the season.
He’s in one of the best pitching spots possible against the Marlins. Their projected lineup has been anemic vs. right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .275 wOBA and 26.6% strikeout rate. As a result, Bauer has elite marks in the three key pitching categories: 2.9 opponent implied team total, -191 moneyline odds and 8.9 K Prediction. Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in all three have averaged a Plus/Minus of +5.07 on FanDuel (per our Trends tool). He’s an elite option in all formats.
Snell doesn’t provide the same safety as Bauer, but he might possess more upside. Snell leads all pitchers on this slate with a K Prediction of 9.0, and he combines that with excellent Statcast data over the past 15 days. He’s made just one start over that tspan, but he limited opposing batters to an average distance of 198 feet, exit velocity of 87 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 30%. Pitchers with comparable Statcast marks and K Predictions have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +5.62 on FanDuel.
That said, the weather does look like a major concern in Kansas City. The current forecast calls for an 86% chance of precipitation at game time, so there’s a good chance that this game will either be delayed or postponed. That should lower his ownership for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs), but it makes him way too risky for cash games.
Cole is another pitcher with weather concerns. He’s pitching in Minnesota, where the forecast currently calls for a 72% chance of precipitation. There does appear to be slightly more optimism that this game will play, but delays are definitely possible. Cole’s matchup is also far from ideal — the Twins have posted a .327 wOBA and 22.9% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months — so you’re probably better off just avoiding him.
Greinke is in an interesting spot against the Yankees. They’re one of the best offenses in baseball when healthy, but they’ve been absolutely decimated by injuries to start the season. They’re current roster is a shell of its former self, and their projected lineup has posted a wOBA of just .291 against right-handers over the past 12 months.
Greinke has also been absolutely dominant over his past two outings, allowing zero runs and striking out 11 batters over 13 innings. His Statcast data from those starts is even more impressive, particularly his average distance of just 166 feet. That represents a decrease of -41 feet when compared to his 12-month average, and pitchers with comparable distance decreases and salaries have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.93 on FanDuel. He has sneaky appeal.
Castillo is the least accomplished of this group of pitchers, but he’s arguably been the best pitcher in baseball to start the season. He leads all qualified starters with an ERA of just 1.23, while his K/9 of 10.55 ranks 17th. He also ranks sixth in pitching WAR according to Fangraphs.
Unfortunately, he has one of the toughest matchups among the stud pitchers. He’s taking on the Mets, who are currently implied for 4.0 runs, and his K Prediction of 6.6 is mediocre. He’s still worthy of some consideration on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 76%, but he’s more of a GPP option.
Walker Buehler is slightly cheaper than the stud options on this slate, but he could easily provide stud-like production. The Giants’ offense has been abysmal vs. left-handers over the past 12-months, posting a .261 wOBA and 25.7% strikeout rate, and their implied team total of 3.3 runs is tied for the second-lowest mark on the slate.
Buehler has gotten off to a slow start this season, posting a 5.25 ERA through his first five starts, but his 3.83 FIP suggests he’s due for some positive regression. Facing the Giants could be the perfect remedy.
It seems like a day where you don’t want to pay down too far at pitcher, but Vincent Velasquez is worth some consideration at SP2 on DraftKings. He has excellent strikeout ability, evidenced by a K/9 of 9.66 over the past 12 months, and has one of the best matchups on the slate. The Tigers’ projected lineup has posted a 28.9% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past year, giving Velasquez a strong K Prediction of 7.2. He leads all pitchers with 10 Pro Trends on DraftKings.
German Marquez: He’ll likely fly a bit under the radar, but should benefit from pitching away from Coors Field. He’s pitched to a 0.41 ERA through his first 22.0 innings on the road this season after pitching to a 2.95 road ERA last year.
Julio Teheran: Another potential SP2 option on DraftKings given his matchup. The Padres’ projected lineup has posted a 26.7% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months, giving Teheran a strong 7.6 K Prediction.
Drew Pomeranz: He has a difficult matchup against the dodgers, but has limited his past two opponents to an average distance of 188 feet, exit velocity of 89 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 30%. All three are decreases compared to his 12-month averages, and he’s also posted an outstanding K/9 of 10.22 through his first 24.2 innings this season.
- 1. Shin-Soo Choo (L)
- 2. Rougned Odor (L)
- 3. Elvis Andrus (R)
- 4. Nomar Mazara (L)
- 5. Joey Gallo (L)
Total salary: $23,200
The Rangers lead the slate with an implied team total of 5.6 runs, which would normally make them one of the highest owned teams on the slate. That said, that might not be the case today. This stack is pretty expensive, leaving just an average of $5,360 for your last three hitters and both pitchers. Pairing the above stack with a Bauer, Snell or Cole is basically impossible, so most players will likely eschew the Rangers’ bats in favor of the stud pitchers.
However, the Rangers are in a potential smash spot against Pirates’ right-hander Jordan Lyles. Left-handed batters in particular have owned him this season, posting a .356 wOBA and .525 slugging percentage while clubbing two HRs in just 10.2 innings.
That’s good news for the top of the Rangers’ order. Choo, Odor, Mazara and Gallo can all do serious damage against right-handers, each owning an ISO of at least .194 against traditional pitchers over the past 12 months. The Rangers are also in form, scoring at least 14 runs in each of their past two games. Pairing the Rangers’ bats with the right pitchers in GPPs is going to be tough, but they have huge upside on this slate.
If you’re looking for a more affordable team to stack, consider the Pirates. They own one of the highest-rated four-man stacks on FanDuel:
- 1. Adam Frazier (L)
- 2. Melky Cabrera (S)
- 4. Josh Bell (S)
- 6. Francisco Cervelli (R)
Total salary: $11,100
The Pirates are significantly cheaper than the Rangers but benefit from the same hitting conditions at the Great American Ballpark in Arlington. The Pirates’ implied team total of 5.5 runs is only slightly lower, and their Team Value Rating of 98 is the top mark on FanDuel.
They’re taking on Rangers’ right-hander Adrian Sampson, who is the definition of a mediocre pitcher. He’s posted a 5.44 FIP through his first 22.0 innings this season and combines that with a K/9 of just 5.73. He’s failed to make it past the fifth inning in each of his first two starts this season and has surrendered nine earned runs and three HRs over just 8.1 innings pitched.
If you’re looking for a full Pirates stack on DraftKings, consider adding Gregory Polanco or Jung-ho Kang. The Pirates aren’t as strong of a value there, but their Team Value Rating of 78 is still the top mark on the slate.
Finding viable cheap hitters on DraftKings is going to be imperative given all the high-priced pitchers, and these guys all have positive marks working in their favor:
- Ben Zobrist ($3,300): He’s expected to occupy the leadoff spot in the lineup against Felix Hernandez, and the Cubs are implied for 4.9 runs. Historically, leadoff hitters with comparable salaries and implied team totals have averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.29 on DraftKings.
- Ji-Man Choi ($3,900): He carries some weather risk in Kansas City but will be on the positive side of his batting splits against Jakob Junis. Choi has posted a .381 wOBA and .230 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months.
- Franmil Reyes ($3,700): He’s smoked the baseball over the past 15 days, posting an average exit velocity of 96 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 62%. He should occupy the cleanup spot in the Padres’ lineup.
- Joey Votto ($3,900): He’s in a lefty-lefty matchup against Jason Vargas, but Vargas might be the worst pitcher in baseball at this point in his career. Votto has also still managed a respectable .347 wOBA against southpaws over the past 12 months.
- Jose Peraza ($3,300): He’s batting leadoff for the Reds, and I would play myself at $3,300 if I was batting leadoff against Vargas.
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: Pirates OF Melky Cabrera (53) and 1B Josh Bell (55)
Photo credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA Today Sports