The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Friday features a 14-game slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Today’s slate is loaded with big-name pitchers. Five own a salary of at least $10,400 on DraftKings:
- Justin Verlander (R) $11,400, HOU vs. TEX
- Hyun-jin Ryu (L) $11,000, LAD vs. MIA
- Patrick Corbin (L) $10,800, WSH @ ATL
- Jacob deGrom (R) $10,600, NYM @ SF
- Shane Bieber (R) $10,400, CLE vs. KC
Verlander is the most expensive option on the slate, and he’s put together an interesting season for the Astros. His 2.98 ERA is excellent, but his advanced metrics suggest he’s been one of the luckier pitchers in baseball this season. He ranks first in the league in both BABIP (.186) and strand rate (88.6%), and his 4.07 FIP is significantly higher than his traditional ERA.
He’s also been hit hard over his past two starts. He’s allowed opposing batters to compile an average distance of 232 feet, exit velocity of 94 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 45%, all of which represent significant decreases when compared to his 12-month averages.
Will his luck finally run out today vs. the Texas Rangers? It seems unlikely. The Rangers’ projected lineup has struck out in 28.5% of at bats against right-handers over the past 12 months, and it’s hard to do damage when you can’t put the ball in play. Verlander’s K Prediction of 10.4 ranks first on the slate, and his opponent implied team total of 3.4 is tied for third. Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in both categories have averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.61 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool).
Ryu leads the lead with a ridiculous 1.78 ERA this season, and he’s in an elite spot vs. the Miami Marlins. They rank dead-last in runs per game this season, and their projected lineup has struggled to a .280 wOBA against southpaws over the past 12 months. Ryu has the best Vegas data on the slate by a significant margin, ranking first in opponent implied team total (2.9 runs) and moneyline odds (-307).
The one area where Ryu doesn’t excel is strikeouts, but he makes up for it with his elite batted ball profile. He’s limited his past two opponents to an average distance of 158 feet, which represents a decrease of -36 feet when compared to his 12-month average. Pitchers with comparable distance differentials and Vegas data have historically dominated, averaging a Plus/Minus of +5.38 on DraftKings.
Ryu’s K Prediction of 5.9 could make him a fade for guaranteed prize pools, but he’s an easy choice for the top pitching spot in cash games.
Corbin doesn’t have much going for him today. He has a difficult matchup vs. the Atlanta Braves, who rank seventh in wOBA against left-handers this season. His opponent implied team total of 4.8 runs is significantly higher than the other stud pitcher’s.
He’s also been hit hard over his past two starts and doesn’t provide a ton of strikeout upside. He’s an easy fade.
deGrom is a really intriguing option today vs. the San Francisco Giants. The Giants have been red-hot offensively of late, averaging 7.87 runs per game over their past 15 contests. That said, those numbers are buoyed by scoring 40 runs in a four game series at Coors Field, and they managed just one run through 15 innings yesterday. Overall, this is still a subpar offensive team.
deGrom ranks second on the slate with an opponent implied team total of 3.3 runs, while his K Prediction of 7.9 ranks third. The fact that Thursday’s contest went into extra innings might also help his cause. The Mets used every reliever in their bullpen in that contest – some for multiple innings – so there’s a chance they push deGrom a little harder than usual on today’s slate.
Bieber rounds out the stud quintet, and he’s pitched extremely well over his past three starts. He’s allowed just five earned runs over 22.1 innings pitched while racking up 28 strikeouts. Two of those starts have come against the Twins and on the road against the Reds, which makes his numbers even more impressive.
He’s in a friendlier spot today vs. the Kansas City Royals, who are implied for 3.6 runs. The Indians own a massive 6.5 implied team total, resulting in -300 moneyline odds for Bieber. The Royals projected lineup has also whiffed in 27.1% of at bats against right-handers over the past 12 months, giving Bieber significant strikeout upside as well. It’s possible that he’s a little overlooked today given the presence of guys like Verlander and deGrom, which makes him an elite pivot for GPPs.
Brendan McKay might be the most interesting player in baseball right now. He tore up the minors as both a pitcher and a hitter, and he ranked as the 12th-best prospect in baseball according to Fangraphs. He hasn’t disappointed in his first three starts at the MLB level, pitching to a 1.69 ERA.
He’s in a wonderful spot today vs. the Chicago White Sox. Their projected lineup has struggled to a .300 wOBA and 27.3% strikeout rate against left-handers over the past 12 months, giving McKay strong marks in both opponent implied team total (3.4) and K Prediction (7.7). He’s also a -223 favorite, and pitchers with comparable marks in all three categories have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.58 on DraftKings.
McKay is an elite SP2 options on DraftKings, and he deserves consideration on FanDuel as well given his Bargain Rating of 79%.
David Price is putting together is his best full season as a member of the Boston Red Sox. He’s pitched to a 3.16 ERA and 3.00 FIP through 17 starts, while increasing his K/9 to 10.39.
He has a nice matchup today vs. the Baltimore Orioles, who own the fourth-highest strikeout rate against left-handed pitchers this season. Price dominated in his only start against the Orioles in 2019, recording seven strikeouts while allowing just three base runners and zero earned runs over seven innings. He’s a -215 favorite in today’s matchup, and his K Prediction of 8.6 ranks second on the slate.
J.A. Happ: He’s struggled this season, but he’s priced at just $6,800 on DraftKings in a great matchup vs. the Colorado Rockies. They’ve posted the second-worst wRC+ against southpaws on the road this season, and playing for the Yankees results in -232 moneyline odds.
Marcus Stroman: He’s pitched to a 3.25 ERA this season, but his lack of strikeout upside keeps him off the fantasy radar on most days. That said, he does have a strong matchup today vs. the Detroit Tigers, and his $6,800 salary on FanDuel results in a Bargain Rating of 99%.
- 1. Scott Kingery (R)
- 2. Jean Segura (R)
- 3. Bryce Harper (L)
- 4. Rhys Hoskins (R)
- 5. J.T. Realmuto (R)
Total Salary: $21,900
The Phillies’ implied team total of 5.6 runs doesn’t jump off the page on today’s slate, as six teams own a higher mark. That said, their top stack is very affordable, which is important on a day where you’ll likely want to pay up at pitcher. Segura, Harper, and Hoskins stand out as elite values on DraftKings, with each owning a Bargain Rating of at least 87%.
They’re taking on Pirates right-hander Jordan Lyles, who has pitched to a 5.16 ERA this season. He’s struggled with the long ball, allowing an average of 1.44 HRs per nine innings, and left-handed batters have posted a dominant .403 wOBA against him this season.
That bodes well for Harper, who has quietly been heating up since the beginning of June. He’s posted a .382 wOBA and 137 wRC+ against right-handers over that time frame while recording nearly as many walks (21) as strikeouts (22). He’s a strong option even if you’re not stacking the Phillies.
If you’re looking for another cost-effective stack, consider the Toronto Blue Jays. They own the second-highest rated stack on FanDuel:
- 1. Eric Sogard (L)
- 2. Freddy Galvis (S)
- 3. Lourdes Gurriel (R)
- 8. Danny Jansen (R)
Total Salary: $13,100
The Blue Jays’ implied team total of 5.7 runs ranks sixth on the slate, and it’s increased by +0.4 runs since opening. They’re taking on Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who has been an absolute disaster this season. He’s pitched to a 7.01 ERA over 11 MLB starts, and he’s also posted an ERA above seven in the minors.
Jansen should garner very lower ownership on today’s slate – especially on FanDuel since you don’t need to roster a catcher – but he’s torn the cover off the ball over the past 15 days. He’s posted an average distance of 232 feet, exit velocity of 96 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 68%, all of which represent significant increases when compared to his 12-month averages. He could be an important differentiator for Blue Jays stacks and also keeps the average price down.
Tyler O’Neill continues to pile up hits in bunches for the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s recorded a hit in six straight games, and he’s recorded multiple hits in five of them. He’s also displayed nice power over that time frame, recording four HRs. He remains one of the best pure values on FanDuel, where his $2,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 97%.
Jose Altuve is priced at just $4,000 on DraftKings, which feels like it has to be a mistake. He does have a difficult matchup vs. Mike Minor, but Altuve has posted a .458 wOBA and .309 ISO against southpaws over the past 12 months. The Astros are also implied for a solid 5.2 runs in this matchup, which makes Altuve an elite value option.
The Yankees are going to command massive ownership today, but it’s still hard to ignore Aaron Judge. He’s on the positive side of his batting splits vs. Kyle Freeland, and Judge has absolutely smashed the ball over the past 15 games. He’s posted an average distance of 253 feet, exit velocity of 99 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 77%, all of which are among the best marks on the slate. Basically, he’s an absolute savage in the batter’s box.
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Pictured above: Mets SP Jacob deGrom (48)
Photo credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports