The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Tuesday features a 12-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Today’s slate features a bunch of strong pitching options. Four starters own a salary of at least $10,000 on DraftKings:
- Chris Sale (L) $10,800, BOS vs. COL
- Charlie Morton (R) $10,500, TB @ MIA
- Clayton Kershaw (L) $10,200, LAD vs. SD
- Chris Paddack (R) $10,000, SD @ LAD
Has Sale officially turned things around? He’s bounced back in a big way over his past two starts, racking up 24 strikeouts while allowing just one earned run over 14 innings pitched. His Statcast data over those starts has also been incredible, limiting opposing batters to an average distance of 169 feet, exit velocity of 86 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 13%. All three of those represent significant decreases compared to his 12-month averages.
His average fastball velocity is still down compared to last season, but it has increased since the start of the year. He’s back up to 93 mph, which doesn’t seem like a huge cause for concern.
Sale has an excellent matchup against the Rockies. On the surface, their numbers vs. left-handers over the past 12 months look good, but you have to remember that those marks are inflated by playing half their games at Coors Field. They rank just 18th in wOBA and have the third-highest strikeout rate when facing a southpaw on the road this season.
As a result, Sale has excellent marks in three key pitching categories: 3.3 opponent implied team total, -237 monyeline odds, 9.3 K Prediction. Pitchers with comparable marks in all three categories have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.50 on DraftKings (per our Trends tool). He figures to be the highest-owned pitcher on the slate.
You don’t often see pitchers post a career-high in K/9 at 35 years old, but that’s exactly what Morton is doing this season.
Morton has averaged a K/9 of 11.37 through his first eight starts with the Rays, which is a big reason why he’s pitched to a 2.64 ERA. He’s unsurprisingly been a strong fantasy asset, posting an average Plus/Minus of +3.80 on FanDuel.
He benefits from one of the best matchups possible against the Marlins, whose projected lineup has been abysmal vs. right-handers over the past 12 months, struggling to a .268 wOBA and 22.9% strikeout rate. His opponent implied team total of 3.1 runs is the lowest mark on today’s slate, while his K Prediction of 7.0 is tied for sixth.
He’s a particularly strong option on FanDuel, where his $9,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 80%.
Kershaw and Paddack are squaring off in what could be a matchup between past and future Cy Young winners. You know Kershaw’s resume — he’s arguably the best pitcher of this generation — while Paddack has dominated this season at just 23 years old. He’s pitched to a 1.55 ERA through his first seven major league starts, and he’s 2.30 FIP suggests he’s not due for a ton of regression.
Unfortunately, the fact that these pitchers are facing each other limits their appeal. Their opponent implied team totals are still pretty good — Kershaw is at 3.2 and Paddack is at 3.9 — but it does hurt their moneyline odds. Both pitchers also have mediocre K Predictions, so it might be best to just avoid this matchup.
Caleb Smith is one of the best pure values at pitcher on DraftKings, where his $9,500 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 93%. He will be an underdog opposing Morton — such is the life of a Marlins’ pitcher — but he’s been excellent to begin the season. He’s pitched to a 2.11 ERA and 11.81 K/9 through his first seven starts.
There’s a lot to like with Smith outside of his moneyline odds. His opponent implied team total of 3.5 runs is the fourth-lowest mark on the slate, and his 7.7 K Prediction ranks fourth as well. The Rays’ projected lineup has also been abysmal vs. left-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .271 wOBA and slate-worst 32.8% strikeout rate. Pitching at home in Miami also rewards Smith with a Park Factor of 88. He’s an elite target for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) at what figures to be modest ownership.
Trent Thornton is another pitcher with an appealing matchup. He’s taking on the San Francisco Giants, whose projected lineup has posted a .285 wOBA and 30.5% strikeout rate vs. right-handers over the past 12 months. Thornton has shown the ability to miss bats this season, averaging a K/9 of 9.40, so he has solid strikeout upside. His K Prediction of 7.9 ranks third on the slate.
He combines his strikeout upside with solid Statcast data from his past two starts. He’s limited opponents to a hard-hit rate of just 26%, which represents a decrease of 14% when compared to his 12-month average. Historically, pitchers with comparable K Predictions and hard-hit differentials have averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.90 on DraftKings. He should be a popular SP2 option.
Jerad Eickhoff: He’s quietly been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, posting a 1.50 ERA and 9.30 K/9 through his first 30.0 innings. He has a tough matchup vs. the Brewers, but that should result in minimal ownership for GPPs.
Noah Syndergaard: He hasn’t been “Thor-like” to start the season but could right the ship today vs. the Nationals. They rank just 24th in wOBA vs. right-handed pitchers this season and have averaged the 10th-fewest runs per game.
- 1. George Springer (R)
- 2. Alex Bregman (R)
- 3. Michael Brantley (L)
- 4. Carlos Correa (R)
- 5. Yuli Gurriel (R)
Total salary: $25,700
The Astros are currently implied for 6.3 runs, the top mark on this slate by a significant margin. They’re taking on Tigers’ left-hander Ryan Carpenter, who was lit up for six earned runs in five innings in his first start. He also allowed two HRs in that outing, which doesn’t bode well for him against a potent Astros lineup.
The only concern with the above stack is their collective salaries. Stacking the Astros one through five batters leaves just an average of $4,860 for the rest of your lineup, and you still have to fill both pitcher spots. It basically makes rostering Sale impossible, and you’d likely have to go with two starters below $8,000. For that reason, a full Astros stack could actually be slightly contrarian on this slate.
If you’re looking for a more cost-effective option, consider the Oakland Athletics. Their top stack costs just $12,900 on FanDuel:
- 1. Marcus Semien (R)
- 2. Jurickson Profar (S)
- 4. Khris Davis (R)
- 5. Matt Olson (L)
Total salary: $12,900
The A’s implied team total of 4.7 runs is merely tied for eighth on this slate, but their batters are still underpriced relative to their total across the industry. They rank fourth on Team Value Rating on FanDuel and second in Team Value Rating on DraftKings, so they’re a strong choice if you’re looking to pay up at pitcher.
They’re taking on Mariners right-hander Mike Leake, who is an extremely pedestrian pitcher. He’s posted a 5.35 FIP through his first eight starts this season and has managed a paltry 6.65 K/9.
Profar and Olson will each have the splits advantage, and both batters have posted an ISO of at least .210 vs. right-handers over the past 12 months. Both batters are also in good recent Statcast form, with each owning a distance differential of at least +17 feet over the past 15 days.
Semien and Davis will be on the wrong side of their splits, but that might not matter against Leake. He’s actually been worse in same side matchups this season, allowing right-handed batters to post a .410 wOBA.
Matt Carpenter is an elite value at $3,700 on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 97%. He’ll be on the positive side of his batting splits vs. Mike Foltynewicz, with Carpenter owning a .389 wOBA and .264 ISO vs. right-handers over the past 12 months. His Statcast data from the past 15 days is also strong, making him an excellent value option in all formats.
Ryan O’Hearn is another excellent value option. He’s expected to bat seventh for the Royals, but O’Hearn isn’t a typical No. 7 hitter. He’s posted a .392 wOBA and .298 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months, and he’ll be facing a very pedestrian right-hander in Shelby Miller. Lefties have crushed Miller this season, posting a .383 wOBA while clubbing three HRs over 11.1 innings.
Anthony Rendon is someone to consider in GPPs. He has a tough matchup vs. Syndergaard, but he’s absolutely crushed the baseball over his past six games. He’s posted an average distance of 270 feet, exit velocity of 99 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 73%, all three of which represent massive increases when compared to his 12-month averages. He hasn’t had much fantasy success over that time frame, but better results should follow if he continues to make that kind of contact.
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: Red Sox SP Chris Sale (41)
Photo credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports