The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Monday features a 10-game slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Four pitchers on today’s slate own a salary of at least $10,000 on DraftKings:
- Luis Castillo (R) $11,800, CIN @ CHC
- Lucas Giolito (R) $11,200, CWS @ KC
- Clayton Kershaw (L) $10,700, LAD @ PHI
- Blake Snell (L) $10,000, TB @ NYY
Castillo is putting together a wonderful season for the Cincinnati Reds. He’s pitched to a 2.29 ERA while striking out 10.53 batters per nine innings, and he’s averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.41 on DraftKings. That said, it’s fair to say he’s gotten a little lucky. Batters have managed a BABIP of just .224 against him, which is the second-lowest mark in the league. As a result, his 3.67 FIP is significantly higher than his traditional ERA. He could be due for some regression moving forward.
He’s in a brutal spot against the Cubs, whose projected lineup has posted a .337 wOBA against right-handers over the past 12 months, and they rank seventh in wRC+ against right-handers this season.
Castillo will also have to deal with horrible weather conditions at Wrigley, with the current forecast calling for 12.5 mile per hour winds blowing out to center field. Add it all up, and Castillo owns an opponent implied team total of 5.5 runs. Historically, pitchers with comparable Vegas data and salaries have been horrible investments, owning an average Plus/Minus of -6.49 on DraftKings (per our Trends tool).
He does have some strikeout upside — his K Prediction of 8.3 ranks third on the slate — but he carries a ton of risk.
Giolito has transformed from one of the worst pitchers in 2018 to one of the best this season. He’s in a great spot against the Royals, who he’s absolutely dominated in three previous starts. He’s posted a 1.80 ERA while striking out 34 batters over just 25 innings, and he racked up 40.25 DraftKings points in their last meeting.
Giolito also enters this contest in good recent form. He’s limited his past two opponents to an average distance of 189 feet, exit velocity of 84 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 13%, all of which represent significant decreases when compared to his 12-month averages.
He’s the top option for those looking to pay up at pitcher, particularly on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 98%.
Kershaw is putting together a solid year for the Dodgers, but he’s not the same dominant fantasy pitcher he was in the past. His strikeout numbers in particular have decreased steadily over the past few seasons, and his current K/9 of 8.27 is the lowest mark of his career.
He’s in an interesting spot against the Phillies, whose projected lineup has struggled against left-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .305 wOBA and 28.0% strikeout rate, but Kershaw’s Vegas data is far from elite. He owns an opponent implied team total of 4.1 runs, and this is only the second time since 2014 that Kershaw has had an opponent implied team total above 4.0 runs outside of Coors Field.
He was also hit hard in his last start before the All-Star break, posting an average batted ball distance of 216 feet, exit velocity of 94 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 58%.
Snell is in a boom-or-bust spot against the Yankees, whose projected lineup has dominated against left-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .355 wOBA, but they’ve also been strikeout prone. Snell is the best pure strikeout pitcher on the slate given his 12-month K/9 of 12.40, and he leads all pitchers with a K Prediction of 9.6. His Vegas data is scary — he’s a +142 underdog and owns an opponent implied team total of 5.1 — but he can do some damage in this matchup if everything breaks in his favor.
He should carry moderate ownership at best, which makes him an option in guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).
James Paxton is opposing Snell in New York, and he will likely be the most popular pitching option on the slate.
The Rays’ projected lineup has struggled against left-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .290 wOBA, and they’ve also struck out at the third-highest rate against left-handers this season. As a result, Paxton owns solid marks across the board: 4.0 opponent implied team total, -155 moneyline odds, 7.6 K Prediction. Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in all three categories have averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.64 on DraftKings.
Paxton dominated the Rays in his last outing before the All-Star break, racking up 11 strikeouts over six innings while allowing just two earned runs.
Joe Musgrove is an appealing punt play at SP2 on DraftKings. He’s just $5,800 and has an excellent matchup vs. the Cardinals, who have struggled against right-handed pitchers this season, ranking just 23rd in wRC+.
Musgrove has excelled against right-handed batters in particular this season, limiting them to a .273 wOBA. Three of the top four batters in the Cardinals’ lineup are right-handed, which should also help him in this outing.
Miles Mikolas: He owns the lowest opponent implied team total on the slate at 3.7 runs, which will likely make him a popular option. That said, he provides very little in terms of strikeout upside, and he’s posted a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +32 feet. He’s a much better option on FanDuel, where his $6,400 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 96%.
Framber Valdez: The Astros will start Josh James, but Valdez is expected to see the majority of innings as a long reliever. He’s very affordable at $4,600 on DraftKings and has nice strikeout upside against the Angels.
- 1. Mookie Betts (R)
- 2. Rafael Devers (L)
- 3. Xander Bogaerts (R)
- 4. J.D. Martinez (R)
- 5. Andrew Benintendi (L)
Total Salary: $24,600
The Red Sox have been a bit of a disappointment this season, but don’t blame their offense. They currently rank third in runs per game, and they rank fourth in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. They’re implied for 6.1 runs against the Blue Jays, which is the fourth-highest mark on the slate.
They have a nice matchup vs. Trent Thornton, who has been mediocre at best this season. He’s pitched to a 4.85 ERA and 4.41 FIP, and he’s allowed opposing batters to post a 241-foot average distance over his past two starts. That represents an increase of +19 feet when compared to his 12-month average.
Betts in particular stands out as an elite option. He’s had a down year offensively, but his Statcast data suggests he’s starting to heat up. He’s posted an average distance of 241 feet, exit velocity of 96 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 55% over his past 10 games, all of which represent increases when compared to his 12-month averages. Betts is simply too cheap at $4,800 on DraftKings.
The Red Sox also own the top stack on FanDuel, so let’s focus on the Milwaukee Brewers instead:
- 1. Lorenzo Cain (R)
- 2. Christian Yelich (L)
- 4. Yasmani Grandal (S)
- 6. Jesus Aguilar (R)
The Brewers are currently implied for 5.1 runs against the Braves, but that should put them sufficiently off the radar. Four teams are implied for over six runs on today’s slate, and five other teams own an implied team total of at least 5.0.
That said, they have a nice matchup today vs. left-hander Max Fried. He’s struggled against right-handed batters this season, allowing them to post a .345 wOBA and 1.47 HR/9. He’s also pitched worse away from SunTrust Park, owning a 4.60 ERA on the road.
Three of the above batters will have the splits advantage on Fried, headlined by Grandal. He’s destroyed left-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .375 wOBA and .276 ISO, and he’s posted a 139 wRC+ at home against southpaws this season. He also represents one of the best pure values for the Brewers on FanDuel, where his $3,200 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 77%.
The Giants have been nothing short of a disaster this season offensively, but they do get one of the biggest park upgrades possible on the slate. They’re taking on the Rockies at Coors Field, and they have a plus-matchup against right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez. Brandon Belt in particular is someone who deserves to be on your radar. Belt has historically done well on the road against right-handers, posting an average Plus/Minus of +1.04 on DraftKings.
He’s also expected to occupy the leadoff spot in the lineup and is priced at just $4,400.
Eugenio Suarez has sneaky upside at just $3,900 on DraftKings. He’s not someone you typically want to roster against right-handed pitchers, but the wind conditions in Wrigley increase his chances of going yard. He’s also crushed the ball over his past 10 games, posting an average distance of 244 feet, exit velocity of 97 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 60%.
It’s hard to ignore Joc Pederson at $2,600 on FanDuel. He’s expected to occupy the leadoff spot in the lineup against Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin, and Pederson has posted a .366 wOBA and .294 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months. Eflin has had has woes against left-handed bats this season, allowing them to post a .357 wOBA and club 2.28 HRs per nine innings.
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 OF Mookie Betts (50)
Photo credit: Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports