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

Sunday features a split slate. There’s a nine-game main slate starting at 1:05 p.m. ET and a three-game afternoon slate starting at 4:05 p.m. ET.

Pitchers

Studs

Four pitchers on today’s slates own a salary of at least $10,200 on FanDuel:

  • Max Scherzer (R) $12,500, WSH @ DET
  • Gerrit Cole (R) $11,200, HOU vs. SEA
  • Shane Bieber (R) $10,400, CLE @ BAL
  • Lucas Giolito (R) $10,200, CWS vs. MIN

Scherzer is putting together another dominant campaign in his age 34 season. He’s pitched to a 2.52 ERA and 2.12 FIP, and he leads all pitchers with 4.7 wins above replacement. He’s coming off a dominant start in his last outing, racking up 10 strikeouts over eight innings while allowing just one earned run.

His Statcast data from that start is also impressive. He’s posted an average distance of 178 feet, exit velocity of 85 miles per hour, and a hard hit rate of 22%, all of which represent decreases when compared to his 12-month averages.

Scherzer is in an elite spot against the Tigers, whose projected lineup has struggled to a .282 wOBA and 27.8% strikeout rate over the past 12 months. They also rank dead last in wRC+ vs. right-handed pitchers this season. Right-handers have absolutely dominated the Tigers in 2019, posting an average Plus/Minus of +7.76 on FanDuel over 63 appearances (per the Trends tool).

Unsurprisingly, Scherzer owns some elite data points in this matchup. His 3.0 opponent implied team total and -321 moneyline odds both rank first on today’s slate, while his K Prediction of 9.7 ranks third. Historically, pitchers with comparable Vegas data have averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.07 on FanDuel.

Max Scherzer

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Max Scherzer

Overall, this is one of the best pitching spots we’ve seen all season. There’s no reason to avoid him on the main slate.

Cole is an elite option today in his own right. He’s been the best strikeout pitcher in baseball, racking up a K/9 of 13.24 through his first 17 starts. That’s always going to make him an appealing option for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs), especially since he’ll likely command lower ownership than usual.

That said, he does have a much tougher matchup than Scherzer. He’s taking on the Seattle Mariners, who rank seventh in wRC+ against right-handers this season. Their projected lineup has also posted a .328 wOBA against right-handers over the past 12 months. Cole’s Vegas data is still elite — he’s a -298 favorite and owns a 3.3 opponent implied team total — but he definitely carries more risk than Scherzer.

Bieber is a tier below Cole and Scherzer as a pitcher, but he’s still put together a quality season. He’s pitched to a 3.83 ERA despite the fact that he’s struggled with the long ball. 18.6% of the fly balls he’s allowed have flown over the fence, so he has room for improvement if he sees some regression in that department.

He’s taking on the Baltimore Orioles, which is one of the best matchups in baseball. They rank merely 25th in wRC+ against right-handers this season, and their projected lineup has posted a 26.3% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months.

Bieber also enters this contest in good recent form. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of just 187 feet over his past three starts, which represents a decrease of -25 feet when compared to his 12-month average.

Giolito has taken some massive strides in his second season with the White Sox, but he’s started to show signs of regression. He’s been roughed up over his past two starts, allowing nine earned runs over 10 innings pitched.

His Statcast data from those starts is also concerning, particularly his average distance of 237 feet. That represents an increase of +36 feet when compared to his 12-month average.

He’s in a brutal spot today vs. the Twins, who rank first in the league in runs per game and fourth in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. He still has some strikeout upside, but he’s tough to trust in this matchup.

Values

Blake Snell has the pedigree of a stud pitcher, but he’s struggled in 2019. His pitched to a 5.01 ERA just one year after posting a 1.89 ERA and winning the AL Cy Young. That said, his advanced stats suggest he’s been one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball. He’s striking out a career-best 11.96 batters per nine innings, but batters have posted a .357 batting average when they’ve managed to put the ball in play. Overall, his 3.19 xFIP is right inline with his 3.16 xFIP from last season.

Blake-Snell

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Blake Snell

This looks like an excellent opportunity to buy low on him. He’s taking on the Texas Rangers, who have been one of the worst teams in baseball this season against left-handed pitchers. They’ve struggled in particular when facing a southpaw on the road, posting a 32.0% strikeout rate. Snell’s K Prediction of 10.4 ranks first the slate, while his opponent implied team total of 3.2 ranks second. He’s a massive value, particularly on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 77%.

Trevor Richards has been up-and-down recently. He’s allowed five runs or more in five of his past seven starts, but he’s allowed one or fewer runs in each of the other five. His Statcast data from his past two outings is solid, particularly his average distance of 199 feet. That represents a decrease of -19 feet when compared to his 12-month average.

He’s in a solid spot today vs. the Philadelphia Phillies. Their projected lineup has posted a 26.4% against right-handers over the past 12 months, giving Richards a K Prediction of 7.5. Historically, pitchers with comparable K Predictions and distance differentials have averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.53 on DraftKings.

Miles Mikolas looks like the preferred option on the afternoon slate, particularly on DraftKings at $6,400. It results in a Bargain Rating of 80%, and he has a nice matchup against the Padres in San Diego. Comparable priced right-handers have averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.63 when facing the Padres on the road this season.

Fastballs

Robbie Ray: He’s always in play for GPPs because of his strikeout upside, and he has a great matchup today vs. the San Francisco Giants. He also benefits from facing the Giants in San Francisco, giving him a slate-high Park Factor of 93.

Jake Arrieta: He’s opposing Richards in Miami, and his opponent implied team total trails only Scherzer’s, Snell’s, and Cole’s on the main slate. He recorded a season-high 52.0 FanDuel points in his first start in Miami this season.

Notable Stacks

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS lineups. On the main slate, the top four-man FanDuel stack per the Bales Model belongs to the Cleveland Indians:

  • 1. Francisco Lindor (S)
  • 3. Carlos Santana (S)
  • 4. Jason Kipnis (L)
  • 5. Jose Ramirez (S)

Total salary: $15,200

The Indians are currently implied for 6.1 runs, which is the top mark on the main slate. They’re also very reasonably priced on FanDuel, resulting in a Team Value Rating of 90. Lindor, Santana and Kipnis each possess a Bargain Rating of at least 70%.

They’re taking on Orioles right-hander Gabriel Ynoa, who has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball this season. He’s pitched to a 6.75 ERA, and his 6.44 FIP suggests he hasn’t been unlucky either.

Ramirez is currently questionable being placed on the paternity list, but he’s an interesting option if he’s back in the lineup. He’s posted a fly ball rate of 61% over the past 15 days, and fly balls typically lead to good things in fantasy. After all, you can’t hit a HR if you don’t hit the ball in the air. Ramirez has also posted a .191 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months, so he can do some damage with the bat.

On the afternoon slate, the top five-man DraftKings stack belongs to the Oakland Athletics:

  • 1. Marcus Semien (R)
  • 2. Matt Chapman (R)
  • 3. Matt Olson (L)
  • 4. Mark Canha (R)
  • 5. Chad Pinder (R)

Total salary: $21,600

The A’s are currently implied for 4.7 runs, which ranks second on the early slate. They’re taking on Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney, and the A’s have posted the third highest wRC+ against left-handers this season. Heaney is also a pretty mediocre left-hander pitching to a 4.99 ERA and 5.69 FIP through his first 30.2 innings.

Semien stands out in particular in this matchup. He’s projected to occupy the leadoff spot in the lineup, and he’s posted a 127 wRC+ against southpaws this season. He’s also swung the bat well recently, outperforming his 12-month marks in average distance, exit velocity, and hard hit rate over the past 15 days.

Other Batters

Tommy Edman is currently expected to bat first for the St Louis Cardinals, and he’s priced at just $2,300 on DraftKings. That’s extremely cheap for a leadoff hitter, and comparably priced leadoff hitters have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.37.

Joey Votto will be on the wrong side of his batting splits vs. Cubs left-hander Jon Lester, which will likely make him a contrarian target. That said, he’s absolutely crushed the baseball over his past 11 games, posting a 266-foot distance, 97 mile per hour exit velocity, and 41% hard hit rate. His nine Pro Trends on FanDuel are tied for the most among batters on today’s slate.

Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more in-depth MLB analysis. And if you’re looking to bet on sports in New Jersey, check out our how-to guide.

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: Astros SP Gerrit Cole (45)
Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports