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.
Three pitchers on today’s slate are priced above the rest on FanDuel:
- Clayton Kershaw (L) $11,300, LAD vs. STL
- Jose Berrios (R) $10,800, MIN vs. ATL
- Zach Wheeler (R) $10,700, NYM vs. MIA
Kershaw has pitched well since the All-Star break, allowing just five runs over 24 innings pitched. He’s also increased his strikeout frequency over that time frame, posting a K/9 of 11.63. He posted a K/9 of just 8.27 over the first half of the season, so this could be a huge development for his fantasy stock.
Kershaw has a solid matchup today vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. They’ve been below average in terms of wRC+ against left-handers this season, and their projected lineup has posted a 26.2% strikeout rate against left-handers over the past 12 months. Kershaw’s opponent implied team total of 3.4 runs ranks third on the slate, while his -190 odds are tied for fifth. Historically, pitchers with comparable Vegas marks in both categories have averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.25 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool).
Kershaw has also historically been lights-out when pitching at home. He’s historically posted a Plus/Minus of +7.70 at Dodger Stadium, including a Plus/Minus of +3.28 at home this season. Kershaw is definitely not the same pitcher he was in his prime, but he’s still at his best at Dodger Stadium.
The one big red flag with Kershaw on today’s slate is his recent Statcast data. He’s been hit hard over his past two starts, allowing opposing batters to post an average distance of 222 feet, exit velocity of 95 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 55%. All three represent significant increases when compared to his 12-month averages. His Statcast data won’t be super important if he continues to pile up strikeouts, but it could come back to bite him if he sees any regression in that department.
Berrios is the least appealing of the stud options. He has a tough matchup vs. the Atlanta Braves, whose projected lineup has posted a .333 wOBA against right-handers over the past 12 months. His resulting opponent implied team total of 4.5 is more than a full run higher than the other stud pitcher’s.
He also doesn’t offer much in terms of strikeout upside. He owns a K Prediction of just 5.7, which makes him tough to roster in any format.
The Mets have been absolutely rolling recently, and part of that is due to the improved performance of their starting pitchers. That includes Wheeler, who has pitched to a 2.19 ERA over 12.1 innings since the All-Star break. He was excellent in his last outing, allowing zero runs while striking out seven batters over seven innings.
He’s in a fantastic spot today vs. the Miami Marlins. Their projected lineup has struggled to a .307 wOBA and 26.5% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months, and they rank just 29th in wRC+ against right-handers this season. They also rank just 29th in runs per game. As a result, Wheeler leads all pitchers in both opponent implied team total (3.2 runs) and moneyline odds (-275).
He also has significant strikeout upside in this matchup. He owns a K Prediction of 7.9, which is the top mark among the stud pitchers. Add it all up, and comparable pitchers have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +5.29 on FanDuel. He’s an elite option in all formats.
Zack Greinke could very easily be classified as a stud today. He’s making his debut for the Houston Astros, and they’ve earned the reputation for improving pitchers after acquiring them. Aaron Sanchez threw six no-hit innings in his Astros’ debut, and Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have both put up Cy Young-caliber seasons in an Astros’ uniform.
Greinke is already a good pitcher — he’s pitched to a 2.90 ERA this season — so any improvement could make him a fantasy superstar.
He’s taking on the Colorado Rockies, and Greinke couldn’t have asked for a better matchup in his Astros’ debut. They’ve been terrible when facing right-handers away from Coors Field this season, ranking 29th in wRC+. They’re implied for just 3.3 runs today, which is the second-lowest mark on the slate.
Greinke also has increased strikeout upside in this matchup. The Rockies have whiffed in 26.0% of at bats when facing a right-hander on the road this season, which is the fifth-highest mark in the league. Greinke is not a dominant strikeout pitcher — he’s posted a K/9 of 7.93 over the past 12 months — but he can do some damage in this matchup.
Dinelson Lamet will take the mound today for the Padres, and he offers arguably the most strikeout upside on the slate at just $8,500 on DraftKings and $6,500 on FanDuel. He’s posted an elite K/9 of 11.74 through his first 23.0 innings this season and a mark of 10.94 in 2017. He also has an excellent matchup vs. the Seattle Mariners, whose projected lineup has posted a strikeout rate of 26.8% over the past 12 months. His K Prediction of 8.1 ranks first on the slate.
Lamet combines his strikeout upside with a strong Statcast profile from his past two outings. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 185 feet, which represents a decrease of -26 feet when compared to his 12-month average. Pitchers with comparable distance differentials and K Predictions have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.72 on DraftKings.
Hector Santiago: He’s an interesting value option at just $6,700 on DraftKings given his matchup vs. the Detroit Tigers. Their offense has been dreadful against left-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .296 wOBA and 29.3% strikeout rate.
Andrew Cashner: He’s largely been a disappointment since joining the Red Sox, but he has a nice matchup today vs. the Kansas City Royals. His Statcast data from his past two starts is also solid, resulting in a 15-day/12-month distance differential of -20 feet.
Ryan Yarbrough: He’s expected to handle the majority of the innings today for the Tampa Bay Rays, and he’s taking on a Blue Jays team with an implied team total of just 3.5 runs. The fact that he enters the game second also increases his chances of picking up a win and typically decreases his ownership.
- 1. Francisco Lindor (S)
- 2. Oscar Mercado (R)
- 5. Jose Ramirez (S)
- 6. Jason Kipnis (L)
- 7. Franmil Reyes (R)
Total Salary: $23,900
The Indians have been steadily gaining ground on the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central, and they’re currently just 4.0 games behind them in the standings. Most of their improvement can be accredited to their increased offensive output, and they should only continue to improve following the trade deadline. They acquired Reyes and Yasiel Puig in exchange for Trevor Bauer, both of whom represent significant upgrades in their lineup.
That said, the biggest difference for their lineup has been the reemergence of Ramirez. He was mired in a deep slump for most of the first-half, but he’s posted a .399 wOBA and 148 wRC+ since the All-Star break. If he can continue to produce at that level, the Indians offense will be scary moving forward.
They’re currently implied for 6.2 runs today vs. Rangers right-hander Ariel Jurado, which is the second-highest mark on the slate. Jurado has struggled this season, pitching to a 4.92 ERA and 4.89 FIP.
Jurado has also been worse against right-handed batters than left-handed batters this season, which increases the appeal of Reyes. He’s crushed right-handers this season, posting a .295 ISO, and he enters this contest in good recent form. He’s posted an average distance of 232 feet over his past 10 games, which represents an increase of +13 feet when compared to his 12-month average.
The Indians also own the top four-man stack on FanDuel, so let’s focus on the New York Mets instead. Their top stack will set you back just $12,500, which makes them one of the more affordable options with upside:
- 1. Jeff McNeil (L)
- 2. Amed Rosario (R)
- 5. Michael Conforto (L)
- 6. J.D. Davis (R)
Total Salary: $12,500
The Mets got a scare yesterday when McNeil left during the second game of their doubleheader, but luckily he was only dealing with cramps. He’s expected to be ready to go on today’s slate. He’s been red-hot recently, outperforming his 12-month marks in average distance and exit velocity over the past 15 days, so he’s a big bat to keep in the lineup.
The Mets are currently implied for 5.4 runs today vs. Hector Noesi, who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2015. He was awful back then, pitching to a 6.89 ERA and 6.23 FIP, and he doesn’t figure to have gotten much better at 32 years old.
The Mets will be without Robinson Cano for at least the next month, but that could be a blessing in disguise. It should open up more playing time for Davis, who has been fantastic this season. He’s posted a 131 wRC+ and .365 wOBA, and he’s increased those marks to 178 and .437 since the All-Star break. His Statcast data from the past 15 days is also excellent, making him a nice target at $2,900.
Jason Heyward is expected to bat leadoff today for the Chicago Cubs at just $3,000 on FanDuel. The Cubs are currently implied for 5.2 runs, and leadoff batters with a comparable salary and implied team total have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.85. He’s also posted an average distance of 229 feet over his past 13 games, which represents an increase of +22 feet when compared to his 12-month average.
Alex Bregman is one of the best pure values today on DraftKings, where his $4,400 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 91%. He leads all batters with 12 Pro Trends, and his Statcast data from his past 11 games is outstanding. He’s posted an average distance of 247 feet, exit velocity of 95 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 57%, all of which represent sizable increases when compared to his 12-month averages. This is an excellent opportunity to buy low on one of the most talented hitters in baseball.
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Pictured above: Mets 2B/OF Jeff McNeil (6) and OF Michael Conforto (30)
Photo credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports