The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Wednesday features a split slate that differs by site. DraftKings features a five-game early slate starting at 12:35 p.m. ET, while FanDuel features a three-game very early slate at 12:35 p.m. ET and two-game early slate at 3:37 p.m. ET. Both sites feature a 10-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Two pitchers stand out above the rest today on FanDuel:
- Gerrit Cole (R) $12,000, HOU @ CIN
- Lucas Giolito (R) $11,200, CWS @ CHC
Cole headlines the early slate, and he’s been dominant this season. His 3.67 ERA isn’t all that impressive, but he’s been one of the unluckier pitchers in baseball. He’s stranded just 69.0% of baserunners – which is the 12th-worst mark among qualified starters – and 20% of his fly balls allowed have turned into home runs. Cole was significantly better in both categories last season, so it’s fair to expect some positive regression for him moving forward.
Where Cole has really excelled is with his strikeout ability. He’s posted a K/9 of 13.90, which is the best mark in the league by nearly a full strikeout. The result is an average Plus/Minus of +5.59 on DraftKings through his first 15 starts.
He’s in a difficult spot today vs. the Cincinnati Reds. Their projected lineup has been solid against right-handers over the past 12 months, and the Great American Ballpark is historically one of the most hitter-friendly venues in baseball. Only Coors Field has provided a greater boost in terms of runs per game this season (per ESPN’s Park Factors).
Cole still provides solid strikeout upside – his K Prediction of 8.4 ranks first on the slate – but he’s best used for guaranteed prize pools.
Giolito has been nothing short of brilliant for the White Sox this season. He was once considered the top pitching prospect in baseball, and he’s finally put it all together. He’s pitched to a 2.22 ERA and 10.56 K/9, and his 3.0 wins above replacement ranks fourth in the league. He posted a 6.13 ERA and 6.49 K/9 last season, so this has been a remarkable turnaround.
His Statcast data from his past two starts is also strong. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 199 feet and hard hit rate of 23%, both of which represent decreases when compared to his 12-month averages.
That said, it’s tough to trust Giolito today vs. the Chicago Cubs. His 3.9 opponent implied team total is merely tied for fourth on the main slate, and he’s also a +135 underdog. Pitchers with comparable moneyline odds and salaries have historically struggled, posting an average Plus/Minus of -2.95 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool).
Rich Hill owns one of the best matchups of the day vs. the San Francisco Giants. Their offense has really struggled against southpaws over the past 12 months, posting a .259 wOBA and 28.6% strikeout rate. They’re currently implied for just 3.1 runs, and Hill’s moneyline odds of -235 make him the second-largest favorite on the slate.
Hill has also excelled from a strikeout perspective this season, posting a K/9 of 10.21, and he owns a K Prediction of 7.5 on today’s slate. Historically, pitchers with comparable K Predictions and Vegas data have averaged a Plus/Minus of +5.79 on FanDuel.
He’s an elite option in all formats, particularly on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 79%.
Jon Lester is opposing Giolito in Chicago, and he’s another pitcher with an elite matchup on today’s slate. The White Sox’ projected lineup has been abysmal vs. left-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .266 wOBA and 35.7% strikeout rate. Unsurprisingly, Lester owns solid marks in both opponent implied team total (3.2 runs) and K Prediction (6.2).
He’s also posted solid Statcast marks over his past two starts. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 194 feet, thanks in part to a groundball rate of 54%. It represents a decrease of -18 feet when compared to his 12-month average, and pitchers with comparable distance differentials and opponent implied team totals have averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.65 on DraftKings.
Chris Bassitt owns the top Vegas data on the early slate. He owns a 3.4 opponent implied team total and -266 moneyline odds vs. the Baltimore Orioles, and he’s extremely cheap at just $6,900 on FanDuel. Pitchers with comparable salaries and Vegas data have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +6.42.
The only real downside with Bassitt is his lack of strikeout upside. He’s pitched to a 8.40 K/9 over the past 12 months, and his 5.5 K Prediction is mediocre. Still, he’s one of the safest options available for cash games.
Blake Snell: He has an interesting matchup vs. the Yankees, who have the reputation of being an elite offensive team. That said, they rank just 26th in wRC+ vs. southpaws in 2019, and Snell’s K Prediction of 8.7 is the top mark on the day.
Trevor Williams: He’s taking on the Detroit Tigers, which automatically puts him into fantasy consideration. Right-handers have dominated Detroit this season, averaging a ridiculous Plus/Minus of +8.10 on FanDuel.
- 1. Marcus Semien (R)
- 2. Matt Chapman (R)
- 3. Matt Olson (L)
- 4. Khris Davis (R)
- 5. Stephen Piscotty (R)
Total Salary: $20,900
The A’s also owned the top stack on Tuesday’s slate and did not disappoint, scoring 16 runs and clubbing six HRs vs. the Orioles. They’re in another wonderful spot today given their implied team total of 5.7 runs. They also represent the best pure value on the early slate given their Team Value Rating of 81 on DraftKings.
They’re taking on Orioles right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis, who has been dreadful this season. He’s pitched to a 5.40 ERA, and his 6.23 FIP suggests he’s been even worse than his traditional metrics indicate.
He’s struggled in particular against left-handed batters, allowing them to post a .422 wOBA. That bodes well for Olson, who has posted a .351 wOBA and .243 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months. He’s also hit the ball well over the past 15 days, exceeding his 12-month marks in average distance and exit velocity.
On the main slate, the top four-man FanDuel stack belongs to the Los Angeles Angels:
- 1. Tommy La Stella (L)
- 2. Mike Trout (R)
- 5. Albert Pujols (R)
- 6. Kole Calhoun (L)
Total Salary: $14,100
The Angels are implied for 5.6 runs vs. the Toronto Blue Jays, which is the top mark on the main slate. That will likely make them a popular target, but avoiding guys like Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton should increase your chances of having a contrarian lineup.
Trout in particular should command massive ownership, but it’s warranted given how well he’s been swinging the bat recently. His Statcast data from the past 15 days is absolutely insane, posting an average distance of 279 feet, exit velocity of 96 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 48%.
The Angels have a nice matchup vs. Aaron Sanchez, who has pitched to a 5.04 ERA and 5.18 FIP this season. He’s struggled in particular with walks – he’s posted a BB/9 of 5.16 – so the Angels should have lots of traffic on the base path at a bare minimum.
Justin Turner will be on the positive side of his batting splits vs. Giants left-hander Drew Pomeranz, and Turner has posted a .375 wOBA and .211 ISO vs. southpaws over the past 12 months. His Statcast data from the past 15 days is also typically reserved for video games: 242-foot distance, 99 mile per hour exit velocity, 68% hard hit rate. He’s underpriced across the industry.
Bryce Harper has been a disappointment in his first season with the Phillies, but the hate has gone too far. He’s still been an above-average hitter this season in terms of wRC+, and he’s been priced down to just $3,800 on DraftKings. He’s on the positive side of his batting splits vs. Nationals right-hander Austin Voth, who will be making just his first start at the MLB level this season.
Ryan Braun is an interesting target on the early slate. He’s taking on Padres left-hander Matt Strahm, and Braun has been significantly better vs. left-handers than right-handers over the past 12 months. His recent Statcast data also suggests he’s been extremely unlucky recently. He’s exceeded his 12-month marks in distance, exit velocity, and hard hit rate over the past 15 days, so he’s a nice candidate for positive regression.
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: Oakland Athletics SS Marcus Semien (10) & 1B Matt Olson (28)
Photo credit: Stan Szeto-USA Today Sports