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 an 11-game main slate starting at 1:05 p.m. ET and a three-game afternoon slate starting at 4:07 p.m. ET.

Pitchers

Studs

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

  • Gerrit Cole (R) $12,000, HOU vs. SEA
  • Mike Clevinger (R) $11,300, CLE @ MIN
  • Jack Flaherty (R) $10,300, STL @ PIT
  • Max Scherzer (R) $10,200, WSH @ ATL

Cole has blossomed into one of the unquestioned best starters in baseball in his second year with the Houston Astros. He’s pitched to a 2.81 ERA and 2.88 FIP while increasing his K/9 to a career-best 13.58. He ranks second in the AL in wins above replacement, and he’s +200 to take him his first Cy Young award.

Cole is in a wonderful spot today vs. the Seattle Mariners. Their projected lineup has struggled to a .300 wOBA and 27.2% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months, and they’re currently implied for a slate-low 2.8 runs. Cole is also a massive -409 favorite, and pitchers with comparable Vegas data have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.31 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool).

Where Cole really makes his money is with his strikeout ability, and thats where he really stands out today. He owns a K Prediction of 11.0, which is the top mark on the slate by a substantial margin. He’s also posted elite Statcast data over his past two starts, resulting in a 15-day/12-month distance differential of -29 feet.

Overall, there’s nothing not to like about Cole in this matchup. Get him in your lineups.

Injuries have limited Clevinger to just 93.0 innings this season, but he’s sparkled when he’s been able to take the mound. He’s posted a 2.71 ERA and 2.38 FIP while averaging an elite 12.77 K/9.

Unfortunately, he’s in a brutal spot today vs. the Minnesota Twins. They’ve done damage against right-handers all season, ranking fourth in wRC+ and second in ISO. Clevinger’s opponent implied team total of 4.0 runs is higher than usual.

He also doesn’t have a ton of strikeout upside in this matchup. The Twins have posted the sixth-lowest strikeout rate against right-handers this season, giving Clevinger a mediocre K Prediction of 6.2.

Flaherty has been absolutely dominant over the second half of the season, pitching to a 0.85 ERA and 11.23 K/9. He dominated the San Francisco Giants in his last start, recording eight strikeouts over eight shutout innings, and he’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +14.22 over his past 10 starts on FanDuel

Flaherty’s Statcast data from his past two starts is particularly impressive. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 199 feet, exit velocity of 87 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 24%, all of which represent decreases when compared to his 12-month averages.

He’s in an interesting spot today vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates. Their projected lineup isn’t particularly intimidating against right-handers, ranking 14th in wRC+ over the second-half of the season. Flaherty should also benefit from getting to pitch in PNC Park, which is one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in baseball. The Pirates are currently implied for just 3.8 runs (tied for the fifth-lowest mark of the day).

That said, the Pirates’ lineup has been arguably the toughest to strike out in all of baseball. They own a strikeout rate of just 17.5% against right-handers over the second half of the season, and their projected lineup owns a strikeout rate of 19.5% against right-handers over the past 12 months. Even a strikeout pitcher like Flaherty is going to struggle generate swings-and-misses in this matchup. With that in mind, he’s a much stronger option in cash games than guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).

Scherzer has been limited since returning from the IL on 8/14. He’s thrown just 89 and 90 pitches in his past two starts, so it’s possible that he’ll be on a pitch count again today.

That uncertainty makes him an interesting target in GPPs. It will likely result in reduced ownership, and he has solid upside if he isn’t limited vs. the Atlanta Braves. Their projected lineup has posted a 27.2% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months, and Scherzer is obviously one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball. His K Prediction of 9.7 trails only Cole’s on today’s slate.

Values

Sean Manaea was impressive in his first start of the season, limiting the Yankees to just one hit while striking out five batters over five innings. He threw just 82 pitches, but that didn’t stop him from posting a Plus/Minus of +10.69 on FanDuel.

He’s in a much friendlier spot today vs. the Detroit Tigers, who have been one of the worst offenses in baseball this season. Their projected lineup has posted a .278 wOBA and 30.0% strikeout rate against left-handers over the past 12 months, both of which are among the worst splits-adjusted marks on the slate. As a result, Manaea’s 3.3 opponent implied team total and -297 money line odds both rank second on the day.

Manaea also represents one of the best pure values of the day on FanDuel, where his $7,900 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 99%. Pitchers with comparable Vegas data and salaries have historically been excellent investments, posting an average Plus/Minus of +6.92. He’s easily the top option on the afternoon slate.

Mike Minor has been a quality fantasy option this season, pitching to an average Plus/Minus of +3.00 on DraftKings. He’s in one of the better spots of the day vs. the Baltimore Orioles, who are currently implied for 4.1 runs. Their projected lineup has struggled to a .307 wOBA and 28.7% strikeout rate against left-handers over the past 12 months.

Minor has also pitched extremely well recently from a Statcast perspective. He’s limited his past two opponents to an average distance of 181 feet, which represents a decrease of -23 feet when compared to his 12-month average. He’s a solid option across the industry.

Fastballs

Mike Montgomery: He’s really tough to ignore at just $4,400 on DraftKings given his matchup vs. the Miami Marlins. Their projected lineup has posted a .266 wOBA against southpaws over the past 12 months, and Montgomery has averaged 94 pitches over his past two starts.

Noah Syndergaard: His opponent-implied team total of 3.8 runs is tied for the fifth-lowest mark on the day, and he’s pitched to a 2.80 ERA over the second half of the season. He owns a Bargain Rating of 87% on FanDuel for today’s matchup vs. the Philadelphia Phillies.

Peter Lambert: The pitching options on the afternoon slate are terrible outside of Manaea, so Lambert makes sense as an SP2 on DraftKings. He’s priced at just $5,500 and has a solid matchup vs. the Padres, who have posted a .288 wOBA and 29.1% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months. He also gets one of the largest park upgrades possible moving from Coors Field to Petco Park.

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 Houston Astros:

  • 1. George Springer (R)
  • 2. Jose Altuve (R)
  • 4. Alex Bregman (R)
  • 6. Aledmys Diaz (R)

Total Salary: $15,400

The Astros are currently implied for 5.9 runs, which is the top mark on the main slate by a significant margin. They’re taking on Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez, who is a shell of the pitcher that he was during his prime. He’s pitched to a 6.02 ERA and 5.89 FIP this season, and he’s allowing an average of 2.24 HRs per nine innings. Father Time remains undefeated.

Springer is currently listed as questionable after suffering a concussion, but he is expected to return to the lineup. He’s an elite option if he’s active given his excellent recent Statcast profile. He’s posted an average distance of 256 feet over his past nine games, which represents an increase of +36 feet when compared to his 12-month average. Springer has also posted a .401 wOBA and .271 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months, and his $4,000 salary on FanDuel comes with a Bargain Rating of 88%.

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)
  • 5. Mark Canha (R)
  • 6. Chad Pinder (R)

Total Salary: $21,400

The A’s implied team total of 5.9 runs leads the afternoon slate, which makes their top stack an absolute bargain at just $21,400. It results in a Team Value Rating of 87 on DraftKings, which is the top mark on the slate by a considerable margin.

They’re taking on Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris, who has pitched to a 4.76 ERA and 4.87 FIP in 2019. The A’s rank fifth in wRC+ against southpaws this season, so they can do some serious damage in this matchup.

Pinder stands out as an important differentiator. He should carry less ownership than some of his teammates as the projected No. 6 hitter, but he’s still posted a .333 wOBA and .206 ISO against left-handers over the past 12 months. He also enters this contest in solid recent form, exceeding his 12-month averages in distance, exit velocity, and hard hit rate over the past 15 days.

Other Batters

Shin-Soo Choo is one of the more underrated hitters in baseball, particularly against right-handed pitchers. He’s posted a .378 wIOBA and .198 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months, and he’ll be facing a pretty mediocre right-hander today in Asher Wojciechowski. The Orioles pitchers in general have been dreadful this season — they’ve combined to allow an average of 1.93 HRs per nine innings — and the Rangers are currently implied for 5.3 runs. He’s a solid option as the projected leadoff hitter.

Joey Wendle could be a nice source of value on DraftKings. He’s priced at just $3,400 but will occupy the leadoff spot in the lineup for the Tampa Bay Rays. They’re currently implied for 5.1 runs vs. Blue Jays right-hander Jacob Waguespack, and leadoff batters with comparable salaries and implied team totals have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.50.

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: Astros SP Gerrit Cole (45)
Photo credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports