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 10-game main slate starting at 1:05 p.m. ET and a four-game afternoon slate starting at 4:07 p.m. ET.
Five pitchers on today’s slates own a salary of at least $10,000 on FanDuel:
- Walker Buehler (R) $11,300, LAD @ WSH
- Trevor Bauer (R) $11,100, CLE @ KC
- Aaron Nola (R) $10,400, PHI vs. ATL
- Robbie Ray (L) $10,200, ARI @ MIA
- Stephen Strasburg (R) $10,000, WSH vs. LAD
Buehler and Strasburg are squaring off in Washington, which ultimately limits the appeal of both players. Buehler is just a small -112 favorite, while Strasburg is a +103 underdog. Both players also have pedestrian opponent implied team totals considering their salaries, with Buehler checking in at 4.2 and Strasbrug at 4.4.
One area where Buehler stands out is with his strikeout ability. He’s increased his K/9 in each month this season, culminating in a mark of 12.15 during the month of July. The Phillies own the 12th-highest strikeout rate against right-handers this season, so Buehler can do some damage in this matchup.
Nola is another pitcher who has shown serious improvement recently. He got off to a rough start this season but has pitched to a 1.93 ERA since the beginning of July.
He’s in a solid spot today vs. the Atlanta Braves. Their projected lineup has posted a .304 wOBA and 26.9% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months. Nola’s opponent implied team total of 4.4 runs is on the high side, but this is still a matchup he can find success in. He’s pitched to 2.95 ERA and 9.8 K/9 in three previous starts vs. the Braves this season. He’s worth some consideration on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 86%.
Bauer could be making his final start as a member of the Cleveland Indians before getting moved at the trade deadline on Wednesday. He’s struggled this season, pitching to a 3.49 ERA and 4.19 FIP, but he should still fetch the Indians a major haul if they do decide to trade him.
If this is his final start with the Indians, he’ll have the opportunity to end his tenure on a high note vs. the Kansas City Royals. They’ve struggled against right-handers this season, ranking just 22nd in wRC+, and their projected lineup has struck out in 24.8% of at bats against right-handers over the past 12 months. His resulting opponent implied team total of 3.9 runs and K Prediction of 7.1 both rank second on the slate, while his -172 moneyline odds rank third. Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in all three categories have posted an average Plus/Minus of +3.04 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool).
Ray rounds out the stud group, and he has one of the best possible matchups vs. the Miami Marlins. They’ve been dreadful offensively this season, ranking just 29th in runs per game, and they’ve posted the third-lowest wRC+ against left-handed pitchers in particular. Ray’s opponent implied team total of 3.5 runs is the top mark on the slate by a pretty wide margin.
Ray is also one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball. He’s pitched to a K/9 of 11.90 over the past 12 months, and he’s struck out at least eight batters in five of his past seven starts. It goes without saying that he has huge upside in this matchup.
The bigger question is whether or not you should trust him for cash games. He has historically not been the most reliable option, and he’s allowed opposing batters to post a hard hit rate of 51% over his past two starts. He carries more risk than his traditional metrics indicate.
Jason Vargas was one of the worst pitchers in baseball last season, but he’s rebounded to put together a solid 2019 campaign for the New York Mets. He’s pitched to a 3.96 ERA, and he’s averaged a Plus/Minus of +8.83 over his past 10 starts on FanDuel.
His 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 27%, all of which represent significant decreases when compared to his 12-month averages.
That makes him an appealing value today in an excellent matchup vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates. Their offense has been terrible against left-handers this season, ranking dead last in wRC+. They were shutout by left-hander Steven Matz on Saturday – which was the first shutout of his career – and Vargas is very affordable at just $6,700 on DraftKings.
Kyle Gibson owns a similar price tag to Vargas across the industry, but he benefits from a couple of key differences. For starters, Gibson plays for the Minnesota Twins, who have been one of the best offensive teams in baseball this season. They’re currently implied for a whopping 6.1 runs, which makes Gibson a -175 favorite.
He also has more strikeout upside than Vargas given his matchup vs. the Chicago White Sox. They’re not as offensively inept as the Pirates, but their projected lineup has posted a 29.0% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months. Gibson isn’t a huge strikeout pitcher – he’s posted a K/9 of 8.19 over the past 12 months – but he has more upside than usual in this matchup.
Mike Fiers: He has some of the best Vegas data of the day against the Texas Rangers, resulting in a 3.9 opponent implied team total and -201 moneyline odds. His Statcast data from his past two starts is also strong, making him a strong option on the afternoon slate.
Matt Boyd: He also pitches in the afternoon, and his $9,700 salary on FanDuel comes with a Bargain Rating of 96%. He owns a nice combination of strikeout upside and recent Statcast data vs. the Seattle Mariners.
Wade Miley: He has a nice matchup vs. the St. Louis Cardinals, whose projected lineup has struggled to a .271 wOBA and 28.4% strikeout rate over the past 12 months. He also benefits from pitching for the Astros, resulting in -138 moneyline odds.
- 1. Francisco Lindor (S)
- 2. Oscar Mercado (R)
- 3. Carlos Santana (S)
- 4. Jordan Luplow (R)
Total Salary: $14,300
The Indians are currently implied for 5.2 runs, which is tied for the fourth-highest mark on the main slate. They’re taking on Royals left-hander Danny Duffy, and the Indians have posted the 10th-highest wRC+ against left-handers over the past 30 days. Luplow in particular has smashed left-handers over the past 12-months, posting a .416 wOBA and .333 ISO, and his $2,600 salary on FanDuel comes with a Bargain Rating 84%.
Duffy is also a pretty pedestrian left-hander. He’s pitched to a 4.97 xFIP this season, and his Statcast data from his past two starts is concerning. He’s allowed opposing batters to post an average distance of 228 feet, exit velocity of 96 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 50%, all of which represent increases when compared to his 12-month averages.
Meanwhile, the Indians collectively enter this contest in good recent form. Each of the above batters has exceeded their 12-month average in distance over the past 15 days, and all but Santana have also exceeded their 12-month average in hard hit rate.
On the afternoon slate, the top five-man DraftKings stack belongs to the Los Angeles Angels:
- 1. David Fletcher (R)
- 2. Mike Trout (R)
- 3. Shohei Ohtani (L)
- 4. Justin Upton (R)
- 5. Albert Pujols (R)
Total Salary: $23,400
The Angels lead the afternoon slate with an implied team total of 6.2 runs, and they have an excellent matchup vs. Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy. He’s pitched to a 5.14 ERA and 5.18 FIP this season, and the Angels rank sixth in wRC+ against right-handers.
Four of the stacked batters will be on the wrong side of their splits in this matchup, but that could actually be a positive against Bundy. He’s been worse against right-handed batters than left-handed batters this season, allowing them to post a .362 wOBA.
Lorenzo Cain is priced at a nice discount on FanDuel, where his $2,900 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 77%. He’ll be on the positive side of his batting splits against Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana, and Cain has posted a .352 wOBA against southpaws over the past 12 months. He also enters this contest in elite recent form, posting a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +26 feet and hard hit differential of +9 percentage points.
Michael Conforto homered in yesterday’s contest and is in another strong spot today. He’s taking on Chris Archer, who has pitched to a 5.40 ERA and 5.66 FIP this season. He’s also given up homeruns in bunches, allowing an average of 2.23 per nine innings this season.
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Pictured above: Diamondbacks SP Robbie Ray (38)
Photo credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports