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

Saturday features a split slate. The early slate starts at 4:05 p.m. ET and differs by site — DraftKings features six games while FanDuel features four — and both sites offer an eight-game main slate starting at 7:10 p.m. ET.

Pitchers

Studs

Three pitchers on today’s slates stand out above the rest on FanDuel:

  • Chris Sale (L) $11,900, BOS @ BAL
  • Walker Buehler (R) $11,000, LAD vs. CHC
  • Stephen Strasburg (R) $10,800, WSH vs. ARI

Sale got off to a rough start this season, but he’s been as dominant as ever recently. He’s pitched to a 1.99 ERA and 1.70 FIP over his past eight starts while averaging a ridiculous 14.58 strikeouts per nine innings. The result is an average Plus/Minus of +12.82 on FanDuel over that time frame.

The Statcast data from his past three starts is also strong. He has limited opposing batters to an average distance of 184 feet, which represents a decrease of -22 feet when compared to his 12-month average.

He’s in an excellent spot today vs. the Baltimore Orioles. They’re implied for a slate-low 3.0 runs, and Sale is a massive -322 favorite. Historically, pitchers with comparable Vegas data have been excellent investments, providing an average Plus/Minus of +3.98 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool).

Chris-Sale

Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chris Sale

Sale also offers the most strikeout upside on the slate given his K Prediction of 10.2. He’s the easy top choice if you’re paying up at pitcher on the early slate.

Strasburg is the other stud option available on the early slate, and he has his merits as well. His Statcast from his past two starts is absolutely elite. He’s posted an average distance of 180 feet, exit velocity of 85 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 20%, all three of which represent significant decreases when compared to his 12-month averages.

That said, his matchup isn’t nearly as appealing as Sale’s. He’s taking on the Arizona Diamondbacks, and their projected lineup has posted a .342 wOBA and 21.0% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months. Those numbers are slightly inflated by playing half their games at Chase Field, but they still rank 17th in wRC+ against right-handers when playing on the road this season.

Overall, Strasburg’s marks are still really strong — 3.6 opponent implied team total, -215 moneyline odds, 8.6 K Prediction — they’re just not as strong as Sale’s. He’s best used as a pivot for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).

Buehler headlines the main slate, but he’s been a bit of a disappointment this season. His ERA of 3.35 is solid, but it’s still drastically higher than his 2.03 ERA from the second half of last season. He’s also striking out slightly fewer batters than he did last season.

That said, he is coming off two dominant performances in his last two outings. He’s allowed just one earned run over 15 innings pitched while recording 20 strikeouts. His Statcast data from those starts isn’t nearly as impressive — he allowed batters to post an average exit velocity of 96 miles per hour and hard hit rate of 50% — but that doesn’t matter as much when you’re racking up strikeouts.

Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler (21) at Wrigley Field.

He’s in an interesting spot today vs. the Chicago Cubs. Their offense can do some damage against right-handed pitchers – they ranked eighth in wOBA and ninth in wRC+ in 2019 — but their implied team total of 3.5 runs is tied for the lowest mark on the main slate. Buehler’s K Prediction of 7.2 is also tied for third.

Buehler definitely carries some risk, but he still offers one of the safer floors on the slate. He’s particularly appealing on DraftKings, where his $10,200 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 86%.

Values

Aaron Nola had a rough start to his season, but he’s essentially back to the form that saw him finish third in the NL Cy Young voting last season. Craig Edwards did a deep dive into Nola on FanGraphs — which you should definitely check out — but the CliffsNotes version is he’s allowing less home runs and striking out more batters than he did at the beginning of the year.

He’s in an appealing spot today vs. the Atlanta Braves. Their projected lineup has posted a .265 wOBA vs. right-handers over the past 12 months, which is one of the worst splits-adjusted marks on the slate. They’ve also posted a 26.7% strikeout rate over that time frame, giving Nola solid strikeout upside.

His Vegas data is pretty pedestrian — he owns a 4.5 opponent implied team total and -105 moneyline odds — but Nola is a much better pitcher than those numbers indicate. He should carry very modest ownership, making him a nice target for GPPs.

Noah Syndergaard is coming off one of the best starts of the season, pitching seven scoreless innings vs. the Colorado Rockies. His Statcast data from his past two starts is also excellent. He has limited opposing batters to an average distance of 186 feet and a hard hit rate of 16%. It’s possible that Syndergaard is on the verge of a breakout.

He’s in a decent spot today vs. the St. Louis Cardinals, resulting in an opponent implied team total of 4.0 runs. They also rank just 18th in wRC+ and have the 10th highest strikeout rate when facing a right-hander on the road this season.

Fastballs

Shane Bieber: He’s another pitcher on the early slate with excellent Vegas data, owning a 3.5 opponent implied team total and -240 moneyline odds vs. the Detroit Tigers. He could provide similar production to Sale and Strasburg at a slightly reduced salary.

German Marquez: He has the unenviable task of pitching at Coors Field, but he has arguably the most strikeout upside on the main slate. He owns a K Prediction of 8.9 vs. the San Diego Padres, whose projected lineup has posted a 28.3% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months.

Michael Wacha: He returned to the Cardinals rotation on Monday and shut out the Marlins over six innings. He has another decent matchup today vs. the Mets, and Wacha is dirt-cheap at just $5,500 on DraftKings.

Notable Stacks

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS lineups. On the early slate, the top five-man DraftKings stack per the Bales Model belongs to the Boston Red Sox:

  • 1. Mookie Betts (R)
  • 2. Andrew Benintendi (L)
  • 3. J.D. Martinez (R)
  • 5. Xander Bogaerts (R)
  • 6. Brock Holt (L)

Total Salary: $24,500

A full Red Sox stack is expensive, and it’s likely going to prevent you from paying up for Sale or Strasburg. That said, they have massive upside. They’re implied for 5.6 runs, which trails only the Nationals’ mark of 5.8 on the early slate.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Boston Red Sox outfielder J.D. Martinez (28) celebrates with outfielder Mookie Betts.

They’re taking on Orioles’ right-hander Dylan Bundy, who has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball this season. He’s pitched to a 5.19 FIP and has struggled with both walks (3.09 BB/9) and homers (1.93 HR/9). The Red Sox are capable of doing a lot of damage vs. right-handed pitchers, ranking seventh in wRC+ this season.

Benintendi in particular stands out as an elite option. He’s on the positive side of his batting splits vs. a right-handed pitcher, and he’s posted some elite Statcast data over his past 15 days. He’s averaged a batted ball distance of 252 feet, exit velocity of 94 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 52%, all of which represent significant increases when compared to his 12-month averages.

On the main slate, the top four-man FanDuel stack belongs to the Oakland Athletics:

  • 1. Marcus Semien (R)
  • 2. Mark Canha (R)
  • 4. Khris Davis (R)
  • 5. Chad Pinder (R)

Total Salary: $12,600

The A’s stand out as one of the best values of the day on FanDuel. Their implied team total of 5.5 runs ranks third on the main slate, while their Team Value Rating of 86 ranks first.

Right-hander Gerson Bautista will draw the start for the Mariners, but he’s not expected to pitch more than an inning or two. Left-hander Wade LeBlanc is expected to handle the majority of the innings, which makes the right-handed batters for the A’s appealing. Righties have posted a .346 wOBA against LeBlanc this season and have clubbed seven HRs over 32.0 innings.

The stacked batters also enter today’s contest in good recent form. Each has outperformed their 12-month average distance over the past 15 days, headlined by Pinder’s mark of +43 feet.

Other Batters

Charlie Blackmon is on the wrong side of his batting splits today vs. Padres left-hander Eric Lauer, but he enters this contest scorching hot. He’s clubbed five HRs in his past five games, resulting in an average of 32.52 FanDuel points per game. His Statcast data from his past 15 days is also outstanding, particularly has average distance of 240 feet. He’s a strong target at $4,300 on FanDuel, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 84%.

Paul Goldschmidt is one of the best pure values on DraftKings, where his $3,600 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 99%. He has a tough matchup vs. Syndergaard, but Goldschmidt has still posted a .392 wOBA and .223 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months. This is a nice opportunity to find value with a superstar batter.

Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more in-depth MLB analysis.

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: Philadelphia Phillies P Aaron Nola (27)
Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports