Today’s main slate features 15 games and starts at 7:05 pm ET. Here’s a date-driven breakdown featuring five key stats, courtesy of FantasyLabs Editor-in-Chief, Matthew Freedman.
FantasyLabs is a daily fantasy tools and real-time analytics platform that enables players to test theories, create and backtest models and construct customized lineups. In this piece, I leverage the same tools used by co-founders Jonathan Bales and Peter Jennings (CSURAM88) for each slate.
9.1 K Prediction – Max Scherzer
The 2016 leader in wins (20), games started (34), innings pitched (228.1), strikeouts (281) and WHIP (0.968), Scherzer is easily the slate’s most expensive pitcher at $12,700. On the one hand, it might be hard to pay up for Scherzer since he’s not as big of a favorite as Carlos Carrasco ($10,200) and Kenta Maeda ($8,700), whose teams are currently favored by 1.6 and 1.1 runs, but the Diamondbacks are still spotting Scherzer a 0.7-run advantage as the favorite over the Mets, who currently have a slate-low implied total of just 3.2 runs. Even though he’ll be facing Jacob deGrom ($10,500), Scherzer still has a good chance of getting the win. In fact, it’s possible that, because of his matchup with deGrom, Scherzer could have lower ownership than usual. Through his four 2017 starts, Scherzer has averaged a 29.2 percent ownership in large-field guaranteed prize pools.
There are so many reasons to like Scherzer, one of the most important of which is his slate-leading 9.1 strikeout prediction. At FantasyLabs we have a proprietary Plus/Minus metric that measures actual vs. expected fantasy production based on the historical performances of previous players at comparable salaries. According to our industry-leading Trends tool, Scherzer has had a comparable salary, opponent run total and strikeout prediction in 27 games since joining the Nationals in 2015. In those games, Scherzer has crushed with 30.69 DraftKings points per game, an +8.72 Plus/Minus and a smoking 85.2 percent Consistency Rating.
Scherzer’s yet to strike out fewer than seven batters or pitch fewer than six innings in any game this season. Even with his high salary, he’s deservedly one of the highest-rated pitchers in our Player Models.
73 Recent Batted Ball Luck Score – Kyle Freeland
At $6,500, Freeland is cheap — so at least he has that going for him. Otherwise, he looks like a horrible option. He’s a 23-year-old left-handed rookie set to make his fifth major league start, and he’s playing on the road at hitter-friendly Chase Field against the righty-heavy Diamondbacks, who are implied for 5.0 runs . . . and the wind is currently forecast to blow out to left field at 18 miles per hour. To quote Owen Wilson in Armageddon, “Scariest environment imaginable.” Except, it isn’t. He’s already had to pitch at Coors Field three times this year: In two of those games, he put up 21-plus points in six innings of work, allowing no more than one run. Even though he got “Coors-ed” in the third of those games, at least he’s shown an ability to produce in suboptimal conditions.
On top of that, Freeland hasn’t been all that bad in his young career. His 3.32 ERA is respectable, and his 72 percent ground ball rate over the last 15 days leads the slate. On the season he has a +2.25 Plus/Minus, and it’s possible that Freeland has actually pitched better than his fantasy production would suggest. At FantasyLabs, we have a Recent Batted Ball Luck metric, which measures the difference between a player’s percentile rank in batted ball distance and fantasy scoring over the past 15 days. Freeland has a slate-high mark of 73: Over his last two starts he has held opposing batters to an average batted ball distance of 174 feet, exit velocity of 86 miles per hour, and slate-low fly ball rate of just 13 percent.
His situation looks bad, but he has potential and what’s likely to be drastically low ownership in GPPs. He’s worth some contrarian consideration.
.347 ISO – Kris Bryant
As of writing, stud first baseman Eric Thames is questionable for the Braves-Brewers game, which means that the everyday player with the highest split-adjusted 12-month isolated power in the slate is Cubs’ third baseman Kris Bryant, who’s generally in a positive spot. The Cubs are on the road facing the Red Sox, whose starting pitcher (Drew Pomeranz) was last year the worst version of himself at Fenway, allowing a personal-high .293 batting average and .897 OPS to opposing hitters. Projected to bat second, the right-handed Bryant is on the beneficial side of his splits against the lefty Pomeranz, and the Cubs are currently implied for a respectable 4.5 runs — high enough for optimism but probably low enough to keep their ownership from being inflated.
After hitting 39 home runs last year, the reigning NL MVP has been relatively quiet this season with only two home runs, and it’s fair to wonder whether Bryant’s bat presently has the pop to launch a ball over the Monster. It might. He has a solid 45 percent fly ball rate over the last 15 days, a Park Factor of 61, and a wind forecast to be blowing out at six mph. At $5,200, he’s expensive, which could serve to limit his ownership. Historically, batters with comparable salaries, lineup spots, team implied totals, fly ball rates and Park Factors have done well, scoring 10.00 DraftKings points per game, a +1.22 Plus/Minus, and 45.7 percent Consistency Rating.
Currently, the Cubs-Sox game is forecast for a zero percent chance of precipitation.
81 Park Factor – Left-Handed Orioles and Yankees
There’s no Coors Field game in this slate, which is a blessing and a curse. As a result, the batters in the best venue-based situation today are the lefties for the Orioles and Yankees. Park Factor is a FantasyLabs metric that measures the friendliness of a park based on the handedness of the batter and the starting pitcher. At Yankee Stadium, lefties have an 81 Park Factor, given that from home plate to the right-field foul pole and power alley the distance is only 314 and 385 feet. While the hard-hitting Chris Davis ($4,300) is currently expected to be the only lefty in the Orioles’ lineup — and he’s on the negative side of his splits against lefty CC Sabathia — the Yankees’ lefties are intriguing.
Facing righty Kevin Gausman, who has disappointed this season with a 7.50 ERA and MLB-high 15 walks, the Yankees are projected to bat four lefties in their six highest lineup spots: Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury and Didi Gregorius, not one of whom is more than $4,000. Historically, lefties batting in the six highest spots at home against comparable pitchers and with comparable Park Factors implied team totals, and temperatures have crushed with a +1.22 Plus/Minus and 45.8 percent Consistency Rating.
The Yankees have some GPP upside and likely won’t have high ownership.
88 Team Value Rating – Tigers
Team Value Rating is a 0 to 100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. Currently implied for the slate’s second-highest total at 5.0 runs, the Tigers lead the slate in Team Value Rating, given that the batters projected to hit first through sixth collectively average $3,583 per player. Although the Tigers are at Comerica Park, which has Park Factors of 39 and 35 for righties and lefties — and currently the White Sox-Tigers game has a Weather Rating of 35, with a 20 percent chance of precipitation — the Tigers have some potential.
Ian Kinsler, Tyler Collins, Nick Castellanos, Victor Martinez, Justin Upton and Alex Avila all have split-adjusted 12-month ISOs above .165, and they average 7.17 Pro Trends per player. They’re facing journeyman Mike Pelfrey, who in his one start this season lasted only 4.1 innings. If the game experiences some weather issues it’s possible that Pelfrey could exit early, which would be advantageous for the Tigers, who have an Opponent Bullpen Rating of 69, meaning that the White Sox have overworked their bullpen in the last three games. Historically, batters with comparable lineup spots, Pro Trends, probabilities of rain and Opponent Bullpen Ratings have outperformed with a +1.22 Plus/Minus and 46.1 percent Consistency Rating.
The threat of rain could serve to decrease the ownership of the Tigers, but, ironically, a little rain could increase their potential upside. They’re worth some risk-seeking consideration in GPPs.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mefreedman) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.