Today’s main slate features 15 games and starts at 7:05 pm ET. Here’s a data-driven breakdown featuring five key stats, courtesy of FantasyLabs contributor, Matt LaMarca.
FantasyLabs is a daily fantasy tool 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.
7.9 K Prediction – Carlos Carrasco
Carrasco is the most expensive pitcher on the slate at $12,100, and he has an excellent matchup against the Athletics. Their projected lineup has a 12-month splits-adjusted strikeout rate of 28.7 percent — the fourth-highest mark on the slate — and their .309 wOBA is the sixth worst. He leads the slate with a K Prediction of 7.9, and his opponent implied team total of 3.7 runs ranks first as well. 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. Pitchers with comparable K Predictions and opponent implied team totals have a historical Plus/Minus of +2.03.
Additionally, Carrasco boasts elite Statcast data over his last two starts with an average distance of 191 feet, exit velocity of 89 miles per hour and hard hit rate of 26 percent. Pitchers with that kind of batted ball profile and strikeout upside are rare and have posted a historical Plus/Minus of +2.73 over the past three seasons. Pitching in Oakland also affords Carrasco a Park Factor of 79, which is one of the top marks on the slate.
With no true stud like Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale or Max Scherzer available, ownership at pitcher should be relatively spread out on this slate. Still, Carrasco will likely be the highest-owned option, especially with the weather in New York putting the status of Jacob deGrom in jeopardy.
-86 Recent Batted Ball Luck – Jon Gray
Gray has looked good since returning from the disabled list two starts ago, allowing just four earned runs and striking out 15 batters over 11.2 innings. He’s also posted an average Plus/Minus of +9.66 over that time period. That said, his success has come in spite of some pretty horrid Statcast data. At FantasyLabs, we have a Recent Batted Ball Luck metric that measures the difference between a player’s percentile rank in batted ball distance and fantasy scoring over the past 15 days. Gray has the worst mark on the slate at -86. His 15-day/12-month distance differential of +28 feet suggests that he’s been hit harder than usual in the last half-month.
Gray is facing the Mets on the road today, and logic would dictate that getting away from Coors would do wonders for him from a fantasy perspective. His historical ownership bears that out: Gray has an average ownership of 18 percent on the road compared to only 6.1 percent at home. Despite the difference in ownership, however, Gray has actually been a significantly worse fantasy producer on the road than at Coors Field. He has a historical Plus/Minus of +1.70 over 21 starts at home and a paltry Plus/Minus of -0.09 on the road. Given his poor recent batted ball profile, historical road struggles and 36 percent chance of precipitation, Gray looks like a solid fade candidate.
11 Pro Trends – George Springer and Eric Thames
At Fantasy Labs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. George Springer and Eric Thames are tied for the most Pro Trends on today’s slate with 11, which has historically resulted in a Plus/Minus of +2.32. Both players also have solid implied team totals, with Springer’s Astros implied for 5.1 runs and Thames’ Brewers implied for 5.4.
Springer is projected to bat leadoff against Twins’ right-hander Jose Berrios, who has allowed five home runs and 12 earned runs over his last three starts. Springer has absolutely crushed the baseball over his last 10 games, posting 15-day/12-month distance, exit velocity and hard hit differentials of +36 feet, +5 miles per hour and +17 percentage points. Batters with comparable differentials and implied team totals have a historical Plus/Minus of +2.21.
Thames has cooled off a bit after his torrid start to this season, but it looks as if he may be heating up again. He leads all projected starters with a batted ball distance of 285 feet over the past 15 days, and batters with a comparable recent distance have a historical Plus/Minus of +2.14. Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta meanwhile has allowed an average of 1.88 home runs per nine innings over the past 12 months and given up an average distance of 233 feet over his past two starts.
78 Park Factor – Left-Handed Batters for the Orioles and Cubs
Park Factor is a 0-to-100 FantasyLabs metric that measures the friendliness of a park based on the handedness of the batter. The Cubs and Orioles are playing at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and left-handed batters for both teams lead the slate with a Park Factor of 78. Both teams have an implied team total of 5.1 runs, which currently ranks fifth on the slate.
Despite playing half of their games at this venue, the Orioles are only projected to bat one left-handed batter today. Chris Davis has been on the disabled list for nearly all of the past month with a strained oblique, but he is expected to be activated for this series with the Cubs at some point. Seth Smith is another name to consider if he’s in the starting lineup; he’s posted 15-day/12-month distance and hard hit differentials of +8 feet and +12 percentage points, and batters in the top third of the lineup with comparable implied team totals and differentials have a historical Plus/Minus of +1.80.
The Cubs are projected to have four left-handed batters in their lineup for today’s contest, and switch hitters Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist are also on the positive side of their splits against Orioles’ right-hander Kevin Gausman. Anthony Rizzo is in the best recent form of the group, posting a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +11 feet. Kyle Schwarber has been pretty terrible this year, with an average Plus/Minus of -1.12, but he has a 12-month ISO split of .247 and has recently moved up to fifth in the lineup. The Cubs have some upside in this spot, and avoiding Kris Bryant will likely make Chicago stacks more contrarian.
84 Team Value Rating – Detroit Tigers
Team Value Rating is a 0-to-100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. The Tigers’ implied team total of 4.7 runs is only tied for ninth on today’s slate, but with just Justin Upton priced above $4,000 they’re also one of the most affordable options. They’re facing Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who got rocked for five earned runs over 1.2 innings in his first start off the disabled list.
Miguel Cabrera is priced all the way down to $3,300, which is ridiculous considering how good of a hitter he has been throughout his career. He’s posted an awful -2.25 Plus/Minus over his last 10 games, but his Statcast data suggests that he’s hit the ball better than his fantasy numbers indicate. He’s posted positive 15-day/12-month differentials in exit velocity and hard hit rate, so he’s likely due for some positive regression. The best recent Statcast data on the Tigers belongs to Nick Castellanos, with 15-day/12-month distance and hard hit differentials of +10 feet and +14 percentage points. He also leads the team with eight Pro Trends, and batters with a comparable number of Pro Trends and similar differentials have a historical Plus/Minus of +1.24. The Tigers could have minimal ownership on this slate with so many teams implied for more runs, which increases their appeal in DraftKings tournaments.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) 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.