Today’s main slate features nine games and starts at 7:05 pm ET. Here’s a data-driven breakdown featuring five key stats, courtesy of FantasyLabs Editor-in-Chief, Matthew Freedman.
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.
8.2 K Prediction – Jacob deGrom
In this smaller slate, many DraftKings players are likely to roster one of the two stud pitchers at the top of the salary scale: Stephen Strasburg ($12,700) and Jacob deGrom ($10,200). Given the extent to which he’s dominated this season, with his 7-2 record and 2.80 ERA across 80.1 innings in 12 starts, Strasburg is likely to have the slate’s highest ownership rate despite his $2,500 premium on deGrom, who in turn is $1,400 higher than all other pitchers. Leading the slate with a 1.099 WHIP and 0.776 HR/9 allowed over the last 12 months, Strasburg is at home against a Braves team implied for a slate-low 3.2 runs, and the Nationals are favored by 1.7 runs. Strasburg has the edge on every pitcher in almost every category. His ownership rate deserves to be high.
And yet it’s possible that, of the two studs, deGrom actually has more strikeout upside. Even though deGrom has been horrible in his last two outings, allowing a putrid 15 earned runs and striking out only eight batters in eight innings of work, deGrom is still first on the slate (and third in the league) this season with an 11.75 K/9. He leads the slate with an 8.2 K Prediction, and the Mets are favored by 0.5 runs at home over the Cubs, who currently have the slate’s second-lowest implied total at 3.8 runs. 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. Historically, home pitchers comparable to deGrom on the basis of K Prediction, opponent implied total and likelihood to win have averaged a +2.62 Plus/Minus with a 59.8 percent Consistency Rating.
He’s not Strasburg, but given that he is cheaper and likely to have lower ownership in a good matchup with plenty of strikeout upside, deGrom is a worthy pivot option in guaranteed prize pools for DraftKings players who don’t want to pay up all the way for a pitcher.
104 Pitch Count (12 Months) – Rick Porcello
There are lots of reasons not to like the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner. With his 3-8 record, he leads the MLB in losses. His 4.46 ERA this season is mediocre. No pitcher has allowed more than his 104 hits this season. He’s facing a Phillies’ lineup implied for 4.3 runs, and he has a K Prediction of only 6.0. In comparison to Strasburg, deGrom and even Yu Darvish ($8,800), Porcello is an uninspiring option.
Nevertheless, the case for Porcello is straightforward and somewhat persuasive. He’s relatively cheap at $8,600, and the Red Sox are favored by 2.0 runs at home. As long as he’s able to pitch deep enough into the game to qualify for the win, Porcello has a decent chance of getting the four-point victory bonus. I usually don’t think it’s a good idea to chase wins, but Porcello leads the slate with an 111 pitch count over his last three starts, and he’s also the only pitcher in the slate with an average pitch count of more than 100 over the last 12 months. Even with his struggles this season, Porcello has pitched into at least the sixth inning in all 13 of his starts except for one outing.
Home pitchers comparable to Porcello on the basis of salary, opponent implied total and likelihood to win have averaged a +6.87 Plus/Minus with a 63.6 percent Consistency Rating. Even with his struggles this season, last year’s league leader with 22 wins has a decent chance of racking up another win tonight.
10 Pro Trends – Brian McCann
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. With three home runs over his last five games, McCann leads the slate with 10 Pro Trends. A seven-time All-Star, McCann is a good player who has rarely been great, but this season he’s having one of the best campaigns of his career with a .866 OPS, nine home runs and 31 runs batted in across 40 games. He’s especially been strong over the last 15 days with an elite batted ball distance of 252 feet and hard hit rate of 50 percent.
The Astros are implied for a respectable 4.7 runs against the Rangers, but there are six teams implied for more runs, so McCann and his teammates aren’t likely to have high ownership against Darvish. Historically, left-handed batters have crushed right-handed pitchers when comparable to McCann in Pro Trends and Statcast data, averaging 10.01 DraftKings points with a +2.19 Plus/Minus and 48.3 percent Consistency Rating.
Stacked with teammates or used individually, McCann is a strong option at catcher on the slate.
65 Park Factor – Right-Handed Orioles and White Sox
Park Factor is a 0-to-100 FantasyLabs metric that measures the friendliness of a park based on the handedness of the batter and the starting pitcher. With no games at Coors and Chase Fields — or even Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards or Globe Life Park — this slate doesn’t have a venue that dramatically juices hitting production. Nevertheless, the righties at Guaranteed Rate Field (a.k.a. Comiskey Park in Chicago’s south side) lead the slate with a Park Factor of 65. Given that the Orioles-White Sox game also leads the slate with a Weather Rating of 70, the batters in this game are in a good spot, especially with the wind blowing from right to left at nine miles per hour.
The Orioles are second in the slate with 5.2 implied runs and offer substantial upside. Facing White Sox righty Mike Pelfrey, lefty slugger Chris Davis is on the positive side of his splits, as are a number of his right-handed teammates. Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini all have respectable numbers against right-handed pitching over the last year as well as six to eight Pro Trends. Expected to bat third, Machado has missed four games in a row with a strained left hand, so monitor his status as lineup lock approaches. Batters comparable to Machado on the basis of Park Factor, Pro Trends and lineup spot have done well, averaging a +1.12 Plus/Minus and 44.7 percent Consistency Rating.
Facing Orioles lefty Wade Miley, the White Sox also have a strong implied total at 4.9 runs and are expected to start a righty-heavy lineup. While Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier are likely to be the team’s most popular right-handed batters, No. 6 hitter Matt Davidson is intriguing. Tied for the slate lead with 10 Pro Trends and unlikely to be owned highly, Davidson offers dual eligibility at first and third base and could serve to differentiate White Sox stacks as a pivot option for Abreu or Frazier. Historically, batters comparable to Davidson on the basis of Park Factor, Pro Trends and lineup spot have averaged a +1.65 Plus/Minus and 47.2 percent Consistency Rating.
Because the slate has a number of lineups with high implied totals, the Orioles and White Sox might be available at reduced ownership rates.
89 Team Value Rating – Red Sox
Team Value Rating is a 0-to-100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. The Red Sox lead the slate with an absurd implied total of 6.3 runs and a high Team Value Rating of 89. Going against Phillies’ righty Jerad Eickhoff — who might be the slate’s worst starting pitcher with a 0-7 record and 5.15 ERA on the season — the Red Sox are in a good spot. Eickhoff is in especially poor form right now with a slate-low average of just 70 pitches per start in his last two outings. It’s possible that he could be knocked out of the game early, at which point the Red Sox would have the opportunity to leverage their Opponent Bullpen Rating of 86 by facing the overworked Phillies’ relievers for multiple at-bats per hitter. They aren’t cheap — in fact, six of their first seven batters are at least $4,100 — but the Red Sox are likely to slug at Fenway with the wind blowing out from home plate at 11 miles per hour.
If you want some high-upside exposure to the Red Sox without paying up or being chalky, consider going with a lefty-heavy stack. Lefties Mitch Moreland, Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley are expected to hit fourth, fifth, and seventh and switch-hitter Pablo Sandoval is projected to bat eighth. All of them are at their best against right-handed pitching and have between six and eight Pro Trends. Historically, left-handed and switch-hitting batters have dominated right-handed pitchers when they’ve had comparable implied totals, lineup spots and wind conditions, averaging a +2.05 Plus/Minus and 53.3 percent Consistency Rating.
Even though the Boston lefties are low in the order, they have significant upside and will likely have limited ownership in comparison to their right-handed teammates higher in the order, all of whom have negative righty-righty batting splits.
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.