Today’s main slate features 11 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.
7.4 K Prediction – Jeff Samardzija
In some slates, we have the option of rostering Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber. This is not one of those slates. Not that there’s anything wrong with Jose Berrios at $11,400 and Carlos Carrasco at $10,900, but as the top options in a slate, they’re uninspiring. They have mediocre K Predictions of 6.4 and 6.6 and opponent implied totals of 4.2 runs against the White Sox and the Orioles. While those numbers are good for this slate, they’re still not good at all for two pitchers above $10,000.
In a slate in which not one pitcher has a 10.0 K/9 over the last 12 months, Jeff Samardzija leads the day’s starting pitchers with a 7.4 K Prediction. Third at the position with a $9,400 salary, Samardzija will likely be a popular pivot play for people who want to pay up at the position but don’t want to go above $10,000. Like Berrios and Carrasco, Samardzija has an opponent implied total of 4.2 runs — the second-lowest mark in the slate — and the Giants are currently favored by 0.7 runs over the Braves.
At FantasyLabs we have our proprietary Plus/Minus and Consistency Rating metrics. Plus/Minus measures actual vs. expected fantasy production based on the historical performances of previous players at comparable salaries. Consistency Rating measures the percentage of instances in which salary-based expectations are met. Per our industry-leading Trends tool, pitchers comparable to Samardzija in K Prediction, opponent implied total and probability of winning have historically averaged a +1.74 Plus/Minus with a 58.6 percent Consistency Rating. That’s not great — but no pitcher, in particular, is likely to be great in this slate.
One quick note about the weather: as of writing, the Giants-Braves game has a 20 percent chance of light rain. If as lineup lock approaches it looks as if that game will be impacted by precipitation, Rich Hill for the Dodgers is a potential pivot option. He has the position’s fourth-highest salary and second-highest K Prediction at $8,900 and 7.3.
94 Recent Batted Ball Luck Score – Michael Wacha
Over the last month, Michael Wacha has averaged a slate-low 5.12 DraftKings points per game in his five starts. That’s miraculously awful. In those starts, he’s averaged a -8.15 Plus/Minus, and in four of them, he’s had full-on duds at 1.60, 3.95, 1.75 and 5.00 points. And yet for a guy who has been horrible over the last month, Wacha has an almost bearable 4.78 ERA on the season, and his Statcast data doesn’t suggest that he’s pitching any worse than he normally pitches. In comparison to his 12-month marks, his half-month batted ball distance, exit velocity and hard-hit rate are 19 feet shorter, four miles per hour slower, and one percentage point lower. This isn’t saying much, but Wacha has actually been better recently than he usually is.
Ultimately, it’s likely that Wacha has been unlucky lately and could be in line for some positive regression. 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. Of all the slate’s starting pitchers, Wacha has the slate’s best mark at +94: Even though he’s in the bottom six percent of recent fantasy production, he’s in the top six percent of all pitchers in batted ball distance. Over the last 15 days, Wacha has allowed a batted ball distance of 177 feet and slate-low exit velocity of 85 miles per hour.
With the slate’s most pitcher-friendly home-plate umpire in Hal Gibson III, whose presence has historically correlated with a bump in pitching production of 1.2 DraftKings points, Wacha is in an underappreciated spot. He’s likely to have low ownership in guaranteed prize pools because of his recent performance, and the Cardinals are favored by 0.6 runs over the Phillies. Wacha is an intriguing contrarian for the second pitcher spot at $7,200.
13 Pro Trends – Nomar Mazara and Miguel Sano
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. Nomar Mazara and Miguel Sano lead the slate with 13 Pro Trends. I’ll highlight Sano later, but for now, Mazara warrants attention.
Mazara is an affordable $4,300 and projected to bat third for the Rangers, who are implied for a respectable 5.5 runs. Given that there are five teams currently implied for more runs — two of which are the Rockies and Diamondbacks at Coors Field — it’s likely that the Rangers will have low ownership relative to their potential. Facing Blue Jays’ righty Joe Biagini, many of the Rangers are on the positive side of their hitting splits, including Mazara, who has a .129 ISO differential and has been crushing recently with a batted ball distance of 239 feet and fly ball and hard hit rates of 44 and 47 percent. Historically, batters comparable to Mazara in Pro Trends and Statcast data have averaged 11.36 DraftKings points with a +3.19 Plus/Minus and 50.7 percent Consistency Rating.
Stacked with teammates or used individually, Mazara has substantial upside. The Blue Jays-Rangers game has a hitter-friendly slate-high Weather Rating of 85.
100 Park Factor – Diamondbacks and Rockies
Park Factor is a 0-to-100 FantasyLabs metric that measures the friendliness of a park based on the handedness of the batter. At Coors Field, all batters have a 100 Park Factor regardless of handedness. Unsurprisingly, Coors has historically been the most hitter-friendly ballpark in MLB with league-high marks in average DraftKings points (9.04), Plus/Minus (+1.23), Consistency Rating (46.8 percent) and Upside Rating (19 percent). Of course, it also has featured the highest ownership rate per batter at 10.6 percent, and today’s Coors batters will likely be popular, as the Rockies lead the slate with 6.6 runs and the Diamondbacks have been this season’s most desired team at 9.1 percent ownership per batter. Even though the Diamondbacks are implied for ‘only’ 5.6 runs — the slate’s fifth-highest mark — they are also likely to have high ownership.
I’ve recently written a DraftKings piece looking at the top stacks of 2017. Unsurprisingly, the Rockies and Diamondbacks are both among the highest-scoring teams of the season. While Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez and even Trevor Story have all been owned at more than nine percent at Coors this season, collectively averaging a 13.8 percent home ownership rate, Mark Reynolds has only a 6.4 percent Coors ownership rate, even though he is currently the team’s No. 4 hitter and this year is averaging 11.15 DraftKings points and a +2.35 Plus/Minus at home, second on the team to only Blackmon. If you want to stack the Rockies without being chalky, you ironically might be able to do so by rostering their cleanup hitter.
As for the Diamondbacks, the top half of their lineup is likely to be popular, especially David Peralta, Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb. If you want to stack the Diamondbacks without being chalky, consider pivoting away from Peralta — who is on the wrong side of his splits with a -0.135 ISO differential — and instead rostering Brandon Drury, who is projected to bat sixth and has 10 Pro Trends. Over the last half-month, Drury has rocked with a batted ball distance of 231 feet and fly ball and hard hit rates of 34 and 57 percent. Historically, Coors’ batters with a comparable number of Pro Trends have averaged 10.70 DraftKings points with a +2.50 Plus/Minus and 54.0 percent Consistency Rating.
93 Team Value Rating – Twins
Team Value Rating is a 0-to-100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. Even though they are ‘only’ third in this Coors slate with a total of 5.9 runs, the Twins lead the day with a high Team Value Rating of 93, primarily because they are so cheap. While today’s slate has 24 non-pitchers priced above $4,500, the Twins don’t have one player above that mark. Facing White Sox lefty David Holmberg — who has just transitioned to the rotation over the last month and has yet to throw more than 76 pitches or make it into the sixth inning in a start — the Twins are in a good spot. With eight righties and switch-hitters in their projected lineup, almost all of the Twins are on the positive side of their batting splits.
At only $3,900, the aforementioned Sano is especially intriguing. With his slate-high 13 Pro Trends, Sano has been on fire lately with a smoking batted ball distance of 242 feet and fly ball and hard hit rates of 42 and 52 percent. Batters comparable to Sano in Pro Trends and Statcast data have historically averaged 11.33 DraftKings points with a +3.29 Plus/Minus and 50.0 percent Consistency Rating.
The White Sox-Twins game currently has a 21 percent chance of light precipitation. Be sure to monitor the weather as lineup lock approaches. It’s possible that because of the game at Coors and weather concerns, the Twins could have reduced ownership in DraftKings tournaments.
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.