WATCH: PIVOT PLAY – JEFF SAMARDZIJA
Today’s main slate features six games and starts at 7:05 pm ET. Here’s a data-driven breakdown featuring five key stats, courtesy of FantasyLabs Editor-in-Chief, 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.
8.5 K Prediction – Chris Sale
Sale has been one of the best pitchers in the league this season, posting a 9-3 record with a 2.85 ERA through his first 15 starts. He’s been especially dominant with his strikeout ability, posting double digit Ks in all but four outings. His K Prediction of 8.5, while still the highest mark on today’s slate, might actually be a conservative projection given how proficient he’s been in that department this season.
In addition to having a strong K Prediction, Sale is second on the slate in opponent implied total (3.6 runs) and projected margin of victory (+1.4 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. Pitchers with comparable K Predictions and opponent implied totals have historically provided excellent value with a Plus/Minus of +3.45. Sale also has solid Statcast data over his last two starts with beneficial 15-day/12-month differentials in batted ball distance, exit velocity and hard hit rate.
The only downside with Sale is his likely ownership. His historical cohorts have an average ownership rate of 27.6 percent, but on a six-game slate he’s likely to be owned at a much higher rate.
93 Park Factor – Jeff Samardzija and German Marquez
Park Factor is a 0-to-100 Fantasy Labs metric that measures the friendliness of a park based on the handedness of the pitcher. Samardzija and Marquez toe the mound at AT&T Park, which has historically been one of the most pitcher-friendly stadiums in the league. Both right-handed pitchers are rewarded with slate high Park Factors of 93, and pitchers in San Francisco have averaged the second-most fantasy points per game this season at 15.88.
Samardzija got off to a rough start this season but has rebounded nicely, averaging a Plus/Minus of +4.67 over his last 10 outings. For today’s matchup, he has the lowest opponent implied total at 3.5 runs, and his K Prediction of 6.8 ranks fourth. His Statcast data over his last two starts is also excellent with an average distance of 197 feet, exit velocity of 89 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 27 percent. Pitchers with comparable recent Statcast data, K Predictions and Park Factors have a historical Plus/Minus of +2.04 on DraftKings. The opposing Rockies have a splits-adjusted K rate of 28.2 percent over the past 12 months, which is the third-worst mark on the slate.
No pitcher gets a larger bump in Park Factor than Marquez, whose home stadium of Coors Field is the least pitcher-friendly park in the league. The Giants have the worst wOBA this season against right-handed pitchers at .288, and their projected lineup has been even worse with a splits-adjusted wOBA of .278 over the past 12 months. Marquez could be a relatively low-owned option.
11 Pro Trends – Cody Bellinger
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. Cody Bellinger leads today’s slate with 11 individual Pro Trends, a number that has historically led to a Plus/Minus of +2.31. Also notable is Brian Goodwin, who has 10 Pro Trends. Bellinger and Goodwin’s teams are currently implied for 5.4 and 5.3 runs.
You’d be hard pressed to find a matchup between a hotter hitter and colder pitcher than Bellinger vs. Angels righty Ricky Nolasco. Bellinger continues to destroy the baseball, posting an average distance of 261 feet, exit velocity of 97 miles per hour and hard hit rate of 61 percent over his last 14 games. Meanwhile Nolasco has struggled with a batted ball distance of 223 feet, exit velocity of 93 miles per hour and hard hit rate of 42 percent over his last two starts. All of those numbers are bottom-two marks on the slate for Nolasco, who has allowed five earned runs in back-to-back outings. Bellinger has a lot of appeal in such a good matchup, both individually or stacked with teammates.
FantasyLabs has a metric called Recent Batted Ball Luck that measures the difference between a player’s percentile rank in batted ball distance and fantasy scoring over the past 15 days. Goodwin has been dominant recently with an average Plus/Minus of +7.33 over his last 10 games, and his Recent Batted Ball Luck of -5 suggests that his production has been no fluke. Projected to bat second for the Nationals, Goodwin has posted 15-day/12-month distance, exit velocity and hard hit differentials of +19 feet, +3 miles per hour and +16 percentage points. Batters with comparable differentials, implied team totals and lineup spots have a historical Plus/Minus of +2.46. Opposing pitcher Eddie Butler has also allowed a batted ball distance of 232 feet over his last two starts, which is the worst mark among all pitchers on the slate.
85 Opposing Bullpen Rating – Chicago White Sox
Opposing Bullpen Rating is a 0-to-100 FantasyLabs metric that measures how overworked the opponent’s bullpen has been over the past three days. The White Sox current rating of 85 is one of today’s highest marks, which they’ll have a chance to leverage if they can knock Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery out of the game early.
Even if they don’t rough up Montgomery, the White Sox could be in a positive spot. Right-handed batters at Yankee Stadium have the highest Park Factor among all hitters today, and against a left-handed starting pitcher most of the Sox batters are on the positive side of their wOBA and ISO splits. Jose Abreu in particular has raked against southpaws with a .436 wOBA and .293 ISO over the past 12 months, and he has 15-day/12-month distance and hard hit differentials of +13 feet and +13 percentage points over his last 13 games. Batters with comparable Statcast differentials, implied team totals, and Opponent Bullpen Ratings have a historical Plus/Minus of +1.43.
If you’re looking to stack the White Sox in a more contrarian manner, consider Matt Davidson. He has a 12-month splits-adjusted ISO of .270 and wOBA of .406, and his 15-day batted ball distance of 265 feet is one of the top marks on the slate. Projected to bat sixth with dual first base/third base eligibility, he will likely have lower ownership than the other corner infield options for the White Sox.
84 Team Value Rating – New York Yankees
Team Value Rating is a 0-to-100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. The Yankees’ implied team total of 5.9 runs is the highest on the slate by 0.5 runs, and only Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez have salaries ranking among the top 15 non-pitchers on this six-game slate. As mentioned by FantasyLabs Editor-in-Chief Matthew Freedman in a previous article, the Yankees bats have been one of the best sources of value during the early part of the season.
Judge has been a monster recently, and his Statcast numbers over his last 12 games are downright scary: A 281-foot batted ball distance, 99 mph exit velocity and 51 percent hard hit rate. He also has 10 Pro Trends. Batters with comparable Statcast data have a historical Plus/Minus of +2.62, and factoring in a comparable implied run total increases the Plus/Minus to a ridiculous +5.38. He will likely be one of the highest-owned hitters on the slate, but it’s hard to fade him with how he’s hitting the ball.
The Yankees figure to be a popular option on this slate, but stacking them in a contrarian manner can likely still be accomplished. Projected No. 9 hitter Tyler Austin hasn’t spent a ton of time at the major league level, but he has an impressive .441 wOBA and .304 ISO against left-handed pitchers over the past 12 months. Chase Headley is on the negative side of his splits against a left-handed pitcher, but the No. 7 hitter has seven Pro Trends, and he’s posted distance and hard hit differentials of +14 feet and +16 percentage points over his last 10 games. Batting in the bottom third of the order, Austin and Headley could have far lower ownership than most their teammates.
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.