Today’s main slate features 12 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.
8.0 K Prediction – Zack Greinke
At the top of the salary scale are two studs likely to dominate ownership: Dallas Keuchel ($12,500) and Greinke ($12,400). Of the two, Keuchel is almost certainly the superior pitcher, with his MLB-best 9-0 record, 1.67 ERA and 0.872 WHIP this season. He’s in exceptional form right now: Over the last half-month he has allowed a batted ball distance of 172 feet, exit velocity of 86 miles per hour and fly ball, line drive and hard hit rates of 15 percent. And yet, for all his dominance, he hasn’t struck out double-digit batters in a game this season, and today he has a mediocre K Prediction of only 5.9. Even though he has a good matchup on the road — with a Park Factor of 69 and an opponent implied total of just 3.8 runs — Keuchel is pitching against a projected Royals lineup that has struck out at a low 23.0 percent rate against lefties over the last year. For the slate’s most expensive pitcher, Keuchel has low upside.
Greinke, however, who is just $100 cheaper, has the highest upside in the slate. No slouch in his own right with a 7-3 record and 3.06 ERA, Greinke leads the slate with an 8.0 K Prediction, and the Diamondbacks are favored by a slate-high 1.4 runs over the Padres, who are implied for a slate-low 3.6 runs and whose projected lineup has a slate-low split-adjusted .279 wOBA. 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, pitchers comparable to Greinke on the basis of K Prediction, opponent implied total and likelihood to win have averaged a +2.64 Plus/Minus with a 59.7 percent Consistency Rating. That Plus/Minus isn’t elite, but it’s solid, and over his last five games, Greinke has averaged an outrageous slate-high 29.2 DraftKings points per game. He’s in strong form right now.
This season the Padres have easily been the most pitcher-friendly opposing team in the league, allowing 18.83 DraftKings points per game with a +4.27 Plus/Minus and 68.4 percent Consistency Rating. In his two starts against the Padres earlier this year (on April 24 and 29), Greinke averaged 30.40 DraftKings points with a +14.30 Plus/Minus, allowing only two earned runs and 11 hits and striking out 17 batters across 14 innings. Keuchel might be the best pitcher in the league right now, but Greinke is probably the best pitcher in this slate.
85 Recent Batted Ball Luck Score – Wade Miley
Miley is in the middle of an up-and-down campaign — over his last seven games he’s scored 11.45, -0.30, 11.85, 2.05, 17.55, 0.65 and 20.15 DraftKings points with a disgusting -4.40 Plus/Minus — and in 11 starts he has only two wins on the season. He’s also uninspiring as a strikeout pitcher, with only 54 Ks this year in 60.2 innings. Today he has a mediocre 5.1 K Prediction against the Pirates, whose projected lineup has struck out against lefties at a low 21.7 percent rate over the last 12 months. If an asteroid were hurtling through the cosmos toward Earth, Miley isn’t the guy I’d want piloting the spaceship charged with stopping it.
Still, Miley isn’t horrible for this slate. He’s cheap at $6,900, he amazingly has a 2.82 ERA this season and out of the pitchers who clearly aren’t better than him — excepting Keuchel, Greinke, Yu Darvish and John Lackey — Miley is the slate’s biggest favorite, as the Orioles are favored by 0.8 runs over the Pirates. It also doesn’t hurt that in Baltimore the wind is blowing in at six miles per hour. On top of that, it’s likely that Miley has been extremely unlucky lately as a fantasy producer and could be in line for 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, Miley has the slate’s highest mark at 85: Even though he’s in the bottom 15 percent of recent fantasy production, he’s in the top 15 percent of all pitchers in batted ball distance. Over the last half-month, Miley has held opposing hitters to a slate-low batted ball distance of 165 feet as well as fly ball and line drive rates of 16 percent. His 38 percent hard hit rate isn’t great, but historically pitchers comparable to Miley in Recent Batted Ball Luck and probability to win have averaged a +2.55 Plus/Minus and 62.4 percent Consistency Rating with only a 10.7 percent ownership rate in large-field guaranteed prize pools.
Miley’s in play for people looking to go cheap at their second pitching spot in GPPs.
10 Pro Trends – Travis Shaw
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. Shaw has missed the last two games on paternity leave, and it’s possible that he could miss this game as well, but if he doesn’t then he’s someone to consider. He leads the slate with 10 Pro Trends, is the cleanup hitter in a Brewers lineups implied for a respectable 4.8 runs and he’s crushed the ball over the last 15 days with a batted ball distance of 244 feet, fly ball rate of 50 percent and hard hit rate of 43 percent. Batters comparable to Shaw on the basis of lineup spot, Pro Trends and Statcast data have historically averaged 10.29 DraftKings points with a +1.95 Plus/Minus, 24 percent Upside Rating,and 10.5 percent ownership rate. If Shaw plays, he’ll almost certainly be available at an ownership discount.
If Shaw doesn’t play, look for Pro Trend upside with Delino DeShields (10), Brett Gardner (nine) and Paul Goldschmidt (nine). I’ll highlight DeShields and Gardner later, but for now, it’s enough to say that the studliness of Goldy is apparent. He has the slate’s third-highest batter salary at $5,500, and on the season he has a .305 batting average with 13 home runs and 45 runs batted in. He’s the No. 3 hitter on a team implied for 5.0 runs, and over the last 15 days, he has a batted ball distance of 227 feet, fly ball rate of 43 percent and hard hit rate of 41 percent. Batters comparable to Goldy on the basis of lineup spot, Pro Trends, and Statcast data have historically averaged a +1.48 Plus/Minus with a 45.0 percent Consistency Rating.
Shaw and Goldschmidt are among the batters with the most upside in the slate. It doesn’t hurt that both are playing in venues — Miller Park and Chase Field — with retractable roofs, in case the weather forecast worsens.
81 Park Factor – Left-Handed Red Sox and Yankees
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. At Yankee Stadium, lefties lead the slate with a Park Factor of 81. With a relatively shallow right field — the distance from home plate to the right-field foul pole is 314 feet — Yankee Stadium was seemingly constructed with lefties in mind.
While the Red Sox are expected to rest most of their left-handed batters in the matchup against Yankees lefty CC Sabathia — Jackie Bradley is the only lefty expected to be in the lineup — the Yankees have Gardner batting leadoff from the left side as well as Didi Gregorius and switch-hitters Aaron Hicks and Chase Headley. Although Gregorius, Hicks and Headley are all expected to hit in the bottom half of the order, they do offer some left-handed pop for a lineup implied for a respectable 4.8 runs, and any of them could help to differentiate a Yankees stack.
As for Gardner, the potential he has is clear, given his nine Pro Trends and spot atop the order. Over the last 15 days, he has been a Goldschmidt doppelganger with a batted ball distance of 227 feet, fly ball rate of 43 percent and hard hit rate of 43 percent. Batters comparable to Gardner on the basis of lineup spot, Pro Trends and Statcast data have historically averaged 10.19 DraftKings points with a +1.93 Plus/Minus and 51.7 percent Consistency Rating.
86 Team Value Rating – Rangers
Team Value Rating is a 0-to-100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. The Rangers lead the slate with an implied total of 5.3 runs and a high Team Value Rating of 86. Going against Mets’ righty Zack Wheeler, the Rangers are in a good spot. They have an Opponent Bullpen Rating of 85, as the Mets relievers have been overworked in the last three games, and the lefties — Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor and Jared Hoying — all should benefit from a Park Factor of 65 at Globe Life Park and a wind blowing out to right field at seven miles per hour.
If you want to stack the Rangers in a contrarian way, consider DeShields, who despite batting ninth has a slate-high 10 Pro Trends. DeShields has done a fantastic Gardner impersonation over the last 15 days, averaging a batted ball distance of 216 feet, fly ball rate of 43 percent and hard hit rate of 43 percent. Batters with comparable lineup spots, team totals, Pro Trends and Statcast data have historically averaged 9.64 DraftKings points with a +2.77 Plus/Minus and 55.6 percent Consistency Rating.
For a guy at the bottom of the order, DeShields offers a lot of upside at just $3,100.
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.