WATCH: MLB IN 90 SECONDS – ERVIN SANTANA
Today’s main slate features 14 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.
8.3 K Prediction – Corey Kluber
The slate’s most expensive pitcher at $12,600, Kluber is easily the most desirable pitcher on the mound today. There’s no one else in his league. Ervin Santana ($11,000) is theoretically next in line — he’s been a strong producer this year with his 7-3 record and 2.44 ERA — but he has a paltry K Prediction of 5.0 and opponent implied total of 4.0 runs, and after Santana the options are limited. Tanner Roark ($8,200) has the slate’s third-highest salary, but he’s not really a stud with his K Prediction of 5.4 and opponent implied total of 3.9 runs. Still, out of Santana and Roark, the latter pitcher is probably the preferable option, given that the Nationals are favored by 1.3 runs over the Rangers, whereas the Twins are favored over the Giants by only 0.1 runs. Really, though, neither Santana nor Roark is appealing in comparison to Kluber.
Returning to the mound after about a month on the disabled list, Kluber threw only 77 pitches on June 1st in his first outing back — so it’s possible that he’s still on a pitch count — but Kluber was his typical dominant self, striking out 10 batters and allowing only two hits in six innings of work. I don’t want to make too much of only one game, but in his June 1st outing, Kluber held hitters to a slate-low recent batted ball distance of 173 feet. He’s in fantastic form right now. He leads the slate with an 8.3 K Prediction, and the Indians are favored by a slate-high 1.9 runs over the White Sox, who are implied for a slate-low 3.1 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, pitchers comparable to Kluber on the basis of K Prediction, opponent implied total and likelihood to win have averaged a +3.07 Plus/Minus with a 64.1 percent Consistency Rating.
The one drawback with Kluber — and it’s not insignificant — is that the White Sox-Indians game has a slate-high 78 percent chance of precipitation. There’s a real chance that this game could be affected by weather, and given that he’s returning from injury Kluber could be treated with caution by the team. If the weather in Cleveland clears, then Kluber is a strong option, but if the forecast is still looking dangerous close to lineup lock then Kluber should likely be avoided in cash games.
94 Park Factor – Matt Moore
Park Factor is a 0-to-100 FantasyLabs metric that measures the friendliness of a park based on the handedness of the starting pitcher and batters. At AT&T Park in San Francisco, the left-handed Moore leads the slate with a 94 Park Factor. At only $6,900, Moore is a strong mid-tier option with significant upside, given that he’s second in the slate with an 8.1 K Prediction.
There’s theoretically not much to like about Moore. This season he’s 2-6 with a 5.22 ERA, striking out only 55 batters in 69 innings of work across 12 starts. And this slate the Giants (as mentioned previously) are 0.1-run underdogs against the Twins, who are implied for 4.1 runs. Still, on this slate, an opponent implied total of 4.1 runs is relatively low — especially for a guy who’s not even $7,000. On top of that, the projected Twins lineup has struck out at a high 28.3 percent rate against lefties over the last 12 months. Historically, pitchers comparable to Moore on the basis of Park Factor, K Prediction and opponent implied total have dominated with 21.23 DraftKings points, a +5.17 Plus/Minus and 71.4 percent Consistency Rating. In his 11 starts at AT&T Park since being traded to the Giants last season, Moore has a smoking +5.79 Plus/Minus. His home stadium suits him.
Given that the Giants are slight underdogs, Moore offers a lot of upside at what’s likely to be relatively low ownership at the second pitching spot in guaranteed prize pools.
10 Pro Trends – Paul Goldschmidt
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. Unsurprisingly, the Paul Bunyan-esque Goldschmidt leads the slate with 10 Pro Trends. Given that he’s the slate’s most expensive non-pitcher at $5,600, it makes sense for him to have a lot of upside: on the season he has a .310 batting average with 13 home runs and 46 runs batted in. Playing at Chase Field — which historically has been the league’s second-most hitter-friendly venue in DraftKings points per hitter (8.05), Plus/Minus (+0.87) and Consistency Rating (44.3 percent) — Goldy naturally crushes at home, averaging 10.83 DraftKings points with a +1.66 Plus/Minus and 49.4 percent Consistency Rating at Chase throughout his career.
Outside of his high salary, there’s almost nothing to dislike about Goldschmidt. He’s the No. 3 hitter on a team implied for 5.2 runs, and over the last 15 days, he has a batted ball distance of 224 feet, fly ball rate of 41 percent and hard hit rate of 44 percent. Batters comparable to Goldy on the basis of lineup spot, Pro Trends and Statcast data have historically averaged a +2.04 Plus/Minus with a 48.0 percent Consistency Rating.
There aren’t likely to be many batters in the slate with higher ownership rates, but Goldy has a history of earning his exposure.
81 Weather Rating – Brewers and Diamondbacks
One reason Chase Stadium is such a hitter-friendly park is the weather. Temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit are not uncommon in Arizona, and warmer weather helps batted balls travel farther. As we continue to move into summer, the temperatures in stadiums across the country will rise and the potential of batters to outperform expectations will increase. Chase isn’t the mile-high oasis of Coors Field, but it offers a lot of upside to hitters.
Weather Rating is a 0-to-100 FantasyLabs grade that takes into account all of the meteorological factors that can impact a game: temperature, altitude, wind speed, humidity, etc. The higher a number is, the friendlier a game is to hitters and the more home runs are likely to be hit. Naturally, the Brewers-Diamondbacks game at Chase leads the slate with an 81 Weather Rating. The game is forecast for a temperature of 95 to 99 degrees, the wind is blowing at 10 miles per hour, and there’s a zero percent chance of precipitation. For a non-Coors environment, this is almost as good as it gets.
Facing Brewers’ righty Zach Davies, the Diamondbacks are implied for 5.2 runs and have lefties Gregor Blanco, David Peralta and Jake Lamb — all of whom have at least seven Pro Trends — hitting in the top half of the order. If you want to stack the Diamondbacks in a contrarian way, consider lefty Daniel Descalso, who’s only $3,300 and projected to bat seventh but is in possession of nine Pro Trends. The Brewers also have some potential against Diamondbacks righty Randall Delgado. Implied for 4.4 runs, the Brewers have lefties Eric Sogard, Eric Thames and Travis Shaw in the top half of the order. Given that Sogard and Thames both have positional dual eligibility, there are lots of ways Brewers stacks can be constructed to yield unique lineups.
83 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 implied total of 5.8 runs and a high Team Value Rating of 83. Going against Tigers’ righty Jordan Zimmermann — who might be the slate’s worst starting pitcher with his 1.557 WHIP and 5.98 ERA this season — the Red Sox are in a good spot. They aren’t cheap — in fact, six of their first seven batters are at least $4,000 — but the Sox are likely to slug.
If you want some high-upside exposure to the Sox without paying up or being chalky, consider going with a lefty-heavy stack. Lefties Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, and Jackie Bradley are expected to hit fourth, sixth, and seventh and switch-hitter Pablo Sandoval is projected to bat eighth. All of them are at their best against right-handed pitching — and there’s a wind of eight miles per hour forecast to blow out to right field. 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 +1.45 Plus/Minus and 43.9 percent Consistency Rating.
Even though the Boston lefties are low in the order, they have significant upside at what’s likely to be low ownership.
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.