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 tools 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.
0.0 Humidity – Chris Archer
I can’t believe I’m talking about humidity again — but that’s what’s happening. Every single game in this slate has a relative humidity above 0.40 — except for one: Royals-Tampa Bay. Archer, Yu Darvish, Stephen Strasburg, Danny Salazar and Kenta Maeda are the slate’s most expensive pitchers and likely to be popular, but with a slate-high $10,800 salary Archer could end up with the lowest ownership of the stud quintet, which would be amazing considering that he leads the slate with a 75 percent Consistency Rating and 6.2 innings per outing over the last year. Most of his 12-month marks are good but not elite — he’s fourth, fourth and fifth in the slate with a 1.211 WHIP, 10.24 strikeouts per nine innings, and 1.192 home runs allowed per nine innings — and yet he’s still one of the top pitchers in our Player Models.
The opposing Royals are implied to score just 3.2 runs (the slate’s second-lowest mark), and the Rays are currently implied to win by 1.2 runs, giving Archer a good chance of getting the win. It helps Archer that he has a Park Factor of 84 at home as well as home-plate umpire Chad Whitson, who historically has enhanced pitcher performance by 1.8 DraftKings points. Archer currently is fifth in the slate with a respectable 7.1 K Prediction. 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 Archer in salary, humidity, strikeout prediction, opponent implied total and team likelihood to win have crushed with 24.98 DraftKings points, a +6.00 Plus/Minus, and an 82.4 percent Consistency Rating on 18.6 percent ownership in large-field guaranteed prize pools.
It doesn’t hurt that Archer leads the slate with a pitch count of 105 per start over the last year.
89 Recent Batted Ball Luck Score – Chad Kuhl
In a slate without a Coors Field game there’s less of a need to pay down for a pitcher, but out of the cheaper options Kuhl is intriguing — in a horrifying way. He’s a pure leverage play. The Pirates are implied to score a slate-low 3.0 runs on the road and are facing Maeda, the most favored pitcher in the slate and probably the guy who will be most popular. Against a Dodgers team implied to score 4.6 runs, Kuhl looks like a horrible option. He is. Nevertheless, if you’re rostering Maeda in cash games then it makes sense to have some slight and strategic contrarian exposure to Kuhl in tournaments, thereby leveraging Maeda’s popularity in GPPs.
The upside of Kuhl is that his low salary will accommodate expensive stacks and his likely low ownership will make his rosters viably unique if he is able to outpitch Maeda, which is possible. With only 43 pitches in his last start (because of a rain delay), Kuhl should be relatively rested, and his 5.51 ERA this season, though uninspiring, is actually better than Maeda’s 5.81. Kuhl isn’t a strikeout pitcher — he has the slate’s third-lowest K Prediction at 4.7 — but he also somehow leads the slate with only 0.754 home runs allowed per nine innings over the last year.
He’s struggled this season with a -3.88 Plus/Minus in his six starts, but it’s possible that he’s been unlucky. 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, Kuhl easily has the slate’s highest mark at 89: Even though he’s in the bottom 12 percent of recent fantasy production, he’s in the top 12 percent of all pitchers in batted ball distance. Indeed, over the last half-month Kuhl has held opposing hitters to a batted ball distance of 183 feet, exit velocity of 89 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 26 percent.
Historically, pitchers comparable to Kuhl in opponent implied total, team likelihood to lose and Recent Batted Ball Luck have amazingly — despite their negative circumstances — had a +4.43 Plus/Minus on 1.6 percent GPP ownership.
Nine Pro Trends – Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Wieters
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. Unsurprisingly, Zimmerman (and some other players) leads the slate with nine Pro Trends. He’s the No. 4 hitter for the team that’s first in MLB with 202 runs, 330 hits, 73 doubles, 570 total bases, a .281 batting average and a .840 OPS. Zimmerman probably isn’t even the best batter on his team — that would be No. 3 hitter Bryce Harper — but right now Zimmerman is the best hitter in MLB, with a Triple Crown-esque .410/13/34 stat line in 32 games. Given that they are implied for a respectable 4.7 runs and facing Orioles lefty Wade Miley — who made it only 0.2 innings in his last start due to an injured wrist — the righty-heavy Nationals could be popular.
Although Zimmerman has a subpar Park Factor of 44 and Weather Rating of 32, his implied team total and Pro Trends might carry him. Batters comparable to Zimmerman on the basis of Park Factor, Weather Rating, implied team total, Pro Trends and lineup spot have done well with 9.37 DraftKings points, a +1.13 Plus/Minus and a 45.8 percent Consistency Rating. If you want to stack the Nats while being more contrarian, consider adding Wieters to the mix, as he also has a slate-high nine Pro Trends and is the projected No. 8 hitter. Traditionally hitters at the bottom of the order aren’t desirable, but batters with comparable Park Factors, Weather Ratings, implied team totals, Pro Trends and lineup spots have averaged 8.26 DraftKings points, a +1.82 Plus/Minus and a 45.3 percent Consistency Rating at only 3.7 percent ownership.
With no Coors game in the slate, a Nats stacks could be popular.
71 Weather Rating – Padres & Rangers
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. The Padres-Rangers game at Globe Life Park in Arlington currently leads the slate in Weather Rating — and it also offers a slate-high 65 Park Factor to lefties. With the Rangers implied to score 5.1 runs (the slate’s second-highest mark), it’s possible that their left-handed hitters could be moderately popular, especially since they’re facing Padres righty Luis Perdomo, who has been exquisitely mediocre over his brief career with a 5.49 ERA.
Historically, batters comparable to Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo in Weather Rating, Park Factor, implied team total and lineup spot have averaged 8.59 DraftKings points with a +0.84 Plus/Minus and 43.2 percent Consistency Rating. Gallo in particular is intriguing, as he leads the slate with a batted ball distance of 250 feet and is second with a fly ball rate of 59 percent, trailing only Ryan Schimpf (65 percent) — the lefty Padres power hitter who in turn is tied for second with a 12-month batted ball distance of 242 feet. These two guys pack a lot of power — but the wind is expected to be blowing in from right field at 15 miles per hour at game time. Even so, lefties with comparable Statcast data and headwinds have crushed in the past, averaging 10.33 DraftKings points and a +2.77 Plus/Minus.
Despite their lackluster offensive seasons to date, the Padres and Rangers have some potential.
h3. 87 Team Value Rating – Diamondbacks
Team Value Rating is a 0 to 100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. The Diamondbacks have a slate-high implied total of 5.2 runs, yet only one of their batters (Paul Goldschmidt) is more than $4,000. Facing Tigers lefty Matt Boyd, the Diamondbacks are expected to feature a righty-heavy lineup with only one lefty, No. 4 hitter Jake Lamb. Playing at Chase Field (a.k.a. “Coors Light”) — the second-most hitter-friendly park in the league — the Diamondbacks could be chalky.
Each righty projected to start for the Diamondbacks is better against right-handed than left-handed pitching (per our ISO Differential metric), and righties facing lefties have historically crushed at Chase Field when possessing comparable implied totals, averaging 10.02 DrafKings point, a +2.37 Plus/Minus, and a 52.0 percent Consistency Rating.
However heavily owned they are this slate, the Diamondbacks probably deserve their popularity.
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.