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.
0.780 WHIP – Clayton Kershaw
By most metrics, Kershaw is easily the best pitcher in the league — he has an absurdly low 0.78 WHIP over the last year — but he’s probably not the best pitcher in this slate. For the second time this season, Kershaw has the unenviable task of starting a game at Coors Field. In his earlier game at Coors, Kershaw had the highest ownership percentage across all guaranteed prize pools. It’s possible he won’t have tonight’s highest ownership — especially since in his Apr. 8 Coors start he had only 12.7 DraftKings points and six strikeouts — but Kershaw (and many of his teammates) will likely still be popular.
Even with a slate-low Park Factor of seven, Kershaw is intriguing. He’s second in the slate with a 7.3 K Prediction and tied for third with an opponent implied total of 3.7 runs. He also has home-plate umpire Adam Hamari, who historically has enhanced pitcher performance by 1.1 DraftKings points. 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. The sample is small, but historically pitchers comparable to Kershaw on the basis of strikeout prediction, opponent implied total, and Park Factor have crushed with 23.88 DraftKings points, a +6.35 Plus/Minus, and a 100 percent Consistency Rating.
Of course, in Kershaw’s four road games against the Rockies with a comparable opponent implied total, he’s averaged a near-neutral +0.07 Plus/Minus — on 42.6 percent ownership in large-field guaranteed prize pools. As Mystikal puts it, “Danger.”
85 MPH Exit Velocity – Tyler Chatwood
If you’re going to fade Kershaw in some GPP lineups, then you might as well leverage him a little bit — not a lot, but a little. I don’t want to make Chatwood seem like a good pitcher: He’s facing Kershaw, pitching at Coors, implied to give up a slate-high 5.4 runs and saddled with a paltry 4.9 K Prediction. Pitchers this season have struggled against the Dodgers, averaging only 12.04 DraftKings points and a -1.27 Plus/Minus, and historically Coors pitchers with comparable opponent implied totals and K Predictions have underperformed with 9.57 DraftKings points and a -2.65 Plus/Minus. Chatwood himself has averaged only 7.12 DraftKings points and a -4.73 Plus/Minus in similar circumstances. He has a 1.418 WHIP and 6.843 strikeouts per nine innings over the last 12 months. The Rockies’ starter is not good.
In Chatwood’s favor, however, are his $5,700 salary and likely low ownership. In his 20 Coors games over the last three seasons, Chatwood has had only 3.6 percent ownership — and he’s likely to have a ‘Kershaw discount’ in this game. If Kershaw struggles (as he has in the past at Coors) and Chatwood is able to walk away with a win, his rosters will be viably unique, especially since his low salary will enable DFS players to roster some premium hitters.
On top of that, Chatwood has pitched well of late with a slate-low exit velocity of 85 miles per hour over the last 15 days as well as a batted ball distance of 172 feet and fly ball rate of 12 percent. 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. Chatwood has a respectable 45. He’s not a good pitcher, but he hasn’t been as bad as his recent fantasy performance suggests.
Coors pitchers with comparable Recent Batted Ball Luck Scores and recent fly ball rates have produced a palatable +1.51 Plus/Minus over the last three years.
11 Pro Trends – Jeff Mathis
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. Amazingly, Mathis leads the non-Coors batters with 11 Pro Trends. It’s rare for a projected No. 8 hitter to have this many Pro Trends, but the Diamondbacks as a whole stand out. It helps that they’re at Chase Field (a.k.a. “Coors Light”) — the second-most hitter-friendly park in the league — and they have a favorable matchup against Pirates’ starter Tyler Glasnow, who has only 10 MLB starts and an abominable 6.33 ERA this season. As far as non-Coors batters go, the Diamondbacks could be chalky-ish as pivot plays: They have the slate’s third-highest implied total with 5.1 runs.
Mathis (like most of his righty teammates) is clearly on the wrong side of his hitting splits with -0.173 and -0.158 wOBA and ISO differentials, but he’s just $2,200 and his likely low ownership could differentiate Diamondbacks stacks. Historically, batters comparable to Mathis in lineup spot, implied team total and Pro Trends average 8.56 DraftKings points, a +2.00 Plus/Minus, and a 48.4 percent Consistency Rating.
With Coors stacks likely to litter the slate, you might not need to roster a No. 8 hitter to differentiate a stack — but Mathis is the best of breed, in case you choose to enter that dog show.
100 Park Factor – Dodgers & Rockies
Today’s slate is fascinating. The Rockies and their opponents normally dominate ownership whenever they play at Coors. However, against Kershaw the Rockies are tied for the slate’s third-lowest implied total at 3.7 runs, which means that a lot of the Coors-allotted ownership that normally goes to the Rockies will instead probably shift to the visiting Dodgers, who lead the slate with an implied total of 5.4 runs. How you perform in this slate will likely be the result of the strategy you employ for this particular game.
Park Factor is a FantasyLabs metric that measures the friendliness of a park based on the handedness of the batter and the starting pitcher. At Coors, all batters have a 100 Park Factor regardless of handedness. Unsurprisingly, Coors is the most hitter-friendly ballpark in MLB with league-high marks in average DraftKings points (9.00), Plus/Minus (+1.32), Consistency Rating (47.3 percent) and Upside Rating (19 percent).
As expected, many of the Dodgers rate well in our Player Models. Projected No. 3 hitter Justin Turner leads the slate with 13 Pro Trends. No. 4 hitter Cody Bellinger has 10, and leadoff man Joe Pederson has nine. All three of them have ISOs above .250 and significant hitting splits that should benefit them against Chatwood. They’re all expensive ($4,900 – $5,100), but they deserve their salaries. Historically, Coors batters with comparable salaries, lineup spots, implied team totals and Pro Trends have crushed with 11.69 DraftKings points, a +2.84 Plus/Minus, and 51.6 percent Consistency Rating.
The Dodgers will likely be inordinately popular in both cash games and GPPs. Ironically, the Rockies could be under-owned. They’re playing against Kershaw — but they’re still at Coors.
87 Team Value Rating – Angels
Team Value Rating is a 0-to-100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. Almost any team seems boring in comparison to the Dodgers, but their Californian counterparts lead the slate in Team Value Rating and have a respectable implied total of 4.7 runs. Given that only one of their players has a salary above $4,000 — the perpetually pricy Mike Trout ($5,300) — they offer a lot of value against Tigers’ starter Jordan Zimmermann, who this year has a pungent 6.21 ERA in six starts.
Not that Trout should be avoided, but even a non-Trout stack of the Angels has potential. Despite having subpar Park Factors of 11-13 and a Weather Rating of 41, the top of the Angels lineup has some potential: Yunel Escobar ($3,500), Kole Calhoun ($3,600), Albert Pujols ($3,900) and Luis Valbuena ($3,400) all have five to seven Pro Trends. In the past, batters hitting first through fifth with similar salaries, Park Factors, Weather Ratings, implied team totals and Pro Trends have averaged an elevated 42.1 percent Consistency Rating.
The Angels aren’t likely to be highly popular, but they have some subtle upside.
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.