Today’s main slate features 11 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.
+1.5 Umpire Plus/Minus – Matt Shoemaker
With Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, and Lance McCullers pitching early in the day, the main slate is somewhat bereft of enticing high-end options. Michael Fulmer and Michael Pineda are the only pitchers above $10,000, but both of them are playing against teams (the Orioles and Royals) implied to score more than four runs. Paying up for pitchers doesn’t seem like a dominant strategy in this slate.
At just $8,800, Shoemaker is a mid-range option with upside, ranking second in the slate with a 7.4 K Prediction and 83 Park Factor. On top of that, the Angels are currently favored by one run against the White Sox, who have a slate-low implied total of 3.3 runs. It’s just icing on the cake that he has home-plate umpire Brian Gorman, whose presence has historically correlated with a slate-high boost in pitching performance of 1.5 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. Per our industry-leading Trends tool, pitchers comparable to Shoemaker on the basis of K Prediction, Park Factor, opponent implied total and probability to win have historically done well with 19.96 DraftKings points, a +2.13 Plus/Minus, and 58.8 percent Consistency Rating.
Shoemaker is rightfully one of the slate’s top pitchers in our Player Models.
94 Recent Batted Ball Luck Score – Martin Perez
At $6,200, Perez is one of the slate’s cheapest pitchers, and so far this season he’s (not even) ‘earned’ his low salary with a -2.60 Plus/Minus in eight starts on his way to an MLB-high five losses. Even in a relatively uninspiring slate, Perez still seems pathetic with the slate’s third-lowest K Prediction (4.0) and fourth-highest WHIP over the last year (1.524). It helps that the Rangers are currently favored by 0.7 runs, but the opposing Phillies are still implied for 4.7 runs. It’s not as if Perez is likely to show up, throw 95 pitches, and then exit in the seventh inning unscathed. He has the potential to get burned.
That said, Perez actually hasn’t been a horrible pitcher this year. He has a 3.89 ERA on the season, and his 0.846 home runs allowed per nine innings over the last 12 months is respectable. Recently Perez has likely been the victim of variance. 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, Perez easily has the slate’s highest mark at 94: Even though he’s in the bottom six percent of recent fantasy production, he’s in the top six percent of all pitchers in batted ball distance. Indeed, over the last half-month Perez has held opposing hitters to a batted ball distance of 170 feet, exit velocity of 87 miles per hour, fly ball rate of 20 percent, and hard-hit rate of 27 percent. Historically, pitchers comparable to Perez in K Prediction, opponent implied total, probability to win and batted ball distance have been able to overcome their negative factors and produce a +1.13 Plus/Minus with a 56.9 percent Consistency Rating.
If you want to pay down at the position, Perez is a viable option, and he’ll likely be unpopular.
11 Pro Trends – Kyle Schwarber
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. The No. 1 hitter for the World Champion Cubs, Schwarber leads the slate with 11 Pro Trends at $3,800. Although Schwarber has a horrid batting average of just .179 this season, it helps that today he’s on the beneficial side of his batting splits against Reds’ righty Scott Feldman, sporting an ISO differential of 0.067.
Although Wrigley Field isn’t a particularly friendly stadium for hitters (with a Park Factor of 32 for lefties and 49 for righties), the Cubs are in a good spot. Implied for a respectable but not incredible 4.6 runs, they could have reduced ownership, and their Weather Rating of 72 is enticing. (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.) With a wind of 20 miles per hour expected to blow out to left field at game time, the Cubs’ righties could stack with Schwarber especially well. Historically, batters comparable to Schwarber in Pro Trends and Weather Ratings have crushed with 10.10 DraftKings points, a +2.40 Plus/Minus, and a 51.7 percent Consistency Rating.
Over the last 15 days, Schwarber has hit the ball well with a 45 percent hard hit rate.
65 Park Factor – Left-Handed Phillies & Rangers
The Rockies are on the road and the Diamondbacks play earlier in the day, so the hitter-friendly Coors and Chase Fields are absent from the slate. While there are no venues available that dramatically enhance batter performance, the lefties at Globe Life Park in Arlington ostensibly have the slate’s best situation. 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 Globe Life, lefties lead the slate with a Park Factor of 65. With a relatively shallow right field — the distance from home plate to the right-field foul pole is 325 feet — Globe Life was seemingly constructed with lefties in mind.
On the one hand, the Phillies-Rangers game has a slate-high total of 10 runs and Weather Rating of 82. This could be a high-scoring contest. On the other hand, a wind of 13 miles per hour is forecast to blow from right field at game time, and the Rangers are likely to be chalky, given their slate-high implied total of 5.4 runs. Still, the Rangers’ lefties — Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo — are worth considering. Against comparably strong headwinds from right field, lefties at Globe Life have historically still smashed the ball, averaging a +1.38 Plus/Minus and 51.6 percent Consistency Rating.
On top of that, non-No. 9 batters with comparable implied team totals and Weather Ratings have done well regardless of all other circumstances, averaging a +1.30 Plus/Minus and 47.1 percent Consistency Rating. The Rangers will likely deserve their high ownership, especially in cash games. In guaranteed prize pools, a more contrarian option might be preferable.
78 Team Value Rating – Tigers
Team Value Rating is a 0-to-100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. Although they seem boring in comparison to the Rangers, the Tigers lead the slate in Team Value Rating and are second with an implied total of 4.9 runs. Their top-six hitters all have five to nine Pro Trends at an average cost of just over $3,900. Against Orioles’ righty Ubaldo Jimenez, who has a 5.57 ERA since last season, the Tigers have potential.
With a Park Factor of 35-39 at Comerica Park, the Tigers don’t seem to be in a great spot, but their Weather Rating of 75 is encouraging. Historically, batters hitting in the top two-thirds of the order with comparable implied team totals and Weather Ratings have produced a +0.97 Plus/Minus with a 44.8 percent Consistency Rating.
The Tigers could be the pivot option du jour for DFS players who want to fade the Rangers in GPPs.
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.