Today’s main slate features 14 games and starts at 7:05 pm ET. Here’s a date-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.
9.9 K Prediction – Alex Wood
The slate’s main studs are Chris Sale ($13,000) and Jacob deGrom ($11,100), both of whom are likely to be fine options against the Athletics and Angels respectively, but Wood at $9,400 offers similar upside at a substantial discount. While he might have opened the season on a pitch count as he moved between the rotation and the bullpen, he now seems to be fully entrenched as a starter and has averaged 90 pitches per outing over his last three starts, striking out a smoking 29 batters in those games. Wood easily leads the slate with a Clayton Kershaw-esque 9.9 K Prediction, and over the last year he’s allowed a slate-low 0.182 home runs and struck out a slate-high 13.091 batters per nine innings. On top of that, the Dodgers are favored by a slate-high 1.7 runs against the Marlins, who are implied for just 3.2 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. Per our industry-leading Trends tool, pitchers comparable to Wood on the basis of K Prediction, opponent implied total and probability to win have historically smashed with 25.82 DraftKings points, a +5.38 Plus/Minus, and 75.0 percent Consistency Rating. They also typically cost much more than $9,400 and average an ownership rate of 28.1 percent in large-field guaranteed prize pools.
Wood warrants his likely chalkiness. He’s one of the top pitchers in our Player Models.
88 Recent Batted Ball Luck Score – R.A. Dickey
Long gone are the days when Dickey struck out a league-high 230 batters on his way to a Cy Young award in 2012, but he’s intriguing for this slate. First of all, he’s facing the Nationals, who are implied for 4.8 runs. On the surface that seems horrible for Dickey — and it is — but of all starting pitchers he could have the lowest ownership in the slate, especially given his lack of strikeout upside: He has a meager 4.8 K Prediction. Because Dickey’s a knuckleball pitcher, he’s much more of a wildcard than most pitchers. It’s not unreasonable to think that a pitcher with a 3.78 ERA since 2012 and an average of 97.7 pitches over his last three starts could have a good game even against a strong Nationals’ lineup.
Dickey is cheap at $5,900, and he’s in a situation that might offer some hidden upside. While there’s been a lot of talk in previous slates about knuckleball pitchers who like it when the wind blows out, the wind is currently forecast to blow in at six miles per hour, and Dickey has historically thrived under similar circumstances, with 17.80 DraftKings points, a +4.68 Plus/Minus and 85.7 percent Consistency Rating (with relatively little ownership). Additionally, even though Dickey has struggled in his last couple of starts, he’s 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, Dickey easily has the slate’s highest mark at 88: 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. Over the last half-month, Dickey has held opposing hitters to a batted ball distance of 173 feet, exit velocity of 88 miles per hour, and ground ball rate of 55 percent.
If you want to pay down at the position and perhaps leverage against the Nationals in a few GPP lineups, Dickey deserves some speculative consideration.
11 Pro Trends – Paul Goldschmidt
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. While Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter have 12 and 11 Pro Trends for the Cardinals, their game against the Giants currently has a 54 percent chance of precipitation, leaving Goldschmidt as the slate’s only player with both double-digit Pro Trends and a high likelihood of playing. Of course, he’s not cheap at $5,200.
Implied for 4.6 runs, Goldschmidt and his Diamondbacks are in an intriguing position. There are currently five teams implied for more runs, so they could have somewhat reduced ownership, but they’re playing at Petco Park, which is very much a venue for pitchers: Goldschmidt and his fellow right-handed batters have a Park Factor of literally zero. That said, they’re facing Padres’ righty Jered Weaver, who over the last year has served up home runs (2.163 HR/9) the way ballparks serve hotdogs: With relish. Historically, hitters comparable to Goldschmidt on the basis of lineup spot and Pro Trends have crushed with 10.67 DraftKings points, a +2.37 Plus/Minus and a 49.9 percent Consistency Rating.
Goldschmidt and his teammates, most of whom have at least six Pro Trends, possess a lot of potential.
73 Weather Rating – Indians and Astros
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. In a slate with four games currently expected to be impacted by precipitation (Blue Jays-Orioles, Phillies-Pirates, Rockies-Reds and Giants-Cardinals), the Indians and Astros lead the slate with a Weather Rating of 73. Implied for a slate-high 4.9 runs, the Astros, in particular, could be popular.
Every single batter in the projected Astros’ lineup has at least six Pro Trends, and the hitters at the top of the lineup — George Springer, Josh Reddick, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran — all have between seven and nine. On top of that, there’s a wind blowing out to left field at 13 miles per hour. Historically, batters with comparable lineup spots, Pro Trends and Weather Ratings have averaged a +1.18 Plus/Minus and 45.5 percent Consistency Rating as well as 11.1 percent ownership.
The Astros will likely be chalky, especially in cash games. In guaranteed prize pools, a more contrarian option might be preferable.
80 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. Tied for the slate lead with an implied total of 4.9 runs, the Tigers (once again) have a slate-high Team Value Rating. Their top-five hitters collectively average 6.8 Pro Trends at an average cost of $4,000. Against Rangers righty Nick Martinez, who has a 5.35 ERA since last season, the Tigers have a lot of potential. Although Martinez has managed to average 94 pitches in his five starts this season, he’s made it into the seventh inning only once. If the Indians knock him out of the game early, they will be in a great position to leverage their Opponent Bullpen Rating of 99 and tee off against an overworked Rangers bullpen for the rest of the game.
With a Park Factor of 35-39 at Comerica Park, the Tigers don’t seem to be in a great spot, but the wind is blowing out to right field at 14 miles per hour and the game currently has a zero percent chance of precipitation. Historically, batters with comparable lineup spots, Pro Trends, salaries and implied totals have done well when a similar wind has blown away from home plate, averaging a +1.19 Plus/Minus and 46.1 percent Consistency Rating.
J.D. Martinez and Alex Avila, in particular, are hitting the ball well with batted ball distances of 254 and 304 feet over the last 15 days.
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.