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.
7.2 K Prediction – Zack Greinke
In today’s small slate only Greinke and Michael Pineda are priced above $10,000. Ordinarily, Pineda would be the preferable pitcher, as he has the higher K Prediction (7.5 vs. 7.2) and the lower opponent implied run total (3.5 vs. 3.9) and salary ($10,500 vs. $12,000), but Greinke has two large factors in his favor. First, the Diamondbacks are implied to win by 1.3 runs, whereas the Yankees are implied to win by ‘only’ 1.1 runs. Second, the Diamondbacks-White Sox game currently has a zero percent chance of precipitation and a low humidity of 0.13; the Yankees-Royals game has a 55 percent chance of precipitation and slate-high humidity of 0.97. In theory, Pineda is in the better spot. In actuality, he’s in some danger of not even playing.
As it is, regardless of Pineda’s presence in the slate, Greinke’s a solid option, even though he’s pitching at home in the hitter-friendly venue of Chase Field. 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, Greinke has historically pitched well at Chase with a comparable K Prediction and opponent implied total, averaging 20.81 DraftKings points, a +2.92 Plus/Minus and 66.7 percent Consistency Rating.
Given the dynamics of this slate, Greinke might be the closest there is to a chalk pitcher.
88 Recent Batted Ball Luck Score – Scott Feldman
By no means am I Feldman truther, but he does have a few factors in his favor. He’s the slate’s third-cheapest pitcher at $5,900, so he provides ample salary relief. Also, he’s facing the Indians, who are implied to score 4.7 runs (the slate’s third-highest mark), which isn’t theoretically good for him, but it will likely ensure that he has diminished ownership. Finally, the Indians-Reds game currently has a zero percent chance of precipitation — and weather in this slate is likely to be a factor. As of writing, six of today’s games (Rockies-Phillies, Royals-Yankees, Twins-Orioles, Pirates-Braves, Giants-Cubs and Tigers-Astros) have double-digit precipitation percentages. Some of those games are likely to play without serious disruption from rain (in Houston they’ll likely just put up the retractable roof), but rain will almost certainly impact some pitcher performances in this slate. If Feldman is horrible … at least it won’t have anything to do with rain.
Although Feldman is 2-4 on the season with a 4.29 ERA, it’s likely that he’s pitched better recently than his numbers suggest. 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, Feldman 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, Feldman has held opposing hitters to a batted ball distance of 163 feet, exit velocity of 88 miles per hour and fly ball rate of 22 percent. Historically, pitchers with comparable Recent Batted Ball Luck Scores have outperformed with a +1.93 Plus/Minus and 60.6 percent Consistency Rating.
If you want to pay down at the position and avoid the rain altogether, Feldman deserves some speculative consideration.
13 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 in Pro Trends. Given that he’s the slate’s second-most expensive non-pitcher at $5,500, it makes sense for him to have a lot of upside. In fact, there are six players with double-digit Pro Trends in the slate: Four of them are Diamondbacks — Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb ($5,600), Yasmany Tomas ($4,200) and Jeff Mathis ($2,300). With slate-high marks in implied team total (5.2 runs) and Weather Rating (72), the Diamondbacks will likely find themselves in a lot of lineups.
Projected to bat third, Goldschmidt is crushing the ball right now with a batted ball distance of 257 feet, exit velocity of 97 miles per hour, and hard-hit rate of 62 percent over the last 15 days, during which time he’s exceeded his 12-month marks by 38 feet, four mph and 20 percentage points. He’s ordinarily a stud, but over the last half-month, he’s been an extraordinary stud. Historically, hitters comparable to Goldschmidt on the basis of lineup spot and Pro Trends have crushed with 11.2 DraftKings points, a +2.87 Plus/Minus and a 50.0 percent Consistency Rating.
Goldschmidt and the Diamondbacks will likely be popular. If you want to stack them in a contrarian way, consider rostering Mathis, who has 10 Pro Trends as the No. 8 batter.
81 Park Factor – Left-Handed Royals and Yankees
Park Factor is a 0-to-100 FantasyLabs metric that measures the friendliness of a park based on the handedness of the batter and the starting pitcher. At Yankee Stadium, lefties lead the slate with a Park Factor of 81. With a relatively shallow right field — the distance from home plate to the right-field foul pole is 314 feet — Yankee Stadium was seemingly constructed with lefties in mind.
While rain and high humidity are historically bad for pitchers, ‘suboptimal’ weather often is a boon for hitters, especially since rain delays can cause managers to pull their starting pitchers early. If Pineda and Jason Vargas get caught up in rain delays, the Yankees and Royals batters ultimately could benefit, as the Yankees have an Opponent Bullpen Rating of 82; the Royals, a slate-high mark of 97. In short, the Yankees and Royals relievers have been overworked lately and are likely exploitable.
Lefties such as Jacoby Ellsbury for the Yankees and Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer for the Royals are non-expensive batters who could form the foundation of speculative stacks intended to benefit from the uncertain weather. It’s possible that the Yankees and Royals could have low ownership rates because of the possible precipitation.
73 Team Value Rating – Astros
Team Value Rating is a 0-to-100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. Implied for a respectable though not exceptional 4.5 runs, the Astros lead the slate in Team Value Rating, which is minorly incredible given that they’re facing Tigers righty Michael Fulmer, who isn’t a strikeout savant but does sport a 2.72 ERA on the season. Nevertheless, the top of the Astros’ lineup — George Springer, Josh Reddick, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Carlos Beltran — can pack a punch. The Astros are seventh in runs scored and OPS on the season, and their first five hitters on average are rosterable for just under $4,100 per batter.
One factor the Astros have in their favor is their Opponent Bullpen Rating of 92. The Tigers’ relievers have been overworked in their last few games. In the later innings especially, the Astros could tee off against a tired bullpen. This year, the top half of the Astros’ lineup has done well when implied for a similar number of runs and facing teams with comparably worn-out bullpens, averaging a +1.48 Plus/Minus and 62.1 percent Consistency Rating.
Given their middle-of-the-road total, the Astros offer some upside with what’s likely to be relatively 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.