Today’s main slate features 10 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 tool 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.
7.5 K Prediction – Chris Sale
There’s only one true stud pitcher on today’s slate: Sale, who at $13,500 dominates the salary scale. He’s the only pitcher above $10,000 and hasn’t been priced this high since the end of last season. Luis Severino ($9,900) and Rich Hill ($8,900) are fine options for people who want upside without paying up — like Sale, they’re both heavy favorites facing teams (the Royals and Cardinals) implied for fewer than four runs — but neither of them truly have Sale’s raw potential. In his nine starts this season, Sale has been utterly dominant, leading the league with 65.2 innings, 95 strikeouts and a 0.792 WHIP. He’s not Clayton Kershaw, but in 2017 he’s maybe been better than Kershaw. Out of all the slate’s starters not on a pitch count — Hill threw only 82 pitches in his May 16 return from the disabled list — Sale is first with a 7.5 K Prediction. He’s a massive favorite, as the Red Sox are currently favored by 2.2 runs over the Rangers, who are implied for a slate-low 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. On the season, Sale leads all regular starters with an absurd +11.1 Plus/Minus and 100 percent Consistency Rating so far — but he’s been owned at an incredible 56.0 percent rate in large-field guaranteed prize pools. That’s problematic since Sale has a horrible -9.05 Plus/Minus across his career on the few occasions when he’s been similarly priced. In fact, per our industry-leading Trends tool, pitchers comparable to Sale on the basis of K Prediction, opponent implied total, probability to win, and salary have collectively averaged a -7.13 Plus/Minus with a 30 percent Consistency Rating — despite their positive indicators. How is that possible? They’re so expensive that even if they pitch well it’s relatively easy for them to underperform their salary-based expectations. Their 21.6 percent ownership rate doesn’t help their cause.
Sale will likely be the slate’s chalkiest pitcher, but limiting your exposure to him in GPPs would be wise. His salary is prohibitive.
87 Recent Batted Ball Luck Score – Trevor Williams
Williams is probably the slate’s worst pitcher. Almost everything seems to be going against him. He’s a slight underdog on the road at SunTrust Park, which has been a very hitter-friendly park so far, and the Braves are implied for a high 4.8 runs. Williams has an embarrassing 4.2 K Prediction and slate-worst marks with a 1.727 WHIP and 2.256 home runs allowed per nine innings over the last 12 months. In his three starts this year, spanning 13.2 innings, he’s given up 10 earned runs and struck out only six batters. Again, he’s a horrible pitcher — and in Atlanta, there’s a 50 percent chance of precipitation and a 0.8 humidity. Anyone who rosters him is just asking for trouble — and that’s why he might warrant some speculative GPP exposure.
As likely as Williams is to put up a dud performance, his ownership rate will likely be lower. On top of that, he’s the slate’s second-cheapest starting pitcher at $4,800, and his ownership will likely approach zero percent. On top of that, calling balls and strikes is umpire Victor Carapazza, whose presence behind home plate has historically correlated with a boost in pitcher performance of 1.8 DraftKings points. Plus, it’s likely that Williams has pitched better than his recent 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, Williams easily has the slate’s highest mark at 87: 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, Williams has held opposing hitters to a batted ball distance of 187 feet, exit velocity of 86 miles per hour, and ground ball rate of 61 percent. Historically, pitchers comparable to Williams in K Prediction, opponent implied total, probability to win, salary and Recent Batted Ball Luck have averaged a near-neutral -0.51 Plus/Minus with a 49.1 percent Consistency Rating and 2.3 percent ownership rate.
Because of his low salary, Williams actually has a decent chance of reaching his salary-based expectations as a punt play.
11 Pro Trends – Michael Conforto
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. Unsurprisingly, the hot-hitting Conforto leads the slate in Pro Trends. As the projected leadoff man for the Mets, who are implied for a solid 4.7 runs, Conforto is smashing the ball with a batted ball distance of 272 feet, exit velocity of 99 miles per hour and fly ball rate of 51 percent over the last 15 days.
As a team, the Mets are in a good spot against Padres right-handed pitcher Jarred Cosart. He has the slate’s second-worst WHIP at 1.676, and he’s away from Petco Park facing a projected lineup with five left-handed and switch hitters at the top of the batting order: Conforto, Jose Reyes, Jay Bruce, Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson. Additionally, No. 6 hitter Wilmer Flores is second in the slate with 10 Pro Trends. Conforto will likely be a foundational player in a number of Mets stacks.
Historically, players comparable to Conforto in Pro Trends and batting distance crush with 10.3 DraftKings points, a +2.58 Plus/Minus and 50.6 percent Consistency Rating.
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 Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer (non-expensive batters projected to bat second and fourth for the Royals) could form the foundation of speculative stacks, the real lefty to target in this game is Brett Gardner. The Yankees are third in the slate with an implied total of 5.0 runs, and Gardner is second in the slate with 10 Pro Trends. Additionally, Jacoby Ellsbury, Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius all offer some upside in the second half of the order as lefties or switch hitters with six Pro Trends.
Batters comparable to Gardner in Pro Trends and lineup spot historically have a +1.84 Plus/Minus with a 48.8 percent Consistency Rating.
81 Team Value Rating – Red Sox
Team Value Rating is a 0-to-100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. Currently implied for a slate-high 5.4 runs, the Red Sox easily lead the slate in Team Value Rating. They’re not cheap — their first five hitters (Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez and Chris Young) average almost $4,400 per player — but the Sox are projected to stack eight right-handed batters against Rangers lefty Martin Perez, who doesn’t allow a lot of home runs (0.846 HR/9) but does allow a lot of base runners (1.498 WHIP). Historically, right-handed batters in the top half of the order with similar team totals and matchups against lefty starting pitchers do well, averaging a +1.61 Plus/Minus with a 48.3 percent Consistency Rating.
Ramirez in particular, with his .319 ISO against lefties, is likely to be featured in Red Sox stacks.
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.