Today’s main slate features five games and starts at 7:07 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 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.
6.2 K Prediction – Julio Teheran
While the 15-game all-day slate offers more variety, the truth is there isn’t a $10,000 pitcher on the mound today — and the high-end options in the main slate are fairly limited. Despite being a two-time All-Star, Teheran is no one’s idea of a stud. He’s been remarkably inconsistent this season — in 10 total starts, he’s allowed at least six earned runs in three games and no more than two in six games — and he’s never been much of a strikeout pitcher. Nevertheless, he leads the slate with a 6.2 K Prediction, which is rather low for a slate-high mark. At $8,900 he’s not exorbitantly expensive, but he does have the slate’s second-highest salary.
On the positive side, Teheran is second in the slate with a 1.198 WHIP and 96 pitches per appearance over the last year. He also has a Park Factor of 83. On the negative side, the opposing Angels are implied for 4.2 runs, and the Braves are slight underdogs at Angel Stadium, where the wind is currently forecast to blow out from home plate at five miles per hour. 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 Teheran on the basis of K Prediction, Park Factor, opponent implied total and probability to win have historically averaged a near-neutral -0.06 Plus/Minus with a 51.1 Consistency Rating. That’s not enticing, but such pitchers have also had a relatively unassuming 7.6 percent ownership rate in large-field guaranteed prize pools.
It’s possible that Teheran could be available at something of an ownership discount despite his upside potential.
86 Recent Batted Ball Luck Score – Lisalverto Bonilla
Bonilla is probably the slate’s worst pitcher. Almost everything seems to be going against him. His Reds are implied for a slate-low 3.7 runs, and he’s facing the Blue Jays, who are implied for a slate-high 5.4 runs. On the road at Rogers Centre, Bonilla has a slate-worst 39 Park Factor. He’s 0-2 on the season with nine earned runs allowed over 10.1 innings in his last two starts. His 1.472 WHIP is bad — but it sparkles in comparison to his slate-worst 1.948 home runs allowed per nine innings. Before pitching for the Reds this season, his last (and only) MLB appearances came with the Rangers in 2014. He literally might not even be an MLB player in a month. Again, he’s a horrible pitcher — that’s why he might warrant some speculative GPP exposure.
He’s the slate’s cheapest pitcher at $4,800, he will could have the position’s lowest ownership rate, and he provides strong leverage against the Blue Jays, who will likely be popular. On top of that, he’s actually second on the slate with a 6.1 K Prediction, and even though he’s been unimpressive as a starter he has managed to average just under 95 pitches per start this year. Plus, it’s likely that Bonilla 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, Bonilla easily has the slate’s highest mark at 86: Even though he’s in the bottom 15 percent of recent fantasy production, he’s in the top 15 percent of all pitchers in batted ball distance. Over the last half-month, Bonilla has held opposing hitters to a batted ball distance of 182 feet, exit velocity of 88 miles per hour and fly ball rate of 28 percent. Historically, pitchers comparable to Bonilla in salary, K Prediction, opponent implied total, probability to win and Recent Batted Ball Luck have averaged a 75.0 percent Consistency Rating and 2.1 percent ownership rate.
Because of his low salary and likely ownership, Bonilla has an underappreciated chance of returning value as a differentiation and leverage play in GPPs — but he’s not for people who don’t like taking risks.
10 Pro Trends – Mike Trout and Martin Maldonado
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. Unsurprisingly, Trout leads the slate in Pro Trends: He’s the most expensive position player at $5,600. Third and fourth in the slate with a hand-adjusted ISO and slugging percentage of .290 and .604, Trout is positioned to trounce Teheran — who (it should go without saying) shouldn’t be rostered in the same lineup as the power hitter against whom he’s pitching. A strong option in both cash games and GPPs, Trout looks like a potential Triple Crown candidate in the American League with a .337 average, MLB-high 16 home runs and 36 runs batted in. He leads the slate with a batted ball distance of 276 feet over the last 15 days, during which time he also has an obscene fly ball and hard hit rates of 55 and 58 percent. A weakling, he isn’t.
Projected to bat second, Trout will likely be popular, but lineups with him could be made less chalky if they housed his teammate Maldonado, who also leads the slate with 10 Pro Trends. Just $2,100 and expected to bat eighth, Maldonado offers a nice blend of salary savings and upside. Batters comparable to Maldonado in Pro Trends and lineup spot have had a +0.92 Plus/Minus and 43.9 percent Consistency Rating at a reduced ownership of 3.9 percent.
Trout is the slugger on the slate, but his teammate is pretty good for a No. 8 hitter.
65 Park Factor – Left-Handed Rays & Rangers
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. Given that the hitter-friendly Coors Field is not on the slate — the Rockies play earlier in the day — there are no venues available that dramatically enhance batter performance. Still, lefties at Globe Life Park in Arlington are in a beneficial situation with a slate-high 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.
While the Rays are expected to bat only two lefties (and we’ll get to them later), the Rangers, in particular, are an intriguing team to consider. They are second in the slate with an implied total of 4.9 runs, but because they trail the Blue Jays by a half-run they are likely to have lower ownership than they otherwise might. As of writing, the Rangers are expected to face Rays righty Erasmo Ramirez — a reliever who sometimes pretends to be a starter and who actually pitched an inning yesterday. Averaging 71 pitches in his three starts this year, Ramirez might not even make it into the fifth inning — if he even pitches today — so the Rangers lefties (Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor, Joey Gallo and Jared Hoying) might spend a substantial portion of the game attempting to launch substandard pitches into the right-field stands.
Gallo leads the slate with a fly ball rate of 65 percent over the last 15 days. Against righties at Globe Life, Gallo has a historical +1.01 Plus/Minus when possessing a comparable fly ball rate.
84 Team Value Rating – Rays
Team Value Rating is a 0-to-100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. The Rays are only fourth on the slate with 4.7 implied runs, but they lead the slate with an 84 Team Value Rating, primarily because they are so cheap with only two projected batters above $4,000 and not one batter above $4,200. Since lefty leadoff man Corey Dickerson ($4,800) is not expected to start against Rangers lefty Martin Perez, the Rays are without their highest-priced player and will likely be rosterable at something of an ownership discount.
While lefties Logan Morrison and Kevin Kiermaier have slate-high Park Factors of 65, the Rays righties are probably even more enticing. Historically, right-handed batters at Globe Life have done well against lefties when implied for a comparable team total, especially when batting first through seventh, averaging a +0.94 Plus/Minus with a 44.2 percent Consistency Rating. Tim Beckham, Daniel Robertson, Evan Longoria, Steven Souza and Rickie Weeks are collectively worthy of some GPP consideration.
Even Derek Norris and Peter Bourjos — expected to bat eighth and ninth — offer some upside with seven Pro Trends each. You probably won’t need to dig that deep into the Rays batting order to create unique lineups, but there’s some cheap potential throughout the entirety of this lineup.
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.