WATCH: STACK TO CONSIDER – CHICAGO WHITE SOX
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 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.
8.7 K Prediction – Max Scherzer
Even though this slate has fewer than 10 games, it still has a number of pitchers with high upside. Jacob deGrom, Chris Archer and Carlos Martinez all stand out (and are priced above $10,000) — but there’s only one Scherzer, who has the slate’s highest salary at $13,300. Ordinarily he would likely have high ownership, and Scherzer probably will still be popular, but his ownership rate might be slightly reduced given that there is an abundance of other pitching options. For instance, it would not be a surprise at all if deGrom (who is similar to Scherzer in K Prediction, opponent implied total and likelihood to win but is $1,300 cheaper) was more popular with DFS players tonight.
Nevertheless, Scherzer looks like a guy who deserves high ownership. He leads the slate with an 8.7 K Prediction, and the Nationals are favored by 1.0 run against the Giants, who have the slate’s second-lowest implied total with 3.3 runs. Also, Scherzer leads the slate with a 93 Park Factor, as AT&T Park in San Francisco is one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in MLB. 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 Scherzer on the basis of K Prediction, opponent implied total, and probability to win have historically averaged 22.39 DraftKings points with a +3.04 Plus/Minus, 60.8 percent Consistency Rating and 29.3 percent ownership rate in large-field guaranteed prize pools.
Again, it’s worth noting that deGrom is cheaper and also matches for this trend with his K Prediction of 8.6, slate-best opponent implied total of 3.2 runs, and team total of 4.4 runs. Despite having the slate’s most raw upside, Scherzer could have suppressed ownership.
96.5 MPH, 12-Month Fastball Velocity – James Paxton
Although Scherzer, deGrom, Archer and Martinez are all in the slate, none of them is the hardest-throwing hurler pitching tonight. That honor belongs to Mariners lefty James Paxton, who is scheduled to return from the disabled list after being placed on it at the beginning of May with a strained left forearm. It’s possible that Paxton could be on a pitch count tonight, but there hasn’t been any official word on that as of writing, and in his six starts to open the season — in which he went 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA and 45 strikeouts across 37.2 innings — he averaged 102.8 pitches per outing. The Mariners have a rotation that’s in the bottom half of the league in most metrics. It’s possible that they’ll let him throw close to his usual allotment of pitches.
Paxton has several factors in his favor. Although this game currently has a 28 percent chance of precipitation, Safeco Field has a retractable umbrella roof: Weather shouldn’t be a factor in this game. On top of that, he leads the slate with 0.519 home runs allowed over the last year. Even though he’s playing against the Rockies, he should probably be able to keep the ball in the park. Finally, the Mariners are favored by a slate-high 1.3 runs over the Rockies, who are implied for only 3.4 runs. Paxton has a K Prediction of only 6.0, but for a guy who costs only $8,200 he has a lot of upside. Historically, pitchers comparable to Paxton on the basis of pitch velocity, K Prediction, opponent implied total, and probability to win have smashed with a +5.09 Plus/Minus and 72.2 percent Consistency Rating. Of course, they’ve also had an absurd 41.9 percent ownership rate.
Paxton is probably risky for cash games given that he’s returning from injury, but he could be very popular in GPPs.
10 Pro Trends – Logan Morrison
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. Morrison isn’t a consistent player, but he has 14 home runs on the season and currently leads the slate in Pro Trends (excluding players in the Tigers-Royals game, which has a 78 percent chance of precipitation). At $4,700, Morrison isn’t exorbitantly expensive, given that he’s the projected No. 4 hitter on a Rays team with the slate’s second-highest implied total at 5.2 runs. He’s on the beneficial side of his hitting splits with a .276 ISO and .519 slugging percentage against right-handed pitchers. Plus, Morrison isn’t facing just any righty. He’s facing Austin Bibens-Dirkx, a 32-year-old minor league veteran who before this year had never played in the majors and who has never started an MLB game.
Morrison should benefit from a slate-best Weather Rating of 61, and he has an advantageous Park Factor of 65. If Bibens-Dirkx is unable to pitch deep into the game — and, just a reminder, he’s a reliever who’s pitched a total of 11.1 innings in his MLB career — then Morrison and the Rays will be in a position to exploit a slate-high Opponent Bullpen Rating of 99, as the Rangers relievers have been massively overworked in the last three games and on the season have the fourth-worst mark in the league with a .782 OPS allowed. Add in the fact that Morrison has crushed the ball over the last 15 days with a batted ball distance of 240 feet, fly ball rate of 54 percent and hard hit rate of 48 percent, and he looks like someone with multi-home run upside.
Historically, hitters comparable to Morrison in lineup spot, team total, and Statcast data have averaged 10.83 DraftKings points with a +2.27 Plus/Minus and 47.9 percent Consistency Rating.
78 Park Factor – Left-Handed Yankees and Orioles
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. Lefties in Oriole Park at Camden Yards lead the slate with a Park Factor of 78. With relatively short distances of 318 feet to the right-field foul pole and 373 feet to right-center field, Camden Yards has been a very lefty-friendly venue throughout its existence, witnessing some big slugging seasons from Rafael Palmeiro and Brady Anderson in the 1990s to Chris Davis now.
Although the Yankees and Orioles are both starting right-handed pitchers in Masahiro Tanaka and Kevin Gausman, both teams are expected to have relatively few lefties in their lineups. Still, those lefties are intriguing, especially Yankees leadoff man Brett Gardner and the aforementioned Orioles power hitter, Davis. After hitting two home runs last night, Gardner has 11 on the season. He’s especially intriguing as the Yankees are fourth in the slate with 4.7 implied runs, and Gardner has recently hit the ball well with a batted ball distance of 231 feet, fly ball rate of 48 percent, and hard hit rate of 39 percent. The Orioles are implied for a respectable 4.4 runs, and Davis has been even more of a powerhouse recently with a batted ball distance of 252 feet, fly ball rate of 57 percent, and hard hit rate of 42 percent over the last 15 days.
Batters comparable to Gardner in lineup spot, team total and Statcast data have averaged a +1.59 Plus/Minus and 47.1 percent Consistency Rating; Davis, +1.11 Plus/Minus and 42.5 percent Consistency Rating. The Yankees-Orioles game is currently forecast with a 38 percent chance of precipitation, but that is expected to be just a light drizzle. Monitor the weather as lineup lock approaches. The wind is currently blowing out at five miles per hour.
80 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. The Royals actually lead the slate with a high Team Value Rating of 86, as they are monumentally cheap and third in the slate with an implied total of 4.8 runs, but (again) their game currently has a 78 percent chance of precipitation. If that game clears up, then consider stacking them if you’re looking for some cheap hitting upside. If, however, the weather doesn’t clear, then look to the Red Sox, who lead the slate with 5.4 implied runs and are second with an 80 Team Value Rating.
The Red Sox aren’t cheap, but they are truly the cream of this slate’s crop. Facing White Sox righty Mike Pelfrey, who has a 4.93 ERA since 2013 and a horrible 1.601 WHIP over the last year, the Red Sox are likely to be popular — but they deserve that popularity. The lefties and one switch-hitter (Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, Jackie Bradley and Pablo Sandoval) are all on the beneficial side of their hitting splits, and the righties (Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez) all have at least five Pro Trends, a Park Factor of 65, and a wind blowing out to left field at nine miles per hour.
Moreland is the only batter in the top two-thirds of the order with a salary of less than $4,000. As it happens, he’s also hitting the ball the best of the group with a batted ball distance of 233 feet and hard hit rate of 46 percent over the last 15 days. Batters comparable to Moreland in lineup spot, team total and Statcast data have averaged a +1.83 Plus/Minus and 47.3 percent Consistency Rating. Of the Red Sox who aren’t hitting at the bottom of the order, he could have the lowest 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.