Today’s main slate features 13 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.
0.0 Humidity – Chris Archer
I can’t believe I’m talking about humidity — but have you seen the weather we could potentially be dealing with in this slate? It’s almost apocalyptic. Precipitation and humidity are both bad for pitchers, and all of the $10,000 pitchers — Yu Darvish, Stephen Strasburg, Dallas Keuchel and Danny Salazar — have negative exposure to the elements. Darvish should have protection from any precipitation via Safeco Field’s “retractable umbrella,” but he’s still projected to face a damp 0.68 humidity. Strasburg is facing a 27 percent chance of precipitation and an absurd 0.92 humidity in Philadelphia. Keuchel and Salazar are projected to face 0.81 and 0.5 humidity in Los Angeles and Kansas City. For what it’s worth, Kenta Maeda at $9,800 is also facing 0.86 humidity in San Diego. I haven’t seen this much disgusting dampness in the air since Dwyane Wade’s 2006 NBA Finals dunk over Erick Dampier.
At $9,600, Archer is the only high-priced pitcher who has total safety from the elements, thanks to Tropicana Field, where he’s blessed with 0.0 humidity and a zero percent chance of precipitation. Additionally, of the six pitchers with the highest salaries, Archer is the only one at home, where he has a strong Park Factor of 83. With a 1.221 WHIP and 10.02 strikeouts per nine innings over the last 12 months, Archer is attractive in cash games, especially since the opposing Blue Jays are implied for 3.5 runs (the third-lowest mark in the slate) and the Rays are currently favored by 0.6 runs. His 7.5 K Prediction isn’t elite, but it’s still a top-eight projection.
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. Historically, favored pitchers comparable to Archer in salary, humidity, strikeout prediction, and opponent implied run total have done well with 20.73 DraftKings points, a +3.35 Plus/Minus, and a 63.8 percent Consistency Rating. Of course, they’ve also been outrageously popular with a 34.7 percent ownership rate in large-field guaranteed prize pools.
It doesn’t hurt that Archer leads the slate with a pitch count of 105 per start over the last year.
63 Recent Batted Ball Luck Score – Francisco Liriano
It’s probably not a great idea to start both starting pitchers in the Blue Jays-Rays game, but if you’re not rostering Archer then consider Liriano, who’s $1,400 cheaper at $8,200. Liriano is the underdog, and over the last year he has a bottom-eight WHIP of 1.549, so he could be a way to gain leverage on Archer and exposure to pristine weather conditions. Liriano is currently third on the slate with an 84 Park Factor and 8.1 K Prediction.
In his first start of the season on Apr. 7, Liriano was horrible against these very Rays in Tampa Bay, scoring an abominable -11.45 DraftKings points in 0.1 innings of work, but in his last start (Apr. 29) he scored 20.45 points against them with six strikeouts and one earned run allowed in five innings. He’s had some struggles this season with a -2.10 Plus/Minus in his five starts, but it’s possible that he’s been unlucky. At FantasyLabs, we have a Recent Batted Ball Luck metric, which 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, Liriano has the highest mark at 63. Even though he’s in the bottom 40 percent of recent fantasy production, he’s in the top 40 percent of all pitchers in batted ball distance. Indeed, over the last half-month Liriano is first on the slate with a batted ball distance of 169 feet and unreal hard hit rate of eight percent.
Historically, underdog pitchers comparable in salary, humidity, strikeout prediction and opponent implied run total have had 19.40 DraftKings points, a +4.21 Plus/Minus, and 73.9 percent Consistency Rating. It’s possible that Liriano — and not Archer — could be the pitcher to roster. Then again, these comparable pitchers have been owned at an unyielding 50.8 percent rate in large-field GPPs.
Liriano’s ownership is unlikely to be that extreme, but he could be popular for an underdog. He’s one of the highest-rated pitchers in our Player Models.
10 Pro Trends – Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Wieters
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. Unsurprisingly, Zimmerman leads the slate with 10 Pro Trends. He’s the No. 4 hitter for the team that’s first in MLB with 179 runs, 287 hits, 63 doubles, 487 total bases, a .289 batting average and a .857 OBP. Zimmerman probably isn’t even the best batter on his team — that would be No. 3 hitter Bryce Harper — but right now Zimmerman is the best hitter in the National League, with a Triple Crown-esque .424/11/30 stat line in 27 games. Given that they are implied for a respectable 4.6 runs and facing a rookie in Phillies starter Nick Pivetta — who in his first career start (Apr. 30) had a 2.0 WHIP in five innings — the Nationals could be popular.
While the weather in Philadelphia might negatively impact their pitcher, the Nats should be aided by the 0.94 humidity, and if the 27 percent chance of precipitation turns into rain then Pivetta could be pulled early, which would allow the Nats to leverage their absurd slate-high 99 Opponent Bullpen Rating by facing the overworked Phillies’ relief pitchers. On top of that, the wind is forecast to be blowing out to left field at 12 miles per hour at game time. Batters comparable to Zimmerman on the basis of weather, lineup spot, team implied total and Pro Trends have done well with 9.45 DraftKings points, a +1.35 Plus/Minus and a 45.1 percent Consistency Rating.
If you want to stack the Nats while perhaps being more contrarian, consider adding Wieters to the mix, as he also has a slate-high 10 Pro Trends and is the projected No. 8 hitter. Traditionally hitters at the bottom of the order aren’t desirable, but batters with comparable weather, lineup spots, team implied totals and Pro Trends have averaged 8.04 DraftKings points, a +1.69 Plus/Minus and a 44.6 percent Consistency Rating at only 3.4 percent ownership.
Of course, with a game taking place at Coors Field, using even a conventional Nats stack might be contrarian enough.
100 Park Factor – Rockies & Diamondbacks
In a slate with weather issues, the Diamondbacks-Rockies game at Coors Field is currently forecast for a beautiful zero percent chance of precipitation. With a slate-high implied total of 10.5 runs, this game will likely be popular. Park Factor is a FantasyLabs metric that measures the friendliness of a park based on the handedness of the batter and the starting pitcher. At Coors Field, all batters have a 100 Park Factor regardless of handedness. Unsurprisingly, Coors Field is the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the MLB with league-high marks in average DraftKings points per game (9.12), Plus/Minus (+1.37), Consistency Rating (47.6 percent) and Upside Rating (19 percent). In cash games, Coors is King: The Diamondbacks and Rockies both lead the slate with implied totals of 5.25 runs.
In GPPs, however, both of these teams are likely to have high ownership. While the Rockies intrigue — No. 1 hitter Charlie Blackmon is tied with Zimmerman and Wieters atop the slate with 10 Pro Trends — the Diamondbacks have two large factors in their favor: They’re facing a young starting pitcher in German Marquez (who has a 5.87 ERA and only five career starts), and they’re also tied for the slate lead with a 99 Opponent Bullpen Rating, as the Rockies’ relievers have been overworked in their last three games. If the Nationals get to Marquez early they could spend the rest of the game crushing a tired bullpen . . . at Coors Field.
77 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. As of writing, the Rays have the slate’s highest TVR. They’re implied for an unassuming 4.1 runs, but only one of their batters — Evan Longoria ($4,000) — has a salary above $3,500. You almost certainly don’t want to start Liriano at pitcher and then stack a bunch of Rays against him, but if you choose not to go with Liriano then it might not be a bad idea to gain a little GPP exposure to a cheap stack in the slate’s only game that’s 100 percent guaranteed not to be negatively impacted by weather.
At the same time, don’t go wild with Rays stacks. Against the lefty Liriano, the Rays are projected to use a righty-heavy lineup, and right-handed hitters at Tropicana Field have a woeful Park Factor of 4. Nevertheless, using Longoria in a stack with other projected top-of-the-order righties (Tim Beckham and Steven Souza) might be fine, especially if they can eventually put their Opponent Bullpen Rating of 68 to good use. Historically, batters with comparable weather, lineup spots, team implied totals, low Park Factors and solid Opponent Bullpen Ratings haven’t been horrible with a +0.78 Plus/Minus and 44.7 percent Consistency Rating.
If you stack the Rays in a few GPP lineups, you probably have an underappreciated chance of getting some low-cost and low-owned non-horrible production, which could be valuable if Liriano and the Coors Field game both dud at high ownership. It’s possible.
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.