Featuring in-depth analysis of the starting pitchers (SPs) on Monday, April 16, 2018 (4/16). Daily fantasy baseball analysis for today’s MLB DFS slate to help you build winning cash game and tournament lineups on FanDuel & DraftKings.
Building winning MLB DFS lineups on FanDuel and DraftKings starts with making the right pitcher selections.
Let’s have a look at the day’s MLB DFS SP options to consider across the board. As you’ve come to expect from this column over the last couple years (or if you’re reading for the first time – welcome!), I will walk through the top and secondary plays that you’ll want on your short list as you make decisions on who to ultimately trot out there in your cash and GPP lineups. In addition to that, we’ll also highlight one “daily dice roll” name to consider as a lower own, high ROI upside tournament play.
First and foremost welcome to the Pitching Rundown column for the 2018 MLB DFS Season! We are thrilled to be back to the grind of the baseball season, helping you build killer DFS lineups for FanDuel, DraftKings or whatever other sites you choose to play on. Some changes have been made to the way we play DFS (for example, FanDuel has merged the C and 1B position, adding a UTIL spot as well) surely be a fun 2018 season from a daily standpoint as we adapt to the new format(s).
Slate & Weather Overview
Unlike Sunday (which was a complete weather disaster), the Monday evening slate doesn’t look like it will have a ton of precipitation risk. However, cold situations are certainly in the picture with Chicago and Pittsburgh projected for sub-40 degrees. New York, Atlanta and Oakland aren’t much better, with right around 50 degrees being the forecast there. Winds could shift or die down, but there are quite a few near 20 mph situations to keep an eye on (New York, Atlanta, Oakland, San Diego). It’ll be an interesting slate to say the least.
Main Slate – 7:05pm EST
Note that you won’t see us talk about each and every pitcher on the slate. That would simply be redundant and a waste of your valuable time. Instead, I’ve carved out the top/secondary and high upside (low own%) names that are worthy of a more detailed look-in to help narrow down your short list for the day. Let’s get down to business.
Top Plays – where we highlight our favorite, and often safest, options to consider on the slate
Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD @ SD
It’s shaping up as a slate where the wise thing to do across the board could be to pay down for pitching tonight. Ryu is in a great spot at the Padres, facing Robbie Erlin. We don’t have a Vegas line to work with just yet, and although the Padres have potent numbers against LHP this year (.367 wOBA; 38% HH%) – I still see Ryu as an excellent value thanks to the solid K% and raw stuff (11%/31% whiff/chase rates dating back to this time last year). While this is not a must-play overall given that SD has been sneakier vs LHP this year than some may think, the Petco factor and lack of an intimidating opponent for the LAD lineup makes him a nice value to consider.
Jaime Garcia, TOR vs KC
The higher skill SP on the slate around the same price bracket is Garcia, who throws at home against the Royals here. He’s one of the heaviest win% guys on the board today (64%) and has a rock solid 3.6 opponent run total. The Royals have a mere .301 wOBA split vs LHP this year and a 28% K% – but a 41% HH% that indicates they’re going to see things level out in the wOBA department eventually. That said, Garcia is very tough on LHB (.293 wOBA; 3.20 xFIP against them over the last few years) and Lucas Duda/Mike Moustakas (their main power threats) are going to be in tough. You have to like the value, win probability and GB% skill here on a slate that doesn’t have any standout must-start aces. Garcia currently sits at the top of my list for exposure for all the reasons mentioned above.
Secondary Plays – where we name a handful of less reliable, but solid upside options (better for SP2 on DK or GPPs)
Jacob deGrom, NYM vs WAS
deGrom has the highest K/9 skill on the board amongst SPs this evening at 10.8 dating back to this time last year, and the lowest SIERA as well (3.40) with great whiff and chase rates (13%/33%). However, the Nats are a very difficult draw (.330 wOBA vs RHP; mere 21% K%) – so paying up for deGrom doesn’t come without some risk. That being said, the strikeout potential and solid track record against WAS makes him someone you can certainly start at home given that hitting prices aren’t too tight just yet. I have no problem seeing you spend up for him in GPPs, but I do think the safer path to profit is with a value arm in cash games.
Aaron Nola, PHI @ ATL
Nola sits with a nice opponent total at 3.8 runs and a 54% win probability on the road in Atlanta here – but this is a Braves that who is hitting RHP very well to start the year (.350 wOBA split) with some very talented LHB (who Nola traditionally struggles against). He’s still a high skill arm and on a short slate, makes for someone you can consider throwing out there in tournaments. I simply don’t like him as much in cash games given the price delta between guys like him and Garcia/Ryu for example.
James Paxton, SEA vs HOU
A contrarian high-skill SP to consider on this slate is Paxton, who has elite strikeout upside with his fantastic raw stuff – but a very difficult draw vs HOU. They are one of the tougher opponents to face in any split, especially with Gurriel back in the lineup against LHP. They are sporting a .358 team wOBA vs LHP this year and a 37% HH% as well. The 10.6 K/9 skill dating back to this time last season is elite, and I like the environment in Seattle he gets to throw in today. The price is actually pretty solid for him here, and as an underdog against Dallas Keuchel (who I don’t like at the price today) with a 49% win% and 4.1 total – ownership will be down for a guy that could easily dominate. That makes him fantastic for GPP consideration in my books.
Blake Snell, TB vs TEX
Snell looked like an ace his last time on the mound, striking out 10 White Sox in 6 innings of 1 hit ball on his way to win #1 of the 2018 season. Walks have always been his major issue (5 in that start vs CWS and 10 so far this year), and while TEX is struggling vs LHP this year (.288 wOBA; 24% K% split) – they are a stronger offense than the White Sox and could challenge him to repeat that performance. The strikeout upside and raw stuff is there for Snell, but the FB% skew and wildness make him someone hard to trust outside of GPPs. Don’t be surprised to see him heavily owned, though, with a 62% win% and 3.5 run total for the opponent. Those are going to be popular leading indicators.
The Daily Dice Roll – naming one arm that has the potential to have a low ownership level and high ROI ceiling
Luis Castillo, CIN @ MIL
You’ll continue to see him featured here until the price jumps or the results turn around. He is one of the best young pitchers in the game, and although luck has not been on his side for the first 3 starts of 2018, last game against the Phillies wasn’t too shabby at all with 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB and 4 Ks in 6 IP against the Phillies. The Brewers have struggled quite a bit vs RHP so far this year with a .296 wOBA and 26% K% – making the match-up one that could easily yield him his best start of 2018. He dominated MIL in his last start against them in 2017, going 8 innings of 4 hit, 1 run ball with 10 Ks and the win. I’m not saying that kind of outing is sure to happen, but his price is far too low for a guy with his kind of skills – and he’s going to get on a roll in a hurry. Be on the early adopter side of it so you put your profit in the bank while the masses are staying away.
Best of luck in your DFS entries today!