MLB Early Rundown 08.31.2019

What to expect from this article:

First off, this article is mainly geared towards GPPs and Tournaments, not cash games. I do a lot of leverage and game theory, not a lot of straight forward plays.

A lot of what I develop and give as information is built on the idea of opportunity and shouldn’t be treated as a projection. A considerable amount of what I do is on a macro-understanding of the important aspects of the sport and what things have to happen for players to do well, and they should be used in conjunction with you projections of choice to make decisions. When I write an article, I am trying to paint a picture of the slate from a top view for you to find the path you want to follow while also opening your eyes to the things that we should care about in each matchup. You’ll generally find some notes on the slate, my pitching ranks, and my stacking ranks, as well as hitter ranks at each position and my favorite value-plays. You’ll also find bad jokes.

Always be sure to check for weather concerns! Rotogrinders.com/weather/mlb is a great resource for you if you don’t want to pull up the weather models yourself. You can also follow Kevin Roth on Twitter where he posts updates and answers questions when he has time. I won’t typically be providing any weather advice myself unless something really jumps out at me.

Always check to make sure a player that I talk about actually made the lineup that day! Teams release lineups throughout the day that can be found by following accounts like DailyMLBLineups on Twitter where you can even get tweet alerts sent to your phone anytime a lineup is released. (click “Turn on notifications” from their profile page)


Pitcher Ranks:


General Thoughts: Well it’s Saturday and you know what that means: Fanduel and Draftkings are going to do everything possible to split up the slates in awkward ways that don’t make any sense. Specifically, Fanduel has two early variations of the slate, both being three game contests and in-explicitly excluding the Astros game? Draftkings has a five game early slate that is excluding the Twins at Detroit, so we automatically have a weird way to get exposure to two of the best spots on the day, which is frustrating.

In the graphics of this article, I have the Astros as the best team to stack, and I think that playing the five game slate on Draftkings is better than trying to navigate multiple over on Fanduel. That being said, the Twins are in a sneaky good spot and might be lower owned than they deserve against Boyd while people pile on the Mets against Vargas so if you are playing that mini-slate on Fanduel, that’s probably why.

Anyway, this morning is weird and the best spots are split up in annoying ways. It’s better to play on Draftkings.

Cubs against Davies: The Cubs are in an interesting position today and will likely be an afterthought. Davies isn’t very good (5.45 SIERA, 6.23 K/9) and has weird reverse splits due to not having a good strikout pitch against RHH. This sets up really well for Nick Castellanos who is crushing RHP with a .402 xwOBA and .611 xSLG against them. We also have a couple other Chicago bats with high upside against RHP with Happ, Schwarber, and Caratini all above the .500 mark for xSLG in the split, and Schwarber and Castellanos are monster’s against LHP as well so the bullpen shouldn’t be a problem. They aren’t a top stack on the day, but the Cubs make a lot of sense in GPPs as a secondary group.

Rays situation: They are starting Diego Castillo but there’s been no announcement with who comes in as the long reliever, and considering they are only available on the Fanduel short slate for the afternoon it’s unlikely that we get any news in the morning. It’s not a good matchup either, so it’s more reason to just fade it entirely and not try to make any guesses.

Framber Valdez: Dude has some nasty strikeout stuff and a lot of upside and he’s pretty much free for the Astros over on Draftkings. The problem is that he’s inefficient with his pitches and has some control problems, so there’s a lot of risk that he falls apart as well. I don’t consider him a cash game option but he’s worth a couple shots in GPPs based on his price and upside.

Bad pitching slate: I hate all of the pitchers on this slate. That is all.

Main Targets

Trevor Bauer — He’s had a roller coaster of a season but considering the overall slate in general he’s really the only pitcher that I would feel comfortable paying for. He’s got the highest strikeout rate on the slate and is playing in a solid park for pitchers.

Steven Matz — Another pitcher with ups and downs, Matz actually has the second lowest SIERA on this slate over the last month at 3.9 and a good strikeout rate up against a Phillies team with a team xwOBA under .300 so he’s worth a modest price on Draftkings.

Other Options:

  1. Framber Valdez
  2. Zach Plesac (Fanduel)
  3. Domingo German

DraftKings Cash SP2: Steven Matz

DraftKings Punt SP2 ($7k or less): Framber Valdez

Stacking Ranks:

SP Splits:


Favorite Stacks

  • Try to stack the max allowed (4 on FD, 5 on DK)
  • When building out with a lineup builder, I use primarily four-man stacks on FD with some three-man stacks. On DraftKings the stacks range from three to five, but mostly five.
  • Start small with your stack when constructing your lineup and get your favorite three guys from the stack in there. Then begin filling out the rest of your lineup and you’ll start to figure out what other pieces of the stack you’re able to include. If it’s the 3-4-5-7 of the order instead of the 2-3-4-5, that’s gonna happen a lot and is totally fine.
  • It’s fine to stack in cash games, but what’s more important is getting the best values in there. So a lot of times you’re almost stacking by accident just because a lot of players from the same team are the best plays in terms of value that day


I’ll continue to drive home the fact that you’d be crazy to limit yourself to only the teams listed below if you are doing MME. What I personally do when I’m building 20+ lineups is to use some or all of the recommended stacks as a core to start with, but in order to differentiate to the extent I’ve always taught, you need to be mixing in lots of other teams.


My top stacks overall:

  1. Astros (IRT: 6.08)
  2. Mets (IRT: 4.99)
  3. Cubs (IRT: 4.8)


Other stacks worth considering in GPPs:

  1. Athletics
  2. Twins
  3. Brewers


FanDuel Value Fillers (sub $3k): Jake Cave, Ian Happ, Derek Fisher, Kyle Schwarber, Ryan Braun, Jurickson Profar, Seth Brown, Victor Caratini

DraftKings Value Fillers (sub $4k): Matt Olson, Derek Fisher, Matt Chapman, Jurickson Profar, Seth Brown, Teoscar Hernandez, Jason Heyward, Yasmani Grandal

Positional Rankings. Top Tier in bold. In order to not favor one site over the other, these are loosely based on raw point projections… not based on point per dollar (PP$) or interest level. With this info combined with the pricing of the site you’re playing on, it should be easy enough to figure out the best plays. The sites have players listed at different positions too (FanDuel you don’t even have to play a catcher), and since DraftKings lets you play guys at different spots I’ll use the FanDuel positions as a guide.



  1. Mitch Garver
  2. Victor Caratini
  3. Yasmani Grandal
  4. Danny Jansen
  5. Wilson Ramos



  1. C.J. Cron
  2. Matt Olson
  3. Anthony Rizzo
  4. Eric Thames
  5. Rowdy Tellez



  1. Ian Happ
  2. Jonathan Schoop
  3. David Bote
  4. Luis Arraez
  5. Jeff McNeil



  1. Matt Chapman
  2. Miguel Sano
  3. Mike Moustakas
  4. Kris Bryant
  5. Vlad Guerrero Jr.



  1. Marcus Semien
  2. Bo Bichette
  3. Orlando Arcia
  4. Alex Bregman
  5. Javier Baez



  1. Nelson Cruz
  2. Nicholas Castellanos
  3. Jake Cave
  4. Yordan Alvarez
  5. Kyle Schwarber
  6. J.D. Davis
  7. Michael Brantley
  8. Michael Conforto
  9. Mark Canha
  10. Christian Yelich


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