Panda's Bears and Bulls: MLB 9/14 Slate Breakdown

We’ve got a weird slate today, with a 4:10 EST start on a non-holiday Monday. It’s not a holiday is it? It is Monday, right? On top of that, we have 3 double header games on the slate, which the sites usually look to avoid, but today is weird. Hopefully we can use these double-header games to our advantage, since they’re only 7 innings, but we’ll get into that later.

Anyway, with the early start time and my goals of getting this blog out 4 hour before the slate starts at the latest, but it usually ends up being 3 hours, I’m not going to intro this anymore and let’s get to the games.

Alright, so the 7 inning thing, I’ll mention now. This is fairly simple stuff, but it’s worth mentioning.

Pirates/Reds, A’s/Mariners, Cardinals/Brewers are 7 inning games today. What that means for DFS:

1st – If a pitcher pitches all 7 innings, they’ll still get credited with the complete game bonuses on DK. Really only 6 innings, if they’re on the road and losing, but either way bonuses are bonuses.

2nd – I’m not sure how relevant it’ll be today, with 42% of the games on the slate being 7 innings, but in the small history of 7 inning games on main slates, the bats have gone very low owned and the scores haven’t really been affected. In fact, the last slate I recall playing that had a 7 inning game, was Astros and Angels, and I believe the final score was 10-9, and nobody stacked it and you needed it to win a GPP. The bats were all sub 3% owned. That was a bigger slate than we had today though. Also recall an 8-7 Mets and Yankees 7 inning game. I know there’s been a couple more, but the point is, 7 innings doesn’t automatically mean lower runs, but could also mean much lower ownership.

Alright so with that out of the way, let’s start out by looking at the pitching. We have 4 aces on the board, with one that should be a clear favorite based on all the factors, but let’s look at each:

Trevor Bauer – 2.79 xFIP, 2.99 SIERA, 36% K’s, 6.6% BB’s, 37.4% GB’s, 38.5% HC
Jose Berrios – 4.22 xFIP, 4.33 SIERA, 27.1% K’s, 10.8% BB’s, 46.3% GB’s, 41.3% HC
Clayton Kershaw – 2.84 xFIP, 3.25 SIERA, 28.2% K’s, 5.1% BB’s, 60.8% GB’s, 34% HC
Dinelson Lamet – 3.88 xFIP, 3.39 SIERA, 32.9% K’s, 7.2% BB’s, 33.3% GB’s, 40.8% HC

OK, we have two pitchers when taking everything in as a whole that stand out, to me. Trevor Bauer and Clayton Kershaw. Now let’s look at their match ups:

Pirates vs RHP – .124 ISO, .262 wOBA, 61 wRC+, 24.1% K’s
White Sox vs RHP – .182 ISO, .333 wOBA, 112 wRC+, 25.2% K’s
Padres vs LHP – .192 ISO, .334 ISO, 109 wRC+, 22.1% K’s
Dodgers vs RHP – .246 ISO, .358 wOBA, 127 wRC+, 20.4% K’s

We probably didn’t need to do all this to show it, and you knew it already, Bauer is not only the best pitcher on the slate for DFS, but he also has the best match up. Plus, as pointed out above, playing in a 7 inning game he has a very realistic shot of pitching a complete game here, which means even more points.

What else we can see is, as good as Lamet’s numbers are for DFS, plus the added bonus of a potentially increased pitch count (was up to 111 last game), his match up is incredibly difficult. The Dodgers just mash RHP, and don’t strike out a whole lot either, combined with Lamet’s hard contact allowed and it’s not the type of spot we would normally want to look for. Of course, these things make him a potentially strong contrarian GPP play, but the reality is he’s probably going to be outscored by other pitchers, or at least beaten from a point-per-dollar perspective by other pitchers. If you’re looking for reasons to like Lamet, beyond the contrarian aspect, his numbers are actually better against LHB’s (higher K%, lower HC%), which should help against those dangerous Dodger lefties.

Kershaw is kind of in no mans land for me. He has the 2nd best numbers overall, although the lower K%, a pretty difficult match up, and is priced much closer to Bauer than to Lamet and Berrios. Why pay more for less K’s and just as difficult a match up?

That leaves Jose Berriors, who is actually probably my 2nd favorite pitcher from this group. The reason being, he’s significantly cheaper than Kershw, with a pretty equal match up when looking at the numbers. Then gets a significantly better match up than Lamet at a pretty equal price on DK and much cheaper price on FD. He gets the bonus of only seeing 3 LHB’s, in Grandal, Moncada, and Mazara, and Grandal hits lefties better. Also, let’s look at Berrios versus just RHB’s –

.315 wOBA, .094 ISO, 27.6% K’s, 5.7% BB;s, 47% GB’s, and 48.5% HC.

So, against RHB’s, the walks go way down, which is a huge plus, the hard contact is scary, but the ISO allowed is almost nil. Berrios has the potential to hold these RHB’’s and keep the Sox in check.

OK, Bauer is basically lock worthy here. We have a decent contrarian upside option in Lamet, and an OK, play in Berrios. Then Kershaw in a tough match up, and in my opinion a little overpriced and just safe, as opposed to big upside at a fair price or even better under priced.

Let’s see if we can find a better SP2, at a cheaper price than these guys :

Marco Gonzales

4.07 xFIP, 3.87 SIERA, 23.5% K’s, 2% BB’s, 35.4% GB’s, 46.5% HC

These are pretty solid numbers.

The A’s are basically a middle of the pack offense against LHP (.166 ISO, .313 wOBA), so the match up isn’t as scary as one might immediately think. The A’s as a team also strike out at a 26.8% clip against LHP. Out of the 14 pitchers on this slate for DK, his 7K tag is 5th lowest on the slate, and putting it all together, that’s just too cheap for what we have here.

Jesus Luzardo

4.10 xFIP, 4.08 SIERA, 23.9% K’s, 7.4% BB’s, 46.5% GB’s, 33.1% HC

OK, so these numbers are no better than Marco’s, but the price is 1.3K more expensive. The only reason to explain this and consider Luzardo over Marco is the match up. Mariners have been quite poor against LHP (.143 ISO, .267 wOBA), and a 25.4% K rate. A match up against the Mariners should be “safe,” and will put Luzardo at the top of the list for most as an SP2, but personally I believe I prefer the savings on Gonzalez, but certainly don’t mind using Luzardo.

Josh Lindblom

4.31 xFIP, 4.12 SIERA, 29% K’s, 10.3% BB’s, 31.6% GB’s, 44.7% HC

OK, so Lindblom has been a bit rough to figure out. Those first 3 stats look like a guy you’d want to use. The results just haven’t been there, probably, because of the last 3 numbers. He’s had some bad luck with a .329 BABIP allowed, which is a bit higher than your .300 baseline, which partially explains the gap between his 6.06 ERA and much lower xFIP and SIERA. So, maybe he’s due for some positive regression and for these numbers to even out a bit. The Cardinals have been quite poor against RHP too (.138 ISO, .317 wOBA) and their projected lineup has a 26.2% K-rate against RHP. Linblom hasn’t made a start since 9/1, but he did throw 101 pitches, and don’t have much concern about a pitch count here. This is basically a bet on progression play.

Touki Toussaint

4.78 xFIP, 4.49 SIERA, 27.2% K’s, 12.6% BB’s, 42.1% GB’s, 43.9% HC

Speaking of progression…

Toussaint is sitting on a 7.89 ERA. His high 12.6% BB’s is somewhat countered by the O’s projected lineups 4.8% BB rate. The O’s are a middle of the road offense against RHP (.171 ISO, .322 wOBA). Kind of like Lindblom, this is more of a bet on progression play. Toussaint is still young, and a highly regarded prospect, but just hasn’t put it together in his short stints in the big leagues. Normally I wouldn’t recommend him at all, but that price is too cheap on DK, and our options are limited on FD. Really, here you’re betting on progression and also the chance that the top that makes him a top prospect comes though.

OK, that’s all I’m really interested in.

If you’re interested in Lopez or Velasquez, I understand. I don’t dislike either option and if I was spreading a wider net they’d be next. I prefer Marco for less than Lopez, and Velasquez is in that weird land between the 7K arms and Toussaint. Velasquez has nice K upside, but is very volatile, and when things go wrong, they go wrong. In theory that’s a great GPP play, but I’m riding with Toussaint as my volatile cheap GPP play.

As for the rest I didn’t mention, well, you’ll see why next.

Let’s get to the bats.


Cody Ponce – 5.02 xFIP, 17% K’s, 7.7% BB’s, 43% GB’s, 39.3% HC

We’re looking at limited samples here, but this isn’t a highly regarded prospect either. So far Ponce has done OK against RHB’s with a decent 22.7% K rate and 60% GB’s, but has had some more significant struggles against LHB’s, and the Reds should throw 6 at him. Behind Ponce is a pretty average bullpen.

This is a dicey spot, because this is one of the 7 inning games and as the home team, assuming they’re leading, and we are assuming that if we’re using Bauer and the bats, the offense will only see 6 frames. I’m hesitant to go full on 5-man stack here on DK, because of that, but I’m fairly confident the Reds can put up some runs here and their ownership will be close to zero. So, I’m more looking at fill in stuff or 3-man stacks most likely.

If you do stack, you certainly wouldn’t want to avoid the RHB’s of Suarez (.254 ISO vs RHP) and Castellanos (.302 ISO vs RHP), but instead add them to your group of lefties, like Moustakas (.232 ISO vs RHP), Joey Votto (.198 ISO vs RHP), or Jesse Winker (.292 ISO vs. RHP) if he’s in the line up.


The surface numbers for Kim are excellent – 0.83 ERA and .92 WHIP.

Here’s the real numbers –

4.95 xFIP, 5.41 SIERA, 13.3% K’s, 42.6% GB’s, 48.1% HC.

So, what we have here is regression coming. That low numbers of K’s and that hard contact and a .200 BABIP allowed is not going to maintain a sub 1 ERA. No one can maintain a sub 1 ERA.

The Brewers actually hit LHP really well too. In fact their projected lineup has a .372 ISO against LHP this season. The problem here is the same one as with the Reds. 7 inning game and they’re at home, so we might only get 6 frames out of this offense. So, we might be better off keeping this to small stacks and one offs. Mostly focused on the top of the order with guys like Avisail Garcia (.229 ISO vs LHP), Jedd Gyorko (..444 ISO vs LHP), Christian Yelich (..372 ISO vs LHP)


I mentioned the volatility of Velasquez above.

Yes, a 4.22 xFIP and 31.9% K-rate is strong. The problem is the high walks (12.1%), and hard contact (41%). I hate to be broad, but this is really a bet on the wheels coming off situation and the Marlins getting the 7.27 ERA of the Philles bullpen to pile on with. This is a situation where I’d go at least 4, if not 5 deep, and mix and match the pieces hoping for an explosion of runs.


Dylan Cease continues to skate by. For some reason his price stays up and that low 3.33 ERA suggests he’s decent. He’s supposed to be decent. The beneath the surface numbers though suggest major regression should be coming.

5.71 xFIP, 5.72 SIERA, 15.4% K’s, 10.3% BB’s, 38% GB’s, 42% HC.

Not good.

Just a quick note worth mentioning. The teams Cease has faced this year: Pirates, Royals 3 times, Tigers 2 times, and Indians 2 times. Those are some of the worst teams in baseball against RHP.

The Twins though?

.218 ISO (4th), .337 wOBA (6th), 112 wRC+ (7th).

Not bad.

Versus RHP

Max Kepler – .287 ISO
Josh Donaldson – .211 ISO
Nelson Cruz – .287 ISO
Miguel Sano – .363 ISO

They’re not cheap, but these are the building blocks I’d be using on most stacks, but really you can mix and match any of the other Twins here and get your exposure all over the line up.


The Braves head to Camden Yards with the highest implied total on the board for a date with Jorge Lopez. Lopez is a low K, high ground ball, high hard contact pitcher. The Braves lineup though is loaded with low ground ball hitters, so hopefully we’re just looking at a lot of hard contact going into the gaps or even better, out of the park.

I don’t need to go into major detail here, and we’re less than 3 hours from lock on DK. Everyone reading this knows the Braves are a great stack today. Everyone playing this slate knows the Braves are a great stack.

They rank 1st or 2nd in pretty much all offensive categories. Freeman, Acuna, and Duvall all have .300 + ISO’s against RHP. a’Arnaud is at .280. Ozuna at .236. Swanson at .213. That’s a lot of power.

To be a little different, you can stack the bottom of the order, as it’s all loaded, you can do more random stacks, as if the Braves pile it on, it can all go off, and you can grab the 1-4-6-8-9 hitters for example, were must are going to want their stacks closer connected. You can stack the Reds or Brewers and their shortened game hitters with them. There’s many ways to build your hitters differently. It’s up to you.

I’m going to consider this a wrap.

Let me recap a bit first –

Pitcher Rankings (price considered):


I definitely won’t branch out beyond here. 7 pitchers for a 14 game slate is high, and I might not even bother with the last two here.

Stack rankings :


I’m fine with the Phillies, and will likely have Phillies scattered around, but there kind of an afterthought for me here. Lopez is just good enough to keep them in check most likely, and really not sure how to react to him getting shelled his last time out. You always wonder, was it just a bad outing, is there an underlying issue, those types of things.

Anyway, we’ll end this here. Thank you for reading, and good luck tonight. Again, you can follow me on twitter @PandaDFS where I’ll always post a link to the blog when it’s done.

About the Author


  • ifthethunder

    Nice blog, Panda. It’s hard for me to keep up with baseball other than doing my regular DK achievement chores with all the other sports happening.

  • FitFantasyGod

    You are the man Panda, congrats on winning blogger of the month in September! You earned it for sure. Check out my blog post that I just posted if you are interested in any NFL Content!

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