Everything you’ll need to stay above the payline in today’s DFS MLB Cash Games!
The Dong-Meister himself, Scott Bondar, has you covered for the four-game early slate. The Seige will handle the Cheat Sheet and Brian Healy on the GPP article. I’ll be on the Core 4 Livestream with Kyle Elfrink around 6:07pm ET and will hop into the chat until lock right after that.
Here is the entire content plan for today:
Cash Game Breakdown – The article you are currently reading.
DFS MLB Lineup Coach – Daily coaching session assisting with all aspects of DFS MLB.
DFS MLB Cheat Sheet – A quick guide to the top plays at each position and salary level.
GPP Writeup – Using experience, game theory & advanced stats to uncover low-owned stars.
Core 4 Livestream – Daily Livestream that covers all DFS sports, featuring guests from throughout the Elite Sports Network.
Be Sure to Bookmark:
Thursday, May 20th
A miniscule four-game slate so I’d like to share some quick thoughts about cash game strategies on a small slate. Best thing you can do is take stands and pay less attention to ownership projections compared to larger slates. You also shouldn’t worry about hard-and-fast cash game rules like “don’t play more than two hitters from the same team” on such a small slate. If you map out the games and only like two offenses in general, then you can roster the majority of your hitters from those teams. You should probably avoid using hitters against your own pitcher since you’re essentially negating the points upside on your squad. For example, if I really like Drew Smyly today (and I do), I won’t be using any Pirates’ hitters. Even if I like the price and value on, say, Bryan Reynolds, I’ll look for an alternative option in his price range.
Also, use your instincts and avoid herd mentality (aka chalk analysis) on a slate like this. Though Nick Pivetta and Steven Matz have been pretty good this year, I’m not going to force them into my lineups on this slate when the hitting environment (both ballpark and weather) tips the scales in favor of the pitchers over the hitters. Not to mention, the Red Sox and Blue Jays are two of the best offenses in baseball. I’d rather target pitchers in games I expect to be much lower scoring, regardless of ownership projections, and focus on hitters in these games.
The other stand I may take is not rolling with a chalky Vince Velasquez tonight. He will be a popular option by default and because he’s on a string of solid starts. But he traditionally struggles against the Marlins (more on that later) and I’d rather zig while the field (and the trains) zag…or just not play cash at all. Also, if you happen to know more about rookie Wil Crowe than most and think he matches up well to shock the Braves, then perhaps you’re utilizing an edge where you’re avoiding chalky Atlanta hitters who might bust at high ownership. I’m on the Braves offense side of things today, but that’s a prime example.
I don’t really play cash games on such small slates but when I do, I play them more like GPPs.
No weather issues whatsoever and we get 80ish degree weather in Atlanta and Dunedin (where the Jays play). Ironically, the coolest temps on this slate will be in L.A.
For more info and updated forecast, please check out our MLB Weather Center.
- Atlanta Braves: -185
- Los Angeles Dodgers: TBD
- Toronto Blue Jays: -135
Highest Run Expectancy
- Atlanta Braves: 5.3
- Toronto Blue Jays: 5.3
- Boston Red Sox: 4.8
Lowest Run Expectancy
- Pittsburgh Pirates: 3.8
- Miami Marlins: 3.9
Today's Pitchers Grid
Today’s Best Pitchers
Drew Smyly LHP/Braves ($8,400 DK, $7,300 FD)
Process of elimination and having a bad feeling about Vince Velasquez has me leaning Smyly as the edge today. On a normal 10 game slate, Smyly would be 3% rostered but with only seven SP to choose from, no true aces and a few of them in bad spots, the matchup with this putrid Pirates’ offense will lead to a rate of at least 20% (and over 30% on DK).
Most know that I’m a Smyly stan and am heavily invested in high-stakes seasonal drafts. But having him listed as the top option is not about that and is as objective as I can be. I take it even more seriously when other people’s money is at stake. Who is Smyly? He’s an above-average veteran arm with high strikeout upside when healthy but also has a propensity to serve up homers by the bushel to right-handed pitching. He also plays for a team with one of the best offenses in the majors who typically provide their SP with ample run support.
The one big strike (pun intended) with this matchup is the Pirates are loaded with patient hitters. Their 1-2 hitters (Frazier/Newman) have a super low 8% combined strikeout rate against LHP. Meanwhile, both Velasquez (PHI) and Alcantara (MIA) will face offenses with a higher likelihood of whiffing 10+ times.
But have you seen this lineup lately? No Ke’Bryan Hayes. No Colin Moran. Even catcher Jacob Stallings is day-to-day. Their best hitter is Bryan Reynolds and their 5-8 is likely rookie Will Craig and then Erik Gonzalez, Wilmer Difo and Ildemaro Vargas. Very little to fear as far as guys able to take advantage of Smyly’s Achilles heel, which is the RHH home run ball. What it comes down to is I feel most safe with Smyly and this matchup over any other SP and their matchup, and that’s what it’s all about in cash games. Reasonable price salaries on DK and FD allow for more flexibility to fit in stud hitters.
Sandy Alcantara RHP/Marlins ($9,300 DK, $9,300 FD)
No doubt about it, Alcantara is the best pitcher on this slate. He’s also coming off his roughest outing as a pro, serving up 8 ER in 1.1 innings to the Dodgers in his last start. That’s clearly an anomaly and I wouldn’t anticipate this happening again. At least not tonight.
Prior to getting roughed up, Alcantara was pretty damn consistent, allowing two runs or less in six-of-eight starts and no outings with more than 4 ER allowed. The Phillies do have the third-highest strikeout rate against RHP (26 percent) and might be without J.T. Realmuto for another game. Despite being a hard thrower, Alcantara isn’t a big strikeout guy. He whiffed 10 batters in his second start in early April but since then has topped 6 K in a game just once. The Marlins also happen to be underdogs in this one as they’re on the road and also Citizens Bank Park is one of the worst stadiums for pitchers in general. I’m fine with Alcantara on FD if you don’t trust Smyly and you can certainly pair them together on DK.
Fade: Vince Velasquez RHP/Phillies ($7,500 DK, $7,900 FD)
I’m probably getting too cute here but all I can do is provide my analysis and thoughts and allow you to make a decision. I’m not even saying I’ll be correct. But this is what I’m doing and what I’d recommend you to do. Velasquez will be the unadulterated, unanimous chalk, especially because of affordable price tags in the 7k-8k range and being home favorites against an inconsistent Marlins’ offense. But for whatever reason, and no matter the mix of hitters on the roster at the time, they really sure do seem to have Velasquez’s number. Let’s take a look:
- 9/14/20 @ MIA – 3.2 IP – 7 H – 4 ER – 1 BB – 5 K
- 7/26/20 v MIA – 3.0 IP – 3 H – 4 ER – 2 BB – 4 K
- 9/27/19 v MIA – 4.0 IP – 7 H – 4 ER – 0 BB – 3 K
- 8/23/19 @ MIA – 2.1 IP – 5 H – 7 ER – 1 BB – 2 K
- 6/28/19 @ MIA – 4.1 IP – 6 H – 4 ER – 2 BB – 6 K
- 6/22/19 v MIA – 5.0 IP – 1 H – 1 ER – 0 BB – 5 K
- 4/14/19 @ MIA – 6.0 IP – 2 H – 1 ER – 3 BB – 4 K
- 9/20/18 v MIA – 2.0 IP – 4 H – 4 ER – 1 BB – 4 K
- 9/3/18 @ MIA – 5.0 IP – 5 H – 3 ER – 1 BB – 6 K
Over his last nine starts against different versions of the Marlins (with some of the same hitters), Velasquez has an 8.15 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. That’s why you see some positive BvP for a few Marlins hitters against him. Now VV has had good starts against them and could certainly have one here again. He’s been great lately and hasn’t allowed more than one earned run in each of his last three starts. But he does still serve up homers consistently (seven in his last five starts) and he has walked three batters in each of his last two starts. The Marlins have struggled offensively outside of Jazz Chisholm and Jesus Aguilar but contact stud Corey Dickerson is hitting nearly .300 on the season, Brian Anderson is warming up (hit a bomb last night) and Adam Duvall is always a threat to take a guy like VV deep.
If this game was in loanDepot Park in Miami I’d probably have Velasquez as my top option and go with the herd but it’s a whole different story in Philly. Speaking of Citizens Bank Park, Velasquez has a 4.66 ERA at home this season as well as a 4.64 career ERA there. So as long as you won’t be mad at me that the ‘trains’ are running away into CashLand with their VV’s and you’re not, let’s go in on this fade and collect at the end of the night. Of course, this strategy is better applied for GPPs but I believe it’s viable for cash on such a small slate.
Pitchers to Target Against
Wil Crowe (RHP/PIT) – in 29 career innings: 1.72 WHIP, 11.2% BB, 6.52 ERA, 6.75 FIP
Nick Pivetta (RHP/BOS) – tough on RHP and TOR has a ton of them; still has a 12.8% BB
Merrill Kelly (RHP/ARI) – 5.24 ERA, 5.31 xERA, 1.46 WHIP, 40% hard hit rate; Dodgers tough
TARGETING STOLEN BASES
(click on link above)
We have a brand new stolen base target tool on the site. I strongly recommend looking it over in order to find a value play or to properly assess how likely a player is to steal tonight.
Hot Streaks (Hottest Hitters at Each Position)
|7||Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||TOR||62||264||20||47||52||2||15.2||15.50||0.338||0.340||0.338||0.447||0.676||0.467||200|
|21||Ronald Acuna Jr.||ATL||58||256||18||51||39||12||14.1||21.50||0.319||0.294||0.282||0.391||0.601||0.416||164|
|25||Fernando Tatis Jr.||SDP||48||201||18||43||40||13||11.4||28.40||0.368||0.291||0.276||0.353||0.644||0.407||163|
Batter vs. Pitcher
Take BvP with a very tiny grain of salt if at all. Most of these samples are under 7 PA and it literally means nothing.
C – Christian Vazquez (BOS), Danny Jansen (TOR)
1B – Jesus Aguilar (MIA)
2B – Jean Segura (PHI), Isan Diaz (MIA)
3B – Brian Anderson (MIA)
SS – Miguel Rojas (MIA)
OF – Bryce Harper (PHI), Mookie Betts (LAD), Bryan Reynolds (PIT)
For more, visit our BvP Matchup Page!
Overall Hitter Rankings
1 – Daulton Varsho LH/Diamondbacks ($2,200 DK)
2 – Christian Vazquez RH/Red Sox ($4,500 DK, $2,400 FD)
3 – Will Smith RH/Dodgers ($4,600 DK)
Notes: Salary cap won’t be much of an issue tonight but I’d still roll with Varsho at near-minimum salary on DK to really allow for flexibility at the other hitting positions. The only real spot to use hitters against Dodger pitching is when it’s a bullpen game like tonight. If you do have the salary then I’d roll with Boston’s Vazquez who homered last night and has 2 HR in three career PA vs. Matz.
1 – Freddie Freeman LH/Braves ($5,200 DK, $4,100 FD) – top option
2 – Max Muncy LH/Dodgers ($4,900 DK, $3,900 FD) – also 2B on DK/FD
3 – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. RH/Blue Jays ($6,000 DK, $4,500 FD) – also 3B on DK/FD
4 – Jesus Aguilar RH/Marlins ($4,300 DK, $3,100 FD) – part of the Fade VV Plan
PUNT: Bobby Dalbec RH/Red Sox ($3,000 DK, $2,500 FD) – also 3B on FD
Notes: Freeman is the top dog on the slate as a lefty bat at home facing a rookie RHP with just 29 career innings under his belt and a 6.52 ERA (Wil Crowe). Muncy and Guerrero can be used at other positions (2B and 3B respectively) if you really want but I’d make Muncy the priority. Dalbec hits at bottom of lineup but has a .417 wOBA and 3 HR against LHP. Perhaps better for GPPs though.
1 – Enrique Hernandez RH/Red Sox ($3,500 DK, $2,700 FD) – also OF on DK/FD
2 – Marcus Semien RH/Blue Jays ($5,800 DK, $4,000 FD) – also SS on FD
3 – Jazz Chisholm LH/Marlins ($4,400 DK, $3,500 FD) – also SS on DK/FD
Notes: Can use Muncy here too but this is the trio I’d feel most comfortable playing with Hernandez top value based on price, streak factor from yesterday’s big performance, and the fact that he’s leading off and preferred power against LHP. Semien also hit a bomb yesterday and should get five at-bats but won’t be my preferred Blue Jay if I’m able to only afford one. Yet another leadoff man in Chisholm here with the power/speed upside if you’re on Team Fade VV.
1 – Justin Turner RH/Dodgers ($5,000 DK, $3,700 FD)
2 – Austin Riley RH/Braves ($3,500 DK, $3,000 FD)
3 – Eduardo Escobar SW/Diamondbacks (4,600 DK, $3,300 FD) – also 2B on DK/FD
Notes: I don’t like the third basemen at all today but I’d project Turner with the highest probability of getting two hits and driving in a run and Riley with the highest probability of hitting a homer. Riley actually has faced Crowe once in his career – and it was a bomb. Speaking of bombs, Esco launched one in Dodger Stadium last night but I usually prefer to use him against lefty pitchers. It’s a bullpen day so one LHP may show up but since the Dbacks will likely roll out a lefty-heavy lineup (because they ARE lefty-heavy) it’ll mostly be RHP’s like Edwin Uceta and Jimmy Nelson.
1 – Xander Bogaerts RH/Red Sox ($5,700 DK, $3,600 FD)
2 – Bo Bichette RH/Blue Jays ($5,900 DK, $4,300 FD)
3 – Gavin Lux LH/Dodgers ($3,600 DK, $3,100 FD) – also 2B on DK/FD
Notes: Bogaerts and Bichette are the two top bats at the position, then a big drop-off. Prefer Bogaerts facing the lefty arm in Matz though Bichette has his own fair share of power as well as always being a threat to steal bases when he’s on. Lux has finally warmed up and is hitting .333 with a .415 OBP and 10 RBI in his last 10 games.
1A – Ronald Acuña Jr. RH/Braves ($6,100 DK, $4,400 FD)
1B – J.D. Martinez RH/Red Sox ($5,500 DK, $4,300 FD)
3 – Marcell Ozuna RH/Braves ($4,600 DK, $3,100 FD)
4 – Yoshi Tsutsugo LH/Dodgers ($2,100 DK, $2,000 FD)
5 – Mookie Betts RH/Dodgers ($5,600 DK, $4,400 FD)
6 – Adam Duvall RH/Marlins ($3,900 DK, $3,300 FD)
7 – Bryce Harper LH/Phillies ($5,300 DK, $3,900 FD)
8 – Hunter Renfroe RH/Red Sox ($3,700 DK, $2,500 FD)
9 – David Peralta LH/Diamondbacks ($4,100 DK, $2,700 FD)
10 – Teoscar Hernandez RH/Blue Jays ($4,700 DK, $3,300 FD)
Notes: Acuña and Martinez are 1A and 1B at similar prices on FD but JDM considerably cheaper on DK. Both went deep last night and have great matchups to do so yet again tonight. Tsutsugo is the value play as he may be hitting in the middle of the Dodger lineup yet again. We like him and Betts because Merrill Kelly is a below-average pitcher and Arizona’s bullpen is just dreadful. Duvall is my shot call for a homer off VV so include him as part of our draft plan. If using a Marlin, I’d rank them Chisholm, Aguilar, Duvall. Renfroe isn’t a typical cash play but he’s a superman against lefties and this is a great hitter’s environment. Would definitely be using bottom-of-order Red Sox in GPPs.
DFS MLB Core 4
FANDUEL CORE 4
P – Drew Smyly, Braves
1B – Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B – Max Muncy, Dodgers
OF – Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves or J.D. Martinez, Red Sox
DRAFTKINGS CORE 4
SP1 – Drew Smyly, Braves
1B – Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B – Enrique Hernandez, Red Sox
OF – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox or Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves