This article is part of our DFS MLB series.
Monkey Knife Fight is a prop- and parlay-based daily fantasy sports site that offers participants a unique way of "sweating" their favorite sporting events. Unlike conventional DFS sites, there is no salary cap to be concerned with and no other participants to compete against. Monkey Knife Fight contestants do not select a lineup of players, as is typically the case in traditional DFS contests.
Rather, each Monkey Knife Fight contest is based on real-world athletes from a given slate of games exceeding certain, predetermined statistical benchmarks. In certain contests, the athlete's performance in a certain category must exceed that of another pre-selected athlete in that same game. In others, the athlete is simply competing against a predetermined figure in a certain category (i.e., a specific number of points in an NBA game, a specific number of touchdowns in an NFL game, etc.).
As such, the success of each Monkey Knife Fight contest participant is fully dependent on the accuracy of their predictions, as opposed to their performance against other fellow players. Monkey Knife Fight offers a wide variety of contests for each of the sports it covers (currently NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Soccer, and Golf). Among the most popular are Over/Under and Rapid Fire, which we will cover regularly in this column.
In Over/Under contests, participants win when they correctly predict if a certain number of pre-selected athletes will surpass a specified statistical milestone in that day's game. In Rapid Fire, participants attempt to predict the winner of site-determined head-to-head matchups between athletes in a certain statistical category for that day's game. In Rapid Fire contests, certain athletes that are considered the "underdog" in the statistical matchup may be afforded an extra built-in value boost. That is denoted by a "+" symbol and the specific additional amount – both displayed in green – that the athlete will be awarded above the total they actually accrue in that category during their game.
One additional aspect of contest logistics that's particular to Monkey Knife Fight is payout structure. For each contest, participants select from a wide variety of buy-in amounts, which are revealed once they make their athlete selections for that particular contest. If a participant wins their contest, their payout is based on that buy-in amount and the preset multiplier the contest featured. The latter figure varies depending on the contest difficulty. For example, a Rapid Fire contest requiring only two correct predictions carries a 2.36x multiplier on the buy-in, while one requiring five correct predictions features a 17x multiplier.
MLB Friday, August 9- Over/Under and Rapid Fire Predictions
Over/Under (Goal: Pick two of two correctly to cash 2.64x your buy-in)
Star Shootout - Late Games
Shane Bieber, CLE (at MIN)– Over/Under 6.5 strikeouts
The Pick: Over
This is prop is somewhat reminiscent of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. Bieber has shown excellent swing-and-miss upside this season, but the Twins have been stingy in terms of striking out at home against right-handed pitching. Bieber walks into Friday night's matchup having recorded at least eight strikeouts in six of his last seven starts. Yet Minnesota has only struck out at a 20.0 percent clip at Target Field versus righties over the last month, and at a similar 20.9 percent rate for the season.
The tiebreaker that sends me in the direction of the Over is Bieber's track record versus the Twins hitters. The breakout right-hander has faced Minnesota as a starter on two occasions this season and compiled 16 strikeouts over 13.1 frames. Both of those games did unfold at Progressive Field, but Bieber has actually been a more effective pitcher on the road this season (2.79 ERA, .173 BAA, .229 wOBA) and boasts an impressive 10.5 K/9 when traveling.
Chris Archer, PIT (at STL)- Over/Under 6.5 strikeouts
The Pick: Over
Archer is another interesting case Friday, as he offsets an impressive 11.8 K/9 on the road with a 7.14 ERA and 5.55 xFIP. He's facing a team he knows well in the Cardinals, who are in the midst of another offensive slump. St. Louis has scored just seven runs in its last five games and has an anemic .297 wOBA and -6.7 wRAA over the last month versus righties at home.
Archer also has six or fewer strikeouts in three straight starts, a downturn after he'd racked up at least eight in each of the previous three outings. When it comes to his track record versus the Cardinals this season, Archer has been successful missing bats – he's totaled 22 Ks across 17 innings over three starts.
Ultimately, given the current state of the Cards offense and Archer's past success against them, I'm going with the Over.
Rapid Fire (Pick two of two correctly to cash 2.15x your buy-in)
The Pick: Freeland
Freeland has been an abject disaster in his hitter-friendly home park of Coors Field, but he's been appreciably better on the road. The left-hander owns a 4.91 ERA and .244 BAA across 40.1 road frames, compared to 9.50 and .337 figures at home. And, Freeland averages four more strikeouts per nine innings on the road, posting an impressive 9.4 K/9 when traveling.
In turn, Quantrill has been a middling strikeout pitcher despite his very solid body of work overall in his rookie campaign. Quantrill has a 7.4 K/9 at Petco Park, and he has four or fewer strikeouts in nine of his last 10 trips to the mound. That includes four of his last five starts, three of which have come at home.
While San Diego has been better about making contact versus southpaws at home recently, they're still sporting a bloated and NL-high 26.0 percent whiff rate versus lefties at Petco on the season. Given that figure, as well as Freeland being a more consistent strikeout pitcher and owning the built-in 0.5 advantage in this head-to-head matchup, I'm going with the Rockies starter.
Runs + RBI
The Pick: Tatis
Story has a brief but successful history versus Padres starter Cal Quantrill, going 3-for-3 with a pair of singles and a double. However, Story has been a far less effective hitter against righties overall when outside Coors Field, sporting just a .221 average and .310 wOBA across 161 plate appearances. Story also produces a significantly lower line-drive rate (16.0 percent) and hard-contact rate (36.6 percent) on the road against right-handed pitching than at home (27.4 percent and 52.8 percent, respectively), which accounts for a significant part of his downturn.
In turn, Tatis has been excellent all season and owns a .393 average, .286 ISO and .489 wOBA across 76 plate appearances versus left-handed pitching. That makes his matchup versus Freeland especially attractive, even though Freeland has been a more effective pitcher on the road. It's also worth noting Tatis hasn't had any trouble producing offense despite the pitcher-friendly environment of his home stadium – he sports a .343 average and 17 extra-base hits (five doubles, two triples, 10 home runs) at home across 156 plate appearances.
The bullpens should also be considered when evaluating this matchup. Neither has been in top form lately in the respective home/road splits that apply Friday, but Colorado has been significantly worse. Rockies relievers are allowing a 7.95 ERA and .369 wOBA on the road over the last month. The Padres bullpen has yielded a .339 wOBA in its own right at home over that same period, but a much more respectable 4.65 ERA.
Given all the factors at play and Tatis' built-in advantage, I give him the nod.