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 30th- Over/Under and Rapid Fire Predictions
Shane Bieber, CLE (at TAM) – Over/Under 7.5 strikeouts
The Pick: Under
Bieber has been a strikeout machine all season, and he'll come into Friday's start having recorded at least eight whiffs in eight of his last 11 starts. He's faced the Rays once this season, recording 10 punchouts over just five innings on May 24. However, the matchup may not be as welcoming Friday, as Tampa has a relatively stingy 18.5 percent strikeout rate against right-handed pitching at Tropicana Field over the last month, a stretch during which they've further demonstrated their plate discipline with a 10.9 percent walk rate.
Bieber has been slightly less dominating from a swing-and-miss perspective when traveling, with his 10.8 K/9 on the road checking in below his 11.2 K/9 figure at home. Bieber also has fallen short of the 7.5-strikeout threshold in exactly half of his 12 road turns, upping the odds of the Under hitting in this prop Friday. And, in a sign that perhaps his arm has just a tick less life in it as the end of the season approaches, he's posted under eight strikeouts in two of his last three trips to the mound.
Given all the factors cited, I'm going with the Under here in a very close call.
Aaron Nola, PHI (vs. NYM)- Over/Under 6.5 strikeouts
The Pick: Over
Nola has been his best at home all season, as he sports a 2.94 ERA, .222 BAA and .285 wOBA at Citizens Bank Park. He also carries a 10.7 K/9 in his home park, and he's recorded at least seven strikeouts in nine of his last 10 home starts overall. One of those notably came against the same Mets squad he'll face Friday, as he rang them up for 10 Ks back on June 27.
Nola has been extremely tough on current New York hitters over the course of their careers. Mets bats own a collective .215/.292/.354 line versus Nola over a 209 at-bat sample. And, Nola has impressively compiled 70 strikeouts over that span. The Mets have been relatively effective and preventing strikeouts against right-handed pitching on the road over the last month (21.2 percent strikeout rate over that span), but Nola's track record and the very attainable 6.5 threshold both put me in the direction of the Over.
Rapid Fire Picks
The Pick: Bundy
Bauer has been the ultimate mixed bag during his brief Reds tenure, as he's interspersed a couple of blow-ups with a pair of 11-strikeout efforts. The right-hander doesn't have much of a history versus current Cardinals bats, but he has been effective against the ones he has faced. St. Louis hitters have a middling .250 average (4-for-16) and have struck out five times over 18 plate appearances versus Bauer. But, the Cards have managed to make consistent contact against right-handed pitching at home recently – they own a 19.6 percent strikeout rate versus against that handedness at Busch Stadium in the last month and have also managed a 10.2 percent walk rate versus righties during that stretch.
Meanwhile, Bundy is scuffling through another tough season and has seen a drop in his K/9 to 8.9. But he's actually been a more effective strikeout pitcher on the road, and he'll face a Royals team that he's consistently pitched well against, including this season. Bundy turned in a quality start versus Kansas City two starts ago at Camden Yards, allowing two earned runs over seven innings while recording seven strikeouts. He's also recorded 22 strikeouts over the 72 career plate appearances current KC hitters have logged against him during their careers. The Royals also come into Friday's matchup with a 23.6 percent strikeout rate versus right-handed pitching on the road over the last month of play.
Given the numbers on both sides and Bundy's built-in advantage, I'm giving him the slight edge in this head-to-head matchup.
The Pick: Arenado
Pederson has walloped right-handed pitching this season for all 27 of his homers, but Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen has been largely effective when facing left-handed hitters. Gallen has allowed a .223 average and .300 wOBA to lefty bats while also yielding just four home runs to that handedness over a 127-batter sample. It's also worth noting Pederson has struggled on the road this season, generating just a .213 average, 15 extra-base hits and a .313 on-base percentage against righties when traveling. The Diamondbacks bullpen has also been effective versus left-handed hitters of late, allowing a 3.52 ERA and .322 OBP in the last month.
Arenado is enjoying another stellar season and has been typically lethal at Coors Field, blasting righties there for a .326/.369/.604 line, along with a .391 wOBA. Pirates starter Dario Agrazal is allowing a .358/.414/.698 line and .453 wOBA to right-handed hitters on the road over a modest sample this season. Agrazal has never faced Arenado, but any unfamiliarity is unlikely to affect the Rockies slugger, considering he's swinging a blistering bat in August. Arenado sports a .330/.369/.755 line across 103 plate appearances this month and he has struck out just 11.5 percent of the time versus right-handers over that span. Finally, the Pirates bullpen could also facilitate production for Arenado when they become a factor – Pittsburgh relievers have a 6.19 ERA, .311 BAA and .369 wOBA against right-handed hitters over the last month.
Given Arenado's prospects plus his built-in edge, I'm giving him the nod in this matchup.