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 23- Over/Under and Rapid Fire Predictions
Lance Lynn, TEX at CWS – Over/Under 7.5 strikeouts
The Pick: Under
While Lynn has seen a slight dip in strikeouts over the last couple of starts, the veteran right-hander boasts his best K/9 (10.2) since his rookie 2011 campaign and he's just 12 Ks away from eclipsing the career-high of 198 strikeouts. He faced the White Sox once this season and collected six whiffs over seven innings. Current Chicago hitters have been tough on him, however, as they've generated a collective .328/.350/.526 line with 14 extra-base hits (nine doubles, one triple, four home runs) over 116 career at-bats.
Even with Chicago's recent track record against right-handed pitching at home on Lynn's side – the White Sox have struck out at a 28.2 percent clip versus righties at home over the last month – I'm still having a hard time seeing Lynn compile eight strikeouts or more. His reduced swing-and-miss production the last two games leads to question how much gas the 32-year-old has remaining at this late stage of the season . Additionally, his 23.7 percent strikeout rate against White Sox hitters lifetime is solid but not exceptional, meaning he could still get to seven strikeouts and fall short of the goal.
Jack Flaherty, STL vs. COL - Over/Under 6.5 strikeouts
The Pick: Over
Flaherty is enjoying a second consecutive strong strikeout season, posting a 10.4 K/9 and 13.3 percent swinging strike rate. He's been especially tough at home, with a 2.89 ERA, .184 BAA and .248 wOBA allowed across 71.2 Busch Stadium innings. He's generated a mammoth 30.5 percent strikeout rate at home and has seven or more strikeouts in eight out of 12 starts at Busch. He's yet to face the Rockies this season, but he's held current Colorado hitters to a collective .250 average and has recorded five strikeouts over the 18 plate appearances.
The Rockies are naturally a less potent offense outside of Coors Field and own a mediocre .306 wOBA and 21.7 percent strikeout rate versus right-handed pitching on the road over the last month. Zooming out to a season-long view, the Rockies sport a 22.7 percent strikeout rate versus righties. Flaherty also has the luxury of facing a pitcher as part of the lineup, and even though Rockies starter Peter Lambert has actually been very good with the bat during his rookie season (7-for-20), he's also struck out six times and could naturally be overpowered by Flaherty for a couple of punch-outs.
While I'm not certain he'll exceed the 6.5-strikeout threshold by much, I do see Flaherty getting to at least seven Ks for the 14th time in 25 starts this season.
Yankees at Dodgers
The Pick: Paxton
Paxton has been a strikeout machine this season, posting an 11.2 K/9 that qualifies as the second-highest figure of his career. He's averaging a blistering 95.5 mph on his fastball, also a runner-up figure in terms of his career numbers. He'll face a formidable challenge Friday in the form of a Dodgers squad loaded with powerful hitters. However, those bats have often been neutralized by southpaws. Los Angeles owns an abysmal .209 average and .273 wOBA versus lefties at home over the last month (154 plate appearances), along with a 22.7 percent whiff rate. The Dodgers are a bit better on the strikeout front when taking a season-long view (21.1 percent strikeout rate), but Paxton counters with an elite 11.7K/9 across 48.1 road frames. Paxton also has a strong track record against the current Los Angeles hitters. He's held them to a collective .228 average and .279 on-base percentage while recording 16 strikeouts over the 61 plate appearances.
Ryu's overall numbers are markedly better than Paxton's, except when it comes to strikeouts. The left-hander has seen a notable drop in K/9 this season to 7.6, a far cry from the career-best 9.7 he generated last season. Ryu has five or fewer strikeouts in seven of his last nine starts, while Paxton has exceeded that threshold in six of his last seven turns. The Yankees have also been good about making contact against southpaws this season. New York has a 22.2 percent strikeout rate on the road versus that righties overall, including an even stingier 20.3 percent in the last month. In terms of current Yankees bats, Ryu has also only recorded nine Ks over 47 career encounters.
Considering there's often been more than a 1.5-strikeout differential in Paxton's favor, as well as the other factors cited, I'm going with Paxton despite Ryu's built-in advantage.
The Pick: Bellinger
Neither Muncy nor Bellinger have ever faced Paxton, and both hitters do well in left-handed pitching. Muncy boasts a .351 wOBA and .203 ISO against lefties at Dodger Stadium, although it's worth noting he's also partly benefited from a bloated .341 BABIP and has struck out at an elevated 27.3 percent clip there against southpaws.
Meanwhile, Bellinger has been downright lethal against lefties in his home park. He's accumulated a .338 average, .467 wOBA and .366 ISO against lefties at home, along with a 19.3 percent walk rate and minuscule 11.4 percent strikeout rate. Bellinger's .466 on-base percentage versus southpaws at home also dwarf Muncy's .351 figure, no surprise given how often Bellinger has drawn walks in those matchups.
Muncy does actually come in with a higher OBP thus far in August (.415, compared to .321 for Bellinger), but Bellinger's overall numbers still tilt the matchup in his favor, even with his teammate's built-in 0.5-base advantage.