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, July 19- Over/Under and Fantasy Challenge Predictions
Over/Under (Goal: Pick two of two correctly to cash 2.52x your buy-in)
Brewers at Diamondbacks
Buy-in Amounts: $2-$500
Jhoulys Chacin, MIL– Over/Under 4.5 pitching strikeouts
The Pick: Under
Chacin is not a high-strikeout pitcher by nature, and that's been evidenced this season by his middling 7.9 K/9 on the road (18.9 percent K rate). The veteran right-hander often has trouble getting past the fifth inning due to his control issues (4.0 BB/9) and owns a 6.38 ERA and .354 wOBA across his 42.1 innings outside of Miller Park. In other words, a relatively quick hook could be possible at Chase Field on Friday.
It's also worth noting that the Diamondbacks sport an impressive 19.1 percent strikeout rate against right-handed pitching over the last month, including an even better 18.0 percent figure when facing them at home. Current Arizona bats have only struck out on 13 occasions over 79 career plate appearances against Chacin, further leading me to the Under on the 4.5 strikeouts.
Taylor Clarke, ARI- Over/Under 3.5 strikeouts
The Pick: Under
Clarke will be coming off the injured list for Friday's start, which already places him on somewhat shaky ground in my eyes. He also hasn't been very good when healthy this season, allowing a 6.21 ERA, 1.57 WHIP and 10 home runs over just 42.1 innings. Clarke also has three or fewer strikeouts in three consecutive starts, and in six of 10 appearances overall this season.
Moreover, the young right-hander has made it to the fifth inning on only four occasions, certainly an important factor to consider when evaluating the possibility of him facing enough hitters to have a chance to exceed the 3.5-strikeout threshold. There's also the matter of the Brewers bats working against him. Milwaukee hitters have a respectable 23.2 percent strikeout rate against right-handed pitching on the road in the last month.
Given Clarke's low strikeout ratios (6.9 K/9 at home) and the matchup, I'm also leaning toward the Under here.
Fantasy Challenge (Pick 3 players that will combine for at least 13.5 fantasy points to get 2.5x buy-in)
Angels at Mariners
Buy-in Amounts: $2-$100
Mike Trout, LAA
Trout is one of several Angels hitters with highly favorable metrics against Mariners starter Mike Leake, who was blasted by Los Angeles last week. Trout went 3-for-4 with a home run and six RBI in that contest and now owns a .539 average against Leake in 30 career plate appearances. What's more, Trout has often made very hard contact when hitting safely against the veteran right-hander, as 10 of his 14 hits against Leake have gone for extra bases. Needless to say, Trout's metrics versus righties overall are also elite, boasting a .327 average and a .474 wOBA when facing them on the road.
Justin Upton, LAA
Upton has lit Leake up for a .424/.487/.697 line over 37 career plate appearances, including four extra-base hits (a double, a triple and two home runs). Upton has struck out just four times over that sample and is carrying a .358 average and .433 wOBA against right-handed pitching in 60 plate appearances this season, including an eye-popping .544 on the road over a small sample. Leake is yielding a .294 average and .350 wOBA to righty hitters, while Mariners relievers have allowed an 8.82 ERA and .412 wOBA to the 76 right-handed hitters faced since the All-Star break.
Shohei Ohtani, LAA
Ohtani is in a good spot himself from the other side of the plate, as he's posted a .462 average versus Leake over his first 16 encounters. Leake is yielding a .275 BAA, .334 wOBA and 39.9 percent hard-contact rate to left-handed hitters as well, while Ohtani has a .310 average, .385 wOBA, 25.2 percent line-drive rate and 48.0 percent hard-contact rate against right-handed pitching. The Mariners bullpen has also allowed a 7.30 ERA to the 54 left-handed bats they've faced thus far in July, another point in Ohtani's favor once Leake exits.