MLB DFS Caught Looking Strategy for Tuesday 7/21/15

Season long fantasy sports leagues have been around for decades now and have really revolutionized the way both casual and hardcore sports fans look at the game.  But a more recent adaptation of fantasy sports is the daily fantasy sports (DFS) approach where you are only committed to a single day’s worth of games at a time and can win some serious cash on a daily basis.
***All player salaries reflect DraftKings pricing and the given strategy is more specific toward GPP (guaranteed prize pool) tournaments rather than cash games (head to head, 50/50, etc.).  

STRATEGY FOR TUESDAY JULY 21, 2015

I like to start my MLB DFS research by checking in on the weather, and check out some tips at The Backwards K on how to utilize the weather when constructing MLB DFS lineups.

As always, check in on the weather at least a couple hours or less before game time to get a better picture of any potential weather concerns.  Daily Baseball Data is a great spot to get an hour-by-hour forecast of each game.

PITCHERS

I am not completely enamored with any of the higher priced pitching options on the board tonight, so I think that tonight may be a good opportunity to go with some of the cheaper pitchers to allow more flexibility to include an expensive offensive stack or whatever hitters that you feel comfortable with.

THE FAVES:  

Danny Salazar (CLE) ($9,900) @ Milwaukee Brewers – Salazar isn’t an auto-play for me tonight, but I like the tremendous strikeout upside (10.58 K/9) that he brings, which is a key component for tournament play.  Salazar has been very inconsistent this season and there’s no apparent rhyme or rhythm as to why, but I’m thinking that with the Brewers never having faced Salazar before that he will have a slight advantage since his stuff has the potential to be so explosive on any given night.  Also working in Salazar’s favor is that he will be pitching in a National League park where he will have the opportunity to face the pitcher a couple of times instead of a DH. This can provide some extra easy strikeouts for him.  The Brewers rank middle of the pack against righties in strikeout rate (19th), ISO (17th), and wOBA (17th), so this isn’t a slam dunk, but I’ll give him a shot.

Michael Wacha (STL) ($8,700) @ Chicago White Sox – Wacha and the Cardinals travel to Chicago for an interleague matchup with the White Sox, and the White Sox are certainly an offense that can be very easy to walk over.  They don’t strikeout at too high of a rate against right-handed pitching (14th in the league), but they fail to show much overall productivity at 26th in ISO and 25th in wOBA against righties.  After having just 19 strikeouts in 38.2 IP in his first 6 starts of the season, Wacha has really turned things around in that department with 67 strikeouts in 68.2 IP in his last 11 starts.  So do not be fooled by his unimpressive season strikeout rate of 7.21 K/9.  This rates as a plus matchup for Wacha and while he doesn’t have the upside of someone like Salazar, he does have a relatively high floor.

Brett Anderson (LAD) ($7,400) @ Atlanta Braves – Anderson has probably deserved better than both what his 3.17 ERA and 1.30 WHIP would suggest because he is among the leaders in soft hit rate and has allowed the least line drives in all of baseball, yet somehow he has been slapped with a higher than average BABIP of .318 (compared to his .309 career mark).  So I think that he is in for some better days as we dive into the second half of the season and pitching against the Braves appears to be a nice spot.  Against left-handed pitching like Anderson is, the Braves have just had a lot of trouble as they rank 29th in both ISO and wOBA. Anderson doesn’t strike out a lot of batters (6.42 K/9 this year), but he is capable of producing a big strikeout game every once in a while and the Braves have struck out at a fairly high 22.0% rate against lefties.

SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:  

Joe Ross (WAS) ($5,000) vs. New York Mets – The rookie Ross is getting the start on Tuesday in place of the injured Stephen Strasburg, and in 3 starts this season he has been very impressive in 2 of them to compile an overall line of a 2.66 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 23 K/2 BB in 20.1 IP.  He’s got a few key components that are qualities of many of the best starting pitchers in the game.  He has the strikeout per inning upside, he has very good control, and he induces a lot of ground balls (56.6%) to keep the ball in the park.  The major factor here though is that he gets the opportunity to face a Mets offense that has really struggled to score runs ever since Lucas Duda fell into a major slump.  Overall against right-handed pitching like Ross is, the Mets are 22nd in strikeout rate, 27th in ISO and 29th in wOBA, which is nearly a dream matchup.  Ross is probably my absolute favorite play of the night because he’s got great upside for such a cheap price, and because he is squaring off against the top priced option on the board tonight, Jacob deGrom, that will help to keep his tournament ownership low despite the bargain of a price.

Aaron Nola (PHI) ($5,300) vs. Tampa Bay Rays – Nola is one of the top Major League ready pitching prospects who has yet to make his Major League debut, but that will change tonight when he faces the Rays.  With 9.09 K/9 in 6 starts at AAA this season, Nola does have some strikeout appeal, but what is probably going to be the key to potentially having early success is that he is a strike thrower that doesn’t allow a lot of walks.  In his whole Minor League career, he has an extremely good walk rate of 1.53 BB/9, and I love to see top pitching prospects who have great control and have that strikeout upside.  I feel those are the ones that are able to have the most immediate success upon their arrival to the Majors.  Nola also gets the opportunity to face a Rays offense that typically does better against left-handed pitching (Nola is a righty), and the Rays have struck out at the 4th highest rate in the league against right-handed pitching.  It’s possible that Nola might come down with the debut jitters like some youngsters do, but often times, pitchers making their debut are very good because the opposing team has no familiarity and very little information on him.

THE NOT SO FAVES:

Gerrit Cole (PIT) ($10,400) @ Kansas City Royals – Like I said with A.J. Burnett yesterday, much of the same applies here to Cole.  The Royals just are extremely tough to strikeout, so it is difficult to start any pitcher against them in DFS.  Also, in 4 of Cole’s last 5 starts he has failed to record a strikeout per inning, which has resulted in his season strikeout rate finally dipping below a strikeout per inning also.  So that is a trend that is going to be difficult to buck against the Royals offense.  In addition, the game is in an American League park, so gone is the advantage of getting to face the opposing pitcher a couple of times for an easy (strike)out.

HITTING STACKS

A strategy that has worked since the introduction of DFS is stacking multiple players (4-6) from one offense. However, in certain situations it may be more beneficial not to stack as it is becoming more contrarian not to do full stacks since so many people are doing it now.  But for the most part, stacking (or mini-stacks of 3 players at the very least) seems to be a component of most winning tournament lineups.

Since I am not in love with any of the higher priced pitching options tonight, I will find a way to pair some of the cheaper pitchers that I listed above that I like and that should allow for the use of some high octane stacks.

STACK ATTACKS:

Texas Rangers @ Colorado Rockies (Kyle Kendrick) – It is no secret that Kendrick is just a complete gas can that opposing offenses can kick around like nobody’s business.  He has allowed 2.01 HR/9 this season, which ranks as the 2nd most in the league, he struggles against either righties or lefties, and this is a Coors Field game where the air is thin and baseballs fly (especially if they come out of the hand of Kendrick).  The Rangers will not be a low owned offense by any mean, but by saving money using some of the quality cheap pitching options, there should be room to employ a full Rangers stack if you choose.  And since the game is in a National League park with no DH, we probably won’t be forced to choose between Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland for first base, unless Moreland gets an unlikely start in the outfield.  So for a 4-man stack, consider Delino DeShields ($4,500), Rougned Odor ($4,000), Prince Fielder ($5,200), and Josh Hamilton ($4,500).  For a 6-man stack, add on Leonys Martin ($3,400) and Adrian Beltre ($4,500).

Chicago Cubs @ Cincinnati Reds (Raisel Iglesias) – Iglesias projects as a decent pitcher down the road, but he’s been getting torched to the tune of a 5.90 ERA and 1.52 WHIP this season so far and I think that a Cubs stack is in play as they are the visiting team to a great hitter’s park against a guy that has been struggling.  For a 4-man stack, consider Kyle Schwarber ($3,200), Anthony Rizzo ($5,000), Kris Bryant ($4,500), and Jorge Soler ($3,700).  For a 6-man stack, add on Dexter Fowler ($3,800) and Chris Coghlan ($3,200). 

SNEAKY STACKS:

For GPP tournaments, it’s not necessarily about scoring a large amount of points, but it’s more about scoring more points than everyone else.  To do that, it often helps to be contrarian in your lineup construction, and a great way to do that is to select offensive stacks that project to be of lower usage but have some decent upside.  So in the “Sneaky Stack” section, that’s what we aim for.

Seattle Mariners @ Detroit Tigers (Shane Greene) – We’ll go back to the Mariners for a sneaky stack option, though they may not be as sneaky as I would hope for because there’s probably a good percentage of people who understand that Shane Greene just has not been that good.  But generally, the Mariners are fairly low owned because their offense has been pretty bad as a whole.  Greene was awful for the Tigers after a few good starts to begin the season, and he was eventually sent down to AAA.  At AAA, he supposedly worked on his changeup, but if he did, then it sure didn’t show as he got rocked once again when he was recalled before the All-Star break. Greene has a 6.32 ERA and has allowed a whopping .420 wOBA to left-handed hitters.  For a 4-man stack, consider Brad Miller ($3,300), Kyle Seager ($4,200), Nelson Cruz ($4,500), and Robinson Cano ($3,900). For a 6-man stack, add on Logan Morrison ($3,400) and Seth Smith ($3,300).

BONUS NOTES

  • Mat Latos ($6,300) and Taijuan Walker ($7,200) could be some decent cheaper pitching options as well.  Latos has had a resurgence in his velocity since he’s returned from the DL, which has resulted in much better results than what he had earlier this season.  Walker had a huge hot streak that got snapped and he has given up a lot of runs in his last two starts, but even though he gave up runs, he still exemplified the great control that led him to the hot streak breakout.  Walker probably won’t be highly owned since he’s against a solid Tigers offense.
  • The Colorado Rockies offense is in a great spot against Matt Harrison who is coming off a plethora of injuries.  The Rockies don’t do as well against left-handed pitching, but Harrison probably is not going to be very sharp.  Instead of doing a full Rangers stack with two really cheap pitchers, a blend of Rangers and Rockies would be a great idea if it can fit in the salary cap.
  • I am not a fan of Nathan Eovaldi of the Yankees in this spot against the Orioles, so the Orioles could make for a nice Stack Attack option, but note that Eovaldi has been much better at home this season.
  • I think the Pirates, Indians, and Red Sox can all be stackable options/

***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups

***All stats from FanGraphs

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