MLB DFS Caught Looking Strategy for Wednesday July 22, 2015

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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 WEDNESDAY JULY 22, 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, but it’s also good to know if the weather is going to be hot, cold, windy, or humid because these are all factors that could influence our DFS lineup decisions.  Daily Baseball Data is a great spot to get an hour-by-hour forecast of each game.

We have a split slate on tap, but in this article I am only going to cover the EARLY SLATE of games.  But keep in mind for the early slate, certain regulars, catchers in particular, may not be in the starting lineup with the day game after night game. So be sure to check in on the starting lineups before game time. 

PITCHERS

THE FAVES:  

(EARLY SLATE)

Noah Syndergaard (NYM) ($10,400) @ Washington Nationals – The matchup isn’t a pristine one by any means, but the Nationals offense does strikeout the 7th most in the league against right-handed pitching and the righty Syndergaard can dial it up and lay down the hammer of Thor very well.  He is the highest priced option for the early slate and he by far has the best upside out of any pitcher on the slate, so I wouldn’t be afraid to use him. If he can get by Bryce Harper then I think he will have the advantage against the Nationals since they have yet to see him.

Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) ($8,700) vs. New York Mets – This is more of a play against the Mets offense than it is a play on Zimmermann.  The Mets offense just has a lack of fire power and they rank fairly low in all applicable categories against right-handed pitching (27th in ISO, 29th in wOBA, 22nd in K%).  Zimmermann’s strikeouts have been down this year due to diminished velocity, but he has shown that he can do well against poor offenses.  Normally it wouldn’t be all too wise to start two pitchers from the same game in one DFS lineup, but for shorter slates like this one, it becomes more of an option as you look to differentiate your lineup from the masses. So I wouldn’t be opposed to starting both Syndergaard and Zimmermann as both can have solid games, and you just hope that one of them comes away with the win.

SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:  

(EARLY SLATE)

Jorge De La Rosa (COL) ($6,800) vs. Texas Rangers – This may seem a bit crazy, but De La Rosa at Coors Field might actually be a decent pitching option for the abbreviated early slate.  Normally it would be a pretty insane notion to recommend or use a starting pitcher at Coors Field, but once again, with shortened slates things get a little different and we need to find ways to differentiate our lineups for GPP tournaments if we’re looking for the big score.  And if there’s any pitcher who is comfortable with pitching at Coors Field, it is De La Rosa who has been with the Rockies since 2008 and has a career 4.19 ERA and 1.36 WHIP at Coors Field.  Now those aren’t great numbers by any means, but for the thin air of Coors Field, those are actually fairly decent numbers. The lefty De La Rosa will square off against a Rangers offense that typically is fairly left-handed heavy, which results in them striking out against left-handers quite a bit.  Against lefties, the Rangers have the 5th highest strikeout rate at 23.4% and also rank fairly low in wOBA at 27th with a .290 mark.  So it’s not an optimal situation with the park factor, but De La Rosa is not likely to be inserted into a lot of tournament lineups and he does have some things working in his favor if the Rangers stick several of their regular left-handed bats in the lineup.

THE NOT SO FAVES:

(EARLY SLATE)

Cody Anderson (CLE) ($8,000) @ Milwaukee Brewers – Anderson has dazzled since being called up for the Indians as he sits pretty with an incredible 0.89 ERA and 0.66 WHIP in 4 starts.  But that prettiness should begin to get ugly pretty soon and he’s just not a pitcher that we can fully trust in DFS.  With just 11 strikeouts in 30.1 innings, Anderson has largely been a pitch to contact guy, so eventually hitters are going to figure him out with the more exposure he has to the league.  And in DFS, DraftKings scoring especially, pitcher strikeouts are worth a lot. Strikeouts are more or less something a pitcher can control, but they have no control over whether or not a batted ball in play goes for an out or not.  So that’s why we look for the strikeouts in our DFS pitchers and why we need to avoid Anderson as the 5th highest priced option on a short slate.

Julio Teheran (ATL) ($7,100) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers – Teheran has not been good at all this season after pitching like a solid #2 guy last year.  His main issues have been his control (3.34 BB/9) and giving up the long ball (1.27 HR/9), and guess which team walks the most against right-handed pitchers and also ranks near the top of the league in ISO and wOBA against righties?  That of course would be the Dodgers and they could end up having a field day against the Braves righty.  Factor in that it’s going to be a day game in hot and humid conditions, and things could get very ugly for Teheran.

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.

STACK ATTACKS:

(EARLY SLATE)

Los Angeles Dodgers @ Atlanta Braves (Julio Teheran) – I mentioned above how Teheran has just been in a world of struggle this season and how the Dodgers crush right-handed pitching and match up well against him. Also, Teheran pitched against the Dodgers earlier this season and gave up 8 runs on 10 hits and 3 walks in just 4.1 innings.  So the opportunity is going to be there again for the Dodgers to dish out one of their classic beat downs and the good news is that they are all pretty cheaply priced.  For a 4-man stack, consider Joc Pederson ($3,500), Justin Turner ($3,300), Adrian Gonzalez ($4,600), and Yasiel Puig ($3,500).  For a 6-man stack, add on Yasmani Grandal ($3,700) and Howie Kendrick ($3,400) or Andre Ethier ($3,100).

Chicago Cubs @ Cincinnati Reds (Mike Leake) – Leake is about a league average pitcher and he primarily gets by by taking advantage of weaker offenses, but he can encounter issues when he is up against offenses that can pack a powerful punch.  He’s faced the Cubs three times this season and has given up 3, 4, and 3 runs against them in those starts, but now that we are in the middle of summer and it’s heating up, Leake and his career 1.12 HR/9 could suffer a bit in the hitters park in Cincinnati.  For a 4-man stack, consider Chris Coghlan ($3,200), Anthony Rizzo ($5,000), Kris Bryant ($4,500), and Jorge Soler ($3,700).  And unless Kyle Schwarber is in the lineup, which I anticipate he won’t be for game 1 of the doubleheader, then I wouldn’t extend the Cubs to more than a 4-man stack, but Starlin Castro and Dexter Fowler can be given consideration.

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.

(EARLY SLATE)

Tampa Bay Rays @ Philadelphia Phillies (Adam Morgan) – The Rays typically hit left-handed pitching better than right-handed, and for this early slate action they will be opposing a left-handed rookie.  Morgan has made 4 starts and has done decently with a 3.91 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, but he’s really not that special of a prospect and should begin to start seeing some rough starts.  Against lefties, the Rays rank 6th in the league in ISO and 8th in wOBA, which is very sneaky of them considering they rank 26th in the league in total runs scored.  They can kind of be considered as the league’s best kept secret against left-handed pitching.  A lot of people won’t realize how good they are against lefties, so this could be a spot where we can take advantage of it by rolling out a lot of Rays right-handed bats for a hopeful low ownership stack that can score big.  For a 4-man stack, consider Logan Forsythe ($3,400), Evan Longoria ($3,500), Steven Souza ($4,000), and Brandon Guyer ($3,100).  For a 6-man stack, consider adding the lefties James Loney ($3,100) and David DeJesus ($2,900).  ***If Joey Butler is in the lineup, then he should be included in a Rays stack.

BONUS NOTES

  • Martin Perez of the Rangers is a left-handed pitcher starting at Coors Field.  The Rockies typically do not do as well against left-handed pitching, as they lead the league in strikeout rate against southpaws, but some of the Rockies bats are definitely playable in a stack.
  • I won’t say that James Shields isn’t playable, but he has had one good and one bad start against the Giants this season.  With Hunter Pence back from the DL for the Giants, they are a much different and better offense, which does give pause to using Shields — and conversely gives the Giants some “Sneaky Stack” consideration.
  • BvP (batter vs. pitcher) specials:
    • Chris Coghlan vs. Mike Leake:  9 for 13 with 2 HR, 3 doubles, and 1 SB
    • Anthony Rizzo vs. Mike Leake:  10 for 27 with 2 HR and 2 doubles
    • Yasiel Puig vs. Julio Teheran:  4 for 6 with 1 HR and 1 double
    • Daniel Murphy vs. Jordan Zimmermann:  17 for 53 with 3 HR and 5 doubles

***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups

***All stats from FanGraphs

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