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 SUNDAY JULY 25, 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.
Also, keep in mind that Sunday games tend to have some irregular lineups with a lot of normal starting players getting a day of rest. So be sure to check for starting lineup confirmations.
For Sunday’s pitchers, I am not in love with many of the higher priced pitchers, so I think that a strategy that may be best for a chance to take down a large GPP tournament would be to go with some of the quality mid-tiered options, which will leave some extra cash to spend on some of the higher priced hitting options.
Andrew Heaney (LAA) ($8,600) vs. Texas Rangers – Ever since Heaney joined the Angels rotation, the rookie southpaw has made 5 starts to go 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, and 27 K/4 BB in 34.1 IP. He lacks the big strikeout appeal, but he will be up against a Rangers offense that usually has several left-handed bats in their starting lineup, which makes them susceptible to left-handed pitching as a unit. The Rangers strikeout a ton against lefties at a 23.4% rate and they also rank 25th in the Majors in wOBA against left-handed pitching. Heaney’s season high in strikeouts is 7 and he should have a decent chance of matching or surpassing that number on Sunday while limiting the damage.
Mat Latos (MIA) ($8,000) @ San Diego Padres – Latos’ velocity suffered early on in the season, but after returning from a DL stint on June 13, his velocity got a significant bump and it has resembled his 2013 levels of velocity when he last had a successful season (see here for velocity charts). So as his velocity creeped back up, he began to see a nice turnaround in his performance with a 2.72 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 38 K/9 BB in 39.2 IP in his last 6 starts. On Sunday, Latos will face a Padres offense that isn’t great at scoring runs and they strike out the 5th most against right-handed pitching and also have the 3rd lowest wOBA against righties. Furthermore, he will be returning to his old stomping grounds at Petco Park where he has a career 2.94 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 34 starts. It looks like a great spot for Latos to turn in a good game.
Joe Ross (WAS) ($7,600) @ Pittsburgh Pirates – Ross will draw another start on Sunday in place of the injured Stephen Strasburg and he currently possesses a 2.70 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 27 K/2 BB in 26.2 IP over 4 starts. He’s got the strikeout potential, good control, and is a ground ball pitcher — it doesn’t get much better than that when we are talking about a Major League rookie. He will oppose a Pirates offense that he faced just over a month ago to dominate for 7.1 innings allowing just 1 run while striking out 11, so Ross will have another opportunity to turn in a stellar performance.
SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:
Taijuan Walker (SEA) ($6,700) vs. Toronto Blue Jays – The right-handed Walker had an amazing 7 start streak where he went 6-1 with a 1.68 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and 51 K/3 BB in 48.1 IP. It was a tremendous run, but in 3 starts since that streak, he has gotten hit hard by the Angels and the Tigers twice. But even when he got hit hard in those games, he still had elite control, walking only one batter in those 3 games. I think that him maintaining his control in times of struggle is indicative of his maturation as a pitcher and will be a key factor for him moving forward. He’ll face another tough offense on Sunday with the Blue Jays in town, but the Jays are best against left-handed pitching and could be sitting a few of their regulars in the day game. I think that the upside Walker possesses makes him a good cheap option on a day where he is likely to have low tournament ownership. If he comes up with a big game, then not many other people will benefit from it, and using Walker gives the flexibility to add some high powered offense.
Aaron Nola (PHI) ($5,600) @ Chicago Cubs – The Phillies top pitching prospect made his Major League debut last week against the Rays and it was a good one as he went 6 innings allowing just 1 run on 6 base runners with 6 strikeouts. The right-handed Nola has great control for a young pitcher, and that is something that can help him against a Cubs team that walks the most in the league. Nola also has some pretty good strikeout potential and the Cubs strikeout a lot with the 2nd highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitching. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the youngster go 6 strong innings with 9 strikeouts as the Cubs probably don’t have a good scouting report on him since he’s only made one Major League start. For a cheap price tag, Nola can be worth using in tournament play.
THE NOT SO FAVES:
Zack Greinke (LAD) ($13,000) @ New York Mets – Greinke is on a ridiculous 42.2 innings scoreless streak and has clearly been simply amazing over the last 6 starts. However, never has he been priced so high on DraftKings and this type of price tag is usually reserved for the aces who have the large strikeout upside like Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, and Chris Sale. This season Greinke’s 8.02 K/9 is solid, but it’s surely not elite and he only has one double digit strikeout game to his name this season (coming in his last start against the Nationals). While I do expect Greinke to pitch a good game against the Mets and possibly notch his 7th straight scoreless start, I think that it’d be better to save a little money and go with a cheaper pitching option.
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) ($11,300) @ Kansas City Royals – Keuchel did well against the Royals almost a month ago when he shut them out for 8 innings with 7 strikeouts, but it is very tough to start pitchers against the Royals in DFS because of their league leading ability to avoid striking out. Strikeouts are very valuable for pitchers in DraftKings, so without the strikeout upside in this matchup, Keuchel’s price tag appears to be too rich for my blood. Also, this will be a road start for Keuchel in an environment that should be really hot and humid for some good hitting weather. Since Keuchel is such a ground ball heavy pitcher, the hot and humid weather isn’t as big of a factor, but it’s still notable since he hasn’t been strong on the road this year with a 3.34 ERA (as opposed to a 1.13 ERA at home).
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.
Cincinnati Reds @ Colorado Rockies (Kyle Kendrick) – Kendrick is one of the biggest gas cans in the league with his 6.12 ERA and 2.01 HR/9, and obviously at Coors Field the likelihood of him getting blown up multiplies. There’s not a whole lot more that needs to be explained about this great matchup for the Reds. If you go the mid-tiered pitching route with some of the guys mentioned above, then that should leave some good room to fit in a very expensive Reds stack of hitters under the salary cap. Joey Votto ($5,800), Todd Frazier ($6,000), Jay Bruce ($5,100), Marlon Byrd ($4,400), Eugenio Suarez ($4,300), and Tucker Barnhart ($3,100).
Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers (Nick Martinez) – As expected, Martinez’ season is heading south in a hurry as his ERA has ballooned from 2.77 to 3.92 over his last 3 starts. Amazingly, he has not allowed an earned run over 13 innings against the Angels this season, but that is surely to change on Sunday with the Angels offense running hot and Martinez getting smacked in the face with a heavy dose of regression. Fire away with Kole Calhoun ($3,800), Mike Trout ($5,200), Albert Pujols ($4,200), and Erick Aybar ($3,100). Or if you’re feeling frisky, C.J. Cron and his lifetime line of 5 for 10 with 1 HR against Martinez could be a sneaky, low-owned play instead of Pujols if you want to differentiate your lineup from the masses.
Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers (Shane Greene) – The Red Sox offense has been struggling to score runs with just 16 runs in 9 games since the All-Star break, but I think that a date with Shane Greene will at least be a temporary cure. In Greene’s last 6 Major League starts, he has a 12.00 ERA and 2.13 WHIP. Yes, you read that correctly. It is just a horrible streak of epic proportions and the Red Sox should be able to take advantage. The players to consider stacking are Mookie Betts ($4,300), Brock Holt ($3,200) Xander Bogaerts ($3,900), David Ortiz ($4,000), Hanley Ramirez ($4,100), Pablo Sandoval ($2,700), and Alejandro De Aza ($3,100).
Baltimore Orioles @ Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Moore) – Moore for the Rays is a guy that I just don’t like for this season. Moore was already a pitcher with control and command issues, so coming off Tommy John surgery, it was likely that he would experience even further issues in that department and indeed he has with 4.82 BB/9. The Orioles should be able to capitalize on his inefficiency and wildness with a few of their key hitters having great success against him in their careers. Give stack consideration to Manny Machado ($4,000), Adam Jones ($4,100), Matt Wieters ($2,800), J.J. Hardy ($2,600), and Jonathan Schoop ($3,100).
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 vs. Toronto Blue Jays (Mark Buehrle) – Buerhle has gone 9 straight starts with at least 6 innings and 2 earned runs or less, so he’s on a bit of a nice run. But as a soft-tossing lefty that has little strikeout potential, he really can get hit hard on any given day. For this sneaky stack, I’m going to try and take advantage of some quality batter vs. pitcher numbers that some of these Mariners have against Buehrle. Consider Austin Jackson ($3,300), Robinson Cano ($4,000), Nelson Cruz ($4,700), Kyle Seager ($4,200), Mark Trumbo ($3,200), and Franklin Gutierrez ($2,300).
- Gerrit Cole is probably the pitcher that I like the most out of the more expensive options. He’s facing a Nationals team that has the 7th highest strikeout rate against righties, but Cole has been underwhelming over the last month so even he comes with some caution.
- Jacob deGrom is definitely usable as well despite a matchup against a Dodgers team that is the best in the league against righties. He should be able to turn in a quality game I think, but notching a win could be hard to come by since he’s against Zack Greinke.
- The Detroit Tigers against rookie Eduardo Rodriguez should also be given stack consideration. Rodriguez is a nice talent, but he has had a few blowup outings and seems to just get hit hard when he is off his game. The Tigers definitely have the fire power from the right side of the plate to hurt the southpaw.
BvP (batter vs. pitcher) Specials:
- Adrian Gonzalez vs. Jacob deGrom: 3 for 6 with 2 HR
- Alexei Ramirez vs. Danny Salazar: 9 for 13 with 1 HR and 2 doubles
- Matt Wieters vs. Matt Moore: 8 for 14 with 2 HR and 1 double
- Adam Jones vs. Matt Moore: 9 for 19 with 2 HR, 1 double, and 1 SB
- Kole Calhoun vs. Nick Martinez: 6 for 11 with 1 HR and 1 double
- C.J. Cron vs. Nick Martinez 5 for 10 with 1 HR and 1 double
- Mark Trumbo vs. Mark Buehrle: 6 for 12 with 3 HR and 2 doubles
- Franklin Gutierrez vs. Mark Buehrle: 8 for 22 with 2 HR and 1 double
- Justin Upton vs. Mat Latos: 8 for 17 with 1 HR, 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 1 SB
***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups
***All stats from FanGraphs