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 MONDAY JULY 27, 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.
The pitching options for Monday’s 9-game slate aren’t exactly the most riveting. There’s not one particular pitcher that gets my fancy tickled, but there are several pitchers that can surely be given a look.
Anibal Sanchez (DET) ($10,200) @ Tampa Bay Rays – Sanchez has been extremely difficult to gauge from start to start and although he’s been credited with a 7-0 record in his last 8 starts, he has only really been sharp in two of those starts and both of those came at the beginning of this streak back on June 9 and June 15. But what Sanchez has going for him on Monday is that he’s up against a Rays offense that strikes out the 5th most in the league against right-handers and they also have the 2nd worst wOBA against righties. The Rays are a much better overall offensive team against left-handed pitchers and they are really struggling to put together any type of offense with just 9 runs in 19 games since the All-Star break. With a bit of an abbreviated slate and a lack of a true ace pitching on Monday (apologies to Lance Lynn), Sanchez carries as much upside as anyone on the card in this matchup that is good on paper.
Chris Heston (SF) ($9,500) vs. Milwaukee Brewers – Heston comes in at the 3rd highest priced pitcher on DraftKings behind Lynn and Sanchez, which just goes to show the weakness of this slate. No offense to Heston as he’s done a remarkable job as a rookie, but there just aren’t many days where he’s going to be priced this highly. But Heston still probably makes for one of the better plays of the day on Monday with a few good things going for him. He’s pitching at home in San Francisco where it’s a pitcher’s park and he has been good at preventing runs there with a 2.57 ERA. He will be opposite of Kyle Lohse who has been a big time gas can this year, so that will give Heston a nice chance to lock up a win and get those extra points. Heston will face the Brewers who are basically a league average offense against right-handed pitching, but they can strikeout a decent amount as they have the 10th highest strikeout rate in the league against righties. Also, since the Brewers traded away Aramis Ramirez last week, they proceeded to score just 2 runs in a 3-game weekend series at Arizona against some very mediocre pitchers (shutout in the last 2 games). Ramirez is a shell of his former self in the twilight of his career, but he still has a decent bat. But more importantly, his replacement at the hot corner has been Hernan Perez who is just not a productive offensive player. And an added bonus might be if Adam Lind for the Brewers, who has been nursing a back injury, sits out again on Monday.
Robbie Ray (ARI) ($8,000) @ Seattle Mariners – The southpaw Ray is coming off his worst start of the season where he gave up 4 earned runs in 4.2 innings against the Marlins, but he has certainly made adjustments (new arm slot, increased velocity) this season that have led to better overall results as he owns a 2.72 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 50 K/15 BB in 59.2 IP. Where Ray has excelled this season is when he has gotten away from his hitter friendly home park, Chase Field. He has a 1.35 ERA on the road and he will start at Safeco Field in Seattle on Monday, which is known as one of the better pitcher parks in the league. The numbers that the Mariners offense shows against left-handed pitchers don’t scream out that it’s a great matchup for Ray, but it’s not a poor one either. With the lack of strong options on the slate, Ray should be given great consideration.
SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:
Jorge De La Rosa (COL) ($7,700) @ Chicago Cubs – I’ll cheat a little bit and include De La Rosa in the “Sleepers for Cheaper” section even though he is barely priced in the top half of all the pitching options for Monday. De La Rosa has the experience and has certainly been one of the better pitchers at Coors Field over the course of his career, but he has put up way better numbers away from Coors Field this season with a 1.93 ERA and 1.10 WHIP on the road. And he also gets the fortune of facing a Cubs offense that is run of the mill against lefties like De La Rosa is, and we know that the Cubs also strikeout a ton against any handedness of pitching (23.3% of the time against lefties). So this appears to be a great situation for De La Rosa to try and capitalize on, and I think that he should be relatively low owned as most Rockies pitchers tend to be (even on the road).
Kevin Gausman (BAL) ($4,300) vs. Atlanta Braves – Kind of surprisingly, Gausman is the absolute lowest priced pitcher on DraftKings for Monday. Gausman is a talented pitcher that just has yet to be able to form any type of consistency when given the opportunity as a starting pitcher for the Orioles. But the Orioles are showing confidence in him by inserting him into the rotation a month ago and sticking with him after he had a couple poor outings. He will start against the Braves who certainly do not have the most daunting lineup. They don’t really strikeout that much, but they also just traded a couple of their better players (Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe) and they rank dead last in the league in ISO against righties. So as the cheapest option there is, Gausman is going to have the opportunity to exceed his expected value and the upside is there for him to be worth double his price.
THE NOT SO FAVES:
Lance Lynn (STL) ($11,100) vs. Cincinnati Reds – Lynn is the top priced guy on Monday, but he’s up against a Reds offense that surprisingly has the 6th lowest strikeout rate in the league against right-handed pitching, which should probably limit Lynn’s upside a bit. The Reds are basically league average in ISO and wOBA against righties, but some of the Reds hitters have some nice looking stats against Lynn in their careers, and they are going to get an extra boost with the weather in St. Louis expected to be very humid. Humid air = less dense air = balls that travel farther. Maybe Lynn turns in a great game, but I probably won’t be rostering him.
Cody Anderson (CLE) ($8,100) vs. Kansas City Royals – I went over Anderson before his last start and how he just isn’t that great of an option, and he finally endured a shellacking last time out against the Brewers. It’s the same story here as he’s just priced too high to be given any consideration, especially against a pesky Royals offense. Anderson has been striking out nearly nobody with a minuscule strikeout rate of 3.27 K/9. So what happens when you take a pitcher with a super low strikeout rate and put him against the toughest offense to strikeout in the entire league? We’ll find out tonight.
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.
With the lack of strong pitching options, there’s going to be several stackable offenses if that’s the route that you choose, and here are my favorite ones.
New York Yankees @ Texas Rangers (Matt Harrison) – The weather is definitely heating up in Texas and that can be some bad news for pitchers. Harrison, for the Rangers, very surprisingly shutout the Rockies for 6 innings at Coors Field in his last start, but the Rockies are actually one of the worst teams in the league against lefties. The Yankees, however, rank in the top 5 in ISO, wOBA, and lowest strikeout rate against lefties. So they could be in for a field day against the mediocre lefty Harrison in the Texas heat. It’s an expensive stack, but if you can make it work I like Alex Rodriguez ($5,600), Mark Teixeira ($5,500), Brian McCann ($4,200), and Chris Young ($3,200). And consideration can be given to Jacoby Ellsbury ($5,200), Brett Gardner ($5,300), and Carlos Beltran ($4,000).
Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees (Ivan Nova) – On the flip side of the game in Texas is the Rangers against the righty Ivan Nova. The Rangers surely can do some damage against right-handed pitching with the 7th best ISO and wOBA in the league against righties. Nova is making his way back from Tommy John surgery, so while he’s done decently with a 3.34 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 5 starts, he’s still trying to work through some issues and his 4.62 xFIP is more telling of what his actual performance has been. Also, remember that he’s got the Texas heat to deal with and the Rangers have some powerful lefty bats that can make Nova pay. Consider Delino DeShields ($4,100), Rougned Odor ($3,800), Prince Fielder ($4,500)/Mitch Moreland ($3,800), Josh Hamilton ($3,700), and Shin-Soo Choo ($3,700).
San Francisco Giants vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Kyle Lohse) – Lohse has a 6.29 ERA and 1.45 WHIP and he’s been serving it up equally to righties and lefties (.375 wOBA and 13 HR vs. righties, .358 wOBA and 10 HR vs. lefties). The Giants offense is 4th in the league in wOBA against righties and they have the ability to instigate a hit parade against pitchers like Lohse. Joe Panik ($3,700), Matt Duffy ($3,600), Buster Posey ($4,300), Hunter Pence ($4,700), Brandon Belt ($3,900), and Brandon Crawford ($3,900) make for a reasonably priced 6-man stack.
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.
Cincinnati Reds @ St. Louis Cardinals (Lance Lynn) – I referenced this game above and with Lynn as the top priced pitcher in some not so favorable conditions on a slate of games that doesn’t have a whole lot of strong pitching options, this presents as a decent opportunity to be contrarian by going against the de facto ace of the day and try and score big with a Reds stack. The hot and humid weather in St. Louis could be a big factor. I’ll surely be rolling out some Reds tonight and for a stack I like Joey Votto ($4,600), Todd Frazier ($4,800), Jay Bruce ($3,900), Marlon Byrd ($3,400), and Eugenio Suarez ($3,300).
- The Chicago White Sox can make for a “Sneaky Stack” option against Joe Kelly and the Red Sox. Kelly just isn’t that great this season and the White Sox are projected decently at a Vegas implied run total of 4.2 runs. With much more attractive looking offenses on the board, the White Sox should sneak in there as a low owned stack
- The Kansas City Royals offense is also stackable against the pitch-to-contact pitcher Cody Anderson. As referenced above, the Royals strikeout the least in all of baseball and Anderson lacks the ability to strikeout batters. So this could be an interesting situation.
- The Red Sox have the highest Vegas implied run total of the day at 4.8 runs against John Danks and the White Sox. For that reason alone, they also have to be given stack consideration and it was nice to finally see them bust out of their offensive rut in Sunday night’s game against Shane Green and the Tigers.
BvP (batter vs. pitcher) Specials:
- Josh Hamilton vs. Ivan Nova: 6 for 10 with 3 doubles
- Alex Rodriguez vs. Matt Harrison: 5 for 12 with 2 doubles and 1 SB
- Jay Bruce vs. Lance Lynn: 14 for 28 with 3 HR, 2 triples, and 1 double
- Joey Votto vs. Lance Lynn: 8 for 16 with 1 double
***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups
***All stats from FanGraphs