MLB DFS Strategy for Wednesday 7/29/15

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 WEDNESDAY JULY 29, 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.

Wednesday’s action features a split slate with 6 games early and 9 games late. Each recommendation (or non-recommendation) below is denoted as “early slate” or “late slate.”

PITCHERS

THE FAVES:  

*EARLY SLATE – Chris Archer (TAM) ($11,300) vs. Detroit Tigers – The Tigers offense didn’t seem to miss a beat after Miguel Cabrera hit the DL as they averaged 5.7 runs in the first 15 games without Cabrera. But that scoring surge appears to be over with just 2.2 runs per game over the last 6 games, with 2 runs or less in 5 of those games. This appears to be a nice situation for the Rays ace to capitalize on despite the Tigers being one of the better offenses in the league. Being the highest priced pitcher on the early slate against a good offense should help to keep his ownership level down a bit as DFS players may turn to Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber, and Francisco Liriano who are a little bit cheaper options.

*EARLY SLATE – Jon Lester (CHC) ($9,100) vs. Colorado Rockies – Against left-handed pitchers like Lester is, the Rockies rank 27th in strikeout rate, 30th in ISO, and 26th in wOBA. That’s a pretty attractive set of numbers there, isn’t it? Factor in that the Rockies just traded Troy Tulowitzki who is hitting .375/.403/.583 against lefties this season and they become an even worse team against left-handed pitching. And I can’t forget to mention that the Rockies rank 29th in the league in runs scored on the road. Add in one more bonus that this is a day game after a night game and the Rockies might even be resting some of their regulars. It’s just a phenomenal matchup on paper for Lester who has been pitching better as of late with not allowing an earned run in 3 of his last 5 starts. As the 6th highest priced option on the early slate, Lester just might be the slate’s highest scorer and best value.

*LATE SLATE – Clayton Kershaw (LAD) ($15,000) vs. Oakland A’s – The big question of the day is can Kershaw prove to be worth his exorbitant price? The man has simply been on fire with a 0.00 ERA, 0.54 WHIP, and 38 K/0 BB in 26 IP over his last 3 starts, which includes 2 complete game shutouts. The A’s aren’t the worst offense in the league, but they do rank in the bottom half of the league against lefties, and this is one of the toughest lefties there is. Kershaw really needs no other introduction and I think that he is definitely usable at the high price, especially because there aren’t a whole lot of other great options on the late slate.

*LATE SLATE – Lance McCullers (HOU) ($8,800) vs. Los Angeles Angels – The rookie McCullers has no easy task on Wednesday facing the Angels offense, but I would be more comfortable using him rather than Tyson Ross, Masahiro Tanaka, and Garrett Richards who are all priced higher than McCullers. This is a home game for McCullers where he has done much better this season with a 1.54 ERA and 1.03 WHIP as opposed to a 3.67 ERA and 1.28 WHIP on the road. However, he did do well against the Angels at Angel Stadium previously. With a 9.48 K/9 strikeout rate, McCullers had the big strikeout upside that we should target more often than not in GPP tournaments. And there is a possibility that he will get to face a lineup that doesn’t have Mike Trout who is nursing a sore wrist. 

*LATE SLATE – Jose Quintana (CWS) ($8,300) – Quintana will be up against a Red Sox offense that is already without Dustin Pedroia, and now they will be without Mookie Betts who suffered a concussion on Tuesday. Also, Brock Holt has missed the last couple games with a hyper extended knee and could be out again. The Red Sox rank middle of the road against lefties at 16th in ISO and 21st in wOBA, and their 7th best strikeout rate against lefties isn’t all too inspiring. But possibly without their three best table setters, two of whom put the ball in play really well, it’s a situation that plays favorably to Quintana who is coming off a complete game shutout of the Indians.

SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:

For the early slate, I don’t think the cheap pitchers are the way to go and I would have a hard time giving any of them a solid recommendation. I’m going to go with the aces and try to find values on offense.

*LATE SLATE – R.A. Dickey (TOR) ($6,500) vs. Philadelphia Phillies – For the late slate, I’m not so much a fan of any of the cheap options either, but I could possibly get on board with Dickey facing the Phillies. Dickey has an unimpressive 4.53 ERA and 1.29 WHIP and he’s been a bit better at home (3.95 ERA) than on the road (5.14 ERA) this season. He’s also been much better as of late, posting 3 strong starts in a row against the White Sox, Rays, and A’s. If his knuckleball is on then he can really dazzle hitters. But if he doesn’t have it working then it could be a long night. But if you want to squeeze Kershaw and his $15,000 price tag onto your roster then you’re going to have to save money somewhere. So perhaps Dickey can be that cost saver. 

THE NOT SO FAVES:

*EARLY SLATE – Ervin Santana (PIT) ($9,400) vs. Minnesota Twins – Santana has been pretty good with a 2.60 ERA and 0.98 WHIP since returning from his banned substance suspension, but he’s been inconsistent from start to start in the past and I find it very odd that he is priced higher than Jon Lester for the early slate. Santana might do decently, but there’s no justification that I could give to using him instead of the cheaper Lester.

*LATE SLATE – Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) ($10,200) @ Texas Rangers – Tanaka has a sterling 0.99 WHIP this season, but because of his proneness to the long ball (1.65 HR/9), his ERA sits higher than expected at 3.64. His start on Wednesday comes at Texas where there has been a lot of offense in the last couple days and it’s a stadium where the ball can really take off. Add in the fact that temperatures should be near triple digits and Tanaka could end up serving up a few more home runs. Perhaps Tanaka might have an advantage because none of the Rangers hitters have ever faced him before, but he’s been around long enough now that the Rangers should have a decent scouting report on him. Tanaka just seems like too much of a risk in a hitter’s park in very hot weather.

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 – Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals (Jeremy Guthrie) – Whenever Guthrie is pitching on the road against a team with some solid left-handed bats, that team is going to be a definite stackable option as a potential powerhouse. On the road this season, Guthrie has a 7.19 ERA and .394 wOBA allowed. Against lefties this season, he has a .398 wOBA allowed to go with 11 home runs served. The Indians happen to have 4 left-handed (or switch-hitting) bats that have really good track records against Guthrie as well. Because it’s a short slate and we need to differentiate our lineups even more to avoid overlap, stick with a 4-man stack and go with Jason Kipnis ($4,700), Michael Brantley ($4,600), Carlos Santana ($3,900), and Brandon Moss ($3,400). Though throw in Francisco Lindor ($3,500) if you so choose.

*LATE SLATE – New York Yankees @ Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis) – The Yankees have been scoring runs in masses in this series at Texas as they are loving the heat, and on Wednesday they will face a pitcher who can surely give up runs in masses, Colby Lewis. Lewis has given up double digit runs in two games this season and is just not a real threat usually. The Yankees bats should have a decent chance to stay pretty hot. Line up some combination of Jacoby Ellsbury ($4,400), Brett Gardner ($4,900), Alex Rodriguez ($5,000), Mark Teixeira ($4,900), Brian McCann ($3,900), and Didi Gregorius ($3,100). 

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.

*LATE SLATE – Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka) – As mentioned above, Tanaka is pitching for the Yankees against the Rangers and he has been giving up a lot of home runs this season, and of course home runs score the most points for hitters. Also, the weather is very favorable to offense, so the Rangers bats could provide some sneaky offense against a pitcher who is the 3rd highest priced on the slate. Consider Delino DeShields ($3,700), Rougned Odor ($4,100), Prince Fielder ($4,200)/Mitch Moreland ($4,000), Josh Hamilton ($3,000), and Shin-Soo Choo ($3,700).

*LATE SLATE – Chicago White Sox @ Boston Red Sox (Rick Porcello) – The White Sox have been hot as they have averaged 7.5 runs over the last 6 games, with at least 6 runs in 5 of those games. They’ve really come alive as Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera are finally coming around, and they will have another opportunity to be productive against Porcello who carries a 5.51 ERA on the season. Also, several White Sox hitters have matched up fairly well against the righty in the past. Porcello has been charged with 6 or more runs in 5 games this season and he has given up multiple home runs in 7 games, so he is no stranger to some blow ups. The general public still probably considers the White Sox as one of the worst offenses in the league, which should help keep their ownership down a bit, but they are really in a groove right now. Consider a combination of Adam Eaton ($4,000), Tyler Saladino ($2,500), Melky Cabrera ($3,800), Jose Abreu ($4,600)/Adam LaRoche ($2,500), Avisail Garcia ($3,600), and Geovany Soto ($2,500).

BONUS NOTES

  • *EARLY SLATE – Cubs should be considered as a stack against the Rockies and Eddie Butler.
  • *LATE SLATE – The Orioles are in a good position taking on the Braves rookie righty Mike Foltynewicz.

BvP (batter vs. pitcher) Specials:

  • Brandon Moss vs. Jeremy Guthrie: 7 for 16 with 3 HR and 1 double
  • Carlos Santana vs. Jeremy Guthrie: 11 for 25 with 2 HR and 4 doubles
  • Jason Kipnis vs. Jeremy Guthrie: 11 for 25 with 2 HR, 3 doubles, and 1 SB
  • Mike Moustakas vs. Corey Kluber: 15 for 31 with 1 HR and 5 doubles
  • Trevor Plouffe vs. Francisco Liriano: 3 for 5 with 2 HR and 1 double
  • Starling Marte vs. Ervin Santana: 3 for 3 with 2 HR
  • Jonathan Lucroy vs. Jake Peavy: 4 for 8 with 1 HR and 2 doubles
  • Adam Lind vs. Jake Peavy: 4 for 11 with 1 HR and 2 doubles
  • Geovany Soto vs. Rick Porcello: 4 for 7 with 2 HR and 1 double
  • Melky Cabrera vs. Rick Porcello: 10 for 20 with 1 HR, 3 doubles, and 1 SB
  • Gordon Beckham vs. Rick Porcello: 15 for 32 with 1 HR, 6 doubles, and 1 SB
  • Avisail Garcia vs. Rick Porcello: 7 for 13 with 1 double and 1 SB
  • Bryce Harper vs. Tom Koehler: 5 for 18 with 4 HR
  • Joey Votto vs. John Lackey: 2 for 3 with 2 HR

***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups

***All stats from FanGraphs

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