MLB DFS Strategy for Sunday 8/2/15

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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 SUNDAY AUGUST 2, 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 it is a Sunday and lots of regulars (catchers in particular) often get a day of rest for Sunday day games. So be sure to double check starting lineups, and on DraftKings there is the late lineup switch option so that you can substitute players in and out as long as their game hasn’t started yet.

PITCHERS

It doesn’t happen every day, but I think Sunday’s slate is a slate where the top priced pitchers are the top two options on the board and it makes sense to use at least one of them in any lineup.

THE FAVES:  

Jose Fernandez (MIA) ($12,300) vs. San Diego Padres – Things have been pretty easy for Fernandez ever since he came off the DL returning from Tommy John surgery. He has made 5 starts to go 4-0 with a 2.53 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 37 K/7 BB in 32 IP. His last start against the Nationals, Fernandez struggled with his control for the first time this season (4 walks), but that shouldn’t be something that becomes the norm for him. He’s shown very little, if any, rust from the surgery and this is just a very nice matchup for him. He will take on the Padres who are playing better since the trade deadline as they got a vote of confidence from their GM by not trading anyone away, but they don’t hit power pitching righties well and have struck out 21.9% of the time against righties (5th highest in the league). In addition, Fernandez is just simply amazing at Marlins Park. In his career at home, he is undefeated at 15-0 in 23 starts with a 1.19 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. He’s the top priced option on board, but for very good reason.

Sonny Gray (OAK) ($11,400) vs. Cleveland Indians – Gray comes in as the 2nd highest priced pitcher on the slate, and he’s coming off a nice month where pitched 2 shutouts in the month of July — one in his most recent start that came against the Dodgers and one against the same Indians team that he will be facing on Sunday. Although, technically it is not the same Indians team because they traded away a couple of their key left-handed bats to weaken their lineup against righties like Gray. Overall, the Indians offense hasn’t been terrible against righties this season (16th in ISO, 17th in wOBA, 7th in K%), but Gray does seem to have their number and I think he should be able to turn in a solid game again.

Jaime Garcia (STL) ($9,700) vs. Colorado Rockies – It worked with Jon Lester this past Wednesday (8 IP, 2 ER, 14 K), so let’s go with the same formula on Sunday’s slate and attack the Rockies playing on the road against a lefty.  That lefty is Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals. Garcia is a very solid and underrated pitcher, but his problem is that he just has trouble staying healthy for lengthy periods. He returned from the DL last week and did decently in a quality start (6 IP, 3 ER, 5 K) against the Reds, but the Rockies offense surely is much worse against lefties than the Reds. Against lefties, the Rockies rank 30th in ISO, 27th in wOBA, and they strikeout the 2nd most at a whopping 24.5% rate. Garcia is not a huge strikeout pitcher with a career rate of 7.12 K/9, but pitching versus the Rockies he should have double digit strikeout upside. Also, let’s not forget that the Rockies traded away one of their best hitters in Troy Tulowitzki and have one of the lowest runs per game average on the road in the league when they are not in that thin air of Colorado.

SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:

Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) ($6,800) @ Minnesota Twins – The cheapest that I would go on Sunday’s slate is with Iwakuma at the 16th highest priced pitcher out of 30. Iwakuma had a clunker of game in his most recent start against the Diamondbacks, but I really feel that he should be priced higher than this. The Mariners righty has made 5 starts after 2.5 months on the DL, and his DraftKings scores in the games where he was priced under $7,000 were 31, 19.8, and 21. His DraftKings scores in the other 2 games when he was priced over $8,000 were 2.5 and 4.2. He will be facing a Twins team whose players have just a .164 AVG against him with a 26.8% strikeout rate in their careers combined. Iwakuma seems like a nice option to pair with one of the top priced guys so that you have a decent amount of wiggle room in the salary cap to employ some of the more expensive bats.

THE NOT SO FAVES:

Mat Latos (LAD) ($7,800) vs. Los Angeles Angels – I’ve been on Latos for his last few starts because of the ramped up velocity that he was showing ever since he returned from the DL (knee) June 13, and he’s been quite good overall during that time with a 2.96 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 43 K/9 BB in 45.1 IP. However, over the last two games, his average fastball velocity has been down to the levels it was at prior to his DL stint when he was just downright terrible for the Marlins. He’s with the Dodgers now after being part of the 3-team/13-player mega deal, so he’s got a better offense to support him and maybe he’ll be amped to pitch for a winning team. But I’m not going to trust him this time around against the Angels pitching with the diminished velocity he is showing again.

Julio Teheran (PHI) ($6,900) @ Philadelphia Phillies – I believe that this is the lowest Teheran has been priced all season long on DraftKings, so the first thought that you might have is “Wow, Teheran is so cheap and it’s against the Phillies?! I have to use him!” Well, not so fast there. Yes, the Phillies offense has been one of the worst in the Majors against righties (and overall). Yes, Teheran went 7 innings without allowing an earned run against the Phillies a month ago. But Teheran has been super inconsistent, he is 1-5 with a 7.24 ERA and 1.81 WHIP on the road this season, the Phillies are surprisingly 12-2 since the All-Star break, the Phillies are averaging  5.57 runs per game since the All-Star break, and the Phillies have exploded in this weekend set against the Braves. It does seem like a strong value play, but I will be avoiding Teheran on Sunday.

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:

Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (Charlie Morton) – This game has a 1:10 PM local start time and all you need to know is that Morton is 6-25 with a 5.87 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in day games in his career. I suppose that it also helps that he has a 5.37 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in road games in his career. Check the lineup before start time, but for a Reds stack consider Brandon Phillips ($4,100), Joey Votto ($5,200), Todd Frazier ($4,900), Jay Bruce ($4,500), Marlon Byrd ($3,900), and Billy Hamilton ($4,000).

Baltimore Orioles vs. Detroit Tigers (Daniel Norris) – Norris is a talented left-handed pitching prospect and he was the top prize that the Tigers received when they traded away David Price this past week. He began the year in the rotation for the Blue Jays, but not surprisingly, he ran into some control issues that ultimately led to his demotion to AAA. At AAA, he wasn’t exactly pitching much better as he still was having trouble finding the plate. But the Tigers will call up him to start anyway and I would expect more of the same from Norris that we saw from him earlier in the year. The Orioles aren’t the most patient of teams at the plate, but they really don’t need to be all that patient to take advantage of Norris and his wildness. A player comparison that I like for Norris is Carlos Rodon of the White Sox. Both are young, talented lefties with good sliders, but both have shown some severe control issues. Earlier this season, the Orioles faced Rodon and got to him for 4 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks in 5 innings. So I think that Norris will struggle early on and/or run his pitching count up really high, which will force the Tigers to go to the bullpen early. But the Tigers pen has a bad 4.34 ERA this season (3rd highest in the Majors) and they are even worse now after trading away their closer Joakim Soria. For an Orioles stack, consider Manny Machado ($4,800), Nolan Reimold ($2,400), Adam Jones ($4,400), Chris Davis ($4,700), Matt Wieters ($3,100), J.J. Hardy ($3,000), and Jonathan Schoop ($3,600).

Chicago White Sox @ New York Yankees (Ivan Nova) – The White Sox have been one of the hottest teams and offenses in the league over the past week in a half to suddenly jump into contention for the AL Wildcard. Their hot streak has coincided with Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera finally looking alive at the plate, which has eased the pressure off of Jose Abreu. Over the last 10 games, the White Sox have scored 70 runs and they will look to put a hurting on Ivan Nova on Sunday. Nova has done decently since coming back from Tommy John surgery with a 3.38 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, but he can definitely be prone to a blow up game and the White Sox have been no stranger to handing out blow up games to opposing pitchers lately. A White Sox stack must contain Adam Eaton ($4,400), Melky Cabrera ($4,100), and Jose Abreu ($4,700), and also to be added on could be Avisail Garcia ($3,100), Tyler Saladino ($3,400), and Tyler Flowers ($2,300).

San Francisco Giants @ Texas Rangers (Martin Perez) – Remember last week when the Yankees scored 21 runs in a game against the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington? That game was started by Martin Perez who gave up 8 runs on 7 hits in 1 inning. It was Perez’ 3rd start back from the DL and although he wasn’t nearly as bad in his first two starts as the one against the Yankees, he surely wasn’t anywhere close to sharp either. The Giants are an offense that is finally at full strength for the first time all season and they should be able to produce some pretty good returns from here till the end of the season (health permitting). Joe Panik ($3,900), Matt Duffy ($4,100), Buster Posey ($4,700), and Hunter Pence ($4,900) are the main guys I would go with, and to be added on could be Justin Maxwell ($2,600), Brandon Belt ($4,300), and Brandon Crawford ($4,300).

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 @ Minnesota Twins (Mike Pelfrey) – I think that the Mariners will be a lower owned stack of the day since there are other ones that might look more attractive, and since the Mariners have in general been one of the worst offenses in the Majors this season. However, their offense is looking better as of late and that has a lot to do with the improved play of Robinson Cano. They will be going up against the ground ball pitching, lack of whiff getting Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey did pretty well over the first couple months of the season, but then he got smacked right in the face with a good dose of regression that was bound to come. Over the last 8 starts, Pelfrey has a 6.44 ERA and 1.87 WHIP, and he gave up 8 runs in 2 of those starts. For a Mariners stack, consider Austin Jackson ($3,800), Robinson Cano ($4,400), Nelson Cruz ($5,500), Kyle Seager ($4,200), Seth Smith ($3,50), and Mark Trumbo ($3,600).

BONUS NOTES

  • The Cubs could be a nice stack against Kyle Lohse, with Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber having a great matchup.
  • Normally I like to use a Rays stack against lefties and will include them as a “Sneaky Stack,” but Wade Miley has done well against them in 2 starts this year. They have the potential, but I will leave them off the “Sneaky Stack” section.
  • Mike Leake has been red hot over the last month, but I would be a little worried about him pitching in an interleague game at Texas for his new squad. He is a cheaper option though.
  • The Angels will be throwing an unimpressive rookie righty, Drew Rucinski, against the Dodgers. A Dodgers stack would be acceptable.

BvP (batter vs. pitcher) Specials:

  • Omar Infante vs. R.A. Dickey: 17 for 34 with 2 HR and 2 doubles
  • Todd Frazier vs. Charlie Morton: 7 for 15 with 2 HR, 1 triple, 2 doubles, and 1 SB
  • Martin Prado vs. James Shields: 4 for 8 with 1 HR and 2 doubles
  • Jedd Gyorko vs. Jose Fernandez: 2 for 6 with 2 HR
  • Victor Martinez vs. Ubaldo Jimenez: 9 for 27 with 4 HR and 1 double
  • Logan Forsythe vs. Wade Miley: 4 for 12 with 1 HR and 1 double
  • Melky Cabrera vs. Ivan Nova: 6 for 9 with 2 HR and 1 double
  • Jonathan Lucroy vs. Clayton Richard: 4 for 7 with 1 HR and 2 doubles
  • Anthony Rizzo vs. Kyle Lohse: 11 for 24 with 1 HR and 2 doubles
  • Mark Trumbo vs. Mike Pelfrey: 5 for 8 with 1 HR
  • Seth Smith vs. Mike Pelfrey: 7 for 14 with 1 HR, 1 triple, and 2 doubles
  • Carlos Gonzalez vs. Jaime Garcia: 6 for 12 with 1 HR and 2 doubles
  • Shin-Soo Choo vs. Mike Leake: 3 for 5 with 2 HR and 1 double
  • Daniel Murphy vs. Jordan Zimmermann: 19 for 56 with 3 HR and 5 doubles

***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups

***All stats from FanGraphs

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