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 AUGUST 3, 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 pitcher plays from Saturday worked out pretty well, but completely whiffed on the stacks as pretty much nothing panned out the way that I felt things should/could. So we’ll try better for Monday’s 10-game slate beginning at 7:05 PM EST/4:05 PM PST.
The pitching list for Monday is looking a little bleak with not too much intrigue, which should make things interesting and some weird combination of pitchers might end up being the best pair for the night. Because of this, I am only going to list one favorite pitcher play, one cheap pitcher play, and then see the bonus notes for some other pitcher tidbits. So on slates like this where there’s not many pitching options that appear attractive, it might be best to take it easy and not create too many entries into GPP tournaments.
Franciscio Liriano (PIT) ($10,800) vs. Chicago Cubs – Liriano is my favorite pitcher play of the day by a decent amount over any other hurler taking the hill today when disregarding the weather that includes potential storms in Pittsburgh. Though the Cubs have been improving their strikeout rate a little, they still are a team that is prone to double digit strikeout games against the big whiff pitchers (22.9% strikeout rate against lefties). And even though the Cubs are riding a 5-game win streak, Liriano might be catching them here in a convenient spot where it is possible that Kris Bryant might be sitting after undergoing concussion protocol after leaving Sunday’s game, and the left-handed hitting Kyle Schwarber may also be sitting since David Ross usually catches games that Jon Lester starts. Earlier this season, Liriano lasted only 5 innings against the Cubs, allowing 3 earned runs, but the strikeout upside was there as he punched out 9 hitters. As game time approaches we’ll have a better idea of what the weather will be like, and if there are still potential storms then Liriano would make for a high risk/high reward play.
SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:
Jesse Chavez (OAK) ($6,800) vs. Baltimore Orioles – Chavez is the cheapest that I would go tonight in his home matchup against the Orioles. All of Chavez’ bests games this season have come at home in the friendly pitching confines at Oakland where he has compiled a 2.33 ERA and 1.09 WHIP versus a 4.60 ERA and 1.40 WHIP on the road. The Orioles lineup can definitely put a hurting on opposing pitchers, but when Chavez is on point, he is very difficult to score on. The Orioles come into the night with the 3rd highest strikeout rate against righties (22.3%), which gives Chavez double digit strikeout upside in this game. Chavez isn’t a slam dunk play here, but he represents the best cheaper option to me.
THE NOT SO FAVES:
Garrett Richards (LAA) ($9,800) vs. Cleveland Indians – Maybe Richards can hold the Indians to a couple runs or less, but his strikeout upside would appear to be pretty low here, which makes his price tag look a bit too expensive. Richards has gone 8 straight starts where he has finished the game with less strikeouts than innings pitched and he’s up against an Indians team that has been pretty good at putting the ball in play this season with just an 18.7% strikeout rate against righties (7th best in the league). Richards’ strikeout rate for the season is a very low 6.68 K/9, which pales in comparison to his 8.75 K/9 from a season ago, and it almost certainly is a result of his diminished velocity that he has shown all season long.
Felix Hernandez (SEA) ($9,500) @ Colorado Rockies – King Felix puts up a clunker every once in a while as he has 3 games this season where he has given up at least 7 runs, and one of those games was his most recent start against the Diamondbacks. He will be pitching in Coors Field on Monday, which puts him in a position to potentially get blown up once more since we all should know that the thin air of Coors Field inflates offensive production. Visiting ace pitchers can surely come in and succeed at Coors Field (Johnny Cueto did it a couple weeks ago), but this will be Felix’s first time ever pitching in Coors Field, so he may not be all too familiar with how to deal with the conditions. Felix should be very low owned in GPP tournaments, but I don’t think the risk in using him here is worth the reward.
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.
Houston Astros @ Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis) – Lewis has done pretty well against the Astros in 3 starts this season, but he’s surely prone to a blow up game and the Astros are bound to light him up one of these times. Although Carlos Correa ($5,300) at shortstop is very expensive on DraftKings, he’s been playing very well and he took Lewis yard in their last meeting. To go with Correa, consider Jose Altuve ($4,500), Carlos Gomez ($4,100), and Preston Tucker ($3,600) for a 4-man stack, and then I would add the left-handed bats of Luis Valbuena ($3,800) and Colby Rasmus ($3,400) for the full 6-man stack (Lewis does not do well against lefties).
Seattle Mariners @ Colorado Rockies (Eddie Butler) – The prices on Mariners hitters are very inflated due to the visit to Coors Field, but rightfully so and they have to be given stack consideration. Robinson Cano ($5,000), Kyle Seager ($4,700), and Brad Miller ($3,800) have strokes that should play very well at Coors, and obviously Nelson Cruz ($5,900) has monster potential in this spot as well. Then there’s Mark Trumbo ($4,000) who has hit .316 with 8 HR and 20 RBI in 10 career games at Coors Fieldr. And Seth Smith ($3,900) began his career with the Rockies and has had great success at Coors Field with a line of .299/.373/.575 and homering every 18 AB.
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.
New York Mets @ Miami Marlins (Tom Koehler) – I think that this is a very sneaky play on the Mets offense here against Koehler. Koehler has a nice looking 3.38 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, but he owns the 3rd highest hard hit rate in the league at 34.8% yet he has the 8th lowest BABIP at .251. That definitely does not add up and he should be in for some regression toward his current SIERA and xFIP marks that sit nearly one full run higher than his ERA. Koehler has faced the Mets twice this season lasting just 3.1 innings in each start, giving up 5 runs and 7 runs. The Mets offense has been showing recent signs of life and it starts with Lucas Duda ($4,6000 who is suddenly on a home run barrage (9 HR in the last 8 games) after slumping for nearly two months, and they added some extra thump by trading for Yoenis Cespedes ($4,600). In addition to Duda and Cespedes, consider stacking on Curtis Granderson ($4,100), Daniel Murphy ($3,400), Kelly Johnson ($3,100), and Travis D’Arnaud ($4,300).
Tampa Bay Rays @ Chicago White Sox (Jose Quintana) – The Rays have a knack for punishing left-handed pitching this season as they rank 4th in ISO and 6th in wOBA against lefties like Quintana is, and Rays hitters tend to be lower owned than most other stacks. And they get the added bonus here of traveling to a hitters park in Chicago and getting the guaranteed full 9 innings of at bats as the visiting team. Brandon Guyer ($2,900), Logan Forsythe ($3,600), Evan Longoria ($3,700), and Joey Butler ($3,200) make for a very cheap and sneaky 4-man stack.
- Corey Kluber will be pitching at Angel Stadium and he runs into the Angels at a great time where they are on a 6-game losing streak. He’s definitely playable today.
- Jon Lester has been pitching well as of late and I think he is playable today, but the Pirates can string together hit parades against lefties.
- Tyson Ross is catching the Brewers at a good time as they appear to be a little lifeless on offense since trading away a couple of their key players. However, in small sample size, Ross has not done well against these Brewers hitters and he’s got some serious control issues at times. It is a high risk/high reward situation if you can stomach it.
- Lance McCullers makes for an intriguing play on this slate. I don’t love the matchup against the Rangers, who do better against righties, and the game is at Texas in good hitting conditions. But the upside is there to make him playable.
- On paper, I think this is a pretty decent matchup for Nathan Karns against the White Sox, but the White Sox offense has just been very hot lately and I wouldn’t feel all too comfortable going with Karns to try and bust that trend. However, I wouldn’t necessarily completely avoid him since he comes rather cheap.
- Matt Cain is another possible cheaper option pitching at Atlanta. He’s been a bit inconsistent since coming off the DL, but the matchup is decent.
- The Rockies at home are obviously a stack option, even against King Felix.
- I think the Giants are stackable against Mike Foltynewicz.
- Zack Godley has done well in his first two Major League starts, but he’s really not that great of a pitcher and tonight could be the night where he gets lit up by the Nationals. Nationals are in play for a stack.
- Justin Bour ($2,700) is a solid cheap first base option. I think he matches up well against Bartolo Colon and has a good chance of taking him deep.
BvP (batter vs. pitcher) Specials:
- Jose Reyes vs. Felix Hernandez: 6 for 12 with 1 HR and 1 SB
- Adam Lind vs. Tyson Ross: 3 for 3 with 1 HR
- Khris Davis vs. Tyson Ross: 3 for 4 with 1 HR
- Logan Forsythe vs. Jose Quintana: 2 for 3 with 1 HR and 1 double
- Avisail Garcia vs. Nathan Karns: 2 for 6 with 2 HR
***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups
***All stats from FanGraphs