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 AUGUST 5, 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.
Today’s article will focus on the main slate of the day, which features 11 games beginning at 7:05 PM EST/4:05 PM PST.
I think that the best way to go for this slate would be to choose one of the top 3 aces available and then pair him with one of the options that are listed in the “Sleepers for Cheaper.” There are certainly some mid-tier pitchers that are worth a look, but I’ll be sticking with ace + cheap route even though each aces comes with a caveat.
Matt Harvey (NYM) ($11,000) @ Miami Marlins – The Mets are rolling right now and they appear to be on a mission, and they will turn to their ace tonight to keep their hot play alive. The Marlins touched up Harvey for 4 runs in each of two starts earlier this season, but they rank dead last in the league in both ISO and wOBA against righties. Plus, the Marlins have only scored 23 runs in their last 11 games and only appear to wake up for games that Jose Fernandez starts for them. Harvey is also coming off a stellar performance against the Nationals and has been throwing the the hardest (in terms of velocity) he has all season long over the past 4 starts. The caveat with Harvey is that he has been bit by the long ball this season, especially against left-handed hitters as he has allowed a .324 wOBA and 13 HR to lefties this season. And the Marlins will be able to stack 5 lefties high up in their lineup. Still, their should be a decent amount of comfort starting Harvey.
Madison Bumgarner (SF) ($10,600) @ Atlanta Braves – The southpaw Bumgarner faces the Braves on Wednesday and they are a team that has really struggled to produce against left-handed pitching this season. Against lefties, the Braves rank 29th in ISO, 28th in wOBA, and they strikeout 21.3% of the time (15th in the league). The Braves recently lost their best hitter, Freddie Freeman, to the DL for the second time this season, and the first time they lost him, it resulted in an enormous slump for their offense. Yesterday was the Braves first game without Freeman this time around, and Giants mediocre starting pitcher Jake Peavy was able to handle the Braves pretty easily with 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. So imagine the type of upside an ace like Bumgarner could have in this spot. The caveat with Bumgarner is that two of the Braves right-handed bats that are very likely to be in the lineup today, Jonny Gomes and Chris Johnson, have pulverized Bumgarner in their careers against him for a combined 15 for 31 (.484 AVG) and 5 extra base hits. Bumgarner will have to keep them quiet to get through the night.
Johnny Cueto (KC) ($10,100) @ Detroit Tigers – Cueto will make his 2nd start for the Royals since being traded from the Reds and he will face the Tigers who are still without Miguel Cabrera and are now missing Yoenis Cespedes after they traded him to the Mets. The Tigers lineup still looks decent with the Martinez boys, Victor and J.D., anchoring it down, but it is surely missing a lot of thump now. In the 3 games since losing Cespedes, the Tigers have scored 2, 6, and 1 run(s), but the 6 was because they had the fortune of facing a super slumping Ubaldo Jimenez. With Cueto taking the hill, the Tigers are more likely to run into trouble than not. These Tigers hitters have collectively faced Cueto in 23 AB and have only scraped together 2 hits. The caveat with Cueto is that he is in the midst of that transition from the NL to the AL still and still may need to make some adjustments.
SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:
Luis Severino (NYY) ($4,600) vs. Boston Red Sox – Severino is a young righty who is the Yankees top pitching prospect and Wednesday will be his Major League debut. Severino has some big strikeout appeal, but his strikeout rate did wane to just 7.34 K/9 (in 11 starts) when he moved up to AAA in the middle of this season. However, his 11.37 K/9 in 8 starts at AA is indicative of what kind of upside he holds in that department. He works around the strike zone a lot as well and doesn’t issue a whole lot of walks, as he has been well under 3.00 BB/9 at every stop he has made in the Minors, which is a great sign for an emerging prospect. Severino is the type of pitcher that should be able to fool hitters pretty well in his first tour of the Majors since the opposition will be so unfamiliar with him and his electric stuff. He should be able to go 5-6 innings with a strikeout per inning, which would definitely deliver on his low price tag. He makes for a great option to pair with any of the three aces going tonight.
Drew Hutchison (TOR) ($5,400) vs. Minnesota Twins – I’m not in love with the righty Hutchison here, but I feel that he is worth a mention with his price tag being this low for a home start against a Twins offense that is around the league average and tends to be more dangerous against left-handed pitching. The Twins offense has a bit of pop against righties, ranked 12th in the league in OPS against righties, but they rank 25th in wOBA and have the 9th highest strikeout rate against righties. And though Hutchison has an ugly 5.42 ERA and 1.50 WHIP for the season, he has been pretty good at home with a 2.47 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Then factor in that he has the most powerful offense in baseball to support him and there’s a great chance that he will get those extra points for the win if he can last 5 innings. There is a decent amount of upside here to make Hutchison worth using at this price and in this situation, especially since he may come with lower ownership as the public may be scared off by his hideous season stats.
THE NOT SO FAVES:
Scott Kazmir (HOU) ($9,300) @ Texas Rangers – The Rangers lineup, which usually contains 4-5 left-handed bats, is the type of lineup that lefty Scott Kazmir can dominate and he has dominated them in 2 of 3 starts this season. However, both of the dominant starts came in Oakland and the one time he pitched in Texas he wasn’t sharp. With the weather in triple digits today in Texas, Kazmir might not have as easy of a time. He is playable, but be careful — I personally am laying off.
Carlos Martinez (STL) ($8,700) @ Cincinnati Reds – Carlos Martinez is another mid-tier option that might look attractive, but I will lay off as well. Martinez is now up to 124.1 innings pitched this season when his previous single-season high was 108 innings pitched in 2013 in the Minors. As he gets further and further from his previous career high in innings, he’s going to be a risky proposition and could see a dip in his overall performance. He’s already due for regression anyway as his high strand rate of 84.5% has been helping to keep his ERA below 3.00 when his SIERA and xFIP say he’s been more of a 3.30 ERA type of pitcher. Also, it doesn’t help that this start is in one of the more hitter friendly parks in the league.
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.
Los Angeles Dodgers @ Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Harang) – The Dodgers who have been one of the best teams against right-handed pitching all season long had a great opportunity to rattle off a bunch of runs against the gas can righty Jerome Williams yesterday in Philly, but they squandered opportunities and only scored 2 runs for the game. They will get a good chance to redeem themselves in a game against Aaron Harang, another righty who is prone to blow up games, and surely they can’t disappoint twice in a row, right? This is an excellent matchup for the Dodgers left-handed bats as Harang has allowed a .341 wOBA to lefties this season. For a stack, consider Howie Kendrick ($4,100), Adrian Gonzalez ($3,900), Andre Ethier ($3,000), ($), Yasiel Puig ($3,400), and Joc Pederson ($3,700). And because this stack is so cheap, they can surely be put together with two of the aces tonight.
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox (Steven Wright) – The knuckleballer Wright has been giving up a lot of home runs this season (1.66 HR/9) and he runs into a pretty potent Yankees squad. Wright just isn’t very good and the Yankees will have the opportunity to tee off. Jacoby Ellsbury ($4,600), Brett Gardner ($4,900), Alex Rodriguez ($5,100), Mark Teixeira ($5,500), and Carlos Beltran ($3,700) could do the trick. Though consider some of the guys at the bottom of the order to differentiate the stack a bit from the masses (because the Yankees will be highly owned).
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 (David Phelps) – Phelps has kept the Mets relatively quiet in 2 starts earlier this season, but as previously mentioned, the Mets are a team that’s on a mission and their offense has really come alive lately with Lucas Duda finally hitting again and the addition of Yoenis Cespedes. The general belief that the Mets are still a poor offense and their relatively high prices should help keep their ownership low as a stack, but they have the potential to string together a streak of runs like they did on Monday against Tom Koehler when I also listed them here as a sneaky stack. Consider Curtis Granderson ($4,500), Yoenis Cespedes ($4,900), Lucas Duda ($5,000), Daniel Murphy ($3,800), and Michael Conforto ($4,000).
- Gio Gonzalez at $7,800 is an intriguing pitcher option. His price has really come down and the last two times that he was priced under $8,000, he had two of his best three DraftKings points performances of the season.
- The Astros against Nick Martinez is a stack in play that will likely be highly owned though. Martinez has gone through his regression period and is just not a good pitcher.
- The Blue Jays against a pitcher making a spot start for his Major League debut is clearly a power stack that will be highly owned though.
- The Royals against the rookie Matt Boyd is also a strong stack. If you recall, Boyd got hammered by the Red Sox for 7 runs without recording an out in his most recent Major League start when he was still with the Blue Jays.
- I recommend the Giants as a stack as well. They have just been crushing the ball down in Atlanta this week and Williams Perez makes for a good target to tee off of.
- For the reasons stated above in the “Not So Faves” pitcher section, the Rangers and Reds could make for sneaky stack plays against a couple pitchers that should have pretty decent ownership levels.
- Adrian Gonzalez represents an extreme value at just $3,900 against a pitcher that he has owned in his career.
BvP (batter vs. pitcher) Specials:
- Bryce Harper vs. Rubby De La Rosa: 2 for 3 with 1 HR and 1 double
- Paul Goldschmidt vs. Gio Gonzalez: 4 for 6 with 1 triple and 1 double
- Yasiel Puig vs. Aaron Harang: 5 for 6 with 1 triple and 1 double
- Adrian Gonzalez vs. Aaron Harang: 10 for 23 with 3 HR and 2 doubles
- Anthony Rizzo vs. Jeff Locke: 6 for 18 with 2 HR, 2 doubles, and 2 SB
- Brian Dozier vs. Drew Hutchison: 4 for 6 with 3 doubles
- Jonny Gomes vs. Madison Bumgarner: 7 for 10 with 2 HR
- Chris Johnson vs. Madison Bumgarner: 8 for 21 with 1 triple and 2 doubles
- Josh Hamilton vs. Scott Kazmir: 7 for 19 with 2 HR and 1 double
***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups
***All stats from FanGraphs