MLB DFS Strategy for Sunday 8/9/15

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 SUNDAY AUGUST 9, 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.

***REMINDER: Check starting lineups before games start!

PITCHERS

THE FAVES:  

Corey Kluber (CLE) ($10,600) vs. Minnesota Twins – There are a lot of true fantasy aces pitching on Sunday (5 by my count), but Kluber is the one that probably represents the best value out of all of them as the 4th highest priced with a pretty nice matchup. It’s been a high scoring series in Cleveland this weekend so far (40 runs in 2 games), but both games were started by arguably each team’s most unreliable pitchers. Sunday’s game will feature arguably each team’s most reliable pitcher, and I would expect the offense to come back down to a much more reasonable level. The Twins have been one of the worst offenses on the road this season, ranked 25th in total runs and dead last in wOBA and AVG. Also, the Twins are generally a team that is more dangerous against southpaws and Kluber is a big righty. Kluber has some nice potential in this start to drop 35+ points.

Max Scherzer (WAS) ($13,200) vs. Colorado Rockies – Scherzer checks in at a pretty high price, but when does he not? He’s been priced over $13,000 on DraftKings for the past 7 starts after he pitched his no-hitter against the Pirates. Scherzer will face the Rockies on Sunday and teammate Stephen Strasburg returned from the DL on Saturday to pitch 7 innings of 1 run ball while striking out 12 Rockies. If that’s what Strasburg was able to do, then Scherzer is surely capable of replicating it or even doing better. The Rockies check in as the leading team in the league in both ISO and wOBA against right-handed pitching, but obviously most of that damage comes at home at Coors Field. Away from Coors Field, the Rockies have the 2nd highest strikeout rate in the league against righties and they have the 23rd lowest wOBA. Scherzer hasn’t recorded a double digit strikeout game since his no-hitter, but Sunday should present a tremendous opportunity for him to break that streak and come away with potentially 40 points. He’s the highest priced hurler, but he should be worth rostering at the price.

Chris Archer (TAM) ($12,300) vs. New York Mets – The Mets are a surging team and appear to have new life since the trading deadline (with Yoenis Cespedes being their big acquisition) having rattled off 7 wins in a row until they lost on Saturday. But during that streak they have yet to face a true ace like Archer and he has the ability to shut down any team. With Cespedes and a couple other new additions to the offense, the Mets definitely are an improved hitting team, but they still aren’t incredibly dangerous. Overall this season on the road, the Mets are 29th in ISO and wOBA, and dead last in total runs scored. Overall this season against righties, the Mets are 26th in ISO and 27th in wOBA. And let’s not forget the big strikeout upside that Archer has with his 10.90 K/9.

Shelby Miller (ATL) ($8,800) vs. Miami Marlins – In games that the righty Miller has started, the Braves have lost 7 in a row and 11 of the last 12, and Miller is on a personal 7-game losing streak. Some regression was to be expected from Miller after his hot start to the season, but he did make legitimate changes to his game this season such as adding a cutter and a two-seam fastball that have helped him to induce a lot of weak groundballs. So there certainly was progress being made in that regard and I didn’t (and still don’t) expect a full on implosion from him. And even with his team being victorious only once in his last 12 starts, he has pitched pretty well with a 3.15 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and 66 K/27 BB in 80 IP over that time. So on Sunday, Miller gets a good matchup against the Marlins who are on a pretty horrendous tailspin with a 6-game losing streak and a 5-17 record since the All-Star break. Against right-handed pitching this season, the Marlins have a ghastly .112 ISO and .286 wOBA, both of which rank dead last in the Majors. And although the Marlins lineup looks a bit different now, the last time Miller faced them he came within one out of a no-hitter. Miller’s going to have a great opportunity to break the losing streak and he makes for a solid mid-tier option that can be paired with one of the aces.

SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:

Jerome Williams (PHI) ($4,300) @ San Diego Padres – This is probably one of the wildest things that I’ll ever say, but Jerome Williams might just actually make for a decent cheap option. How does a pitcher with a 6.09 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in 17 starts make for a decent option? Well, he’s extremely cheap as the 2nd lowest priced pitcher on the board, so he really only has to give something like 6 innings allowing 3 earned runs or less with a few strikeouts (and hopefully a win) to achieve value. And over the last week, there aren’t really many other teams that have looked worse than the Padres who are currently on a 5-game losing streak. Also, even though it is a fairly small sample size, Williams has a very low .164 wOBA allowed to current Padres hitters, most of whom can be expected to be in the lineup on Sunday. This is far from an excellent, highly recommended play and it’s definitely not for those with weak stomachs, but what a genius you would look like if you start Williams and he goes off for 25 points.

THE NOT SO FAVES:

Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) ($9,000) @ Toronto Blue Jays – Tanaka has pretty decent strikeout upside against any team that he faces to give him a pretty decent ceiling, but his floor for points in this start could be pretty low up against this Blue Jays offense that has averaged nearly 6 runs per game over the last 11 games, which has led the Jays to a 7-game winning streak and 10 wins in the last 11. With the way that Tanaka has been prone to the long ball this season (1.54HR/9) and the way that the Jays have launched them out of the park (147 HR, 2nd in Majors), that doesn’t make for a very pretty outlook.

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:

Baltimore Orioles @ Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver) – Weaver for the Angels has been on the DL for a month and a half, but he will be returning to the rotation on Sunday. Never a hard thrower to begin with, Weaver has been struggling with his velocity all season long with a fastball that has been sitting around 84 MPH on average, which is more than 2 MPH difference from last year. With the loss in velocity, his strikeouts per 9 inning sits incredibly low at 4.56 K/9 and an increase in home runs allowed is also likely a causal effect of the low velocity. That means good news for the big Orioles bats that will be ready to launch some baseballs Sunday afternoon. Weaver’s done pretty well against these Orioles bats, but I think that all goes out the window in his first start back from the DL, especially since he didn’t look too sharp in his rehab starts in terms of control and keeping the ball in the yard (4 BB and 2 HR in 9.1 IP). Weaver has been giving it up to both lefties and righties, so for a full 6-man stack, consider Manny Machado ($4,200), Gerardo Parra ($4,000), Adam Jones ($3,700), Chris Davis ($4,200), Matt Wieters ($2,800), and Jonathan Schoop ($3,400). 

Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis) – It’s always fun to try and pick on Colby Lewis. It sure worked last time when he gave up 7 runs on 10 hits against the Astros. This game won’t be in a hitters park, but it’s still a nice matchup for the Mariners as they just have a lot of bats who have done very well against him in the past. Oddly enough, Nelson Cruz is not one of those bats though. We’ll still roll out the stack though including Cruz because he is just absolutely on fire with an 18-game hitting streak (.425 AVG) with 11 HR during that time. Consider Austin Jackson ($3,400), Kyle Seager ($4,000), Robinson Cano ($4,100), Nelson Cruz ($5,200), Mike Zunino ($2,200), and Brad Miller ($3,200).

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.

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds (Anthony DeSclafani) – It’s not incredibly sneaky, but there’s not a whole else on tap that I liked as “sneaky.” DeSclafani has been pitching well for the Reds lately and he’s been good on the road with a 2.41 ERA (as opposed to 5.40 ERA at home), but this is a road game that he could potentially struggle in. His home park is a hitters park and he hasn’t really pitched in many hitters parks on the road this year (just Coors Field where he did okay). So I think that he just can’t handle pitching in hitters parks as well. It’s a gut feel, but I’m liking the D-Backs chances here. DeSclafani has struggled much more against lefties (.341 wOBA), so any D-Backs stack needs to start with left-handed David Peralta ($3,400) with A.J. Pollock ($5,000), Paul Goldschmidt ($5,600), Jake Lamb ($3,500), Welington Castillo ($4,000), and Ender Inciarte ($3,600). 

BONUS NOTES

  • Jake Arrieta has been consistently producing at a strong level over the last couple of months. He’s definitely usable.

BvP (batter vs. pitcher) Specials:

  • Mark Teixeira vs. Marco Estrada: 2 for 5 with 2 HR
  • Edwin Encarnacion vs. Masahiro Tanaka: 5 for 10 with 1 HR and 1 double
  • David Ortiz vs. Justin Verlander: 10 for 27 with 2 HR and 4 doubles
  • Roberto Perez vs. Phil Hughes: 5 for 9 with 1 HR and 1 double
  • Salvador Perez vs. Jose Quintana: 14 for 38 with 2 HR, 1 triple, 4 doubles, and 1 SB
  • Jose Abreu vs. Danny Duffy: 5 for 13 with 1 HR and 1 double
  • Adam Lind vs. John Lackey: 16 for 35 with 6 doubles
  • Mike Trout vs. Miguel Gonzalez: 3 for 13 with 3 HR
  • Mike Zunino vs. Colby Lewis: 3 for 10 with 3 HR
  • Kyle Seager vs. Colby Lews: 10 for 23 with 2 HR and 2 doubles
  • Franklin Gutierrez vs. Colby Lewis: 6 for 16 with 2 HR and 1 double
  • Robinson Cano vs. Colby Lewis: 7 for 15 with 2 doubles and 2 SB
  • Austin Jackson vs. Colby Lewis: 13 for 31 with 1 HR, 3 doubles, and 1 SB
  • Jimmy Rollins vs. Charlie Morton: 7 for 11 with 2 doubles and 1 SB

***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups

***All stats from FanGraphs

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