MLB DFS Strategy for Friday 8/14/15

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 FRIDAY AUGUST 14, 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.

PITCHERS

Nothing personal against Max Scherzer or David Price, but I’m likely to bypass them today because I see a couple of better values that I would like to try and score with. Scherzer at $14,600 is the highest priced option of the day going up against the Giants on the road, and while he hasn’t been doing terribly lately, he also hasn’t been dominant either. The last time that he scored over 30 points on DraftKings was 6 starts ago back on July 12 right before the All-Star break. Price at $12,300 is the second highest priced option, and while he shut out the Yankees for 7 innings last week, that was when the Yankees offense was in the midst of their worst offensive slump all season long where they only ended up scoring 9 runs in a 7-game stretch. But the boys in pinstripes finally busted out of it last night with an 8-spot against Trevor Bauer and the Indians. Don’t get me wrong, either Scherzer or Price should be usable, but I think there are a couple of other better valued aces to utilize.

THE FAVES:  

Corey Kluber (CLE) ($10,600) @ Minnesota Twins – Last time Kluber took the mound was against this same Twins team and I recommended him as the best value there on a day that he shared the mound with Max Scherzer, Chris Archer, Dallas Keuchel, and Jake Arrieta. That worked out beautifully as Kluber pitched a 1-run complete game with 10 strikeouts to earn 42.4 DraftKings points. Kluber once again looks like an excellent value here against the Twins who have the 6th highest strikeout rate and rank 28th in wOBA over the last two weeks. Kluber hasn’t been as sharp on the road as he has been at home, but Target Field is a decent pitching environment for Kluber to search for a repeat performance.

Dalls Keuchel (HOU) ($11,000) vs. Detroit Tigers – Keuchel is the next pitcher that I view as having more value than the top two priced guys, despite what appears to be an unfavorable matchup against the Tigers who are set to activate Miguel Cabrera from the DL. Yes, the Tigers with Cabrera are much more dangerous. Yes, the Tigers have the 6th best ISO and 2nd best wOBA against lefties in the league. But when Keuchel pitches at home, he’s a different type of specimen. At Minute Maid Park this season in 12 starts, Keuchel is 10-0 with a 1.26 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 90 K in 85.2 IP. Now that’s what I call some Tex-Mex home cooking! I’d much rather take my chances riding Keuchel at home for much cheaper than a not as dominant looking Scherzer. And I could see Price and Keuchel having similar output, so why not go with the player with the cheaper salary in Keuchel?

Jaime Garcia (STL) ($9,800) vs. Miami Marlins – Somewhat surprisingly, against left-handed pitching like Garcia is, the Marlins rank 7th in ISO and 4th in wOBA. But Giancarlo Stanton, who still remains on the DL, likely had a big hand in that while he was healthy. Without Stanton, this Marlins offense lacks a lot as they have ranked just 29th in ISO and 26th in wOBA overall for the last month. Garcia carries a superb 1.77 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in 10 starts this season. While he’s a solid pitcher when healthy, he’s clearly due for some regression. However, with an excellent matchup here, that regression seems likely to hold off. Garcia doesn’t carry a ton of upside because he’s not a big strikeout pitcher and the Marlins have actually been putting the ball in play at the 2nd best rate over the last month, but he’s still in a good position to go 6-7 innings allowing 2 runs or less while striking out 5 and getting a win.

SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:

John Lamb (CIN) ($5,200) @ Los Angeles Dodgers – Go with this Reds rookie making his Major League debut tonight if you really want to go out on a “Lamb.” Sorry, bad pun. But anyway, the southpaw Lamb was part of the package that the Reds received when they traded Johnny Cueto and he has been pretty good between AA and AAA this season with a 2.67 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 117 K in 111.1 IP. And though the Dodgers are still pretty solid against lefties, they have done better work against righties this season. There’s going to be a nice opportunity here for Lamb to provide a sweet return on the cheap price tag, and using him will allow you to chase after a higher priced offensive stack.

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:

There’s going to be several teams’ offense worth stacking on Friday, but we’ll focus on a couple of the usual suspects and then a couple of sneaky stacks. And I’ll also avert from listing the teams from the Coors Field game — the Padres and Rockies — since we all should know that Coors Field games have big offensive potential.

Houston Astros vs. Detroit Tigers (Alfredo Simon) – To put it simply, Alfredo Simon is a garbage of a pitcher. He has allowed at least 4 earned runs in 8 of his last 9 starts and has an 8.29 ERA and 1.89 WHIP with 9 home runs allowed over that time. Furthermore, he’s been much worse on the road this year with a 5.64 ERA as opposed to a 3.92 ERA at home. If you don’t fully stack the Astros, it still would probably be wise to get some exposure to them in some way. Consider Jose Altuve 2B ($4,900), Carlos Correa SS ($5,000), Carlos Gomez OF ($4,300), Evan Gattis 1B, ($3,900) Preston Tucker OF ($3,300), and Hank Conger C ($3,300).

Pittsburgh Pirates @ New York Mets (Bartolo Colon) – Outside of a couple of games where they were up against two of the National League’s better pitchers this season, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha, the Pirates offense has been a well oiled machine over the last week with a couple of double digit run games mixed in there. They’re in a good position to take advantage of the aging Bartolo Colon who has appeared extremely hittable this season, and they are pretty affordable, especially if you omit Starling Marte who is day-to-day with an injury and may sit out. The affordability should leave some good room to employ two of the higher priced value pitchers (Kluber and Keuchel). Consider Gregory Polanco OF ($3,900), Neil Walker 2B ($3,600), Andrew McCutchen OF ($4,800), Jung Ho Kang 3B/SS ($3,500), Pedro Alvarez 1B/3B ($3,400), and Francisco Cervelli C ($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.

Cleveland Indians @ Minnesota Twins (Trevor May) – Maybe this won’t come off as sneaky as it would have a couple weeks ago, but the Indians are a hot offense right now with 46 runs over the last 6 games. It’s pretty amazing that they are doing this without Jason Kipnis (DL) and trading away a slew of other players, but they’ve just been able to take advantage of mediocre pitching. Although Twins starter Trevor May showed some flashes of a potential breakout earlier this season, he ended up being bumped from the rotation and would still be lumped into the “mediocre pitcher” category. But probably more importantly is that while the Indians could get to May, May is not going to be in the game for too long as he will be on a pitch count of around 50 pitches since he’s not stretched out to start right now. The Twins will be turning to their bullpen early and things could get ugly from there. Consider Jose Ramirez 2B/SS ($3,000), Francisco Lindor SS ($3,500), Michael Brantley OF ($4,700), Carlos Santana 1B/3B ($3,700), Yan Gomes C ($3,300), and Lonnie Chisenhall 3B ($2,700).

Tampa Bay Rays @ Texas Rangers (Martin Perez) – It’s worked a lot this season to utilize the Rays against left-handed starting pitching as they are usually pretty cheap and the general public thinks of the Rays as a poor offense. However, against left-handed pitching, the Rays are 4th in the league in ISO and 5th in wOBA thanks to a slew of right-handed bats that perform considerably better against lefties. The lefty that the Rays will be opposing is Martin Perez who has looked better over his two most recent starts, but he’s just a run of the mill lefty pitching in some warm weather in Texas. Take a look at Brandon Guyer OF ($3,100), Richie Shaffer 1B/3B ($2,500), Evan Longoria 3B ($4,100), Logan Forsythe 2B/3B ($3,800), Tim Beckham 2B/SS ($2,800), and Curt Casali C ($3,300).

BONUS NOTES

  • Ubaldo Jimenez is coming off a great start to reverse an ugly streak that he was on. His matchup against the A’s appears to be a decent one and he is probably my favorite option out of the mid-tiered pitchers.
  • I’m not very keen on Alex Wood against a Reds offense that could do some damage against lefties. Wood hasn’t really been sharp at all this season and he’s not showing anything different since joining his new Dodgers team.
  • Julio Teheran is a much better pitcher at home where he will be pitching tonight. He could be given a chance if you’re feeling a bit risky, but his counterpart Robbie Ray for the D-Backs also could be given a look.
  • The Orioles, Mariners, Blue Jays, Angels, Royals, Phillies, Cardinals, Rockies, and Padres are all offenses that I could envision going off big today on offense — so they are all in play as stacks.

***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups

***All stats from FanGraphs

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