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 24, 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.
Jacob deGrom (NYM) ($12,000) @ Philadelphia Phillies – DeGrom has a 1.98 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 9.21 K/9 this season, so obviously he has been pitching at an elite level this season. In only 4 of his 23 starts has the Mets righty given up 3 or more earned runs. He’ll go up against the Phillies on Monday and even though the Phillies are a young lineup that has the potential to do some damage and has been an improved offense in the second half of the season, deGrom should be able to handle them just fine. It’s been smooth sailing for deGrom in two starts against the Phillies earlier this season (1.32 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 12 K in 13.2 IP). It’s really a no-brainer that deGrom is the top priced pitcher of the day and there should be no fear in rolling him out for DFS lineups.
Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) ($10,200) vs. Seattle Mariners – Iwakuma is the next highest priced pitcher on the board and he gets a quality matchup against an A’s offense that has really gone downhill in the second half. Since the All-Star break, the A’s rank 29th in overall wOBA and 27th in ISO. Factor in that Iwakuma seems to now be settled in after missing a big chunk of the season with a lat injury (4 strong starts in a row, including a no-hitter) and there really should be no big hesitation to use Iwakuma on Monday either. The A’s generally don’t strike out a whole lot and Iwakuma is rather mediocre among strikeout rate for starting pitchers, but that is not going to be reason enough to shy away from him in this situation. With deGrom likely to be very highly owned, using Iwakuma as your #1 SP may be a good pivot to save a little cash to use on some hitting.
SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:
Nathan Eovaldi (NYY) ($6,500) vs. Houston Astros – You wouldn’t really know it by his season 4.24 ERA and 1.46 WHIP, but Eovaldi has actually been rather decent after his June 16 start where he gave up 8 runs in just 2/3 of an inning against the team that traded him to the Yankees this past off-season, the Marlins. Perhaps that beating that he took was a bit of a wake up call for him to get things into gear. Since that game, he has won 8 straight decisions with a 3.29 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 6.85 K/9 in 11 starts, and one of those games was a start against the Astros where he went 6 innings allowing 2 earned runs while striking out 6. He hasn’t been striking out a whole lot of batters this season, but he does have strikeout per inning upside against an Astros offense that typically strikes out a lot — their 24.2% strikeout rate vs. righties is the highest in the Majors (though they have been better in the second half). It seems a bit risky to deploy Eovaldi, but his recent form and the upside of the matchup makes him a decent GPP play at the price.
Robbie Ray (ARI) ($6,300) vs. St. Louis Cardinals – After a surprising start to his 2015 season, Ray has regressed over the last month to a 3.38 ERA and 1.25 WHIP on the season. The regression was to be expected, but he is going to have a decent opportunity to put the regression period on pause on Monday when he faces a Cardinals team that is generally rather weak against left-handed pitching like Ray because of the presence of several left-handed swinging regulars (Matt Carpenter, Jason Heyward, Kolten Wong). For the season against southpaws, the Cardinals rank in the bottom third of the league in all the main applicable categories — 23rd in wOBA, 21st in ISO, and 25th in strikeout rate. A lot of DFS players may have kind of just written Ray off as a flash in the pan after seeing his recent form, but this does appear to be a sneaky situation to use him in GPP tournaments as a value play.
Kris Medlen (KAN) ($5,200) vs. Baltimore Orioles – The Royals finally decided that it was time to ditch the gas can that we call Jeremy Guthrie and he is being replaced in the rotation by Kris Medlen. Medlen was a young pitcher on the rise with the Braves a few years ago, but he underwent his second Tommy John surgery to derail him for a bit. He joined the Royals bullpen a little over a month ago and has been very good outside of his very first outing back from the DL, which he should be given a pass on. Outside of that first outing, Medlen has made 6 relief appearances with a 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 10 K/5 BB in 11 IP. He is likely to be on a pitch count (80 would be my best guess), so he may not go more than 5-6 innings, but with a price tag this low he can provide good value even if he doesn’t go too deep. It’s a risky play, especially against an offense like the Orioles, but definitely an interesting option.
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.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Detroit Tigers (Buck Farmer) – Farmer has just been downright awful in the starts that he has made this season — heck, he’s been awful anytime that he’s taken the mound whether it’s starting or relieving. He has an 8.39 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, and has allowed 6 HR in 24.2 IP. The Tigers are only inserting him back into the rotation out of necessity since Daniel Norris is on the DL with an oblique injury, so this isn’t a move that they were itching to make. This stack is likely to be a pretty highly owned one, but it is a really good situation for the Reds. Consider Jason Bourgeois OF ($2,000), Eugenio Suarez SS ($4,000), Joey Votto 1B ($5,600), Todd Frazier 1B/3B ($4,900), Jay Bruce OF ($4,100), and Brandon Phillips 2B ($4,000).
New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros (Scott Feldman) – While Feldman has actually done pretty well since returning from the DL in July, he is really nothing but a league average pitcher coming into a hostile and poor environment for pitchers on Monday at Yankee Stadium. This just seems like a situation where Feldman should be serving up a couple home runs and things could spiral out of control given that some of the Yankees hitters have had good success against him. Consider Jacoby Ellsbury OF ($4,400), Brett Gardner OF ($4,700), Alex Rodriguez 3B ($4,500), Brian McCann C ($4,100), Stephen Drew 2B/SS ($3,000), and Didi Gregorius SS ($2,800).
Pittsburgh Pirates @ Miami Marlins (Tom Koehler) – I had been calling for a Tom Koehler regression for quite some time because of the fact that he had been sporting one of the league’s lowest BABIP’s, which contradicted the fact that he also had one of the league’s highest hard hit rates. So the regression has come and has punished him by raising his ERA from 3.16 to 4.02 in a matter of just 5 starts. He should provide the Pirates with the opportunity to pile on the runs on Monday. Consider Gregory Polanco OF ($3,500), Starling Marte OF ($4,700), Andrew McCutchen OF ($4,500), Jung Ho Kang 3B/SS ($3,800), Neil Walker 2B ($3,600), and Pedro Alvarez 1B/3B ($3,200).
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 @ Philadelphia Phillies (Adam Morgan) – For the most part, the Mets offense has been a well oiled machine ever since the trade deadline when they acquired a few players to help what had been one of the most boring offenses in the Majors up until then. Over the last month, the Mets rank 4th in the Majors in wOBA and 2nd in ISO. A nice portion of that production just came in this past weekend’s series in Coors Field, but regardless, they were still performing much better even without that series. They’ll be taking their show to another road site in Philly where it’s also a good environment for hitters and using them against a weak lefty like Morgan seems to be a good spot with the additions of Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Uribe. The over/under line in this game is just 7.5 runs, so Vegas doesn’t expect a whole lot of runs, which makes this a sneaky looking stack. Consider Curtis Granderson OF ($4,500), Yoenis Cespedes OF ($5,100), Michael Cuddyer 1B/OF ($3,200), Travis d’Arnaud C ($4,500), Juan Uribe 3B ($3,200) and Wilmer Flores 2B/SS ($3,500).
Boston Red Sox @ Chicago White Sox (Jeff Samardzija) – Samardzija has been good in short spurts this season, but with a 4.64 ERA and 1.11 HR/9 allowed, he has been extremely hittable and susceptible to giving up runs in bunches. While he no longer gets the ace treatment anymore in fantasy, it wasn’t until last week where DraftKings finally caught on and lowered his salary price by a large amount. Lefties in particular have had a .345 wOBA with 14 HR against Samardzija this season. So be sure to deploy two of three out of David Ortiz 1B ($4,600), Pablo Sandoval 3B ($3,400), and Travis Shaw 1B/3B ($3,600), and then consider Mookie Betts OF ($4,500), Xander Bogaerts 3B/SS ($3,600), Brock Holt 2B/OF ($3,600), and Hanley Ramirez SS/OF ($3,700).
- Last time Joe Kelly pitched, I mentioned him as a cheap pitching option and he came through. He could be another cheap option again tonight. Remember, the reason that I mentioned him last time as an option is because he has been mixing in more of his offspeed pitches, which has evidently brought him better success.
- The Arizona Diamondbacks make for a very interesting contrarian sneaky stack. They will be opposing Lance Lynn who is a great workhorse, but he’s been battling either command or control issues for the last 5 starts with 15 BB in 25.1 IP. A couple of D-Backs hitters have some small sample size good career lines against Lynn as well. I’m actually liking this stack more and more as a contrarian GPP play the more that I look at it.
***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups
***All stats from FanGraphs