MLB DFS Strategy for Monday 8/31/15

Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

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 31, 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

THE FAVES:  

David Price (TOR) ($12,000) vs. Cleveland Indians – All things considered, Price is probably my favorite pitcher play of the day. He’s got a home game against the Indians, and while the Indians have been decently hot with a 5-game winning streak and winning 8 of the last 10 with 5.4 runs per game, they haven’t really faced that difficult of starting pitching during that stretch. In fact, both of their losses and lowest scoring games came against two of the toughest three pitchers they faced (Jon Lester and Luis Severino). Also, the Indians are usually a team that handles right-handed pitching a bit better than lefties like Price, so I don’t see why the Blue Jays ace can’t turn in a good game in similar fashion. Price has faced the Indians three times this season (when he was on the Tigers) and he has a 0.42 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 21 K/3 BB in 21.1 IP against them — and that is when they arguably had a better offense. And Price also gets the added bonus of having that ridiculously hot and powerful offense supporting him, which has led him to a 4-0 record in 5 starts.

Chris Archer (TAM) ($12,300) @ Baltimore Orioles – Archer and Keuchel come in barely priced higher than Price and I also think that each of them carries a little more risk, but I still like them for Monday to an extent. Let’s take a look at Archer first. The Rays righty has had some rough games in August, but he also has a complete game 1-hit shutout sprinkled in there, so it’s not like he’s going through a major meltdown. Archer’s matchup against the Orioles on the road isn’t the most inviting, but the Orioles are pretty hit or miss from game to game and they are one of the easiest teams to strikeout (3rd highest K% vs. righties), which leaves him with the highest strikeout upside out of any of the big names today. Also, the Orioles are scuffling terribly right now with losses in 10 of their last 11 games with 3.0 runs per game. I think Price is the safest big name play, but Archer has some extreme breakout potential in this game.

Dallas Keuchel (HOU) ($12,100) vs. Seattle Mariners – It’s a home start for Keuchel and as I mention pretty much any time that he pitches, he is a ridiculously dominant force at home this season. At Minute Maid Park, the groundball machine Keuchel has a perfect 11-0 record in 14 starts and a 1.36 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 9.30 K/9 — compare that to 4-6 in 12 starts and a 3.35 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 6.49 K/9 on the road. The caution here is that he will be facing the Mariners. Now you may not know it, but the Mariners have actually been one of the better offenses in the second half of the season with the 2nd highest ISO and wOBA. Also, the Mariners carry some nice right-handed bats who punish lefties and/or have a good track record against Keuchel (Nelson Cruz, Mark Trumbo, Austin Jackson, Franklin Gutierrez). Then throw in the fact that Keuchel’s worst game of the season came against the Mariners when he gave up 3 HR for 5 runs in 6 innings on the road in Seattle. So I know that’s a lot of reasons to not like Keuchel, but his home stats are just too insanely good to ignore. With that being said though, we also need to consider the Mariners as a contrarian sneaky stack tonight.

SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:

Colby Lewis (TEX) ($7,800) @ San Diego Padres – Out of all the mid-tiered options, Lewis appears to be the most attractive to me. For the season, Lewis has a 4.38 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, but when he’s out on the road those numbers improve to a 3.71 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. That’s not surprising given the fact that his home park can produce some high scoring games due to the park factors and the hot Texas weather. So when he pitches tonight in the much more friendly confines of Petco Park in San Diego, Lewis’ potential should be pretty nice for his price, and let’s not forget that he also will get the fortune of pitching to the opposing pitcher instead of a DH a couple times. Against righties like Lewis is, the Padres rank 19th in ISO, 27th in wOBA, and 25th in K%. This all adds up to Lewis being a reasonably playable option.

Kyle Hendricks (CHC) ($6,700) vs. Cincinnati Reds – This isn’t a glowing cheaper recommendation given Hendricks’ recent form (5.40 ERA and 1.47 WHIP since the All-Star break), but he’s got a couple of nice things going for him here. This start will be at home where he has been a bit more comfortable this season with a nice 3.55 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 8.67 K/9 (as opposed to a 4.56 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 7.18 K/9 on the road). Also, he has faced the Reds twice this season, and despite allowing 5 ER in 6 IP in his last start against them, he has shown great strikeout numbers against them with 16 K in 11 IP — and of course we love the strikeouts for DFS.

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.

Outside of the Coors Field game that features the Diamondbacks against the Rockies, let’s take a look at some stack options tonight.

STACK ATTACKS:

Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds (Michael Lorenzen) – The right-handed rookie Lorenzen has 12.57 ERA and 2.32 WHIP in 5 starts since the All-Star break. Uh… wow. That’s pretty much all you need to know, but I’ll also go on to tell you that the Cubs have punished him for 9 runs in 9.1 innings in 2 starts this season and the Cubs offense right now (ever since Kyle Schwarber became a mainstay) against weak right-handed pitchers who can’t strike out many batters is a premium play (Lorenzen has 6.45 K/9). If you can fit it within the budget, let’s roll out Dexter Fowler OF ($4,400), Kyle Schwarber C/OF ($4,800), Chris Coghlan 2B/OF ($3,500), Anthony Rizzo 1B ($5,300), Kris Bryant 3B ($5,100), and Miguel Montero C ($3,600).

New York Mets vs. Philaelphia Phillies (Jerad Eickhoff) – The Red Sox were able to slow down the Mets offense a little bit over the weekend, but a rematch with the Phillies right-handed rookie, Eickhoff, who is making his third Major League start, should help them get back on track. The Mets were able to muster up 4 runs on 6 hits against Eickhoff last time, but they should have potential for more now that they’ve seen him once already. Eickhoff isn’t a terrible prospect, but he has been home run prone as a Minor League pitcher thanks to some high fly ball rates. Let’s take this opportunity to try and see if the Mets can repeat their home run magic from last week. With the wind blowing a little bit to right field tonight, some balls may be flying. Consider Curtis Granderson OF ($4,700), Yoenis Cespedes OF ($5,400), Daniel Murphy 2B/3B ($4,200), David Wright 3B ($4,400), Kelly Johnson 3B/OF ($3,200), and Travis d’Arnaud C ($5,200).  

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.

Seattle Mariners @ Houston Astros (Dallas Keuchel) – As mentioned above, Keuchel has been a beast at home, but creating a lineup that revolves around a Mariners stack wouldn’t be the worst of ideas given that they were able to hurt Keuchel earlier this season and they will likely field a lineup that consists of some quality right-handed bats that do well against lefties with a nice small sample size track record against Keuchel. Nelson Cruz is 6 for 12 with 2 HR and 1 double vs. Keuchel; Mark Trumbo is 5 for 10 with 2 HR, 2 doubles, and 1 triple vs. Keuchel; Austin Jackson is 4 for 11 with 1 double vs. Keuchel; and even though Franklin Gutierrez is 0 for 3 vs. Keuchel, he is hitting .350/.391/.688 with 7 HR in 80 AB against left-handed pitching. So there’s going to be some potential for the Mariners here to pour on some DFS points on a day where Keuchel should be pretty highly owned. This is a nice contrarian situation, so let’s consider the aforementioned guys — Austin Jackson OF ($3,500), Franklin Gutierrez OF ($4,100), Nelson Cruz OF ($5,200), and Mark Trumbo 1B/OF ($3,600) — and we’ll leave it at the 4-man stack.

Tampa Bay Rays @ Baltimore Orioles (Wei-Yin Chen) – The Rays will be facing a lefty tonight and as you may know by now the Rays are one of the most sneaky plays against left-handed pitching as they rank 4th in ISO and 5th in wOBA against the southpaws. And overall since the All-Star break, they have ranked in the top half of the league in offense after kind of trudging along in the first half. They have faced Chen four times this season and they haven’t rattled off any big games against him, but we can’t ignore their prowess against left-handed pitching — and they’ll be in a hitters park in Baltimore. Let’s consider the right-handed hitters Brandon Guyer OF ($2,800), Joey Butler 1B/OF ($3,000), Evan Longoria 3B ($3,300), Logan Forsythe 1B/2B ($3,600), and Tim Beckham 2B/SS ($2,600) and then also consider the lefty Kevin Kiermaier OF ($3,400) who has a good track record against Chen (4 for 9 with 1 HR and 1 triple). It’s an extremely cheap stack that can allow you to use the big tops tonight.

BONUS NOTES

  • Danny Salazar gets the misfortune of starting against the Blue Jays tonight and while he is able to get through any lineup in the Majors, it’s probably way too risky to use him at his price ($10,800) in this road matchup with the way that the Blue Jays are producing on offense.
  • The Cardinals don’t do as well against left-handed pitching, but Gio Gonzalez has struggled on the road this season, so I would steer clear despite the cheap price tag.
  • The Astros have stack potential against the lefty Vidal Nuno.
  • The wind may be blowing out to right field a bit at Fenway Park, which should give hitters an extra boost. I could see using a Red Sox/Yankees blend being a good idea.

***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups

***All stats from FanGraphs

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