MLB DFS Strategy for Wednesday 9/2/15

www.newsday.com / Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

http://www.newsday.com / Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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 SEPTEMBER 2, 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.

This article is focusing on the late slate for Wednesday.

PITCHERS

THE FAVES:  

Matt Harvey (NYM) ($11,900) vs. Philadelphia Phillies – Harvey is going to be my number one pitcher tonight when factoring in the price tag. Harvey will take on the Phillies and he’s got a few things going for him tonight. First, it’s a home game for him and even though he’s been fine on the road, he has been even better at home with all the Dark Knight fans cheering him on. At Citi Field Harvey is 7-2 with a 2.20 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. Second, over the last month with the Phillies having made some trades and losing their best hitter, Maikel Franco, to the DL, they have had the 5th highest strikeout rate in the Majors, which should give Harvey and his 8.38 K/9 the opportunity for double digit strikeouts. Third, Harvey has been in excellent form lately. He has pitched scoreless outings in 3 of his last 5 starts to compile a 0.78 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, and 33 K in 34.2 IP. I’ll rank Harvey slightly higher than Kershaw due to Kershaw’s price tag and matchup (see below) and I also would much prefer Harvey to Max Scherzer who is priced higher, pitching on the road, and has not been in sharp form since the All-Star break.

Clayton Kershaw (LAD) ($14,600) vs. San Francisco Giants – Kershaw of course is the best pitcher in the game, so naturally his price tag is through the roof as he comes in $2,500 more than the the next highest priced pitcher. I do think that he will turn in a good game, however, it just may not be super elite and I’ll tell you why. Kershaw has double digit strikeout upside on any given day that he takes the mound, but it should be noted that 9 of his 11 double digit strikeout performances this season have come against teams that rank in the top 10 in highest strikeout rate against left-handed pitching. So out of those teams ranked in the top 10 in highest strikeout rate against lefties, Kershaw has posted 12.44 K/9. But against all other teams, he has 10.15 K/9. If you narrow it down to teams who rank in the bottom 10 in highest strikeout rates against lefties, then that numbers goes down to 9.68 K/9. The Giants happen to be one of those 10 toughest teams to strikeout when facing a lefty, and Kershaw has failed to reach double digits in strikeouts against them in three starts this season. I think that Kershaw has an excellent chance to post over 30 points with something like 7 IP/5 H/1 ER/1 BB/8 K and the W, but I just think that Harvey has a great opportunity to match that at a much cheaper cost.

Cole Hamels (TEX) ($10,800) @ San Diego Padres – At the beginning of the season, the Padres offense was on fire against left-handed pitching with all those right-handed bats in their lineup. However, they have taken a huge turn for the worse in that regard and they now rank very poorly against lefties at 25th in wOBA, 24th in ISO, and 27th in K%. Then factor in that this start will be in a National League park at the spacious confines of Petco Park and things look even better for Hamels who has been missing life as a NL pitcher since being traded to the Rangers. Along with Harvey, Hamels makes for a decent pivot off of Kershaw on this slate that is loaded with big name pitching.

SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:

There’s not a single cheaper pitcher that I am overly excited about tonight, but there are several options that can be playable if you’re looking to pair one with one of the higher priced aces. Each has a decent amount of risk, but each has some positive aspects as well.

Yordano Ventura (DET) ($7,700) vs. Detroit Tigers – If I were to rank the cheaper options, Ventura would probably be my top one. Ventura has experienced some bumps since returning from the DL in July, including a horrible start against the Pirates that led to a demotion to AAA — but only to be recalled a day later by the Royals out of necessity since Jason Vargas got injured. Ventura has had a couple of poor outings mixed in since his recall, but he’s been lights out over the last 4 starts, which also includes a game against the Tigers who he will be opposing tonight. In those 4 starts, Ventura posted a 1.08 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 32 K in 25 IP with his velocity being the best that it has been all season long. So I believe that both the DL stint (to give him time to rest and get to full strength) and the demotion (to give him a kick in the pants) served as helpful things for Ventura. Also encouraging about Ventura tonight is that it is a home start where he has fared much better (3.82 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 9.10 K/9) and he will be opposing the washed up veteran Randy Wolf, which should give Ventura a good opportunity for a win. The risk with Ventura is that he could begin to struggle again and a few of the key Tigers hitters have good track records against him.

Taijuan Walker (SEA) ($7,800) @ Houston Astros – I would much prefer if this start was at home for Walker, but we have to consider him as a cheaper option against a strikeout prone Astros team. The last time that Walker faced the Astros he was able to rack up 11 strikeouts in 6.1 IP (3 ER, 5 H, 0 BB). However, that start was at home. The last time that Walker faced the Astros in Houston was a horse of a different story as he was bombed for 8 runs on 9 hits in 3 IP. So I’m not entirely confident in Walker here, but the upside exists.

Kevin Gausman (BAL) ($6,200) vs. Tampa Bay Rays – The pros on Gausman are that he has a very cheap price tag, he will be facing a Rays offense that typically does better against left-handed pitching (though they poured on 11 runs yesterday in a game that righty Chris Tillman started for the Orioles), and the Rays strike out a lot against right-handed pitching (5th highest K% in the league). The cons are that he has struggled to find any type of consistency from start to start and he can get blown up at any time. But for a cheap upside pick to pair with someone like Kershaw, he makes for a decent play.

Erasmo Ramirez (TAM) ($5,500) @ Baltimore Orioles – Ramirez has shown some regression since the All-Star break and he lacks the big strikeout appeal (6.71 K/9), which are the main caveats with him, but he will be up against an Orioles offense that is really struggling as they have scored just 2.69 runs per game in a stretch where they have lost 12 of their last 13 games. Ramirez gave up 5 runs against the Orioles a little over a month ago, but he actually pitched pretty well and it was just one mistake pitch that Chris Davis crushed for a grand slam. For as cheap as he is, Ramirez deserves some DFS consideration tonight.

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.

Let’s take a look at some stacks that are not including the Coors Field game.

STACK ATTACKS:

Kansas City Royals vs. Detroit Tigers (Randy Wolf) – How Wolf is still pitching in the Majors, I’m not entirely sure. He’s done fine in 2 starts this season, but he should soon get lit up if he keeps on collecting more starts for the Tigers. He’s a soft tossing lefty that doesn’t really have much strikeout appeal anymore, so the Royals bats should be able to expose him. If they do have a hit parade against Wolf, then that will bring on the Tigers bullpen arms early, which would be great news for the Royals since the Tigers have one of the worst bullpens in the Majors. Let’s go with Alcides Escobar SS ($3,600), Ben Zobrist 2B/OF ($4,200), Lorenzo Cain OF ($5,000), Eric Hosmer 1B ($4,500), Jonny Gomes OF ($2,300), and Salvador Perez C ($3,500).

Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox (Carlos Rodon) – As per usual, any time the Twins face a lefty, they have to be given some stack consideration since they are more dangerous against the southpaws. They did pretty well against Chris Sale last night, so maybe they can keep it going. Rodon has pretty good in the last month with a 2.48 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, but his control can elude him on any given night. Consider Brian Dozier 2B ($5,000), Miguel Sano 3B ($5,500), Torii Hunter OF ($3,600), Eduardo Nunez 3B/SS ($2,700), and Eduardo Escobar SS/OF ($3,700).

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.

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke) – This qualifies as a sneaky stack because I think that a lot of people will look at this game and immediately look toward stacking the Pirates against Zach Davies in his MLB debut. But we’ve seen it a lot where mediocre prospects stifle the opposition in their debuts since there is a lack of a scouting report on them. I’m not saying that will happen with Davies, but it should at least draw some attention away from the Brewers offense. The Brewers offense will get the opportunity to tee off on the lefty Jeff Locke who does way worse away from PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Locke’s road stats include a 5.61 ERA and 1.57 WHIP and he’ll be entering a hitters park tonight. Several of the Brewers right-handed bats have nice track records against him and that could lead to some good production. Consider Jean Segura SS ($3,500), Jonathan Lucroy C ($4,000), Ryan Braun OF ($4,800), Khris Davis OF ($3,700), and Domingo Santana OF ($3,000).

Seattle Mariners @ Houston Astros (Scott Kazmir) – Just like the other day when the Mariners faced the lefty Dallas Keuchel, we’ll want to give some sneaky stack consideration to the Mariners against the lefty Scott Kazmir. The Mariners lost one of their key right-handed bats when they traded Austin Jackson to the Cubs the other day, but they still have some other right-handed bats that can be considered as part of a stack. Let’s try out the righties Nelson Cruz OF ($4,900), Franklin Gutierrez OF ($3,900), and Mark Trumbo 1B/OF ($3,600) and then add the lefty Robinson Cano 2B ($4,100) who has 3 HR in 42 AB against Kazmir.

BONUS NOTES

  • With Scherzer’s recent form (5.09 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and 10 HR allowed in 8 starts since the All-Star break) and it being a road start in St. Louis, I’m staying far away from him, especially when considering that you could have both Matt Harvey and Cole Hamels in better matchups for cheaper.
  • Michael Wacha has a very nice track record against the Nationals, but personally, I probably won’t be using him. Though he should have low ownership and because of that I think he is an okay GPP play.
  • It wouldn’t entirely shock me if Trevor Bauer was somehow able to post a really solid game against the Blue Jays, but that would be one heck of a risk. If you’re feeling like going super contrarian at pitcher then roll the dice with Bauer.
  • On the flip side of Bauer, the Blue Jays are stackable given that they are the most powerful team in the Majors and due to Bauer’s propensity to give up the long ball.
  • As mentioned, the Pirates will be up against Zach Davies making his MLB debut, so they are in stack territory.
  • If you don’t stack the Mariners, you should at least find some way to include Franklin Gutierrez. He’s been on fire, destroying left-handed pitching, and he is 9 for 21 with 3 HR against Scott Kazmir.

***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups

***All stats from FanGraphs

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