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 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.
Collin McHugh (HOU) ($10,800) @ Oakland A’s – McHugh has been on a nice streak since the All-Star break with a 6-2 record, 2.29 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 7.78 K/9. So with a matchup against an A’s offense that has been one of the worst in the league since the All-Star break (23rd in ISO, 26th in wOBA, 27th in runs) and in a very pitcher friendly stadium in Oakland, McHugh should be in a good position to continue his solid performance. He doesn’t have the highest upside out of the pitchers on the slate because of his lack of big strikeout appeal this season and because the A’s possess the ability to avoid the strikeout, but I think that McHugh is the safest play and is good for a solid 7 IP allowing 2 ER or less with 5-7 strikeouts in a victory. His price has shot way up because of his recent performance, but I think he should be worth it here and is the only pitcher pitcher that is over $9,000 on DraftKings who I would feel safe using.
Julio Teheran (ATL) ($8,500) @ Philadelphia Phillies – Moving down toward the mid-tier, I’ll take another starter on the road with Teheran pitching at Philly. In no way can Teheran really be considered to be in solid form recently, nor has he pitched well at all on the road this season. But in the games that he has done well in on the road this season, they have all been against teams with offenses that can be labeled as “poor” — which the Phillies can be categorized as and Teheran has done well against the Phillies this season. He has come away victorious in 2 starts against the Phillies this season (one on at home and one on the road) with a 1.29 ERA. The Phillies offense is capable of stringing together hits and runs, but right now they are a team that is just using a variety of players to see what they have for the next season for their rebuild. Teheran is no sure thing here, but it’s also nice to see that his velocity on his fastball in his last two starts has been the best it has all season long. I would give him an opportunity, especially since he is opposing David Buchanan, who has been one of the worst pitchers in the league.
SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:
Kris Medlen (KC) ($4,600) vs. Minnesota Twins – Medlen still is dirt cheap on DraftKings thanks to his most recent outing where he got bombed by the White Sox for 7 ER on 11 hits. Medlen is coming back from Tommy John surgery, so some inconsistency and a blow up like that shouldn’t come as a total surprise. But he still is capable of a lot more and has a very good chance to exceed his projected value at this price. Even though he did get rocked in his last start, he ended up throwing 98 pitches after only reaching as high as 78 in his previous starts. So it appears that the Royals feel that he has rebuilt his arm strength enough to let him approach the 100 pitch mark, which will provide him the opportunity to go deeper into games (and score more points) as long as he can hold down the opposition. The righty Medlen will start at home against a Twins team that generally is more dangerous against left-handed pitching thanks to their big bats being right-handed. Also, the Twins rank poorly as a road offense as they have the lowest road wOBA in the Majors. At this price, Medlen looks like a juicy play where you can use some of the saved money on some big hitters.
Chris Rusin (COL) ($4,700) @ San Diego Padres – Rusin probably won’t be as popular of a play as Medlen, but they are basically priced the same and Rusin can offer the same type of output as Medlen, if not better than. He falls into a great scenario here where he faces the Padres in a pitcher friendly setting of Petco Park. The Padres have had a lot of trouble hitting lefties after the first month of the season, and they have fallen all the way to 26th in wOBA, 25th in ISO, and 28th in K% against lefties. Also, the last time that Rusin faced the Padres, which was less than a month ago, he hurled a complete game shutout against them. And to make it more impressive, that shutout came at Coors Field against a typical Padres lineup against lefties. Maybe that game was a bit of an anomaly, but it cannot be completely ignored. Let other DFS players worry about his season 4.78 ERA and 1.54 WHIP while you utilize him as a fairly low owned pitcher who is in a decent position to give value beyond his price tag. If you use both Medlen and Rusin in the same lineup, then you can spend over $5,000 per hitter on average and will have the luxury of utilizing basically any hitter that you want.
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.
Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays (Drew Hutchison) – Hutchison has been pretty solid at home (2.91 ERA and 1.10 WHIP), but he has been one of the absolute worst road pitchers this season (9.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP). So with Hutchison visiting Fenway Park where he’s given up 14 runs on 26 base runners in just 6.1 IP at that stadium this season, it’s a no-brainer to try and get some exposure to Sox players today. If you plan on stacking the Sox, consider any Sox player in the starting lineup and here’s a stack example: Mookie Betts OF ($4,900), Dustin Pedroia 2B ($3,800), Xander Bogaerts 3B/SS ($3,800), David Ortiz 1B ($4,900), Travis Shaw 1B/3B ($2,800), and Jackie Bradley OF ($4,800).
New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez) – Jimenez has been awful on the road this season (4.97 ERA and 1.61 WHIP), he has fallen off a cliff in the second half (6.88 ERA and 1.62 WHIP), he got rocked by the Yankees earlier this season at Yankee Stadium (7 ER in 2.1 IP), and several of the Yankees players have solid track records against him. With the way that the Yankees have been able to explode for runs in single games, especially since the All-Star break with 7 double digit run games, they should make for a strong stack play here. Consider Jacoby Ellsbury OF ($4,200), Brett Gardner OF ($4,000), Alex Rodriguez 3B ($4,600), Brian McCann C ($5,000), Greg Bird 1B ($4,700), and Carlos Beltran OF ($3,600). Alternatively, I would also consider substituting in Didi Gregorius SS ($3,100) and Stephen Drew 2B/SS ($2,600) for Gardner and Bird.
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.
Tampa Bay Rays @ Detroit Tigers (Kyle Lobstein) – Same story, different day. The Rays, who are one of the sneaky good teams against left-handed pitching, get to face yet another below average lefty that doesn’t strike guys out. Maybe people are catching on to the fact that the Rays can rack up the hits and runs against lefties, but given the presence of other strong stack plays, the Rays can still be considered sneaky. Consider Brandon Guyer OF ($2,900), Mikie Mahtook OF ($2,200), Evan Longoria 3B ($4,000), Logan Forsythe 1B/2B ($3,700), Tim Beckham 2B/SS ($2,700), and J.P. Arencibia C ($2,900). The caution with stacking the Rays though is that if it’s a close game then platoon guys like Guyer, Mahtook, and Beckham may be pulled early. But otherwise, it’s a very affordable stack that will allow you to roster some of the top priced pitching if you choose.
Atlanta Braves @ Philadelphia Phillies (David Buchanan) – Buchanan has made 10 starts this season and in those starts he has pretty much been the worst pitcher in the Majors with a 9.00 ERA and 1.96 WHIP. Much of that damage came in his most 2 recent starts, but he still is not a pitcher to be afraid of. What makes a Braves stack sneaky is the fact that the Braves have been the absolute lowest scoring team in the Majors in the second half by a very large margin (and have struggled to produce for most of the season). So even though they are going up against a gas can in Buchanan, ownership or Braves hitters should still be pretty low I would imagine. But even the lowly Braves offense has the chance to put the hurt on Buchanan. Consider Nick Markakis OF ($3,800), Hector Olivera 2B/3B ($2,000), Freddie Freeman 1B ($4,700), A.J. Pierzynski C ($3,500), Jace Peterson 2B/3B ($3,200), and Andrelton Simmons SS ($3,000).
- Jacob deGrom is the top priced pitcher and while he does have high upside, I would be a bit hesitant to use him on the road against a hungry Nationals team who are battling for their lives in a crucial divisional series. DeGrom hasn’t been terrible on the road, but it’s clear that since he entered the Majors, he’s been much better at home (1.63 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 9.72 K/9) than on the road (3.43 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 8.84 K/9).
- Stephen Strasburg also offers some high upside, but the Mets offense has been very productive as of late and once again he is returning from an injury — this time a back injury. He’s been a bit fragile this year, so I wouldn’t trust that he’s fully healed after missing one start.
- Josh Tomlin has come out of nowhere to be priced super high for a guy that has never had Major League success and has made just 5 starts this season. His 2.55 ERA and 0.71 WHIP are excellent, but he’ll hit a bump at some point because he’s home run prone (7 HR allowed in 35.1 IP). It wouldn’t surprise me if he turned in another strong start, but he also presents as a risk.
- Jeff Samardzija has done very well against the Indians in 2 starts this season, but he’s lacked strikeout appeal with just 6 K’s in 14 IP against them. The Indians put the ball in play pretty well, so Samardzija’s strikeout upside should continue to be limited here and he’ll be reliant on keeping the Indians off the scoreboard to produce well.
- J.A. Happ has been on a great run and might be a cheaper alternative, though I would be a bit concerned about this start in a hitters park where the Reds may matchup well against him.
- Joe Kelly has been on a roll since he began to mix more of his offspeed pitches in, but this start against the Blue Jays is a tough one and I would shy away from him and his streak here.
- If Nelson Cruz and Franklin Gutierrez are able to return for the Mariners, then they become a very stackable option against Martin Perez and the Rangers. Both Cruz and Gutierrez have been out of the lineup for several days now due to injuries, but both are lefty destroyers and could eat Perez up.
- The Royals also possess stack potential going up against Mike Pelfrey and the Twins. Pelfrey has been much worse on the road and is a pitch to contact pitcher. As the team that strikes out the fewest in the Majors, the Royals should have little problem rattling off hits against him.
- With Strasburg coming back from a back injury, I would give some consideration to the Mets as a sneaky stack against a high priced pitcher who should have decently high ownership I think.
***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups
***All stats from FanGraphs