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 SEPTEMBER 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.
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) ($15,500) vs. Colorado Rockies – Kershaw is priced $4,100 more than any other pitcher on the slate, but for very good reason. Kershaw has massive potential in a dream matchup against the Rockies in Los Angeles. Against left-handed pitching, the Rockies rank 27th in wOBA, 28th in ISO, and 28th in K%. Also, when they are on the road away from their hitters paradise in the thin air of Colorado, the Rockies are significantly worse ranking 28th in the Majors in runs scored. Kershaw hasn’t done well against the Rockies this season with a 4.02 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 4 starts against them, but all of those starts happened within the first 2 months of the season when Kershaw was “slumping.” It’s very much within reason to hope for a complete game shutout with 14 K’s from the Dodgers ace and I think that he is a near must play even with the hefty price tag.
Garrett Richards (LAA) ($9,800) @ Seattle Mariners – Richards is coming off a game against the Dodgers where he logged a career high in strikeouts (11) and his velocity in his last 2 starts has been the best that it’s been all season long. Remember that Richards suffered a serious injury last year that ended his season early and it’s likely something that affected him for this season as well because his velocity has been down on average. So to see his velocity strong as of late is a great sign and possibly an indicator that he is finally at full strength again. Richards will be pitching against the Mariners in Seattle and they have the 4th highest strikeout rate against righties and generally do better against left-handed pitching thanks to some strong right-handed bats like Nelson Cruz, Franklin Gutierrez, and Mark Trumbo. At the price and his current form, I think Richards makes for a strong play if you are hesitant to pay up for Kershaw.
Sonny Gray (OAK) ($11,400) @ Chicago White Sox – The White Sox rank 23rd in wOBA and 28th in ISO against right-handed pitching and they run in the middle of the pack in strikeout rate at 15th. Those numbers are attractive enough to fire away with Sonny Gray tonight if you choose. I’m always a bit weary to use Gray though because he does lack the big strikeout upside as his 7.24 K/9 on the season is very mediocre. It’s a nice matchup, but I would much rather pony up the bucks for Kershaw’s incredible upside or save money by going with Richards who should have a good chance to duplicate Gray’s production.
SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:
Logan Verrett (NYM) ($4,100) vs. Miami Marlins – If you do want to use Kershaw tonight, then you’re going to need to save some money somewhere and it might be best to save that money with your second starting pitcher. Logan Verrett has been a reliever for the Mets this season, but he has been a starter throughout his Minor League career and he made one spot start for the Mets recently. In that lone spot start, he posted 8 IP/4 H/1 ER/1 BB/8 K in a win over the Rockies at Coors Field. Yes, at Coors Field of all places. He’s not the greatest of prospects but the 25-year old righty could find some more success against a Marlins team that ranks 30th in wOBA and 29th in ISO against right-handed pitching. If he can go 6 IP/5 H/2 ER/2 BB/5 K (or better), then that would be excellent return on the investment. If you pair Kershaw and Verrett together, there’s still a good amount of salary room left to build a nice looking offense.
Erasmo Ramirez (TAM) ($5,900) vs. New York Yankees – Another cheaper option (but a bit more expensive than Verrett) is Ramirez of the Rays. Ramirez hasn’t been in the best form of late and the Yankees can be a pretty dangerous offense, but he has had success in a couple of starts against the Bronx Bombers this season and this is a home start where he has been much more comfortable this season (2.71 ERA and 1.02 WHIP at home vs. 5.03 ERA and 1.28 WHIP on the road). Verrett is the preferred cheaper option due to his price and matchup, but that also may mean that he could have higher ownership rates in tournaments, so Ramirez could be a solid pivot play.
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.
New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins (Justin Nicolino) – Over the last 23 games, the Mets offense has averaged a whopping 7.26 runs per game. They have been rocking all sorts of pitchers no matter the handedness and tonight they get the great fortune to face a soft-tossing lefty that doesn’t strike out many batters (2.98 K/9). Nicolino has a decent 3.72 ERA, but his 5.15 xFIP tells the true story about his talent level. Consider Juan Lagares OF ($2,800), David Wright 3B ($4,300), Yoenis Cespedes OF ($5,600), Travis d’Arnaud C ($4,800), Michael Cuddyer 1B/OF ($3,300), and Wilmer Flores 2B/SS ($3,400). Cespedes is batting .333 with 14 HR in the last 23 games and should have the opportunity for another big game.
Minnsota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers (Kyle Lobstein) – The Twins can really put a rocking on those lefties (see what they did to Chris Sale on Sunday), so up against a very unimpressive one like Lobstein is with his 5.31 ERA, the Twins have some big time stack appeal in this home game. Then if the Twins can put a beating on Lobstein early, the Tigers will turn to their bullpen that ranks as one of the worst in the league, which will give the Twins the chance for double digits in runs. Target those Twins right-handed/switch-hitting bats and consider Aaron Hicks OF ($3,600), Brian Dozier 2B ($4,300), Miguel Sano 3B ($4,800), Torii Hunter OF ($3,500), and Eduardo Escobar SS/OF ($3,100). If you want to save some money and be more contrarian, then utilize Trevor Plouffe 3B ($4,000) instead of Sano in this stack, as it profiles as a great matchup for Plouffe as well.
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 vs. New York Yankees (C.C. Sabathia) – Once again, it’s those Rays against a lefty — a washed up lefty with a 5.16 ERA. As you may know by now, the Rays are a top 5 team in the league against left-handed pitching, so they are a pretty sneaky play since the Rays aren’t really considered an offensive juggernaut. Let’s load up on those righties! Evan Longoria 3B ($3,800) and Logan Forsythe 1B/2B ($3,500) are must plays as they both have very strong track records against Sabathia, and then also consider Mikie Mahtook OF ($2,400), Asdrubal Cabrera SS ($3,300), Steven Souza OF ($3,300), and J.P. Arencibia C ($2,600).
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres (James Shields) – James Shields is a very solid pitcher, but this season he has had some road struggles with a 4.68 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. So pitching in the hitter friendly confines of Chase Field tonight doesn’t profile very well for him, especially with the rate that he’s given up home runs this season (1.43 HR/9). If he’s off with his command tonight, then it could be bombs away for the D-Backs main core of hitters as they launched 4 HR off Shields in a game earlier this season. Let’s take a look at A.J. Pollock OF ($4,400), Ender Inciarte OF ($3,700), Paul Goldschmidt 1B ($5,000), David Peralta OF ($3,700), Welington Castillo C ($3,200), and Jake Lamb 3B ($3,200).
***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups
***All stats from FanGraphs