Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
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 16, 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.
Jake Arrieta (CHC) ($14,000) @ Pittsburgh Pirates – Arrieta is absolutely locked in right now as he has a 0.46 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, and 57 K in 58.1 IP with an 8-0 record in 8 starts since the beginning of August. The Cubs ace has also been super dominant on the road this season going 12-1 with a 1.72 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 117 K in 110 IP. The Pirates rank in the bottom half of the league in wOBA, ISO, and K% against righties, and Arrieta has also silenced them very well this season with a 0.86 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and 19 K in 21 IP in 3 starts. This all adds up for Arrieta to have a good game and I would be rather surprised if he did something mediocre or worse. The price and the matchup against a winning team might scare some away and hopefully that is the case so that all of us who use Arrieta can do so at a lower ownership level.
David Price (TOR) ($12,500) @ Atlanta Braves – Over the last month, the Braves are a pitiful 4-24 and have been held to 0 or 1 run in 9 of those games. In the second half of the season, the Braves rank dead last in wOBA and ISO and for the whole season they rank 27th in wOBA and 29th in ISO against left-handed pitching. The Braves don’t strike out a whole lot as a team, but with some good pitch efficiency, Price could flirt with a complete game shutout in a National League park where he gets the added benefit of facing the pitcher instead of a DH like he’s used to. Price joins Arrieta as one of the elite pitcher plays of the day.
Bartolo Colon (NYM) ($8,200) vs. Miami Marlins – Colon is surely no strikeout machine at this stage of his career, but he is pretty crafty and can be dominant at times if he is hitting his spots. He’s faced the Marlins 4 times this season to compile a 2.33 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 16 K in 37.2 IP, which includes a complete game shutout against them a couple of weeks ago. He’s surely not the most attractive of options (in more ways than one possibly), but he can get the job done against a weak offense like the Marlins.
SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER
Alex Wood (LAD) ($6,600) vs. Colorado Rockies – I said it on Monday when Clayton Kershaw took the hill for the Dodgers — the Rockies are one of the lowest scoring teams in the league on the road and they are also one of the worst teams in the league against left-handed pitching in terms of wOBA and K%. Kershaw didn’t turn in the super dominant game that I thought he would, but he still came away with a very solid performance. Like Kershaw, Wood is a lefty and will be starting at home against the Rockies. Wood got rocked in his last outing by the D-Backs, but this is a much more favorable matchup and stadium that he’ll be pitching in, and he is also coming at a very reasonable price. At just 6.79 K/9, he hasn’t been logging the strikeouts like he has in the past couple of seasons where he was close to a strikeout per inning, but he should have the opportunity to come away with 6 or 7 K in 6 IP in this one. After all, another fellow lefty teammate of his, Brett Anderson, logged 8 K’s against the Rockies last night.
Erik Johnson (CWS) ($4,400) vs. Oakland A’s – If you want to go super cheap for a SP2 punt type of play, check out Erik Johnson of the White Sox as the 5th cheapest pitcher on a full slate. The A’s pummeled White Sox pitching last night, so there should be some recency bias where people will think that the A’s are hot and avoid using Johnson as a cheap punt play. Admittedly, I would be a little bit frightened of using Johnson as well, but I might be rolling him out in some lineups in order to fit in Arrieta and/or Price and still have enough salary to field a good looking offense. Johnson has made 2 starts since being called up and has a 3.27 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 9 K in 11 IP, and he showed solid numbers at AAA with a 2.37 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 9.23 K/9. The A’s don’t strike out a whole lot as a team, so the upside may be limited, but he could come away with a strikeout per inning and a victory.
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.
There are several teams that I think are stackable today. The Mets and Twins are nice plays against lefties on this slate, but I just mentioned both of them in my most recent article from Monday. So for the Stack Attacks today, I am going to highlight a couple different teams.
Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies (Alec Asher) – The rookie Asher has always been an extreme fly ball pitcher in the Minors and he has carried that over to the Majors as well, which has translated to lots of home runs allowed. In 24 Minor League starts this season, Asher’s HR allowed rate was high at 1.48 HR/9, and in his short time in the Majors he has allowed a whopping 3.14 HR/9 in 3 Major League starts. Pitching in a pitcher friendly park against a team with some good pop makes the Nationals look like a pretty good stack here, and it would be somewhat surprising if Bryce Harper wasn’t able to come away with a HR against him. Consider Anthony Rendon 2B/3B ($4,000), Yunel Escobar 3B/SS ($4,100), Bryce Harper OF ($5,900), Jayson Werth OF ($4,300), Clint Robinson 1B/OF ($2,500), and Ian Desmond SS ($3,400).
Houston Astros @ Texas Rangers (Martin Perez) – The Astros carry a lot of right-handed bats, so it is no accident that they have the 2nd highest ISO in the Majors against left-handed pitching. That means that the lefty Perez could be in some trouble. Perez is pretty good at keeping the ball in the park with some extreme ground ball tendencies this season (61% ground ball rate), but the Astros could see a lot of doubles against him while hopefully popping a HR or two before an early exit for Perez. Perez’ 5.43 ERA and 1.50 WHIP are hardly numbers to brag about. Consider George Springer OF ($4,500), Jose Altuve 2B ($5,400), Carlos Correa SS ($5,100), Evan Gattis 1B ($4,100)/Chris Carter 1B ($3,500), Marwin Gonzalez 3B/SS ($3,100), and Jake Marisnick OF ($3,000).
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. St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia) – On paper, Jaime Garcia has an excellent matchup as he is facing a Brewers team who he has only allowed 1 ER to in 2 starts this season and the Brewers are missing Jonathan Lucroy from their lineup due to a concussion. I would be all over Garcia here as a solid pitching option, but he is coming off his worst start of the season where his velocity was significantly lower than it has been all season long. His average velocity on is fastball had been 90 MPH or better in each of his starts this season, but it dipped all the way down to the 88 MPH range in his last start. It’s entirely possible that the very injury prone Garcia is dealing with some sort of injury or fatigue and this could be a sneaky chance for the Brewers to exploit that. This would be a pretty contrarian play and could turn out nicely if Garcia is in fact ailing. Consider Jean Segura SS ($3,800), Khris Davis OF ($3,700), Ryan Braun OF ($4,800), Adam Lind 1B ($4,200), and Domingo Santana OF ($3,500).
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres (Andrew Cashner) – For whatever reason, Cashner just has not been sharp this season despite finally being healthy for a full year, but like Jeff Samardzija (who got destroyed yesterday by the A’s), people still think of him as a decent pitcher so this could be a sneaky stack. It won’t be as sneaky as the A’s against Samardzija yesterday because the D-Backs actually have a couple of the better bats in the game, but on a night that’s full of stackable options, the D-Backs could be one of the lower owned ones. Cashner has ran into a lot of trouble on the road with a 4.80 ERA and 1.52 WHIP when he pitches away from the friendly confines of Petco Park. The core of the D-Backs lineup has had some pretty nice success against Cashner, so there is hope for them to pile on the runs. Consider Ender Inciarte OF ($3,400), A.J. Pollock OF ($4,900), Paul Goldschmidt 1B ($5,200), David Peralta OF ($3,300), Welington Castillo C ($3,600), and Jake Lamb 3B ($3,300).
- Dallas Keuchel and Chris Archer are playable options as potential aces but each has some caution to be aware of. Keuchel has been much worse on the road than at home, but he has dominated the Rangers as a whole this season. Archer hasn’t been as sharp in the second half of the season and the Yankees got to him a bit a couple weeks ago, but he’s capable of turning in a dominant performance at any time.
- Danny Salazar’s upside is limited going against a Royals team that is very good at avoiding the strikeout.
- Luis Severino is playable on the road against the Rays since the Rays aren’t so great against right-handed pitching, but a win may be hard to come by going against Archer.
- Gio Gonzalez also has a nice matchup against a Phillies squad that is running out some pretty pathetic looking lineups as of late. The issue with Gonzalez is that he has been terrible on the road and this start comes in a hitters park in Philly. He owns a 4.61 ERA and 1.52 WHIP on the road. I think he is still worth a look though.
- The Orioles against a rookie lefty, Henry Owens, is another stack option. As are the Giants against very mediocre righty Michael Lorenzen.
***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups
***All stats from FanGraphs