MLB DFS Strategy for Monday 9/21/15

Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-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 MONDAY SEPTEMBER 21, 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:

Dallas Keuchel (HOU) ($11,400) vs. Los Angeles Angels – Keuchel is going to top my list today pretty much based on one amazing thing — his dominance pitching at home in Minute Maid Park. Traditionally, Minute Maid Park in Houston has been a pretty good hitters park. But because of Keuchel’s incredible ability to induce ground balls (61.7% ground ball rate this year), which also aids him in keeping the ball in the park (0.68 HR/9 this year), he really is not affected by pitching his home games in a hitters park. For Keuchel, it appears that it’s just about the overall comfort of pitching somewhere familiar and with the hometown support. So the stat that shows this is his Keuchel’s home line of 13-0 with a 1.49 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 9.65 K/9 — as opposed to his road line of 4-8 with a 3.82 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 6.89 K/9. That is a drastic difference and should most certainly be taken into account tonight. Keuchel is coming off two consecutive losses — one where he lost to the Angels in Anaheim and one where he suffered an epic beat down by the hands of the Rangers in Arlington. So hopefully, the recency of those games will be sticking out in the minds of DFS players and they will shy away from Keuchel tonight to keep his tournament ownership lower.

David Price (TOR) ($12,500) vs. New York Yankees –  Price has been excellent since coming over to Toronto with a 2.17 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 10.69 K/9 while going 7-1 in 9 starts. However, I don’t love Price’s matchup here against the Yankees because the Yankees offense can churn out the runs on any given night, and Price has faced the Yankees three times since joining the Jays and only one of those starts was dominant. But nonetheless, his fantasy ace-ness and his brilliance as a Blue Jays should be reason enough to give Price heavy consideration as a pitching option and I would feel okay with firing away with him in some lineups.

Chris Archer (TAM) ($11,700) @ Boston Red Sox – Archer has faced the Red Sox three times this season to go 0-2 while compiling a rather pedestrian 4.30 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. However, what he has lacked in those categories, he has made up for in the strikeout column with 27 K in just 16.2 IP despite the Red Sox having the 2nd lowest K% in the Majors against right-handed pitching. The strikeout upside that he has is enough reason alone to consider him tonight and maybe he will finally figure out how to limit the hits and runs to the division rival Red Sox to come up with a huge game.

Gio Gonzalez (WAS) ($9,600) vs. Baltimore Orioles – Gonzalez has been on a bit of a roll lately with a 1.47 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 12.76 K/9 in his last 3 starts. Albeit, those 3 starts were against the bottom feeders of the NL East (Marlins, Phillies, and Braves), but it should still count for something. Also, this is a home start for Gonzalez where he has appeared to be much more comfortable this season with a 3.04 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, as opposed to a 4.45 ERA and 1.48 WHIP on the road — and the Orioles rank in the bottom third of the Majors as a road team in terms of win percentage, runs scored, and wOBA. Lastly, the Orioles strikeout the 4th most in the Majors against left-handed pitching. It appears to be a pretty decent situation for Gonzalez to continue his nice little streak.

Jason Hammel (CHC) ($7,800) vs. Milwaukee Brewers – I like Jason Hammel as a mid-tier priced pitcher against the Brewers just based on the matchup, but his recent form has been very poor with a 5.43 ERA and 1.55 WHIP since the All-Star break. However, two of his better starts in the second half have come against these Brewers and he owns a 2-0 record, 2.56 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 21 K in 24.1 IP over 4 starts against them this season. There’s certainly some caution here, but do give Hammel some thought, especially if Ryan Braun remains out of the lineup for the Brewers.

SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER

John Lamb (CIN) ($6,800) @ St. Louis Cardinals – Lamb has a very unimpressive 5.35 ERA and 1.57 WHIP this season in 7 starts, but he has a couple things working for him tonight. Against left-handed pitching like Lamb is, the Cardinals rank 26th in wOBA, 25th in ISO, and 29th in K%. The most important number there is the Cardinals rank in K% against lefties, because despite Lamb’s overall struggles, he has shown great strikeout upside with 42 K in 37 IP (10.22 K/9). For the DraftKings scoring system, those strikeouts are very important. Also, Lamb’s best game of the season came against these same Cardinals a couple starts ago when he blanked them for 5 innings while striking out 6. Going with Lamb would be a huge roll of the dice, but he probably has the most legitimate upside out of any pitcher priced in the bottom half tonight.

Jered Weaver (LAA) ($6,200) @ Houston Astros – For how bad he has been this season (7-11, 4.74 ERA, 1.24 WHIP), Jered Weaver has actually done very well against the Astros with a 2.00 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 16 K in 21 IP in 3 starts — including a complete game shutout. I wouldn’t be too excited to use him on the road against Keuchel and against an offense that can pound out home runs like the Astros can, but at $6,200 on DraftKings, he could present as a decent cheap option to pair with an ace.

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.

There are several teams that are stack worthy tonight, but I will highlight my favorite ones as Stack Attacks and then give a couple of Sneaky Stack options. And as usual, I will avoid listing either team from the Coors Field game as a stack option, but be aware that both those teams (Pirates/Rockies) are in play.

STACK ATTACKS:

Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Wily Peralta) – Peralta has faced the Cubs once this season and it actually went over fairly well as he only gave up 1 run over 6 innings. However, he’s been a rather poor pitcher all season long with a 4.41 ERA and 1.49 WHIP, and the Cubs have the highest team total projection out of any game that is outside of Coors Field. Also, several Cubs have some pretty good history against the Brewers righty. In particular, Anthony Rizzo could be the best play of the day out of all hitters as he is 12 for 26 with 5 HR and 2 doubles lifetime against Peralta. Let’s go with Dexter Fowler OF ($4,200), Kyle Schwarber C/OF ($4,600), Anthony Rizzo 1B ($5,000), Kris Bryant 3B ($4,900), Starlin Castro SS ($3,400), and Miguel Montero C ($3,500) — but really, any player in the Cubs lineup today would be okay to include in a Cubs stack.

Chicago White Sox @ Detroit Tigers (Randy Wolf) – Once again, we get another chance to feast on the washed up veteran lefty Randy Wolf. Wolf has made 5 starts this season and does not have much to show for it with a 6.48 ERA and 1.72 WHIP and he makes for a good target tonight. This will be the second game of a doubleheader for these two teams, so this late in the season with both teams out of contention, the starting lineups for the second game may look a bit different than we are used to seeing. The White Sox should still be stackable regardless, but it will be important to see who they roll out in their lineup. Assuming they are starting, for a White Sox stack I would consider Adam Eaton OF ($4,600), Alexei Ramirez SS ($3,400), Jose Abreu 1B ($5,000), Melky Cabrera OF ($4,100), Trayce Thompson OF ($3,500), and Tyler Flowers C ($2,600). (*Note: If Geovany Soto is in then put him in for Flowers)

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.

Cincinnati Reds @ St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia) – Jaime Garcia had his worst outing of the season a couple weeks ago against the Reds, which is the same team that he will be facing tonight. In that start, his velocity took a major dip, so he may have been dealing with some sort of injury issue. His velocity jumped back up to his normal levels in his very next start, but he still wasn’t very sharp in that one either. Garcia was due for some regression and he could still experience more from now through the remainder of the season. Fire away with this sneaky stack with Jason Bourgeois OF ($2,500), Brandon Phillips 2B ($3,800), Joey Votto 1B ($5,300), Todd Frazier 1B/3B ($4,600), Eugenio Suarez SS ($3,600), and Adam Duvall 1B/OF ($2,900).

Tampa Bay Rays @ Boston Red Sox (Eduardo Rodriguez) – It’s Tampa versus a lefty — so by now, you should know the drill. The Rays have squandered some opportunities lately versus lefties, but they still rank pretty well at 7th in wOBA and 5th in ISO against southpaws. They faced Rodriguez once this season and scored 3 runs on 10 baserunners in 5 innings, which isn’t fantastic, but it does show the potential that they could have against him. Let’s give a look to Brandon Guyer OF ($3,000), Mikie Mahtook OF ($3,300), Evan Longoria 3B ($3,800), Logan Forsythe 1B/2B ($3,900), Asdrubal Cabrera 2B/SS ($3,700), and J.P. Arencibia C ($4,100). Also, Richie Shaffer 1B/3B ($2,400) would be an acceptable and cheaper substitute.

BONUS NOTES

  • The Diamondbacks are another stack that I like with their right-handed bats going against the lefty Brett Anderson. Paul Goldschmidt in particular has owned Anderson going 7 for 13 with 2 HR.

***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups

***All stats from FanGraphs

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