MLB DFS Strategy for Monday 9/28/15

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Source: www.sportsnet.ca
Source: www.sportsnet.ca
Source: www.sportsnet.ca

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 28, 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:

Corey Kluber (CLE) ($11,300) vs. Minnesota Twins – In Kluber’s last start, which came against this same Twins team, I personally faded him for a couple reasons, which included the following: 1.) It was his second start back from a hamstring injury and in his first start back he was not sharp and he was on a pitch count because he did not make any rehab starts, so I felt that he would be restricted/limited in some way again. 2.) Though he had dominated the Twins this season, it was a road start where he has been worse this season and in his career. But this start tonight is a different scenario for Kluber and he is just one of a few pitchers that I like for the day. Now that he has a couple starts under his belt since returning from his hamstring injury, he should be ready to rock with the Indians still being mathematically alive in the AL Wildcard race. Also, this start is at home and as previously mentioned, Kluber is just a better pitcher at home. This season Kluber has a 2.87 ERA at home versus a 4.15 ERA on the road. If we toss out his last start against the Twins, as essentially it functioned as a second rehab start, he holds a 1.38 ERA, 0.38 WHIP, and 25 K in 26 IP with 2 complete games against the Twins this season. He’s got much greater strikeout upside than the other ace on board tonight, Zack Greinke, and Kluber comes at a much cheaper cost.

J.A. Happ (PIT) ($7,600) vs. St. Louis Cardinals – The lefty Happ was acquired by the Pirates at the trade deadline after the Pirates learned of an injury to A.J. Burnett and Happ was just thought of to kind of be an innings eater that they could use every 5th game until Burnett came back. But surprisingly, Happ has done extremely well and has become a staple in that rotation. With the Pirates, Happ has posted a 2.28 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 58 K in 51.1 IP over 9 starts, which included 7 shutout innings with 8 K against the same Cardinals team that he faces today. He hasn’t been as sharp in the last couple of starts, but those were tough spots against a good Cubs lineup and a start at Coors Field. Facing the Cardinals profiles as a much better matchup for Happ as the Cardinals are susceptible to poor games against southpaws. The Cardinals rank 24th in both wOBA and ISO against lefties and they also own the second highest strikeout rate in the Majors against lefties. With the home crowd backing him tonight as the Pirates have a chance to steal the NL Central and top NL playoff seed away from the Cardinals, I’ll happily start Happ.

SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER

Marco Estrada (TOR) ($6,800) @ Baltimore Orioles – I would like this matchup a bit more if this was a home game for the Blue Jays because Estrada does a little better at home and the Orioles are one of the worst road teams in the AL, but it still seems like a decent spot to attack the Orioles. The Orioles just closed out a 9-game road trip in Boston this past weekend, and at Fenway Park they failed to score a single run in the last 3 games. That is pretty pathetic and a great representation of the huge downfall that the Orioles have had since mid-August. Estrada also has had some decent success against the Orioles this season. In one start against them, he only allowed 1 hit in 7 innings of work, and overall he has a 3.86 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with 17 K in 19 IP. He does not have big strikeout upside at 6.47 K/9, but against an Orioles team that is prone to the strikeout (22.0 K% against righties, 3rd highest in the Majors), he does get a little bump in that department. Considering the price and the overall situation, Estrada makes for a fine play.

Roenis Elias (SEA) ($6,500) vs. Houston Astros – For another cheaper option, let’s look at the lefty Elias of the Mariners. With a 3.94 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, Elias can be pretty much considered around league average, but his allure today is his strikeout upside against an Astros club that generally strikes out a lot. The Astros have decreased their strikeouts as the year has progressed, but they still have the 2nd highest whiff rate in all of baseball for the season. Elias isn’t a huge strikeout pitcher, but he does hold his own with a solid 7.71 K/9, and against the Astros this season he has 24 K in 21.1 IP for 10.13 K/9. The downside here is that Elias has also gotten rocked by the Astros to the tune of a 8.18 ERA and 1.77 WHIP. However, with this being a home start in a much more pitcher friendly environment, I like his chances of turning in a quality start a lot more. Out of the 4 starts he’s made against the Astros this season, only one of them has come at home and it was far and away his best start with a line of 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, and that is the type of upside that he has in this matchup tonight which makes him a solid GPP option.

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.

STACK ATTACKS:

Toronto Blue Jays @ Baltimore Orioles (Chris Tillman) – Though they will probably be pretty highly owned, the top stack of the day for me is easily the Blue Jays here if the weather holds up well enough (chances of thunderstorms). Tillman has made 5 starts against the Jays this season and has just been obliterated in all of them and the stats that I’m about to present to you are utterly shocking. In those starts, Tillman has a 20.68 ERA, 3.01 WHIP, and has allowed 9 HR in 18 IP. I’m not sure that there has ever been this drastic of a single season punishment by one team to a single pitcher. It doesn’t matter whether it’s righties or lefties or at home or away — Tillman serves it up to anyone in a Blue Jays uniform. The most dangerous Jay against Tillman is also an unexpected one with Kevin Pillar having a career line of 5 for 13 with 3 HR and a double. Let’s go with Ben Revere OF ($3,800), Josh Donaldson 3B ($5,400), Jose Bautista OF ($5,200), Edwin Encarnacion 1B ($5,000), Russell Martin C ($4,100), and Kevin Pillar OF ($3,900). There is enough salary space to full stack it here with Corey Kluber and one of the cheaper pitching options listed above.

Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota Twins (Phil Hughes) – Hughes pitched 5 shutout innings versus the Indians in his most recent start, but before that start, the Indians knocked Hughes around this season. Even with the 5 shutout innings last week, Hughes has an ugly 8.02 ERA and 1.77 WHIP against the Tribe this year and that top half of the order has been doing some work lately. Rookie Francisco Lindor has been blazing hot and the team just got their best hitter, Michael Brantley, back yesterday. Fire it up with Jason Kipnis 2B ($4,300), Francisco Lindor SS ($4,300), Michael Brantley OF ($4,500), Carlos Santana 1B ($4,000), Yan Gomes C ($3,100), Lonnie Chisenhall 3B ($2,800), and Abraham Almonte OF ($2,500). 

Chicago Cubs vs. Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura) – Ventura has just been terrible on the road for the Royals this season, so a date with the dangerous Cubs lineup at Wrigley Field seems a bit daunting for the righty. Ventura has a 5.04 ERA and 1.46 WHIP on the road, and even his strikeout rate dips below 7.00 K/9 on the road. I can see the left-handed swingers on the Cubs giving Ventura some problems today. Consider Dexter Fowler OF ($3,800), Kyle Schwarber C/OF ($4,000), Kris Bryant 3B ($4,800), Anthony Rizzo 1B ($4,800), Miguel Montero C ($3,200), and Chris Coghlan 2B/OF ($3,200).

Los Angeles Angels @ Oakland A’s (Felix Doubront) – This is a big week for the Halos as they trail the Astros by just half a game in the AL Wildcard race, and with their bullpen in shambles due to injuries to Huston Street and Joe Smith, they know that they are going to have to get a lot of work done with their bats. Fortunately, tonight they will be opposing Doubront, a lefty who has been fooling nobody lately with an 8.33 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 7 HR allowed in his last 5 starts. Also on the Angels side here is that they are the highest projected scoring team of the day according to Vegas implied run totals at 4.9 runs. Let’s give a look toward Erick Aybar SS ($3,000), Kole Calhoun OF ($3,700), Mike Trout OF ($5,300), Albert Pujols 1B ($3,900), David Freese 3B ($3,800), and Johnny Giovatella 2B ($3,000). Also consider subbing in C.J. Cron 1B ($3,300) for Pujols for a more contrarian play. 

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.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Lance Lynn) – The Pirates have destroyed Lynn the last two times that they have faced him by collecting 15 hits (2 HR) for 12 runs in just 4.2 innings. Lynn had a good game in his most recent start, but overall he has been a little bit of a slouch in the second half of the season. The Pirates are surging right now and are very hungry to capture their first division title in a very long time. Neil Walker in particular has an amazing history against Lynn (14 for 38 with 3 HR, 2 triples, and 3 doubles) and is probably the best second baseman play of the day when factoring in his super cheap price. In fact, all the Pirates hitters’ prices have been severely depressed today, which makes them even more sneaky as it allows you great flexibility to use ace pitchers and fill out the lineup with some big bats. Let’s go with Gregory Polanco OF ($3,300), Josh Harrison 3B/OF ($3,200), Andrew McCutchen OF ($4,200), Neil Walker 2B ($3,100), Starling Marte OF ($4,200), and Pedro Alvarez 1B/3B ($2,800).

Oakland A’s vs. Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago) – Santiago for the Angels has been in a downward spiral in the second half of the season with a 5.46 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, and 2.01 HR/9. This type of let down was to be expected from him as his innings count grew farther away from his previous career high and as typical regression to the mean in some categories was to take place. The big takeaway from Santiago’s second half numbers is that very high HR allowed rate. Home runs obviously score the most points for hitters in DFS, so if the A’s can hit a few off Santiago tonight, then that’ll put them in great position to validate them as a sneaky stack. The A’s are also able to field a lineup that is dominated by right-handed bats and 25 of the 27 HR that Santiago has allowed this season have been to righties. The A’s home park here isn’t all too hitter friendly, but this is a decent situation for them to put some over the fence. Also, as previously mentioned, the Angels bullpen is depleted. If the A’s can lay the hammer down on Santiago, then they will get to face some unimpressive bullpen arms that the Angels have. Let’s go with Billy Burns OF ($4,000), Mark Canha 1B/OF ($3,600), Brett Lawrie 2B/3B ($3,100), Billy Butler 1B ($3,700), Jake Smolinski OF ($2,300), and Marcus Semien SS/3B ($3,400). Note: I don’t expect Danny Valencia to play as he is day-to-day, but I would sub him in for Burns if he does start. 

BONUS NOTES

  • I don’t hate the matchup for Zack Greinke against the Giants, but I just prefer much more the option to use Corey Kluber and his better strikeout upside for much cheaper.
  • Lance McCullers has a nice matchup on paper against the Mariners, but he has experience struggles on the road. Also, he has surpassed his previous career high in innings pitched by quite a bit, and that may be a factor for him in the final week of the season.

***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups

***All stats from FanGraphs

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