2016 Fantasy BaseballBrett TalleyFront Office

Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: April 28, 2016

Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best teams to use for stacks for Thursday’s eight-game, all-day slate on DraftKings only. Because sites like FanDuel lock rosters at the time the first game starts and don’t allow late swaps, playing the all-day slate there is too risky. We’ve also got projections derived from FanGraphs’ Depth Chart projections and rankings of the top plays at each position.

Pitching Perspective

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Three pitchers have five-digit price tags today, Jake Arrieta, Jose Fernandez and Kenta Maeda. The one I’m least inclined to pay for is Arrieta. For one thing, he’s much, much more expensive than the other two expensive options with a $13,600 price tag that is $2,200 more than Fernandez and $3,600 more than Maeda. And I just don’t see a reason to pay that much more for Arrieta. His K/9 is only 7.55, and he’s been extremely fortunate to date with a .176 BABIP and 98.9 percent strand rate. I’m not saying it’s all been a mirage. He’s only walking 1.74 batters per nine and his xFIP is solid at 3.00. But that doesn’t justify a $13,600 price tag.

My preference is Fernandez. There’s some risk in that the Marlins are playing it safe with his pitches/innings, and he hasn’t helped his cause to pitch deep into games with an 11.7 percent walk rate. And even his best asset, a 34 percent strikeout rate can be a hindrance to pitching deep into games. But, for the love of god, he has a 34 percent strikeout rate, which is easily the best rate of any starter going today. The Dodgers have been middle-of-the-road at best against right-handers so far, so the matchup isn’t all that intimidating. Given his upside, Fernandez is my guy today.

As for Maeda, I can’t decide if he’s quite worth 10K. He has pitched well with solid strikeout and walk numbers, but he’s definitely benefited from some good fortune. Most notably, he has managed to strand every base runner he has allowed so far, all 22 of them. Again, it’s not like it’s all been a mirage, but absent the good fortune, I’m not sure his performance so far quite warrants a five-figure price tag.

Moving on to cheaper options, Aaron Nola is your best bet in the mid-price range ($7,000 – $9,000). Nola’s strikeout and walk rates have been very strong early on as his K-BB% sits at an impressive 24.3%. For context, that ranks eighth in the league among 103 qualified starters. He’ll face the Nationals meaning he’ll obviously have to manage Bryce Harper, which is something he has been unable to do so far in his career (Harper is 5-for-7 with two home runs off Nola). But despite having Harper in the lineup, the Nats have been below average against right-handers so far, so the matchup is a decent one. Nola isn’t a huge value or anything, but you won’t be overpaying for him at $8,600.

The best value options today are Jhoulys Chacin and Rubby de la Rosa. They’re similar in that they’re both cheap, they both have a tough matchup, and they’ll both be in hitter-friendly parks. Regarding the matchups, they’ll face Boston and St. Louis who rank first and third in wOBA vs. RHP and have lower-than-average strikeout rates against RHP. So yeah, tough matchups. Both pitchers also have serious split issues, with left-handers being something both righties have struggled with in their careers.

All that said, don’t forget the part about them being cheap, which is what makes all that other risk potentially worth it. Of the two, I think I prefer Chacin. Earlier I mentioned Nola’s K-BB% of 24.3%, and Chacin is the only starter going today with a better K-BB% so far (24.6%). Rubby’s K-BB% is fine at 15.8%, but it’s obviously not elite. Chacin also happens to be the cheaper of the two, which helps his cause in being the best value option of the day.

Stack Options

Baltimore Orioles – The O’s have the good fortune of being the only team facing a left-handed starter today. They have the even better fortune of that left-handed starter being John Danks who has a 6.23 ERA and 5.84 xFIP. As you would expect Danks is worse against right-handed hitters, so Baltimore righties are good options today. The one exception to that might be Adam Jones who has typically been a reverse-splits guy, and he is amazingly 1-for-33 against Danks in his career. Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy and Nolan Reimold have good BvP stats against Danks if you’re into that sort of thing. I’m not; I’m more persuaded by Danks’ general struggles against RHP. But I’d be lying if I said Jones’ track record against him wasn’t a turn off. As for left-handed hitters, it’s not like Danks is good against them, he’s just not as awful against them, so Chris Davis is still in play.

Colorado Rockies – Aside from the O’s, every team is facing a right-handed starter today, so left-handed bats are going to make up the majority of your lineups. Rockie lefties are definitely in play against Juan Nicasio who has a career xFIP of 4.41 and HR/9 of 1.39 against LHH. That means Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra are top-notch options. Ben Paulsen, Cristhian Adames, and Tony Wolters are also good value options if in the lineup. Right-handers Nolan Arenado and Mark Reynolds could be included in any Rockies stack.

St. Louis Cardinals – As mentioned above, Rubby de la Rosa struggles with left-handed hitters. Since 2014 he has a 4.93 xFIP against lefties, which is the ninth-worst mark among 124 qualified starters in that time frame. Matt Carpenter, Brandon Moss, Kolten Wong and Jeremy Hazelbaker are the more regular lefties in St. Louis’ lineup, and all are priced well in this matchup. If Matt Adams happens to be in the lineup, he’s a nice value.

Player Rankings

Catcher

  1. Matt Wieters – $3,400
  2. Tony Wolters – $2,700
  3. Caleb Jospeh – $3,000
  4. Yasmani Grandal – $3,100

First Base

  1. Matt Adams – $3,100
  2. Chris Davis – $4,300
  3. Justin Bour – $2,700
  4. John Jaso – $3,800

Second Base

  1. Kolten Wong – $3,500
  2. Chris Coghlan – $3,000
  3. Daniel Murphy – $4,300
  4. Josh Harrison – $4,500

Third Base

  1. Derek Dietrich – $2,900
  2. Kris Bryant – $4,700
  3. Matt Carpenter – $4,400
  4. Jake Lamb – $3,300

Shortstop

  1. Javier Baez – $3,000
  2. Manny Machado – $4,600
  3. Christian Adames – $2,500
  4. Addison Russell – $3,800

Outfield

  1. Carlos Gonzalez – $5,100
  2. Gerardo Parra – $4,200
  3. Mark Trumbo – $4,500
  4. Adam Eaton – $4,800
  5. Ben Paulsen – $3,400
  6. David Peralta – $3,600
  7. Adam Jones – $4,200
  8. Melky Cabrera – $3,900
  9. Anthony Gose – $3,200
  10. Brandon Moss – $3,700
  11. Matt Joyce – $2,600

Starting Pitcher

  1. Jose Fernandez – $11,400
  2. Jake Arrieta – $13,600
  3. Kenta Maeda – $10,000
  4. Aaron Nola – $8,600
  5. Jhoulys Chacin – $6,100
  6. Rubby de la Rosa – $6,500

Research Chart

Below you’ll find my research chart for the day. Projections are derived from FanGraphs’ Depth Chart projections and adjusted for matchup and ballpark. The closer a color is to green the better and the closer a color is to red the worse. You can download the research chart here.


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