Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: June 17, 2016 – DraftKings & FanDuel Analysis
Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best hitters to use for Friday’s 14-game evening slate on DraftKings and FanDuel.
After the jump we’ll take a look at each of my top 10 projected pitchers for the evening. My projections are derived from ZiPS projections which are cut down to a per-game basis and then adjusted for ball park and matchup.
1. Jeff Samardzija – DK: $10,000, FD: $9,700
It’s a weird night for pitching. There aren’t any true studs in action, but there are plenty of good-not-great options. Among them, Samardzija is the safest option. He doesn’t totally deserve his 3.36 ERA, but his 3.75 xFIP is respectable enough. His home ball park helps depress his ERA to some degree, and he’s away from home tonight. Thankfully, he’s in another pitcher-friendly park in Tampa. It’s no AT&T park and the DH is in play in the AL park, but it’s still pitcher-friendly. As for the opponent, the Rays rank 13th in wRC+ vs. RHP with the second highest strikeout rate vs. RHP. The Shark is priced more than reasonably on DK and reasonably enough on FD.
2. Joe Ross – DK: $9,400, FD: $8,500
This is obviously all about the matchup. Ross and the Nats are in San Diego tonight to face the Padres who have the lowest wRC+ and fourth highest K% vs. RHP. Ross has been good this season, though he doesn’t deserve his 3.01 ERA. With strikeout and walk rates right around league average, he has an xFIP of an even 4.00. He’s had a bit of luck with home runs and strand rate, and his ERA will start to creep up when that changes. But a start in San Diego is unlikely to be a big regression start. He’s a bit under-priced across the board but not necessarily a huge value anywhere.
3. Masahiro Tanaka – DK: $8,300, FD: $9,400
Forget about Tanaka on FD, but he has to be considered at that price on DK. His matchup with Minnesota is above average as the Twins have the eighth lowest wRC+ and 10th highest K% vs. RHP. The concern with Tanaka is that his strikeout rate has fallen about four percentage points from where it was last year and is safely below average. But his swinging strike rate isn’t far from where it was last year and still safely better than average, so more strikeouts could well be coming for Tanaka. This game is also in Minnesota and not New York which adds to Tanaka’s appeal. He’s an option in cash or GPP on DK.
4. Matt Harvey – DK: $10,300, FD: $8,700
Harvey now has three good starts in a row under his belt. His ERA is 0.90 in those three starts, but be careful and realize he hasn’t been quite that dominant. His xFIP in those three starts is 3.44, which is more than respectable, just not ace-like. His matchup with Atlanta isn’t that daunting as the Braves are basically in a three-way tie for worst teams vs. RHP. But the matchup does lack some upside as the Braves have the 10th lowest K% vs. RHP. Harvey does have an 11.5 percent swinging strike rate in his last three starts, but just be aware that Atlanta makes a fair bit of contact. His price has caught back up on DK, so he’s not overly attractive there. But his price still lags on FD so he has value potential there.
5. Lance McCullers – DK: $8,900, FD: $8,700
McCullers is a GPP-only play, but he’s definitely an option in that type of contest. He can’t be used in cash because he’s a high-event pitcher: lots of strikeouts, lots of walks. He has pitched past the sixth inning just once in six starts and hasn’t seen the sixth in half his starts. But with 44 strikeouts in just 33.2 innings, he always has upside. And the upside is higher than normal in this matchup against the Reds who have the fourth lowest wRC+ and seventh highest K% vs. RHP. He’s a tad under-priced on both sites but only a tad, so you can use him on either site in GPPs.
6. Jon Gray – DK: $10,100, FD: $8,200
No pitcher in action tonight has an xFIP or SIERA lower than Jon Gray. Any time he’s away from Coors, as he is tonight, he’s someone to consider. Unfortunately he doesn’t have the most appealing matchup against a Marlins team that is mid-pack in wRC+ vs. RHP and has the sixth lowest strikeout rate. But the fact that Gray has the best K-BB% of any pitcher on the slate is very appealing. He’s also priced quite nicely on FD, which is the spot to use him if you like him (it’s OK to ignore him at 10K on DK). Samardzija, Ross, Gray and Harvey are the best options on FD thanks to their salaries, and Shark and Ross are likely to be fairly chalky. Gray could possibly be fairly low-owned, which would make him a great GPP option on FD if that’s correct.
7. Cole Hamels – DK: $8,800, FD: $9,500
Too many red flags with Hamels. I continue to suspect he’s pitching hurt due to a little less velocity and a sharp dip in his zone percentage. And he’s definitely been lucky with an 85.9 percent strand rate despite owning a 1.63 HR/9. His matchup with St. Louis is completely average as the Cards are mid-pack in wRC+ and K% vs. LHP. But with some general concern about his health, the absence of an obviously good matchup and price tags that aren’t too enticing, I’m passing on Hamels. If you like him, his price is a bit better on DK.
8. Jose Quintana – DK: $9,600, FD: $9,100
Quintana has traded some ground balls for fly balls this year, which can be a risky move, but it’s been good for him since he has kept fly balls in the park at a very good clip. The extra fly balls have helped keep his BABIP at a reasonable level, which is a big reason his ERA is so low. A spike in strikeouts has helped as well, but it hasn’t been accompanied by an increase in swinging strikes, so don’t expect the strikeout gains to stick around. For that reason his ERA will probably rise a bit, and there’s always the risk more fly balls start leaving the yard. That said, Quintana has been very reliable and has an average matchup with Cleveland, so he could be an option tonight. However, he’s priced a bit high, so there are probably better options. If you like him, his price is better on FD.
9. Chris Archer – DK: $8,600, FD: $9,500
Archer is a better version of McCullers. Lots of strikeouts, not quite as many walks as McCullers, and Archer will occasionally get deeper into a game. In the right matchup he can even have cash appeal. But he does not have the right matchup tonight, and it’s bad enough that he might not even be a GPP play. He’ll face the Giants who have the second lowest strikeout rate vs. RHP. Often a good enough pitcher can overcome a below average matchup. But this is a pitcher who can be shaky, and this is much worse than a below average matchup. Throw in the unappealing price tags (especially on FD) and the plentiful alternative options tonight, and Archer isn’t a great option.
10. Matt Shoemaker – DK: $8,700, FD: $8,300
There have been five articles written about Matt Shoemaker in the month of June. That’s unusual for any player and it’s downright bizarre that Shoemaker has gotten that treatment. But he deserves plenty of careful consideration given his recent performance. Since returning to the rotation on May 11, Shoemaker has a 2.85 ERA (2.70 xFIP) and an absolutely absurd 54:4 K:BB ratio in 47.1 innings over seven starts. Go read all those FG articles for a full analysis of this unexpected stretch of results, but the basic gist is that he’s throwing his best pitch, his splitter, a whole lot more.
The ZiPS projections on which my daily projections are based aren’t equipped to drastically alter their perception of a player in such a short time frame, so the projections embedded below don’t like Shoemaker much. But with the way he’s been pitching, he’s tough to ignore. I actually think his recent performance is going to jack up his ownership levels on a night like this with no studs in action, so feel free to fade him in GPPs. But you’ll get no argument from me if you like him in cash. He’s got a safe matchup with the A’s who rank 25th in wRC+ vs. RHP, though they don’t strikeout much.
Bonus: Julio Urias – DK: $7,600, FD: $6,800
Urias has given up too much hard contact and issued too many walks in his first four starts. That said, he has also struck out just more than 11 batters per nine innings. He’s facing the Brewers who strikeout a bit more than league average vs. LHP, so there could be some upside here. If you need to go cheap in a GPP, Urias is our guy.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Arizona is in a great spot against Adam Morgan tonight. Morgan has a 6.33 ERA and is allowing 1.68 HR/9. He’s got an xFIP over 5.00 against left- and right-handed hitters between this year and last, which helps for stacking purposes. However, it’s the righties that are a better play and not just because they have the platoon advantage. Between this year and last Morgan has a 47.8 percent fly ball rate vs. RHH. Paul Goldschimdt may be the play of the day, and someone like Peter O’Brien could be a great salary relief option as long as he’s in the lineup.
Stack suggestion: Jean Segura (expected lineup slot: 1), Brandon Drury (2), Paul Goldschmidt (3), Welington Castillo (4), Peter O’Brien (5)
Houston Astros – No pitcher has a higher xFIP or SIERA than John Lamb, who the Astros will face tonight. Lamb, a lefty, has actually been worse against left-handed hitters than right, but it’s still those right-handed bats towards the top of Houston’s order that are the guys to target. Carlos Correa has been struggling, but his price has dropped far enough that he’s certainly an option at his thin position. George Springer is also priced reasonably, though he’s a streaky hitter.
Stack suggestion: George Springer (1), Jose Altuve (3), Carlos Correa (4), Evan Gattis (5)
Milwaukee Brewers – Yes, Urias could be a GPP option tonight, but I mentioned the walks and hard contact that he allows, so his opponents are options as well. The Brewers lean right-handed heavy at the top of the lineup, so the left-handed Urias is a good matchup for them. Ryan Braun and Chris Carter are good options against the lefty and both priced more than reasonably.
Stack suggestion: Jonathan Villar (1), Aaron Hill (2), Ryan Bruan (3), Jonathan Lucroy (4), Chris Carter (5)
New York Mets – The Mets get RHP John Gant tonight who will be making his second career start. The Mets are much better against righties than lefties, which isn’t surprising given the number of left-handed bats they have. Gant has been a fly ball pitcher against lefties this season, though he’s only faced 39 LHH at the big league level, so the sample size is obviously tiny. Guys like Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker or Michael Conforto all have a chance to go yard against Gant.
Stack suggestion: Curtis Granderson (1), Asdrubal Cabrera (2), Yoenis Cespedes (3), Neil Walker (4), Michael Conforto (5)
**Players are listed according to their FD positional eligibility
- Matt Wieters
- Evan Gattis
- Welington Castillo (better value on FD)
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Yasmani Grandal
- Paul Goldschmidt
- Chris Davis
- Joey Votto (better value on DK)
- Adrian Gonzalez (better value on DK)
- Chris Carter
- Jose Altuve
- Jean Segura
- Devon Travis (better value on FD)
- Neil Walker
- Jose Peraza
- Josh Donaldson
- Maikel Franco
- Pedro Alvarez
- Alex Rodriguez (better value on FD)
- Nolan Arenado (GPP only, DK only)
- Carlos Correa
- Corey Seager
- Ketel Marte
- Jonathan Villar
- Trevor Story (GPP only)
- George Springer (better value on DK)
- Jose Bautista
- Ryan Braun (better value on DK)
- Michael Saunders (better value on FD)
- Peter O’Brien
- Hyun-Soo Kim
- Nelson Cruz
- Adam Eaton
- Michael Conforto
- Mallex Smith
- Jeff Samardzija (better value on DK)
- Masahiro Tanaka (DK only)
- Joe Ross
- Jon Gray (FD only)
- Matt Harvey (better value on FD)
- Lance McCullers (GPP only)
- Matt Shoemaker (cash only)
- Julio Urias (GPP only)
Download today’s research chart from this Google Sheet.