2016 Fantasy BaseballBrett TalleyFront Office

Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: May 11, 2016

Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best teams to use for stacks for Wednesday’s nine-game evening slate on DraftKings. We’ve also got rankings of the top plays at each position.

Pitching Perspective

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Three pitchers are priced over $11,000 in this evening slate, and they’re all worth considering. Noah Syndergaard leads the way in price at $11,500, and he leads all non-Kershaw starting pitchers in the league in both xFIP and K-BB%. He’ll face the Dodgers who are a fine matchup for right-handed pitchers as they rank 24th in wOBA and have the 10th highest strikeout rate vs. RHP. That said, some of the projection systems I take into consideration don’t love Syndergaard today. I’m having a hard time figuring out why they don’t, but it makes me wary nonetheless. The other thing is that I’m sure he’ll be highly owned, so I have no problem fading him. He can even be avoided in cash games because there are other “safe” options.

One of those “safe” options in John Lackey facing the Padres. San Diego ranks 29th in wOBA and has the third highest strikeout rate vs. RHP. That will be the second game of today’s doubleheader, so perhaps he sees an even lesser version of San Diego’s lineup, though their lineup for the early game definitely has some non-regulars in it. Lackey is probably a tad over-priced at $11,300, but his xFIP is in the low threes so far, and he’s striking out almost a batter per inning, so it’s not an unreasonable price tag in this matchup.

My favorite play of the day is probably Max Scherzer. Yeah, his ERA is 4.60, but there’s little in his underlying numbers that is too discouraging. The biggest concern is probably his 25.6 percent strikeout rate, which is down from over 30 percent last year, but I’d expect that to go up at some point. He won’t get back over 30 percent like he was last year when his induced swinging strikes at a 15 percent clip, but his swinging strike rate is still above his career average and he should get his K rate up in the high 20’s. His velocity is fine, and he’s not missing the zone at a reduced rate, so it’s unlikely that he’s injured. He’s really just had a bad run with home runs and maybe a bit of bad luck with his strikeout rate. His matchup with the Tigers has risk and reward in it as they have the 10th best wOBA vs. RHP but also the seventh highest strikeout rate. And they have to sit either Victor Martinez or Miguel Cabrera in the National League park, which helps Scherzer a bit.

In the mid-price range, Jared Eickhoff and Michael Pineda are options. Eickhoff has pitched better with an xFIP in the mid threes while Pineda’s xFIP is in the high threes. And Eickhoff has the safer matchup against the Braves who rank dead last in wOBA vs. RHP. Both guys are facing teams that have strikeout rates in the middle-of-the-pack, so it seems like Eickhoff is the better option. If you’re looking for a cash game option in this price range, Eickhoff is probably your guy. But in GPPs I’d be inclined to gamble on Pineda. He’s had two bad starts this year in which he allowed a combined 13 runs, but in those two starts he struck out 14 and walked only one. He’s been a bit shaky in his last two starts with seven strikeouts compared to four walks, but both of those starts were against Boston who ranks second in the league in wOBA vs. RHP and has the 10th lowest strikeout rate. His matchup is better today against the Royals who rank 19th in wOBA vs. RHP, though they do have a lower-than-average strikeout rate.

The cheapest guy I could stomach today would be Jhoulys Chacin. He has 5.40 ERA, but his strikeout, walk and ground ball rates are all a bit above average which leads to an xFIP of 3.32. His matchup with the Phillies is a good one as the Phils rank 27th in wOBA vs. RHP and have a strikeout rate a bit higher-than-average against them. At only $6,200, he’s a nice value, and he might even be someone you can roster in cash games, not just a GPP-only option.

**Editor’s note: It is being reported that Jhoulys Chacin has been traded to the Angels. As a result, he will not be starting tonight for Atlanta tonight.

Stack Options

Boston Red Sox – Prior to Tuesday, the Sox had a bottom 10 wOBA vs. LHP. But we’re still in the small sample size-portion of the season, especially with numbers against LHP, and the Sox jumped all the way to the 12th best wOBA vs. LHP with one good outing against Sean Manaea yesterday. They’ll have the chance to climb the ranks even further today against LHP Eric Surkamp. Surkamp is rocking a 5.59 ERA and 6.76 ERA through four starts. Right-handers Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez hit 1-2-3-4 in the order yesterday and should all hit at least in the top five again today. They make for a good stack option, even if an obvious one, and David Ortiz could be included if he’s back in the lineup between those right-handers. Mookie is the cash game guy for me.

Cincinnati Reds – The Reds will face RHP Juan Nicasio today, and Nicasio hasn’t been bad this season, even if his ERA is a tad better than it should be. But Nicasio has traditional splits, and this game is in hitter-friendly Cincinnati, so Cincy lefties are in play. Jay Bruce and Billy Hamilton are the best plays and are good cash game options. They could also be stacked along with Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips.

Pittsburgh Pirates – On the other side of that Cincy game the Pirates will face RHP Alfredo Simon, he of the 9.86 ERA. His xFIP is 4.80, so he hasn’t really been historically horrendous, but he’s getting rocked by the long ball having allowed six home runs in 21 innings. This isn’t the best spot for him to bounce back as the ball park is unfavorable and the Pirates have the fifth best wOBA in the league vs. RHP. Andrew McCutchen makes for the strongest cash game plays. Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco would be good options to include in a stack, and Francisco Cervelli and David Freese could also be included in a stack.

Of these three stack options, Boston is the most chalky with the highest implied run total according to Vegas. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have the third and fourth highest implied run totals of the slate, so they’re fairly chalky as well. If you’re looking to get a bit contrarian, I’d probably consider the Oakland Athletics. Their matchup with Rick Porcello isn’t a great one, but they are getting a positive park shift on the road in Boston. Josh Reddick and Billy Burns are the best options, and Coco Crisp is a good option as well if at the top of the order or near it. Stephen Vogt is also a good option tonight at a thin catcher position.

Player Rankings

Catcher

  1. Stephen Vogt – $3,100
  2. Brian McCann – $3,500
  3. Jonathan Lucroy – $3,300
  4. Christian Vazquez – $3,200

First Base

  1. Hanley Ramirez – $4,700
  2. Adrian Gonzalez – $3,000
  3. Albert Pujols – $3,300
  4. David Ortiz – $4,900

Second Base

  1. Dustin Pedroia – $4,700
  2. Chris Coghlan – $2,900
  3. Daniel Murphy – $4,500
  4. Howie Kendrick – $2,900

Third Base

  1. Matt Carpenter – $4,300
  2. Yunel Escobar – $2,900
  3. Chase Headley – $2,900
  4. David Wright – $3,700

Shortstop

  1. Xander Bogaerts – $4,900
  2. Marcus Semien – $3,000
  3. Corey Seager – $3,400
  4. Didi Gregorius – $2,700

Outfield

  1. Mookie Betts – $5,100
  2. Andrew McCutchen – $5,000
  3. Jay Bruce – $3,400
  4. Billy Hamilton – $3,700
  5. Bryce Harper – $4,800
  6. Josh Reddick – $3,800
  7. Giancarlo Stanton – $5,100
  8. Mike Trout – $4,600
  9. Coco Crisp – $3,200

Starting Pitcher

  1. Max Scherzer – $11,300
  2. John Lackey – $11,100
  3. Michael Pineda – $7,500
  4. Noah Syndergaard – $11,500
  5. Jhoulys Chacin – $6,200
  6. Jared Eickhoff – $8,000

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