2016 Fantasy BaseballBrett TalleyFront Office

Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: May 19, 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 nine-game evening slate on DraftKings. We’ve also got rankings of the top plays at each position.

Pitching Perspective

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There are two stud pitchers going this evening in Stephen Strasburg and Chris Sale. Of the two, give me Strasburg. He has pitched better than Sale this season with a 2.86 xFIP compared to 3.61 for Sale. Sale has the better ERA, but he also has a BABIP almost 100 points lower than Strasburg’s. The strikeout rate and swinging strike rate are both down significantly for Sale, so Strasburg strikes me as the much safer option. As for their matchups, both are facing offenses that rank just inside the top 10 against pitcher’s of their handedness. Sale might have a bit more strikeout upside against the Astros, but Strasburg will face the Mets who rank 10th in strikeout rate vs. RHP. Jeff Samardzija is also priced near these guys, but I wouldn’t pay anything close to stud price for the Shark, even against the Padres.

Under $10,000 but not quite cheap, consider Matt Harvey and Jon Gray. Harvey has been a bit better recently. He gave up 11 hits in his last start, but that was in Coors and he struck out six while walking none. Over his last five starts his K:BB is 32:6, which is pretty damn good. The Nats rank 24th in wOBA vs. RHP and have a strikeout rate just worse than league average, so his matchup is decent. Gray has a tougher matchup against the Cardinals who rank 2nd in wOBA vs. RHP and strike out less than average. But in six career starts away from Coors he has a 2.18 ERA and 41 strikeouts compared to 11 walks. This kid can clearly pitch, and his price remains a bit depressed when he’s on the road. He’s a nice GPP option tonight.

In the bargain bin you should consider Michael Wacha and Jhoulys Chacin. Wacha has been a bit dicey with a K:BB ratio that isn’t much better than 2:1 and an xFIP up near 4.00 while his ERA sits at 3.23. But at just $7,200 he seems obviously under-priced. He’s always been much better at home, and he has a 2.61 ERA in 36 career home starts. The Rockies rank 25th in wRC+ vs. RHP and just aren’t that potent outside of Coors. The other cheap option is Chacin who will make his second start for the Angels. His first start with his new team went very well, and he has almost a 4:1 K:BB ratio for the season. He’ll have an average matchup tonight against the Dodgers who rank mid-pack in both wRC+ and strikeout rate vs. RHP. At $5,900, he could provide a lot of salary relief if you need it.

Stack Options

Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates have a nice matchup against RHP Mike Foltynewicz. The Pirates rank fourth in wRC vs. RHP, and Folty tends to give up home runs. He has allowed 24 homers in 18 career starts and has a HR/9 of 1.84 as a starter. Of pitchers with at least 100 innings as a starter since the start of last season, only one has a HR/9 higher than Folty (Kyle Kendrick). He’s definitely more friendly to lefties, so John Jaso, Gregory Polanco and Matt Joyce are the best targets. They tend to hit 1-3-6 in the lineup. The righties sandwiched in between them that could be used to streamline a stack are Andrew McCutchen, Jung Ho Kang (or maybe David Freese) and Francisco Cervelli.

New York Yankees – This is a less chalky pick than the Pirates. The Yanks will be in Oakland, which automatically knocks some off their implied run total thanks to the negative park shift. But they have a good matchup against RHP Kendall Graveman. The Yanks rank well below average in wRC+ vs. RHP, but they also have the lowest BABIP vs. RHP. Some of that is their fault as they have a low hard hit rate, but it’s still early enough for that to be somewhat of a sample size issue. Graveman doesn’t have huge split issues, and his basic numbers make it appear as if he has reverse splits. But he’s actually been a bit worse than lefties, and the Yanks can throw a lot of lefties at him. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are the best plays, but Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira could all be used in a stack. Those five are likely the top five in the order.

Houston Astros – Alright, let’s get real contrarian. As mentioned, Sale hasn’t been as good as his ERA would indicate this season. He hasn’t been bad by any means, but he doesn’t seem to be his usual dominant self. Predictably he’s been better against left-handed hitters than right, and the Astros can throw some right-handed bats at him. The top of the order will almost surely be Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Carlos Correa. Tyler White, Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez could join them in a full Astros stack so long as they are hitting up in the top two-thirds of the order.

Player Rankings

Catcher

  1. Brian McCann – $3,700
  2. Buster Posey – $3,600
  3. Russell Martin – $3,000
  4. Alex Avila – $2,800

First Base

  1. Edwin Encarnacion – $4,500
  2. Joey Votto – $4,000
  3. Albert Pujols – $4,000
  4. Mark Teixeira – $3,600

Second Base

  1. Jason Kipnis – $4,900
  2. Brian Dozier – $3,800
  3. Kolten Wong – $3,200
  4. Jose Altuve – $4,800

Third Base

  1. Josh Donaldson – $4,800
  2. Matt Carpenter – $4,300
  3. Trevor Plouffe – $3,400
  4. Chase Headley – $3,300

Shortstop

  1. Troy Tulowitzki – $3,900
  2. Carlos Correa – $3,500
  3. Marcus Semien – $3,300
  4. Didi Gregorius – $3,100

Outfield

  1. Mike Trout – $5,300
  2. Andrew McCutchen – $5,000
  3. Jose Bautista – $4,600
  4. Jacoby Ellsbury – $4,400
  5. Gregory Polanco – $5,200
  6. Kole Calhoun – $4,100
  7. George Springer – $3,800
  8. Michael Saunders – $3,500
  9. Carlos Beltran – $3,900
  10. Melky Cabrera – $3,100

Starting Pitcher

  1. Stephen Strasburg – $12,900
  2. Michael Wacha – $7,200
  3. Jon Gray – $8,500
  4. Matt Harvey – $9,700
  5. Jhoulys Chacin – $5,900
  6. Chris Sale – $13,800

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