2016 Fantasy BaseballBrett TalleyFantasy Baseball

Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: May 31, 2016 – DraftKings Analysis

Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best hitters to use for Tuesday’s 12-game evening slate on DraftKings.

Pitcher Rankings

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. Jake Arrieta – $13,000

Arrieta’s ERA isn’t going to stay under 2.00 forever, and it may gradually work it’s way towards three the remainder of the year. It’s not that he’s not very good, it’s just that he’s not quite this good. His walk rate is up a bit at 8.1 percent, and his strikeout rate and swinging strike rate are down a bit from last year. His strikeout rate is still great and he’s great at managing contact, but good fortune has definitely helped a bit in the early going (.220 BABIP, 83.3 percent strand rate).

He struggled last time out against the Cardinals who rank second in wRC+ vs. RHP, and the matchup today is much better against the Dodgers who rank 19th in wRC+ vs. RHP, though they have only a middling strikeout rate. I’m not thrilled about paying this kind of price for a guy I think it pitching a bit over his head, but it’s certainly an understandable cash game play.

2. Jose Fernandez – $12,400

Fernandez has a terrible matchup today against the Pirates who have the fourth highest wRC+ and fifth lowest strikeout rate vs. RHP. That said, Fernandez is on an epic strikeout run with at least nine strikeouts in each of his last four starts and 43 strikeouts total in that stretch. The matchup makes him tough to roster in cash, and his hot streak and general popularity likely make him fairly highly owned, so he may not work for GPPs either. I love Fernandez, but at this price and with these circumstances, today may not be the day to use him.

3. Gerrit Cole – $9,600

After posting a 2.60 ERA last year you might think Cole is just rolling right along with a 2.53 ERA this year, but he hasn’t been nearly as good as he was last year. His xFIP sits at 4.03 compared to 3.16 last year. The biggest reason for the higher xFIP is a significant dip in his swinging strike rate, which has unsurprisingly cut into his strikeout rate. That said, he’s much more affordable than the other big names today, so he’s worth considering. He’s got a middling matchup against the Marlins who rank middle-of-the-pack in wRC+ vs. RHP and have a slightly below average strikeout rate. There’s reasons to be wary here, but the same is true for the first two guys on the list, so I’m inclined to take the savings that come with Cole.

4. Steven Matz – $11,100

Matz has been excellent this year with a 2.36 ERA and 2.85 xFIP through eight starts, and that includes his first start of the season in which he allowed seven runs and didn’t make it out of the second. In the seven starts since he has allowed no runs in four starts and two runs in three starts. Impressive. His strikeout rate is what Arrieta’s is, and his walk rate is almost half that of Arrieta’s, so Matz should be thought of as a stud. He’s got a risk/reward matchup against the White Sox who rank ninth in wRC+ vs. LHP, but they also strike out at a slightly above average rate. If he were a bit cheaper he’d be a much more attractive play, but he’s still much cheaper than Arrieta and Fernandez.

5. Drew Smyly – $8,800

Drew Smyly‘s ERA is just under 4.00, but his strikeout and walk rates are both easily better than average, so there could be quite a bit of room for improvement here. The issue holding him back is home runs as he’s allowed balls to leave the yard at a fairly high rate between this year and last. Were he to get that in check, he could have an ERA of 3.50 or lower. He’s got a safe-ish matchup tonight against the Royals who rank 27th in wRC+ vs. LHP, but they also have the third lowest strikeout rate against lefties, which limits Smyly’s upside. He’s a tad under-priced, so he’s definitely an option but probably more for cash than GPP.

6. Aaron Nola – $10,600

Nola has been great this season (3.14 ERA, 2.60 xFIP), but my projections don’t like his price tag. His matchup with Washington is a pretty good one as the Nats have the sixth lowest wRC+ vs. RHP and a middle-of-the-road strikeout rate. He’s not someone you must avoid, but Cole and Matz are probably better options in that price range.

7. Scott Kazmir – $7,800

Kaz’s xFIP (4.12) indicates he may have some better days ahead (4.84 ERA), but today is unlikely to be one of those days. He’ll face the Cubs who have the fifth highest wRC+ and fourth lowest strikeout rate vs. LHP.

8. Anibal Sanchez – $6,100

Anibal is cheap enough that he might warrant GPP consideration, but he’s tough to stomach. His xFIP is a run lower than his ERA, but that’s hardly encouraging since his xFIP is 5.08. He also has a tough matchup against the Angels who rank ninth in wRC+ vs. RHP and have the lowest strikeout rate in the league against righties. Again, maybe he’s cheap enough to be worth a shot in a GPP, but I won’t be taking that risk.

9. Jake Peavy – $6,600

Blech. Peavy has a 7.26 ERA and 4.75 xFIP, so I wouldn’t blame you for stopping right there. But he does have quality starts in two of his last three outings, and he only allowed one run in each of those two outings. His matchup with Atlanta is one of the safer matchups in the game as the Braves are one of four teams separated from the pack at the bottom of the wRC+ ranks against RHP. Price and matchup could make Peavy an option in GPPs, but, again, I have no objection if you just can’t bring yourself to roster him.

10. Dillon Gee – $4,800

Gee is actually ranked #13 in my projections today, but the guys ranked #10-#12 weren’t options for various reasons.

Gee only has three starts this year, and he’s struggled to the tune of a 5.65 ERA. The good news is he has 16 strikeouts compared to five unintentional walks in 14.1 innings in those three starts. The walks are a tad high, but the strikeouts will certainly play. He’s got an excellent strikeout matchup today against Tampa who has the second highest strikeout rate in the league vs. RHP. That means Gee has all kinds of strikeout upside, which means he also has tons of value potential as the second cheapest pitcher of the night.

Hitting Options

Chicago Cubs – The Cubs rank fifth in wRC+ vs. LHP and get lefty Scott Kazmir tonight. Ben Zobrist has a 180 wRC+ vs. LHP this season. Kris Bryant has a career 141 wRC+ vs. LHP at home. Javier Baez would make for a good value option if he’s in the lineup again tonight.

Stack suggestion: Dexter Fowler (expected lineup slot: 1), Kris Bryant (3), Anthony Rizzo (4), Ben Zobrist (5)

Colorado Rockies – Jon Moscot is reported to be coming off the DL for Cincy and will be brutally welcomed back to the bigs in Coors. Moscot has more walks than strikeouts and a horrific 5.89 xFIP in three starts this season. The best Colorado options are easily Carlos Gonzalez, who has homered in three straight and in four of five, and Charlie Blackmon, who homered yesterday and is riding an eight-game hitting streak. Gerardo Parra is also a decent cheaper option.

Stack suggestion: Charlie Blackmon (1), DJ Lemahieu (2), Carlos Gonzalez (3), Gerardo Parra (5)

Minnesota Twins – The Twins are terrible against left-handed pitching with the third worst wRC+ vs. LHP, but they can’t be ignored against Eric Surkamp. In five starts Surkamp has a 6.55 ERA and 6.88 xFIP, and he’s been horrific against both left- and right-handed hitters. Dating back to last season Miguel Sano has a 150 wRC+ vs. LHP, and Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe have both been 10-15 percent better than average vs. LHP. Sano is on a five-game hit streak and had a four-game homer streak snapped yesterday, so he’s going very well right now. Robbie Grossman has worked his way into regular playing time and is priced at the minimum today, so he’s a great salary relief option.

Stack suggestion: Brian Dozier (2), Miguel Sano (4), Trevor Plouffe (5), Robbie Grossman (6)

San Francisco Giants – The Giants face RHP Matt Wisler today who is just terrible against left-handed hitters. Counting intentional walks, Wisler has as many walks as he does strikeouts against the 361 lefties he has faced between this year and last, and his xFIP against them is 5.73. He has definitely been better this year than he was last year against them, but a .216 BABIP vs. LHH is certainly covering up his issue to some degree. Denard Span, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Jarrett Parker and Brandon Crawford are all good lefty options with all but Crawford also being good values.

Stack suggestion: Denard Span (1), Joe Panik (2), Buster Posey (4), Brandon Belt (5)

St. Louis Cardinals – The Cards rank second in the league in wRC+ vs. RHP and get RHP Wily Peralta tonight. Peralta has a 6.62 ERA in 10 starts (4.75 xFIP). He’s unsurprisingly worse against left-handers, so Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, Matt Adams and Brandon Moss are the best options.

Stack suggestion: Matt Carpenter (1), Matt Holliday (3), Matt Adams (4), Brandon Moss (5)

Player Rankings


  1. Dustin Garneau – $3,200
  2. Russell Martin – $3,400
  3. Tony Wolters – $3,300
  4. Jonathan Lucroy – $4,400
  5. Buster Posey – $4,200

First Base

  1. Edwin Encarnacion – $4,100
  2. Chris Davis – $3,800
  3. Brandon Belt – $3,600
  4. Byung Ho Park – $3,400
  5. David Ortiz – $5,500

Second Base

  1. Brian Dozier – $3,700
  2. Daniel Murphy – $3,900
  3. Joe Panik – $3,500
  4. Kolten Wong – $3,700
  5. Ben Zobrist – $4,800

Third Base

  1. Matt Carpenter – $5,000
  2. Josh Donaldson – $4,700
  3. Kris Bryant – $4,700
  4. Trevor Plouffe – $3,500
  5. Nolan Arenado – $5,300


  1. Manny Machado – $4,900
  2. Javier Baez – $2,900
  3. Troy Tulowitzki – $3,500
  4. Cristhian Adames – $2,500
  5. Brandon Crawford – $3,600


  1. Jose Bautista – $4,300
  2. Carlos Gonzalez – $5,200
  3. Charlie Blackmon – $5,000
  4. Bryce Harper – $4,700
  5. Denard Span – $3,600
  6. Gerardo Parra – $4,000
  7. Miguel Sano – $4,200
  8. Justin Upton – $2,900
  9. Jarrett Parker – $2,800
  10. Robbie Grossman – $2,000

Starting Pitcher

  1. Gerrit Cole – $9,600
  2. Steven Matz – $11,100
  3. Jake Arrieta – $13,000
  4. Dillon Gee – $4,800
  5. Drew Smyly – $8,800
  6. Jose Fernandez – $12,400
  7. Aaron Nola – $10,600
  8. Jake Peavy – $6,600

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