2016 Fantasy BaseballBrett TalleyFantasy BaseballFront Office

Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: May 5, 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 projections derived from FanGraphs’ Depth Chart projections and rankings of the top plays at each position.

Pitching Perspective

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As was the case with a similar short slate yesterday, we’ve got one expensive and obvious pitching option that is sure to be highly owned. Jacob deGrom will be in San Diego taking on the Padres who rank dead last in wOBA vs. RHP with the third highest strikeout rate. He hasn’t been as good through three starts as his 1.02 ERA would suggest as his strikeout rate is way down from where it’s been in his first two seasons. But his swinging strike rate hasn’t declined, so his strikeout rate should jump back up at some point. It’s probably impossible to fade him in cash games given that he’s not over-priced, but you can certainly fade in GPPs if you’d like.

Tonight’s second most expensive starter, Masahiro Tanaka, has a much tougher matchup than deGrom as he’ll face the Orioles in hitter-friendly Baltimore. The O’s have the fourth highest wOBA vs. RHP and the third highest wOBA at home, so there’s definitely risk in the matchup. But there is some upside as the O’s strikeout a bit more than average vs. RHP. Tanaka himself has been fine in the early going. As always he has been stingy with walks, and his strikeout rate remains where it was last year, a bit above average. He’s also generating ground balls at an almost 60 percent clip, and you can expect that to continue as he’s ditched his four-seamer almost completely in favor of more splitters. The main problem here is price as he’s a bit over-priced for this matchup. But unless you’re rostering deGrom and Tanaka in the same lineup, you’re not going to have much trouble fitting in whatever hitters you want with Tanaka as your SP1.

Facing Tanaka will be Kevin Gausman. Obviously Gausman will be in the same hitter-friendly ball park, but the matchup against the Yankees is better as they have the sixth lowest wOBA vs. RHP. That said, the Yanks probably have better hitting days coming. Their BABIP as a team vs. RHP is just .260, and they’re above average in terms of strikeout-to-walk ratio, so the matchup isn’t quite as good as it might appear, especially since they don’t strikeout much. But it is definitely safer than Tanaka’s matchup against the O’s. As for Gausman’s stats, he has only made two starts this year, but he’s showed above average strikeout, walk and ground ball rates in those two starts. Dating back to last year, he has above average strikeout and walk rates with a 3.83 ERA (3.60 xFIP) in his last 16 starts. He’s had a few stinkers in there, but he’s fairly trustworthy, especially at his price tag.

Other options to consider today are Kyle Hendricks and Adam Conley. Hendricks is the only pitcher discussed here today with an xFIP currently under 3.00. His strikeout rate is only about average, but he issues very few walks and generates a ton of ground balls. He also plays for the 20-6 Cubs who are a -145 favorite to go to 21-6. They’ll face the Nationals who are average in both wOBA and strikeout rate vs. RHP. Hendricks would be more attractive if he was a bit cheaper, but he’s slightly overpriced due to a lack of strikeout upside.

Conley is the cheapest guy I can recommend today, though he’s not much cheaper than Gausman, so you probably don’t need the extra salary relief. I probably like him in part due to his thoughtful approach to pitching (as detailed here by Eno Sarrris), but he also has an xFIP under 4.00 and a 25 percent strikeout rate, which is rare for a pitcher at his price point. His matchup with the D’Backs is tough as they rank third in wOBA vs. LHP and have a lower-than-average strikeout rate, but at least the game is in Miami and not Arizona. Gausman is probably preferable, though Conley maybe has a bit more strikeout potential and offers $300 in savings if you need it.

Stack Options

Boston Red Sox – To say Erik Johnson struggles with lefties would be an understatement. He has faced 209 left-handed hitters at the big league level and they have a .418 wOBA against Johnson while his xFIP against them is over 6.00. He’ll be promoted from Triple-A today to take on a Red Sox team that has the best wOBA in the league against right-handed pitching. BABIP is driving their league leading ways, but they were tied for the eighth best wOBA vs. RHP last year. It’s the back half of Boston’s lineup that figures to be lefty-heavy with Travis Shaw, Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley, Jr. likely hitting 6-7-9 in the order. Given that they don’t hit at the top, they likely won’t be too highly owned. David Ortiz should be a popular pick out of the cleanup spot, and he could be used with the other three in a stack.

Chicago White Sox – On the other side of that game, the Sox will get left-hander Henry Owens. Owens has actually been worse against left-handed hitters than right, but it’s a pretty small sample size and he’s still been pretty bad against righties. Aside from Adam Eaton, there’s a good chance everyone in Chicago’s lineup will hit from the right side tomorrow as they’re a righty-heavy lineup with a few switch hitters. Todd Frazier, Jose Abreu and Brett Lawrie are the strongest plays, but there’s also good value down the order with guys like Austin Jackson or Jerry Sands and whoever starts behind the plate.

Milwaukee Brewers – Alfredo Simon will face the Brewers tonight, which means dongs are in play. Simon has given up five home runs in just 13.1 innings so far. Extrapolated out to a 600 PA season for one hitter, that’s the equivalent of about 37 home runs. So teams are hitting home runs at roughly a David Ortiz rate off Simon. Lefties have done more damage, which makes guys like Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Ramon Flores good values. The wind looks like it will be blowing out fairly strong to right, which makes the situation even better for lefties. Right-handers will also do just fine so Ryan Bruan, Chris Carter, Jonathan Lucroy and switch-hitter Jonathan Villar will all work for a stack.

Toronto Blue Jays – The chalk. Derek Holland struggles with right-handers in general, and, more specifically, right-handers Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson. Those guys both have an OPS over 1.000 against Holland, as does Troy Tulowitzki, though he’s only faced Holland three times. Obviously Jose Bautista could be included in a stack, though he hasn’t had the same success against Holland, and Kevin Pillar and Russell Martin are good down-lineup options as well.

Player Rankings

Catcher

  1. Jonathan Lucroy – $4,000
  2. Dioner Navarro – $3,300
  3. Hector Sanchez – $2,000
  4. Russell Martin – $3,400
  5. Eric Kratz – $2,000

First Base

  1. David Ortiz – $4,600
  2. Chris Carter – $4,200
  3. Anthony Rizzo – $5,200
  4. Pedro Alvarez – $3,100
  5. Jose Abreu – $4,200

Second Base

  1. Brett Lawrie – $4,000
  2. Jose Altuve – $5,300
  3. Jonathan Schoop – $3,100

Third Base

  1. Travis Shaw – $3,400
  2. Josh Donaldson – $5,000
  3. Manny Machado – $4,300
  4. Todd Frazier – $4,300
  5. Adrian Beltre – $3,900

Shortstop

  1. Jonathan Villar – $4,000
  2. Jimmy Rollins – $3,700
  3. Troy Tulowitzki – $3,800
  4. Tyler Saladino – $3,300
  5. Carlos Correa – $4,300

Outfield

  1. Carlos Gonzalez – $3,800
  2. Jose Bautista – $3,900
  3. Kirk Nieuwenhuis – $3,600
  4. Jackie Bradley, Jr. – $3,300
  5. Ryan Braun – $4,700
  6. Jay Bruce – $4,000
  7. Domingo Santana – $3,400
  8. Ramon Flores – $3,100
  9. Austin Jackson – $3,300
  10. Jerry Sands – $3,300
  11. Kevin Pillar – $3,200
  12. Brock Holt – $3,100

Starting Pitcher

  1. Jacob deGrom – $11,400
  2. Masahiro Tanaka – $9,300
  3. Kevin Gausman – $6,900
  4. Kyle Hendricks – $8,000
  5. Adam Conley – $6,600

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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