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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: April 10, 2015

Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best teams to use for stacks for Friday’s ten-game evening slate on DraftKings starting at 7:05 EST. We’ve also got projections derived from Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections, and we have rankings of the top plays at each position.

Pitching Perspective

Here are our projections for today’s starters. You’ll see each starter’s salary, his opponent color coded to denote quality of matchup, the average number of fantasy points the starter is projected to score per game and how far above or below average his projection is compared to his salary in the value column. As for the colors, they rank as follows from good to bad: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, burgundy.

In my opinion, pitching breaks down pretty easily tonight. Gio Gonzalez ($9,100, SP) is the most expensive pitcher of the day, and our projections have him as the highest scoring option of the day. The model thinks the $9,100 price is just about right, but the model hasn’t factored in the matchup with the Phillies. We’ll start adjusting our projections for matchup once some data builds up this season. But for today, Gio looks like a good play even without the adjustment. The only problem is that he’s pretty clearly the top option and is likely to have high ownership percentages.

The two guys I figure to roster most today are John Lackey ($7,800, SP) and Wade Miley ($6,300, SP). Lackey is the second highest projected pitcher, the third most expensive pitcher, and he doesn’t have a bad matchup against Cincinnati. The reasons to like him are obvious. As for Miley, he’s a bit dicier against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. It’s a rough ballpark against a team that was better against left-handed pitchers than right last year. But his price is what really makes him attractive. I think his salary is at least $500 too low today. There’s a little concern about rain in New York tonight, but the forecast looks like rain may cause a delay to the start but not cause a postponement or interrupt the game once it gets started. You could say the same thing about Gio and the Nats game in Philly.

Brandon Morrow ($7,200, SP) and Brett Anderson ($6,200, SP) also have good projections and value grades, but I need to see something out of those two historically injured pitchers before I can stomach rostering them. If I was going to take a risk in a GPP today, I’d do it with Chase Anderson ($5,300, SP). It’s a rough matchup against the Dodgers, and the game is in hitter-friendly Arizona as opposed to pitcher-friendly Los Angeles. I just like Anderson. In his rookie season last year he immediately displayed strikeout and walk skills that were average to slightly above average, and he showed that he has one of the best changeups in the league. At his price, he may be worth a gamble.

Stack Options

No lie, I’m having a hard time narrowing down teams from which to pick hitters today. By doing a little math with the Vegas lines, the Dodgers, Angels, Marlins and Nationals are the best bets to go off with the Cardinals, Brewers and Red Sox the second tier options.

I’ll start with the Dodgers and talk through the teams in order. Hopefully I’ll draw some conclusions by the end of the section, and hopefully you will, too. The Dodgers are facing the aformentioned Chase Anderson who was very tough on left-handed hitters last year thanks to that platoon busting, elite changeup of his. I’m still ranking Yasmani Grandal ($3,800, C) below because the options are thin at catcher today, but Anderson has me hesitant enough about the scorching hot Adrian Gonzalez and the Dodgers.

The Angels will face former teammate Jason Vargas in LA tonight. Vargas is a fly ball pitcher who has had good home parks first in LA and now KC for a pitcher with that batted ball tendency. But he does have trouble with right-handed hitters, and the Angels obviously have some tough right-handers in the middle of their lineup. Tuesday against a left-hander, Mike Trout ($5,100, OF), Albert Pujols ($4,200, 1B) and David Freese ($4,200, 3B) hit 2-3-4. Freese is overpriced, but Trout and Pujols are actually good values at those price points. I love that mini-stack.

With the Marlins, Dee Gordon ($5,200, 2B/SS) is one of the few good options at the middle infield positions today. I also like Wilmer Flores ($3,300, 2B/SS) up the middle, but the one game I’m concerned might be rained out is Mets at Braves. If rain remains an issue there or if you’re just not comfortable with Flores, Gordon may be your best option despite a price tag that is too high. But there’s enough cheap pitching today that you can make it work. The Marlins are a good option because the Rays appear to be approaching this game as one for their bullpen to handle with someone named Steve Geltz likely to start. I’d definitely pair Gordon with Christian Yelich ($5,100, OF) in a mini-stack, and I’d throw in Giancarlo Stanton ($5,800, OF) if you have the money/positional room for him. But Stanton isn’t necessary.

Moving on to the Nats, man, do I love me some Bryce Harper ($4,700, OF) against Jerome Williams in Philly with the wind blowing out 14 mph to right. Not sure how you pass that up. If you want to pair him with someone, Ryan Zimmerman ($4,700, 3B) is the guy. However, there are tons of good options at third base tonight, so you don’t have to put Zimm in there. You could also even throw in Ian Desmond ($4,700, SS) with Harper and Zimm to make it more of a stack. But Harper on his own is fine tonight.

As for the Cardinals, their left-handers could do some damage against Jason Marquis in Cincinnati. Lefties slugged .487 against Marquis last year, and Cincy had the fourth highest HR as L park factor last year. Jason Heyward ($4,900, OF) is my favorite Card of the day. Other lefties include Matt Carpenter ($4,700, 3B) and Matt Adams ($4,800, 1B). They should hit first and fourth, respectively, with Heyward hitting second. Hitting third should be Matt Holliday ($4,700, OF) whose wOBA projections against left and right handers are very similar. With Adams’ price being too high for my liking, Carpenter-Heyward-Holliday is the stack for me here, but Carpenter-Heyward as a mini-stack is just fine.

The Brewers were just inexplicably held to only six runs in a three-game series at home against the Rockies. Well, I say inexplicably, but let me offer an explanation. The Brewers are a very right-handed heavy lineup, and Colorado threw three righties at them. But tonight the Brewers will see a left-hander in Jeff Locke, and they’re staying in their offense-friendly home park for this series. My issue with the Brewers is that their prices are too high. But I can’t deny it’s a good matchup, so all of their right-handed hitters are an option tonight if you like that matchup.

And then finally the Red Sox. I like the matchup and ballpark for David Ortiz ($4,900, 1B) and Pablo Sandoval ($4,200, 3B), but I don’t see a third option for a bigger stack there. Yankee Stadium is obviously favorable for left-handed hitters, and Nate Eovaldi doesn’t scare me.

So to recap, I like Trout/Pujols, Gordon/Yelich and maybe Stanton, Wilmer Flores if it doesn’t rain in Atlanta, Harper and maybe Zimmerman, and Carpenter/Heyward and maybe Holliday/Adams. I think Brewers right-handers and Ortiz/Panda would be my alternate plays. Conclusions drawn.

You can download our hitter projections here. These projections are not matchup adjusted, but each player’s projected wOBA against left and right handed pitching is included to help with matchup decisions. Today we suggest you primarily stick to players on on the Angels, Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, Marlins, Nationals and Red Sox.

Player Rankings

Catcher

  1. Jonathan Lucroy – $4,800 – Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Stephen Vogt – $3,500 – Oakland Athletics
  3. Yasmani Grandal – $3,800 – Los Angeles Dodgers

First Base

  1. Albert Pujols – $4,200 – Los Angeles Angels
  2. David Ortiz – $4,900 – Boston Red Sox
  3. Michael Cuddyer – $4,900 – New York Mets

Second Base

  1. Wilmer Flores – $3,300 – New York Mets
  2. Dee Gordon – $5,200 – Miami Marlins
  3. Ben Zobrist – $4,200 – Oakland Athletics

Third Base

  1. Pablo Sandoval – $4,200 – Boston Red Sox
  2. Ryan Zimmerman – $4,700 – Washington Nationals
  3. Matt Carpenter – $4,700 – St. Louis Cardinals
  4. David Wright – $5,100 – New York Mets
  5. Aramis Ramirez – $4,200 – Milwaukee Brewers

It’s hard to differentiate these third basemen today. Who fills my 3B slot will likely depend on who else I roster, using the slot for stacking.

Shortstop

  1. Wilmer Flores – $3,300 – New York Mets
  2. Dee Gordon – $5,200 – Miami Marlins
  3. Ian Desmond – $4,700 – Washington Nationals

Outfield

  1. Bryce Harper – $4,700 – Washington Nationals
  2. Mike Trout – $5,100 – Los Angeles Angels
  3. Christian Yelich – $5,100 – Miami Marlins
  4. Jason Heyward – $4,900 – St. Louis Cardinals
  5. Nelson Cruz – $4,300 – Seattle Mariners
  6. Khris Davis – $4,500 – Milwaukee Brewers

Starting Pitcher

  1. Gio Gonzalez – $9,100 – Washington Nationals
  2. John Lackey – $7,800 – St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Wade Miley – $6,300 – Boston Red Sox
  4. Chase Anderson – $5,300 – Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. Brandon Morrow – $7,200 – San Diego Padres
  6. Brett Anderson – $6,200 – Los Angeles Dodgers

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