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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: April 28, 2015

Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation for the tonight’s 13-game evening slate on DraftKings as well as the best teams from which to pick hitters. We’ve also got projections derived from Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections, and we have rankings of the top plays at each position.

Note: This analysis does not include the two games that start at 6:00 Eastern Time.

Pitching Perspective

Here are our projections for today’s starters. You’ll see each starter’s salary, 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. You’ll also see adjustments being made for matchup and ballpark. As for the colors, they rank as follows from good to bad: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, burgundy.

After much bemoaning in the last week or so, it is finally here. We have a night of games with plenty of pitching options. In fact, it’s almost like there are too many options. The most valuable of those options, as shown by our model, appears to be Tyson Ross ($9,200). I tend to agree with the model as Ross will get the Astros at home in Petco Park . This is a big negative park shift for the Astros who lead the league in K% at 23.9% (not including last night’s performance). Ross generates a lot of groundballs and has a 11.12 K/9 so far this year. He’s a preferred cash game play.

It wouldn’t be wise to let this slate go by without mentioning the matchup between Clayton Kershaw ($12,400) and Madison Bumgarner ($10,000). As of writing this, the total for this game is six runs. That means Vegas doesn’t think there is going to be too many runs scored. I agree. Kershaw is tough to pay up for, especially with the other more cost efficient options in cash games. With that being said, he’s an excellent GPP option, and should you feel confident about fitting him in your cash game lineups, you won’t be disappointed. I like what Bumgarner brings to the table, but our model doesn’t like him as much as some of the other middle-priced options.

One of those options is Johnny Cueto ($10,400). Cueto will cost you $400 more than Bumgarner, but I think it’s well worth it. Despite pitching in a great hitters park at home in Cincinnati, Cueto will be facing a lowly Brewers offense. The Brewers are currently without Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy and have sat Ryan Braun the last few days (although he did pinch hit Monday night). The Brewers are in shambles and are really are a sad story. Pick on them at will.

If you like being a bully, Michael Wacha ($8,300) is right up your alley. Wacha will take over the ace label with Adam Wainwright down for the year, and he should have no problem doing so. He’ll get an equally atrocious Phillies offense in a negative park shift away from Citizen’s Bank Park. This game is currently carrying an total of seven and Wacha’s price is too nice to pass up. He makes for an excellent second pitcher on DraftKings tonight.

I wouldn’t stray too far from the aforementioned arms, but Sonny Gray ($8,500) and Anibal Sanchez ($7,700) both present nice upside in GPPS.

Stack Options

Due to the plethora of pitching options tonight, there are only a few games that we can try and attack offensively. Vegas thinks I should start with the game in Texas between the Rangers and Mariners. This game will feature a pair of subpar left-handers in a good run scoring environment. With a total set at nine, there are plenty of values we can fit in our lineups from this game. If Justin Ruggiano ($4,100) leads off again for the Mariners, he becomes a solid outfield paly, although his price is a tad higher than I’d like. Mike Zunino’s ($3,900) lineup spot is less than ideal, but he provides some solid salary relief at a thing position. Nelson Cruz ($5,300) is the big bat you’ll definitely want to have, as he mashes lefties in his career (.243 ISO, .384 wOBA). The model (click here!) doesn’t like Robinson Cano ($5,000) or Kyle Seager ($4,200) without the platoon advantage, but I’m OK with using them should you be running a Mariners stack in a GPP. The left-on-left matchup will drive down the ownership percentage, and I’m not overly concerned about their skills against Ross Detwiler. Also of note, the Rangers are without a left-handed pitcher in their bullpen, so if and when it gets there, Cano and Seager will have the platoon advantage.

I know I just wasted a lot of words about the Mariners, but the Rangers have some value here, too. Adrian Beltre ($4,700) is a solid cash game or GPP option and could be paired with value play Jake Smolinksi ($3,300) if you’re looking to get more exposure against J.A. Happ.

Both the Rockies and Diamondbacks provide value in a great hitting environment in Chase Field tonight. A pair of right-handers will take the mound, making the Rockies left-handed bats very appetizing. Corey Dickerson ($5,000) is my favorite of the Rockies lefties, but Charlie Blackmon ($4,600) and Carlos Gonzalez ($4,600) are options as well. Troy Tulowitzki ($5,000) remains the top shortstop option, despite not having the platoon advantage, and Justin Morneau ($4,500) provides some value at a loaded first base position.

Paul Goldschmidt ($5,600) remains a great tournament option, but his price is a tad much for cash games. Ender Inciarte ($3,700) is a great value should he be in the leadoff spot again against Kyle Kendrick. David Peralta has been super cold of late, but should he find himself in the lineup will also add some value at only $4,100.

The Detroit Tigers get the obligatory Mike Pelfrey stack. Pelfrey is atrocious (5.41 FIP) and gives up a lot of contact (4.24 K/9) making him an ideal stack against option. The Tigers are loaded offensively, but as a result are pricey bat options. Their 1-6 will definitely be cash game options, as well as preferred options in GPPs. Miguel Cabrera ($5,400) takes the cake as the top first basemen, but he’s also third base eligible on DraftKings.

The Cardinals provide some value facing Severino Gonzalez tonight. Their left-handed bats work well as fill-ins for cash games, or for GPP stacking. I like Kolten Wong ($4,200), Johnny Peralta ($4,200) and Matt Carpenter ($4,800) the most.

Last but not least, the Tampa Bay Rays and Yankees square off in Yankee Stadium, a prime hitting location. The Yankees left-handed bats will cost you, but they provide plenty of tournament upside.

You can view and download our hitter projections here. These projections are an average of what each hitter is projected to do on a per game basis according to the ZiPS rest-of-season projections. The projections have then been adjusted for splits, quality of the opposing starting pitcher and ballpark.

Player Rankings


  1. Brian McCann – $3,800 – New York Yankees
  2. Mike Zunino – $3,900 – Seattle Mariners
  3. Stephen Vogt -$4,200 – Oakland Athletics

First Baseman

  1. Miguel Cabrera – $5,400 – Detroit Tigers
  2. Jose Abreu – $5,100 – Chicago White Sox
  3. Mark Teixeira – $4,700 – New York Yankees
  4. Joey Votto – $4,700 – Cincinnati Reds

Second Basemen

  1. Ian Kinsler – $4,200 – Detroit Tigers
  2. Dee Gordon – $4,400 – Miami Marlins
  3. Kolten Wong – $4,200 – St. Louis Cardinals


  1. Troy Tulowitzki – $5,000 – Colorado Rockies
  2. Johnny Peralta – $4,200 – St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Jose Iglesias – $3,400 – Detroit Tigers (if hitting 2nd again)

Third Basemen

  1. Nolan Arenado -$4,400 – Colorado Rockies
  2. Matt Carpenter – $4,800 – St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Adrian Beltre – $4,700 – Texas Rangers


  1. Corey Dickerson -$5,000 – Colorado Rockies
  2. Nelson Cruz – $5,300 – Seattle Mariners
  3. Carlos Gonzalez -$4,600 – Colorado Rockies (prefer if 1-5)
  4. Charlie Blackmon – $4,600 – Colorado Rockies
  5. J.D. Martinez – $4,500 – Detroit Tigers

Starting Pitchers

  1. Tyson Ross – $9,200 – San Diego Padres
  2. Johnny Cueto -$10,400 – Cincinnati Reds
  3. Clayton Kershaw – $12,400 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Michael Wacha – $8,300 – St. Louis Cardinals
  5. Madison Bumgarner – $10,000 – San Francisco Giants

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