Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: August 17, 2015
Welcome back to The Fix! I’m here to discuss the top plays and values for tonight’s 10-game slate on DraftKings. I’ll give you my thoughts on the slate, and at the bottom we have rankings of the top plays at each position. If you’re on Twitter, you can find me @RyNoonan.
It’s difficult to nail down weather hours and hours before first pitch. Given how often forecasts change between the time this post is written late the night before and when games actually start, make sure to follow @KevinRothWx for updates.
It’s always wise to being the discussion with the day’s highest priced option, and today that’s Sonny Gray ($11,900). After struggling with back spasms last week, Gray had his Thursday start pushed back and appears to be all systems go after a positive check-up over the weekend. If we’re looking at cash game plays, there are better ways to go today. If the back spasms weren’t enough of a concern, Gray’s price is up despite the negative park shift he gets by taking the ball in Baltimore today. The Orioles whiff a ton versus right-handed pitching (22.3%), but have a top-5 ISO score and Camden Yards plays as a hitter’s park in terms of both runs and home runs. Gray has been awesome this season, but he’s more of a tournament option today given the situation at hand.
I rarely feel good about rostering Danny Salazar ($10,800) in cash games. The extreme boom-or-bust nature of his game makes him feel more like a tournament play when he’s on the slate, but he’s been surprisingly consistent. Outside of the 19.9 DraftKings points he had 5 starts ago against the Brewers, Salazar has topped 20 points in 7 of his last 8 outings. His 10.24 K/9 always makes him appealing, but limiting walks has been at the forefront of his 2015 success. The problem for Salazar today is he’s facing the Red Sox who have one of the lowest K-rates in the league. Good pitching can neutralize good hitting, and I’m not sure I’d go as far as to say that the Red Sox have been a good hitting team (96 wRC+).
Gerrit Cole ($10,600) is in the midst of his worst stretch of the season, and he’s looking to right the ship tonight at home against the Diamondbacks. Cole’s struggles have been mostly BABIP-driven in August, as he’s seen his BABIP jump over .300 (.313) but he’s maintained his solid strikeout rate and he’s keeping the ball in the yard. Cole’s a solid favorite, but my guess is his less than stellar outings will likely keep his ownership down a bit tonight, making him a great target in both cash and tournaments. The Diamondbacks are a neutral opponent, with a wOBA, wRC+ and ISO that’s around league average against right-handed pitching. Their implied-run total of 3 is the lowest on the night.
Cole Hamels ($10,500) has struggled with the long ball in his two starts as a Texas Ranger. He’s given up 5 in 13 2/3 innings, including 3 in his last start against the same team he’s facing tonight, the Seattle Mariners. This is a perfect opportunity to buy. I’d look elsewhere for cash games but when you can get an ace who’s likely to be low owned then that’s when you need to strike. There are other aces on the docket, Hamels has been struggling and he’s coming off a slight groin strain. All of these are reasons to fade him in cash, but use him in tournaments.
Some other pitching quick takes:
- There’s a solid matching in St. Louis tonight as Michael Wacha ($10,100) hosts Chris Heston ($7,300) and the Giants. Heston finally feels appropriately priced after fluctuating from week to week, and Wacha has settled in after underwhelming at times earlier in the season. After all, Wacha was an All-Star, but his barely league average strikeout rate is confusing when you look at his 10.1 swinging-strike rate. This feels like a low-ceiling spot for both guys tonight.
- Carlos Rodon‘s ($6,700) 5.01 BB/9 is impossible to ignore. The interesting piece here is that he’s managed to limit the walks over his last four outings, with just 7 free passes in this 21 1/3 inning stretch (2.88 BB/9). I don’t want to pick stats to fit a narrative, but for those that want to chase current form, it’s definitely a positive trend. Rodon takes on the Angels, a team he managed to dominate last time out (seven innnings, 11:1 K/B, 38.8 DK points). Can he do it again?
- Scott Kazmir ($10,000) is the other high-priced starter tonight, but his matchup against the Rays is worst than you think. The Rays come in as to top-5 offense against left-handed pitching (113 wRC+).
- It’s rare to find a starter with an 11.9 swinging-strike percentage who’ll cost you just $6,000, but Erasmo Ramirez is that guy. He’s been fairly average against right-handed bats (.310 wOBA) but his .250 wOBA against lefties is really good. His fantasy value is tied to his ability to work deep in to the game.
According to Vegas, our best bets today are the Indians (4.9 implied-run total), Yankees (4.8) and Rangers (4.7).
The Indians are in Fenway to take on Matt Barnes and the Red Sox. Big fly-ball numbers are a problem in Fenway, and that’s been the root of Barnes’s undoing this season (35.2% ground ball rate). Vegas is thinking that the Indians turn a few of those fly balls in to dongs.
The Yankees will likely be a popular stack against Kyle Gibson at home tonight, but I don’t love them and they’re expensive. I’m not going to pretend that Gibson is good (4.11 FIP), but he’s been serviceable this season. He has some notable reverse splits this season, limiting left-handed hitters to a .293 wOBA this season.
Heavy fly ball totals are at play here again, as Taijuan Walker‘s taking on the Rangers in Arlington. Walker has pitched much better of late, but his price has jumped and it’s a bad ballpark for his skills.
- I mentioned the Rays success against left-handed pitching, so I like them to outperform their 3.4 implied-run total for today. If you want to use two $10K+ starters in tournaments tonight, you can easily use a Rays stack and fit in some other higher priced bats.
- The Brewers (4.4 runs) are in a good spot here, at home against southpaw Justin Nicolino and the Marlins. Milwaukee’s 69 wRC+ against left-handed pitching is shocking when you consider that their .148 ISO is among the top-10 teams in the league. Also, Miller Park has been the best place for home run hitters this season. Its 1.704 home run park factor score is .273 points ahead of the second place park, Coors Field. That’s about the same different between Coors and the 8th place park, to give you a feel for how Miller Park is playing.
1. Jonathan Lucroy – Milwaukee Brewers $3,300
2. Hank Conger – Houston Astros $3,400
3. Brian McCann – New York Yankees $4,600
4. Yan Gomes – Cleveland Indians $3,600
1. Mitch Moreland – Texas Rangers $3,700
2. Justin Bour – Miami Marlins $3,000
3. Jose Abreu – Chicago White Sox $4,400
4. Prince Fielder – Texas Rangers $4,500
1. Brian Dozier – Minnesota Twins $4,400
2. Neil Walker – Pittsburgh Pirates $4,000
3. Logan Forsythe – Tampa Bay Rays $3,400
4. Rougned Odor – Texas Rangers $3,400
1. Matt Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals $4,700
2. Danny Duffy – San Francisco Giants $3,800
3. Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians $4,200
4. Miguel Sano – Minnesota Twins $4,400
1. Jean Segura – Milwaukee Brewers $3,500
2. Tyler Saladino – Chicago White Sox $3,200
3. Carlos Correa – Houston Astros $5,100
4. Francisco Lindor – Cleveland Indians $4,300
1. Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers $4,600
2. Nelson Cruz – Seattle Mariners $5,500
3. Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates $5,300
4. Shin-Soo Choo – Texas Rangers $3,900
5. Gerardo Parra – Baltimore Orioles $3,800
6. Abraham Almonte -Cleveland Indians $2,000
1. Gerrit Cole – Pittsburgh Pirates $10,600
2. Cole Hamels – Texas Rangers $10,500
3. Erasmo Ramirez – Tampa Bay Rays $6,000
4. Danny Salazar – Cleveland Indians $10,800
5. Scott Kazmir – Houston Astros $10,000