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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: August 3, 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.

Forecast

It’s difficult to nail down weather hours and hours before first pitch, but there could be some rain and high winds in the mix this evening. 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.

Pitching Perspective

It’s been a few weeks since we last had some legitimate pitching options on a Monday so forgive me if I seem lost. The top dog on the board tonight is defending AL Cy Young award winner, Corey Kluber ($11,700), who’s up over $1,000 compared to his last start where he dominated the Royals for 9 innings. He faces the Angels (103 wRC+ vs. RHP) in Anaheim tonight and will run in to a couple of guys that you might be familiar with, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Since we have a few viable options tonight, you could see a lower than usual ownership total tied to Kluber, making him more of a tournament play tonight.

The next two pitchers on the board are in very similar situations, are facing off against each other, and are very similarly priced. Jon Lester ($10,400) and the Cubs are in Pittsburgh to take on Francisco Liriano ($10,800) and the Pirates. Both clubs have struggled against left-handed pitching this season (95 wRC+) and strike out a ton (23%+). Vegas gives the edge to the home team Pirates (-130), but I suspect DFS’ers will choose the $400 in savings more times than not, making Liriano the play for tournaments.

I was extremely high on Garrett Richards ($9,800) in the preseason and he’s been a bit of a disappointment. According the the fine folks over at Fangraphs, Richards is leaning more on a his cutter in place of his four and two-seam fastballs, and the results have been less than stellar. His swinging-strike rate is in line with what we saw last season, but his strikeouts are down from 8.75 per 9 last season, to a below league average rate of 6.68/9 this season. His matchup against the Indians is fairly neutral (98 wRC+) but the Tribe has one of the lowest whiff rates in the league against right-handed pitching, sapping any potential upside that Richards might have.

Elite pitchers at Coors Field, what do we do? That’s a decision we’ll all have to make tonight, with Felix Hernandez ($9,500) taking the ball tonight for the Mariners. The Coors tax is hefty, as Felix’s price has dipped $1,700 here versus his last time out. He’ll lean on his ability to induce ground balls (55.9%) to negate the thin air of Colorado, but will it be enough? I’m willing to find out for just $9,500.

We have yet another solid starter who’s pitching in a hitter-haven, and that’s Tyson Ross ($9,300) in Milwaukee. Just like King Felix, Tyson Ross gets an extreme number of ground ball outs (62.9%) and his strikeout upside makes his appealing every time he toes the rubber. When he’s off it’s because he’s struggling with his command, but the Brewers have one of the lowest walk rates in the league (6.1% vs. RHP). With the recent trades of table-setter Gerardo Parra and all-around stud Carlos Gomez, the Brewers are likely to slide back even further here in the second half.

Some other pitching quick takes:

  • Lance McCullers ($8,400) has been the real deal this season, but his 4.8% HR/FB rate won’t hold up all season, and that Arlington, Texas heat is going to put it to the test tonight. The Rangers have the firepower to do some damage, but be aware of how good McCullers has been against left-handed hitters this season (.244 wOBA) before aggressively targeting him.
  • Matt Cain ($7,000) has not been very good since his return from the DL (4.05 ERA/4.50 FIP) but he’s under-priced and the Braves are not very good (88 wRC+). I’m not a huge fan of Cain because the strikeout upside is minimal, but if you’re looking for a mid-tier value based solely on his price he should be considered.
  • I don’t love this spot for Mike Foltynewicz ($5,200) but I like him long-term and he does have a bit of strikeout upside, something you want to have if you’re punting your SP2 spot.

Stack Options

According to Vegas, our best bets today are the Mariners (5.4 implied-run total), Astros (4.8) and Giants (4.5)

The Mariners are an obvious choice in cash games, as they’re in Coors against Eddie Butler and the Rockies. Butler has been extremely generous to both right-handed (.361 wOBA) and left-handed bats (.423) so stack away. You’ll have to pay up to do so, plus you’ll be following the heard, which is never ideal. I prefer to get exposure to the bottom of the lineup in these instances, and I recommend that here as well.

Colby Lewis gives up a line-drive or fly ball 65% of the time, a large number and one that can bite him in the butt on a warm summer night. Of all the pitchers going tonight, Lewis’ 13.9% soft-hit contact mark is the lowest by a wide margin. If you’re looking for a high upside offense to get exposure to while fading the game at Coors, I’d look to the Astros first.

I mentioned how I’m not a huge fan of the dirt cheap Foltynewicz tonight, and that’s because he’s facing the Giants (114 wRC+ vs. RHP). Left-handed bats in particular (.395 wOBA) have been an issue for the Braves young right-hander, but he’s struggled enough with right-handed bats to make this a full stack option tonight.

Some other offensive quick takes:

  • They are typically an off-the-radar offense, and rightfully so, but the Rays have hit left-handed pitching well all season (110 wRC+) and get a nice park factor bump tonight in Chicago against Jose Quintana (.339 wOBA against right-handed hitters).
  • Doug Fister doesn’t miss many bats, which eliminates him from consideration on most nights, and when he’s facing a solid offense it makes him someone to exploit. I’m not afraid to use Diamondbacks from either side of the plate here, since Fister has struggled against right-handers (.396 wOBA) this season.

Player Rankings

Catcher

1. Buster Posey – $4,500 San Francisco Giants

2. Jason Castro – $3,200 Houston Astros

3. Hank Conger – $3,700 Houston Astros

4. Curt Casali – $3,300 Tampa Bay Rays

First Base

1. Paul Goldschmidt – $5,600 Arizona Diamondbacks

2. Lucas Duda – $4,600 New York Mets

3. Brandon Belt -$4,200 San Francisco Giants

Second Base

1. Robinson Cano -$5,000 Seattle Mariners

2. Anthony Rendon -$3,200 Washington Nationals (3B)

3. Logan Forsythe -$3,500 Tampa Bay Rays

4. Luis Valbuena -$3,800 Houston Astros

Third Base

1. Kyle Seager -$4,700 Seattle Mariners

2. Matt Duffy -$3,900 San Francisco Giants

3. Evan Longoria -$3,700 Tampa Bay Rays

4. Daniel Murphy -$3,400 New York Mets

Shortstop

1. Ketel Marte -$2,000 Seattle Mariners

2. Brad Miller -$3,700 Seattle Mariners

3. Carlos Correa -$5,300 Houston Astros

4. Jung-ho Kang – $3,400 Pittsburgh Pirates

Outfield

1. Nelson Cruz -$5,900 Seattle Mariners

2. Bryce Harper -$5,700 Washington Nationals

3. David Peralta -$3,700 Arizona Diamondbacks

4. Preston Tucker -$3,600 Houston Astros

5. Hunter Pence -$4,800 San Francisco Giants

6. Charlie Blackmon $4,600 Colorado Rockies

Starting Pitcher

1. Tyson Ross -$9,300 San Diego Padres

2. Jon Lester -$10,400 Chicago Cubs

3. Francisco Liriano -$10,800 Pittsburgh Pirates

4. Felix Hernandez -$9,500 Seattle Mariners

5. Lance McCullers -$8,800 Houston Astros

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