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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: August 4, 2015

Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best teams to use for stacks for Tuesday’s 15-game evening slate on DraftKings. We’ve also got projections derived from Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections, rankings of the top plays at each position and some sample lineups for you to consider.

Pitching Perspective

Five pitchers have five-figure price tags this evening, and those five make up the top five in my projections tonight. The question is which are worth paying up for. The short answers is this: the most expensive ones.

Chris Sale ($12,000) is in a virtual tie with Max Scherzer ($13,500) for the top projection of the day, and Sale also has the best value grade according to my model. Scherzer has an above average value grade himself, but there’s little point in paying an extra $1,500 for Scherzer when you can expect essentially the same projection out of Sale.

As for the other expensive pitchers, I just don’t see the value. Chris Archer and Jake Arrieta are priced very near Sale and Scherzer and don’t have a projection anywhere close to those guys. Carlos Carrasco is a bit more reasonably priced, but he has a below average matchup against the Angels.

Moving on to the mid-price range ($7,500-$10,000), there isn’t as much value as we generally find at this price point. According to my model, Alex Wood ($7,400) is the play in this price range. Wood will be making his first start as a Dodger, and he’ll be doing it in Philadelphia. The Phillies aren’t really a great matchup for left-handers as they have a 97 wRC+ and middling strikeout rate against southpaws. But there’s not a ton of downside in the matchup, and my model thinks Wood is a tad underpriced. The other option in this price range is Matt Shoemaker ($7,500), but my model gives a slightly better projection and value grade to Wood, so there’s no reason to pay an extra $100 for Shoemaker.

If you’re looking for a value play (less than $7,000), you’ve got two options. The first is Andrew Cashner ($6,000) who safely has the best projection of any of the pitchers in this price range. He’s getting a negative park shift away from Petco and his matchup against Milwaukee is just average. But it seems that the DK pricing model is starting to give up on Cashner a bit. He’s carrying an unpleasant 4.13 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, so his price may be catching up with his results. But Cashner has been plagued by a very unfortunate 61.1 percent strand rate this year. His strikeout, walk and ground ball rates are all slightly above average, which has led to an above average xFIP of 3.77. With a price tag that is safely below average today, there’s value potential here.

If you really want to gamble, my model assigns the second best value grade of the day to the minimally priced Brad Hand ($4,000). Hand has a 5.12 ERA in 27 appearances this year (three starts), but his xFIP sits at 3.82. For his career he has been a bit better than average against left-handed hitters, but he has predictably struggled against right-handers. The Mets lineup now features right-handed Yoenis Cespedes, but their other top hitters primarily hit from the left side. As a result, the Mets have the fifth worst wRC+ in the league against left-handed pitching and the third highest strikeout rate. If there are expensive bats you like and you also want to use Sale or Scherzer, Hand could be a salary relief option in GPPs.

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.

Stack Options

With a full slate of games including a game at Coors, it should be no surprise that the three teams Vegas likes the most tomorrow are the Blue Jays, the Rockies, and the Rockies’ opponent, the Mariners.

The Blue Jays are at home taking on the Twins with Phil Hughes on the mound. Hughes has managed to maintain the insanely good walk rate he posted last year, but the strikeouts have left him. He’s never been a ground ball guy, so he’s left with just one above average skill, and it has not served him well this season. The problem is that the Jays are much better against left-handed pitching, and my model doesn’t think they provide much value. Hughes does allow hitters to elevate quite a bit which is always something I like in a stack, but today may not be the day to go with Jays.

As for the Coors game, left-handed Vidal Nuno will start for the Mariners. Nuno is a fly ball pitcher, and he has struggled against right-handers in his career, so Rockies righties are certainly in play. Jose Reyes has a decent enough price tag, and Drew Stubbs and Kyle Parker are both excellent values. And paying up for Nolan Arenado is acceptable today. Either Stubbs or Parker may not crack the lineup, and they may be separated from Reyes and Arenado even if they do make the lineup, so there may not be a big stack to be had here. But those are the guys to which you want exposure.

Jon Gray will make his debut for the Rockies, and Mariners lefties will once again be in play tonight against the kid making his first big league start. Cano, Seager, Miller and Smith are all nice values tonight, especially Seager and Smith. Ketel Marte also warrants consideration at the minimum price assuming he leads off again tonight. Unless you just have money to burn, $6,100 for Nelson Cruz is probably a bit much.

Another team that Vegas likes a fair bit who also grades out favorably according to my model is the Dodgers. The Dodgers will be facing Jerome Williams, he of the unsightly 1.90 HR/9, and they’re getting a positive park shift away from home. In addition to those favorable factors, they also have really nice price tags. Adrian Gonzalez is the most expensive guy you’d want to roster and he only costs $4,000; every one else is below that mark. You could easily go Dodgers-heavy with a stack by choosing from Gonzalez, Pederson, Rollins, Ethier, Puig, Grandal and Crawford. If you don’t want to load up on them, you’re at least getting your salary relief by rostering a few Dodgers.

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. Yasmani Grandal – $3,500 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Wilson Ramos – $3,000 – Washington Nationals
  3. Travis d’Arnaud – $4,400 – New York Mets

First Base

  1. Adrian Gonzalez – $4,000 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Freddie Freeman – $4,300 – Atlanta Braves
  3. Joe Mauer – $3,500 – Minnesota Twins

Second Base

  1. Robinson Cano – $4,700 – Seattle Mariners
  2. Ian Kinsler – $4,100 – Detroit Tigers
  3. Anthony Rendon – $3,400 – Washington Nationals

Third Base

  1. Kyle Seager – $3,800 – Seattle Mariners
  2. Kris Bryant – $4,100 – Chicago Cubs
  3. Chase Headley – $3,800 – New York Yankees


  1. Jose Reyes – $4,800 – Colorado Rockies
  2. Jimmy Rollins – $3,400 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Brad Miller – $3,300 – Seattle Mariners


  1. Joc Pederson – $3,800 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Yasiel Puig – $3,400 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Jason Heyward – $4,100 – St. Louis Cardinals
  4. J.D. Martinez – $4,700 – Detroit Tigers
  5. Carl Crawford – $2,300 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  6. Yoenis Cespedes – $4,500 – New York Mets
  7. Andre Ethier – $3,100 – Los Angeles Dodgers

Starting Pitcher

  1. Chris Sale – $12,000 – Chicago White Sox
  2. Max Scherzer – $13,500 – Washington Nationals
  3. Andrew Cashner – $6,000 – San Diego Padres
  4. Alex Wood – $7,400 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. Brad Hand – $4,000 – Miami Marlins

Sample Lineups

Every day I play DFS, I take the projections you see above and run them through, a lineup optimization tool. Basically, it just tells me what the maximum number of projected points is that I can get into a lineup under the cap. Below is the optimal lineup it spit out for tonight using my projections.

FC 8-4 1

I didn’t think it would be possible to get Sale and Scherzer into the same lineup, but that was before I realized how cheap all the Dodgers were today. This lineup needs Stubbs and Crawford to make it into the lineup and for Marte to stay atop Seattle’s lineup, but if those things happen, I quite like this lineup. I also imagine it will be fairly unique and would make for a nice tournament play. Now let’s see what a lineup looks like if we only go with Sale and use some more definite hitter options.

FC 8-4 2

I find that pretty unobjectionable for cash games. Alright, one more. Let’s look at a Mariners-heavy stack for fun.

FC 8-4 3


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