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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: July 11, 2015

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

Forecast

I won’t even bother with this. Make sure to follow @KevinRothWx for all your weather information. Dude is money.

Pitching Perspective

Early Slate

This is where today’s best pitching options are. The way the slates work out today, you have a bunch of good, but pricey, pitchers going early with no great options for spending your money at 1B or OF. In the evening slate, pitching is quite dicey, but there are top-notch options at 1B and OF. That works out nicely for building lineups.

Chris Sale ($12,500) is obviously the elite option of the day. He’ll face the Cubs, who are woeful against right-handers but a bit better than average against lefties like Sale. That could make for a surprise here where the Cubs get to Sale, and Kris Bryant is honestly still quite appealing today despite the matchup. But with the best K-BB% in the league among qualified starters, it’s hard to fade Sale. As for his price tag, my model has it being dead on, so don’t hesitate to pay up for him if you like the play.

Opposite Sale will be Jon Lester ($9,500). He has a much better matchup against Sale’s teammates who rank dead last in the league with a 56 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. The only bad part about the matchup is that it will be tough to get the win against Sale. That said, Vegas has almost even odds on this game, so it may be just as tough for Sale to get a win. Lester is $3,000 cheaper and represents a better value, so I’d have no issue with you rolling with him instead of Sale.

Dallas Keuchel ($10,300) warrants mentioning given that he’s striking out nearly a batter per inning over his last eight starts and pairing that skill with the league’s second highest ground ball rate. He’s also getting a nice positive park shift on the road in Tampa, so there’s plenty to like. But my model gives Lester and Sale better projections and value grades than Keuchel partly because the Rays are only a slightly better than average matchup for lefties. The only situation in which I’d use Keuchel would probably be if I didn’t want to pay for Sale and paired Keuchel/Lester.

If you need a cheap pitching option, Patrick Corbin ($6,500) has a safely above average projection and the best value grade of the day. He returned from Tommy John surgery last week, and his velocity in his first start back was actually a bit above his career average. With a good matchup against the Mets in a good ball park in New York, Corbin could return solid value today.

Late Slate

Woof. James Shields ($8,000) is the highest projected pitcher of the late slate, but I’m a little hesitant given that Texas is much better against right-handed pitching, and the Rangers have some good lefties swinging hot bats right now. But you probably can’t find two better options than Shields. At that salary, he’s reasonably affordable and could return value at that price point.

Your next best bet is probably John Lackey ($8,400). He has an average matchup against the Pirates in a pitcher-friendly park in Pittsburgh. There’s not a lot of upside with Lackey given the matchup and his 17.5 percent strikeout rate. But he’s a low-risk/low-reward play that makes sense in cash games.

Jordan Zimmermann ($9,200) has the upside Lackey lacks despite having the exact same strikeout rate as Lackey. That’s because he’s facing the Orioles who have the third highest strikeout rate in the league against right-handed pitching. But the O’s have more pop than the Pirates, and Zimm is pitching in hitter-friendly Camden, so he also has more downside than Lackey. Zimm is your GPP option while Lackey makes sense for cash.

If you need a bargain pitcher in the evening slate, my model likes Hisashi Iwakuma ($6,300).

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

Early Slate

Starting with the game in Coors, the visiting Braves have the fourth lowest wRC+ against left-handed pitching this year, so I’m not big on stacking them against Jorge de la Rosa. About the only Brave my model likes at all today is Chris Johnson, but I highly doubt I’ll roster him. As for the Rockies, their right-handed studs are too pricey today, but their lefties and some cheaper right-handers make for good plays. Consider Carlos Gonzalez, Ben Paulsen, Charlie Blackmon and Nick Hundley.

I should point out that the Blue Jays are not an option in the early slate on DK today. The main early contests exclude the 2:10 ET Toronto-Kansas City game and start with the 4:00 ET games.

The other stack I keep gravitating to in this early slate is Cleveland left-handers (of which they have many) against Chris Bassitt. Pretty much all Cleveland lefties have a positive value grade today, and guys like Carlos Santana, Michael Bourn and Francisco Lindor have great value grades. A heavy does of Cleveland hitters might free up enough money to pay up for two top pitchers and not force you to resort to gambling on Corbin.

Late Slate

Vegas like Boston quite a bit, and I’m inclined to agree. They’re facing Ivan Nova who has a 2.65 ERA in three starts, but he has some serious regression coming. He owns a 5.13 xFIP thanks mostly to a woeful strikeout rate, and his walk rate is also safely worse than average. Boston left-handers make plenty of sense, and David Ortiz, Pablo Sandoval and Alejandro de Aza all have very good value grades today. Ortiz and Sandoval have had their struggles this year, but they’ve still been safely above average against right-handed pitching. Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez are also options if you really want to fill out a Boston stack.

The other stack I might consider tonight is Texas. As mentioned, they’re better against right-handed pitching and have some hot left-handed bats going right now. Rougned Odor has a 162 wRC+ since his recall from the minors. Prince Fielder owns a 180 wRC+ against right-handed pitching this year. And Shin-Soo Choo has struggled, but he still has a 155 wRC+ against right-handed pitching at home. All three have good value grades, so I quite like that trio. It feels like more of a GPP play with Shields on the mound, but Shields has had plenty of trouble keeping the ball in the park this year and Texas’ park could exacerbate that problem.

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

Early Slate

Catcher

  1. Nick Hundley – $3,300 – Colorado Rockies
  2. Jason Castro – $2,800 – Houston Astros
  3. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – $2,500 – Arizona Diamondbacks

First Base

  1. Jose Abreu – $4,700 – Chicago White Sox
  2. Joe Mauer – $4,200 – Minnesota Twins
  3. Paul Goldschmidt – $4,900 – Arizona Diamondbacks

Second Base

  1. Jason Kipnis – $4,800 – Cleveland Indians
  2. Brandon Phillips – $3,800 – Cincinnati Reds
  3. Ian Kinsler – $3,900 – Detroit Tigers

Third Base

  1. Carlos Santana – $3,800 – Cleveland Indians
  2. Jake Lamb – $3,300 – Arizona Diamondbacks
  3. Kris Bryant – $4,200 – Chicago Cubs

Shortstop

  1. Carlos Correa – $3,600 – Houston Astros
  2. Francisco Lindor – $3,000 – Cleveland Indians

Outfield

  1. Carlos Gonzalez – $4,100 – Colorado Rockies
  2. Michael Brantley – $4,600 – Cleveland Indians
  3. Marlon Byrd – $3,700 – Cincinnati Reds
  4. Christian Yelich – $4,300 – Miami Marlins
  5. David Peralta – $3,000 – Arizona Diamondbacks

Starting Pitcher

  1. Chris Sale – $12,500 – Chicago White Sox
  2. Jon Lester – $9,500 – Chicago Cubs
  3. Dallas Keuchel – $10,300 – Tampa Bay Rays
  4. Patrick Corbin – $6,500 – Arizona Diamondbacks

Late Slate

Catcher

  1. Matt Wieters – $3,200 – Baltimore Orioles
  2. Wilson Ramos – $3,600 – Washington Nationals
  3. Yasmani Grandal – $4,300 – Los Angeles Dodgers

First Base

  1. David Ortiz – $4,300 – Boston Red Sox
  2. Prince Fielder – $4,300 – Texas Rangers
  3. Ryan Howard – $3,200 – Philadelphia Phillies

Second Base

  1. Rougned Odor – $3,800 – Texas Rangers
  2. Jimmy Paredes – $3,600 – Baltimore Orioles
  3. Scooter Gennett – $3,400 – Milwaukee Brewers

Third Base

  1. Chris Davis – $4,100 – Baltimore Orioles
  2. Pablo Sandoval – $3,400 – Boston Red Sox
  3. Travis Shaw – $2,300 – Boston Red Sox

Shortstop

  1. Hanley Ramirez – $4,700 – Boston Red Sox
  2. Jimmy Rollins – $3,600 – Los Angeles Dodgers

Outfield

  1. Mike Trout – $4,900 – Los Angeles Angels
  2. Shin-Soo Choo – $4,000 – Texas Rangers
  3. Joc Pederson – $3,900 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Jason Heyward – $3,900 – St. Louis Cardinals
  5. Adam Jones– $4,000 – Baltimore Orioles

Starting Pitcher

  1. James Shields – $8,000 – San Diego Padres
  2. John Lackey – $8,400 – St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Jordan Zimmermann – $9,200 – Washington Nationals
  4. Hisashi Iwakuma – $6,300 – Seattle Mariners

*Rankings are price sensitive

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