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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: July 20, 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, 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

If yesterday was the day of the ‘ace’, then today is the day of the $6,000 pitcher. There’s just not a lot of meat on the bone tonight in terms of upper echelon starting pitchers.

I’m not opposed to starting two pitchers who are facing each other, especially in a tournament. The value of a win is slightly suppressed here on DraftKings, so I’m more concerned with strikeout upside and limiting base runners when selecting my starters.

A difficult nuance to remember when building a tournament lineup is that you’re not necessarily looking to build a lineup that can score the most points. I know that’s counter-intuitive, but bare with me here. If you’re going to win a large tournament, or even get near the top, you need to have a unique lineup. Being ‘contrarian’ doesn’t just mean picking a cheap min-salary player and hoping that variance falls in your favor that night, it’s about finding different ways to maximize your upside while having a different lineup than your opponents. I think it’s far more important to lean on the safety of starting pitching while finding some off-the-radar bats to sprinkle in, but using two starters who are going head-to-head is another way to build a lineup that’ll look different than the majority of lineups in the field.

Matt Harvey ($11,100) leads the way as the highest priced pitcher on the slate, taking on Bryce Harper and Co. in the nation’s capital. The matchup is slightly neutral for Harvey (3.07 ERA/3.52 FIP), as the Nationals are a middle-of-the-pack team offensively against right-handed pitching (99 wRC+). The big right-hander has been dominant against right-handed bats this season (.259 wOBA) but has struggled with the long-ball at times, particularly against left-handed hitters (.323 wOBA). With the lack of options on the slate tonight, you can expect to see ownership totals north of 50% in cash games.

With my opening note, you won’t be surprised to see that I like Gio Gonzalez ($8,100) tonight as well. I’m usually fairly walk-adverse when it comes to selecting my starting pitchers because walks extend innings and drive up pitch counts, limiting the upside and ability for the pitcher to work deep in to the game. While Gio does have a walk rate that is worse than average (3.42 per 9), he’s exceptional at inducing ground balls (57.8%) and his 7.89 K/9 is good enough to do the job against a Mets team that whiffs 23.9% of the time against left-handed pitching, one of the highest marks in the league. His .343 BABIP-against is about 40 points above his career mark as well.

After Harvey, A.J. Burnett ($9,900) is the next highest priced starter on the board. Not only are the Royals solid offensively (7th in wOBA against right-handed pitching at .324) but they’re ultra-aggressive. They have the lowest strikeout and walk rate in the league and they sap any strikeout upside out of their opposition. I like Burnett as a pivot play in tournaments, but I’m not a fan of him in cash tonight.

Some other pitching quick takes:

    • The Angels’ Andrew Heaney ($8,400) has seen his price jump nearly $2,000 over his past two starts, and the DraftKings pricing algorithm is apparently loving his tidy little 1.32 ERA (2.77 FIP). Heaney is a talented, young southpaw, but he’s been quite fortunate with batted balls in his 27 1/3 innings so far this season. (.233 BABIP-against; 94% strand rate).
    • Matt Moore ($7,200) will likely be over-owned tonight since he’s facing the Phillies, one of the league’s worst teams. Vegas likes the Rays here (-145), but the Phillies are feisty against left-handed bats and not nearly as terrible as they are when facing a right-handed pitcher (.311 wOBA/96 wRC+). I’m not going to pretend that they’re good, but let’s not forget that Moore has just 14 extremely shaky innings under his belt this season.
    • Rubby de la Rosa ($6,500) has some serious handedness splits in his profile right now. He’s been exceptional against right-handed hitters, limiting them them to a .266 wOBA, but left-handers have been an entirely different story. Their .409 wOBA (6.48 FIP) against Rubby is one of the highest marks in the league. The Marlins have struggled all season long against right-handed pitching, with just an 82 wRC+ and league-worst .116 isolated power mark, so don’t rule out de la Rosa completely here.
    • Rubby de la Rosa is not alone. It’ll be a good night for left-handed bats as we have some of the worst starters in the league when facing left-handed hitters. Ian Kennedy (.345 wOBA), Yordano Ventura (.354), Tim Hudson (.342), and Alfredo Simon (.392) are among the worst starters in the league against southpaws.

Stack Options

According to Vegas, our best bets today are the Rockies (5.9 implied runs), Rangers (5.1), and Tigers (4.6).

The Rangers and Rockies are in Colorado, so that’s easy. We’ll start with the home team facing Nick Martinez. Martinez has been called up from Triple-A to take the ball for the Rangers here, and it’s a perfect storm for the long awaited Martinez regression tour. He’s shown some fairly extremely reverse splits this season, keeping left-handed bats in check (.283 wOBA) while struggling against right-handed hitters (.380 wOBA). The big Rockies’ bats will be expensive, but the bottom of their order is relatively cheap, so wait and see who’s in the lineup.

The Rangers face lefty Chris Rusin, but they’ve struggled against left-handed pitchers this season (81 wRC+) and they’re extremely over-priced. I’m not betting against Vegas’ 5.1 implied run total, but I’m not going out of my way to pay up for the mostly left-handed heavy Rangers lineup.

While Vegas likes the Tigers, Angels, and Diamondbacks as well, my two favorite non-Rockies stacks are the Giants and Mariners. First the Giants, who are the league’s best offense on the road this season and have some familiarity with Padres starter Ian Kennedy. I made mention of Kennedy’s struggles against left-handed bats earlier, and Petco Park’s wind patterns have changed, making it play a lot more friendly for hitters than in years past. (Run factor score of 0.82 last season is up to 1.05 this season).

The Big Fettuccine, Alfredo Simon, is terrible against lefties and the Mariners can throw out a pretty left-handed heavy lineup if they want to. Loading up on cheap Mariners will allow you to sprinkle in some of the pricey Rockies or even Rangers if you’d like.

Some hitting quick takes:

  • The Reds have a few hitters that feast on bad left-handed pitchers, and we can put Clayton Richard in that category right now. Todd Frazier makes for a nice pivot off of the likely sky-high ownership totals of Nolan Arenado, and Marlon Byrd is worth a look, too.
  • I’m not interested in Andrew Heaney at his current price, and the Red Sox have a number of offensive weapons that among the league leaders in wOBA against left-handed pitching, most notably Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez.
  • If you’re looking to exploit Rubby de la Rosa’s inability to keep left-handed bats in check, then you’ll want a piece of Christian Yelich and Justin Bour.

Player Rankings


1. Michael McKenry and/or Wilin Rosario – Colorado Rockies

2. Buster Posey – $4,000 San Francisco Giants

3. John Jaso -$4,200 Tampa Bay Rays

4. Kyle Schwarber – $3,400 Chicago Cubs

First Base

1. Brandon Belt -$3,500 San Francisco Giants

2. Justin Bour – $3,100 Miami Marlins

3. Anthony Rizzo – $5,100 Chicago Cubs

4. Logan Morrison – $3,500 Seattle Mariners

Second Base

1. Robinson Cano – $3,600 Seattle Mariners

2. Dustin Pedroia – $3,700 Boston Red Sox

3. Justin Turner – $3,400 Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Matt Duffy – $3,400 San Francisco Giants

Third Base

1. Nolan Arenado -$5,500 Colorado Rockies

2. Todd Frazier -$4,900 Cincinnati Reds

3. Kyle Seager -$3,700 Seattle Mariners


1.Troy Tulowitzki -$5,200 Colorado Rockies

2. Brad Miller -$3,100 Seattle Mariners

3. Cesar Hernandez -$2,600 Philadelphia Phillies

4. Xander Bogaerts -$3,300 Boston Red Sox


1. Mike Trout -$5,600 Los Angeles Angels

2. David Peralta -$4.400 Arizona Diamondbacks

3. Marlon Byrd -$3,800 Cincinnati Reds

4. Joc Pederson -$3,800 Los Angeles Dodgers

5. Hanley Ramirez -$4,000 Boston Red Sox

6. Christian Yelich -$3,800 Miami Marlins

Starting Pitcher

1. Matt Harvey -$11,100 New York Mets

2. Gio Gonzalez -$8,100 Washington Nationals

3. A.J. Burnett– $9,900 Pittsburgh Pirates

4. Rubby de la Rosa -$6,500 Arizona Diamondbacks

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