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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: July 23, 2015

Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best teams to use for stacks for Thursday’s seven-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

Is Clayton Kershaw ($14,500) worth his price tag? In the most basic sense, yes. If you compare Kershaw’s salary to the average salary for today’s starting pitchers and do the same for his projection compared to today’s other starters, his projection is about as far above average as his price tag is. Were prices based off my projections, I’d have his price tag right where it is today.

So yes, Kershaw may technically be “worth it,” but other starters may carry more value. In particular, Tyson Ross ($9,100) has a very good value grade today. He’ll be facing the Marlins who have the second worst wRC+ against right-handed pitching along with a slightly higher than average strikeout rate. The game is also being played in Petco, though playing this game in Miami would still favor the pitchers.

Between Kershaw and Ross, I’d prefer to roster Ross. Kershaw’s projection is unsurprisingly quite a bit higher than Ross’, but the over $5,000 of savings you get with Ross wins out for me. I’d like to roster them both, but that’s probably not workable.

If you’d prefer to go with Kershaw, you’re obviously going to to have to go very cheap with your second pitcher. According to my model, your cheap options are Wade Miley ($6,400) and Doug Fister ($5,000). Miley has the slightly better projection, but the difference in projection isn’t that large, so Fister has a better value grade with a price tag $1,400 lower than Miley’s. Despite Fister being the better value, I’ll lean toward Miley because I play mostly GPP. Fister has little to no upside with a 10.5 percent strikeout rate. Miley has much more upside against an Astros team that continues to lead the league in strikeout rate against right-handed pitching.

If you go with Ross instead of Kershaw, Miley/Fister are options, but you don’t have to resort to that. The problem is that none of the other more expensive (and more reliable) starters have a value grade that’s much different than Kershaw’s. Lance McCullers has a terrible value grade and projection, but Francisco Liriano, Jeff Samardzija and Trevor Bauer are all about the same in terms of value. Liriano has the best projection of that trio, so I’d prefer to pair him with Ross if possible. But if you’d prefer to spend a little more on bats, Samardzija is a slightly cheaper option I could live with.

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

There are a lot of good pitchers in action tonight, and none of the traditional guys to pick on with stacks are throwing. In fact, the average hitter projection in my model is lower today than I think it has been all year.

But the Brewers have the pleasure of facing one Zach Godley, a kid who has only made three starts above High-A. And in his three starts at Double-A he had a 5.14 ERA with eight strikeouts and six walks in 14 innings. The game is also in Arizona, which is a slightly more hitter-friendly park than Milwaukee. Adam Lind is almost a must-play today, Scooter Gennett and Gerardo Parra are solid values, Shane Peterson is a great punt if he’s in the lineup, and Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez are acceptable places to spend your money if you have money to spend.

The only other team with more than four hitters ranked in the top 30 of my projections today is the Red Sox against Lance McCullers. But I’m going against my model here. My model is based largely on the ZiPS projections, and ZiPS has McCullers posting a 5.08 ERA from here on out. McCullers currently owns a 3.31 xFIP, so I’m not really buying a Boston stack tonight. McCullers was not mentioned as an option above because the Red Sox aren’t a great matchup for opposing pitchers. But that doesn’t mean they have a dangerous offense. The reason they’re a tough fantasy matchup for pitchers is because the have the second lowest strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers. Either the Boston lineup or McCullers will win the battle, but it’s hard to predict what the outcome will be.

Vegas likes Houston today, and I can get on board with some of their right-handed hitters like Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Chris Carter and, to a lesser extent, Evan Gattis. I don’t see the opportunity for an Astros-heavy stack, but some exposure to them makes sense. And if forced to throw one more option out there, the Diamondbacks make a bit of sense. Paul Goldschmidt is pricey, but you can offset that cost by stacking him with Ender Inciarte, Jake Lamb and David Peralta.

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 – $3,200 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Jonathan Lucroy – $3,400 – Milwaukee Brewers
  3. Blake Swihart – $2,700 – Boston Red Sox

First Base

  1. Adam Lind – $4,400 – Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Adam Laroche – $3,200 – Chicago White Sox
  3. Shane Peterson – $2,300 – Milwaukee Brewers

Second Base

  1. Scooter Gennett – $3,200 – Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Jose Altuve – $4,400 – Houston Astros

Third Base

  1. Jake Lamb – $3,000 – Arizona Diamondbacks
  2. Pablo Sandoval – $2,800 – Boston Red Sox
  3. Matt Carpenter – $4,200 – St. Louis Cardinals


  1. Carlos Correa – $4,700 – Houston Astros
  2. Hanley Ramirez – $4,100 – Boston Red Sox
  3. Jean Segura – $3,900 – Houston Astros


  1. Ryan Braun – $5,000 – Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Gerardo Parra – $3,800 – Milwaukee Brewers
  3. Adam Eaton – $3,600 – Chicago White Sox
  4. Joc Pederson – $3,500 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. Melky Cabrera – $3,100 – Chicago White Sox
  6. Jason Heyward – $4,300 – St. Louis Cardinals
  7. Carlos Gomez – $4,900 – Milwaukee Brewers

Starting Pitcher

  1. Tyson Ross – $9,100 – San Diego Padres
  2. Clayton Kershaw – $14,500 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Francisco Liriano – $10,300 – Pittsburgh Pirates
  4. Wade Miley – $6,400 – Boston Red Sox
  5. Jeff Samardzija – $9,000 – Chicago White Sox

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 with me removing Kershaw from the player pool. I also had to remove Shane Peterson because my model loves his value, but he rarely plays.

FC 7-23 1

Now let’s look at some Kershaw lineups. Let’s first take a look at what a Kershaw/Miley lineup might look like.

FC 7-23 2

And finally, here’s what you could fit get with Kershaw and Ross together.

FC 7-23 3

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