Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: July 6, 2015
Welcome back to The Fix, and thanks for checking out our DFS Strategy pieces so far this season. As we head into the All-Star break, we’re looking to put a nice bow on the first half of the MLB season with a strong week. Jump in to the fun tonight at DraftKings, $5 will get you in to the $250K Super Knuckleball where first place takes down $100,000.
We’re here as always with the top plays and values for tonight’s contests on DraftKings, and we have rankings of the top plays at each position. If you’re on Twitter you can find me @RyNoonan if you have questions prior to first pitch.
It’s difficult to nail down weather hours and hours before first pitch, but thunderstorms are going to be a real son of a %&#@! tonight. 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.
Let’s start at the top with Chris Sale ($12,700) who’s in the midst of an impressive run, particularly with strike outs, which are essentially gold here on DraftKings. His 12.28 K/9 is crazy-good, and he’s pitched even better than his 2.89 ERA would indicate (2.09 FIP). He’s limited the damage that right-handed bats have done against him (2.14 FIP, 34.7% K-rate) and we know he owns left-handed bats. I expect the Blue Jays to go extremely right-handed today, which the core of their lineup already is. This should be an intriguing matchup since Toronto is far and away the best team in the league against left-handed pitching (142 wRC+), but Sale is no ordinary lefty.
Next up is Carlos Carrasco ($10,200) who’s fresh off of his near no-hitter. His price is surprisingly flat, perhaps due to the matchup against Houston. I don’t love targeting pitchers against the Astros typically, because despite their huge strikeout rate, they can slug it. The only time I do is when it’s a pitcher with elite swing-and-miss stuff, and Carlos Carrasco checks that box. He has no real handedness outliers that make him susceptible here, and the Astros lineup takes on a different look, and level of fear, without George Springer in it.
Carlos Carrasco isn’t the only option on the hill in Cleveland today, as Dallas Keuchel ($9,700) takes the ball for the road team against the Indians. The development of Keuchel has been one of the best first half stories as far as pitching is concerned. He’s maintained his elite command and ground ball totals, while slowing increasing his strike out totals each month. I like him today, but note that he doesn’t have the elite SwStk% that some of our other options do today, and the Indians only whiff 17.3% of the time against left-handed pitchers (slightly better than average).
This is a great spot for A.J. Burnett ($9,400). He and the Pirates (-143) are one of the bigger favorites on the board today, as he squares off at home against the free-swinging Padres. We’ve seen a slight dip in strike outs from A.J. Burnett this season, but the arsenal to induce swinging strikes is still intact, and the Padres 22.2% K-rate against right-handed pitching certainly helps. Burnett has been particularly effective against right-handed bats this season (1.84 FIP) and the Padres are extremely right-handed offensively. If Francisco Cervelli is behind the plate for the Pirates, give Burnett an extra bump. Cervelli’s pitch framing skills are tops in the game (13.2 runs above average). (UPDATE: Cervelli IS indeed starting at C.)
The last $9K+ option tonight is Jon Lester ($9,000) on the road in St. Louis. Lester hasn’t quite benefited from the move to the NL as expected, at least not in terms of an expected spike in his strike out rate. He’s been a bit erratic at times and has given up a fair share of home runs, but I like him tonight in St. Louis. The Cardinals are a much different offense when they’re facing a left-handed pitcher. They’re among the top-10 in terms of wOBA and wRC+ against righties, but southpaws give them fits. They’re 23rd in wOBA (.296) with a wRC+ of 87 and a they whiff a bunch (24.7%). Vegas has the Cubs at -131 here, as well.
Some other pitching quick takes:
- James Shields ($8,600) has been so terrible against left-handed bats (5.49 FIP) that it’s difficult to start him against a team with legit left-handed pop. Lefties have a .402 wOBA against Shields, one of the highest marks in the league.
- John Lackey ($8,500) gets a bump in his expected-strikeouts today against the Cubs, but that’s still not enough to make him an option for me. Vegas has Lackey as a home dog, and there are too many similarly priced options with more upside.
- Hisashi Iwakuma ($8,300) returns after missing most of the season with a strained lat. He threw well in his rehab starts, but I’m going to take the wait and see approach here today against the Tigers. They’re clearly not as dynamic without Miguel Cabrera in the lineup, so I can understand if you fired up Iwakuma in a GPP.
- Chris Heston ($6,300) takes on a familiar foe, this time at home. The last time Heston faced the Mets he had a decent outing. Ok, ok, he no-hit them. It’s difficult to call someone a must-play, but it’s difficult to avoid Heston at this price. San Francisco is the best pitcher park in the game right now, and by far the most difficult place to homer (0.53 per game). Heston’s 55.7% ground ball rate is also appealing, and that’s without even factoring in how terrible the Mets have been offensively of late. They’re trying to catch the Phillies by working their way into last place in wOBA and wRC+ against right-handed pitching.
Stack Options/Offense Notes
According to Vegas, our best bets today are the Dodgers, Nationals and Orioles.
As of this writing, I couldn’t find an implied run total for the Dodgers, but I’m assuming it’s the highest of the day. Los Angeles takes on Sean O’Sullivan, who’s been demolished by left-handed bats this season (8.85 FIP, .477 wOBA). Even without Adrian Gonzalez, who’s likely to sit this one out after getting drilled in the hand last night, look for the Dodgers to do some damage against O’Sullivan.
The Nationals (4.1 implied runs) take on Anthony DeSclafani and the Reds. I like DeSclafani as a prospect moving forward, and it’s worth noting that he’s been much better on the road than at home this season, but he’s still going through some growing pains. He has an unsustainable 5.3 HR/FB rate, and Bryce Harper can change that real quickly. Harper (.503 wOBA!!!) and Denard Span (.394) have been hitting right-handed pitching well all season.
The Orioles also have a 4.1 implied run total today, as the face off against Phil Hughes in Minnesota. Hughes had a magical season in 2014, and he’s been unable to replicate that here in 2015.
Some offensive quick takes:
- I mentioned earlier that James Shields is highly susceptible to left-handed hitters, so give Gregory Polanco a look if he’s leading off. The outfield is stacked today, so he’s not quite as appealing if he’s buried in the lineup. Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez are cheap plays, as well. (UPDATE: Polanco IS indeed leading off.)
- Any time Brian Dozier faces a left-handed pitcher, he should be on your radar. His .374 wOBA against southpaws is one of the best marks in the league.
- Jimmy Paredes is a switch-hitter, but he’s worlds better against right-handed pitching. His .380 wOBA is more than 100 points higher in these situations, and he’s likely to exploit fly-ball pitcher Phil Hughes today. The added bonus of hitting near the top of the order on the road, where he’s assured of nine innings of at-bats, is a nice perk.
- Don’t fall in love with just the left-handed bats for Baltimore. Manny Machado is just as good against right-handed pitching (.378 wOBA) as he is against lefties (.376).
- Jon Niese has struggled against right-handed bats (.352 wOBA), but the Giants have a pair of infielders with strong reverse splits. Brandon Crawford (.420 wOBA) loves hitting left-handers, and his teammate Joe Panik (.338) hits them well, too. There are too many second base options today to use Panik by himself, but if you’re running a Giants stack then I’d work them both in.
- Yasmani Grandal -$4,200 Los Angeles Dodgers
- Buster Posey -$4,500 San Francisco Giants
- Matt Wieters -$3,500 Baltimore Orioles
- Miguel Montero – $2,800 Chicago Cubs
- Anthony Rizzo -$4,500 Chicago Cubs
- Pedro Alvarez – $3,700 Pittsburgh Pirates (3B elig.)
- Joey Votto -$4,300 Cincinnati Reds
- Adam Lind -$4,500 Milwaukee Brewers
- Jimmy Paredes -$4,100 Baltimore Orioles (3B elig.)
- Brian Dozier -$4,500 Minnesota Twins
- Neil Walker -$4,100 Pittsburgh Pirates
- Justin Turner – $3,900 Los Angeles Dodgers (3B elig.)
- Manny Machado -$3,900 Baltimore Orioles
- Chris Davis – $4,000 Baltimore Orioles (1B elig.)
- Mark Reynolds -$2,600 St. Louis Cardinals (1B elig.)
- Cesar Hernandez – $3,100 Philadelphia Phillies (2B elig.)
- Brandon Crawford – $3,600 San Francisco Giants
- Jhonny Peralta – $3,600 St. Louis Cardinals
- Joc Pederson – $4,000 Los Angeles Dodgers
- Bryce Harper – $5,700 Washington Nationals
- Gerardo Parra – $3,700 Milwaukee Brewers
- Denard Span – $4,500 Washington Nationals
- J.D. Martinez – $4,300 Detroit Tigers
- Gregory Polanco – $3,500 Pittsburgh Pirates
- A.J. Burnett – $9,400 Pittsburgh Pirates
- Chris Sale – $12,700 Chicago White Sox
- Carlos Carrasco – $10,200 Cleveland Indians
- Chris Heston – $6,300 San Francisco Giants
- Jon Lester – $9,000 Chicago Cubs
- Dallas Keuchel – $9,700 Houston Astros
*Rankings are price sensitive