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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: June 19, 2015

Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best teams to use for stacks for Friday’s 15-game 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.


If rain is going to affect games tonight, Cincinnati seems the most likely to be impacted with Washington being another game to keep an eye on. As far as wind goes, there’s a double-digit mph wind blowing in from right in Minnesota, but that’s about it.

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

Among the starters with five digit salaries today, Chris Sale ($11,900) is the one my model likes the most both in terms of projection (shocking, I know) and value. There obviously isn’t too much value to be had with a price tag like Sale’s, but my model does think the price is appropriate and worth paying if you can fit him in. It’d be nice if he was pitching in a park a little more favorable than his home park, but he does have a solid matchup against a Texas team that struggles against left-handed pitching with a 95 wRC+ vs. LHP and the 10th highest strikeout rate against lefties.

As for the other two pricey options, my model thinks Sonny Gray ($10,100) and Jacob deGrom ($10,800) are overpriced, particularly deGrom. I could understand a gravitation toward deGrom given that he has at least eight strikeouts in each of his last five starts, including a nine-strikeout performance in his last start against the Atlanta team he’ll be facing again today. But that stretch of dominance has really pushed his price tag to elite levels, and ZiPS just doesn’t project him to keep up this elite performance. Plus, Atlanta has the fourth lowest strikeout rate in the league against right-handers despite the nine Ks against deGrom last week.

As for Gray, his price tag is closer to being reasonable. I was a Gray-hater in the preseason because he just didn’t have a good track record in the strikeout department. But his breaking stuff has been fantastic this year and has resulted in his swinging strike rate, and thus his strikeout rate, rising to solidly above average. He has a middling matchup with the Angels but is getting a nice bump to his projection pitching in his home ball park, so I’m good with using Gray if you want to pay up for a pitcher but can’t quite afford Sale.

Moving down to the not-quite-super-expensive starters, I’m going to go with a Cleveland pitcher for the fourth day in a row in my recommendations and recommend Carlos Carrasco ($8,800). I pimped Cleveland pitchers all week facing the Cubs, but now the Rays are in town. While they don’t strikeout as much as the Cubs, the Rays do have the seventh-highest strikeout rate against right-handers and a 95 wRC+ vs. RHP.

As for Carrasco, he’s inherently boom-or-bust. He’s got plenty of upside as evidenced by his last start of May and first start of June in which he threw 15 innings, allowed two runs and struck out 16 with just three walks. But in two starts since then he has allowed eight runs in 9 2/3 innings. The problem is that when hitters do put the bat on the ball, they hit Carrasco hard. But Carrasco has the ability to keep the ball from being put into play all that much on any given night.

I’ll also go back to the well and mention the pitcher facing the Cubs today, Phil Hughes ($7,200). It’s very tough to ignore a right-hander facing the Cubs when they have the highest strikeout rate in the league against righties and a 93 wRC+ vs. RHP.

As for Hughes, I loved him coming into the year because he had reduced his walk rate to a ridiculous level by pounding the strike zone on the first pitch at an astronomical rate. Combined with an average to slightly above average strikeout rate, Hughes’ skills were superb. I thought the walk rate might regress somewhat simply because performance that elite in any statistic is hard to sustain. But his walk rate is fairly close to where it was last year. Unfortunately, his strikeout rate has fallen to well below average unexpectedly. Hughes has lost some velocity this year, and he just hasn’t been able to induce as many whiffs without it.

If Hughes is going to improve on his strikeout rate at some point, this a start where it’s likely to happen. I wouldn’t count on a ton of upside, but with his control and favorable conditions in his home park with the wind blowing in, I also think his downside is somewhat limited tonight.

If you need a bargain option, I guess I’ll go with Marco Estrada ($5,600). Normally I feel decent about plugging in the cheaper options I mention every day, but I’m a little hesitant about Marco today. There is upside in the matchup against Baltimore because they have the fourth highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitching, and Estrada has some strikeout stuff. But there’s also risk in the matchup because the O’s have the fifth highest ISO against right-handers, and Estrada’s bugaboo has always been keeping the ball in the park. Estrada is truly a high-risk/high-reward play today.

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

Do I need to spend much time on the game between the Brewers and the Rockies at Coors Field? And do I need to keep listing the Blue Jays in this section given that they lead the league in runs scored by a significant margin? With these teams it’s really all about who you can afford. The DK pricing model prices the hell out of Blue Jays and teams playing at Coors Field, so here are the players in those situations today with price tags reasonable enough to make them rosterable:

Keep in mind that some of the players just listed are likely to have fairly high ownership percentages and thus might not be the greatest tournament plays.

According to the Vegas lines, other candidates for stacks today are the Padres, Orioles, Cardinals and Yankees. Of that quartet, my model likes the Cardinals the most. The Cards are in Philadelphia, so they’re getting a positive park shift being away from Busch, and they’ll be facing Phillippe Aumont, who will be making his first major league start. In 45 career relief appearances, Aumont has a 6.13 ERA. He has been starting games in Triple-A this year, so he may be somewhat stretched out, but in the event he can’t go deep into the game, the Cards would then get to see extended time against a below average Philadelphia bullpen.

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. Jonathan Lucroy – $4,000 – Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Yasmani Grandal – $4,000 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – $3,000 – Arizona Diamondbacks

First Base

  1. Adam Laroche – $3,400 – Chicago White Sox
  2. Adrian Gonzalez – $4,600 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Lucas Duda – $4,300 – New York Mets

Second Base

  1. Neil Walker – $3,300 – Pittsburgh Pirates
  2. Kolten Wong – $3,400 – St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Dee Gordon – $4,500 – Miami Marlins

Third Base

  1. Matt Carpenter – $3,700 – St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Pedro Alvarez – $3,500 – Pittsburgh Pirates
  3. Alex Rodriguez – $4,400 – New York Yankees


  1. Jose Reyes – $4,700 – Toronto Blue Jays
  2. Jimmy Rollins – $3,700 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Jhonny Peralta – $3,800 – St. Louis Cardinals


  1. Ryan Braun – $4,900 – Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Jason Heyward – $3,900 – St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Joc Pederson – $4,000 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Gregory Polanco – $3,600 – Pittsburgh Pirates
  5. Carlos Gonzalez – $4,500 – Colorado Rockies
  6. Adam Eaton – $3,500 – Chicago White Sox
  7. Christian Yelich – $4,200 – Miami Marlins

Starting Pitcher

  1. Chris Sale – $11,900 – Chicago White Sox
  2. Carlos Carrasco – $8,800 – Cleveland Indians
  3. Phil Hughes – $7,200 – Minnesota Twins
  4. Sonny Gray – $10,100 – Oakland Athletics
  5. Marco Estrada – $5,600 – Toronto Blue Jays

*Rankings are price sensitive

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Daily Fantasy Dartboard: June 19, 2015

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