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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: June 22, 2015

It’s a small seven-game slate tonight, but one worth playing. If nothing else, the $250K Swing For The Fences is going to pay out $100,000 to the winner and will only cost you $3 to get in. We’re here as always with the top plays and values for tonight’s contests 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 you’re on Twitter you can find me @RyNoonan if you have questions prior to first pitch.

Forecast

It’s difficult to nail down weather hours and hours before first pitch, but there could some rain and high winds in the mix 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.

Pitching Perspective

Let’s start with the two big dogs on the slate tonight, Clayton Kershaw ($12,900) and Felix Hernandez ($10,700). The Kershaw analysis is fairly simple, as always. He’s a great option because he’s the best in the business (not named Scherzer), and he’s essentially matchup proof. The issue is always the price. He’s nearly 30% of your budget today, making it difficult to build a competitive offense with him on your roster. The problem is that fading him on a seven-game slate may be detrimental to your chances of cashing if he has a Cy Kershaw game, something that he’s capable of doing against the free-swinging Cubs. They’re better against left-handed pitching (3rd in wOBA and wRC+) than the are against righties, but a 22% whiff rate is still high.

The King’s Court will be out in full effect tonight, but I’m not sure they’ll be waving the K signs quite as often as they’re used to. The first reason is that Felix Hernandez seems to have sacrificed a bit of his strikeout upside in exchange for more efficiency in the form of ground balls. We’ll take the ground balls (59.1%), but the spike in walks and homeruns have been undoing at times. He’s still one of the best in the business, but he’s difficult to roster tonight against the ultra-aggressive Royals. The model shows that the Royals give Felix the biggest negative adjustment due to opponent on the entire slate. They have the lowest strikeout rate AND walk rate of any team in the league against right-handed pitching, minimizing the King’s upside tonight.

The Phillies don’t strike out a ton, but they’re the worst offense in the league against right-handed pitching, making Michael Pineda ($9,300) a solid option tonight. He’s also just an exceptional pitcher. His ERA is a full run higher than his 2.57 xFIP, one of the best marks in the league. The combination of high ground ball totals, and a better than average K and walk rates have really elevated Pineda’s status as one of the American League’s best starters.

Some other pitching quick takes:

  • There’s some cheap(er) strikeout potential on the board with Drew Hutchison ($7,900) and Trevor Bauer ($7,500). Hutchison is the safer of the two, mostly due to their opponents. Hutchison has the Rays in Tampa, so it’s a positive park factor bump for him as well.
  • Hector Santiago ($7,200) projection gets a positive boost from pitching at home and for his opponent, the Astros, but I’m not sure I’m on board with this. While the Astros do whiff a lot, their .176 ISO is the third highest mark in the league, and Santiago has struggled (.338 wOBA) against right-handed bats all season long.
  • Brett Oberholtzer ($6,500) is your best low-ball option on this short slate. I think it’s fair to expect his 0.0% HR/FB rate to rise a little bit, but he has been on the bad end of BABIP as well. He’s walk rate is a bit higher than we typically see from him, but he’s thrown just 26 1/3 innings this season so he’s not quite at the innings mark where we can say this problem is here to stay. In cash games I don’t think I’ll go lower than Bauer at $7,500 today (maybe Tsuyoshi Wada because he’s a badass), but I don’t suggest dipping past Oberholtzer.
  • The flexiblity you’d get from rostering Joe Blanton ($4,100) would be amazing. It would allow you to roster Clayton Kershaw and a competitive offense, but you’ll need 10-12 points minimum from Blanton to make it worth it. There’s no upside, but it’s an interesting GPP play (if you hate money). He gets a positive bump for facing Robinson Cano, because Cano’s terrible at baseball.

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

According to Vegas, our best bets today are the Yankees, Twins, and Indians.

The Yankees lead the way with an implied run total of 4.8 runs, and play host to Kevin Correia and the Phillies. This is good news for all Yankees, in particular their left-handed bats. Unfortunately you have to pick either Chase Headley or Alex Rodriguez since they’re both only available as third basemen.

The Twins are much better against left-handed pitchers than they are against right-handers, and they face John ‘Dong’ Danks whose .390 wOBA against right-handed bats is the third worst mark in the game. Noted southpaw mashers Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe are great plays today, and the Twins have an implied run total of 4.7 tonight against Danks.

Some offensive quick takes:

  • The Dodgers bats, particularly their right-handers, are generously priced against Wada in Chicago. I believe the overall talent is better than what we’ve seen, but the season-to-date data tells us they’re below average (92 wRC+) against left-handers which speaks to why they’re priced this way. I still think Yasiel Puig at $4,000 is impossible to fade.
  • George Springer is a beast who’s in full on beast mode right now. He entered play on Sunday with a 165 wRC+ against LHP, one of the best marks in the league. If you’re spending big on a bat, Springer is a great anchor.
  • It’s borderline sacrilegious to suggest a hitter against Clayton Kershaw, especially a fellow southpaw. Just throwing out an interesting contrarian GPP play by noting that Anthony Rizzo ($4,300) will never be cheaper, and his 204 wRC+ (1.00 K/BB rate is NUTS) is legit.

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

Catcher

  1. Brian McCann -$4,200 New York Yankees
  2. Yan Gomes -$3,400 Cleveland Indians
  3. Kurt Suzuki -$3,100 Minnesota Twins

First Base

  1. Mark Teixeira -$4,700 New York Yankees
  2. Albert Pujols – $4,500 St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Anthony Rizzo -$4,300 Chicago Cubs

Second Base

  1. Brian Dozier -$5,000 Minnesota Twins
  2. Justin Turner -$3,700 Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Howie Kendrick -$4,000 Los Angeles Dodgers

Third Base

  1. Trevor Plouffe -$3,700 Minnesota Twins
  2. Alex Rodriguez -$4,700 New York Yankees
  3. Chase Headley -$3,900 New York Yankees
  4. Josh Donaldson-$4,500 Toronto Blue Jays

Shortstop

  1. Carlos Correa -$3,900 Houston Astros
  2. Andrew Romine -$2,100 Detroit Tigers
  3. Jose Reyes -$4,400 Toronto Blue Jays

Outfield

  1. Yasiel Puig -$4,000 Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Brett Gardner -$5,200 New York Yankees
  3. George Springer-$4,600 Houston Astros
  4. Ryan Raburn -$2,800 Cleveland Indians

Starting Pitcher

  1. Clayton Kershaw -$12,700 Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Michael Pineda– $9,300 New York Yankees
  3. Felix Hernandez -$10,900 Seattle Mariners
  4. Drew Hutchison -$7,900 Toronto Blue Jays

*Rankings are price sensitive

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