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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: June 30, 2015

Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best teams to use for stacks for Tuesday’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.

Forecast

Rain is making an unfortunate rain to the forecast after taking a few days off for the most part. There are good chances of thunderstorms in Baltimore, and there’s at least a chance of postponement there as of this writing. There’s also the potential for rain in Philadelphia, so it may be too risky to use Cole Hamels or to pick on the Phillies lineup with Milwaukee’s starter if that has been a strategy of yours this season. Games in Detroit, Atlanta and Cincinnati could also see precipitation. Ugh. Retractable roof on every stadium, please.

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, as always, with today’s expensive starters ($9,500+). Chris Sale ($12,800) is likely to be owned out the wazoo today given that he has posted double digit strikeouts in eight of his last nine starts. Often, I’m off the most expensive pitcher of the day because a) I expect a high ownership percentage, and b) I often think the cost is too high. But of the six most expensive pitchers today, Sale is the only guy with a positive value grade according to my model. We recently saw Max Scherzer‘s price tag up around $14,000, and I’m honestly surprised Sale isn’t priced like that right now. I understand fading him in tournaments to be contrarion, but he’s going to be hard not to roster and almost possible to ignore in cash games.

As I mentioned, no other expensive starter has a positive value grade today, but Cole Hamels and Lance Lynn come close. Both are long shots to get a win as Lynn is going up against Sale and Hamels is a Philly. But their price tags are almost right if you want to pay for some safety with one of your starters but don’t want to pay for Sale. The other expensive options are Sonny Gray, Dallas Keuchel and Gerrit Cole. Gray is just way too expensive ($10,700) according to my model, and Keuchel and Cole have bad matchups against the Royals and Tigers, respectively.

In the mid-price range ($7,500-$9,500), two names stick out. The first is a guy I write about almost every time he starts, Danny Salazar ($9,200). Salazar is the ultimate GPP play. He’s got all the upside in the world as evidenced by his 30.4 percent strikeout rate and 6.8 percent walk rate. Just four qualified starters have a better K-BB% than Salazar this year. The problem is that when he does get hit, he gets hit hard. His hard contact allowed rate this year is 30.3 percent, which is right in line with his career rate of 30.2 percent in 239 2/3 innings. Of the 96 qualified starters so far, that’s the 27th worst hard contact allowed rate in the league. Long story short, he’s a no in cash games. But with a good matchup in a good ball park (Tampa Bay), he’s absolutely a GPP option.

The other mid-price guy I like is Ian Kennedy ($8,100). No player is getting a bigger bump to his base projection than Kennedy. With his start coming at home and against the Mariners who have the third highest strikeout rate in the league against right-handers, the situation couldn’t be any better for Kennedy today. He’s had bad luck with the long ball this year, but his strikeout and walk skills are above average, so some positive regression could be headed his way today.

If you’re looking for bargains, Kyle Hendricks ($6,500) has an above average projection today with a safely below average price. The Mets are a solid matchup for right-handed hitters, and Hendricks is getting a positive park shift moving from Wrigley to Citi Field. If you want salary relief, there it is.

If you really want to gamble and pair someone super cheap with Sale or something to clear out room for pricey hitters, Danny Duffy ($5,700) is your guy. He’s facing the Astros who are better against left-handers and less strikeout prone but are still a positive opponent for a pitcher. Duffy was decent in his first start back from the DL last week, so I’m OK with you rolling the dice here if you so choose.

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

When picking stacks I primarily look at three things: Vegas odds, teams with several hitters toward the top of my projections, and pitchers who allow batters to elevate at a high rate. According to Vegas, the teams with highest projected team totals today are the Dodgers, Blue Jays and Orioles, so let’s start there.

Two Dodgers are #1 and #2 in my projections today, so I’m board with Vegas on the Dodgers. The projections for Adrian Gonzalez and Joc Pederson are so high because a) the game is in hitter-friendly Arizona, and b) they’re facing Rubby de la Rosa who has allowed a .389 wOBA to left-handed hitters this year. The problem with stacking Dodgers is that Pederson and Gonzalez are likely to hit 1-4 in the order, and their other left-handed bats, Andre Ethier, Yasmani Grandal and Jimmy Rollis, are likely to hit 6-7-8. It’s not exactly the sequential order you want for a stack. But if you don’t want to go full stack with the Dodgers, at least make sure you have some exposure to their lefties.

As for the Blue Jays, Donaldson, Bautista and Encarnacion are always a formidable trio at home against a left-hander, but that trio will cost you about 30 percent of your budget today. Given that the Jays have scored more runs than any other team in the league by a relative mile, I’ll never advise against stacking Jays. But I’d prefer to spend on pitching today if possible. That said, cheaper pitching options with a Jays stack is a fine GPP lineup.

As for the Orioles, Chris Davis ranks fourth in today’s projections and Adam Jones ranks 11th, so an O’s stack can be built around them. They have solid value grades, so you can afford to stack the slightly overpriced Manny Machado with them. The O with the fourth highest projection on the team is Jimmy Paredes, who hits primarily in the two hole right in between Machado, Jones and Davis. Matt Wieters hits fifth and can also be used if you want to go with a full O’s stack, but he’s better against left-handed pitchers, so he’s not a must-play.

If you’ve noticed, I haven’t mentioned anything about any of the teams discussed above facing pitchers who allow hitters to elevate the ball frequently. That’s because there aren’t many guys who stand out in that regard today. If you were going to pick on someone, the options would be Marco Estrada, Colby Lewis and Phil Hughes. Lewis is in Baltimore against the O’s, so chalk another one up in the positive column for the O’s today.

Estrada and Hughes are facing the Red Sox and Reds today, respectively. Not many Reds are near the top of today’s projections with Todd Frazier being the highest ranked Red at #38. With David Ortiz being the highest projected Red Sock at #25, I’m not overly inclined to stack those teams today. But they are both playing in good ball parks, so those would be the contrarion stacks I’d use today if that’s your thing.

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. Yasmani Grandal – $3,900 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – $3,400 – Arizona Diamondbacks
  3. Matt Wieters – $3,900 – Baltimore Orioles

First Base

  1. Adrian Gonzalez – $4,900 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Mark Teixeira – $3,900 – New York Yankees
  3. Ryan Howard – $3,800 – Philadelphia Phillies

Second Base

  1. Dee Gordon – $4,600 – Miami Marlins
  2. Jimmy Paredes – $4,200 – Baltimore Orioles
  3. Ben Zobrist – $4,100 – Oakland Athletics

Third Base

  1. Chris Davis – $4,200 – Baltimore Orioles
  2. Kris Bryant – $4,100 – Chicago Cubs
  3. Joey Gallo – $3,200 – Texas Rangers

Shortstop

  1. Jimmy Rollins – $3,600 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Marcus Semien – $3,300 – Oakland Athletics
  3. Carlos Correa – $4,600 – Houston Astros

Outfield

  1. Joc Pederson – $4,300 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Mike Trout – $4,900 – Los Angeles Angels
  3. Adam Jones – $4,300 – Baltimore Orioles
  4. Andrew McCutchen – $4,700 – Pittsburgh Pirates
  5. Christian Yelich – $4,000 – Miami Marlins
  6. Alejandro de Aza – $3,600 – Boston Red Sox

Starting Pitcher

  1. Chris Sale – $12,800 – Chicago White Sox
  2. Ian Kennedy – $8,100 – San Diego Padres
  3. Danny Salazar – $9,200 – Cleveland Indians
  4. Cole Hamels – $10,300 – Philadelphia Phillies
  5. Kyle Hendricks – $6,500 – Chicago Cubs
  6. Danny Duffy – $5,700 – Kansas City Royals

*Rankings are price sensitive

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