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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: May 11, 2015

Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best teams to use for stacks for Monday’s 10-game evening 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.

Pitching Perspective

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.

We only have 10 games today but have a plethora of upper-echelon starting pitcher options. The consistency of Zack Greinke ($10,200) has earned him the top spot on the mound today, and he faces the Marlins at home tonight. The Marlins enter play with an 88 wRC+ when facing a right-handed pitcher while striking out over 22-percent of time. With a number of strong options today, I suspect Greinke will be under-owned.

Counterparts Jon Lester ($9,700) and Jake deGrom ($8,100) are both in play this evening when they square off in Chicago. Lester has the better matchup, but deGrom’s deflated price makes him great value. He put up 31 DraftKings points last time out (vs. Baltimore) and for some reason his price dropped $400.

When factoring in both opponent and price, the best pitching option today is Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole ($8,900). The game is in Philly, so it’s a negative park shift for Cole, but it’s not enough to move me off of him. The Phillies are incredibly bad against right-handed pitching; their .256 wOBA and 57 wRC+ are comfortably the worst in all of baseball, and it’s safe to say these numbers in general have been accumulated against pitchers below the level of Cole. The increased usage of Cole’s slider has allowed him to build on the swing-and-miss gains that we saw last season, and he’s inducing ground-balls at a career high clip as well.

I’m not a huge fan of the middle tier today, but the one player that stands out is Scott Kazmir ($7,100). He’s fresh off a clunker against what now appears to be a hot-hitting Twins team, but he has the punch-out upside you want to see in the middle tier and faces the Red Sox at home. While the Red Sox do have the best walk rate against left-handed pitching, their 86 wRC+ and 23rd ranked wOBA aren’t to be feared at this point. If this was in Fenway I’d pass, but it’s in Oakland.

If you’re looking to bring some of the bottom tier options today, there are a few appealing plays, starting with Alex Colome ($6,700). Unfortunately, his price has jumped up quite a bit after putting together a pair of strong starts, albeit starts that only saw him work five innings in each. He does have a nifty 10:0 strikeout-walk ratio through his first 10 innings, and he gets the Yankees and C.C. Sabathia at home in Tampa Bay.

Stack Options

The Pittsburgh Pirates don’t profile as a team that’s a great stack option when you consider their season-to-date offensive data, but they’re swinging it well of late and face Jerome Williams in hitter-friendly Philadelphia. The outfield duo of Andrew McCutchen ($5,300) and Starling Marte ($5,100) is a pricey one, but if you’re going to stack here, do it right. The rest of the team offers a bunch of values, none better than expected leadoff man Gregory Polanco ($4,300). If you’re just playing one Pirates’ outfielder in cash, use Polanco. Korean import, Jung Ho Kang ($3,900) has been seeing more playing time lately, including a spot in the 2-hole this weekend.

After a brutal undressing by Michael Pineda in New York on Sunday, the Baltimore Orioles return home and their gift is Marco Estrada. Estrada always had the secondary offerings that had scouts and touts drooling, but his fastball looks like batting practice to major league hitters, resulting in home run totals that’ve made it difficult for Estrada to hold down a rotation spot along the way.

The Red Sox’ Rick Porcello has pitched fairly well of late, but I’m not ready to go all-in yet. While he gets a positive park adjustment here in Oakland, he also faces an Athletics club that’s one of the best in the game against right-handed pitching. They’re able to go extremely left-handed, and Porcello is 46 wOBA points worse against left-handed bats compared to righties during his career.

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. Stephen Vogt-($3,700) Oakland Athletics

2. Yasmani Grandal-($4,400) Los Angeles Dodgers

3. Miguel Montero-($3,300) Chicago Cubs

First Base

1. Joey Votto-($4,500) Cincinnati Reds

2. Freddie Freeman-($5,000) Atlanta Braves

3. Michael Cuddyer-($3,700) New York Mets

4. Adam Lind-($4,200) Milwaukee Brewers

Second Base

1. Dustin Pedroia-($3,800) Boston Red Sox

2. Neil Walker-($4,400) Pittsburgh Pirates

3. Devon Travis-($3,300) Toronto Blue Jays

4. Scooter Gennett-($3,500) Milwaukee Brewers

Third Base

1. Evan Longoria-($4,200) Tampa Bay Rays

2. Alex Guerrero-($2,800) Los Angeles Dodgers

3. Chris Davis-($4,800) Baltimore Orioles

Shortstop

1. Hanley Ramirez-($4,700) Boston Red Sox

2. Jung Ho Kang-($3,900) Pittsburgh Pirates

3. Tim Beckham-($2,500) Tampa Bay Rays

Outfield

1. Ryan Braun-($4,900) Milwaukee Brewers

2. Adam Jones-($4,300) Baltimore Orioles

3. Gregory Polanco-($4,300) Pittsburgh Pirates

4. Josh Reddick-($3,700) Oakland Athletics

5. Steven Souza-($3,800) Tampa Bay Rays

Starting Pitcher

1. Gerrit Cole-($8,900) Pittsburgh Pirates

2. Zack Greinke-($10,200) Los Angeles Dodgers

3. Jake deGrom-($8,100) New York Mets

4. Max Scherzer-($11,500) Washington Nationals

5. Jon Lester-($9,700) Chicago Cubs

6. Scott Kazmir-($7,100) Oakland Athletics

*Rankings are price sensitive

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