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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: May 12, 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 14-game slate starting at 7:05 P.M. ET 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.


There don’t appear to be any real concerns about rain tonight. The game in Texas between the Royals and Rangers is one to keep an eye on, but as of this writing the forecast wasn’t calling for anything that seems likely to impact the game.

As for wind, there are some hitter-friendly winds in the forecast tonight. The wind is projected to be blowing out 10-15 mph to right field in TOR @ BAL, PIT @ PHI, and NYM @ CHI, to left in MIN @ DET, and to center in ATL @ CIN.

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.

Chris Sale ($9,400) has the highest unadjusted projection of the day, and no one surpasses him once adjustments for opponent and ball park are made. Sale’s adjusted projection doesn’t shift too much as a favorable matchup against the Brewers and a negative park factor from Milwaukee’s park come out as a wash. His price tag is reasonable, so there’s no serious objection to using Sale today other than the fact that his price tag will probably allow a lot of players to roster him.

After Sale, Noah Syndergaard ($7,200) checks in with the second best projection of the day thanks primarily to a good matchup with the strikeout-prone Cubs. This is Syndergaard’s first major league start, so his price tag is quite reasonable. That’s nice and all, but he is also likely to see a high ownership percentage. People love to pick on the Cubs, plus top prospects like Syndergaard are quite sexy, so I’m guessing a lot of lineups will feature the kid with the funny name. He’s a great cash game play, as is Sale, but if you want to be contrarion in tournaments, you might look elsewhere.

If you’re looking for someone else in that price range who might have a lower ownership percentage, Ian Kennedy‘s ($8,100)  5.03 ERA might scare enough people off. His xFIP is 3.80 thanks to a very good walk rate, though his xFIP would be even lower if his strikeout rate weren’t a bit lower than it has been in the past. Kennedy isn’t pitching in Petco, but he is pitching in Safeco, which is also a pitcher-friendly park. The Mariners haven’t been awful against right-handed pitching, but they are eight percent below average to date. To be clear, Sale and Syndergaard grade out as much better plays, but Kennedy is an option if you want to be different.

If you’re looking for a bargain play, look no further than Chris Heston ($4,800) whose price tag I truly do not understand. Heston has a 3.38 ERA through six starts this year and a 3.37 xFIP to back it up. He’s also inducing groundballs at a 57.1 percent clip, and one-quarter of the fly balls he has allowed have been of the infield fly variety. His strikeout rate is a little low at 18.3 percent, but his swinging strike rate of nine percent indicates he may improve in that department.

Aside from Heston’s skills, he’s facing the Astros, and we all know about their proclivity for striking out. Admittedly, the Astros do have the ability to explode with a few long balls, and this game is in Houston, not San Francisco where home runs are far less frequent. But this Astros lineup is boom-or-bust and can completely disappear on a given night. At this price point, Heston has immense value potential. I’m a bit concerned Heston is owned all over the place as well because his price tag seems so out of line with his matchup and his production to date. But I won’t be able to stay away from the salary relief he provides.

If you think everyone will be on Heston and you still want to go cheap with a pitcher, I like Drew Pomeranz ($5,500). His strikeout and walk skills are average-ish, and he has an above average matchup against the Red Sox (14 percent below average against LHP) in an above average ballpark (the game is in Oakland). Yet his price tag is quite a bit below average. There may not be a ton of upside here, but you should get more than what you pay for.

Stack Options

The major league career of Mike Foltynewicz is short, 29 innings short. While I don’t want to read too much into his less-than-stellar numbers, I must take note of his 50 percent fly ball rate in his young career. His fly ball rate in the minors was a much more normal 34.3 percent, so I expect him to improve in that area, but it has been a problem for him early. And it could be a problem for him again in Cincinnati tonight. Cincy had the second highest home run park factor last year according to Fangraphs. And as mentioned, the wind is blowing out to center tonight in Cincy. The Reds may end up hitting a few out.

The options for a Reds stack are Billy Hamilton ($4,300, OF), Marlon Byrd ($4,400, OF), Joey Votto ($4,500, 1B), Todd Frazier ($4,700, 1B/3B), Brandon Phillips ($4,300, 2B) and Jay Bruce ($4,400, OF). For a shorter stack, I like Votto, Frazier and Bruce.

Aside from Cincy, Washington grades out as the other good stack of the day in Arizona. They’re facing Rubby de la Rosa who was nails his last time out and whose underlying numbers look decent. But Rubby is having problems with home runs, and part of the reason for that is his home ball park where this game is being played. The options for stacking are Denard Span ($4,700, OF), Jayson Werth ($4,600, OF), Bryce Harper ($5,300, OF), Ryan Zimmerman ($4,700, 1B/3B), Ian Desmond ($4,500, SS) and Wilson Ramos ($4,000, C). There’s not as much value in the Nats stack as there is in the Reds stack, so if you don’t use someone like Heston or Pomeranz at pitcher, lean toward the Reds.

Other stacks I could see making sense include Pittsburgh and Chicago (White Sox). The Pirates have a good matchup against Sean O’Sullivan in a hitter-friendly park in Philly. However, the DK pricing model has factored that in and they’re not a great value. As for the White Sox, nine through four in that lineup, with the exception of Jose Abreu, all represent great values.

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. Wilson Ramos – $4,000 – Washington Nationals
  2. Russell Martin – $4,400 – Toronto Blue Jays
  3. Wilin Rosario – $3,500 – Colorado Rockies
  4. Derek Norris – $3,400 – San Diego Padres

First Base

  1. Joey Votto – $4,500 – Cincinnati Reds
  2. Freddie Freeman – $5,100 – Atlanta Braves
  3. Jose Abreu – $4,600 – Chicago White Sox
  4. Adam Laroche – $3,400 – Chicago White Sox

Second Base

  1. Robinson Cano – $4,000 – Seattle Mariners
  2. Dustin Pedroia – $3,800 – Boston Red Sox
  3. Jose Altuve – $4,500 – Houston Astros
  4. Neil Walker – $4,400 – Pittsburgh Pirates

Third Base

  1. Kris Bryant – $4,300 – Chicago Cubs
  2. Kyle Seager – $3,500 – Seattle Mariners
  3. Miguel Cabrera – $5,100 – Detroit Tigers


  1. Troy Tulowitzki – $4,400 – Colorado Rockies
  2. Ian Desmond – $4,500 – Washington Nationals
  3. Jung-Ho Kang – $4,100 – Pittsburgh Pirates


  1. Mike Trout – $5,300 – Los Angeles Angels
  2. Billy Hamilton – $4,300 – Cincinnati Reds
  3. Jay Bruce – $4,400 – Cincinnati Reds
  4. Andrew McCutchen – $5,300 – Pittsburgh Pirates
  5. Denard Span – $4,700 – Washington Nationals
  6. Bryce Harper – $5,300 – Washington Nationals
  7. Ryan Braun – $4,400 – Milwaukee Brewers

Starting Pitcher

  1. Noah Syndergaard – $7,200 – New York Mets
  2. Chris Heston – $4,800 – San Francisco Giants
  3. Chris Sale – $9,400 – Chicago White Sox
  4. Drew Pomeranz – $5,500 – Oakland Athletics
  5. Ian Kennedy – $8,100 – San Diego Padres

*Rankings are price sensitive

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