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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: May 18, 2015

Ah, we’ve got a case of the Monday’s here. It’s an abbreviated slate today on DraftKings. There are seven games total, but one is a day game between the Angels and Blue Jays. That means we have a six-game main slate tonight.

Below we have projections derived from Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections, and we have rankings of the top plays at each position.


You can never be too safe, so check the forecast closer to game time tomorrow. Check out and @KevinRothWx.

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.

Since I imagine most of you will be playing the evening-only slate tonight, I’ll only be going through those options. The Angels and Blue Jays are including in the projection sheets though, so the data is there if you need it. Feel free to reach out if you have a specific question, I’m on Twitter wayyyy too much, @RyNoonan.

Despite having just six games tonight, we do have a number of upper-echelon starting pitchers to choose from. It’s less than ideal that our projected top two starters are going head to head, but I’m not opposed to rostering both Corey Kluber ($10,100) and Chris Sale ($9,500) in the same lineup. It may not be the most optimal way to construct a lineup, but I feel that chasing a win (something that we’ve established is well outside of the pitcher’s control) isn’t an optimal approach either. Both offenses here are middle of the pack in terms of wOBA, wRAA and wRC+ against the particular handedness of their opponent, so I’d lean towards the slightly cheaper pitcher at home, and that’s Chris Sale.

Matt Harvey ($10,600) is the highest priced option tonight but is the worst value according to our projections. He’s still likely to have a strong night, but the Cardinals are one of the league’s better clubs against right-handed pitching (7th in wOBA) and have one of the lower strikeout rates as well, mitigating the upside of Harvey.

I just may be out of my mind, but I like this spot for Cole Hamels ($8,900). He struggled with walks and was victimized by dongs early in the season, but he’s been back to his old ways of late, with two straight 29+ DK point performances. The model also isn’t taking in to consideration the likelihood that the Rockies will be without Troy Tulowitzki, who missed the weekend with a leg injury. Even with Tulo in the lineup, the Rockies are among the bottom teams against left-handed pitchers (28th in wRC+). Hopefully the fear of Coors Field will keep his ownership levels down.

John Lackey ($8,200) is reasonably priced, and has a plus matchup against the Mets. The Mets enter play with one of the worst offenses against right-handed pitching this season, but they swung it well this weekend. While I do trust the math here, I’d rather roster Lucas Duda than bank on the velocity-leaking ways of John Lackey.

We also have a major league debut on the slate tonight, as 21-year old Astros prospect Lance Mccullers ($5,700) takes the ball against the Oakland Athletics. Mccullers just got called up to AAA last week, and is headed to the bigs before even making a single start in AAA. This seems very anti-Astros from a philosophy stand point, but that’s a discussion for a different day. The bad news for the young Astros righty is that the A’s mash right-handed pitching, entering play with the third best wOBA in those situations. He’ll have better days.

Stack Options

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.

The best matchup on paper belongs to the Philadelphia Phillies. Phew. I can barely even type those words consecutively without breaking the internet. They don’t play the games ‘on paper’ though. They’re played on the field and on that field, the Phillies are terrible. If you’d like to roll Ryan Howard ($4,500) out I understand, but I wouldn’t try and stack too many Phillies in cash games. It offers some GPP appeal if you either have a) huge marbles or b) hate money.

The aforementioned Athletics are appealing today. They’re reasonably priced, and depending on their lineup construction, offer quite a bit of value and salary relief. Marcus Semien ($4,700) is pricey, but you can fit him around all their lefties still.

The Diamondbacks get a slight downgrade in the projections because they’re facing Dan Haren in Miami and not Arizona, but they’re still facing Dan Haren, so there’s that. Haren’s cFIP is just 107 (100 is average, above is worse than average), which is better than I thought it’d be. He’s giving up quite a bit of hard contact and has skated by with a .240 BABIP-against so far.

The last teams I’d consider stacking in cash games are the Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros. The Brewers face left-handed pitcher/worst name for a pitcher ever, Kyle Lobstein. As of this writing, we don’t know the status of Carlos Gomez, but if he’s in the lineup I like the entire trio of Brewers’ outfielders. The Astros have the upside to feast on left-handed pitching even though they’ve been slightly below average for the season. You may think it’s the hot-hand fallacy or you may be willing to leverage the short-term trend.

Player Rankings


1. Stephen Vogt– ($4,100) Oakland Athletics

2. Evan Gattis-($3,700) Houston Astros

3. Carlos Ruiz-($3,900) Philadelphia Phillies

4. Colorado Rockies Catcher (check their lineup)

First Base

1. Lucas Duda-($3,900) New York Mets

2. Paul Goldschmidt-($5,300) Arizona Diamondbacks

3. Ryan Howard-($4,500) Philadelphia Phillies

Second Base

1. Jose Altuve-($4,800) Houston Astros

2. Daniel Murphy-($3,600) New York Mets

3. Dee Gordon-($4,900) Miami Marlins

Third Base

1. Miguel Cabrera-($5,100) Detroit Tigers

2. Marcus Semien-($4,700) Oakland Athletics

3. Nolan Arenado-($4,200) Colorado Rockies


1. Jose Iglesias-($3,100) Detroit Tigers

2. Marwin Gonzalez-($2,900) Houston Astros

3. Freddie Galvis-($4,100) Philadelphia Phillies


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

2. Josh Reddick-($4,200) Oakland Athletics

3. George Springer-($4,700) Houston Astros

4. Khris Davis-($4,100) Milwaukee Brewers

5. Ender Inciarte-($3,700) Arizona Diamondbacks

Starting Pitcher

1. Chris Sale-($9,500) Chicago White Sox

2. Corey Kluber ($10,100) Cleveland Indians

3. Cole Hamels ($8,900) Philadelphia Phillies

4. Matt Harvey ($10,600) New York Mets

5. John Lackey ($8,200) St. Louis Cardinals

*Rankings are price sensitive

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