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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: September 18, 2015

Welcome back to The Fix! This time of year is great for the baseball DFS grinders. Everyone is building NFL (and CFB) lineups and spending a little less time on baseball. Let’s keep that edge. We have a 14-game slate tonight on DraftKings., with the Cardinals and Cubs squaring off this afternoon. I’ll give you my thoughts on the slate, and at the bottom we have rankings of the top plays at each position. If you’re on Twitter, you can find me @RyNoonan.

Forecast

It’s difficult to nail down weather hours and hours before first pitch. 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. Early indications are we’ll see some rain in the Midwest, so keep an eye on Minnesota in particular.

Pitching Perspective

If you like finding low priced pitching options, particularly to pair with a high-priced SP1, this slate is not for you. Not only is it extremely top heavy, I really don’t love any of the mid-level pitching options today, and will likely be spending up. This isn’t an issue for me as far as how I construct lineups because I prefer to pay up. It’s the most antifragile approach regardless of if you’re entering a tournament or a cash game.

The highest priced option tonight is Zack Greinke ($12,300) against the Pirates. There aren’t many games on the slate tonight where both teams are still in contention for a playoff spot, but this is one of them. Zack Greinke has been outstanding this season, and should continue his Cy-Young worth season tonight against Pittsburgh (.312 wOBA/99 wRC+). Looking at the data from Vegas, the Pirates are pegged with an implied-run total of just 2.7 runs tonight. Out of the ‘Big 5′ aces on the slate tonight, Greinke is the most expensive and has the lowest K/9 at 8.16, but his floor is so high for cash games. At the same time, because he is the most expensive he’ll likely to see lower ownership totals in tournaments

Next up is Chris Sale ($12,200) against the Indians. Sale has the huge strikeout upside that makes these ginormous price tags a bit easier to handle. I’m not concerned about him getting hit around last time out against Minnesota. The Twins clearly have his number and it’s happened multiple times this season. That’s a win for the BvP crowd I suppose. The Indians are striking out 20.6% of the time against southpaws, highlighting what Sale does best.

Last time out against the Mets was the first time in nearly two months that Max Scherzer ($12,100) topped the 30-point plateau in a start. He’s facing Miami, who has an implied-run total of just 3 tonight, and are last in the league in wOBA, ISO, and wRC+ against right-handed pitching. He’s been giving up a ton of home runs lately though, including two against these light-hitting Marlins a few weeks ago. I’m chalking that up to variance over the course of 162 games (or 30 starts in this case). The ceiling for Scherzer doesn’t feel quite as high as it was earlier this season, but this is still a solid spot for him.

My favorite play tonight, especially in cash, is Madison Bumgarner ($11,500). Getting the cheapest ‘ace’ on the slate is an easy call, especially when he’s pitching in the best run-suppressing environment in the game. The Diamondbacks have a few studs like Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock that mash left-handed pitching, but on the whole they’re average against southpaws (98 wRC+). Bumgarner dominates left-handed bats and his .267 wOBA against righties is an excellent rate for a lefty. Obviously he has the strikeout upside that we want here (9.65 K/9) and Arizona’s implied-run total of just 2.7 means Vegas is on board here too.

Some other pitching quick takes:

  • Mike Fiers ($8,700) is priced nicely tonight, and is a solid SP2 if you’re paying up in both spots tonight. I’d rather roster him when he’s on the road because he’s a bit fly ball heavy, but he’s in a good spot against Oakland (.307 wOBA/97 wRC+).
  • I’m happy that the Marlins are being smart with Jose Fernandez ($11,800) down the stretch. They are just running out the slate at this point. Babying Fernandez is smart because if the Marlins are going to be relevant again they’ll need a healthy Jose Fernandez (1.67 FIP) leading that charge. The problem is that he’s not a great option in DFS right now because of the restrictions. He’s unlikely to work more than 5-6 innings tonight.
  • You can’t use Drew Smyly ($9,400) in cash games because he’s another pitcher that’s never allowed to work deep. He has huge strikeout upside (10.36 K/9) against the Orioles (23.0%) but he hasn’t topped 100 pitches in months. There’s a bit of tournament upside here, but even that is difficult to swing at this price.
  • Johnny Cueto ($7,700) is at his lowest price of the season, but he’s been terrible of late. A 5.43 ERA since moving the the AL, Cueto has scored negative DraftKings-points in three of his last five outings. At first glance there’s value here, but I’m going to stay away from Cueto against the Tigers.
  • There aren’t a ton of pitching options outside of the top tier but you’ll need to save some money somewhere if you’re going to afford exposure to some of the slate’s top offenses. Left-hander Brandon Finnegan ($4,100) was the prize of the Reds/Royals trade for Johnny Cueto, and the former first-round pick faces a Brewers team that has struggled a bit at times against left-handed pitching (82 wRC+).

Stack Options

According to Vegas, our best bets today are the Blue Jays (5.5 implied-runs), Rockies (5.4), Padres (5.2), Astros (5.1) and Rangers (5.0).

I may be out of my mind, but I’m not a huge fan of the Blue Jays in this spot. If Rick Porcello ($6,900) were facing anyone else tonight, he’d easily be my favorite pitching option below $10,000. Red Sox fans have been screaming all season for Porcello to get back to what’s made him successful in past seasons, and he’s finally gotten back to it. Goodbye, four-seam fastball. Welcome back, sinker. Clearly the Blue Jays are a different beast, but I think there are better ways to spend your budget tonight.

The game in Colorado is always appealing and Ian Kennedy and Chad Bettis should offer little resistance to what should be a high scoring game. The players for both clubs are reasonably priced tonight which is something we don’t often say. The three Rockies that you typically want, Carlos Gonzalez ($4,300), Charlie Blackmon ($4,500) and Nolan Arenado ($4,800) are all under $5,000.

You can spend a little bit more and get Padres outfielder Justin Upton ($5,200) who hits right-hande bats well and is facing Chad Bettis (.359 wOBA vs. RHH’s). The rest of the Padres are really cheap, just remember that they aren’t very good.

The Astros aren’t cheap, but I love their matchup against Felix Doubront tonight in Houston. The top of Houston’s lineup is very right-handle and Doubront’s .357 wOBA against right-handed bats is going to be a problem for he and his Oakland teammates tonight.

Other offensive notes:

  • You won’need to spend a lot to roster Phillies tonight, but take a look at their left-handed bats tonight against Williams Perez (.385 wOBA vs. LHH’s).
  • You can’t ignore Rubby De La Rosa‘s struggles against left-handed bats. They enter play with a .409 wOBA against him, making the Giants left-handed bats like Brandon Belt ($4,000) appealing.
  • It’s +EV to target fly ball pitchers who give up a lot of hard-hit contact. It’s pretty straight forward. We’ve seen the Twins hang some crooked numbers up on the board against left-handed pitching this season, and I think they hit Andrew Heaney around tonight.

Player Rankings

Catcher

1. Chris Gimenez – Texas Rangers $3,400

2. Wilin Rosario – Colorado Rockies $2,400

3. John Jaso – Tampa Bay Rays $2,500

First Base

1. Brett Wallace – San Diego Padres $2,200 (3B)

2. Brandon Belt – San Francisco Giants $4,000

3. Ryan Howard – Philadelphia Phillies $3,700

4. Mike Napoli – Texas Rangers $3,200

5. Mark Canha – Oakland Athletics $3,800 (OF)

Second Base

1. Jose Altuve – Houston Astros $4,700

2. Rougned Odor – Texas Rangers $4,100

3. Brian Dozier – Minnesota Twins $4,200

4. Darnell Sweeney – Philadelphia Phillies $2,600

Third Base

1. Nolan Arenado – Colorado Rockies $4,800

2. Jed Lowrie – Houston Astros $4,100 (SS)

3. Adonis Garcia – Atlanta Braves $3,100

4. Jedd Gyorko – San Diego Padres ($3,400) (2B)

Shortstop

1. Carlos Correa – Houston Astros 5,000

2. Jose Reyes – Colorado Rockies $4,200

3. Cristhian Adames– Colorado Rockies $2,500

4. Brad Miller – Seattle Mariners $3,000

Outfield

1. Carlos Gonzalez – Colorado Rockies $4,300

2. Charlie Blackmon – Colorado Rockies $4,500

3. George Springer – Houston Astros $4,400

4. Justin Upton – San Diego Padres $5,200

5. Corey Dickerson – Colorado Rockies $3,600

6. Justin Ruggiano – Los Angeles Dodgers $2,600

7. Aaron Hicks – Minnesota Twins $3,600

Starting Pitcher

1. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants $11,500

2. Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox $11,200

3. Zack Greinke – Los Angeles Dodgers $12,300

4. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals $12,100

5. Mike Fiers – Houston Astros $8,700

6. Brandon Finnegan – Cincinnati Reds $4,100

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