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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: September 28, 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 nine-game evening slate on DraftKings.We’ve also got projections derived from Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections and rankings of the top plays at each position.

Pitching Perspective

Of today’s two five-digit salary starters, I’m much more interested in rostering Corey Kluber ($11,300) than Zack Greinke ($13,100). Greinke had his last start skipped due to a calf injury, and supposedly he’ll make Monday’s start. But the only thing LA has to play for at this point is home field advantage in the NLDS, and they’re a game and a half back of the Mets right now. A healthy Greinke is far more important than an extra home game. On top of the injury concern, Kluber has a better matchup and is far cheaper, so he’s the preferred play.

My favorite play of the day is a guy I’ve used a lot in the last month or so. J.A. Happ ($7,600) has a 2.43 ERA and 2.62 xFIP in his last five starts. The only concern I have is that Pittsburgh is locked into that second wild card spot, so they have little reason to push Happ tonight. That doesn’t mean they won’t push him or that they’ll be ultra-conservative with him. But the logic is there for them to be careful. He’s right at his innings total from last year, so there’s not a huge issue of overworking him, but it could factor into a decision of whether or not to take him out. His matchup with St. Louis is good as the Cards have the sixth lowest wRC+ and second highest strikeout rate against left-handed pitching. Given how cheap Happ is, I think he has enough value potential even if he is pulled a little early.

Another value option is Yordano Ventura ($7,200). You could express a similar concern about Ventura being able to pitch deep into the game, though Kansas City is at least battling with Toronto for home field throughout the AL playoffs. Ventura has been better than his ERA would indicate over his last five games as his 3.31 xFIP is quite a bit better than his 4.34 ERA. He’s also been striking batters out at a good clip with almost 10 strikeouts per nine in his last five starts. He’s got some strikeout upside against the Cubs who still have the highest strikeout rate in the league. So if you want to go cheap at pitching, Happ and Ventura could be the pair for you.

Other guys my model likes to varying degrees are Lance Lynn ($8,500), Jake Peavy ($7,500) and Felix Doubront ($4,200), but none of those three have pitched very well lately. Doubront could hit value simply because he’s so cheap, but with Happ and Ventura being reasonably priced, taking the risk with Doubront probably isn’t necessary.

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

If you’re looking to go with a team-heavy stack, Baltimore and Oakland are probably your best bets.

Baltimore will face Marco Estrada who continues to be due for regression. Estrada has a 3.13 ERA but his xFIP sits at 5.00. He has benefited from a .223 BABIP, though he typically has a BABIP lower than average thanks to a high fly ball rate, but his .223 mark is 40 points lower than his career BABIP. In the past his fly ball tendency has burned him despite the low BABIP because he couldn’t keep the fly balls in the park as evidenced by his career HR/9 of 1.35. But this year his HR/9 is somewhat tenable at 1.13. Regression isn’t guaranteed to come at any specific time, but it has to come at some point. And when it comes, it should be ugly. Were I to try and pick on the regression potential today, I’d do it with Gerardo Parra, Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Jonathan Schoop who should hit 1-2-3-4-6 in the order.

As for Oakland, they’ll face another fly ball-heavy pitcher in Hector Santiago. Santiago has a 1.74 HR/9 and 5.06 xFIP against right-handers this year, so you could load up on Oakland right-handers. Danny Valencia, Marcus Semien, Billy Butler, Brett Lawrie, Jake Smolinski, Mark Canha and Billy Burns would be your options. I’m guessing that will be 1-2-3-4-5-7 in the order.

Other spots to target would be Boston and Pittsburgh left-handers against Ivan Nova and Lance Lynn, respectively. David Ortiz and Travis Shaw would make for a nice little mini-stack in the middle of Boston’s order with Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr. also being options.  For Pittsburgh, Gregory Polanco, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez are all nice value options even if they don’t really make sense as a stack option given they don’t all hit near each other in the order.

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. Alex Avila – $2,600 – Detroit Tigers
  2. Steve Clevenger – $3,100 – Baltimore Orioles
  3. Yasmani Grandal – $3,000 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Matt Wieters – $2,800 – Baltimore Orioles

First Base

  1. David Ortiz – $4,600 – Boston Red Sox
  2. Billy Butler – $3,700 – Oakland Athletics
  3. Albert Pujols – $3,900 – Los Angeles Angels
  4. Adrian Gonzalez – $3,700 – Los Angeles Dodgers

Second Base

  1. Neil Walker – $3,100 – Pittsburgh Pirates
  2. Brett Lawrie – $3,100 – Oakland Athletics
  3. Jose Altuve – $4,400 – Houston Astros

Third Base

  1. Danny Valencia – $4,200 – Oakland Athletics
  2. Pedro Alvarez – $2,800 – Pittsburgh Pirates
  3. Travis Shaw – $3,300 – Boston Red Sox

Shortstop

  1. Marcus Semien – $3,400 – Oakland Athletics
  2. Carlos Correa – $4,700 – Houston Astros
  3. Ryan Flaherty – $2,600 – Baltimore Orioles

Outfield

  1. Chris Davis – $4,700 – Baltimore Orioles
  2. Mike Trout – $5,300 – Los Angeles Angels
  3. Adam Jones – $4,200 – Baltimore Orioles
  4. Gerardo Parra – $3,600 – Baltimore Orioles
  5. Shane Victorino – $2,300 – Los Angeles Angels
  6. Andre Ethier – $2,900 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  7. Jose Bautista – $5,200 – Toronto Blue Jays
  8. Jackie Bradley Jr. – $3,900 – Boston Red Sox

Starting Pitcher

  1. J.A. Happ – $7,600 – Pittsburgh Pirates
  2. Corey Kluber – $11,300 – Cleveland Indians
  3. Yordano Ventura – $7,200 – Kansas City Royals
  4. Lance Lynn – $8,500 – St. Louis Cardinals
  5. Jake Peavy – $7,500 – San Francisco Giants

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