Below we’ve got some salary relief options for your DraftKings lineups tonight. For our Front Office subscribers, Ryan Noonan will have a full breakdown of tonight’s 11-game slate (which will publish soon) complete with matchup and park adjusted projections, a discussion of the day’s starting pitcher situation, the best teams to use for stacks, and player rankings for each position. If you’re not a Front Office subscriber, our daily breakdowns of each day’s MLB action can be accessed for a dollar a day. Try us out for a day or two and see if you like what we’re putting down. OK, enough selling you. Here are today’s bargains.
David Phelps, SP, $4,900
There are a lot of good pitchers in action today, and there are several safe options that have reasonable enough price tags. For that reason, it really may not be necessary to use Phelps. But if you’re someone who likes to go cheap with a pitcher in big tournaments, Phelps is your guy. According to our projections (which, again, can be found in our full breakdown of tonight’s slate), Phelps has the 15th best projection of the 22 starters in action, but he’s the third cheapest pitcher on the board. He should probably be priced closer to $6,000.
Phelps has a 3.38 ERA in five appearances this year (three starts), but it would be disingenuous to not point out that his SIERA is close to 5.00. Phelps has always had a below average, but not quite awful, walk rate, and that’s the case this year. The bigger problem is that he’s not missing bats at the same clip he has in the past. Previously he’s had a strikeout rate close to or slightly above league average, but that hasn’t been the case so far this year. The good news is that his opponent, the Nationals, have the sixth highest strikeout rate against right-handers this year. The Nats are also a righty-heavy lineup, though Phelps doesn’t have a huge platoon split.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t use Phelps unless you want to go with Kershaw and a bunch of expensive hitters. But if you need the salary relief in a tournament, roll the dice with Phelps.
Matt Shoemaker, SP, $7,300
If you’re looking for a cheap pitcher but need someone you can feel safer with in cash games, Shoemaker may be your best option. He comes with some risk, but salary relief options almost always do.
Shoemaker has been much better than his ERA of 6.00 would indicate, but you can be much better than a 6.00 ERA indicates and still not be all that good. That’s sort of the case with Shoemaker and his 4.20 SIERA. Shoemaker struck out batters at an above average rate last year and really limited walks. He’s still been pretty good in the walk department this year, but his strikeout rate has fallen below average. His velocity is down a bit early in the year, and that’s likely the reason for the lack of strikeouts.
Now that I’ve talked you out of Shoemaker, let me talk you back into him. First of all, his control limits his downside. Aside from a disaster against Oakland where almost half the balls put into play against him went for hits, Shoemaker is averaging six innings in his other three starts thanks to his efficiency. As for his matchup, the Mariners are better against left-handed pitching. More importantly, the game is in LA where Shoemaker posted an ERA of 2.10 in just over 80 innings last year thanks to his home run rate being half what is was on the road.
Again, there’s not much upside here, so look elsewhere for tournaments. But as far as trying to avoid downside and just getting a decent return in cash games, Shoemaker will do at his price tag.
Michael Saunders, OF, $3,900
Saunders finally made it off the disabled list and into the Toronto lineup a little over a week ago. He got off to a slow start, but he’s starting to come around with two hits in each of his last two games. Thanks to the injury absence and a slow start upon his return, his price tag is still fairly reasonable, though that is likely to change the more time he spends in the lineup that leads the league in run scoring.
Today Saunders and the Jays will face Chase Whitley in Toronto. I’m less fixated on Whitley being the cheapest pitcher of the day because he has a 3.66 SIERA in 80.2 career innings. He’s not as awful as his price tag might indicate. But I do like how he has struggled against lefties like Saunders. He has faced 186 left-handed hitters in his young career, and they’ve put up a .388 wOBA against him. Only nine qualified hitters had a wOBA higher than .388 last year, so Whitley is definitely a good matchup for lefties. Unfortunately the Jays don’t really have any other usable left-handed bats. Justin Smoak isn’t seeing work, and Ryan Goins is terrible, though he could be a decent punt play.
Alex Guerrero, 2B/3B, $3,000
I know Guerrero isn’t playing every day, and he could very well be out of the lineup tonight. But that doesn’t explain DraftKings not bumping his price after the numbers he has put up so far. He’s cooled a bit after five home runs in his first 11 games, but he still has five home runs already. His pace will obviously continue to slow, but the price tag just doesn’t make sense. The matchup with Kyle Lohse isn’t spectacular, but Lohse hasn’t been that much better against right-handers than left in his career. Plus this game is in Milwaukee as opposed to Los Angeles.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, $5,700
I understand that Goldschmidt is the most expensive hitter available on DraftKings today and that the most expensive hitter probably shouldn’t be mentioned in a post about bargains. But my model has Goldschmidt being quite underpriced today. For starters, the ZiPS projections upon which my model is based like Goldy a lot to begin with, and obviously the Coors bump is helping a lot. But Goldy also has one of the best matchups of the day against left-hander Tyler Matzek, who allows the third most DK points per plate appearance against right-handers of any starter in action today.
Once you factor in all those positives, Goldschmidt should be priced well over $6,000, probably about $6,400-$6,500. His ownership percentage will be through the roof, so feel free to be contrarion in tournaments, but he’s hard to ignore in cash games.