1. Matt Harvey RHP NYM @ MIA (Rostered on my teams)- What do you want me to write here? Matt Harvey has pitched a quality start in each of his first five starts going 4-0 during that span. He has 39 Ks in his 35 IP with a remarkable 0.69 WHIP. In fact, Matt Harvey is the number 2 starter on ESPN’s Player Rater behind only Yu Darvish (my other fantasy baseball man-crush). The Marlins are a glorified Triple A team and don’t boast any hitters to give Harvey problems. Giancarlo Stanton is heating up but Harvey is too good of a pitcher to give Stanton a pitch he can hit. Harvey is 8,200 on Fanduel and 10,200 on DraftKings. I’m buying him both places. Don’t try to out-think the room here.
2. Stephen Strasburg RHP WAS @ ATL- Originally I didn’t have Strasburg ranked at all on this list. In fact this spot was occupied by Jeff Samardzija, but the wind is blowing out at Wrigley. Storms are also in the forecast. I figured better to avoid. Strasburg has a very interesting matchup today versus the Braves in Atlanta. My heart says to avoid this matchup. The Braves are extremely powerful, play much better at home through 2013, and have success against Strasburg in the past. Here’s where it swings back into the Strasburg side. The Braves aren’t taking big league at bats right now. It’s just an overall feeling that they are going to get K’d every at bat. That’s not a good thing when you see them going against one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball. If the Braves team that I’ve seen the last several games shows up then I think you can pencil Strasburg down for 10+ Ks. If the Braves team shows that we saw at the beginning of the season Strasburg could have a rough short outing. My money is on the 10+ Ks unfortunately. Stras is still pricey so this matchup may not be ideal. Just understand he’ll probably have the most Ks which usually leads to the best fantasy day.
3. Andy Pettitte LHP NYY vs HOU (Rostered on my teams)- I don’t think anyone has impressed me as much as Pettitte has this year. He continues to defy conventional wisdom in regards to aging pitchers. He has been absolutely un-hittable for left-handed batters. However, I don’t think Houston will send any lefties up to the plate versus Pettitte. The Astros tend to enjoy platooning their lineups for the most part. I don’t think the Astros right-handed bats will challenge Pettitte. Coming off of a 10 K performance against Tampa, I think Pettitte should get close to that number again as he faces the MLB strikeout leading team. Remember finding success on most daily fantasy sites comes by finding value, innings, strikeouts, and wins. I think Pettitte offers you all of those things in this match-up.
4. Max Scherzer RHP DET vs MIN- Scherzer is a strike out connoisseur. He is all but guaranteed to reach 6 Ks every single time he goes out there to pitch. Scherzer will face a Minnesota team that boasts a handful of talented left-handed bats, but Scherzer doesn’t have a crazy split to where I’m worried about that. Mauer and Morneau have had a significant amount of success against the old Scherzer. Last year Scherzer had 23 Ks in 17.1 innings and didn’t give up more than 3 runs in any of his three starts against the Twins. The thing is, the Twins haven’t hit very well this year. If the Twins can’t make contact against Scherzer, he will own them all game and could be the best pitcher of the day.
5. Wade Davis RHP KC vs CLE- I may be going out on a little bit of a limb here, but I’ve only seen Wade pitch one game this year. He was fantastic in that game against the Braves on April 17. His last time out wasn’t so “fantastic”. Wade gave up 7 runs, 3 of which were earned and only lasted 3.2 innings. He was facing the Tigers, and the Tigers are treating most pitchers the same way this year. It also would have been easier to rank Strasburg here and play it safe. In order to win in daily fantasy, you have to find value especially in your starting pitching. Wade Davis is borderline cheap on every site. Indians hitters are hitting .172 against Davis but have 5 HRs in 58 at bats. If there is any worry in this game, it will be by the threat of the home run. If the Davis that pitched against the Braves shows up he should have a very nice game. I think that’s the Davis we will see.
**Note- In reality I would have Adam Wainwright RHP vs CIN here at number 5, but I wanted to get a cheaper option in there for you guys.**
1. Adam Jones OF BAL @ SEA LHP Joe Saunders (owned on my teams)- How is Adam Jones only $4,300 on DraftKings? Here are some OF’s ranked ahead of him by price: Darin Mastroianni, Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner, Kyle Blanks, and Will Venable. You get the point. He has value in price alone. Add in that he is hitting .350 with 4 HRs 21 Runs and 18 RBIs. Now let’s look at this matchup vs LHP Joe Saunders. In Saunders last start versus Houston, he gave up 8 earned runs on 2 HRs. I watched the game. Saunders was putting the ball on a silver platter all night long. Are you not convinced? The start before that one, Saunders gave up 7 earned runs. Right-handed batters are hitting .372 against him this year. Adam Jones is the best right-handed bat on the Orioles, and while Jones usually likes to hit right-handed pitching more than lefties, this perfect storm of Joe Saunders’ awfulness and Jones’ 9 game hit streak is way too good to pass up. I expect multiple hits by most of the good RHBs of the Orioles. That list includes: Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, and I’d even use lefty Chris Davis. It doesn’t get any more perfect for a stack.
2. Prince Fielder 1B DET vs MIN RHP Mike Pelfrey- Pelfrey has yet to give up a home run this year. I think that changes tonight. Pelfrey has given up a .400 AVG to opposing LHB and .367 to all hitters combined. The Tigers and Prince Fielder are way too good right now to let any pitcher get away with numbers like that. Fielder has been doing a great job at getting his bat in the zone quickly this year. He’s now hitting LHP as good as RHP. He may not go deep in this game, but this is a perfect matchup for Fielder to exploit. You can also put Miguel Cabrera here at this number one or two spot, but it takes no skill to rank Cabrera atop any hitter rankings list. Use if you can afford him.
3. Starlin Castro SS CHC vs SD LHP Clayton Richard (owned on my teams)- Starlin gets the pleasure of playing against a struggling LHP in Wrigley with the wind blowing out to left field. Starlin has had some difficulties this year versus left-handed pitching, but he has hit them well in the past (.324 AVG from 2010-12). I think we are just seeing a very small sample size in AVG against LHP in 2013. Richard has been getting hammered by lefties and righties alike so I’d say all Cubbies are fair game to stack against Richard. Castro just so happens to play a position that is hard to fill with the absences of Hanley (where listed as SS), Jose Reyes, and now Troy Tulowitzki. Today there aren’t many other options available so Castro will be rostered everywhere I’m sure. Jed Lowrie SS/3B for OAK versus Tommy Hanson or Alcides Escobar SS/2B vs Ubaldo Jimenez are the only other match-ups I could see exposing at shortstop unless you punt the position for a cheap-play.
4. Robinson Cano 2B NYY vs HOU RHP Lucas Harrell (owned on my teams)- I don’t think there is an easier decision today than rostering Robinson Cano on all your teams. As I look over the options for 2B today, I only see Danny Espinosa 2B WAS @ ATL and Daniel Murphy 2B NYM @ MIA as other options to Cano in today’s games. I think you have to go elite here. Cano has continued to hit extremely well against RHP, and Lucas Harrell gives up HRs to the LHB. Cano should see a pitch to drive. Also consider Travis Hafner 1B today as I think the Yanks will have no problem scoring runs in this one.
5. Seth Smith OF OAK vs LAA RHP Tommy Hanson (owned on my teams)- I am not buying any resurgence in Tommy Hanson. He is getting hit hard by LHB to the tune of a .364 AVG and 1.023 OPS. Seth Smith seems to play better with Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup as his protection hitting behind him. Seth Smith was 11/24 with 7 extra base hits to start the year before Cespedes went down. I just did that research by hand to confirm what my eyes had told me. I don’t necessarily feel like Smith will be the fifth best hitter today, but I think Smith’s price is still decent everywhere and projects as just the kind of speculative play that wins you money. You’re welcome.
Five Daily Fantasy Research Tips
I was asked recently how I prepare a lineup for daily fantasy baseball. That got me thinking that this information may be useful to you guys. Here’s the five steps I use when evaluating which players to use.
1. Talent- Talent is a hard thing to understand if you are not actively keeping up with baseball or have a deep understanding of all the nuances of a swing, baserunning, pitching, etc… Since we are usually looking at things through a statistical microscope, my favorite stats to use to gauge talent are as follows: High K/9, High K/BB, Low BB, Low xFIP and High Ground Ball rates. You can use measurements like BABIP and HR/FB rate to look at (un)luckiness over larger sample sizes. Extremely low BABIP(.240 or below) shows a little luckiness on ball in play. Extremely high BABIP (.320 and above) shows a little unluckiness for the pitcher. If you are unfamiliar with the players I suggest looking at my season long rankings as I usually base my rankings on the talent of the player in my opinion. There are a ton of other advanced stats you can look at. I won’t get into them all. You can find any advanced stats you need at Fangraphs.
2. Splits (L/R, BvP, Home/Away etc..)- If you are only looking at quantifiable data when you are forming your rosters then this is your step. You can live in this step and find success. I don’t know if you can sustain your success, but you can definitely find success. Some daily fantasy analysts live and die by the BvP (batter versus pitcher) data. I like to use BvP but only after I’ve looked at the L/R AVG and OPS splits for the batters and opposing pitchers. If I need further clarification that is when I look at BvP. If I am still befuddled and feeling frisky I will look at Home/Away and Day/Night and other more meaningless splits. Use splits but use these other steps too.
3. Price- By the time I start caring about price I’ve already nailed down my pitchers and 4+ hitters. Price can be a deal-breaker for me, but it isn’t the first thing I look at. When looking at fillers around my studs, I will try to find players that I feel are way under-priced based on their performace, matchup, or skill. For example if you like the Cardinals and Pete Kozma is an option for you at shortstop based on his superior matchup, but you see Starlin Castro has a good matchup and he’s cheaper. I would go with Starlin Castro because he wins in two of the three criteria, and he is cheaper. Just because Kozma has the better matchup doesn’t mean he should be the guy I use. Starlin is much more talented.
4. Streaks- I love to use a streaking player. If you are on a 6+ game hit streak, I love to get you in my line-up. It’s usually not an accident that a player is on a hit streak. They are usually seeing the ball better, and success breeds success in baseball. Here’s a site you can go to look at players on hit streaks: http://www.baseballmusings.com/cgi-bin/CurStreak.py .
5. Hunches- By the time I’ve reached the hunches stage, my lineup is usually almost put together. I’m usually looking at two very similar players. Sometimes I will pick a player that I like or want to keep up with for that night. Sometimes I pick the player of the group that I don’t think other people will be playing. Sometimes I will pick that highly owned player in order to diversify my risk. Most of the time I will go back over the other four steps and something usually pops out to me.
Top 5 Teams to Stack
1. Baltimore Orioles @ LHP Joe Saunders
2. Detroit Tigers vs RHP Mike Pelfrey
3. Kansas City Royals vs RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
4. Los Angeles Dodgers vs RHP Tyler Chatwood
5. Chicago Cubs vs LHP Clayton Richard (wind blowing out at wrigley to left field)