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Let’s just get right to the meat of the column. You don’t need to hear about the dead possum I found floating my pool last night or how far into the woods I flung it with my shovel.

First for the preparation.

Weather: Before I even start thinking about building a lineup, I check to see which games may be threatened by rain. There are two sites I like to use. One is DailyBaseballData.com and the other is the weather page right at FanDuel. Fortunately the only sites with any rain at all forecast are Safeco  and Marlins Park, both of which have retractable roofs. We should be safe to order from the full menu for today’s Daily Fantasy play.

MLB Injuries: I always take a quick look at the MLB Injury Report over at MLB.com. There’s really no reason to even consider using any names that show up on this list. For me day-to-day simply means DON’T.

Vegas Lines: A quick look at the games where Vegas expects to see a lot of scoring is a must. It usually just reinforces my initial feeling, but it does make me take a second look at a game every now and then. Of course Daily Fantasy Baseball is nothing like gambling, but with the money they have on the line, you know they take it serious. OddsShark.com is my favorite source for this. Today’s slugfests look like Boston @ Baltimore (9.0) and San Francisco @ Colorado. In 50/50s I’m not too worried about using players that a pretty high percentage of other players will be using. I just need the odds in my favor as much as possible.

Probable Pitchers: Since my lineup building process starts with a pitcher, I head on over to ProbablePitchers.com tp make sure there haven’t been any changes in the projected MLB starters.

Batter vs. Pitcher: First of all as you can read here, I am a firm believer that batter vs. pitcher stats have very limited value in predicting future performance. It’s not that I don’t think some hitters perform better against certain pitchers, it’s more that I think it’s virtually impossible to filter out sample size from the real mccoy. And the one’s that are just sample size flukes are going to do some serious regressing to the mean. I will admit however to checking the BvP numbers out after I build my lineup just to make sure I’m not using a hitter against a pitcher who has completely dominated him. For me that means something like a 50 percent strikeout rate. I honestly don’t see that today, so I’m not worried about batter vs. pitcher stats at all today.

FanDuel Strategy for the Day

My FanDuel strategy always starts on the pitching side of things and it always seem to come down to whether I want to spend the money for an ace or use a personal favorite of mine.

There are two elite pitchers going today and they both have excellent matchups. Felix Hernandez faces the Twins in Seattle and Zack Greinke heads to Petco to face the right-handed heavy Padres. They are the two most expensive pitchers, but I’m not sure I can pass them up. Grienke matches up with Andrew Cashner, while Felix draws Phil Hughes.

The other three pitchers I’m looking at are Scott Kazmir vs. the K-riffic Astros, Alex Wood against the anemic Phillies, and Gerrit Cole against the Diamondbacks. Kazmir has to battle Dallas Keuchel; Wood draws Aaron Harang,  while Cole matches up with Josh Collmenter. Michael Pineda and Jacob deGrom are two of my faves, but they match up against each other. My two sleeper pitchers of the day are Carlos Martinez and Garrett Richards. In a day of very close matchups, these two may have pretty good chances at bringing home a big W.

Top Stacking Options for the Day

  1. Colorado Rockies vs. Chris Heston (R) – I know Heston has pitched very well thus far, but I look at his minor league stats and see nothing but a league average pitcher at best. Big surprise here, but I’m using Colorado hitters when they play at home. A true innovator I know.
  2. Baltimore Orioles vs. Rick Porcello (R) – I realize my fellow “So-Called Expert,” David Gonoz has some strange love affair with Porcello, but he’s nothing more than an innings-eater to me, and the innings he eats today may be a little heavy on the homers. Porcello also happens to get hit much harder by left-handed hitters. Chris Davis, Travis Snider, and maybe even Alejandro De Aza will be receiving a visit from me today.
  3. Washington Nationals vs. Mat Latos (R) – Latos probably isn’t as bad as he’s looked so far… or the injuries have piled up and his right arm is cheese. Either way, I’m gonna look at Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, and Wilson Ramos very hard for today’s lineup.

Top Starting Pitchers for the Day

The following rankings take into account skill of pitcher, quality of opposing offense, quality of opposing pitcher, ballpark factors, and of course price at FanDuel.

  1. Felix Hernandez ($11,500) vs. Minnesota Twins – He’s still King Felix and the Twins lineup is lacking firepower. I’m expecting him to eat up this lackluster offense.
  2. Zack Greinke ($10,000) vs. San Diego Padres – Yes, their lineup is improved, but the game is still in Petco and the Padres’ big bats are all right-handed. This is going to be a low scoring affair and Greinke should get his fair share of Ks.
  3. Gerrit Cole ($8,700) @ Arizona Diamondbacks – Cole turned into an elite pitcher in the second half of 2014 and it seems to have carried over. Other than the ballpark, I like everything about this matchup.
  4. Scott Kazmir ($9,100) vs. Houston Astros – Kazmir seems to have regained the zip he lost in the second half of 2014 and the Astros lead all of MLB in strikeouts. Just to top it off the the game is in the pitcher-friendly confines of O.co Stadium.
  5. Alex Wood ($8,200) Philadelphia Phillies – I want to like this matchup more because of the anemic offense Philadelphia throws out there on a daily basis. Problem is Wood has been shaky thus far. I could see the 1.582 WHIP as a result of sample size, but I get more worried when I see his 5.4 K/9. I still like Wood today, but it’s not a slam dunk by any means.
  6. Carlos Martinez ($8,200) @ Milwaukee Brewers – I’m not totally convinced that command problems won’t come back to haunt Martinez at some point, but the Brewers are struggling and two of their best hitters (Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez) are on the DL. Martinez is the rare low-priced starter that I trust (to an extent) and he will allow me to add one more impact bat.

Top Options at Each Position

Here are two choices at each position; one is the best bet for production and the other is a lower priced option with a favorable outlook.

Catcher:

Nick Hundley ($3,300) vs. Chris Heston (R) – The catcher position is a wasteland with all the injuries depleting it right now. Just make sure Hundley gets the start, and he should be able to do some damage.

Wilson Ramos ($3,000) vs. Mat Latos – Let me get this straight, Wilson Ramos is one of the healthy catchers? I like Ramos whenever he’s in the lineup. Latos just adds to the appeal.

First Base:

Jose Abreu ($4,400) vs Danny Duffy (L) – Duffy overperformed last year and it’s catching up to him this year. Abreu hits everybody, but he does have better numbers against lefties and as you might expect right-handed hitters have fared much better against Duffy. I like Abreu’s chances to drive in a couple runs and hopefully go yard.

Chris Davis ($3,500) vs. Rick Porcello – If you like the BvP stuff, Davis has 3 HRs, 7 RBIs, and a 1.048 OPS against Porcello. This is a case where common sense agrees with the BvP. Sorry Mr. Gonos.

Second Base:

Kolten Wong ($3,200) vs. Matt Garza (R) – After a bit of a slow start, Wong has come on with 6 hits in his last 13 at-bats. Wong could help us out with his bat or with his legs. I love these multi-skilled players when the price isn’t too high.

Emilio Bonifacio ($2,200) vs. Danny Duffy (L) – If I do use one of the expensive starting pitchers, then I may need to go cheap at second base. You’ll need to make sure he’s in the starting lineup, but over his career Bonifacio has hit better against left-handed pitching. At the price he’s a solid buy as long as he’s in the lineup.

Third Base:

Josh Donaldson ($4,300) vs. Drew Smyly – I love Smyly, but this will be his first start back from the DL and you need to check out what Donaldson does to lefties. In a nutshell over the last five years Donaldson has scored 2.457 more FanDuel points per 10 plate appearances vs, LHP, than he has against RHP (Last year it was 3.310 more). I’m pretty much using him against all LHP.

Casey McGehee ($2,700) vs. Eddie Butler – If you’re gonna go cheap at third, go with a pretty solid hitter going against a rookie in Coors.

Shortstop:

Ian Desmond ($3,900) vs. Mat Latos – Desmond is not exactly off to a great start, but he’s another power/speed combo I like to use when his salary fits. Besides even with the slow start he’s scored 10 runs. When the Nats do damage, Desmond is usually involved in some way. And with Latos on the bump, the damage could be major.

Brad Miller ($2,500) vs. Phil Hughes – Miller has hit in six straight games and offers quiet pop/speed combo of his own. You pretty much have to go cheap at some position and Miller compares favorably to his peers at shortstop, unless you’re gonna pay for Troy Tulowitzki.

Outfielders:

Bryce Harper ($4,400) vs. Mat Latos (R) – Harper has his power swing in gear and Latos doesn’t really have a weapon to deal with a hitter like Harper. At worst expect a couple of walks, as that may be Latos’ best option.

Travis Snider ($2,800) vs. Rick Porcello (R) – We know that left-handed hitters do well against Porecello. Snider doesn’t have extreme splits, but at this price I feel like he’s a must-start. That’s how you fit a hitter like Bryce Harper in your lineup.

Alejandro De Aza ($2,800) vs. Porcello (R) – I don’t like to over-stack in 50/50s, but the combination of matchup and price has three Orioles in the lineup I plan on using today. Porcello could hurt me pretty bad here if he has a good game, but there’s nothing in his current line that says he’s in any kind of groove.

Billy Hamilton ($3,900) vs. Jon Lester (L) – I’m not a fan of using speed only guys against left-handed pitchers; especially speed guys with recent groin problems. This may be the rare exception. If Hamilton is healthy enough to run, he might have a field day against Lester, who throws over to first on the sixth Tuesday of each month that has 32 days. I’m going to read up on how Hamilton is feeling, but I’ll throw his name out there for you to consider.

Carlos Gonzalez ($3,500) vs. Chris Heston (R) – Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’m still going to use Cargo in Coors against all but the toughest left-handers.

 

Remember to check the MLB Lineups to make sure these players (or any others) are set to start tonight. If you use my recommendations and they bomb, I’ll feel bad, but not if you didn’t check the lineups.

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