The early part of the season is always challenging when it comes to Daily Fantasy Baseball. Everything we knew for sure after two months of analysis, all the sudden isn’t so set in stone.
This season it’s the pitching that seems harder than ever to predict. After all Clayton Kershaw has yet to win a game and has a 5.84 ERA after two starts. Clay Buchholz and Chris Tillman were aces on Opening Day, but each got knocked out before the fourth inning in their second start. Michael Pineda, Carlos Carrasco, and Drew Pomeranz are three of my pet pitchers and they’ve been great so far. Taijuan Walker is another favorite, and I’m not willing to discuss how he did in his season debut.
The DFS Lesson learned is that with the emphasis that FanDuel scoring places on your starting pitcher, the best bet may be to play it safe, especially in the 50/50s that my FanDuel strategy is geared toward. Saving some money and going with a high upside high risk pitcher can be a very solid strategy for placing in a larger tournament, but all I’m looking to do is finish in the top half, so I’m going with whichever Top 5 starter of the day is facing the weakest offense. Which gets me to…
My FanDuel Strategy for the Day
I like to start my lineups off by deciding on a pitcher. Despite the chaos we’ve seen early this season, I feel like it’s a little easier to predict a good day from a pitcher than picking out the bats that might break out on a given day.
If you look at the starting pitchers for the day further down the page, one thing jumps out. There are really only four pitchers taking the hill today that we can even consider aces, and one of them is Carrasco, who I have irrational faith in. Then you look at the matchups.
Stephen Strasburg can shut down any team on a given day, but his career ERA of 3.56 on the road is almost a full run higher than his mark at home. He also draws a Red Sox offense that seems to be getting hot.
Jake Arrieta would not be a terrible play, but check the weather first. If the cold Chicago wind is whipping out at 20 mph then forget about it. Wrigley Field can be either an extreme hitter’s park or an extreme pitcher’s park.
Carrasco’s home/road splits aren’t as extreme, or even easy to guage with the roller coaster ride his early career has been. The White Sox offense has been clicking on all cylinders yet, but they do have a lot of different ways to get to a pitcher. I like this matchup, but it’s nowhere close to the best of the day.
That honor obviously belongs to Matt Harvey in his start against the Phillies. While Philadelphia is in the middle of the pack in team strikeouts, no team has scored fewer runs than the Phillies. I just don’t see a way to rationalize using a different pitcher today. Matt Harvey will be the building block for all of my 50/50s today.
Top 5 Starting Pitchers
The following rankings take into account skill of pitcher, quality of opposing offense, quality of opposing pitcher, and ballpark factors.
- Matt Harvey ($9,900) vs. Philadelphia Phillies – Didn’t you read what I just wrote? Harvey is the second most expensive pitcher for the day, but there’s a reason for that.
- Carlos Carrasco ($9,200) vs. Chicago White Sox – Still like the matchup, but despite a very good first start against Houston, I can’t discount his rough spring. There still might be a bump or two in the road as Carrasco builds arm strength.
- Jake Arrieta ($9,400) vs. Cincinnati Reds – I still like the matchup, but the Reds lineups scares me a bit, especially with a healthy Joey Votto and a Billy Hamilton that seems to be doing a better job of getting on base.
- Stephen Strasburg ($10,200 Early Games Only) @ Boston Red Sox – You can talk about the acquisition of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval all you want, the key to the Red Sox offense has been the presence of Mookie Betts. As noted above, Strasburg is not the same pitcher on the road.
- Hisashi Iwakuma ($8,500) @ Los Angeles Dodgers – There’s a decent argument that Iwakuma should have been included in the potential aces above. After a rough finish to 2014 and an ugly first start this year, I’m not comfortable with that. I’d also like him more if the game was in Seattle.
Low Cost High Upside Play – The Rays offense hasn’t been as bad as expected, but you’ve still got to like Daniel Norris’ chances to pull out a win with the Toronto offense facing Matt Andriesse.
MLB Knuckleball 50 Dollar Entry
Top Stacks at FanDuel
With a lot of questionable pitchers going today there are quite a few nice stacking options.
- Toronto Blue Jays vs. Matt Andriesse – Heck, the Rays decided to start a reliever last week rather than trust Andriesse. Most of the Blue Jays’ power is from the right side, but I still like their chances of putting a lot of runs on the board. The 8.5 total expected runs by Vegas is, along with the Oakland – Houston game, the highest of the day.
- Oakland Athletics @ Brad Peacock – Only the Royals have scored more runs than the A’s revamped offense. Peacock had some nice results in his last minor league rehab game, but he’s never had problems in the minors. Peacock has held right-handed batters to a .227 average over his career. Left-handed batters have hit him for a .271 mark and a SLG% over 50 points higher.
- Los Angeles Angels @ Nick Martinez – Color me as a non-believer in Martinez. It may cost you, but Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Kole Calhoun (check injury status) are all solid picks to do some damage.
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.
Brian McCann ($3,400) vs. Miguel Gonzalez – The Yankee offense finally kicked it into gear yesterday and I like McCann against righties in that park.
Jason Castro ($2,600) vs. Kendall Graveman – Castro has been swinging the bat well all spring and hits right-handed pitchers pretty well. Graveman is better than his last start, but it’s still a nice matchup for Castro.
Two Others I like:
- Buster Posey against some Rockie pitcher names Christian Bergman
- Stephen Vogt vs. Brad Peacock: Pile on Peacock.
Edwin Encarnacion ($4,600) vs. Matt Andriesse – Let the stacking begin. Toronto will be scoring some runs and EE should be in the middle of it.
Ike Davis ($2,800) vs. Brad Peacock – Not a fan of going cheap with all the elite options at first base, but if you do, Davis offers nice power against a right-handed pitcher who has had long ball troubles the last few years.
Two Others I like:
- Paul Goldschmidt ($4,900) vs. Odrisamer Despaigne – Goldschmidt against a lefty? What’s not to like?
- Albert Pujols ($4,000) vs. Nick Martinez – At that price I’m liking Pujols to add to his 522 career HRs.\
Dee Gordon ($4,000) vs. Trevor Cahill – Gordon seems intent on repeating last year’s early season onslaught and Cahill, well, he’s Trevor Cahill.
Devon Travis ($2,500) vs. Matt Andriesse – Travis has looked solid so far and you can’t go expensive at every position.
Two Others I like:
- Ben Zobrist ($3,100) vs. Brad Peacock
- Jedd Gyork0 ($2,500) vs. Jeremy Hellickson
Josh Donaldson ($4,000) vs. Matt Andriesse – He’s off to a slow start, but I’ve got a feeling we could see his first homer as a Blue Jay… or at least a few RBIs.
Manny Machado ($2,800) vs. CC Sabathia – Yeah, he’s struggling, but MLB’s Statcast says Machado is hitting the ball as hard as ever. Besides who’s afraid of CC Sabathia these days.
Two Others I like:
- Adrian Beltre ($3,800) vs. Drew Rucinski
- Will ($2,500) vs. Jeremy Hellickson
Jose Reyes ($3,900) vs. Matt Andriesse – I’m not a big fan of Reyes at his cost on most days, but on this day I’m buying in.
Wilmer Flores ($2,400) vs. David Buchanan – Flores is off to a rough start, which would explain the price tag. Buchanan might help him get things going.
Two Others I like:
- Elvis Andrus ($3,000) vs. Drew Rucinski
- Jed Lowrie ($2,500) vs. Kendall Graveman
Jose Bautista ($4,800) vs. Matt Andriesse – It’s a steep price, but if you’re stacking you saved your money with Travis at second base.
Steve Pearce ($3,900) vs. CC Sabathia – HIs price is too high in general, but it works against a lefty.
George Springer ($3,700) vs. Kendall Graveman – Springer strikes out way too much, but Graveman doesn’t have the type of stuff that Springer should struggle with. He should get some good swings.
Shin-Soo Choo ($3,000) vs. Drew Rucinski – Slow start, but this matchup may help get Choo kick-started.
Justin Ruggiano ($2,500) vs. David Huff – Ruggiano will start against most left-handers and there’s a reason. He’s got 20 career homers in 404 at-bats against lefties.
My FanDuel Lineup
I may toy with the combination I currently have at shortstop and the outfield, but this lineup is pretty much what I’ll be going with in a bunch of 50/50s today on FanDuel. With the $9,900 spent on Harvey, I tried to spread the remaining salary out to build as balanced lineup as I could.
I’m using a few players who are off to slow starts, but you can’t put too much weight on stats with most teams having played just seven games or so.
Starting Pitchers for Tuesday, April 13, 2015
|Matchup||Away SP||Home SP|
|Washington Nationals @ Boston Red Sox||S. Strasburg (R)||J. Masterson (R)|
|New York Yankees @ Baltimore Orioles||C. Sabathia (L)||M. Gonzalez (R)|
|Detroit Tigers @ Pittsburgh Pirates||S. Greene (R)||A. Burnett (R)|
|Tampa Bay Rays @ Toronto Blue Jays||M. Andriese (R)||D. Norris (L)|
|Chicago White Sox @ Cleveland Indians||J. Quintana (L)||C. Carrasco (R)|
|Miami Marlins @ Atlanta Braves||T. Koehler (R)||T. Cahill (R)|
|Philadelphia Phillies @ New York Mets||D. Buchanan (R)||M. Harvey (R)|
|Los Angeles Angels @ Texas Rangers||D. Rucinski (R)||N. Martinez (R)|
|Cincinnati Reds @ Chicago Cubs||A. DeSclafani (R)||J. Arrieta (R)|
|Oakland Athletics @ Houston Astros||K. Graveman (R)||Brad Peacock (R)|
|Seattle Mariners @ Los Angeles Dodgers||H. Iwakuma (R)||S. Baker (R)|
|Arizona Diamondbacks @ San Diego Padres||J. Hellickson (R)||O. Despaigne (R)|
|Colorado Rockies @ San Francisco Giants||C. Bergman (R)||T. Hudson (R)|
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