Our seven-game slate this evening is crowded with monster pitchers and attractive bargain arms. We have few obvious offensive opportunities.

This is Plan of Attack. We’re here to provide advice and recommendations to help you build successful daily fantasy lineups. We’ll be loosely guided by the tenants of our DFS Manifesto – namely a single lineup build designed to improve your enjoyment of the game while giving you a chance to beat the rake.

Don’t be surprised if the column evolves. This is a living creature, and it’s sure to adapt in Darwinian fashion. If there are features you especially like or believe need tweaking to be actionable, please reach out to us. Since this is written early in the day, certain important details will be left for you to find on your own. In particular, weather, lineups, and umpires are all things you should verify within three hours of contest-lock.

For clarity, when I reference “value,” I’m referring to projected points divided by cost.

 

1. The RotoFanatical Challenge

 

We are hosting a daily 20-entry, $3 contest on DraftKings. It’s an excellent low-cost testing ground against fellow RotoFanatic fans. A level playing field is always nice. Today’s 11-game slate begins at 7:05pm ET. Reserve your spot for the contest.

 

2. Weather and Park Factors

 

Rain shouldn’t be an issue tonight. Four of the seven games will be played at parks with retractable roofs. Chase Field will be closed to combat 115 degree temperatures. However, I expect Miller Park, Minute Maid Park, and Globe Life Field to be open. This is associated with an increase in fly ball distances, one that isn’t fully captured in general park factors. You might check out these already homer-friendly venues if you’re chasing big flies.

Check out our park factors HERE.

 

3. Building Block Bats

 

Elite values:

Nick Castellanos ($5200 DK, $4200 FD)

There are basically only three obvious offensive stacks. We’ll touch upon all of them. The expensive version is the Reds versus southpaw Brett Anderson. He’s a soft-tossing groundballer so you want right-handed fly ball hitters. Castellanos fits the bill. I also like that he’s working through the middle of the field this season since Anderson nibbles low-and-away; counting on right-handed hitters to get themselves out by trying to pull the ball rather than driving it to the oppo-gap. Castellanos projects for a one-in-four chance to homer.

Also consider: Christian Yelich, Trevor Story, Starling Marte, Ketel Marte, Max Kepler, Eugenio Suarez

 

Unlikely heroes:

 

David Peralta ($3400 DK, $2900 FD)
Kole Calhoun ($3900 DK, $3200 FD)

The second stack is composed of Diamondbacks. Many of these are quite affordable like Peralta and Calhoun. They’re set to face the doppelScherzer Ryan Castellani. The Rockies pitcher was downright dreadful in the minors last season, but he’s pitched ably through three big league starts. The area where he’s most struggled is avoiding hard contact. He also typically departs early in the game, leaving plenty of time for the bullpen to implode. For this reason, the Arizona stack is probably the chalkiest of the day.

More specifically, Peralta and Calhoun carry friendly prices, attractive lineup roles, and some of the top projections in the slate. Peralta is a steady hitter who makes hard, low-angle contact. As the cleanup hitter, he’s well-situated to reap run production. Home runs are possible too. Calhoun, their leadoff man, has evinced more over-the-fence power, launching seven home runs in 112 plate appearances. He’s a dead red pull hitter so we’ll see if Castellani makes a pull-able mistake.

Ian Happ ($3900 DK, $3200 FD)

The Cubs aren’t one of the aforementioned stacks, although you can certainly target Casey Mize for a surprise meltdown. Happ has emerged as Chicago’s leadoff man. His plate discipline has improved without the usual linked increase in strikeout rate. He’s also making better contact. He brings a little bit of everything to the table – a 40 percent chance to reach base with enough power for a one-in-five chance to homer. Even if Mize shoves, the Cubs will still see at least three innings of the Tigers abysmal bullpen. Probably more.

Also consider: Christian Walker, Eduardo Escobar, Matt Davidson

 

4. Pitchers

 

“Safe” Picks: 

 

Trevor Bauer (DK $10200, FD $12000)

Let’s start with a picture. It’s not instructive. If anything, I’d say is lamentative.

 

 

There are two relevant columns. First, the lament. In the last column, you’ll notice Bauer received a price in only one game. This means it’s only the second time Bauer is available in a DK slate.

The other column I’d like to highlight actually is almost useful – pitch count. Bauer has thrown between 97 and 111 pitches. Very few starting pitchers are given this much runway. This particular slate happens to have three out of the four pitchers who have averaged over 100 pitches per appearance (Lance Lynn, Aaron Civale, Shane Bieber). While it’s paid to fit pitchers around your offense this year, today might work out a little differently if these big compilers do their thing.

Narrowing our focus to Bauer himself, there has been much ado about his spin rates. Whether or not he’s “cheating” to achieve them, they explain why his strikeout rate has jumped into the stratosphere. His 14.01 K/9 is almost believable (expect around 12.00 K/9). Spin might help with whiffs, but it can’t support a .140 BABIP, right? Well… he’s avoided hard contact while embracing a fly ball approach. And this is basically a function of using his spin intelligently. A .140 BABIP is out of the question, but he should comfortably beat his career .296 BABIP – perhaps by over 50 points.

 

 

Also Consider: Lynn, Civale, Kenta Maeda, Jack Flaherty

 

Value Targets: 

 

Casey Mize (DK $6200, FD $6800)

Mize was set loose for 73 pitches in his debut. He tossed 4.1 innings with no walks and 14.54 K/9. The future ace looked the part, wielding a four-pitch repertoire to devastating effect (or possibly five pitches). All are easy plus offerings. Moreover, he’s capable of locating and pitching backward, meaning hitters can never sit on a particular offering. The best weapon in his arsenal is a splitter which he’ll use for most of his strikeouts.

There aren’t many starters with repertoires like Mize. Masahiro Tanaka comes to mind. And like Tanaka, early-career Mize is liable to blend fantastic outings with the occasional clunker. We’ll see how a slightly slumpy Cubs club handles him.

 

Jesus Luzardo (DK $7400, FD $7700)

With all the new shiny toys showing up, Luzardo has lost some of his luster. Let’s not forget, he very well may be the best pitching prospect in the Majors. The hard throwing southpaw has easy swing-and-miss stuff. He can be expected to supply a strikeout per inning with double-digit upside. A matchup against the Rangers is a mixed bag. They’re one of the worst offenses, but he’ll have to out-duel Lynn.

Reading the tea leaves, the A’s are willing to let Luzardo throw about 90 pitches. The biggest drawback of pitch count constraints for DFS purposes is that we want strikeouts and innings. Pitch count often inflates with more strikeouts. Conversely, if he finishes seven innings, it probably means he recorded fewer strikeouts. Thus, it might take a special degree of efficiency for him to keep pace with Bauer et al.

Also Consider: Patrick Sandoval, Brad Keller, Framber Valdez

 

5. Connectors

 

Connectors are cheap guys who offer a tangible upside and enable you to explore top-heavy builds. FanDuel offers an embarrassing quantity of these players (their pricing model is drunk) so I’ll focus on DraftKings first and foremost.

 

Isaac Paredes ($2200 DK, $2400 FD)

The third stack out there is composed of Tigers. This is how you afford Bauer AND Civale on DraftKings. The Detroit offense is incredibly strikeout prone, but Mills doesn’t pitch for whiffs. He’s a contact-oriented guy. This is still a good situation for him. The Tigers also tend to tap into a lot of soft ground outs.

Paredes, one of their top prospects, has seemed a tad overmatched through 22 plate appearances. That hasn’t stopped him from posting an impressive 5.9 percent swinging-strike rate (with an outsized 36.4 percent strikeout rate). He also hit a grand slam on Friday. Paredes should be treated as a contact hitter with power as a secondary attribute – much like a frequent guest of this section, Jake Cronenworth.

 

Ryan Jeffers ($2500 DK, $2200 FD)

Cheap catchers are a staple of DraftKings lineup building. Especially in slates crowded with good pitchers. Jeffers offers punt-level pricing with a mid-tier bat. His matchup with Civale isn’t favorable, but nearly every catcher has a tough assignment today. Jeffers projects to be a roughly league-average hitter with some power and OBP skills. That makes him an above average option for the position.

Also Consider: JaCoby Jones