Mike Clevinger is back and part of our slate tonight. He represents the ultimate wild card. Between declining stuff and a punitive demotion, who can say how effective he’ll be against a launch-happy Twins offense. Or, for that matter, how many pitches he’ll throw.

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


For those playing on FanDuel where the slate locks at 6:37pm ET, the action at Sahlen Field is at risk. Rain is supposed to move in right around game time. The rest of the league should be dry – the weather is quite lovely around America. Aside from Phoenix where it’s hellish.

The main action (7:10pm ET) skews heavily towards neutral and pitchers parks (seven of nine venues). One of the remainders, Globe Life Field, doesn’t have enough data to make a call. That leaves Miller Park as the only dead red hitter’s venue. Are you going to stack against Sonny Gray and Adrian Houser just because of the park? Probably not.

Check out our park factors HERE.


3. Building Block Bats


Elite values:

Joey Gallo ($5100 DK, $3600 FD)

Guess who has the best odds to homer tonight? Gallo carries at least a one-in-three chance to fire the frickin’ laser into the outfield seats. He’ll face Mike Fiers, a soft-tossing righty who isn’t inducing any whiffs. (5.7 percent SwStr%, 4.06 K/9). Gallo’s greatest weakness is strikeouts. When he connects, it’s often for serious damage. This is looking like a classic all-or-nothing night for a chalky Gallo. Will you join the masses or swim against the tide?

I never use batter versus pitcher data, but I decided to look it up for this particular matchup. Sometimes, extreme power hitters can struggle against control-artists. Gallo is 2-for-14 against Fiers with seven strikeouts. Both hits were home runs. There isn’t enough data to build evidence, but I will note that other soft-tossing command guys like Mike Leake, Zack Greinke, and Wade Miley (a lefty) have also performed well against Gallo.

***To be clear*** That last paragraph was just for fun. Do not make decisions based on BvP data.

Also consider: Max Kepler, Trevor Story, Kyle Schwarber


Unlikely heroes:


Tyler O’Neill ($3100 DK, $2500 FD)

If Gallo isn’t your speed, consider picking up a bargain carbon copy. O’Neill has considerable raw power with around a one-in-four chance to homer this evening. His best opportunity to do so will come against Jakob Junis, a two-pitch ground ball guy who isn’t inducing whiffs this season (only nine innings). Junis has struggled with home runs throughout his career, allowing 1.57 HR/9. His velocity is down and his slider has less bite, leading me to expect more home runs this year.

O’Neill might be a bit off tempo. He hasn’t done much since the Cardinals returned from quarantine. While he’s hit three home runs in 59 plate appearances – a pace of over 30 in a full season – his .135 BABIP has left him as a one-trick pony (we can safely expect regression). He’s also not producing the kinds of excessive exit velocities you’d expect from a power hitter of his caliber. He had similar issues last year in 151 plate appearances.


Ian Happ ($4300 DK, $3200 FD)

A Cubs stack is advisable against Michael Fulmer and the Tigers bullpen. Fulmer has a luck-neutral 9.53 ERA due in part to allowing 4.76 HR/9. That’s… a lot of home runs. It all adds up too. His velocity is down two-mph, and his offspeed stuff has less separation. Technically speaking, the Detroit relief corps is only the 12th-worst in the league, but that’s probably overstating their competence. Happ projects as roughly the 15th-best hitter in the slate thanks to a combination of matchup, high hit rate, plate discipline, and power. Unlike some players (*ahem* Gallo and O’Neill), he needn’t hit a home run to post a big night.

Also consider: Kole Calhoun, David Peralta, Christian Walker, Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, Brad Miller, Stephen Piscotty, Trent Grisham


4. Pitchers


“Safe” Picks: 


Jacob deGrom (DK $11000, FD $9300)

The Mets bumped deGrom to today so he wasn’t “wasted” in yesterday’s doubleheader. After battling a blister and a sore neck earlier in the season, the extra rest from the lost weekend series might be just what he needed. On DraftKings, he projects to outperform the second best pitchers (Kershaw and Gray) by around six dollars. Put another way, he’s 30 percent better!

Of course, projection systems are not the best at understanding context. We should probably discount our expectations slightly in recognition of those aforementioned injuries and the potential of a secret pitch count. Still, if you give deGrom 90 pitches against the Marlins, good things will probably happen.

Also Consider: Clayton Kershaw, Sonny Gray, Dinelson Lamet


Value Targets: 


Kevin Gausman (DK $6400, FD $8000)

You’ll probably want to stick with some combination of the four names listed above, perhaps with Clevinger and Jose Berrios mixed in for good measure. Gausman is doing exciting things this season, but a matchup against the Dodgers adds an element of danger. On DraftKings, the risk is worth the reward at this price. I can’t say the same about FanDuel.

Gausman has a career-low fastball rate. Those he does throw are over one-mph harder than last season. His money maker is a splitter. He’s basically a two-pitch pitcher which is why I’ve always said he’s a high leverage reliever masquerading as a starter. The Giants seem to understand he’s a short-burst hurler. Despite generally good results this year, he’s only worked into the sixth inning one time. He’s typically relieved after around 25 batters.


Eleiser Hernandez (DK $6600, FD $8200)

Although it’s fun to laugh at the LOLMets, their offense is no joke. They have several hitters who matchup well against Hernandez – an extreme fly ball pitcher. If you’re looking to stack Mets, select those with high ground ball rates. You might consider using Hernandez on DraftKings if you need to save money with your second pitcher. His high strikeout rate teases potential for a 15 point performance (roughly a 60th percentile outcome). A word of warning: he’s one of the most homer prone pitchers in the league.

Also Consider: Adrian Houser


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.


Miguel Cabrera ($2700 DK, $2600 FD)

An entire Tigers stack can be used to save money for expensive pitchers. Personally, I recommend using only one or two to patch gaps in your lineup. Cubs lefty Jon Lester doesn’t induce whiffs which puts paid to the Tigers greatest issue – strikeouts. The Chicago bullpen is pretty hairy too.

Despite rapidly fading skills, Cabrera can still put a charge in the ball. His exit velocities remain impressive. He’s just a little too ground ball oriented. A lack of speed helps to explain why his BABIP is so low. Miggy continues to pound left-handed pitching. In a 21 plate appearance sample this year, he has a 173 wRC+. That’s obviously nothing, but he also posted a 154 wRC+ in 111 plate appearances last season and a 150 wRC+ back in 2017 (he barely played in 2018).

We can ferret out a plausible narrative too. The book on Cabrera is that he can’t handle inside heat from right-handed pitchers. Southpaws tend to have less velocity, and they often avoid pitching to their glove side (i.e. inside to righties). Opposite-handed hitters also pick up the ball slightly earlier, giving them more time to react to inside pitches. Lester sits under 90 mph and isn’t particularly effective at busting right-handers inside with fastballs.


Dylan Carlson ($2600 DK, $2300 FD)

While we’re still awaiting a hot streak, anyone who has watched Carlson play can tell he belongs in the Majors. The elite prospect is batting just .174/.240/.261, although much of that can be blamed upon a .219 BABIP. He’s an all-fields hitter with low-angle, hard contact so we should expect well over a .300 BABIP going forward. Facing Junis should help to eliminate his strikeout problem. Of all the deep bargain plays, this is the only one who might be rightfully priced above $4000 within the next couple weeks.

Also Consider: Isaac Paredes, JaCoby Jones (injured?), Victor Reyes, Cameron Maybin, Kevin Cron, Jason Heyward