This is an unusual day in DFS-land. As of this writing, the platforms haven’t released contests for tonight’s 12-game slate. We can’t hunt specific values if we don’t have prices. However, there is plenty we can do in a general sense, especially with pitchers. A good starter is usable almost regardless of price. A bad pitching staff can be targeted with a stack. I’ll leave the value assessments up to you.
It’s also unclear if the players will choose to postpone more games. If you plan to participate in DFS tonight, make sure you’ve carved out time close to contest-lock. Additionally, you might want to prioritize early games.
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.
1. Weather and Park Factors
Pop up storms could be a factor in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, New York, Chicago, and Colorado. They’re all more likely to play than not – at least for weather-related reasons. Several notorious home run-fueling venues are available including Citizen’s Bank Park, Great American Ballpark, Guaranteed Rate Field, Miller Park, Minute Maid Park, and, the daddy of them all, Coors Field. You might notice, the rain and power lists have a lot of overlap. It might rain in Milwaukee too, but they have a roof to deal with it.
Marlins Stadium and Busch Stadium are the best places to avoid offense.
Check out our park factors HERE.
Max Scherzer at Red Sox
Better analysts than I have tried to figure out what’s going on with Scherzer. This year, he’s given us a taste of the Michael Wacha experience, cruising through the early-innings before spontaneously running into a roadblock. His command isn’t as crisp, but that’s the only obvious issue. And a modest decline in his walk rate shouldn’t completely ruin him as an ace. Injury is a possible explanation – we know he’s battled various back and shoulder ailments that tend to nag aging pitchers. However, you’d expect that to show up in his velocity, pitch usage, or movement. All systems are nominal.
Ultimately, for a one day event like DFS, I’m inclined to boldly play the side of the rebound. There is nobody in this slate who is likelier than a healthy Scherzer to deliver a complete game masterpiece. Or even just a double-digit strikeout performance. The Red Sox offense is puttering along at a slightly below league average rate.
Zac Gallen vs Giants
Gallen has made a mockery of some of the best offenses in the league. His six starts have come against the Padres, Dodgers, Rockies (at Coors), Athletics, and these same Giants. He allowed just three hits and a one run when facing them six days ago. That honestly feels like a 50th percentile outcome for the budding ace. Gallen is a rare pitcher with four above-average offerings he uses to keep hitters uncomfortable. While the Giants have been surprisingly tough on left-handed pitchers, they’re a below average offense against righties.
Across 21 career starts, Gallen has never allowed more than three runs. This year, he’s upping the ante – he’s yet to cough up more than two runs.
Also Consider: Zack Wheeler, Dustin May, Andrew Heaney
Triston McKenzie at Cardinals
McKenzie was masterful in his debut against the Tigers, racking up 10 strikeouts against baseball’s most strikeout-prone offense. When it comes to whiffs, the Cardinals are on the other side of the spectrum. This will be a good second test of McKenzie against an excessively average offense. Moreover, St. Louis has a diverse set of hitters which could help illuminate if McKenzie has specific weakness.
Last week, I analyzed his start inning-by-inning on Twitter. The stuff is both visually and statistically impressive. He did get a little lazy with location later in the game as it became apparent the Tigers couldn’t handle his fastball. He didn’t tunnel his fastball and curve as well as I expected.
Some Triston McKenzie notes if you didn't tune in.
1st inning, pumping 94-96. Moving it up and down. Seems confident in a changeup. Couple weak tap outs on changeups in the zone. First curve was shapely but off target. Second one made Miggy look foolish.
Built like @sporer.
— Brad Johnson (@BaseballATeam) August 23, 2020
Corbin Burnes vs Pirates
It’s no accident that the Pirates were the first team to be no-hit in 2020. They have the second worst offense at 33 percent worse than average (67 wRC+). While their 24 percent strikeout rate is only middle of the pack, there just isn’t any oomph to their bats. This isn’t a PNC Park thing either – wRC+ is park-adjusted.
Burnes tends to make short-burst starts, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s overpriced tonight. Assuming some degree of affordability, he projects for an elite 1.3 strikeouts per inning. The downside is he’ll probably only throw four (blech) to six (woot!) frames. If he does manage to finish six innings, he’ll have a shot at double-digit strikeouts and a top-of-the-slate point total.
Also Consider: Nick Margevicius, Sixto Sanchez, Kyle Hendricks, Tyler Mahle
Zach Davies at Kyle Freeland
Here are two pitchers who have looked like stack targets all season and pitched like mid-tier assets. Freeland in particular has thrived both at Coors Field and at sea level. He’s thrown between six and seven innings in all six of his starts. The only wart is 5.73 K/9, but he’s also coming off a six-inning, six-strikeout performance against the Dodgers. It comes down to quality of contact. He’s avoiding barrels and inducing nearly 60 percent ground balls. That’ll do, even at Coors Field.
Davies’ success has a more fragile feel to it. On the surface, he has the same low-strikeout, low walk as Freeland – almost like a right-handed version of the same profile. Both are changeup artists. Where Freeland thrives on weak ground ball contact (at least when he’s locked in), Davies doesn’t control quality of contact, and he has a balanced batted ball profile. Such pitchers tend to be prone to meltdowns. He also has minimal experience with Coors Field. So if you’re picking either side of this game for a stack, prioritize Rockies bats.
Robbie Erlin at Phillies
Erlin is another left-handed strike-thrower. His fastball sits below 90 mph, and his breaking stuff isn’t especially effective at inducing whiffs. He’s discarded a terrible sinker this season, becoming an extreme fly ball pitcher in the process. He matches up well against Rhys Hoskins (extreme fly ball hitter) and Didi Gregorius (weak against LHP), but the rest of the Philadelphia offense depends on low-angle contact. Use some combination of J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, Alec Bohm, Phil Gosselin, and Jean Segura to punish Erlin.
Also Consider: Reynaldo Lopez, Steven Matz, Martin Perez, Derek Holland