Welcome Philadelphia back to the schedule as part of an eight-game slate. They’re visiting the Yankees tonight. It’s unclear if they’ve been able to do much training while awaiting clearance from the league – practicing would kind of defeat the purpose of quarantining after all. I’d steer clear – not that anybody but the staunchest contrarian would use them opposite Gerrit Cole.
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 eight-game slate begins at 7:05pm ET. Reserve your spot for the contest.
2. Weather and Park Factors
New York, Atlanta, and Colorado all have some risk factors for pop-up storms. Presently, I’d place the risk of postponement at under five percent. Just double-check before contest lock. The wind is blowing at 14 mph at Wrigley Field, but I have conflicting reports as to whether it’s blowing southerly (in) or northerly (out). The wind in Chicago often changes direction mid-day so this is another item to confirm later.
Most of the parks are relatively neutral with the exceptions of Coors Field, Yankee Stadium, and Miller Park. We talked about Coors in some detail last Friday so let’s focus in Yankee Stadium. We’ll talk about Miller Park soon.
Yankee Stadium has strange effects, it buffs singles for righties and home runs for lefties. That’s because left field plays surprisingly large. The homer-friendly reputation is earned in right field where it’s arguably the best park for left-handed pop (and close to it for righties with oppo-pop).
3. Building Block Bats
In this section, we’ll look at top hitters with strong projections before moving on to a detailed analysis of deeper picks.
Trevor Story ($5900 DK, $4300 FD)
Nolan Arenado ($5500 DK, $4000 FD)
David Dahl ($5300 DK, $3900 FD
Charlie Blackmon ($5700 DK, $4300 FD)
Ah yes, we have a difficult choice today – use the elite pitchers or the elite Rockies stack. “Both” isn’t really an option, although some will try to find sufficient connectors to pull it off (we’ll cover those options in Section 5).
These names comprise four of the top six projected hitters. Their opponent, Johnny Cueto, isn’t having any success at sea level. Although Coors Field visitors tend to draw more attention, the home field stack is usually the better play. We’re likely to see this pattern repeat tonight. The Giants stack is, after all, quite affordable.
Aaron Judge ($5100 DK, $4500 FD)
Giancarlo Stanton ($5800 DK, $3900 FD)
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Phillies starter Jake Arrieta take the bump. The Phillies have seemingly conceded this game – they had the option to use Aaron Nola but instead chose to use a pitcher whose stuff is in a continual free fall. Hopes of a post-surgery rebound for Arrieta were snuffed during Spring Training and Summer Camp. Now his only advantage is that he keeps the ball on the ground. Judge and Stanton both hit plenty of ground balls. Judge has made a mechanical change that might have fixed this “flaw.”
Also consider: Mike Yastrzemski, Nelson Cruz, Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria
Donovan Solano ($5000 DK, $3300 FD)
The price is wrong for this section on DraftKings, but I still want to say a few words about Solano. Under normal conditions, he’s an uninspiring hitter who lacks both power and speed. You can think of him as a sort of poor man’s Hanser Alberto with more than twice as many strikeouts.
Plop Solano in Coors Field, and he’s suddenly exciting. He makes firm, low angle contact with an extreme line drive rate. He’s also a spray hitter. If you’ll recall, Coors Field substantially boosts all flavors of hit type. If we buy his ZiPS projection of .294/.328/.393 (and I think that’s underselling his ability to hit line drives), then we can anticipate at least a .335 average in Colorado. Hoping for a home run is a fools errand, but nobody in the slate is more likely to deliver a hit. As such, he’s one of the highest-floor hitters available. And at least on FanDuel, he’s very competitively priced.
Steven Souza ($2700 DK, $2600 FD)
Souza generally cracks the lineup when a southpaw is on the bump. The Royals will call upon Danny Duffy – hardly an imposing opponent. (I will, however, recommend using him in just a moment!). Souza doesn’t have appreciable platoon splits. Due to a flood of injuries, he was last relevant way back in 2017. In his heyday, he was a pull-happy hitter with a slight skew towards ground ball contact. That old version of Souza would pair fantastically against Duffy’s fly ball tendencies. As a bonus, the Cubs have been batting Souza third or sixth when he plays.
Also consider: A.J. Pollock, Chris Taylor
Although it isn’t the deepest slate, a variety of pitchers with a wide range of matchup quality means we have a lot to consider.
Gerrit Cole (DK $11000, FD $11000)
I discussed Cole a bit in the introduction. He’s a domineering pitcher who would have looked usable at this price under normal circumstances. With the Phillies shaking off a week’s worth of rust, he gets an additional boost. I’m expecting over six innings, a quality start, half a win, and about 7.5 strikeouts.
Jacob deGrom (DK $11600, FD $10700)
deGrom is the guy best positioned to keep pace with Cole. He’s one off the few pitchers who is throwing harder in this short season – his already saucy fastball velocity has jumped two ticks to 98.7 mph. While the Braves are a tougher opponent than the Phillies, deGrom is projected to basically keep pace with Cole. If you’re thinking about pricey pivots, deGrom might be low-owned relative to Cole.
Also Consider: Walker Buehler, Mike Soroka
Frankie Montas (DK $7200, FD $7700)
Montas has been battling walks. Most terrifyingly (from our perspective), he’s thrown half as many splitters as last season. His slider usage has also declined by 20 percent. The result is a surge in fastball usage which goes to explain why his strikeout and swinging strike rates have declined. The obvious explanation is the righty has fallen behind too many counts. Neither offspeed pitch is geared for picking up called strikes. That means he’s beholden to his four-seamer and sinker to prove he can get ahead in the count.
The Mariners might not be as easy an assignment as you’d hope. They’re handling right-handed pitchers right now (112 wRC+) – possibly because nearly the entire lineup hits from the left side. Aspirationally, if Montas can establish the fastball early, he can return to throwing more of his lethal offspeed pitches and pile up seven strikeouts in six innings. Pessimists will see five innings and four strikeouts as a reasonable expectation.
Danny Duffy (DK $6600, FD $6400) at Alec Mills (DK $8000, FD $7000)
This one depends entirely on the wind blowing in at Wrigley. If it’s blowing out, quickly walk away. Mills is the better pitcher while Duffy is a superior dollar-for-dollar value.
Duffy has pitched well in the early-going despite missing a tick on his already low-90s heater. He’s a fly ball pitcher (see, he needs the wind blowing in) with advanced command. That’s helped him to mostly stay a step ahead of the hitters. The Cubs lineup is below average against left-handed pitchers. At least, they were last season. They’ve returned basically the same collection of bats.
Mills isn’t missing as many bats as Duffy, but he has a better track record of success in doing so. With a hefty ground ball rate – over 50 percent for his career – he’s someone you can still consider using if the wind is blowing out. Although it feels like he’s been around forever, Mills has only 63.1 career innings. The Royals lineup can be expected to be roughly 15 percent worse than league average against right-handed pitchers.
Also Consider: Carlos Rodon, Chris Paddack, Derek Holland
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.
Austin Nola ($2800 DK, $2100 FD)
There isn’t much to like about this matchup. Nola just happens to be the best combination of low price and solid projection at the catcher position. And if you’re going to try to fit Cole and/or deGrom with a Coors stack of either flavor, you’ll need to spend peanuts at the catcher position.
Nick Madrigal ($2800 DK, $2000 FD)
Second base is another natural position to save cash, and Madrigal will be the go-to bargain to do so. The White Sox nine-hole is one of the most likely batters to deliver a hit. After going 0-for-8 through his first two games, he delivered a four-hit performance yesterday. These multi-hit outbursts will become commonplace. He’ll be relying on his speed to leg out singles against groundballing southpaw Brett Anderson. However, if he does reach base, stolen base(s) are likely. Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez is one of the most exploitable backstops in the league.
Also Consider: Danny Mendick, Phillip Evans, Marwin Gonzalez, Ryan McBroom, Ryon Healy