4/19 MLB DFS Picks: Jays for Days
DailyRoto’s MLB Solo Shot Host, Logan Hitchcock, gets you headed in the right direction with his 4/19 MLB DFS Picks. Check out where his mind is at today when it comes to roster construction at FanDuel and DraftKings.
Note: This analysis is based on the night slate only and does not include any insight on the two games before 7:05 EST.
Where to Focus?
On large slates it can be daunting to try and narrow our focus down to one or two particular games, especially if none of those games are being played at Coors Field. Rather than leave you with one or two particular players from a handful of games I’m going to map out my favorite two stacks of the day and give you a small analysis on why I’m so keen on these two teams.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are a team that we always want to deploy against bad pitchers in good hitters parks. The good news? The Blue Jays are facing a bad pitcher in a good hitters park tonight. It’s not the Rogers Centre, where they are notorious for launching balls into empty blue seats, but Camden Yards in Baltimore provides hitters with a solid launching pad (top ten for both handedness in terms of HR park factor last season). It is even more ideal when we can target them against a bad lefty, but Mike Wright should suffice. Wright is an extreme flyball pitcher and in a small sample size has been hit hard by both righties and lefties. The extreme depth of this Blue Jays lineup always puts them in play, but considering their matchup tonight they are at the top of the list for me. Michael Saunders will be leading off again and has a depressed price around the industry and you can’t go wrong with any of the Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion trio. I’m on board with using Blue Jays in cash games and tournaments tonight.
Derek Holland is a better pitcher than Mike Wright, therefore you might see the Astros garner a lower ownership tonight but that is actually a positive for us in tournaments. Holland has battled through injuries recently but has been slightly below average in terms of strikeouts in the last few seasons (small sample size) and his results seem much better than he’s actually pitched this season (2.31 ERA versus a 4.56 xFIP). In his career it has been right-handed hitters that have plagued Holland, a flyball pitcher that toes the rubber in an advantageous park for hitters. He’s allowed 1.40 HR/9 to right-handers in his career to go along with a .336 wOBA. The Astros are very right-handed at the top of their order and with the inclusion of Evan Gattis back from injury they’ve gotten even stronger against left-handers (.216 ISO against southpaws in his career). The great thing about the Astros is that you can get them at a cheaper cost and they carry just as much upside as the Blue Jays and perhaps more given the stolen base prowess of the top of their order in Jose Altuve and George Springer. All of these guys can slug it and swipe bags, providing the ultimate threat of upside. The Astros like the Blue Jays will be on the road and will be guaranteed nine turns at-bat as a team, just adding another little bump of value tonight.
Tournament Plug and Plays
Often times by the time you’ve filled in your tournament stacks you’re left with below average cost for a roster spot and are stuck with a shallow position, in need of a player from a different team to meet the rules of the site. If that is the case, this is the section for you.
Buster Posey, C : $3,700 DK, $3,500 FD
Catcher is typically one of the spots that is difficult to fill in tournaments because most stacks don’t incorporate catchers that hit in the middle of the order. Posey is one of the exceptions and although the park is not in his favor offensively, the matchup with a left-hander is. Robbie Ray has made strides to become a pretty solid pitcher in this league and despite getting a positive park shift for himself, I’m going to still attack him with Posey. In his career, Posey has shown dominance against left-handed pitchers, sporting a .234 ISO (compared to .149 against righties) and a .403 wOBA. His price is very accessible given his matchup and given the fact that catcher is such a shallow position, he’s the top option for me in cash games as well.
Zack Cozart, SS: $3,200 DK, $3,000 FD
I wish I could like the Reds as a whole against Jorge de la Rosa, but their lineup lacks depth and de la Rosa is neutralizing the platoon advantage on both Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Never fear though, because we’ll be able to roster Cozart at a minimal cost at the top of the order. Cozart will have the platoon advantage against de la Rosa and despite not showing any elite skills against southpaws in his career, he has displayed a better ISO and wOBA against them. Again, this is merely taking advantage of a tough position in your tournament stacks with a cheap hitter in good offensive run scoring environment tonight. You could do a whole lot worse.
I’ve enjoyed the format that I’ve used in the last week, so I’m going to continue to rank the top five pitchers for cash games in the order I would be willing to use them followed by a brief analysis of why they fall where they do.
There is an abundance of pitching tonight so you won’t need to scrape the bottom of the barrel in order to find a solid pitcher for cash games.
Liriano is the top target of the night against a weak San Diego Padres lineup that has been striking out over 25% of the time in the early going this season. Any preconceived notions about the park should be pushed aside as this is actually a negative park shift for Liriano, but not one that should alter our thinking on using him. Liriano is an above average ground ball pitcher and a highly regarded strikeout arm that provides a nice baseline for strikeouts in cash games. There is a bit of volatility to him given a frustrating and sizable walk rate, but if he keeps the ball in the zone he should have no problem with the Padres tonight. An added bonus of using National League pitchers is that they get to face the opposing pitcher which essentially eliminates an entire lineup spot and boosts strikeout projections just a tad as well!
Strasburg’s batted ball profile has made him a frustrating roster as well in previous seasons but given the matchup and the strikeout potential it is hard to go wrong rostering him tonight. The only issue is, Strasburg is priced much higher than all of the other respective pitchers, making it difficult for me to stretch up to him in cash games given the fact that you can use Liriano at an even cheaper price. With that being said, Strasburg is a fine play tonight in a spacious park and is a favorite on the road against the Marlins.
Phew. Did anyone see that last Vincent Velasquez start? This guy is electric! Velasquez dominated the Padres in his last start and will look to do the same to the Mets tonight. The difficulty here tonight is that the Mets lineup is much better than the Padres from top to bottom. Nevertheless it is the price tag and the strikeout rate that has me clinging to Velasquez tonight. He struck out more than a batter per inning in his small sample size last season and both ZiPS and Steamer project him at more than ten strikeouts per nine innings this season. He won’t be able to sustain his current rate of 15 (?!?!) strikeouts per nine, but the baseline he provides in strikeouts mitigates an concerns he might have with earned runs pitching in a ballpark that is more advantageous for hitters.
Logan Verrett is just another young arm that the Mets have fostered into a usable rotation piece in the National League. Verrett doesn’t compare to any of the other arms on this list in terms of pure stuff or potential but his price and matchup are what got him on the last tonight. He’ll be able to take advantage of an incredibly weak Phillies lineup that lacks depth from top to bottom and strikes out a lot (6th most in the league so far). I expect that trend to continue tonight and although Verrett projects at an average baseline for strikeouts, the ability to roster him at such a cheap price, most notably on two starting pitcher sites is a huge advantage for your lineup building. There is always a bit of risk rostering a pitcher that lacks elite skills, but when you’re facing the Phillies some of that is mitigated.
Michael Pineda has already burned me a few times this season but I’m going to keep going back to the well. The Athletics aren’t a team that project to strikeout a lot and while they’re getting a notable positive park shift, I’m siding with Vegas on Pineda. He carries an above average strikeout rate into tonight’s game with a drastic difference in ERA and his xFIP (6.37 v. 3.87). He’s pitched much better than the numbers will indicate and while that doesn’t buy you extra fantasy points, he might go overlooked tonight. His price tag is very accessible for the type of talent he possesses and given the weak nature of this Athletics lineup, he should have no trouble navigating his way through it. Still though, there is risk here.