5/13 MLB DFS Picks: Harvey plays Hero
There are no absolutes in daily Fantasy sports but we are approaching there being one exception: do not roster Stephen Strasburg. His struggles hit a new low on Tuesday when he allowed eight runs in 3.1 innings pitched (IP). Seven of the eight runs were earned, which matched a career high. There are different theories to why he has just fallen apart this season; one of which is Sports Illustrated’s theory of a declining changeup. To pull a quote from the article, “Over the last five seasons, opponents’ line-drive rate on that pitch has climbed, from 17.4% in 2010 to 27.8% this year. “ There definitely is merit to such a thought but he also left his last start with back tightness so one has to wonder if that has been bothering him more than he has led on. The fact of the matter is Strasburg’s strikeout rate is down nearly seven percentage points from last year (28.0 to 21.3 percent) and that was his best Fantasy asset. He had always been a guy getting “BABIP’d” so the elite strikeout rate and totals kept him viable. Without being able to identify the problem with certainty, it’s clear that there is some sort of problem/issue here. Until there are some sort of positive results, you’d have to be crazier than this guy to risk any sort of money on the ex-Nationals ace. Simply put, he’s a risky lower-mid tier pitcher priced as an ace. There just isn’t any value at the moment.
Now, onto the picks for Wednesday:
Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets – Noah Syndergaard made his major league debut on Tuesday and looked rather impressive. He was working on five shutout innings heading into the sixth and then suffered a bit of a collapse. Still, he managed six strikeouts in 5.1 IP, which is the norm against the Cubs these days. No team has struck out more than the Cubs and they actually lead baseball by 17 Ks over the second place Astros. Matt Harvey will head into Wednesday’s game with the 27th best K/9 among qualified Major League starting pitchers (SPs). He’ll be pitching in Wrigley Field, which only played slightly more hitter friendly than Citi Field last season, against a decent third starter. Although no line has been released yet, I expect Harvey and the Mets to be favored in an expected low scoring game. That would put him in an elite game atmosphere against a strikeout prone offense. What more do you need for an already elite tiered pitcher? Harvey should be the highest owned cash game pitcher and for good reason.
Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies – Feel like thinking outside the box especially on a site like FanDuel (FD)? Then fading Harvey and going with Cole Hamels is a solid Plan B. Hamels squares off against a Pirates offense that ranks 27th in wOBA against LHP this season. Vegas actually favors Pittsburgh in this game but I think the sharps will be betting the Phillies. Philadelphia’s offense, although full of aging lefties, has actually made much more meaningful contact against LHP (rank seventh in wOBA vs them this season) than RHP (dead last in RHP wOBA). Liriano also has a tendency to be wild so there certainly is an opportunity for a Hamels victory. However, in cash, strikeouts are most important and Pittsburgh currently sits with the fourth highest K rate in the majors. Although Hamels has struggled with the long ball this season (1.6 HR/9 ties him for 11th worst rate among st SPs), Pittsburgh’s 24 HR this season tie them with Kansas City and Minnesota for the 22nd most HR in the league. In other words, Pittsburgh does not hit the ball out of the park very often limiting their upside against Hamels. When push comes to shove, Hamels is a better pitcher than he has shown so far and he should get back to his old ways beginning with this start.
Jose Quintana, SP, Chicago White Sox – Feel like spending on bats or just looking for an inexpensive SP2 option on DraftKings (DK)? Well then it sounds like the final piece to your puzzle is Jose Quintana. The Q man faces a Milwaukee team that Chris Sale ate for dinner on Tuesday night. Sale went eight IP with four baserunners, two earned runs (ER) and 11 Ks. The Brewers rank dead last in wOBA against left-handed pitching this season. Quintana also gets the benefit of facing the pitcher which he normally doesn’t enjoy and pitching in a slightly below hitter’s park (whereas U.S. Cellular Field ranked in the top seven last season). His 7.7 K/9 is respectable and probably would be significantly higher if his schedule hadn’t included two matchups against the Royals already (lowest K rate in baseball). Without Jonathan Lucroy and Aramis Ramirez in the lineup, the team’s only real threat against lefties is Ryan Braun. If Quintana keeps him at bay, he will pitch to or above value for his price tag in just about all formats.
Prince Fielder, 1B, Texas – 2015 has been a strange season for opposing pitcher Yordano Ventura. He currently sits with a 2-2 record, 5.13 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in six games started. Ventura has made it into the seventh inning just once this season due to a pair of ejections and pair of injuries. Even when he has stayed in the games, he really has only had two well above average starts. For a youngster with an arm like Ventura, you would expect more out of him, but for whatever reason the results have yet to come. He’ll pitch in an even less pitcher friendly ballpark than Kaufman Stadium against a team that has scored 14 runs in the previous two games. The line in this one has been set at 8.5 meaning it should be one of the higher scoring affairs. If Ventura is ineffective yet again, the most likely candidate to take advantage would be Prince Fielder. Fielder leads all of baseball in multi-hit games this season and sports a ridiculous career .404 wOBA against opposing righties. Ventura has the tendency to be wild as well so at the very least Fielder should find himself on base a couple times. If Ventura’s spotty control results in a fat fastball, look for Prince to park one into the bleachers.
Todd Frazier, 3B, Cincinnati – I never like relying on guys for dongs in back-to-back nights but Todd Frazier is one of my favorite home run candidates on Wednesday. Eric Stults is simply terrible but even more terrible against right-handed hitters. Of all the pitchers on the slate, Stults’ .338 wOBA against is the worst against opposing righties. Frazier, on the other hand, leads all active Reds hitters with .223 isolated power (ISO) against LHP for his career, which tops second place Joey Votto by 22 percentage points (Votto’s is .201). This means a lot of power is generated by Frazier’s bat against LHP and Stults is one of the worst LHP in the game. What more needs to be said? Just get the guy in your lineup.
Anthony Gose, OF, Detroit – I found a disturbing stat in regards to the Tigers offense. The team averages 6.3 runs per game in day games so far this season and just 2.1 in night games. A major part of the problem is none other than Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera’s day stats include a .460 BA/1.381 OPS while his night stats sit at just a .157 BA/.452 OPS. This statistic is bound to change when the right matchup comes along and this could be the one. It has been a limited sample size for opposing pitcher Ricky Nolasco this season but mostly because his three starts have lasted just 13.0 combined innings. Somehow, someway Nolasco’s win-loss record sits at 2-1 but that is bound to correct itself. Nolasco’s 2015 stats are an absolutely tiny sample size but if he were qualified he would sit as the worst pitcher against right-handed batters so far this season in terms of wOBA (.440). He hasn’t fared much better against lefties either (.383). His career statistics show he’s a well below average pitcher against lefties while he should toughen up against righties. Maybe he’s just a terrible pitcher at this point so everyone will hit him (and Vegas thinks this should be a high scoring game) but I still think lefties are the safest bet. Gose should lead off for the Tigers, and, if he gets on base, have opportunities to steal a base or two. The Twins ranks 26th in opposing SB percentage meaning only four teams have allowed stolen bases at a higher rate. With a great matchup, the potential to score runs in a great game atmosphere and the opportunity to take advantage of his best asset (speed), Gose is a no-brainer cash option with even more upside.