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5/20 MLB DFS Review: The Cardinals Flew Past the Competition

5/20 MLB DFS Review: The Cardinals Flew Past the Competition
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May 20th MLB DFS GPP Review: The Cardinals Flew Past the Competition

All good things must come to an end.

In this case, the good thing that came to an end was large and in charge Bartolo Colon‘s nice run of 2015. After a rather effective April (4-1 record, 3.31 ERA), Colon came into Wednesday night having allowed at least four runs in two straight. Things didn’t improve any and he actually further imploded by allowing 13 baserunners in 4.1 IP with eight earned runs (ER). This came on a night where DraftKings (DK) was offering a $3 contest with a $100,000 first prize. Those who put their faith in him were roasted in a big way. I didn’t particularly like the matchup heading in as Colon looks to induce contact and the Cardinals hardly ever strike out especially versus right-handers (only 18.9 percent). He was challenging hitters like Jason Heyward, Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams who feast off of RHP to make some contact. When those guys make contact, they hit it a long way and they certainly made Colon pay. Here are other players on Monday night that didn’t come through as their owners hoped they would:

Player Stat Line Approximate Ownership %
Bryce Harper 0 37
Hanley Ramirez 0 16
Russell Martin 1 BB 15
Dustin Pedroia 0 12
Edwin Encarnacion 1 BB 6
A.J. Pierzynski 0 4


Despite being predicted to score the two highest run totals of the night, the Red Sox and Rockies offenses flopped in a big way. This is a lesson that Vegas should not be the only guide heading into a night because they very often get it wrong. It’s a constant reminder because it always happens but the over/under for both these teams was 4.5 runs and the over was the favorite for each.

On a brighter note, people won some money on Wednesday…some big money! As mentioned above, DK held a contest with a $100,000 first prize that cost next to nothing to enter. The Cardinals stack worked to perfection as the team put up nine runs. Many of the pitching plays played out nicely as guys like Joe Kelly, Tim Lincecum and Shane Green cracked the 18 FP plateau on DK. Mix in top hitters like Ryan Braun, Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen going deep and you see why some DFSers were able to concoct some superb lineups. Here are some other Major Leaguers that crushed it on Wednesday:

Player Stat Line DK FP FD FP
A.J. Pollock 4 R, 3 1B, 1 BB, 3 SB 34 13.75
Justin Ruggiano 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI 23 9.5
Carlos Martinez 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 5 K, W 24.04 15.33
Matt Adams 1 R, 1 1B, 1 HR, 3 RBI 21 8.25
Yoenis Cespedes 2 R, 2 1B, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 SB 20 9
Jordan Zimmermann 7 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 ER, 6 K, W 24.15 15


DraftKings $300K Swing for the Fences – Username: Jdaddy3535

Carlos Martinez, Jordan Zimmermann, Buster Posey, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta, Jason Heyward, Matt Holliday, Andrew McCutchen

DraftKings $170K Perfect Game – Username: SteveAvery

Carlos Rodon, Tyson Ross, Mike Zunino, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta, Jason Heyward, Matt Holliday, Mike Trout

DraftKings $100K Payoff Pitch – Username: finsince82

Carlos Martinez, Tyson Ross, Buster Posey, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta, Carlos Gomez, Jason Heyward, Matt Holliday

FanDuel $175K Grand Slam – Username: punkedinamillisecond

Tim Lincecum, Derek Norris, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, Ian Desmond, Jason Heyward, Nelson Cruz, Justin Upton

FanDuel $150K Monster – Username: the_big_lombardi

Tyson Ross, Buster Posey, David Ortiz, Brian Dozier, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen, Yoenis Cespedes

FanDuel $125K Rally – Username: level446

Jordan Zimmermann, Buster Posey, Adam Lind, Taylor Featherston, Mike Moustakas, Ian Desmond, Andrew McCutchen, Yoenis Cespedes, Mike Trout

Lesson #1: Stacking on DK simply wins GPPs on a nightly basis

All three of DK’s top tournaments were won by an all-out (six player) Cardinal stack and the Twins stack almost topped them in DK’s Swing for the Fences. Simply put, picking the correct team and using their lineup one through six on a given night wins the big tournaments. A member of the industry tweeted out the other day that six man stacks have won seven of the last eight DK MLB Finals qualifiers. A famous sign that a student brought to an Indiana Hoosier basketball game during the Kelvin Sampson era said, “if you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t tryin’.” In this case it is well within the rules so I say, “if you ain’t stackin, you ain’t winnin’.”

Lesson #2: Runners do not matter on FanDuel (FD). Their site allows you to take chances on wild pitchers that just aren’t worth taking on DK

Carlos Rodon walked five batters in six innings on Wednesday and allowed nine total baserunners. On DK, that left him at a mediocre 14.1 total FP. However, on FanDuel, that outing is the same as throwing six shutout innings since their scoring system literally does not factor in the runners. With the four strikeouts, Rodon totaled nine FP which is fine for a value pitcher. Essentially the wild guys like Aaron Sanchez and Rodon have more upside because their baserunners do not count against you. If they can rack up the Ks and end up with a win, their start ends up being way more productive than it otherwise would be on DK.

Lesson #3: Predicting baseball on a day-to-day basis is a tough task. As a result, there’s more merit in going contrarian in MLB DFS than perhaps any other sport.

Factors that are impossible to be taken into consideration occur on a daily basis in baseball. For instance, you decide to start a player that absolutely rakes against lefties. What happens when the starter suffers an injury in the second inning and a right-handed reliever is brought into the game? How can one predict when Bryce Harper will try and show up the umpire and get tossed (or in this case the umpire decides to do a Joey Crawford impression)? Who would have guessed a game in Coors between two of the worst pitchers in the major leagues would end 4-2? The sport continues to be the most unpredictable from night to night, so just when you think you know it all, well, you really don’t. As a result, it makes sense to target low ownership players and use this variance to our advantage. If the probabilities of success between a 30 percent owned player and a 2.3 percent owned player aren’t nearly as wide as we like to think headed into a night, playing the 2.3 percent owned player provides us with much higher expected value in a GPP.

Did your lineup flop or did you have the guts to stack St. Louis? Discuss now on the forums: