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MLB DFS Simulations for September 1st

MLB DFS Simulations for September 1st
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We have a new page to offer where the sims will be updated throughout the day. You can find it here, the link will be the same every day (for bookmarking purposes), and all the tables normally posted in this article are pre sorted for you.

Top Pitchers: Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole

I don’t think it is necessary to spend too long espousing the virtues of Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole. They are 1st and 3rd among qualified starters in strikeout percentage, both routinely put up 30 point performances, and draw wounded lineups this evening that they are fully capable of dominating. 

Cole had a bit of a blip in June during the whole sticky stuff brouhaha, but has put the clamps back on of late, not allowing more than one home run in any of his last six starts and posting a 40%+ K rate in three of them.

Scherzer is still Scherzer, and the one thing you could say negatively about him is that he will give up some power, which does make Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley intriguing one offs in non Scherzer lineups.

 Leverage Pitchers: Carlos Rodon, Chris Sale, Mike Minor, Justin Steele, Let’s Talk About Joe Ryan

Rodon is priced right there with the dudes above and is more of a neutral play than positive leverage, but he faces a Pirates team that is dead last in wRC+ over the last 30 days. There are slight duration concerns in his 2nd start back after missing three weeks with shoulder fatigue but he is going to come in at half the roster rate of Cole and absolutely can match the ceiling.

Chris Sale hadn’t pitched in two years and hasn’t missed a beat in his return. He is sitting 93 with his fastball, which isn’t quite his peak but is very strong for a lefty. He has notched 21 strikeouts to only three walks in 15 innings, backed up with a 15.4% swinging strike percentage, and the contact profile is Zack Wheeler level good. He has only averaged 80 pitches in his three starts, and if he’s throwing 5 innings to Scherzer or Cole going 7 it’s a tall task to match them, but he is about ⅕ of the pOwn of Cole with 40% of the optimal probability. Hopefully the Red Sox let him loose a little bit tonight because this is a 35% K rate pitcher at single digit pOwn.

Minor and Steele make for nice pairings with Scherzer or Cole to give your lineup some much needed savings and differentiation. Neither is anything special – Minor has been who he is for a long time now, Steele has some decent K upside with some scary walk and homer downside – but if they grind out mid teens performances their only real competition is the guy we’ll talk about next.

Joe Ryan gets by on tons and tons of fastballs, pounding the zone with them and racking up a 35% K rate and sub 5% walk rate in 66 innings of AAA ball this year. That is impressive, but long term that approach likely won’t translate well against major league hitters. Lucky for him he draws a lineup mostly bereft of major league hitters tonight in the stripped bare Cubs. Ryan is 25, he’s not a prospect, he rarely goes over 20 hitters even in the minors, but he’s 5k against a AAA team. He’ll be the most popular punt pitcher for a reason.


The easiest thing to do for stacks would be to recommend the “best plays” as they’ll often min-cash and you won’t look at the little dot way left on the leaderboard regretting your decisions. Unfortunately, the days of making easy decisions are gone in DFS, and we must weigh leverage alongside upside.

UPDATE: Stack percentages are now calculated by the mean of the top 6 hitters in each category rather than the entire lineup, to give a better idea of what the landscape will actually look like in tournaments. Team optimal percentage is the sum of the optimal probability for the top six hitters for that team divided by six, team cost is the average cost of the top six optimal probabilities, and team public roster % is the average pOwn of the six most rostered hitters.

Top Stacks: Tier One – Blue Jays

Tier Two – Yankees, White Sox, A’s

The Blue Jays are a ridiculous offense and draw the surprisingly not that terrible Matt Harvey, but he’s got his work cut out for him here. I do really like paying up for Toronto as they are number one in optimal probability by a mile and are drawing similar or even lesser pOwns than the other top stacks, largely because of how expensive they are on a night with a lot of premium pitching to pay for.

The Yankees and A’s will be the two most popular buys tonight, with big totals, lots of power, and some reasonable price tags, especially for New York. I’m not sure what a Packy Naughton is but the world does not seem particularly sanguine about his chances to contain the Yankee bats this evening, and he is certainly not a notable prospect. Wily Peralta is a pretty bad known quantity that never misses bats, which you don’t want to do against all that Oakland power. Peralta survives by keeping the ball on the ground and is in a lot of trouble if the A’s can elevate tonight, with 10-15 MPH winds at their backs in Detroit.

The White Sox draw Max Kranick, another non prospect who is an odd combo of extreme flyball pitcher that doesn’t give up many home runs due to a massive amount of infield pop outs. It seems unlikely that he is the next Marco Gonzales and one would guess that major league hitters will be able to drive some of those pitches at a better angle, which could lead to an ugly outing full of White Sox fantasy points.  

Leverage Stacks: Orioles, Red Sox

This isn’t a great day for leverage stacks as is often the case on nights with lots of stud pitching. DFS players aren’t going to stack against Cole and Rodon and the like, so their opponents’ 1% pOwn is technically going to be positive leverage at 3-4% optimal. Does it work sometimes? Yes. Is full stacking against an ace probably a bad idea? Also yes.

The Orioles face off against Steven Matz, who has had a really nice return to form season after a few years in the wilderness. I’m struggling to find what’s different for him this year as the pitch mix and plate discipline numbers are mostly unchanged from when he was coughing up home runs at a 50% higher rate. There is likely some run good involved here but he is inducing weaker contact and more pop ups. I said the leverage stacks were ugly but the Orioles look like the best stab.

The Red Sox have a really low total for the third day in a row, and while the Tampa bullpen machine keeps chugging along Boston does carry the requisite power to blow through the total and hang a double digit number. The top guys are still very expensive so they look to be true 1%ers, and I’d rather go there than try the aforementioned stacking against studs. 

For one offs, Cole and Scherzer are the kind of power pitchers that can give up some homers on occasion, and you’ll get Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman, Jared Walsh, and Austin Riley at mostly sub 1%. A great idea for leverage is to throw Ohtani in some Scherzer lineups and Freeman in some Cole lineups, allowing you to play both a chalk pitcher and chalk stack while doing something a little off board.

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