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National League DFS Preview

National League DFS Preview
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National League DFS Preview

NL East

Atlanta Braves

Chris – Freddie Freeman is a fantastic player, but there is one factor that will play a huge part to his success in 2015 and that is Chris Johnson‘s ability to protect him in the four hole. Freeman is going to see a bunch of free passes if Johnson hits more like he did in 2014 than he did in 2013. I think Johnson has a better 2015 season in store for him, but not good enough to really give Freeman the pitches he needs to be a huge force in DFS. He’s going to have a big price all season long and value will be tough to find unless you pick him on a day he hits a bomb. The lack of talent around him plus pitchers avoiding him will result in him seeing little usage from me this season.

Logan – You’ll notice a bunch of new faces penciled in the Braves lineup this season (sorry Braves fans). Jason Heyward and Justin Upton were traded, and the former BJ Upton is now going by Melvin – it is yet to be seen if this will increase his viability in daily formats. As a result of the changes, I’m most interested in seeing which plug-ins have the biggest impact on the Braves lineup, and thus, the most value to us as DFS’ers. A name to remember will be Jace Peterson. Peterson has impressed thus far in Spring Training and has a chance to win the second base job right out of camp. The former first round pick was solid in his time in the minor leagues last year, but was less than stellar in his time in the big leagues. This team doesn’t have a whole lot going for it, but this guy is a part of the future.

Miami Marlins

Chris – Maybe if I talk about Christian Yelich here then Logan won’t. We’ll see how this plays out… Yelich is in a great spot with a speedster, Dee Gordon, hitting in front of him and a power hitting star, Giancarlo Stanton, hitting behind him. He’s probably going to be priced appropriately, but there should be ample opportunities to roster him along with the two previously mentioned Marlins players in stacks as the season goes on. Alright, Logan, go for it!

Logan – It was really inconsiderate for Chris to talk about Yelich, considering he already knew that he’s my favorite non-Cub in all of baseball, but that is how it goes. There is however another Miami outfielder that not many people are talking about, and no, his name is not Giancarlo. Marcell Ozuna is still only 24 years old and is a really exciting player to watch. I know that doesn’t always translate to Fantasy value, but in this instance, it does. There is nothing super drastic in terms of Ozuna’s splits, as he actually fared better against right-handed pitchers last year, but he has a pleasant amount of power. He has posted a solid .188 ISO against left-handed pitching in his career and will fit nicely into a stack with Giancarlo Stanton, Michael Morse and Martin Prado once southpaws take the mound against the Fish.

New York Mets

Chris – Matt Harvey is going to have a great season in 2015 as long as he doesn’t have any setbacks from Tommy John surgery; I can pretty much guarantee you that. How great could he be though? Well, from a DFS perspective, he struck out more than one batter per inning in each of the first four months of 2013. He had 26 starts that season and six of them ended with 10-plus strikeouts. 14 of those starts ended with one earned run or less. Add a 191:31 K to walk ratio and a WHIP of 0.98 and you’re looking at a high end option each and every start. I stated this in the first MLB article of the season from Logan and I, but I just want to reiterate this. Matt Harvey isn’t going to be cheap for long. Use him cheaply while you can.

Logan – The good news for Mets fans is Matt Harvey is back. The bad news is that, well, you’re still Mets fans, and Zach Wheeler got bit by the injury bug. The Mets rotation will be nice to take advantage of this season, headed by Harvey and Jacob DeGrom, but I want to know more about David Wright. Wright posted an abysmal .105 ISO last season, over 100 full points below his season prior. Citi Field isn’t anything to write home about for hitters, but he has to rebound slightly, right?  Here’s to hoping so.

Philadelphia Phillies

Chris – With the mixture of park factors and lack of rotation in Philadelphia, putting together DFS lineups could get old real quick. The rotation is very thin and doesn’t have much besides Cole Hamels in terms of pitching. Aaron Harang is very likely their number two with Cliff Lee being hurt and I’m not sure people want to rely on him as the season goes on. The “Fantastic” four will likely all end the season with low K/9 rates, 1.3 or higher WHIPs and 4.00 ERAs or worse. In 2014, Citizen’s Bank Park ranked sixth in park factors when it came to home runs and first in 2013. There’s a very good chance we see these numbers replicated in 2015.

Logan – Chris hit the nail on the head with how atrocious this team is from a DFS standpoint. There is really nothing here to talk about outside of Cole Hamels. I’d like to see Domonic Brown put together anywhere near the type of season he did a few years ago when he slugged 27 homers with a .222 ISO, but I don’t think we’re going to see that. If Brown can produce anything at all, he might come in handy as a cheap flier playing in a nice hitters park.

Washington Nationals

Chris – The Denard Span injury might have opened up a really good value play to start the season. Michael Taylor is one of the Nationals’ top prospects and he has had a good Spring. He hit two home runs off my dude Justin Verlander the other day and could very well be plugged right into the order where Span was (leadoff) to start the season. He hit 22 home runs with 34 stolen bases in 98 games in AA last season. I know that’s just AA, but it shows what he can do. Now, he’ll have all of April to show us he’s worth a look in DFS.

Logan – Bryce Harper is awesome and Ian Desmond is cool too, but how about this pitching staff? Can you spell terrifying? (I just did, correctly I might add) The Nationals will trot a viable DFS option to the bump every single day this season, barring any injuries. Scherzer, Strasburg, Zimmerman, Gonzalez and Fister oozes strikeouts and plenty of Fantasy points. These guys will largely be in play, especially with so many games against mediocre NL East offenses, namely the Braves, Mets and Phillies.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs

Chris – The Cubs have a lot of young talent, but one guy I hadn’t really even looked at much was Arismendy Alcantara. Last season he made his debut with 300 at bats, 10 home runs, eight stolen bases and a .205 batting average. I think his average could easily bump up nicely as his K percentage regresses towards his Minor League average. I also think if he gets full at bats he could end up with 18-20 home runs and steals. In DFS it’s tough to play a guy that hits in the bottom half of the order, but I might consider Alcantara with a cheap price tag and a good matchup. The speed and power he has could be very attractive.

Logan – I can’t believe Chris let me talk about Kris Bryant. By now you’re probably sick of hearing about him, but dude, this guy is going to be a monster. He’s not going to start the year with the big league club but he will be up by the end of April and will make an impact early and often. He has prodigious power and will join the ranks of what should be an attractive DFS lineup this season. Go Cubs Go!

Cincinnati Reds

Chris – I’m sorry, but am I the only one who didn’t realize Todd Frazier had 20 stolen bases last season? What a season out of him in 2014! 29 home runs with 20 stolen bases is no joke, but I think regression is coming. His 17 percent HR/FB ratio was inflated compared to his last two seasons (11.7 in 2014 and 13.2 in 2013) and he did it while having a lower FB percentage than in those two seasons. For season long leagues I wouldn’t draft him based off those numbers and I wouldn’t expect this kind of production in DFS as well. Based off his career power numbers, he’s a guy you want to use against RHP oddly enough. 50 of his 73 home runs in his career have come against them and 25 of 29 last season. Last season he boasted a batting average 24 points higher against RHP although his career numbers favor him against southpaws by 12 points.

Logan – The Reds are not good, but they do have some fantasy value. Billy Hamilton struggles to get on base, but when he gets there, he’s taking second, and maybe third via the steal. Stolen bases are incredibly valuable in DFS and as a result, Hamilton will carry a heftier price tag than you may think. Hamilton should be followed by some combination of Frazier, Votto and Mesoraco, which will make for interesting stacking options all year long. Chris mentioned the upside of Frazier, and Votto might be the safest cash game player in all of DFS. Add in the power of Mesoraco, and an occasional dinger from Jay Bruce and you might be having some fun.

Milwaukee Brewers

Chris – The 2015 season for the Brewers should be really interesting. They have a lot of hitting talent and surprisingly they fare better against RHP than LHP. With bats like Lucroy, Braun, Ramirez, Gomez and Davis you would think southpaws would just get destroyed against the Brewers. Oddly though, Davis hit 16 of his 22 home runs against RHP. Lucroy hit well against both pitchers, but hit 12 of his 13 home runs against RHP. Gomez hit 30 points higher and sticking with the theme, hit 17 of his 23 home runs against RHP. Add in Scooter Gennett against opposite handed throwers and you have yourself a stack you wouldn’t necessarily realize right off the bat.

Logan – Chris always steals my points, like the tremendous value Brewers bats carry against southpaws. Since he was talking about the bats, I’ll mention the upside arms that the Brewers possess in the back end of their rotation. Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers and Jimmy Nelson add some heat to the mix, and all present the opportunity to rack up the strikeouts on a given day. They are all relatively unknown (to the common player) therefore you might be able to slide in some favorable ownership levels in tournaments early in the season. That is, unless one of these dudes turns into one of the Corey Kluber-type phenomena that we saw emerge last season.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Chris – It was great to see Gerrit Cole boost his K/9 to nine in 2014 and should push himself into being a pitcher that people spend money on in DFS. In nine of his 22 starts, he struck out seven or more batters. He struck out six or more batters in 15 games with a streak of five in a row to end the season. The final game of the season being a 12 strikeout performance against the Reds in Cincinnati, the location of his first start this season. Could Cole be an early target that first week of the season?

Logan – Chris mentioned the Fantasy value attached to Gerrit Cole, but my heart is set on Pedro Alvarez. I’ve always been in Pedro’s camp, rooting for him in his darkest times. He really fell off the wagon last season, mentally and physically, forcing himself to be benched due to his offensive and defensive woes. The Pirates will need his power to return to the lineup if they plan on making a deep run in the playoffs this season, and he certainly has the ability to do it. In the two seasons before blowing up last year, he posted a .223 and .240 ISO respectively. He would be a great gift bearer to DFS players should he put up those type numbers again.

St. Louis Cardinals

Chris – Michael Wacha is impressing folks this Spring even with his shoulder issues. He seems to be fine but could be a risk in season long leagues. Luckily for us, we don’t have to worry about that. He’s a great guy to use against mixed lineups because of how tough he can be on left handed hitters. He has reverse splits due to his high usage of fastball/changeup combination. 18.8 percent of his pitches are changeups, easily the most for his off-speed pitches. Combine that with good control of his fastball and you have a really good pitcher against left handed bats. They hit just .223 while right handed bats hit .241 against him last season.

Logan – The Cardinals are boring. They’re kind of like the Patriots. They always have a good team, but outside of a few top guys, there is nothing here that really jumps out at you. No, the Cardinals don’t have a Gronk equivalent (I guess Matt Holiday could fill this void) but they’ve got enough to get it done. If you’re looking for flair, look elsewhere, but their 1-5 is solid and will provide sneaky offensive value this season.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Chris – Thou shall not rely on BvP is one of the MLB DFS commandments Logan and I like to follow 99 percent of the time, but there is that one percent and that includes Paul Goldschmidt. When Goldy faces Tim Lincecum he becomes an automatic insert into your lineups. In his career, he’s 15 for 28 with seven home runs, two doubles, and 17 RBI. The last time Goldy didn’t hit value against Lincecum, Lincecum went by “Big Time Timmy Jim.”

Logan – When did Tim Lincecum ever go by that nickname? The storyline to follow in Arizona this year is the amount of times we get to see the tweet “Trumbomb” from DFS’ers and DBack’s fans alike. Trumbo was hurt for the majority of last season and was not of much use to anyone. This year however, he could play a big role in the offense and should get to hit in a good spot following Paul Goldschmidt. Assuming Goldy doesn’t knock in all of the runs, Trumbo should have a chance to be a valuable asset in DFS this season.

Colorado Rockies

Chris – Corey Dickerson and Drew Stubbs might be the best platoon in all of baseball. Of course it helps that they hit in Colorado, but they were very successful in their platoon role in 2014. Stubbs hit .328 with seven home runs in 131 at bats last season against LHP while Dickerson hit .328 with 21 home runs in 345 at bats against RHP. Due to injuries last season, Stubbs saw more action against RHP than against LHP, but I wouldn’t expect that to carry over, at least to start. These two might be the best value in terms of Rockies’ hitters due to the fact one or the other could sit a few games in a row and see his price drop.

Logan – The most important thing about the Rockies is to note their home ballpark. Coors Field is the play. Balls jump out of the “Mile High” air and everybody knows it. Stacks composing of players from this ballpark are probably the most common part of MLB DFS, but you can win without doing so. Make sure you aren’t just defaulting to a stack here every single night –  study the matchup and assess value accordingly. Don’t just fall in love with Coors Field.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Chris – With the Dodgers and Rockies obviously in the same division, I wanted to see how the best pitcher in baseball has done in Coors Field. It seems risky to pay up for a guy like Clayton Kershaw in such a hitter’s park, but last season it would have paid off. In two starts his numbers looked like this: 13 innings, five hits, one earned run, and 17 strikeouts. I’m going to go out on a limb and say if you can’t put the ball in play then the whole “Coors advantage” can’t really be an advantage. The two previous seasons his numbers weren’t as great with a 3.43 ERA and 17 Ks in 21 innings in 2013, and a 6.14 ERA in just one start in Colorado in 2012.

Logan – Chris wasted too many words on Clayton Kershaw. Just pay up for him and play him every time. It’ll work way more often than the one or two times a year he might burn you. Otherwise, Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez are gone, and this team is now Yasiel Puig‘s. Puig is super fun to watch and is also incredibly valuable in the DFS realm. So far in his career he’s been better against right-handed pitching, posting a .207 ISO, but he’s in play against everyone. I suggest subscribing to MLB.TV if you plan on rostering Puig a lot, that way you can watch the magic unfold.

San Diego Padres

Chris – While the Padres added some nice bats like Kemp and Justin Upton, they are still a team to target with pitching due to their high strikeout rates. In 2014 they didn’t have one hitter with a K percentage of less than 21 percent. Now, they added Justin Upton (26.7 percent) and Matt Kemp (24.2 percent), whose K percentages ranked them in the top 20 of worst in the category. And if Wil Myers would have qualified, his 24.9 K percentage would have also put him inside the top 20. The Padres are going to be a great team to use right handed pitchers against with that strikeout potential and size of the park.

Logan – The Padres have a new look offense as Chris mentioned, but how will that translate to Petco Park? Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and Wil Myers are among the additions that will help bolster a lineup that is looking to contend for a playoff spot this season. Petco is notorious for being a pitcher’s park and kills the values of hitters. Therefore, don’t just hop on the bandwagon with these guys based on name alone.

San Francisco Giants

Chris – The Giants aren’t going to be a stack-friendly team in 2015. They have limited power throughout the lineup with Posey and Belt being the only two guys that should reach 20 home runs this season. And really, that lineup looks very weak overall. Playing at home or in San Diego, there’s going to be money made off this lineup. The addition of Aoki was nice, but guys like Panik, Crawford and Blanco aren’t going to scare anyone.

Logan – Chris mentioned the lack of excitement on the offensive side of the Giants spectrum, but I wanted to focus on the pitchers anyway. We all got to see the show Madison Bumgarner put on for the playoffs last season, leading the Giants to a World Series title. But, if you were playing DFS, you noticed how awesome Bumgarner was all season long. Look for him to do the same this year, while carrying a larger price tag and perhaps a little more ownership thanks to his dominance in the postseason. AT&T Park is a great place to pitch and isn’t quite so kind to hitters, so take advantage of the matchups you’re given when “Mad Bum” takes the mound.