Thursday’s MLB card presents some interesting challenges for DFS players. Seven of the 12 games on the docket will be played during the afternoon, which could mean some very interesting lineups as managers try to work everybody in over the first couple weeks of the season. You’ll want to be sure to check for the latest lineup information before making your selections.
With the 7 + 5 format today, with seven day games and five night games, this article will be formatted a little bit different. In each section, we’ll pick at least one player from each part of the day. Most DFS players won’t play all day contests with so many early games, so it’s best to focus early and then late, once lineup data starts coming out for those night games.
Remember that our column here at BangTheBook is centered exclusively on finding value. You know who the good players are. So does everybody else. It’s those under-the-radar guys that you pair with those high-salary players that allow you to come out on top.
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The salaries listed are from DraftKings:
Here are the top teams to stack for April 14:
Colorado (early) – I’ve seen some Twitter rumblings here lately about how Coors Field takes all of the fun out of playing DFS. Obviously you have to pay a premium on players hitting in the best environment in baseball, but still. It’s easy to fill out a lineup of Coors players and then plug and play with cheaper guys at other positions. Today, Colorado is the side to focus on with Matt Cain on the mound for the Giants. Cain threw six decent innings in his opener, but he has allowed 25 HR over his last 157 innings of work, spanning three years. He doesn’t miss bats with the same frequency that he used to and we all know what happens with contact at Coors.
Minnesota (early) – Whenever the Twins have a good offensive day, they are going to let out a ton of frustration. Today could be that day. Mat Latos threw a good game in Oakland in his White Sox debut, but he only struck out two batters. The Twins have struck out a ton this season, in nearly 30 percent of their plate appearances, but Latos isn’t a high-strikeout guy. They do have a .297 BABIP thus far when balls are in play and the White Sox defense may help that number out a bit.
Texas (late) – I’ll be closely monitoring Chris Tillman over his next few starts. So far, Tillman has seen a modest uptick in his velocity and he’s relying less on his curveball, which is his worst pitch by a pretty large margin per PITCHf/x pitch values. If these are continuing developments, Tillman might not be that bad this season. This will be a good test, even if the Rangers are missing Shin-Soo Choo. With warmer temperatures, we’ll see how the Orioles pitching staff fares.
Here are the top three value hitters for April 14:
Ben Paulsen (early) ($3,600) – You already know that we’re considering a Colorado stack, but Ben Paulsen needs to be part of it. Paulsen put up some solid numbers last season in the absence of Justin Morneau and he’s going to thrive as a platoon player against RHP in this environment. In 230 PA at home against righties, Paulsen owns a .297/.357/.498 slash line. Even adjusted for the Coors Field factor, that’s 16 percent above league average.
Trayce Thompson (late) ($2,900) – Hopefully Trayce Thompson gets a lot of playing time when he has a platoon advantage. In 64 MLB PA against lefties, Thompson has a robust .344/.375/.639 slash line. It’s a small sample to be sure, but his minor league splits also show good production against southpaws. Platoon bats, particularly those that excel against lefties, are going to pop up a lot here in this article throughout the season.
Nomar Mazara (late) ($3,300) – Until pitchers adjust to Nomar Mazara, the powerful youngster has a good chance to keep producing. He’ll turn 21 next month, but Mazara displayed tremendous knowledge of the strike zone throughout the minor leagues and some has really good power. There’s a lot to like about him at the outset here when he doesn’t face guys with the ability to overpower him. Tillman is not an overpowering guy, so Mazara should get some good swings.
Here are the top three value pitchers for April 14:
Vincent Velasquez (early) ($7,300) – The Padres have a tough game today with an early first pitch to wrap up this series against the Phillies. Vincent Velasquez was terrific in his first start against the New York Mets, racking up 31.9 points on DraftKings. Velasquez has really good stuff and this Padres lineup is pretty right-handed heavy. In 115 PA vs. RHP, Velasquez has a strikeout percentage of 29.6 percent. Early games can be tough on hitters, particularly West Coasters on the East Coast, so Velasquez is a pretty easy choice today.
Ian Kennedy (late) ($8,300) – This may be a play where you hold your breath when hitting submit, but Ian Kennedy is actually a pretty good option here today. Kennedy has 388 strikeouts in his last 376 innings pitched. We know that strikeouts and innings are tremendously valuable. The home run issue can be concerning against a Houston lineup with great power, but the strikeout rate is what I’m focused on. If he gives up some dingers, we’ll just hope that they are solo shots.
Ross Stripling (late) ($6,000) – It was a pretty interesting debut for Ross Stripling, who managed to give up a run without giving up a hit. He walked four and struck out four, but nerves had a lot to do with that. Stripling was fortunate that none of the 17 balls in play went for hits, but he proved to himself that he belonged at the big league level. His minor league K rates weren’t too bad, but it’s hard to pull a lot from them because he was a Tommy John guy that missed a year of development. Scouts believe he has a four-pitch mix that rates average or better across the board, so there’s definitely some upside for a starter that can throw four pitchers at a league average level. At this price, he’s certainly worth a look.