Daily fantasy sports websites are all the rage nowadays as a form legalized sports gambling. Some people make a living off of daily fantasy sites, while others just play on them for fun. During the baseball season, we will take a look every day to try and find value for our readers in these daily fantasy contests at DraftKings and FanDuel.
It’s easy to fill in the lineup with high-priced talent and hope that it performs, but that’s not the way to win at daily fantasy sports. It’s important to take stud pitchers and find hitting value from guys with good platoon splits or low salaries and a lot of upside. There are a lot of strategies out there for daily fantasy sports, but one of the biggest ones is to stack lineups. The salaries listed are from DraftKings.
A full slate of games, including some matinee baseball for Saturday, gives us some interesting DFS decisions. A few of the league’s top #2 starters or second-tier aces are on the bump with some big price tags, so there’s value to be had, as there always is, for today’s lineups.
Here are the top lineups to stack for April 18:
St. Louis – I love Homer Bailey and I’m a big believer in him with the velocity spike from a couple seasons ago. But, Bailey is making his first MLB start of the season today against the Cardinals. While pitching with some arm trouble last season, Bailey’s strikeout rate dropped and his walk rate increased. He was more in line with his 2012 season, which was fine, but it wasn’t as good as his 2013. Bailey only threw 5.2 innings one rehab start and struggled with control. The most expensive Cardinal, Matt Carpenter, only costs $4,300, so this is a cheap way to stack against a pitcher coming back from injury.
Pittsburgh – Sticking with the NL Central theme, the Pirates take on Kyle Lohse, who has been roughed up in both of his starts this season. Only Andrew McCutchen costs a pretty penny at $5,000 for Saturday. The rest of the Pirates can be had for $4,300 or less, including Pedro Alvarez ($4,200), whose value is starting to dwindle after being priced in the $3,500 range for a while. The Pirates have struggled a little bit offensively, but Lohse could be just what an ailing offense needs.
Seattle – Colby Lewis takes the hill for the Texas Rangers and this could be a very rough outing for the right-hander. Seattle has a lefty-heavy lineup, plus Nelson Cruz, who is mashing everything in sight. In 2127 plate appearances against lefties, Lewis has allowed a .282/.356/.473 slash line and a .361 wOBA. To put that into context, lefties collectively hit at a level similar to Evan Longoria, Freddie Freeman, or Edwin Encarnacion against Lewis. No Mariner is priced north of $4,500.
Here are the top value hitters for April 18:
Oswaldo Arcia ($4,000) – Dead-red hitter Oswaldo Arcia should have a favorable matchup against Danny Salazar on Saturday afternoon. Salazar had major problems with his fastball command in Spring Training and that was one of the main contributing factors to his demotion to Triple-A. Arcia is off to a slow start, but he’s walking more and being more selective. Plus, there’s some big power potential in that bat. He hit 17 home runs in 268 PA against RHP last season.
Seth Smith ($3,900) – As mentioned above, Colby Lewis struggles with lefties in a big way. Seth Smith is the prototypical MLB platoon bat, with a lot of production against LHP. If you don’t want to stack the Mariners, at least consider Smith in your lineups against Lewis. Smith has been hitting second when he’s been in the lineup, so he should get five plate appearances if the game works out as I expect. That means a good chance of racking up some points.
Devon Travis ($3,300) – It seems like Devon Travis could be included here every single day. The Toronto rookie second baseman went deep and drove in a couple of runs at the top of the Toronto order. With Jose Reyes on the DL, Travis is going to bat leadoff in front of Russell Martin, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson. It’s tough to find a guy with more potential to score runs than Travis. It doesn’t hurt that he’s hitting .375 to start the season. Pitchers will adjust, but they haven’t yet.
Here are the top value pitchers for April 18:
Phil Hughes ($7,900) – Might as well go against the Indians until they start hitting. The Indians were baffled by punching bag Mike Pelfrey and the Twins bullpen on Friday night to waste another good Corey Kluber start. Right now, the only thing the Indians really have is the ability to walk and pop an occasional solo home run. Hughes doesn’t issue many walks. I would safely pencil Hughes in for seven innings with around a K per inning and maybe a win.
Jake Odorizzi ($7,600) – Believe in Odorizzi. He has one of the game’s top changeups to help neutralize left-handed batters and his fastball command seems to be improving. Odorizzi is forcing hitters to put the ball in play and that’s a good thing against this Yankees lineup. The only way the Yankees can really hurt you is to draw a couple walks and hit a bomb. They aren’t going to put together sustained innings and Odorizzi should succeed on Saturday.
Felix Hernandez ($11,200) – Yeah, the most expensive pitcher on the board is also one of the most valuable. Some of the second-tier aces have tough draws today, but Felix is not one of them. He should be dominant at home against the Rangers in this start on Saturday night. A day after Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer combined for 62.6 points, sometimes you come to the realization that you simply have to pay up for the top arms. This is one of those situations. There’s other hitting value out there.