By Dave Del Grande
TIP OF THE DAY
Have a plan. Then have a second one.
Tuesday is a fascinating day to play daily fantasy baseball.
It starts with a virtual All-Star team of pitching options, headed by Chris Sale (FantasyAces $7,900), Cole Hamels (FantasyAces $7,850), Gerrit Cole (FantasyAces $7,750), Sonny Gray (FantasyAces $7,650) and Dallas Keuchel (FantasyAces $7,000).
And includes more potential offensive fireworks than your average Rockies home game, with the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Yankees, Diamondbacks, Astros, Mariners, Cubs, Braves, Pirates, Phillies and Orioles drawing favorable matchups.
So what’s a daily fantasy lineup-builder to do?
Here’s my philosophy: When there’s an abundance of hitting options, don’t hesitate to spend freely on pitchers.
Think about it: A high number of attractive offensive matchups means you’re bound to encounter a handful of bargains. I mean, why splurge on Jose Bautista (FantasyAces $5,650) when teammate Danny Valencia (FantasyAces $4,500) has a chance to put up comparable numbers for $1,150 less?
That said, just because the door is thrown open to buying a high-priced pitching combination doesn’t mean you have to do it. I don’t like the Sale, Cole and Keuchel matchups, and Hamels pitches for the Phillies, which is always a concern.
So, while I’m open to spending big on pitchers Tuesday night, I’m not going to force it. One guy does stand out — Gray and his .504 OPS against right-handers versus all that Rocky righty power — but my second choice will be one of the day’s best bargains (see below).
Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays (FantasyAces $5,650).
I’m no hitting instructor, but even I can diagnose the cause of the Blue Jays’ recent offensive woes:
They haven’t faced a left-handed starter since June 17, when they bombed the Mets’ Jonathon Niese in an 8-0 win.
If it seems like opponents have been avoiding throwing lefties against the Blue Jays, it’s with good reason. They destroy the poor guys.
Alas, the Red Sox are throwing lefty Eduardo Rodriguez into the fire — at Toronto, no less — on Tuesday night. His 5.53 June ERA isn’t good even under ideal circumstances.
Then there’s that June 14 matchup with the Blue Jays in Boston. Rodriguez is still dizzy, having gotten roughed up for nine runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The aforementioned Bautista and Valencia are in play, as are designated hitter Chris Colabello (FantasyAces $4,900), catcher Russell Martin (FantasyAces $5,300) and second baseman Devon Travis (FantasyAces $4,600).
Pick two. Three. Four. Just make sure Donaldson, who has seven hits in his last five games, a 1.141 OPS against lefties and a 1.067 OPS at home, is one of them.
Chris Sale, P, White Sox, (FantasyAces $7,900).
It’s always nice when you can throw out the highest-priced guy on the ticket, and that’s the case Tuesday night.
Nothing against Sale. He’s been money in the daily fantasy game. But he’s got three strikes against him Tuesday night.
He still pitches for the White Sox, which minimizes his chances of getting that three-point bonus for a win on FantasyAces. Strike 1.
He’s up against arguably the best team in baseball, the Cardinals, on the road. Strike 2.
And his pitching counterpart, Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn (FantasyAces $6,650), is a tough nut to crack.
In fact, if not for the fact he’s up against Sale, you could argue Lynn would be the best pitching option going Tuesday. He’s throwing well (0.96 ERA in June), the White Sox don’t hit anybody (25th-best OPS against right-handed pitchers) and Lynn has a nice history against them, having allowed just a .219 average in 36 career at-bats facing current members of the White Sox.
Alas, Sale scares me. But so do the Cardinals.
Mariners hitters vs. Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy.
In matchups featuring 10 or more at-bats, Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison (FantasyAces $4,350) has the highest OPS (1.552) against Tuesday’s pitching opponent. He’s gone 4-for-11 with a triple and two home runs against Kennedy in his career.
Here’s my hesitation with Morrison. Five of his teammates — outfielders Seth Smith (1.059) and Mark Trumbo (1.000), third baseman Kyle Seager (1.667), shortstop Brad Miller (3.000) and catcher Mike Zunino (1.000) — also have great track records against Kennedy, who is the only pitcher going Tuesday who has season OPS numbers over .800 against both lefties (.845) and righties (.875).
I’m not crazy enough to stack Mariners in any matchup. But these numbers are so good, I have to have some interest in this game.
OK, I’ll stick with Morrison. I like the price.
TODAY’S STACK PACK
Dodgers left-handed hitters vs. Diamondbacks righty Rubby De La Rosa.
Such is the overkill of offensive options Tuesday that I am not citing Blue Jays or Mariners here (see above).
Those rate merely as “A” matchups. This one is an “A-plus.”
The Dodgers are the second-best hitting team against right-handed pitchers (.783 OPS) and De La Rosa doesn’t get lefties out (.908 OPS). It’s really that simple.
Outfielder Andre Ethier (FantasyAces $4,800) and catcher Yasmani Grandal (FantasyAces $4,900) are a nice lefty-lefty stack low enough in the order so that when they get on base, there’s a chance outfielder Joc Pederson (FantasyAces $5,250) will get an inordinate number of RBI opportunities out of the leadoff spot.
The Dodgers lost a 10-6 slugfest at hitter-friendly Chase Field in Arizona on Monday night. I expect them to be on the double-digit scoring end in the rematch.
Jose Pirela, 2B, Yankees (FantasyAces $3,300).
I got you two hits, a run, an RBI and a stolen base out of my $3,750 second baseman (Cesar Hernandez) on Monday night. I expect as much at an even lesser price from Pirela on Tuesday.
The key here isn’t necessarily Pirela, but the guy he’s facing, Angels lefty Andrew Heaney.
The Yankees, who own the sixth-best OPS (.752) against left-handers, should feast on the 24-year-old, who compiled a 5.83 ERA with Miami last season. On a lesser day, they’d qualify in the Stack Pack category.
And, yes, while outfielder Chris Young (FantasyAces $3,900) and designated hitter Alex Rodriguez (FantasyAces $4,950) must also be strongly considered in this matchup, I’m shopping to counterbalance the price tag on Sonny Gray (FantasyAces $7,650) with a bottom-of-the-charts guy like Pirela.
His .785 OPS against left-handers surely warrants more than a $3,300 price in this matchup.
When we last saw Rays right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (FantasyAces $5,100), he was limping off the mound in Cleveland with a groin injury.
Too bad, because he had a nice game going (three shutout innings with three strikeouts) against the Indians.
Ten days later, Ramirez says he feels fine, and with good reason. The Indians are in Florida for a rematch.
Ramirez has been surprisingly good all season, as his 6-2 record would indicate. Two reasons for his success: a 1.03 WHIP at home and a .553 OPS against left-handed hitters.
The Rays have established no pitch limit on Ramirez in his first outing since the injury. That’s only part of the good news.
Even better, his $5,100 price, the second-lowest among Tuesday’s starting pitchers, remains a shockingly good value.
Who needs Chris Sale when you’ve got Erasmo Ramirez?
Want to play more than one first baseman in your lineup? FantasyAces allows you to use more than one player per position! Check out the Scoring tab located on the Gameplay Basics page for more information about our DFS MLB rosters & scoring.
About Mr. Fantasy
Dave Del Grande didn’t invent fantasy sports–it only seems that way. Dave was the first to have a weekly column devoted entirely to fantasy sports published in a daily newspaper, The Oakland Tribune, the birthplace of fantasy football. He also was the first to have a fantasy-sports column syndicated nationally by Universal Press. He authored the original “Ask Mr. Fantasy” column for ESPN.com and also helped launch the highly successful fantasy endeavors of USA Today Sports Weekly and NFL.com. In the meantime, Dave was an award-winning NBA basketball reporter, covering the Golden State Warriors, and continues to cover the Warriors and San Francisco Giants for The Sports Xchange.
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