It’s Friday. I’m off. So you know I’m tweaking.
I want to be better. I want the information we provide to be better. So I’m constantly thinking of ways to improve.
Today I added a few things to our pitcher formula. I’ve said a number of times already this young season, pitchers are the key to daily fantasy success. Sure, having a couple three-run homer guys on your roster is great, but predicting home runs is way more difficult than predicting pitchers. Also, a bad pitcher play can net you -15 points and a great play can net you 30. That’s a huge swing, especially at Draft Kings, where you have to start two pitchers.
Typically in cash games — 50/50s or head-to-heads where half of the field “wins” — it’s best to go with “safe” plays. In tournaments, you need to target upside at the expense of safety. You want to own a strikeout pitcher the day he avoids the gopher ball and keeps racking up Ks into the eighth inning.
So here are the modifications to the pitcher rankings:
- Added WHIP — I read an interesting article at Draft Kings by Jonathan Bales. He called WHIP a good predictive statistic. I never saw it that way before, but the way he put it makes sense.
- Added Xav — X Average is a modified version of the average rank. It adds a little more weight to wins — as predicted by Las Vegas — opponents strikeouts and park factor, which are the three of the most reliable statistics in the formula.
- UP — Upside throws all factors out the window except strikeouts, opponent strikeouts and WHIP in the belief the pitcher could be so dominant the rest of the statistics won’t matter. Essentially, he may give up a homer because of the park he’s pitching in, but those 12 strikeouts are totally worth it. I’m not sure if WHIP should stay or not. A pitcher with a poor career and/or season WHIP can have a monster game, but I feel like a pitcher with a decent WHIP may give up a solo homer or two but should be able to avoid 3-run dingers most days.
I’m going to give you three charts. This first one is the top-10 cash game (safe) pitchers, using Xav. The second is the top-10 tournament (upside) pitchers. Then I’ll give you the full rankings listed by rank average, which is what I’ve used all season so far.
Cash game pitchers for Friday, April 24
I’ll be rocking a lot of Jordan Zimmermann, Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez. No matter how I dice up these numbers they always come out near the top.
Tournament (GPP) pitchers for Friday, April 24
Jacob deGrom and Jon Lester took the biggest leaps on this list. Danny Salazar moved up quite a bit too. Still, there’s Grienke and Zimmermann in the top four again.
The one nice thing about deGrom and Lester is projected low ownership. Lester has been a disappointment to start the season and he’s pitching at Great American Ballpark. Pitching at Yankee Stadium won’t increase deGrom’s ownership either. However, both have excellent strikeout opportunity.
Starting pitcher rankings for Friday, April 24
Wandy Rodriguez isn’t listed in Draft Kings database yet, that’s why he’s got all those nines.
Despite playing at Chase Field, I really like Gerrit Cole today. He’s obviously a little risky, but he’s sixth on the regular chart and seventh on the tournament chart.
It’s also worth noting Scott Kazmir is bad on the overall chart using the metrics we’ve used all season, but in both of the modified charts he shows up as a top-3 play. We’ll need to let these new formulas marinate a bit before we know what to think about that, but I’ll probably stick Kazmir in a low-end tournament lineup.
Hitters to target for Friday, April 24
Every team is playing today and we have some pitchers in dire situations — notably Chris Heston and Eddie Butler who will pitch against each other in Colorado, where the over/under is 10. Have lots of exposure to this game. These two teams are our top stacks today.
Teams to stack
Colorado and San Francisco — Flip a coin. Heston has been slightly more effective, but Colorado’s bats are slightly more potent. Hey, if you’re playing on Draft Kings why not make one .25-cent lineup of each.
Other stacks: Angels vs. Wandy Rodriguez, Brewers vs. Carlos Martinez, Cubs vs. Mike Leake and Indians vs. Shane Greene
Low BABIP hitters
A batter with a low average on balls put in play is likely to improve. A hitter on a bit of a hot streak with a low BABIP is primed to get hotter:
OF Starling Marte, SS Brandon Crawford, C Russell Martin, SS/2B Stephen Drew, OF Leonys Martin, 1B Freddie Freeman, OF Ben Revere, 2B/3B Luis Valbuena, 1B/3B Eric Campbell, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, OF Jake Smolinski and 1B Mark Teixeira.
Martin and Freeman also have excellent wOBA averages against the opposing pitcher, making them almost must-starts for my lineups.
As always, make sure these hitters are starting before opening pitch.
Value plays you can’t ignore
Jimmy Paredes, $2,000 — He’s scored at least 10 fantasy points in three of five games this season. Until his price reflects even a platoon-level player he’s in every one of my lineups.
David DeJesus, $2,600 — Is batting leadoff for the Rays. (Lefty vs. righty matchup)
Jeff Francoeur, $2,200 — Is batting cleanup for the Phillies. (Lefty vs. righty matchup)
Odubel Herrera, $$3.200 — Is batting second for the Phillies. (Lefty vs. righty matchup)
Brandon Guyer, $3,300, and Asdrubal Cabrera, $3,300 — Guyer and Cabrera are batting second and third respectively for the Rays.
These are just from teams that submitted very early lineups. Check back before lineups lock to see if there are any other extreme values.
Good luck today and every day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: EP has been playing fantasy sports since 1996. He is among the top third of overall players at RotoGrinders.com. He won two NBA GPPs this season, his first dedicating significant time to NBA lineups, and is among the top 32% of hockey players. He’ll use the same methods in an attempt to crack an MLB tournament in 2015.