May the Fourth, Star Wars day, is a geek holiday.
With the new movie, “The Force Awakens,” coming out this year and the return of a beloved Star Wars video game franchise, Battlefront, expect to be inundated with lightsabers, use-the-force jokes and endless snark about Jar-Jar and Midi-chlorians today.
In daily fantasy baseball it sometimes feels like even if you were Darth Vader and you could explode a baseball with your mind you couldn’t get on the winning side of things.
It happens to all of us, especially when we’re playing to win a tournament. I’ve had some success over the last week or so. Not life-changing, but I’ve doubled my meager bankroll using the same methods I used to create today’s lists.
I’ll be your Jedi Master (or Sith Lord) for today. Let’s get to those pitcher rankings.
Anyone who’s been reading since the season popped off — hello, yes, you’re the only one — knows I dropped the full pitcher rankings a few days ago in an attempt to be better at the pitchers I do rank.
Starting pitchers to consider for Monday, May 4
1. Clayton Kershaw, $12,000 — That’s quite a price to pay. And Kershaw has allowed batters in the Milwaukee lineup to bat .283 against him in his career. However, he also has 30 strikeouts to only 4 walks against them.
2. Tyson Ross, $9,100 — Where I can’t afford Kershaw, or where he’s not available (late games) I’m dialing in Ross. It’s odd because Ross’s opponent, Madison Bumgarner has one of the lowest money lines of the day, indicating Las Vegas thinks the Giants win easily. Ross, however, is second on my strikeout chart and has favorable lefty/right and home/away splits. His WHIP, 1.63, also indicates a positive correction to his career number of 1.34.
3. Jordan Zimmermann, $8,800 — Zimmerman is low on my strikeout chart, but still on the chart which puts him in play. He’s also the third-most favored to win today by Las Vegas and has some interesting statistics against the bats in the Miami lineup, namely 26 strikeouts to 7 walks in 139 ABs.
4. Felix Hernandez, $12,200 — As I was doing my chart more and more statistics fell in Hernandez favor. He’s expected to win, pitch deep and have a good lefty/righty matchup. His numbers against the Angels batters are ridiculous: .181 batting average and 78 strikeouts to 18 walks. The only glaring negative is an unsustainable 0.81 WHIP. But his career WHIP is 1.16, which is elite.
5. Clay Buchholz, $6,800 — Buchholz doesn’t have a great lefty/right matchup based on weighted on-base average, but he has been pretty stingy against batters in the Rays’ lineup, striking out twice as many as he’s walked (30:15) and allowing a .208 batting average.
6. David Phelps, $4,900, and Jesse Hahn, $6,000 — This is the part where I normally give you a pitcher priced in the same range as a star outfielder. The hope is that this pitcher can far outperform his price or at least give you 10 points so you can spend an extra $4,000-$7,000 on hitters. The last three days, I suggested Severino Gonzalez, Jorge de la Rosa, Carlos Frias and Chris Young. Each one of those pitchers produced at least 17.7 points and Young went nuts for 31.45 points. If you had played Frias and Young on the same team, you would have got 50.45 fantasy points for just $9,100. I say all that not just to give myself a little recognition, but to tell you I think the Force is not quite as strong with today’s bargain basement options. If you’re going to go with one, make it Phelps. He faces Washington — yes, that means Bryce Harper. But it also means there’s a chance he could visit strikeout city because the Nationals have been swinging and missing like Luke Skywalker getting pummeled by pieces of Cloud City. He also has favorable lefty/righty and home/away splits based on wOBA. His WHIP indicates a regression is on the way, from his current 1.18 to his career 1.34. That 1.34 isn’t elite by any stretch, but it indicates a pitcher who should be worth more than $4,900.
Other pitchers to consider: Dallas Keuchel vs. Texas, Carlos Martinez vs. Chicago Cubs, and Madison Bumgarner vs. San Diego
Hitters to stack
I’m all over the place with the metrics I’m using to determine stacks. Yesterday felt pretty good — all those lefty/righty matchups made it easy.
Today I’m looking to Vegas and batter vs. pitcher matchups because they point to some pretty good opportunities.
St. Louis vs. Travis Wood — This one is an easy top choice. Cardinals hitters have 209 at-bats against Wood. They’ve amassed 11 homers, 45 RBIs and a .345 batting average against him. My favorite targets: C Yadier Molina and OF Matt Holliday
Toronto vs. Chase Whitley — The Yankees-Blue Jays game has the second-highest over/under of the day at 9 runs and the Blue Jays are favored to win. Top picks: 3B Josh Donaldson, OF Jose Bautista, 2B Devon Travis. I didn’t see anything that made me want to start Dalton Pompey, but for some reason I want to type his name here.
Minnesota vs. Jesse Hahn — Remember how I said Hahn was risky play a few paragraphs ago. Here you go. There are only 17 at-bats between Hahn and these batters, but in those at-bats he gave up two doubles, a homer and walked four to only two strikeouts.
San Diego vs. Madison Bumgarner — What? Targeting a stud with one of the highest win probabilities of the day? Yep. Targeting a stud is an interesting strategy because almost nobody else is going to have that lineup. If you hit you win going away. Every pitcher has an off game or two — even elite pitchers. Padres batters have hit .302 with five homers in 129 at-bats against Bumgarner. The one downside to this play is that the SD-SF title has the lowest projected run total with an over/under of 6.5.
Milwaukee vs. Clayton Kershaw — Madness, yes, but read the first part of that SD vs. MadBum blurb then come back here. Now, here’s what else we have: Ryan Braun is due for a major correction based on his batting average on balls in play. The Brewers are playing their first game for new manager Craig Counsell, who replaced Ron Roenicke, who was relieved of his duties Sunday night. The game is in Miller Park, home of 1.385 home runs per game, the fourth-most in MLB. Carlos Gomez has scored 10 or more fantasy points in four of his last five games and has a career .353 average and 1.068 OPS against Kershaw. This is no lock by any stretch of the imagination, all I’m saying, Lloyd, is there’s a chance.
Other hitters to consider
Hitters with a lower BABIP in the last two week than they’ve had over the last two years (due for a major positive regression): OF Ryan Braun, SS Hanley Ramirez, 2B/3B Justin Turner, OF Wil Myers, C Evan Gattis, OF Mike Trout, 1B David Ortiz, OF Andre Ethier, Of George Springer, C/1B Buster Posey, 3B Josh Donaldson.
Here are the players I plan to build most of my lineups around: Trout, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, Gattis, OF Matt Holliday, Posey, Turner, Ramirez, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, OF Jake Smolinski, and C Yadier Molina.
Also consider these players if they fit in your lineups better: OF Justin Upton, OF Giancarlo Stanton (dude has three-homers against everybody, including Jordan Zimmermann), SS Asdrubal Cabrera, OF Carlos Gonzalez, C Derek Norris, OF Carlos Gomez.
Good luck today and every day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: EP has been flailing about at fantasy sports since 1996, when he made Barry Sanders his first ever draft pick. He is among the top third of overall daily fantasy players at Rotogrinders.com. He won two NBA tournaments this season, his first concentrating on building NBA lineups. He’ll use the same methods to try to crack an MLB tourney in 2015.