The purpose of The Payoff Pitch is to “zoom in” to today’s slate in order to provide a micro perspective of DFS strategies to exploit. With the plethora of content available on our site from our talented analysts, this piece will focus more on game theory and leveraging contrarian approaches to get ahead of the field. As always, feel free to hit me up on twitter (@drewcrawford7) with questions or comments, and make sure to hop in our Discord chat to pick the brains of our contributors 24/7!
If there is something that you guys want to see added to the Payoff Pitch that is currently missing, feel free to hop in chat or shoot me a message on Twitter. Feels like it is a good time to check in after a few weeks, any and all feedback is welcome! Also wanted to give everyone a heads up that this piece will be taking a break on Thursday and Friday this week, as I will be in Miami for the FanDuel FantaSea Championship!
Recapping Last Night:
Last night was yet again another strange, even bizarre night in Major League Baseball. Jacob deGrom had his long quality start streak snapped in a can’t-miss matchup, slap-hitter Tommy LaStella hit two bombs, the Rockies faced an unproven lefty in Coors and only scraped across one run, plus several other anomalies. My main GPP lineup faded the chalky deGrom in favor of Joey Lucchesi, who got absolutely bombed by the weak-hitting Giants. I loaded up a four-man stack on the A’s, and despite them scoring 13 runs, my four hitters went a combined 3-16. I also four-man stacked the Rockies in Coors, including Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, and they, of course, posted a dud. You can imagine my feelings when I realized that I faded a 50%+ owned pitcher who put up 3 FanDuel points, stacked an offense that scored 13, and still managed to have four Coors’ bats against a lefty. I thought we were gonna have another screenshot. But, my pitcher got blown to smithereens, my hitters did jack squat outside of Marcus Semien, and the Colorado hitters almost made me break this laptop. I think it’s valuable to stop and recap lineups like this and talk about the process that led me to land on these plays and this specific roster construction. It’s fun to recap the lineups that hit, but probably more valuable to analyze the ones that didn’t. Was my process good? I think so, despite the terrible result. I faded a chalky pitcher who was undoubtedly in a terrific spot and leveraged him with a much cheaper arm with a solid floor in a similarly juicy matchup. My thinking was again that the bats would outperform the arms, and I thought the Coors hitters would be slightly under-owned (I was right). If Lucchesi was able to get within 15 FanDuel points of deGrom, I felt that the hitters I was able to roster would more than make up that difference given their favorable matchups. I had Khris Davis in there and originally had Jurickson Profar as part of my Oakland stack. Davis did next-to-nothing, and Profar went off for almost 50. I also swapped off of Chad Pinder for Mark Canha, thinking the latter’s pinch-hit risk was significantly lower. Pinder balled-out, Canha, of course, didn’t do much. In the end, a question I ask myself is – “What would I do differently next time?” Honestly, I think I’d do it again. I think we saw an outlier result from all three components of my roster. It was just an outlier in the wrong direction. Lucchesi is typically very reliable, having a team score 13 and getting minimal production from their stack is ridiculously unlucky, and the Rockies’ bats in Coors are always optimal if you can make them fit. One thing I want to get across here is that I encourage each one of you to engage in similar reflective practices with your results. I have had instances this year where I looked back and questioned what the heck I was thinking, and others like last night where I had the right idea and it just didn’t quite work out. Refining your process and being able to face some of those poor decisions, really the metacognitive aspect of this whole thing, is how good DFS players become great. And of course, the best part about baseball is that it’s always on to the next….
Matchup To Target:
Thor Looking For Revenge Vs. The Twins
Noah Syndergaard is the only pitching option I feel “safe” deploying in cash games tonight. “Safe” is a caveat because we thought Jacob deGrom was safe last night, and we’ve seen this year that safety at pitcher is becoming less obvious. I do think we start to see some of these aces start to figure out their early-season woes, and Syndergaard has the same matchup that we loved for deGrom just a day ago. Recency bias will possibly lead some others astray here, and it’s possible we get lower ownership on Thor because of it. Syndergaard has posted a 28.3% strikeout rate through two starts after having a 24.1% clip in 2018. He’s pitched to a 2.67 ERA in his career at Citi Field, and the spacious confines there will certainly help his cause. Like deGrom last night, Syndergaard also gets to face the opposing pitcher, which should further boost his strikeout projection. The Twins are implied for just 2.9 runs here by Vegas, and Thor is easily the #1 spend at pitcher tonight.
Other matchups to target: James Paxton vs. the Astros, Kenta Maeda vs. the Cardinals, Colin McHugh vs. the Yankees
Favorable Game Environment:
A’s Looking To Stay Hot
After putting up 13 runs last night in Baltimore (did I mention my A’s hitters went 3-16?), Oakland checks in with a slate-high 5.8 implied run total against flyball pitcher Dan Straily. There isn’t a ton of offense to like on tonight’s slate, and getting access to four A’s hitters in this spot is certainly going to be a popular route to take. Straily’s 42.4% flyball rate played well last season in Marlins Park, but Camden Yards isn’t exactly the ideal pitching environment for someone that leans so heavily to flyballs. Straily’s 4.92 SIERA in 2018 was also buoyed by a disastrous 46.9% hard-hit rate, and again, this was in a pitcher’s park. There’s a reason Straily was unemployed until a week ago. He’s had neutral splits across his big-league career, so all of the A’s are in play here. Literally one through nine are viable, especially in tournaments, as we saw 8-9 hitters Jurickson Profar and Josh Phegley go off last night.
Other environments to target: Phillies vs. Jeremy Hellickson, Mariners vs. Heath Fillmyer, Brewers vs. Felix Pena
Diamondbacks vs. Lance Lynn
With Oakland figuring to be so popular, your secondary stack tonight is going to be the real difference-maker in GPP’s. While I like a few situations a little better, one low-owned target that I like is the Diamondbacks at home against Lance Lynn. Arizona is surprisingly tied for the NL lead with a .248 team ISO along with the Dodgers. LA leading that category shouldn’t shock anyone, but I don’t think many people realize how good this DBacks’ attack has been. Lynn really struggles with lefties, as evidenced by his career .346 wOBA allowed, so Jarrod Dyson (if leading off), David Peralta, Eduardo Escobar and Ketel Marte would be my primary targets. You can always include the red-hot Adam Jones, who has fit in nicely with his new club to the tune of a 1.090 OPS. With April weather not helping many hitting environments on this slate, the added benefit of playing indoors in Chase Field adds an extra positive to this matchup.
Other under-the-radar stacks: Royals vs. Yusei Kikuchi, Mets vs. Jake Odorizzi, Mariners vs. Heath Fillmyer (load up if they aren’t popular)
Home Run Call of the Day:
Jay Bruce, OF, Seattle Mariners
Quick, who leads the American League in home runs? No, it’s not Chris Davis, good guess. It’s actually Jay Bruce with seven. Bruce feels a little chasey to put in this spot since he’s homered now in three straight and four out of five, but you’re telling me he’s not going to go deep again tonight against “Heath Fillmyer?” If I wanted to create a player on MLB: The Show that was a horrible pitcher (also known as a “gas can”), I would literally name him “Heath Fillmyer”. With the name bias aside, Fillmyer had trouble in 2018, posting a 4.84 SIERA for the Royals with a lowly 16.6% K rate. One thing we worry about with Bruce is the potential to K, but that risk is mitigated in this matchup. Fillmyer has made one start already this season, in AAA, and allowed 6 earned runs and 11 baserunners in just four innings of work. Now he has to face a formidable Mariners’ offense? Sign me up for a few bombs, with one coming courtesy of Jay Bruce.
Others likely to leave the yard: Khris Davis vs. Dan Straily, Christian Yelich vs. Felix Pena (he failed me yesterday), Michael Conforto vs. Jake Odorizzi
Drew Crawford, AKA “Squid0308” is one of the top Daily Fantasy players in the industry and the Director of Baseball Product at The Quant Edge. He was a finalist in the 2018 FanDuel World Fantasy Football Championship (4th Place), the 2019 FanDuel World Fantasy Basketball Championship (20th Place) and the 2019 FanDuel FantaSea Championship (Held April 13th).