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!
I am really digging this slate tonight. There are a ton of good spots for offense, which I’ll get to in a bit on today’s The Payoff Pitch, and also some very interesting pitching matchups. There is going to be an interesting dichotomy in roster construction tonight on both sites. I think the majority of people will, at least, pay down to the mid-tier for pitching so that they can afford some of these expensive hitters in tremendous spots. With how 2019 has played out so far — offensive explosions coupled with slowish starts from ace pitchers — it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this route will be popular. On the other side, however, it will be interesting to see when lineups come out if any value stacks come into play, allowing us to target some of the top-end pitchers who are also in good spots.
The top-tier is pretty loaded today with Justin Verlander, Luis Castillo and Tyler Glasnow all in good spots. Verlander’s fly ball lean and susceptibility to the long ball gives me pause to pay this price, but the Rangers will strike out, and Vegas has their IRT at just 3.1 runs. Castillo and Glasnow are who I would prefer at the top in order to save a few bucks, with Castillo checking in as my favorite overall play. He gets to face the Giants in San Francisco (great park for pitchers), while Glasnow gets the beat-up Yankees at home at the Trop. Paying up for pitching may be a contrarian strategy tonight, as mentioned, so landing in this tier is interesting for GPPs. For cash games, I think you plug in Castillo and his 30.3% K rate against the Giants’ and their low .164 ISO against righties.
Dropping down a tier, there are a plethora of options in the $8K-9K range on DraftKings and the $7K-8K range on FanDuel. Kenta Maeda, German Marquez and Pablo Lopez are the big three from this group, and if I’m landing here, I prefer to target Marquez and Lopez at likely low ownership. Marquez has to pitch in Coors Field, but we know he has strikeout ability against righties, and the Padres’ lineup is mostly right-handed. Marquez is up to 33.5% K’s to righties, and if he is able to keep the ball in the park, he should have no problem paying off his cheap salary. That’s the issue, of course, is that keeping the ball in play in Coors is a challenge, and San Diego has some power in their lineup. Lopez looked great in two of his last three starts, tossing six shutout innings against the Braves and the Indians, sandwiched between a dud against the Phillies. Lopez has struck out at least 5 in all of his starts except the one in Philadelphia, but the Marlins don’t typically push him past 90 pitches, and the Mets’ lefties provide a challenge given his league-average K rate to that handedness. All things considered, this is my favorite group on both sites. It’s a bats > arms kind of slate for me, and there is enough upside here to make it work.
The biggest reason the middle-tier stands out to me is that there really isn’t much to love in the dirt-cheap range tonight. I tried really hard to come up with something in this range, and it’s just not there outside of a YOLO punt in a very large-field GPP. You could possibly bank on a few K’s from Homer Bailey at home vs the Phils or Dylan Covey against the Jays, but these guys are just terrible pitchers that I have no desire recommending.
Angels vs. Dan Straily
The Angels’ IRT has already jumped from 5.6 to a staggering 6.4 with a wind blowing out and a date with infamous gas can Dan Straily, who has quite literally been the worst pitcher in Major League Baseball this season. The elements and hitting context are going to do him no favors. We want the flyball power here, which makes Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, Shohei Ohtani and Tommy LaStella my top-4 from this lineup. You can certainly mix and match for salary-saving options like Albert Pujols and Brian Goodwin as well. 1-9 may be viable here, as you really cannot draw up better circumstances for an offense. The Angles are far-and-away my No. 1 stack, even with the presence of two other smash offenses tonight. We do have to monitor the weather here with thunderstorms looming, so keeping an eye on this will be absolutely paramount leading up to lock.
Rockies vs. Eric Lauer
Industry buzz early in the day is largely focusing on the Angels and the Red Sox as the top stacks for tonight’s slate, and if the Rockies are going to be overlooked here, I am going to load up in this spot against lefty Eric Lauer. We saw yesterday when the weather conditions were less than ideal (snow!), that Coors Fields’ impact often wins out regardless. The Giants and Rockies combined to put up 21 runs, and, while the weather will still be chilly tonight, the conditions will be much better than yesterday. Lauer allows 43% fly balls to right-handers compared to just 35.5% to lefties, so we, of course, want all the Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story here if we can afford them. Mark Reynolds is cheap for a Coors bat and should be in the lineup, and guys like Ian Desmond and Garrett Hampson could provide value near the bottom of the lineup. Arenado and Story are the two standouts here, however, and I would recommend trying to get at least one of them if you aren’t stacking Colorado.
Red Sox vs. Erik Swanson
It tells how loaded offense is on this slate when the Red Sox are projected for 5.8 runs and are my third-best stack of the night. Erik Swanson looked good his last time out but has struggled with consistency in his first go-round in the big leagues. Swanson has shown some reverse splits early on, striking out just 13.6% of right-handers while allowing a .392 wOBA. On the flip side, his strikeout rate to lefties is close to 20% and he has held them to just a .252 wOBA. This, of course, bodes very well for Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and, to a lesser extent, Xander Bogaerts. Hopefully, we get some value here to make the stack conceivable with guys like Steve Pearce or Eduardo Nunez. Either way, all three of the stacks mentioned here are in tremendous spots, and it’s tough to see even one of them not meeting and exceeding their lofty expectations.
Other Stacks to Consider: Blue Jays vs. Dylan Covey (value), Twins vs. Tyson Ross, Phillies vs. Homer Bailey
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).