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!
For Today’s Payoff Pitch, the six-game main slate is a difficult one at first glance, as there is a large group of mostly indistinguishable pitchers to go along with a bunch “meh” spots for offense. With such a strong group of SPs to choose from, I would recommend spreading out your exposure if you are multi-entering or playing three-max GPPs. One or two of these guys is going to put up a huge performance out of the six or so that are viable, and if you don’t have at least a piece of them, it’s going to be a short night. Watching ownership is also going to be huge here, as it’s likely that one of this group in Robbie Ray, Shane Bieber, Aaron Nola, Brad Peacock and Jose Berrios come in underowned relative to where they should be. On the other side of that, if you are stuck on one or two of these guys and firmly believe that they will outscore the others, ownership *should* be spread out enough to where you can take a stand on the guy(s) you like. Offensively, everyone will probably flock to the teams with the highest implied run totals (IRT), which are Minnesota, Arizona and Philadelphia at the time of this writing. With no offense really in a can’t-miss spot, we are going to have an opportunity to jump on some of these lower-owned stacks that really don’t have a drastic drop-off from the chalk in terms of their matchup. With such a lower-than-normal probability of an offense scoring double-digit runs, it could make sense to vary your stack allocation from the 5-3 norm on DK and the 4-4 norm on FanDuel. It may be optimal to spread exposure around and chase some home runs with a 4-2-2 format or even a 3-3-2 stack. This is more anecdotal than anything, but on nights where offense is thin, I do try to mix things up given the circumstances.
Listing out the SPs that I have interest in tonight, they are:
- Jose Berrios
- Aaron Nola
- Shane Bieber
- Robbie Ray
- Brad Peacock
- Matt Boyd
For cash games, we can immediately cross off Matt Boyd in a matchup with the Astros, and Robbie Ray because, well, he’s Robbie Ray and could walk 10 guys at a moment’s notice. These two guys have solid upside, especially Ray, as he gets to take on the Pirates. Ray has actually flashed some consistency this year, and Pittsburgh has the fourth-highest K rate against LHP (28.2%) and the league’s worst ISO (0.92). Geeze, is Robbie Ray cash viable!? Maybe we can consider him. On FD, he’s $8,800, which is a sizeable discount from Berrios. He’s actually the most expensive arm on DK tonight, so for that reason, he’s still GPP-only. It’s never a fun ride, but I think Ray could be used for cash on FD, but he’s my top tournament arm tonight by a good margin. As for Boyd, I’d consider him in very large-field GPPs only, as the matchup with Houston is arguably the worst in the league. They don’t strike out and they are red hot, but Boyd has been so good that he should at least be in the discussion. His 31.3% K rate is tops on the slate, and if Jose Altuve is out of the lineup once again, he could get a boost to his strikeout projection. That said, Altuve’s absence didn’t slow down this attack at all yesterday, and I’m only going here if Boyd is criminally under-owned.
The next group is probably best kept together, as Jose Berrios, Aaron Nola, Shane Bieber and Brad Peacock are very close in terms of raw projection. Berrios should be considered the leader in the clubhouse for cash games due to his consistency, as he’s strung together quality starts in seven of eight appearances. The Angels strikeout at the league’s lowest clip vs. righties at 15.6%, which is over 3% lower than the 29th-ranked Astros. I really want no part of Berrios in tournaments, as he is the most expensive SP on FD ($10,400) and No. 2 in terms of cost on DK ($9,400). His upside is severely limited by the contact-heavy Angels, though Berrios has always been much better in his home park of Target Field. For cash games, sure, he’s probably the safest guy out there on both sites, you can’t really argue with that. The next group of Nola, Bieber and Peacock are especially close together in terms of projection, and if I’m landing in this tier, I actually prefer Peacock due to his matchup with the lowly Tigers. Peacock has been the antithesis of consistency this season, trading off dominant outings with blowups. He is, however, coming off a 12-strikeout performance against Kansas City, and his 29.7% K% to righties and .215 wOBA allowed should play well against a heavily right-handed Detroit lineup. I love Peacock’s $8,500 price tag on both sites tonight, and he and Ray are overall my top 2 SP’s on this slate. Bieber would come in just behind these two because he is priced up just a tad, but his outlook is perhaps equally as strong. The Indians’ right-hander has yet another good matchup for strikeouts, as the White Sox whiff at the sixth-highest rate vs. righties on the year (26.1%). Bieber’s propensity to allow hard-contact and power to left-handers (46.2% for his career) gives me a slight pause, as I don’t love his run-prevention outlook in this spot. He’s priced a little awkwardly for cash-game consideration, but he’s definitely on my tournament list tonight, and a guy I’ll go overweight on if industry consensus largely ignores him. Nola certainly belongs in this group due to talent alone, but I’m going to take a hard pass against a very strong Brewers’ offense that he has to face in a hitter’s park.
Summary: For cash games, we have a difficult choice between the safety but perceived low-upside of Berrios, and the general inconsistencies of both Ray and Peacock who have flashed good recent form. Berrios is more in play on DK for me, whereas Ray and Peacock are my top-two on FD. For SP2 on DK, there’s not much to love in the cheap tier tonight, so I think you grab two of the guys mentioned here and find some value bats. If you find a significant reason to play any of these six, however, I wouldn’t blame you.
Stacks to Target
Like the pitching today, not a lot separates the top tier from the middle tier. As a result, these aren’t really “rankings” today, but rather a list of three stacks you should be targeting. It’s so tough to differentiate who the “top” play is, and we can certainly use that to our benefit in GPPs.
Diamondbacks vs. Nick Kingham
Arizona has one of the highest IRT’s on the slate (currently 5.1) and gets to face off against a young, unproven pitcher that is coming off of a rough outing. Nick Kingham has a pretty solid pedigree as a prospect but has yet to find success at the big league level. After coming out of the bullpen to begin the season, he lasted only four innings in his first start last week against the Rangers. With a 5.94 ERA in 16.2 innings, Kingham is definitely a guy we can pick, especially with the lefties here. I could go for all of these hitters 1-7, but I’ll focus most of my exposure on the sizzling Eduardo Escobar, Ketel Marte, and David Peralta. While these guys hold the platoon advantage, along with Jarrod Dyson if he leads off, don’t be afraid to throw in the home run upside of an Adam Jones or Christian Walker as well. Arizona will probably be one of the more popular stacks on this list, so be sure to diversify elsewhere or get weird with your stack construction. One way to do that may be to include SS Nick Ahmed, who will be lightly-owned but provides good pop at a weak position.
Mariners vs. Mike Fiers
It seems to go against conventional wisdom to attack a pitcher coming off a no-hitter, but that’s exactly what we should do tonight against Mike Fiers, who threw 131 pitches in that start, and, although he has an extra day of rest coming in, history has not been kind to SPs in their start after a no-no. The prevailing thought is that the number of “high-stress” pitches that a pitcher throws during a no-hit bid is substantially more than in a “normal” start, thus taking his arm longer to bounce back to full strength. Fiers ain’t no spring chicken, either, so the extra day shouldn’t scare us away. He’s traditionally been a reverse-splits pitcher with a fly ball lean, but he’s been better against righties to start 2019. I’m not worried given the small sample, and the Mariners’ strength is right-handed power. As a result, give me all the Mitch Haniger, Domingo Santana and Edwin Encarnacion, and I’ll look to fill in stacks with Jay Bruce, Daniel Vogelbach and even Ryon Healy. The best thing about the Mariners today is that recency bias should really keep their ownership low, both with Fiers throwing the no-hitter last time out and the fact that Seattle has struggled recently. I’m hopping back on this train today, and with ownership considered, they may be my favorite spot for offense.,
Phillies vs. Freddy Peralta
Freddy Peralta came in after an opener in his last appearance and pitched very well, lowering his ERA to 6.75. Still, Peralta has struggled mightily through 26.2 innings, and he has been equally susceptible to both sides of the plate. With his heavy fastball usage (closing in on 80%), we can target the good fastball hitters from the Phillies’ side. Given the friendly confines of Citizens’ Bank Park, I would prioritize home run power more than anything, which vaults guys like Andrew McCutchen, Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper to the top of the list. There’s upside to be had in J.T. Realmuto, Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera as well, especially if you want to save a few bucks. Because the “big 3” are so expensive, it’s going to be tough to have each of them as part of a stack, so I do like the idea of using two or three of these guys only if you are going the 3-2-2 route with stack construction.
Other Stacks to Consider: Astros vs. Matt Boyd (Contrarian), Indians vs. Reynaldo Lopez (cheap)
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).