The Payoff Pitch 5/6

The Payoff Pitch 5/6

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!

Who is Monday’s Ace?

We have another slate where arms are bountiful, and a lot of you have said you like the recent format on the Payoff Pitch of laying out specific metrics for each of the top pitchers on the slate. I’m also going to add opponent IRT (implied run total) and a color scale today for both opposition matchup and park/environment. Here’s what each represents:

  • Blue: Great matchup/Great pitcher’s park
  • Green: Good matchup/Good pitcher’s park
  • Yellow: Neutral matchup/Neutral pitcher’s park
  • Orange: Bad matchup/Bad pitcher’s park
  • Red: Terrible matchup/Terrible pitcher’s park
Pitcher K%       BB% ERA SIERA Hard-Hit % Matchup Park Opp IRT
Gerrit Cole 37.6% 8.7% 3.95 2.88 37.6% GREEN YELLOW vs. KC 2.8
Jacob deGrom 34.8% 8.5% 3.82 3.13 41.6% GREEN BLUE @ SD 3.1
Max Scherzer 32.8% 3.7% 4.08 2.76 38.1% RED RED @ MIL 3.9
Blake Snell 33.6% 7.4% 4.31 3.08 25.0% YELLOW GREEN vs. ARI 3.1


Blake Snell hasn’t quite looked himself his last two starts after a brief injury, throwing just 6.1 innings over those two appearances while allowing a total of 9 earned runs. He has to face a red-hot Diamondbacks club (though they were just in Coors) who gets the added benefit of the designated hitter in an AL Park. Snell is always in play in tournaments, but until we see him back to being dominant, I am staying away. Max Scherzer continues to battle tough luck and the long ball, and he has by far the most difficult matchup and context of the four aces tonight. Facing the Brewers in Miller Park is about as tough as it gets outside of Coors Field in the National League, and Milwaukee’s 3.9 IRT is evidence of that. Scherzer checks in ahead of Snell for me, but still profiles as a tournament-only option. If choosing between Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom tonight, the choice is pretty easy, and it has nothing to do with their respective matchups. Cole and the Astros are -275 favorites over the Royals, while deGrom and the Mets are only -110 favorites against the Padres. With the huge advantage Cole has in win probability over deGrom, he’s my choice for SP1 tonight. On FanDuel, the salary difference is negligible (Cole is $400 more), and on DraftKings, Cole is only $500 more. I’d try to find the salary to get up to Cole on both sites, but checking down to deGrom is certainly fine as well. Cole possesses the higher ceiling here against a strikeout-laden Royals lineup, while deGrom has to face a bit more power up-and-down the San Diego lineup (though Petco Park helps to mitigate that).

Can We Go Cheaper?

This doesn’t seem like a slate to mess around outside of the top-tier of pitchers, but we do have a rather formidable mid-tier to choose from. Cole Hamels gets a matchup against the Marlins, one that he has already flashed dominance in once this season. Looks like we have a decent wind blowing in at Wrigley as well, so that helps his case even more. We also have Chris Paddack and Walker Buehler to choose from in this tier, but Paddack is going against Jacob deGrom and Buehler has to square off against the Cardinals. These guys are large-field GPP options, but like I said, I’m trying to land in the upper-tier of pitchers if I can tonight.

If you’re feeling really frisky, Josh Smith is minimum salary on both sites for the Red Sox in a spot start against the Orioles. That’s about the extent of knowledge I have on this guy other than that he has decent minor league numbers and is a 31-year-old journeyman without much of a pedigree. Alex Cora believes that Smith could possibly go 4 or 5 innings. On a DK pairing with Gerrit Cole, that may be enough to get the job done.

Stack Ranks

Red Sox vs. John Means

John Means has been a popular cheap pitching option the last few weeks, but we were reminded during his last start just how mediocre he is. The Sox offense is heating up, and, after torching the White Sox over the weekend, get to take their hot bats to the friendly confines of Camden Yards in a humid environment. It’s hard to put much stock into Means’ splits with such a limited sample, but he’s been pretty dominant in the strikeout department against lefties (33.3% K rate) but allows much more contact to right-handers (20.7% K rate). As a result, we can ignore Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers tonight, and instead go overweight on Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Michael Chavis. A popular strategy is going to be paying up at pitcher and grabbing a few of these Red Sox bats with a cheaper stack, so be aware that ownership could be an issue.

Astros vs. Jakob Junis

Jakob Junis has seen a rise in his ground ball rate and a subsequent dip in his HR/9 in 2019, but this is still a guy who gave up 32 long balls in 2018. Junis’ hard-contact rate is still hovering around 40% and his strikeouts have dipped a bit from last year’s numbers. We know Houston doesn’t whiff much, so expect balls in play here. The Astros are coming back from Homerville, Mexico, where Alex Bregman and the usual suspects put on a display south of the border. The trick is going to be making them fit along with a pricy pitcher and a few of the Red Sox bats. For me, it’s an either/or type of situation between Houston and Boston. Check on ownership projections if you are stuck in the middle, and my guess is that the Astros come in much lower than the Sox.

Orioles vs. Josh Smith

This one is definitely a bit off the board and more for large-field GPPs, but the Orioles get a nice draw against an unknown pitcher in Josh Smith and potentially a couple of Boston bullpen arms. Nothing about the Orioles’ numbers against left-handed pitching suggests that we should be targeting them as a stack, but I mentioned the elite hitting environment in Baltimore tonight, and the O’s get to baseballs there, too. I like this play, especially on DraftKings, if Smith ends up becoming the chalk SP2 as a great way to gain leverage in tournaments. If you want to play it a bit safer, I also like the Cardinals against Vincent Velasquez, the Phillies against Miles Mikolas, and the Nationals against Jhoulys Chacin.

Home Run Call of the Day

J.D. Martinez vs. John Means

Can you tell I like the Red Sox tonight? J.D. Martinez’s numbers are down to start the 2019 campaign (just 4 home runs), but his peripherals look great and he has substantially lowered his strikeout rate from 22.5% in 2018 to 13.9% this year. With a career .269 ISO against southpaws (ELITE!), Martinez has a great matchup against a pitcher in John Means who served up 2 dingers to the White Sox his last time out. My bold call here is that J.D. doesn’t stop at just one, and goes yard twice in this one.

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).