With 15 games on the slate there is a lot of ground to cover so let’s get right to it. What separates the content of this article from what you’ll see on most other sites is we won’t be talking much about the obvious or popular value plays of the day, but rather the ones that make the most sense to play in tournaments. Generally these plays will be really low owned and/or have the benefit of leveraging against players that will be quite popular.
The big difference between fading and leveraging can be illustrated in a simple example. If you want to fade the Coors bats today, hoping for a low scoring game without many great individual performances, that makes sense. However, if you took things a step further and leveraged that game, you might end up with Tyler Chatwood and Johnny Cueto, the starting pitchers in that game. The idea is that in the games where Coors is very low scoring, both of those pitchers should have very good games, and neither is likely to be owned.
While I don’t think this is a terrible idea at all normally, both pitchers are just a bit too expensive for me to seriously consider doing that today. Also, pitchers need to get points from striking out hitters, and neither of the Coors teams strike out much as a collective unit.
There are a few pitchers you can use both against popular bats and other pitchers as well.
Jose Quintana vs CLE: Kluber should be one of the most popular pitchers to use today, and Quintana won’t be owned much at all. In the runouts where the White Sox get a win, Quintana will get a major boost relative to his projections, and it will mean that Kluber probably performed at a lower percentile.
Hector Santiago vs DET: Verlander is another popular ace today, and Detroit has a fairly high 4.22 run line. The Twins have a slightly below average bullpen and Santiago has decent K potential, but will often hurt you with the walk and long ball. This increases his volatility a lot but he has immense upside the times when he avoids these pitfalls.
Adam Wainwright vs MIL: Eric Thames mania has reached its breaking point, and both he and Brewers stacks will carry a lot of ownership today. If you’re not playing Thames, you may as well play Wainwright, since if the Brewers dud today he is in line for a lot of fantasy points.
Individual Hitters and Team Stacks for Leverage
Miguel Sano (3B): I do not want to stack vs. Verlander because his main weakness is the long ball and is really tough to score fantasy points off of otherwise. Therefore, the best hitter to use against him is Sano since the times Sano isn’t striking out, his chances of hitting a home run go up significantly. This is leverage explained in a nutshell.
BALTIMORE: Drew Pomeranz should be owned, and while he’s a very tough pitcher to score fantasy points off of, he is a bit more susceptible to the long ball than the league average. Basically anyone in the Orioles starting lineup is playable here, as every Orioles home run has more value in tournaments than one hit in the Coors game. The reason for this again is that no one will have Coors pitchers, but plenty will have Pomeranz, who loses at least 2.6 points for every long ball given up.
TORONTO: Alex Meyer is cheap and stands to be owned so that players can roster expensive Coors and Cubs hitters today. If we’re not playing Meyer ourselves, we need him to get shelled, and my personal preference there would be to stack the Blue Jays, primarily with Ezequiel Carrera and Kevin Pillar, both of whom are stolen base threats against the 6’9″ Meyer. He isn’t a terrific pitcher to stack power against, but he does give up a lot of walks and could get himself into big trouble quickly today.
YANKEES: This isn’t a leverage stack at all, but Ellsbury, Gardner, Torreyes, and Headley all have good stolen base prospects against the giant Tyler Glasnow, and their ownership shouldn’t be out of control high.
Nelson Cruz (OF): The Mariners have a really low run line, but Cruz has an excellent chance of hitting a home run here off Sean Manaea, who might carry some ownership today.
RAYS: Mike Fiers isn’t likely to be heavily owned, but his main weakness is the long ball, and the Rays certainly have a number of power hitters capable of getting to him. This team is likely to be overlooked with an unassuming run line, and Astros setup/long reliever Chris Devenski pitched 2 innings last night so his availability is unlikely.
REDS: The whole team is playable here as Jon Lester should carry some ownership, but the main two guys I’d look to roster are Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza, as they are the two most likely candidates to thrive on the base paths against Lester’s subpar skills at holding runners.
CARDINALS: If I’m going with Wainwright to leverage against the hot Brewers bats, I’ll want to have Cardinals hitters as well vs. Wily Peralta, who is both susceptible to the home run and stolen base. The Cardinals have a decent number of hitters who possess both skill sets, and there is a significant correlation with a Cardinals strong hitting game and a Wainwright win.
RED SOX: Dylan Bundy is a great strikeout pitcher, but he is susceptible to both the home run and stolen base. Mookie Betts, Andrew Benitendi, and Hanley Ramirez are certainly capable of doing both things, and the other hitters are fine plays as well to round out the stack.
MARLINS: This is a sneaky very good spot for Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich, JT Realmuto, and Miguel Rojas. Trevor Cahill is not a tremendously good pitcher at holding runners, and the Padres bullpen is quite bad. This is a team that’s certain to get overlooked in a west coast game and the whole team is playable.