In this article I am going to cover mostly contrarian options on the slate, and it’s a big one with 15 games available. The first thing I like to do is look at the pitchers on the slate and see if there are any who:
- Are likely to be owned
- Have identifiable weaknesses that can be exploited via rostering hitters vs. them
- Pitch for teams with a below average bullpen
These are the pitchers I would most like to stack hitters or play one offs against, especially ones that have a specific skill set, e.g. the pitcher is susceptible to giving up home runs or stolen bases. Keep in mind that you actually gain more points in a GPP when your player hits a solo home run vs. a 40% owned pitcher, since you gain 14 points while 40% of the field loses 2.6 points from this event, which makes the HR worth something like 15 points for purposes of tournament game theory.
Pitchers To Target That Will Be Owned
Max Scherzer: While it sounds insane to target Scherzer, keep in mind that the Mets have the lowest run line on the board at 3 runs and won’t be owned whatsoever. The Nationals have one of the worst bullpens in the majors which makes this more enticing in case of the rare Scherzer meltdown. Scherzer is home run prone for an ace, and therefore I would be looking to use guys with some HR pop, which includes Michael Conforto, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker, and Travis D’Arnaud. This is a solid stack that uses 3 positionally scarce players (C, 2B, SS) and are all very likely to be owned 2% or less. If you make 40 lineups and just 2 of them include a Mets stack, you will have a big relative ownership edge over the field.
Jameson Taillon: Taillon is a tough pitcher to homer off of, but he is quite susceptible to the stolen base. Therefore, Dee Gordon makes for an excellent one off at 2B, while Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto (both modest SB threats) can be used as well. The Pirates bullpen is below average as well so you could include power bats like Stanton, Ozuna, and Bour as well.
Ian Kennedy: Another home run pitcher who is plays for a team with a fairly bad bullpen. My favorite players to use vs. Kennedy are Brian Dozier and Miguel Sano, as there is a massive drop off in HR power on the Twins after those two.
CC Sabathia: Sabathia should be home run prone today but Yankees have a really good bullpen, which makes him more of a target to use one offs or smaller stacks against. Manny Machado, Adam Jones, and Mark Trumbo, and Jonathan Schoop are good candidates to get a home run here. Chris Davis is also a sneaky good play even LvL, due to park factors.
Solid Low Owned Pitchers
The value from this group of pitchers comes from their low ownership and the fact that they play for teams with mediocre to bad bullpens, and the reason this is important is because the opposing team’s run line will look worse than it really is, and also if they pitch well, they might have more upside to go deeper into games.
Ariel Miranda ($5200): He is facing a tough offense in Cleveland which is projected at 4.9 runs, but Seattle’s bullpen is quite bad which inflates this number a bit. Given that Indians bats should be owned, Miranda gains extra equity in his better outings if he is able to shut down a number of stacks used against him.
Jacob DeGrom ($10500): There is a lot of leverage in using an ace pitcher against a slightly superior one, as if DeGrom gets the win here vs Scherzer it will likely mean that Scherzer had a poor outing and/or DeGrom had a fantastic one. Rostering DeGrom has a lot of value since he’ll allow you to fill a ton of salary at a low ownership point.
Marcus Stroman ($9100): On slates like this, there are often pitchers at specific price points that are overlooked due to clear upgrades at similar price points. Today people can roster Scherzer and Carrasco at extremely high costs, and Jeff Samardzija is available for $9000 against San Diego, a team people love to target. Stroman is $100 more expensive than Samardzija at Tampa, which is a reasonably good matchup for strikeouts, but I just don’t think people will choose Stroman very often today at this price point.
Low Leverage Stacks/One Offs
Houston Astros: With one of the top run lines on the board today, you’d think this team would be quite popular, but they still have some questionable players in Altuve and Springer, which may drive some ownership away. They’re also a home team favored to win big quite often which limits their 9th inning upside, and that drives down ownership as well. Nevertheless, they are facing Cotton, a pitcher who is susceptible to both home runs and stolen bases.
One notable thing about the Astros is that they sometimes start both Evan Gattis and Brian McCann, which creates a weird dynamic in DFS since you can only roster one catcher. If that happens again today, both Gattis and McCann should be lower owned than if just one of them were in the lineup. I recommend using either a 4-5 man stack and hoping that the Astros get to the A’s bullpen early.
Milwaukee Brewers: Weirdly enough I like them more as a stack if Eric Thames is out, since people rightfully love to play him and that drives up overall stack ownership. They are facing Bartolo Colon, a tough stolen base target, but he doesn’t walk many people and can give up some home runs here. The Braves also have a bad bullpen and Colon doesn’t pitch deep into games often, so there is late inning upside there as well. The Brewers are also at home which makes them less popular in tournaments. This stack will carry a bit of ownership with or without Thames, but it certainly won’t be chalky on such a big slate.
Los Angeles Angels: Facing Nick Martinez, a very home run/stolen base prone pitcher, the Angels (especially Mike Trout) should carry some ownership. Two players that interest me the most are Andrelton Simmons and Cameron Maybin, who are capable of stealing and being low owned components in an otherwise good stack. If you’re going to stack around a chalky bat in Trout, make sure to force in some of the lower owned bottom of the order hitters, as their value goes up tremendously when the stack itself performs well.
Mookie Betts/Andrew Benintendi: Jake Arrieta has had a ton of difficulty holding runners for a while now, and these two players both hit near the top of the order and are hands down the best stolen base threats on the Red Sox. What I like about Betts is he has HR/SB potential, and he’s $4800 today which is very expensive for such a perceived bad matchup. Rostering a guy like Betts who is capable of 1 HR/2 SB at nonexistent ownership is quite tantalizing today.