DFS Primer – May 14

Gus Elmashni breaks down the DFS slate for Saturday.

Welcome to the Saturday edition of the DFS Primer. I hope you are enjoying the summer-like weather that has finally arrived in several parts of the country. With warmer weather comes higher scoring games, and that is exactly what we saw last night, with seven teams scoring ten or more runs. I am not sure if we see a repeat of such offense today, but I will lean on Statcast data to identify the pitchers to attack and which pitchers we can safely assume won’t get blown up.

Without further ado, here are the ways to build your DFS rosters today!

 

Pitcher

Early/Afternoon: Sean Manaea and Trevor Rogers

One of my favorite songs from the 70s is Afternoon Delight by the Starland Vocal Band, but to be honest with you, that song was truly popularized by the fictional KVWN Channel 4 team featured in the movie Anchorman. How can you not love that ballad that was unexpectedly belted out by Will Ferrell (ahem, Ron Burgundy) and his crew when describing his new relationship with Veronica Corningstone? So, where am I going with this in regards to MLB DFS? Afternoon delight is a lot more than the original premise of the song; it’s also seeing your lineups do very well early in the day! Skyrockets in flight!

Manaea and Rogers both should help us realize nice profitability with the afternoon slate. Manaea is not cheap, but he is reliable. Except for one bad start against the LA Dodgers on April 24, Manaea has had five quality starts this season, each time surpassing 6 IP, averaging at least 1 K per IP, achieving a K/BB ratio of at least 3, and giving up an average of 2 ERs per start. Meanwhile, the defending World Series champions have been an enigma at the plate. Sure, they can pop off at any time, but more often than not, they have been a mediocre offense. What helps is that Manaea’s counterpart for Atlanta is off to a terrible start, and the Padres have the bats to expose him. Even though Atlanta is favored, I can see the Padres grabbing an early lead and never looking back.

As for Rogers, he should see some positive regression. This is where Statcast is your best friend. Yes, his ERA right now is not great at 5.00, but his expected ERA is 3.92. Also, his hard hit% is low at 31.2% for pitches that exceed 95 mph, and his barrel rate is a paltry 2.5%. Meanwhile, Milwaukee has not been all that great at the plate. After blowing up the previous week by putting the smackdown on the struggling Reds, they hit a brick wall against Atlanta. Last night is also a good indication, and the Brewers have cooled off since they mustered just two runs while whiffing 14 times. Rogers is much better than his traditional stats show. He is cheap and will probably have low ownership. He is precisely the piece you need to take down a GPP.

Main/Evening: Chris Bassitt and Cristian Javier

The Mets are playing well primarily due to the strong starting pitching staff they assembled in the offseason. Max Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco, Tylor Megill, and Bassitt are all averaging at least 6 IP per start and about 1 K per IP. Each has a K/BB ratio of at least four, and the combined record for those four pitchers is 15-6. What also helps is that Citi Field is the ultimate pitcher’s park with an expansive outfield and cool temps during the early and later parts of the season.

Bassitt has benefitted greatly from his new team as he is off to a fabulous start. He gets a team today who is struggling at the plate. Seattle simply cannot put the ball in play all as often as most other teams do, and when Seattle makes contact, it’s weak contact. According to Statcast, their hard hit% is just 36.4%, which ranks in the bottom 5 in the league. Their barrel rate is in the middle of the pack at 4.9 barrels per plate appearance, as well as other metrics such as OBP and SLG. Like Manaea, Bassitt is not cheap, and he shouldn’t be since he plays for a good team with a strong win probability. You pay up for quality, and that is what you get with Bassitt.

If we are looking for some savings, then Javier is your guy. He also has a high win probability and has displayed a nice whiff rate with his slider and four-seam fastball. It also helps that he is facing a team that is 11-23 and has lost 7 of its last ten games. On the flip side, Houston is enjoying an 11-game winning streak, and Javier is well-rested, having pitched just three innings of relief five days ago. He will be in a traditional starter’s role today so expect him to give us at least six solid innings with the potential of double-digit Ks.

Stacks

Early/Afternoon: Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres

I didn’t think I would talk about the Reds being a stack to roster given how awful they have looked this season, but here we are. I am a firm believer in the hot hand fallacy, and maybe that is what the Reds are right now. Still, they are hitting the ball well, and they face a gas can pitcher in Zach Thompson. His ERA is high, as well as his allowed BA, OPS, and wOBA, especially to right-handed batters.  I would consider the following Reds hitters today: Brandon Drury, Tommy Pham, and Tyler Stephenson. You can even throw in a lefty like Colin Moran.

Another pitcher we should attack is Charlie Morton. I don’t see any positive regression from him. He really has been bad this year with a high hard-hit contact% and a propensity for generating more flyballs and groundballs. There are three Padres I would roster: Manny Machado, Jurickson Profar, and Ha-Seong Kim. All of them hit for power and have the Statcast metrics to prove it.

I would also consider a couple of one-offs. Cedric Mullins and Vladimir Guerrero have been cold, but their barrel rates are high. We should see them heat up again very soon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they each homered tonight.

Main/Evening: Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels

These two stacks are very obvious plays. No way Glenn Otto is as good as his ERA suggests. His expected ERA is at least two runs higher, and he is giving up hard contact at a very high percentage. I expect the Red Sox to pop off for at least ten runs tonight. Likewise with the Angels.

The problem with playing them on DFS is that three of their top hitters are very expensive, and we are not exactly going cheap with pitching in the main slate. Still, you can play Shohei Ohtani and grab all of the other left-handed batters for the Angels. You can then get the top bats for Boston and still squeeze in Javier as your pitcher if you are playing on FanDuel.

For DraftKings, you will need to get creative by playing a cheap mini stack. No way can you roster both Red Sox and Angels bats and play Bassitt or Javier. Sometimes we have to make tough choices which is the reason why we love the DFS puzzle!

 

Good luck today, and go get that Afternoon Delight followed by some Evening Action to cap off a superb Saturday of baseball!

 

Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)

Gus Elmashni

Gus Elmashni is a San Francisco Bay Area native and an avid fan of the NBA, NFL, and MLB. He has played fantasy sports since 1993 when a few high school friends and he would tabulate daily NBA results from the San Jose Mercury News and draft new teams every month. Gus has been with Pitcher List since April 2022 writing DFS articles and the Best Bets column. Additionally, Gus works full-time as an educator in Northern California and resides in Sacramento with his wife and two young children.

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