CheeseIsGood's Million Dollar Musings - MLB DFS Strategy: Monday, August 8th

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Happy Monday!

We’ve got a balanced 7-game slate with mostly good pitchers, but not great pitchers on the mound. The big decision point comes right away with what should be a chalky Blake Snell. Always exciting! We do end up with a couple of teams who stand out a bit, but then it’s mostly jumbled with the bats. Let’s jump on in and see what happens.

Monday Night Pitching

Three Up Top

Blake Snell vs Giants
Chris Bassitt vs Reds
Zac Gallen vs Pirates

Leftovers, Pivots, Salaries

Logan Gilbert vs Yankees
Jameson Taillon at Mariners
Yusei Kikuchi at Orioles
Alex Wood at Padres
Jose Suarez at A’s
Cole Irvin vs Angels
Keegan Thompson vs Nationals

To Snell Or Not To Snell?

Blake Snell vs Giants – 30.2% K, 11.8% BB, 4.16 ERA, 3.66 SIERA
Chris Bassitt vs Reds – 24.3% K, 6.6% BB, 3.61 ERA, 3.56 SIERA
Zac Gallen vs Pirates – 23.3% K, 7% BB, 3.31 ERA, 3.74 SIERA

There are so many problems here! Right out of the gate, we run into the big question – can we trust Blake Snell? He is so far ahead of the pack in strikeout rate that it leaves no question at all about who carries the highest upside on this slate. It’s Blake Snell. It also takes no digging at all to find the problem with Blake Snell chalk. He has wonky control and no consistency. Snell has just two starts in 13 tries where he hasn’t walked multiple batters, and because he wants to mess with our heads, those are his last two starts. He has allowed just one earned run or less in five of his last six starts, with the dud coming at Coors Field. So, does this make him trustable? Goodness gracious, no. Does it make him the highest projected pitcher, the highest owned pitcher and the highest upside pitcher? Yes. Again I say, there are so many problems here!

If you want to dig into the matchup with San Francisco, there are enough strikeouts here to say it helps his cause, but with Snell, it’s never about matchup. It’s about which version of Snell shows up. Here’s what I am going to tell you to kick things off, and then we’ll see if it comes to fruition as we move on. I rarely care about pitcher ownership as much as the field. Snell is the exception to that. I know with certainty that I cannot guess which version of Snell is showing up tonight. Nobody does. You cannot play the projection game with Snell. I spy a couple of more consistent skill sets in good matchups coming up next, and if Snell is the chalk, I’m prioritizing them ahead of him.

The first of those others, and the one with the potential to match Snell’s ownership is Chris Bassitt. Bassitt is much more consistent with his innings thanks to his much better control. He occasionally sees a strikeout spike, but the assumption should be that Snell wins the strikeout battle between the two. This matchup looks great for Bassitt, with every batter in the Reds lineup being either a high strikeout bat or a ground ball hitter. Personally, I prefer Bassitt ahead of Snell without much question if we assume they come at the same ownership, or with any lean to Snell.

The next pitcher with very similar skills to Bassitt and in a good matchup is Zac Gallen against the Pirates. Gallen really hasn’t been much more consistent than Snell this season, making this one more about the matchup. The Pirates are a bottom five team against righties in most offensive categories and they have just two batters with any semblance of power. With Gallen getting a steady 95-100 pitches, I’m hopeful enough that this is one of the 6-7 inning starts. Officially, I can’t rank Gallen ahead of Snell, so this will very much come down to ownership. If the projected ownership is moderately close, and I had just one lineup, I’d go Bassitt/Snell, and my second lineup would be Bassitt/Gallen.

Leftovers, Pivots, Salaries

Logan Gilbert vs Yankees – 22.7% K, 6.8% BB, 3.09 ERA, 3.89 SIERA
Jameson Taillon at Mariners – 20.8% K, 4.4% BB, 3.96 ERA, 3.85 SIERA
Yusei Kikuchi at Orioles – 25.5% K, 13% BB, 4.86 ERA, 4.32 SIERA
Alex Wood at Padres – 23.5% K, 5.8% BB, 4.42 ERA, 3.44 SIERA
Jose Suarez at A’s – 21.5% K, 10.1% BB, 4.55 ERA, 4.40 SIERA
Cole Irvin vs Angels – 17% K, 5% BB, 3.04 ERA, 4.41 SIERA
Keegan Thompson vs Nationals – 21.2% K, 7.9% BB, 3.48 ERA, 4.07 SIERA

Logan Gilbert is a very similarly skilled pitcher to Bassitt and Gallen. The very obvious problem is that he is facing the Yankees and comes at no discount. This is nothing more than deep MME pivot for me.

You could make the case that Cole Irvin is the best real-life pitcher in this group. He has outstanding control and regularly pitches deep into games, coming in with six straight quality starts. There is very little realistic strikeout upside, and the Angels don’t help as much in that department against lefties. But this is still a very good matchup for a good pitcher in a good home ballpark. I fully expect another quality start here, but at this salary, I don’t particularly care. I’ll play him ahead of Gilbert, but he’s also miles behind Bassitt and Gallen for me tonight.

Alex Wood has reached six innings just four times in 21 starts this season, and he has topped six strikeouts just three times. This is not OK. Against a very good, very low strikeout opponent, I’m out.

Jameson Taillon? Sure, but no. I do not feel the need to chase five mediocre innings against a team with enough power threat to give him downside.

That takes care of everyone who is priced above $7K on DK and above $8K on FD. I’m just playing Snell, Bassitt and Gallen and will let others goof around with the pivots.

For salary savers, we have the poor man’s Blake Snell, Yusei Kikuchi. In comparison to the rest of the cheap options, he is a high strikeout pitcher, but those strikeouts come with a scary high walk rate and a lack of inning and consistency. The strikeouts are aided by this matchup, but he still has to beat himself, and there is power risk. In addition to that, he has not topped 75 pitches since June, and while he’s slowly building back up, I see no pitch count upside. I don’t trust him, I don’t see the upside, and I’m not playing him in my first 20 lineups.

You could make the case that Jose Suarez is close enough to Kikuchi in skill set, that it’s preferred to just play the inconsistent lefty in the better matchup. His pitch count is likely capped around 90, but that is more than Kikuchi. Suarez is my favorite cheap option on FD at just $6,600, and in play on DK.

The reason I’m not more enticed by Suarez on DK is that I prefer Keegan Thompson in this range. He faces an already low power Nationals team with a bump from a strong wind blowing in at Wrigley. The consistency is not there, but he’s shown upside more than enough for me, and the skill set is favorable to Kikuchi and Suarez with the better control. Five of his last eight starts have come with 7+ strikeouts and four of them have been over 25 DK points. There are duds mixed in, and I am not suggesting that there is any level of safety here. But I am telling you that I love him in this matchup, and he’ll be my go-to SP2 and the 4th pitcher in my primary pool on DK.

PITCHING CLIFF NOTES

I am going to hem and haw about this all day with Blake Snell. He is the highest upside pitcher, and he’s looked good recently. He’s not expensive and he projects as the best pitcher on the board. It is possible that we end up with something close to a 3-way tie in projected ownership with Snell, Bassitt and Gallen, and if that’s the case, I’ll play Bassitt and Snell first, with Gallen coming in 3rd.

However, I am more expecting to see the chatter and the projected ownership sway towards Snell as the day progresses, and if that happens, I will start with Bassitt/Gallen. I am not going to dig into the second tier to pivot off Snell.

Officially, I am calling Chris Bassitt my SP1, Blake Snell SP2 and Zac Gallen SP3. It’s really not that difficult to afford two of them together on DK, which should raise the ownership on all of them. That makes me like Keegan Thompson even more as cheaper SP2. My hope is that Kikuchi and Suarez take more of the mid-tier ownership, but I’d be playing Thompson ahead of them regardless. On FD, Jose Suarez is a stand out salary if you need it, but there aren’t a lot of builds where it’s necessary to go that cheap tonight.

Monday Night Bats

There is very little to love with the bats tonight, but I see some clear dividing lines for tiers. All 14 teams are MME viable tonight, but there is a bottom tier that is very much just deep tournament leftovers for me.

Top Tier Trio

Toronto Blue Jays at Jordan Lyles
NY Mets vs Justin Dunn
Arizona Diamondbacks vs Tyler Beede

Tier Two Quintet

Baltimore Orioles vs Yusei Kikuchi
Chicago Cubs vs Anibal Sanchez
SD Padres vs Alex Wood
NY Yankees at Logan Gilbert
Seattle Mariners vs Jameson Taillon

Tier Three Leftovers

Oakland A’s vs Jose Suarez
SF Giants at Blake Snell
LA Angels at Cole Irvin
Washington Nationals at Keegan Thompson
Cincinnati Reds at Chris Bassitt
Pittsburgh Pirates at Zac Gallen

Blue Jays, Mets, D’Backs

Justin Dunn and Tyler Beede are the two pitchers who don’t really belong on this slate, or any slate. In 102 career innings, Dunn has a respectable 3.94 ERA, but that is hiding a scary bad 5.79 SIERA with a 15.5% walk rate and 49% fly balls. In seven Triple-A starts this season, he has managed just a 6.92 ERA and has walked multiple batters in six straight minor league starts. Below average strikeouts, high walks, loads of fly balls, yes please. The Mets are far and away my favorite offense on this slate, both for stacking and power hunting. Pete Alonso is my top bat on the slate, and don’t forget about the other Mets 1B with Dan Vogelbach. Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin are other targets, and I want all of Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte and Jeff McNeil in my Mets stacks. I’ll just play this team every which way in different combinations early and often.

Tyler Beede is not much better than Dunn, but this is more of a bullpen game for the Pirates. The D’Backs should only see one lefty out of the pen, so I’m fine focusing on the left-handed bats along with Christian Walker. Walker and Varsho are the primary targets here, and the guys I’ll look to as one-offs, and then I am just stacking based on positional and salary needs. It’s very similar to the Mets, where I want as much of this team as I can get, and I want various combinations of all nine batters.

Jordan Lyles is a better pitcher than Dunn and Beede, but the Blue Jays are scary matchup. It is a little better for Lyles that they are right-handed, but we’re still looking at just an 18.7% K rate with 38% fly balls and 40% hard hits to righties. At their salaries, I am not prioritizing any Toronto bats, but I’m also thrilled to play any of the top six righties if they fit in any lineup. Without regard to salary, I would rank them Guerrero, Hernandez, Chapman, Bichette, Kirk, Gurriel. But with the Guerrero salary, I am fine leaving him out of stacks. I also want to keep an eye on the lineup, and if Danny Jansen starts, he needs to be included in the plans as well.

A Tangled Mess Of Tier Two

Orioles, Padres, Yankees, Mariners, Cubs

Yusei Kikuchi is a stack-against pitcher with poor control and a .242 ISO allowed to righties with a ton of hard contact. The problem is that if he’s bad, he’ll be out of the game in a hurry. They should see mostly righties out of the bullpen, which means I want to keep Cedric Mullins in Baltimore stacks, and I am going to start with the switch hitting Adley Rutschman and Anthony Santander.

As much as Alex Wood is not doing enough to want to use him as a pitcher, he’s also not the type of guy who is great to play against. He is extremely tough on lefties and above average against righties with a slight ground ball lean and good control. My first lean here is just to use a few shares of Manny Machado and Brandon Drury on their own, and leave stacking for deep MME. This team is good enough that it’s very easy to envision a stack hitting tonight or any night, but I just can’t make it a priority here.

If I’m going to play a good offense against a good pitcher, I prefer the Yankees against Logan Gilbert. Gilbert allows more fly balls and hard contact than Wood with the same 21.5% K rate to righties. The middle of the order with Judge, Carpenter, Donaldson and Torres are one step down from Toronto for both power hunting, mini stacking and full stacking. All four of those hitters will be in my pool for primary lineups if they fit as last pieces, but I’m not going out of my way to get them either.

The Mariners are going to fall right in alongside the Padres. This lineup is good enough, and the matchup middle of the road enough that it’s certainly possible to see how they could turn into a slate winner. But compared to the top tier trio and the Yankees, it’s far enough down the list that they don’t make my primary list. I’m going to have Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker in the pool, and I’ll also throw some cheap darts at Jarred Kelenic early on, but then it’s just MME stacking.
If we had neutral weather in Wrigley, I’d be all over the Cubs against Anibal Sanchez. I still have some interest, but the Cubs are so home run dependent, that I really don’t like playing them when there is this much of a wind blowing in. I cannot get to power hunting in this spot, and as a full stack, they just barely make the list.

Do We Need Leftovers?

The top tier is good, but it’s not really some can’t miss elite slate for bats. If I’m building anything over about 20 lineups, and certainly if I get over 50, I’m going to start throwing darts.

The first of those darts will be at the A’s or the Giants. I almost love the Giants here, but there is that always present pinch-hit risk that is heightened against lefties. There may only be one or two lefties in the starting lineup, and if we see the bad Snell, there could be as many as 3-4 lineup changes by the time we reach the halfway point. If I’m stacking the Giants, which I am, I will build around Joey Bart and whichever lefties are in the lineup, and then I’ll next hope for Wilmer Flores to stay in the game.

Jose Suarez has that Snell/Kikuchi skill set to righties with some strikeout ability, but wonky control along with fly balls and hard contact. While it’s never exciting to play Oakland, they really aren’t the worst team in the world against lefties. Sean Murphy and Ramon Laureano are solid, Chad Pinder has power and then they are dirt cheap.

That is where my list stops until I get to blindfolded MME dart throwing. I will mention that the Reds and Nationals have some dirt-cheap bats that are certainly viable on DK with guys like Mike Moustakas, Jake Fraley, Nick Senzel, Victor Robles, Keibert Ruiz and Yadiel Hernandez all below $3K. This is not where I’m finding my favorite value bats, but they are here if you need them. This also looks like a reasonable slate to play the old Leverage Game! Yippee! If early ownership numbers hold, and Zac Gallen is up there with Bassitt and Snell, a Pirates stack is very much in play.

HITTING CLIFF NOTES

Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays. Gap. Yankees. Gap. Orioles, Padres, Mariners, (Cubs?). A’s/Giants.

The Mets have a clear edge as my top team today, and the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays are a step ahead of everyone else. After that, it’s very jumbled, and you might have a completely different thought than me on where to go next. My initial plan is to make sure to be well ahead of the field on Mets, and then start spreading out, mostly with different mini-stacks around the top three teams. I don’t see it as being completely necessary to full stack teams like the Yankees and Padres, and really even the Blue Jays. I’m OK to power hunt in those spots.

Favorite Individual Bats – Pete Alonso, Aaron Judge, Francisco Lindor, Vladimir Guerrero, Christian Walker, Daulton Varsho, Manny Machado, Teoscar Hernandez

Favorite Salary Savers:

DK – Ryan Mountcastle, Cavan Biggio, Chad Pinder, Jed Lowrie, Jo Adell, Joey Bart, Wil Myers, Seth Beer, Jake McCarthy, Carlos Santana

FD – Lourdes Gurriel, Alejandro Kirk, Dan Vogelbach, Wil Myers, Sean Murphy, Ramon Laureano, Alek Thomas, Christian Walker, Bryan Reynolds, Josh Donaldson, Jesse Winker

Image Credit: Imagn

This DFS content is a part of our Premium Content Schedule and designed to help you build better lineups on DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo!, SuperDraft, and other daily fantasy contest providers. Access MLB Projections, Expert Rankings, Projected Ownership, MLB DFS Picks, and other Data Tools using this content hub. For our world-class optimizer that offers a suite of tools and information designed to help you crush the competition, please head to LineupHQ!

Happy Monday!

We’ve got a balanced 7-game slate with mostly good pitchers, but not great pitchers on the mound. The big decision point comes right away with what should be a chalky Blake Snell. Always exciting! We do end up with a couple of teams who stand out a bit, but then it’s mostly jumbled with the bats. Let’s jump on in and see what happens.

Monday Night Pitching

Three Up Top

Blake Snell vs Giants
Chris Bassitt vs Reds
Zac Gallen vs Pirates

Leftovers, Pivots, Salaries

Logan Gilbert vs Yankees
Jameson Taillon at Mariners
Yusei Kikuchi at Orioles
Alex Wood at Padres
Jose Suarez at A’s
Cole Irvin vs Angels
Keegan Thompson vs Nationals

To Snell Or Not To Snell?

Blake Snell vs Giants – 30.2% K, 11.8% BB, 4.16 ERA, 3.66 SIERA
Chris Bassitt vs Reds – 24.3% K, 6.6% BB, 3.61 ERA, 3.56 SIERA
Zac Gallen vs Pirates – 23.3% K, 7% BB, 3.31 ERA, 3.74 SIERA

There are so many problems here! Right out of the gate, we run into the big question – can we trust Blake Snell? He is so far ahead of the pack in strikeout rate that it leaves no question at all about who carries the highest upside on this slate. It’s Blake Snell. It also takes no digging at all to find the problem with Blake Snell chalk. He has wonky control and no consistency. Snell has just two starts in 13 tries where he hasn’t walked multiple batters, and because he wants to mess with our heads, those are his last two starts. He has allowed just one earned run or less in five of his last six starts, with the dud coming at Coors Field. So, does this make him trustable? Goodness gracious, no. Does it make him the highest projected pitcher, the highest owned pitcher and the highest upside pitcher? Yes. Again I say, there are so many problems here!

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About the Author

  • Dave Potts (CheeseIsGood)

  • One of the preeminent baseball minds in all of fantasy, Dave Potts, aka CheeseIsGood, has won contests at the highest levels of both season-long and DFS. He is a two-time winner of a million dollar first place prize in DFS; having won the 2014 FanDuel baseball live final and following that up by taking down a DraftKings Millionare Maker Tournament in 2015. In addition, he’s won the Main Event championship in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship and the NFBC Platinum League, which is the highest buy-in entry league. His consistent success in the NFBC tournaments recently earned him a prestigious spot in their Hall of Fame. Dave can also strum a mean guitar while carrying a tune and if you’re lucky, you’ll see him do so on one of his GrindersLive appearances. Follow Dave on Twitter – @DavePotts2.

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