CheeseIsGood's Million Dollar Musings - MLB DFS Strategy: Saturday, July 2nd

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Happy Saturday everyone! Cards is off this weekend, presumably to start partying early for the birthday of America. The real-life baseball schedule is a bit all over the place today, with a couple double-headers starting early in the day, stretching all the way until after my bedtime out West. For DFS, we focus in on the late afternoon, with a 9-game slate starting at 4:05pm ET. I might also toss in a couple notes about the 5-game DK slate that starts at 6:07pm.

We’ve got a bunch of shaky weather today as well, but fortunately none of it is in games where there are pitchers to worry about. As of now, I don’t see anything that I’m planning to fade.

Saturday Afternoon On The Mound

There is a lot of good pitching, but with nothing so elite as to make it obvious where to start.

Four Something Like Aces

Dylan Cease at Giants – 35.5% K, 10.9% BB, 2.56 ERA, 3.00 SIERA
Logan Webb vs White Sox – 21.9% K, 5.9% BB, 3.04 ERA, 3.42 SIERA
Tyler Mahle vs Braves – 26.1% K, 8.6% BB, 4.53 ERA, 3.77 SIERA
Spencer Strider at Reds – 36.2% K, 10.1% BB, 3.02 ERA, 2.67 SIERA

We have two of the highest strikeout rates in the league with Spencer Strider and Dylan Cease on this slate, who also come with sketchy control. Strider’s pitch count is still a bit of a mystery, but we have seen 95+ in two of his last three starts, so I’m treating him as if the gloves are off. Cease has no pitch count concerns, hitting 100+ in six straight starts, and with him it’s all about the walks. We’ve seen him improve in the last three starts, and his last two outings have been absolutely elite ace stuff. While I don’t think he’s reached the level where we can call him ‘safe’, the upside is so extreme that he’s my clear SP1 on this slate. The matchup is tough enough that I will start spreading out past him early in my builds.

I’m still a little hesitant on Strider, but given that strikeout rate, he looks a little too cheap here, at least for the upside and he’s a strong SP2 in tournaments. Tyler Mahle is another upside pitcher in a matchup that adds to both the upside and the risk. He’s on the fringes of the pool on FD, but on DK, I love the idea of pairing either one of Strider or Mahle with Cease. With all the risk in that homer friendly ballpark, I will split up my Mahle/Strider exposure.

I have more confidence in the skill set and innings for Logan Webb than I do for either Strider or Mahle, and his strikeouts have recently come up to the level that we saw last season when he was a 26% strikeout pitcher with great control and ground balls. I’m hemming and hawing here because I really like all four of these pitchers, and it’s not going to be that tough to get two of them on DK. I land on trusting the overall skill set of Webb a little more than Mahle and Strider, so he’ll be my official first stop for an SP2

Overall, you could mix and match this group in different ways, but I’ll be going with Cease, then Webb, Strider then Mahle.

Something Pink Re-Appears In The Mid-Tier

George Kirby vs A’s – 21.8% K, 3.1% BB, 4.08 ERA, 3.58 SIERA
Martin Perez at Mets – 20.2% K, 6% BB, 2.22 ERA, 3.83 SIERA
Patrick Sandoval at Astros – 22.8% K, 10.5% BB, 2.63 ERA, 4.22 SIERA
Kyle Gibson vs Cardinals – 20.2% K, 6.8% BB, 4.48 ERA, 3.95 SIERA
Paul Blackburn at Mariners – 18.6% K, 6.3% BB, 3.12 ERA, 3.97 SIERA
Jose Urquidy vs Angels – 17% K, 4.9% BB, 4.36 ERA, 4.44 SIERA

Fortunately, we have enough options on this slate that you are under no obligation to run back George Kirby if he burned you in his last start as he did to me. However, one bad start does not change my opinion of him, and I’m still fully on board here. But the primary reason I was so invested in his last start was due to the lack of other options on the slate, so it’s not anything near a lock button play. Today, he has a better matchup than any of the other top pitchers, and he comes at a small discount. We’ve seen enough to know he’s not going to beat himself, and I am not concerned about Oakland giving him the same home run issues he saw last week. A guy who throws this many strikes will allow some power, but it’s more than made up for with his elite control. He is my preferred SP2 if not going with two of the top four. The decision point looks like Kirby vs Strider. Strider has more upside, but despite last game, Kirby looks safer. The first lineup I build without Cease/Webb will have Kirby in it.

Jose Urquidy is the next guy in line after Kirby. He’s a very similar pitcher with less strikeout ability, but similar great control and always a bit at the mercy of HR/FB. This matchup is good for strikeouts, dangerous for power, and that leaves him behind Kirby, but the other pitcher in this tier who will be in my primary pool.

Kyle Gibson is of similar skills to Kirby, but he’s got a tougher matchup, and I don’t care for it. Paul Blackburn is real-life good, but the strikeouts keep dropping, so I’m out here as well. The pricing on my top pitchers compared to Martin Perez and Patrick Sandoval leaves me with no interest in them in these matchups.

I wouldn’t yell at you for playing anyone in this tier, but for me, it’s only Kirby and Urquidy.

Cheap Nonsense

Kris Bubic at Tigers
Trevor Williams vs Rangers
Daniel Castano at Nationals
Jackson Tetreault vs Marlins
Bryse Wilson vs Brewers

Kris Bubic and Trevor Williams are just barely maybe sort of viable here. Williams is a completely average pitcher, but he’s been bounced around and has been pitching in shorter spurts and more out of the bullpen the past month. He potentially has 80 pitches in him, but even that may be a high projection. I just can’t go here with such limited ceiling. Kris Bubic is just not very good with a 17.9% K rate and 12.5% walks. This is just about him being cheap and facing the Tigers. Detroit isn’t quite as nonsensically horrendous against lefties, and I would only land here if completely necessary, which it shouldn’t be.

This rest of this group is just too nonsensical for this slate, given how reasonably priced the better options are. Jackson Tetreault has back-to-back quality starts, but we’re looking at an obscene 10.7% strikeout rate with just 7.8% swinging strikes. I just can’t entertain that for a second on this slate.

PITCHING CLIFF NOTES

I end up with a six-pitcher pool today. In looking at the pricing, my primary takeaway is that there shouldn’t be any need to mess around with cheap nonsense. The top pitchers are close enough that I am more concerned with who I’m not playing, rather than who I am playing.

Officially, I put Dylan Cease at the top of the list, followed closely by Logan Webb. Both Spencer Strider and Tyler Mahle have slate winning upside, but a little more risk. I’m going to hope that George Kirby gets an ownership discount following the bad game, and I’ll use him as much as any of those top four. Jose Urquidy is a bit of a leftover, but I do consider him completely viable in any format on either site.

Saturday Bats

We have a strange situation with bats today, as most of the weakest pitchers on this slate are facing weaker offenses. This will leave me playing plenty of offenses against better pitchers early on in my builds, but I still want to start with playing against the most beatable pitchers. This is what ends up as the bizarre looking top tier:

Milwaukee Brewers at Bryse Wilson
Miami Marlins at Jackson Tetreault
Washington Nationals vs Daniel Castano
Texas Rangers at Trevor Williams
KC Royals at Beau Brieske
Detroit Tigers vs Kris Bubic

The Brewers are the only team here that look like something worth getting excited about. They had another big game last night, and are one of the league’s better ranking offenses against right-handed pitching. Bryse Wilson is not good against righties, and he’s terrible against lefties. I’m happy targeting Rowdy Tellez as one of the top bats on this slate and they are my top stack by a fairly wide margin.

All of these teams fall much more into stacking territory for me, but there are a couple other bats we could pull out as one offs. Bobby Witt stands out against reverse splits Beau Brieske and Corey Seager against the low strikeouts of Williams against lefties.

Overall, this is all just kind of OK enough where after Milwaukee, I’m going to just be tossing darts at these stacks, and filling in with high upside one offs around them.

Better Bats, Better Pitchers

Mike Trout (Shohei Ohtani) at Jose Urquidy – Urquidy is a low strikeout pitcher who has shown big enough reverse splits to favor Trout over Ohtani, but both are strongly in play here.

Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve vs Patrick Sandoval – Sandoval has a slight ground ball lean and average strikeout ability, but in the context of this slate, he’s one of the more attackable pitchers.

Rhys Hoskins and Nick Castellanos vs Matthew Liberatore – We’ve seen almost nothing from Liberatore, but the little bit we’ve seen along with the minor league numbers imply big power issues against righties.

Cardinals stack (Gorman/Donovan?) at Kyle Gibson – Gibson is just good enough that I can’t really prioritize anything here, but just not good enough to want to avoid a team with this much talent in this ballpark.

Pete Alonso vs Martin Perez

Power Bats in Cincinnati – There is a lot of strikeout risk on both sides of this game which has stack-killing potential, but we are very likely to see some home runs. I’m interested in a Braves stack getting into the Reds bullpen, but my first lean is just one-off power, led by Matt Olson and Ronald Acuna. On the Reds side, Joey Votto is the only bat that sort of makes the primary list.

Mariners, A’s, Tigers, Pirates? Eh, at some point in 20+ lineups I’d get to a Mariners stack, otherwise this is just MME nonsense.

HITTING CLIFF NOTES

This is really a bizarre slate, and I’m not extremely confident in which angle to attack first. I generally side with playing bats against the weaker pitchers first, but the talent is so much better elsewhere, that I’m going to start building my lineups with high end power bats first, and then see what stacks fit in around them. All those teams like the Marlins, Nationals, Rangers, Royals and Tigers are playable and stackable, but I would rather just end up there based on salary and positional needs rather than going out of my way to stack any of them.

This means that my top tier ends up being individual bats and mini-stacks:

Ronald Acuna and Matt Olson (all Braves in play), Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, Rhys Hoskins and Nick Castellanos, Rowdy Tellez and Christian Yelich, Bobby Witt, Corey Seager, Pete Alonso

If you prefer to build a stack first and then fill in around it, this is how I have them ranked – Brewers, Braves, Phillies, Royals, Marlins, Nationals, Cardinals, Astros, Tigers, Mets, Rangers, Reds

FD has so many top bats right around $3k that salary ends up as a non-issue again. On DK, you might need to plug in a couple punt bats to make things work. Some of my favorites:

Alec Bohm, Lars Nootbaar, Luis Urias, Kolten Wong, Andrew McCutchen, Maikel Franco, Jesus Aguilar, Jake Meyers, Vinnie Pasquantino, Hunter Dozier

DK Evening Slate Cliff-Ish Notes

The pitching choices are thin on this 5-game slate tonight. Yu Darvish and Tyler Anderson square off in LA, while Nestor Cortes gets the ball for the second game of a doubleheader. Overall, it’s a close call between Darvish and Cortes, as Cortes has seen his strikeouts tailing off while Darvish has picked up steam as the season moves on. Darvish is piling up innings with outstanding control, but this is not a good matchup for either safety or upside for a right-handed pitcher. Cleveland is a lower strikeout lineup than the Dodgers, but there is also virtually no power outside of Ramirez, ranking 29th in the league in ISO against lefties. I would call Darvish the better pitcher right now, but at basically the same salary, I much prefer just siding with Cortes to avoid the Dodgers.

The bigger question is whether to just go Cortes/Darvish or to mess around with the cheaper nonsense. Tyler Anderson is fine and has pitched extremely well most of this season, but I just can’t get excited about paying $9,000 for him. It’s a weak enough slate that he’ll remain in the pool.

I’m much more on board with saving $1,400 and going with Josh Winckowski against the Cubs. So far, it doesn’t look like he’s going to be able to replicate his 26% K ability from the minors, but he’s kept the ground balls up and at least has some potential to bring the strikeouts up a tad. The bottom line here is that there is no reason to love Winckowski, but the rest of the options are just ridiculous.

The one cheap nonsense dart that I am considering is Thomas Hatch in the second game of the doubleheader in Toronto. Tampa is a very high strikeout lineup against righties, and we can hope to see a somewhat watered-down lineup on top of it. Hatch only has 35 major league innings scattered over the past three season, and they have been nothing special. This is basically an average-ish Triple-A pitcher who wouldn’t be even moderately viable on most slates. But this is not most slates, and I’d be thrilled to get 8-10 points for $5,200.

The big picture with pitcher is that I might end up all-in on Nestor Cortes, and then I’m splitting up at SP2 in this order – Josh Winckowski, Yu Darvish, Thomas Hatch, Tyler Anderson.

The bats are far more exciting, kicked off with the ghost of Dallas Keuchel going into Coors Field. The Rockies are the high total offense of the night, and I can’t make any case to rank anyone ahead of them. Keuchel has not even been at his usual ground ball ability this season, leaving him as a nonsense low strikeout pitcher with bad control. C.J. Cron is the top bat here, and the way I’m playing this is to mostly avoid one offs outside of Cron just in case Keuchel gets the ground balls back. But the most likely case is a blowout with multiple big innings and I want to be ahead of the field even at high ownership.

The Arizona side also looks fantastic with Austin Gomber striking out just 17.8% of righties and allowing a .229 ISO this season. Christian Walker is my favorite play on the slate, and then it’s just laughable and basically unacceptable that Jordan Luplow and Carson Kelly are $2,300 and $2,000.

With the Coors game being so obvious and so affordable, we will be left with some excellent hitters at low ownership in other spots tonight. I don’t love trying to pick out stacks that can beat Coors Field. In MME, sure I’ll stack a bunch of nonsense for ‘just in case’ scenarios, but for primary builds, I either want to stack Coors or just pick out high upside bats elsewhere. Those high upside bats start with Yankees power against Aaron Civale. We’ll need to wait to see the lineup to make sure both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton play the second game, as I would not be surprised to see at least one of them sit out. But we should get Anthony Rizzo, Josh Donaldson and Joey Gallo who were not in the lineup for game 1.

The next stop for me is Toronto where we get Drew Rasmussen coming off the IL. He’s a solid pitcher when healthy, but has allowed hard contact to righties, and the Rays bullpen has been worked hard the past few days and is nothing special to begin with.

If I’m stacking outside Coors, it would be Toronto, then the Yankees, and then to Boston against Alex Mills. Mills is barely better than me against lefties, making Rafael Devers one of the top bats on the slate.

You could always make some sort of case for the Dodgers or Padres, but this slate is not going to need much going off the radar to be different. With such massive chalk in Colorado, I’m happy just using the Yankees, Blue Jays and Red Sox to get different.

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 Saturday everyone! Cards is off this weekend, presumably to start partying early for the birthday of America. The real-life baseball schedule is a bit all over the place today, with a couple double-headers starting early in the day, stretching all the way until after my bedtime out West. For DFS, we focus in on the late afternoon, with a 9-game slate starting at 4:05pm ET. I might also toss in a couple notes about the 5-game DK slate that starts at 6:07pm.

We’ve got a bunch of shaky weather today as well, but fortunately none of it is in games where there are pitchers to worry about. As of now, I don’t see anything that I’m planning to fade.

Saturday Afternoon On The Mound

There is a lot of good pitching, but with nothing so elite as to make it obvious where to start.

Four Something Like Aces

Dylan Cease at Giants – 35.5% K, 10.9% BB, 2.56 ERA, 3.00 SIERA
Logan Webb vs White Sox – 21.9% K, 5.9% BB, 3.04 ERA, 3.42 SIERA
Tyler Mahle vs Braves – 26.1% K, 8.6% BB, 4.53 ERA, 3.77 SIERA
Spencer Strider at Reds – 36.2% K, 10.1% BB, 3.02 ERA, 2.67 SIERA

We have two of the highest strikeout rates in the league with Spencer Strider and Dylan Cease on this slate, who also come with sketchy control. Strider’s pitch count is still a bit of a mystery, but we have seen 95+ in two of his last three starts, so I’m treating him as if the gloves are off. Cease has no pitch count concerns, hitting 100+ in six straight starts, and with him it’s all about the walks. We’ve seen him improve in the last three starts, and his last two outings have been absolutely elite ace stuff. While I don’t think he’s reached the level where we can call him ‘safe’, the upside is so extreme that he’s my clear SP1 on this slate. The matchup is tough enough that I will start spreading out past him early in my builds.

I’m still a little hesitant on Strider, but given that strikeout rate, he looks a little too cheap here, at least for the upside and he’s a strong SP2 in tournaments. Tyler Mahle is another upside pitcher in a matchup that adds to both the upside and the risk. He’s on the fringes of the pool on FD, but on DK, I love the idea of pairing either one of Strider or Mahle with Cease. With all the risk in that homer friendly ballpark, I will split up my Mahle/Strider exposure.

I have more confidence in the skill set and innings for Logan Webb than I do for either Strider or Mahle, and his strikeouts have recently come up to the level that we saw last season when he was a 26% strikeout pitcher with great control and ground balls. I’m hemming and hawing here because I really like all four of these pitchers, and it’s not going to be that tough to get two of them on DK. I land on trusting the overall skill set of Webb a little more than Mahle and Strider, so he’ll be my official first stop for an SP2

Overall, you could mix and match this group in different ways, but I’ll be going with Cease, then Webb, Strider then Mahle.

Something Pink Re-Appears In The Mid-Tier

George Kirby vs A’s – 21.8% K, 3.1% BB, 4.08 ERA, 3.58 SIERA
Martin Perez at Mets – 20.2% K, 6% BB, 2.22 ERA, 3.83 SIERA
Patrick Sandoval at Astros – 22.8% K, 10.5% BB, 2.63 ERA, 4.22 SIERA
Kyle Gibson vs Cardinals – 20.2% K, 6.8% BB, 4.48 ERA, 3.95 SIERA
Paul Blackburn at Mariners – 18.6% K, 6.3% BB, 3.12 ERA, 3.97 SIERA
Jose Urquidy vs Angels – 17% K, 4.9% BB, 4.36 ERA, 4.44 SIERA

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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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