CheeseIsGood's Million Dollar Musings - MLB DFS Strategy: Sunday, August 7th

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Happy Sunday! Your usual Sunday host is living the life, going to watch his Cardinals sweep the Yankees, while simultaneously viewing a 3-HR game from Matt Carpenter. So, you’re stuck with me today for this 8-game DK and 9-game FD slate with a 1:35pm ET start. With the early start, let’s skip the shenanigans and jump right in.

Sunday Pitching

Trio Of Aces
Corbin Burnes vs Reds
Aaron Nola vs Nationals
Kevin Gausman at Twins

These three aces are very clearly at the top of the heap today, and it’s very easy to fit at least one of them in DK lineups and not too difficult to double up. On FD, they are all at $10,500 or above, but as usual, it’s not difficult to find bats under $3K to make that work.
The consistency award goes to Aaron Nola, the upside award goes to Corbin Burnes and the Comeback Ace Of The Month award goes to Kevin Gausman.

For the season, Burnes’ 32.3% K rate is well ahead of the other two, who are both around the 28% mark. All three have strong control, with Nola in a class of his own with the lowest walk rate of any starter in the league. The matchups play even more into the Nola Safety vs Burnes upside narrative. The Nationals are a weaker team after the trade deadline, but still not a huge strikeout lineup. But there is so little power here, that combined with the elite control and the consistent innings of Nola, he is the ‘safe’ SP1. Meanwhile, the Reds are loaded with strikeouts and low walks that should play well for Burnes. His recent inconsistency has come mostly from the control, and he still has double-digit strikeouts in three of his last five starts. For me, I land on Burnes as the preferred SP1 if the small salary difference is no issue. I’ll be very close to a 50/50 split on these two aces, and anywhere it’s possible, I will pair them together on DK.

On FD, there is not much incentive to go down to Kevin Gausman with just a $300 savings and in the toughest matchup of the three. I love the way he’s looked over the past month and I’m back to the point of fully trusting him as an ace. If we didn’t have the other two ahead of him, I’d be more than happy to lock in Gausman as the SP1. But as it is, Nola and Burnes are just too far ahead of him, which leaves him as an excellent leftover or pivot for ownership or salary.

Pivots And Cheaper Options

Frankie Montas at Cardinals
Jesus Luzardo at Cubs
Adam Wainwright vs Yankees
Lucas Giolito at Rangers (FD)
Drew Rasmussen at Tigers
Kutter Crawford at Royals
Spenser Watkins vs Pirates

Frankie Montas was a big pickup for the Yankees and is going to make them even tougher to beat down the stretch and into the playoffs. But for today, he’s more of a DFS leftover for me. We don’t know how the Yankees plan to handle him, and he is just two starts back off the IL and hasn’t reached 80 pitches yet. If we didn’t have three clear aces ahead of him, I’d be willing to take some shots, but as it is, he misses my cut.

It’s great to see Jesus Luzardo back in the majors, but there are also workload concerns as well as skill set questions remaining, mostly with the control. He has gotten no discount after his extended absence, and like Luzardo, he’s just too far behind the top three to give me any interest today.

Adam Wainwright is an old man with a below average strikeout rate facing the best offense in the league. Sounds exciting! However, this old man is still really good at baseball and can still pile up innings with the best of them. He’s been great against some stiff competition, in addition to going 7+ innings in 7 of his last 12 starts. Personally, I would need a bigger discount here to take this chance, but I would not yell at you if you put Wainwright in your pool. It’s always safer to gently place old men in the pool rather than letting them jump.

FD adds Lucas Giolito into the mix at a $2,000 savings from the top three. He has done just enough with the occasional 6-7 strikeout starts to keep him on the radar based more on his previous upside. If he sees 6-7 lefties today, that is a boost to his upside, as he comes in with a 34.3% K rate to lefties vs just 20.4% to righties. I drastically prefer finding a way to spend up to the top three, but with his savings, I will play him ahead of any of these other cheap options if it’s necessary.

Drew Rasmussen does come with some discount, and also the great matchup as a righty against the Tigers. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen any sort of strikeout upside, but he should get a little help there from the matchup. Between the below average 20% strikeout rate and a pitch count cap, this is not a huge upside play, but decent enough to be my favorite non-ace SP2 on DK. I won’t be using him on FD.

Kutter Crawford continues to be solid with six straight starts of 5+ innings and no more than three runs allowed. The strikeouts have come and gone, but the control has improved dramatically. He has walked just five batters in his last seven starts, and while they are up and down, four of those starts have come with 6+ strikeouts. He has similar pitch count questions as Rasmussen. Both guys have more starts in the 80’s, and neither has thrown 100 pitches all season. But, at the same time, they have both topped 90 pitches in two of their last four starts and have a clear path to quality starts. I can’t get excited about either one of them on FD, although in MME, I also wouldn’t want to be stuck with nothing but Giolito in the $8K range. On DK, with just $600 between them, the matchup for Rasmussen is enough better that he’s my strong preference. Crawford is my secondary cheaper SP2 option on DK.

I’m going to mention Spenser Watkins because he’s the cheap and he’s facing the Pirates. I say this every time he starts, and I’ll say it again – I have no idea if this guy is good. I think we may just have to say that’s he’s probably pretty good in his own weird way, like all these weird Baltimore pitchers. The last time he allowed more than three runs in a start was back in May and five of his last six starts have resulted in 19+ DK points and 33+ FD points. Other than Rasmussen, he has the best matchup on the board and it would take a lot of things going wrong for him to be a disaster here. He is my third in line cheap SP2 on DK and he will end up in the pool.

PITCHING CLIFF NOTES

Corbin Burnes and Aaron Nola are the best pitchers on the slate, and they both have plus matchups. I also love Kevin Gausman, but he is a step behind Burnes and Nola today in these matchups. On FD, I am going to get up to the top two as much as possible, while on DK, the first preference is a Burnes/Nola pairing. I have virtually no preference between Burnes and Nola, though officially, I’ll take Burnes first if I can make just one lineup with just one ace.

On FD, I guess Lucas Giolito just has to be the cheaper option of choice, but there is no world in which I’m going to play more than a sprinkle of him. He has much more realistic upside than Drew Rasmussen and Kutter Crawford, but I will be using a 3-way split of those guys if I can’t get up to the aces on FD.

On both sites, the upper mid-tier of Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo and Adam Wainwright are going to miss my primary pool today. I don’t trust the pitch count of Montas or Luzardo and the matchup is so tough for Wainwright that I’d want a bigger discount.

With Drew Rasmussen, Kutter Crawford and Spenser Watkins all between $6,500 – $7,400 on DK, that will be my SP2 pool. I will use them in that order, siding with Rasmussen first in his matchup with Detroit.

Sunday Bats

I find a very big group of offenses to like, with a clear dividing line between them all the leftovers, but not much of a dividing line between the Top 10-11. This is my initial list of top tier offense in order of preference, then we’ll see if anything changes after looking through them:

Philadelphia Phillies vs Cory Abbott
Toronto Blue Jays at Chris Archer
Milwaukee Brewers vs Graham Ashcraft
Boston Red Sox at Brad Keller
Baltimore Orioles vs Bryse Wilson
TB Rays at Matt Manning
Miami Marlins at Adrian Sampson
Chicago Cubs vs Jesus Luzardo
Chicago White Sox at Spencer Howard (FD)
NY Yankees at Adam Wainwright
KC Royals vs Kutter Crawford

The Phillies are the clear top offense based on projected total, along with their strong offensive output recently. Cory Abbott is at least potentially better than what they’ve faced the last few days, but this is still more of a bullpen game for the Nationals, which gives more endless upside to the Phillies. Abbott has made just two career starts, and the only thing we really know about him is that he is a fly ball pitcher. Maybe he gets lucky on HR/FB again, but even if he does, it’s hard to envision more than five innings here, and there is risk in those innings. I’m happy playing any of the Phillies power bats on their own, I’m happy mini stacking or full stacking this team in any manner. Kyle Schwarber has finally gotten priced up, but everyone else here remains way too cheap and I would expect this to be the chalk.

I can make a case to call the Phillies the lone top tier team and then draw a line before jumbling everything else together. My first preference among the ‘everything else’ is the Blue Jays against Chris Archer. Archer is a 4-5 inning pitcher with below average skills against righties, and while the Twins have a deep bullpen, it’s also been used pretty heavily the past couple days. The only problem with Toronto is trying to decipher which of the right-handed bats to prioritize. My lean here is to simply build the rest of my lineup first and then plus in whichever Toronto bats fit the positional needs. I would rank them Guerrero, Kirk, Hernandez, Chapman, Bichette, but I’m equally happy with any of them and will also play them on their own outside of stacks.

Graham Ashcraft looks like a decent-ish real-life pitcher and has been especially tough on lefties with a 59% GB rate. Adding in strong control to righties, this puts Milwaukee into MME stacking territory for me. Willy Adames and Hunter Renfroe are the only two bats that stand out here with their fly ball power offsetting the 48% GB of Ashcraft against righties.

The Red Sox are also going straight into the full stacking pile, though I end up putting them well ahead of the Brewers. Keller is also a ground ball pitcher, though not as extreme right around 50%, and with sketchier control than Ashcraft. I don’t love trying to pick out individual bats in this spot at all and Rafael Devers is the only bat who will make my primary list on his own.

The Orioles and Rays both end up in a similar spot to Boston and Milwaukee. The offenses overall are not quite as good, but the opposing pitchers are very attackable. Matt Manning has thrown 98 innings in the majors the past two seasons, and has just a 14.2% strikeout rate with a 5.49 ERA and 5.28 SIERA to show for it. He walked four batters in five innings with just one strikeout last week, and until he shows anything positive, this is a guy to load up against. Brandon Lowe is the first target here, but this is another team where full stack is far ahead of trying to pick out individual bats.

Bryse Wilson is a low strikeout pitcher who has been hit extremely hard by lefties the past couple seasons with a .253 ISO since the start of 2021. I am going to play Adley Rutschman and Cedric Mullins early and often and then start stacking. It’s all extremely close and jumbled, but officially, Baltimore is my favorite among this nebulous group of stacks that include the Red Sox, Rays and Brewers.

My second line is going to be drawn here. Overall, to this point, that gives me Phillies, gap, Blue Jays, small gap, Orioles, Red Sox, Rays, Brewers.

The Marlins-Cubs game has some weather concerns but assuming it plays, we have enough of a wind blowing out at Wrigley to put these teams up into the top tier. Neither of these lineups are exciting enough to have this game prioritized in neutral conditions, but both teams have enough power bats at a discount to do some home run hunting. Adrian Sampson has struck out just 14% of lefties and does not keep the ball on the ground. I don’t mind an MME stack, but I am mostly just looking at the dirt-cheap fill ins Lewin Diaz and JJ Bleday. The Cubs side has a deeper lineup and is facing more of a boom or bust pitcher. Jesus Luzardo is in the Snell/Ray vein against righties. If he’s on, he’ll strike them all out. If he’s way off, he’ll walk them all. If he’s in the middle, he’ll get hit hard and in the air. The Cubs offense is similarly boom or bust, with plenty of right-handed power but also a lot of strikeouts. I will have Willson Contreras as a priority on his own, and then end up putting a Cubs stack up to potentially 2nd place on my overall list, behind only the Phillies. This is the type of spot that has the upside to win a tournament.

The Yankees make the list simply based on being the Yankees, but I really don’t feel the need to pick on Wainwright too much. The Royals are on the list because of how many cheap bats they have along with Perez and Witt, but I also don’t feel much need to pick on Crawford on this slate.

On FD, we get an additional wild card game with Lucas Giolito vs Spencer Howard. I am always going to have a stack or two against Giolito, but I don’t really love the way Texas lines up against him. Spencer Howard is a much more attackable pitcher, but he’s mostly a jabroni against lefties and this White Sox team remains a bit of a dud against righties. What I like here is a little power hunting, with Howard throwing strikes and getting hit in the air against righties. Any of the top five bats here are playable, with Eloy Jimenez being my preference, still priced below $3K on FD.

HITTING CLIFF NOTES

While it’s all pretty close, I will put the Phillies in their own tier at the top of the rankings. Next will be the Blue Jays and Cubs, followed by the closely bunched group of the Orioles, Red Sox, Rays and Brewers. Other than that, I’m mostly just power and value hunting until I get into MME.

There are plenty of spend up bats to like, but these are my favorites – Kyle Schwarber, Rhys Hoskins, Vladimir Guerrero, Rafael Devers, Brandon Lowe, Hunter Renfroe, Willy Adames, Cedric Mullins, Willson Contreras

There are some stand out values as well, headlined by – Lewin Diaz, JJ Bleday, Jesus Aguilar, Terrin Vavra, Rougned Odor, Darick Hall, Bryson Stott, Jarren Duran, Alex Verdugo, Frank Schwindel, Nelson Velazquez

Additional FD Values Under $3K – Nick Castellanos, Alec Bohm, Bryan Reynolds, Yandy Diaz, David Peralta, MJ Melendez, Lourdes Gurriel, Josh Donaldson, Seiya Suzuki, Ian Happ, Eloy Jimenez

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 Sunday! Your usual Sunday host is living the life, going to watch his Cardinals sweep the Yankees, while simultaneously viewing a 3-HR game from Matt Carpenter. So, you’re stuck with me today for this 8-game DK and 9-game slate with a 1:35pm ET start. With the early start, let’s skip the shenanigans and jump right in.

Sunday Pitching

Trio Of Aces
Corbin Burnes vs Reds
Aaron Nola vs Nationals
Kevin Gausman at Twins

These three aces are very clearly at the top of the heap today, and it’s very easy to fit at least one of them in DK lineups and not too difficult to double up. On FD, they are all at $10,500 or above, but as usual, it’s not difficult to find bats under $3K to make that work.
The consistency award goes to Aaron Nola, the upside award goes to Corbin Burnes and the Comeback Ace Of The Month award goes to Kevin Gausman.

For the season, Burnes’ 32.3% K rate is well ahead of the other two, who are both around the 28% mark. All three have strong control, with Nola in a class of his own with the lowest walk rate of any starter in the league. The matchups play even more into the Nola Safety vs Burnes upside narrative. The Nationals are a weaker team after the trade deadline, but still not a huge strikeout lineup. But there is so little power here, that combined with the elite control and the consistent innings of Nola, he is the ‘safe’ SP1. Meanwhile, the Reds are loaded with strikeouts and low walks that should play well for Burnes. He recent inconsistency has come mostly from the control, and he still has double-digit strikeouts in three of his last five starts. For me, I land on Burnes as the preferred SP1 if the small salary difference is no issue. I’ll be very close to a 50/50 split on these two aces, and anywhere it’s possible, I will pair them together on DK.

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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.

  • KrazyKoop

    Awesome take on today’s slate as per usual Mr. Potts.

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