FREE TODAY - MLB DFS Tournament Strategy: Monday, April 22nd
MLB DFS tournament play is unlike that of any other sport. Predicting outcomes with precision is difficult, and player variance is near its peak. There are special considerations when constructing lineups in order for you to find success in the long term. Each weekday, our DFS analysts will examine a specific tournament format and help you understand the application of strategy, via concepts such as pitcher pairings, roster construction, stacking, leverage, ownership, variance, and more.
UPDATE: The BOS/DET game has been postponed due to inclement weather.
Monday’s pitching options are ugly enough that rostering a “broken” Chris Sale (weather permitting) may be in my near future. I know this is taking a leap of faith, but even if you dock Sale’s current projection on Derek Carty’s projection system, THE BAT, by 25% he still ranks as the top overall option on the slate. Sale did see an uptick in velocity last game against the Yankees, and while he did allow four earned runs, he also saw his highest strikeout total of the season (6) and was able to miss some bats. The Tigers offense is not one to be afraid of as they currently sit last in the league with a 58 wRC+ versus left-handed pitchers this season (small sample size alert). There’s also plenty of strikeout upside in this matchup as Detroit’s projected lineup has four hitters who posted strikeout rates north of 25% against LHP last season.
Perhaps the “safer” high-priced pitching option is Joe Musgrove, who ‘CheeseIsGood’ currently has listed as a core play. Musgrove has been good to start the season with improved strikeout stuff (25.6 K%, 13.3 SwStr%) and has only allowed two earned runs over 22.1 innings pitched. The context is also good for Musgrove, who will be pitching at home against a Diamondbacks team that has been below average offensively against right-handed pitching this season. Musgrove makes for a better tournament option than Sale if current ownership projections hold (Sale 24% FD, 42% DK; Musgrove 10% FD, 23% DK), but I prefer Sale over Musgrove if you think ownership will end up more evenly dispersed (I do).
The Rays announced Yonny Chirinos will start Monday’s game and he is currently projected to be the second highest owned pitcher on the slate (14% FD, 32% DK). The Royals have been peskier than I thought they would be to start the season (21.8 K%, 107 wRC+ vs RHP) and Chirinos is someone I want to be short on at his current projected ownership.
Both Jack Flaherty and Steven Matz draw tough matchups and will see suppressed ownership because of it. Matz has always been a bit susceptible to blown up starts but has shown strong strikeout upside this season with a 26% strikeout rate. Flaherty is the better pitcher and someone I’m more willing to take a gamble on at low ownership, despite his high price tag.
Three of Jake Arrieta’s four starts this season have been respectable from a fantasy perspective, but his underlying numbers are still a massive concern to me. Arrieta is the owner of a 16.4 K%, 10.9 BB%, and isn’t generating a ton of soft contact (16.7%). The one thing Arrieta has done well is keeping the ball on the ground (50 GB%), but the gap from his 2.25 ERA to 5.30 SIERA is glaring. I don’t want any part of Arrieta.
Monday’s pitching options appear to be so unreliable that it could make sense to simply take the cheapest option available in David Hess. Yes, I’m fully aware that Hess isn’t a good pitcher, but he did show at least some upside earlier this season, striking out eight Blue Jays en route to a 33.7 DK/53 FD point performance. The White Sox lineup has plenty of strikeouts in it, as 6-of-9 hitters in their current projected lineup posted strikeout rates north of 24% against right-handed pitching last season. Matt Harvey is an alternative to David Hess if you want to target a watered down Yankees team that is on the road.
Tournament Batting Situations to Trust
Coors. I know rostering hitters in Denver isn’t some new brilliant strategy, but it is worth mentioning as the Rockies are the top overall stack on the slate. SlateIQ currently has a Rockies stack projected to win Monday’s tournaments roughly 7% of the time. The Rockies actually have negative leverage (32%) because Rockies stack ownership is currently projected at 10%. Despite poor leverage, I still am using Rockies hitters as core pieces of my lineup, especially lefties. Jeremy Hellickson has struggled with lefties throughout his career, allowing a .322 wOBA and a 4.88 xFIP – he has a mere 15.7 K% to boot. Charlie Blackmon specifically will be the first guy in on a lot of my lineups.
High Leverage Batting Situations to Exploit
If you head over to our MLB SlateIQ tool you’ll see that the New York Yankees are currently listed as the stack with the highest leverage on Monday night. Personally, I’m torn on this one a bit myself as it’s almost comical how injury-ridden the Yankees lineup is with Aaron Judge being their most recent addition to the IL. However, while New York’s lineup is undeniably watered down there’s still a little bit of pop in it among the likes of Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, and Mike Tauchman. I’m of the opinion that Matt Harvey will end up being higher owned on multi-SP sites than we are currently projecting (3% DK). THE BAT views Harvey in a more favorable light than expected and has him with the second best point/$ projection on the slate on DraftKings. In the case that Harvey does near double-digit ownership, you’d be gaining leverage on the field if the Yankees do end up knocking him around a bit.
I mentioned above that I simply do not trust Jake Arrieta’s early season success. Not only is he somebody that I would avoid rostering, but he’s also someone that I would consider targeting if looking for a “sneaky” stack with low expected ownership. SlateIQ has the Mets tied for the seventh-lowest total ownership on the slate. New York has some powerful left-handed bats in their lineup and also have some power on the right side with Pete Alonso, who currently leads the league with 15 Barrels – tied with Christian Yelich. The Mets don’t have a ton of speed, but it is notable that Arrieta has historically struggled with stolen base prevention, which would give someone like Keon Broxton or Amed Rosario a boost in value at sub-1% ownership if they were in the lineup.
Boston Red Sox
Despite his struggles to start the season, Chris Sale is rating as one of the top pitching plays of the slate and I’m hoping recency bias will lead to a bit of an ownership discount. If current ownership projections hold steady on Sale, I would be more interested in pitching Joe Musgrove, who is a “safer” option with less upside. Rockies hitters are a good way to start building your lineups, but if you are looking for a high leverage stack for tournaments, the New York Mets against Jake Arrieta are my favorite targets.
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