6/14 SUNDAY FUNDAY SP Stream of Consciousness Report

So back to the grind … had to take Saturday off to play in the annual pool tournament down at the Moose Lodge … didn’t win a trip to Vegas for the third year in a row! lol. Between the billiards and the MLB DFS I think the only game that could ever be more frustrating is Golf … good thing I hate golf … oh wait … wow … does my Obamacare cover like some kind of prescription strength Rogaine?


Couple of quick warm-up stream of consciousness reactions to my bird’s eye view of tomorrow’s starting pitcher slate:

Slate is LITTERED with significantly smaller-than-normal strike zones. Actually I’m not totally convinced at what point the difference becomes significant, but I never even mention an umpire unless there is at least a 5% above or below league average. And really most of the are pushing 10-15% difference from league average before I start actually making roster decisions based on them. So, just so we’re on the same page there … I also will not factor in an umpire’s K/BB history AT ALL unless they generally have 200+ games logged. If they are sitting between say 150-200 I will consider them, but put significantly less stock in any outliers.

Second – I think I might reach down and grab AJ Burnett. More on that later. It could change by the time I’m done channeling my consciousness …

So it’s a huge slate and I think … well I don’t need to tell you anything you already know about some of the top pitcher choices for today. So I kind of see a cluster of guys who are immediately relevant –

Sale, Kluber, Scherzer
Lester, Hamels, Shields, Burnett

I think that’s your tier 1 and tier 2 WITHOUT FACTORING IN any matchups or ANYTHING – just baseline skill level. So is there anything going on on Sunday in particular that might want to sway us towards one of these guys over the others?

(honestly … McCullers belongs somewhere in there. But more on that later – he’s kind of an exception who I will analyze separately, given his salary is totally different than these guys)

Corey Kluber has a bad ump (-7% K’s +9% BB’s +7% runs) and is on the road and against a top-hitting club in detroit … plus he burned me up last time. I’m totally off him here given other good options who HAVE to be in better spots than this guy.

Chris Sale has a GREAT ump (+13% K’s -8%runs). On the road, but, well, almost everybody on that list above is also on the road. Tampa Bay not too scary of an opponent on paper … but I just worry here … I think Tampa Bay has a lot of guys who hit LHP really well and a lot of them are so young that the 2014-2015 and 2013-2015 metrics I look at to summarize offenses … I don’t think they are representative of TB’s current form. So. Sale is Sale and … the umpire makes me want to have a piece of him, but I’m thinking GPP only. We can do better for cash.

But not with James Shields. This one is simply … LAD is a very good hitting opponent and extremely low strikeout opponent … now Shields has the swinging-K rate of the tier 1 guys, I’m just not ready to put him there yet. He is a very good play in general but again … I’m kind of looking for an “ideal” play if I can get one, and vLAD is rarely ideal. This is worth keeping an eye on, though, because if LAD rests a significant lefty or two … he is definitely worth GPP consideration along the same lines as Sale. We have kind of an odd umpire here, 220g sample but his BB rate is 12% higher than league average, but K rate is only 5%ish below league average and run rate the same. So he’s just a walk specialist? Again, not scared in GPP as he’s as liable as anybody to go double-digit-K’s on any given day.

Max Scherzer is a tough one. I mean he’s just that good. But I keep coming back to – why risk throwing him on the road in a very-HR-friendly park when we’ve got all these options – … it is tough because you can try to play the %’s and split hairs between elite pitchers and really at the end of the day … these elite guys can dominate anybody in any venue if they’re on it. But @MIL is undeniably a poor situation. I do need to remind myself that Milwaukee has been … as bad as anyone except this phillies in 2015 for team hitting. I think it is okay to start leaning on that a little bit, which is unfortunate, because I really wanted to rule Scherzer out and move on, but … he’s a pick I couldn’t argue with now that I think about it. Forget the park. He is a flyball pitcher though! Oh lord!

Lester, Hamels in decent spots too … and can’t deny their skills. Lester’s last two outings don’t faze me at all. I expect him to do well tomorrow, but … let’s cut to the chase.

AJ Burnett, at home, against the Phillies. Done deal pretty much for me. Throw the salaries out the window, but an extra $k or two iis always nice. The Phillies are that bad, we’re at home in a good pitching park, the ump is neutral – … Burnett might not have the strikeout ability of a lot of the other pitchers up here, and by playing Hamels the W is even more of a crapshoot than normal … but to me he is the “safe” play. By far I think Burnett will get you what you pay for more often than anybody else on here. Except for maybe McCullers. But more on that later.

Sonny Gray deserves a mention, I can’t quite put him in those first two tiers yet, but he’s good. Again, for $10k+ dollars I see no reason to play him on the road given other options.

So … let’s get down to it.

Lance McCullers. It’s only been 31 innings pitched into his career … but it is becoming abundantly obvious to me that, even if he is playing out of his mind right now … he is worth a whole hell of a lot more than $6700 FD Dollars. And $7800. I don’t know what else to say but his sub-indicators are off the charts right now. So … short sample for sure, but … whatever he’s been doing, he’s been doing it by pitching at an elite level, and not by getting lucky. How long he can keep it up – and whether he’s going to get BETTER?! or level back out somewhere … I think that level is still a lot higher than $6800. So yeah. Enjoy it now because I’m pretty sure a few years from now we’re going to be sitting around going “remember when …” reminiscing about that month where we got to play Lance McCullers for $6800. I really think he’s that good. At that price I don’t care who he’s playing … SEA in a hitters park not IDEAL by any means, but if that keeps a few people off of him, all the better. Neutral ump FWIW.

Chris Heston. Yeah, yeah. Well he’s public as hell now I’m sure … been riding him a lot this year but definitely not last turn of course. He’s actually in a very above-average spot here at home vARI. So at $7400 on both sites, he’ll be a popular play, but it’s still a sharp play.

Roenis Elias worth maybe mentioning? He’s decent/solid/potentially above average if he wants to be. Houston is medium-producing team vLHP but they strike out a LOT. So maybe worth a flier but really – Heston and McCullers are better. Time to move on.

Targets –

Nick Martinez #1 always. I will go broke playing against him and I will never regret it. This is everything I believe in. Nick Martinez is a horrible pitcher. If he doesn’t start to get shelled soon, then he will have successfully ripped the time-space continuum and officially destroyed a generation of sabermetric research that has culminated in this moment. CHW offered a glimpse of what is possible two turns ago, but OAK failed miserably at home in living up to the task of knocking him off his high horse for good. So really, he projects as just a firmly bad pitcher, not the WORST PITCHER EVER, at this point … but xERA two full runs higher than ERA … totally unsustainable, enough said … now MIN is a deathly horrible offense but I WILL find value there and I WILL beat you Nick Martinez!

Need to wrap this up! Parting shots!

Pitchers that are pretty solid to tread lightly on when considering playing batters against (besides the ones that were complimented above) – doesn’t mean don’t play them, just TREAD LIGHTLY!
Karns, gets the big strike zone, so CHW not in a good spot here in the pitchers park
Rubby is solid against RHB … shoemaker decent … Folty is killer against RHB’s but LHB’s not at all. At least so far in his short career.
Bolsinger is decent, SD is not really …
Eduardo Rodriguez is maybe good, but … LHP facing TOR is not a good idea for anybody.

Notable umpire situations:
we have hitter-friendly strikezones in MIA@COL, ATL@NYM, LAD@SD, CLE@DET … these are all pretty significant, bordering on or exceeding +10% to the hitters in most areas. To a lesser extent we have a touch of a small strike zone in SEA@HOU and WAS@MIL.

CHW@TB ump is the main outlier as far as a big strike zone, and it’s a significant one.
To a lesser extent we have BAL/NYY and BOS@TOR with still notable but not as severe bumps to the pitcher.

Everything else is pretty well enough close to neutral-ish, or short-sample’d umps so I won’t pretend to think that their stats have normalized at all yet.

I’m not sure if I’ll stick with a format like this, or if I’ll go back to pitcher-by-pitcher breakdowns. I think that is kind of a LOT on 30-pitcher slates, and this might work better.

As if anyone is even paying attention!

If Nick Martinez keeps spinning gems then might not be writing it at all! It is Minnesota after all though and I wouldn’t be surprised if anybody shut them down. So I’ll probably grab only a guy or two here and there and they’ll probably score 20 runs and I’ll be lamenting all the money I COULD have made.

Good luck!

Oh and I guess to sum up … I like playing Burnett as my SP1 on both sites for cash, because, like I said, he makes me feel safe :) … and I think McCullers is an undeniable option for the price on both sites in both formats (GPP and cash). Scherzer, Sale, both have value and are worth playing, and to a lesser extent Shields, Hamels, and Lester (but man that’s hard to say – let me be clear, all three have value! I’m just going a different direction. Wish me luck!). Heston has value as well … I couldn’t necessarily argue with any of the plays, but to me focusing on Burnett and McCullers feels right on Sunday. The other guys I can slot in as-needed if some good bats get some Sunday rest and sway me a little or their salary fits the needs of a certain lineup – anything along those lines.

I’m officially off Kluber, which is ballsy, because despite mitigating circumstances he’s liable to dominate. But hell I’ve got to be “off” SOMEBODY or what’s the point of even analyzing it! I’ll play him another day.

Good luck for real this time!

About the Author

  • Sean O'Donnell (hokie2009)

  • Sean O’Donnell is a proud Hokie (Virginia Tech class of 2009, electrical engineering) as well as a Grateful Dead enthusiast. A fantasy baseball player since age 12, he has flirted with DFS in the past, but only this season stumbled onto the dearth of information that exists pertaining to daily fantasy golf and made a commitment to analyzing PGA tournament data on a weekly basis. When he’s not scouring the web for obscure PGA data, he works as a consultant for small businesses involved in research grants with the federal government.


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