As many of you know, I was invited into the NL-Only Tout Wars live draft this past weekend that took place at the SiriusXM building in New York.  The draft started at 10 AM EST on Sunday.  I include EST because I roll like Rodney-O, Joe Cooley and Tupac on PST.  EST is for grandmothers named Ester who die in the middle of spelling their name.  I flew in the day before, which meant I would still be on Tupac time.  I tell you this because I knew it would be a struggle to get up and to the building by 10 AM, so I stayed at a hotel that was literally — yes, I’m literally using the word literally — a block away from Sirius.  I set my alarm clock on my iPhone — “Siri, could you wake me at 8:15 AM, I want to be a winner?”  “Googling Steak Me restaurants for 8:15 dinner.”  I told the hotel I needed a wake up call; I even set my in-room alarm clock.  I was prepared to wake up late even with all of these safeguards.  Well, I woke up on time.  Actually, early.  I did the three S’s and, at around 9:15 AM, with 45 minutes to spare, I ducked into a Starbucks right outside my hotel.  I only needed to walk about 500 feet.  I didn’t need 45 minutes for that even if I was lugging my suitcase.  After dillying and dallying for about 30 minutes in the ‘Bucks, I headed over to Sirius.  Well, that is, I got to about 100 feet away from the front door of my draft when I saw there was a half marathon running down the middle of the street that I needed to cross.  I asked the policeman, “Can I cross here?  I only need to go to that building that we are directly across from.”  “Sorry, pal, you need to go up ten blocks to the subway and cross underneath the street.”  DAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!  I threw my suitcase up in my arms and began to run ten blocks against a marathon and then ten blocks back.  Good times!  Anyway, here’s my Tout Wars recap, it’s a 12 team NL-Only, 4 OF, two catcher, one UTIL and one swingman league:

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I start my lineups these days in one place: the starting pitcher. They’re the fulcrum upon which all things must work. You can find way more diamonds in the rough among the hitters than you can on the hill, so it behooves you to focus on this position first before attacking the rest.

That doesn’t mean you can’t target hitters, especially when there are Coors games and the like, but those hitters aren’t going to lift you as high if there is a SP in your slots working a negative number.

That said, it doesn’t mean you should just pop the first two pitchers you come to in the salary list and then mine the lineups for values. That happens sometimes, but what you should really do is look at the SP trends, matchups, splits, parks, swinging strike and K-rates to whittle down the slate to a few good men you could live with for the night.

Oh I’ve gone through this process and ended up with some strange birds on the hill. There was a night this season where Joe Blanton, patron saint of gas cans, actually went into Safeco and helped me to a nice payday. Recently, even, Kris Medlen has been helpful with his low salary and decent performances, allowing me to target more prime bats.

As I look at the slate for Wednesday, I was hoping I could log on, take a quick glance and know where I was going, but I couldn’t. This was because the best two SP on the slate happened to be the highest paid as well:

David Price, SP: $12,500

Jake Arrieta, SP: $14,000

Price in Atlanta and Arrieta in Pittsburgh were, at first glance, the best SP, so I had to dig deeper just to be sure and, sure enough, they came through the process on top.

Since they are so high priced, about 6K more than I like to dedicate to the cause, I didn’t automatically ink them in the lineup until I could see if there was indeed enough value in the hitters to make it work. Looking down the list, it was clear that I could roster two or three Phillies, who can hit a lefty fairly well and have a nice home park, to make it happen. Facing Gio Gonzalez, who has a mid 4s SIERA and nearly 800 OPS vs. righties over the last 30 days also made it easy to go that route.

So I did. It looks like a newb move, rosting the top two SP of the night, but you have to trust your process. Other nights, I would lay up short well short of this $$ commitment at SP, but tonight, it’s pay up.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 25 teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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Glad to see you haven’t completely moved on to fantasy football just yet. There’s still money to be had on the baseball side and as a matter of fact, there’s quite a bit. DraftKings is running a baseball version of the Millionaire Maker. To the best of my knowledge, they’ve never run one of these for MLB and I’m pretty excited to take a few whacks at it. I’ve played these for PGA and of course, NFL and playing for a shot at a million is pretty silly to think about. It’s MLB, anyone can win you that dough on a given night, so let’s see if we can dig up some gems for this evening.

J. A. Happ is the pitcher I’m going to be looking at the most when building tonight’s lineups. I can’t understand a couple things about Happ, first is his price. Happ is $7,500 tonight, cheaper than John Lamb. Happ has been on an impressive run lately, much like Josh Tomlin. Tomlin costs $3,000 more tonight and is facing the K-stingy Royals. Happ’s ERA in August was a tidy 1.98 and he’s kept that momentum rolling into September with a 1.38 ERA in 2 starts. Also included in those 7 total starts is 42 Ks and 7 BBs in 40.1 IP. The other thing I don’t quite understand is the Streamonator’s hate for Happ tonight, ranking him as the 12th best pitcher on the day. That seems criminal, much like what the SON wants to do to my kitchen appliances. Maybe DraftKings and SON know something I don’t here. The Cubs are a solid hitting team, sure, but they lead the league in strikeouts and strikeouts mean points in the daily game, so that’s a plus for Happ. The Cubs are also in the bottom 8 in team OPS vs. LHP. This makes sense as their typical 2-4 hitters (Schwarber, Coghlan and Rizzo) are all lefties. Seems like another plus for Happ. Kris Bryant you say? PNC Park is one of, if not the hardest park for RH hitters to go deep in. If that’s not enough, Happ will be pitching the second game of a double header, which means he could be facing an even shakier lineup as the studs take the night off. I don’t know about you, but I’m sold. Let’s all hope Happ is just awesome and look at a few more picks to help us win that million.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 10 teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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To play or not to play, that is the question. When there are home games at Coors, you can be faced with that question. Do I do what it takes to roster guys in games at Coors, or do I do my best to build out a more balanced lineup with more reasonable prices?

Alas, in cash games, you will probably have to have some exposure into the game in Denver. Afterall, it’s likely the highest run total of the night and you always want to have some exposure in that game, whether it’s in Denver, Toronto, New York or wherever.

In tournaments, though, it’s a little more difficult to decide, so I default to wanting to have it all. I make sure I at least have one tourney lineup with players in the Coors game and another one without or with less. Everyone is going to be in on them, so in tourneys it makes a lot of sense to pass, but you don’t want to be too cute and miss out when you could have had some players in that matchup.

Tonight, the Rockies are actually very reasonably priced, and will be well owned. How much you have in your lineup will depend on the value you can find elsewhere. I’ll make some picks below that will highlight some less expensive players that would enable more Coors players and some alternates if that’s not what you want to do.

Again, in cash games, you’ll want some of these guys, but maybe not stacking the whole team. To play or not to play, or do both. It’s the American way.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 25 teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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One of the statistics that a lot of daily fantasy players look at is Weighted On-Base Average, or wOBA for short. wOBA attempts to credit extra base hits and find the statistical balance between the values of all the possible ways to get on base. This number attempts to show the true value of a hitter, or pitcher, in its form.

Daily fantasy players look at wOBA but more specifically they look at what the wOBA is in terms of the handedness of the pitcher they are facing. Most players, as we know, will do better against the opposite handedness of pitcher. Examples are that Lefties hit Righties better and vice versa.

So to see who might have the best advantages for a given night, one would look at the combination of how the SP fares against the different handedness of pitchers and how the hitters fare against those pitchers.

For example, Wednesday’s games have a couple of LHP going and some of these guys can really hammer left-handed pitching. Goldschmidt, for example, will go against J.A. Happ, who is left-handed and is okay overall against right-handed hitters. Goldy, though, has a massive .479 wOBA against lefties. For context, Josh Donaldson, another known lefty hammer, has a .439 wOBA against lefties and the league average for wOBA overall is around .315.

So, even though Goldy’s price tag is high, you might want to make sure you find a way to get him in the lineup against lefties. The splits say so.

The same goes for SP. Keuchel gets the Rays who are tough on the road against LHP but Dallas has a remarkable .249 wOBA at home this season. LHP Adam Morgan, who we will call out a couple of times below, has a .358 wOBA against righties. For comparison, Keuchel, also left-handed, has a more reasonable .284 wOBA against righties.

So look around, find some winning matchups and win all the monies! Good luck!

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 20 teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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It’s good to be back my friends. After a week away, I’m ready and raring to go. I took a full week off from DFS (That’s a lie, I played in the PGA Championship MIlly Maker, but who’s counting) and it was a nice reprieve. MLB is a crazy long season and in the midst of the dog days, it can really be a grind. Taking some much needed time off was great and if you’re feeling sluggish when building lineups I suggest you do the same. Enough about my time off though, let’s get back to business: the business of making cash. Obviously, you have a decision to make tonight and that is what to do with Coors field. Bryce Harper is ludacris expensive tonight, $6,400, but for good reason. Bryce gets to face off against David Hale and his 5.69 ERA, 5.23 FIP and 2.0 HR/9 in Coors field. Do you dare fade the kid? If you do choose to fade Coors this evening, I’d look to the game over in Miller Park. Miller Park, believe it or not, is numero uno in HR park factor in 2015. Of course, park factors are victim to small sample size noise when only looking at a single season, but being number one in HR by a comfortable margin this year isn’t nothing. Miller is top five in runs for good measure as well. I’ll be making a few Miller and Coors recommendations below so you don’t forget, so raise a glass and follow me.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 12 teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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It’s hard to pick which Ross is hated more: the one in Friends whose character is so annoying David Schwimmer could never get work again, or the dynamite starter for the Nationals, who even after pitching mad impressive through his first few starts, wasn’t even the first SP to get the call when Stephen Strasburg went back to the DL yet again.  Why wasn’t he the first call?!

After Joe Ross‘s first run in June, I kept him in the ranks a few more weeks even without a for-sure rotation spot, and when Strasburg tweaked the oblique, I was ready to vault him into the top-50.  But nooooooo, instead they use, I dunno, Taylor Jordan or someone who doesn’t matter?  C’mon Nats, what did Ross ever do to you?!  Finally the Nationals got Ross back up to face the Mets last week in a decent – albeit underwhelming – start given the matchup, so I decided to break down his 5th MLB start at the Pirates, in a pitcher’s duel Sunday afternoon against Gerrit Cole.  Here’s how Ross looked:

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Growing up, I, like many of my friends, held the All-Star Game to be a true collection of the best baseball players in the game. We’d watch Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Johnny Bench and the National League beat up on Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue and the American League year after year. But even then, and as time has moved on, there have been some head scratching choices as All-Stars along the way. Some of it can be pinned on the rule that each team has to have an All-Star, lending to some interesting choices. But some, like Alfredo Griffin, who was named to the 1984 American League squad simply because he came with actual All-Star Damaso Garcia and the AL needed some when Alan Trammell got hurt, didn’t belong and years later, it still looks odd. There has been Chris Brown, Mike Sharperson, Jay Howell, Ron Coomer, Cesar Izturis and a host of so-so relievers since the age of the relief pitcher in the All-Star game has taken full bloom.

Even with all that mediocrity in the AS game, it still surprises me to see names I am fairly sure will stand out years from now that have now been minted All-Star. One of those is D.J. Lemahieu. Lemahieu is nothing special as an offensive player. He has a decent contact rate, average walk rate, good speed. He’s a good fielder at second base this season, too. But nothing about Lemahieu says All-Star, except the offense in which he plays.

But little of that matters in daily fantasy. LeMahieu can be as basic as a game of tic-tac-toe, but if he’s batting second, which he has often this season, and the game is at Coors Field, Mr. Average can be rostered with confidence that he’ll be putting that decent contact rate and speed to good use. For you.

So enjoy the All-Star game, D.J., what do I care? As long as you keep on delivering in DFS.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 25 teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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The election for the Sons of Sam Horn government would be an ever-evolving oligarchy. David Ortiz (1-for-3) would be the honorary Papi emeritus, Dustin Pedroia would be the Secretary of Sparky Anklebiters, Alejandro De Aza (2-for-4, 1 run, 3 RBIs) would be a stunt double in case of an assassination attempt, Pablo Sandoval (2-for-4, 2 runs) would be the ambassador to the International House of Pancakes, Wade Miley (6 1/3 IP, 2 ER, 7 baserunners, 8 Ks, ERA at 4.88) would be in charge of the Armed Farces and the election for president would be a popularity contest between Brock Holt (4-for-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs and his 2nd homer, hitting .309) and Mookie Betts (3-for-5, 2 runs, 1 RBI) after Jackie Bradley Jr. was told to take a walk. For a half season last year, Holt hit .327 with three homers and six steals. So, he’s done this over an extended period of time before, and yesterday was the first day the Red Sox really have looked themselves all year, so I highly doubt Holt will fall much lower than the two hole in the lineup any time soon. If he’s available in your league, I’d definitely grab him. Brock Holt! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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