Normally in a Coors Field Slate, the first thing you want to do for the bats is look at the two teams playing in Coors. However, today we’ve got the extremely rare scenario where a Coors Field game may not be the juiciest spot out there. That’s because we have a pitcher who legitimately creates his own Coors Field effect. That pitcher? Chris “Seriously Why Am I Still Allowed To Be A Major League Starting Pitcher” Tillman. Since the start of 2017 Chris Tillman has walked more than he’s struck out vs lefties. That’s right. He has 10.7% strikeouts and 18% walks. If your K-BB is below 5, that’s really bad. If it’s 0, that’s extremely bad. If your K-BB is negative, I don’t even have a word to describe it. Chris Tillman’s K-BB versus lefties is -8.3.

If your K-BB is -8.3?!? Just for reference, James Shields since he became a human gas can is at 7.1% overall and 3.2% vs lefties. James Shields, who right now can give up home runs in Yellowstone, can’t quite match Tillman in futility. No one can match Chris Tillman in futility, because if you have a negative K-BB, you don’t stay in the Majors. Except apparently Chris Tillman. Even with last outings dominance of the Tigers, Tillman is at -.8% on the season and it’s not like he’s getting lucky with ERA with a 7.84 mark last year and a 9.24 this year. It’s a historic run that we, as DFS players, can only hope continues all year.

On to the picks…

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So today’s slate offers me a chance to discuss an important DFS concept (albeit one that happens more often in Football and Basketball) – chalk eating, or blocking. Simply put, the pitching on this slate makes me want to hurl – get it? Haha. You may think Sean Manaea is the best option by far, but his early season success is buoyed by a .148 BABIP and a 98.2% LOB rate. But he still may be the best option simply because all the other guys are in between hot garbage fire and a good old fashioned regular garbage fire. When you’ve got a situation such as this – a four game slate with absolutely no decent pitching options, you’re faced with the conclusion that the pitching is pretty much RNG – just a matter of which pitcher gets the BABIP-luck that day and the extra strikeout or two. So what to do? Well, you could try to really split hairs and figure out who has that tiny marginal edge over the other pitchers (but to be honest, I’m not even sure that’s possible here or you’re able to even do that with things that are real and meaningful), or, if you’re lucky, there will be something that points to an overwhelmingly chalk pitcher that allows you to block by simply going along with the field such that even if the choice does bad, you’re still in fine shape in cash because you’re in the same boat as 80% of the field. Today we have that in the form of Sean Manaea because of the public’s ridiculous obsession with recency bias and stat chasing. The public is going to see that 9IP, 11K no-hit gem he threw against the Red Sox, and then the 7IP 7K performance he followed it up with, and assume that he’s going to do something like that again. And while it’s certainly possible, we also know that 2 great starts are not nearly as useful for analysis as his entire body of work throughout his career. But that’s irrelevant here – there are no other good options and as such, the cash play here is just to block the field by picking Manaea. That way, no matter what he does, whether he’s on the good side of RNG and ends up the high scoring pitcher or he’s on the bad side of RNG and ends up the worst, you’re in the same boat as the vast majority of the field. I will say that this is a cash-only play. In GPPs, you’d want to do the exact opposite. Simply put, this is a great spot for GPP players in my opinion as there will be a heavily chalk pitcher who is more likely than other chalk pitchers to disappoint; thus, if you pivot to any other pitcher and he out-performs Manaea (something that is entirely within the realm of reasonable possibilities today), you will have a massive lead on the majority of the field and that’s a huge step towards winning a GPP. I will also say that if you do not believe Manaea will be chalky for whatever reason, then you have to go back to picking between garbage fire and hot garbage fire. But if you agree with me that recency bias, stat-chasing and being the best of a bunch of bad options will render Manaea the chalk – pivot in GPPs and block in cash and win all the monies with the bats.

On to the picks…

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Loyal readers of this blog will know that I am a strong believer in #respecttheleadoff in DFS – the notion that when in doubt, play leadoff hitters as they are guaranteed the most opportunities to score points in contests that, at their core, are about volume (most points wins, not best rate of points per opportunity). And since I monitor each team’s leadoff hitter (or hitters), sometimes I notice some interesting trends. For example – right now the White Sox offense is essentially Jose Abreu (of the 45.9% career GB-rate) hitting fly balls (because when he does get the ball in the air, it goes far), and Yoan Moncada. They’re both off to solid starts this season – Yoan has a .371 wOBA and Abreu has a .393 wOBA. For those who enjoy the Statcast batted ball stats, Jose Abreu is 5th overall in average exit velo with 96.2 and Moncada is 8th with 95.4. Moncada is 22nd in barrels per PA and Abreu is 43rd. Moncada is 4th in Hard-Hit Ball %, and Jose Abreu 6th. Shifting back to their roles in the overall White Sox offense, they’re the only two White Sox hitters with OBPs over .350, they’re the only two White Sox hitters with SLGs over .500, and as you might expect, the only two with a wOBA over .360. But in the last few games, Yoan has shown an impressive ability to be either the entire White Sox offense, or one of only two relevant batters, with Abreu being the other one. On the 24th, the White Sox lost 1-0. The only member of the White Sox to get an extra base hit the entire game? Yoan. On the 23rd, the White Sox won 10-4 – Jose Abreu had 10 Total Bases, Yoan had 9, no other member of the team had more than 4 (this was the game where Yoan needed just a single for the cycle, but failed twice. Even he’s not perfect). While the entire White Sox team didn’t show up for the previous 3-game series against the Astros, in the game before that one, the White Sox scored 11. Yoan had a grand slam, Abreu had 2 RBIs, and no one else had more than 1. And the previous day, the 17th, the White Sox lost 10-2. Yoan had a 2 run-HR. What does this ultimately mean? To be honest, not much. Yoan’s a decent hitter, Abreu’s a good hitter, and the White Sox don’t have much else on offense, particularly against righties, so there’s bound to be many times this year where Yoan and Abreu are carrying the entire offense for one or two weeks. But just because something isn’t “relevant” in terms of helping you win your DFS contests doesn’t mean it still isn’t something interesting to note and worth pointing out (especially on a four game slate with a clear cash pitcher). Unfortunately, FanDuel jacked up Yoan’s price to $3,900 today since their algorithm puts a ludicrous amount of emphasis on the past week (when increasing prices and then takes forever to come back down), so he’s probably not a play for the next few days until his price gets back down into the $3,000-$3,400 range. However, if the White Sox lose 7-3 today, and those 3 runs come courtesy of a Yoan 2-run HR as well as a Yoan single, steal, and being driven in by an Abreu hit, I fully plan to pretend that I knew it was coming all along.

On to the picks…

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I couldn’t think of a topic relevant to today’s slate to cover in the introduction, so instead I’ll just quickly mention one factor that sometimes will be overlooked when deciding pitchers on FanDuel due to FanDuel’s insistence on having the Quality Start be worth 4 points (though it’s better than the odious win, which shouldn’t be a thing). In the National League, because they are ridiculous and still think it’s a good idea to waste people’s time by having the pitcher bat, a road team pitcher who is pinch hit for in the 6th inning will, by definition, not be eligible for a QS. The home team pitcher who gets pinch hit for in the 6th will have pitched 6 innings. So while it’s obviously a very small factor, it still can sometimes be a tiebreaker – road National League pitchers have a marginal FanDuel disadvantage because they are a little less likely to qualify for a QS.

On to the picks…

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I’ll be honest – this is a rather unattractive slate. Hitting wise, it’s not so much an ugly slate – it’s not that everyone is in particularly bad matchups – rather – everyone is in awkward spots, where the FanDuel prices don’t quite mesh with the matchups. That would be fine if the pitching included some tasty targets that you would want to build your lineup around. But here, the pitching is yesterday’s brawls ugly. Not only are there no aces, there’s also no #2 pitchers, nevermind the 1-As. But typically a non-ace slate ends up offering plenty of intrigue because there will be mid-range pitchers like Dylan Bundy, who offers you the potential to strike out 12 guys in any given start, or Marcus Stroman, who can be counted on to deliver a safe performance of a bunch of innings without getting shelled, or Julio Teheran, where his lefty/righty splits offer you the chance to roster him if he’s facing a lineup of all righties because of the insane difference in his K rate and BB rate against righties as opposed to lefties. When you’ve got guys like that on the slate, it creates interesting decisions as you try to find the pitcher who is in the best spot that plays to their strengths and negates the weakness. There’s pretty much none of that here. It’s ugly out there today. That said, I consider myself the Joe DiMaggio of DFS blogging – I’m the true professional who always gives his best no matter the situation, because maybe there’s a kid out there reading this blog for the first time. Although kids can’t play DFS. But for those of you who can play, know that you’re going to be making a lot of uncomfortable decisions today. Nothing will be comfortable. Focus on making the optimal choices, even when that’s choosing the least unappealing option amongst the choices out there.

On to the picks…

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Today we have a situation that will present itself from time to time on Mondays and Thursdays (the standard travel days, in case one was wondering) – a slate with only a few games to pick players from. FanDuel clearly recognized that the Main Slate was going to be extremely small as they moved the start time of the slate from 7:05 to 6:35 in order to include a 4th game – typically FanDuel simply ignores games with 6 or 6:30 start times (last year, Cleveland and Tampa Bay had some home games starting at 6 or 6:30, and FanDuel ignored those games on the Main Slate). Now onto the important point – what does the short slate mean, strategically, when it comes to picking out players? First off, there’s a very limited number of good matchups – to the point where often times (and it is the case today), one team stands out as having the best matchup by far. In such a case, you’re likely picking four players from that team – so when picking the four players, you’re not just comparing them to the other players at their position – but also you’re comparing them to each other. As I will discuss later, the Yankees are that team today. So, suppose you’re on Stanton and Gardner – now the question becomes, which two of Judge, Didi, Sanchez and Neil Walker do you want to run? Walker provides value, Didi is at a position without a lot of depth, whereas Judge is neither cheap nor at a weak position, but he has immense upside. It’s not just about whether you want Judge or another outfielder, it’s about whether you want Judge versus the other Yankees. Second, you’re probably going to end up with an uncomfortable pick or two due to the limited options. On a 13-game slate, if your lineup isn’t entirely guys you like (either because they’re going to crush or they’re going to provide great value for cheap), something is probably wrong. On a short slate, you’re going to find yourself “settling” a lot more often. That’s perfectly fine. Third, and finally, leaving money on the table is a lot more common on short slates – obviously it’s not ideal, but given that the options are quite limited, it’s entirely possible you’ll end up with a lineup with $500 to spare and nowhere to spend it. On a full slate, it’s pretty much never the case that it’s correct to do so, but on a 4-game slate, it’s entirely possible.

On to the picks…

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Tommy John season is back! Actually it already started a few days ago with the news A.J. Puk would need the famed procedure. Actually it started before that, when we learned David Phelps would need it. Actually it started before that, when we learned Jharel Cotton would need it. Actually….well, you get the idea. Apparently routinely throwing a baseball isn’t good for your elbow. In fairness, neither is slamming your head into 300 pound men running as fast as they can, but hey, Americans love watching both activities so much that those who are able to do them the best get well compensated for it, so it’s all good, right? Just don’t slam your head into the tall white guy while he’s throwing or punting, we can’t tolerate that. Anyway, back to baseball because you’re here for some quality Daily Fantasy Baseball analysis. To those who read me last year – I appreciate you continuing to be a loyal reader. To the rest of you – welcome to the party…so let’s raise a glass of the bubbly, or your beverage of choice to the 2018 MLB season – may our hitters drop multiple bombs and our pitchers throw multiple 20 strikeout games (hey, we’re greedy) and we can retire wealthier and wiser and most importantly, sooner. Also, those last three sentences are the most amount of pomp and fluff you’ll get in this article all season, since that’s not my style and odds are, not yours either.

So before we get any older, on to the picks…

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This is it! The last article of the year, the end of the baseball season. I want to thank you, loyal readers for taking time out of your day to read this article every week and hopefully helping you win some contests. There are going to be a lot of players who wind up sitting and there’s going to be a lot of value opening up throughout the day so you must pay attention to all the released lineups. Additionally, many teams, both those with nothing to play for, and those who playoff-bound but are entirely set in terms of playoff positioning, will look to pull their players (both pitchers and position players) at the earliest opportunity. In short, there will be a lot of randomness and it won’t be easy to predict. Although I’m going to try my best to recommend some players and teams that I like today, one general piece of advice I can give is to focus on the teams that still have something to play for – the Red Sox, Brewers, Rockies, and arguably the Indians and Astros. The first three are the only teams we can be fully sure will play their guys as normal. To be honest – if someone showed me a cash lineup today that featured mostly players from the Brewers and Rockies (the Red Sox have a marginally tougher matchup than the other three teams), with only a value or punt play here or there from other teams, I wouldn’t talk that person out of that lineup. I’m not saying for sure it will be the way to go, but both the Brewers and the Rockies have good enough matchups (the Rockies are in Coors too), and both have something to play for, something you can’t say about pretty much every other team.

On to the picks as soon as we start the playoffs…

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We’re almost there! There are only 10 more days in the season and hopefully, you’re counting your monies as you excel towards the finish line. Three teams, Washington, Cleveland and Houston all clinched their division already and have nothing to play for. And as we get this deep into September, teams really start throwing out questionable lineups, and Dee Gordon starts trying to pad his stats by trying to steal at every opportunity. One key this late in the season is to make sure to follow all the lineup announcements pretty closely, as teams work in their minor leaguers (who are almost always punt-priced) into the lineup. Yesterday we had Mallex Smith, Austin Hays and Teoscar Hernandez all batting leadoff, all punt-priced, and all in decent enough matchups to be playable. I can’t tell you who specifically will be out there today as a punt-priced hitter at the top of the order, but I can tell you that it’s highly likely there will be a few options to choose from. I will even go so far as to guarantee at least one team will throw out numerous punts (but I’ll get to that later, at the end of the article). Now I’m sure you’re asking – but if there are a bunch of options, how do I choose between all the different uninspiring AAA-level punt-priced hitters at the top of the order? Well it’s a good thing you asked! I’d focus on looking at the rest of the lineup (although it should seem obvious, if AAA-caliber punt OF #1 is batting leadoff for an otherwise great lineup and AAA-caliber punt OF #2 is batting leadoff for an otherwise uninspiring lineup, the former is far more likely to be driven in, if he does luckbox his way on-base, and also is far more likely to get that extra at-bat because the rest of the lineup cycles around), while also focusing on who is facing the inferior pitcher and/or the inferior bullpen (for much the same reasons). I’d also give a lot of weight to each spot in the lineup, so I’d much rather use leadoff-batting AAA-caliber punt OF than fourth-batting AAA-caliber punt OF. Two final notes – first – some managers (*coughDustyBakercough*) love to ask their weak-hitting #2 batter to sac bunt, so I’d also be a little weary of using a punt OF if he’s batting 2nd for a one of these managers who are a little more “old school”. Second – NL teams still (stupidly) have the pitcher hit (seriously, just end this abomination) and they double switch guys out all the time, so your favorite NL punt might be out of the game in the 5th because the Manager must insert himself into the game by using some next level strategery, which you know, proves he’s there.

On to the picks once punting season begins…

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So it’s September 15th. Rosters have expanded. Out of contention teams shift their focus to next year’s team, and some players pack it in for the year, or play only for their own stats. And although it’s not something you’ll often read on a site as objective-analysis heavy as Razz, there definitely is a DFS edge to be gained. It’s hard to tell sometimes and you’re going to need to keep your ears open, but some players (typically on out of contention teams) definitely change their approach. In 2015, after Jose Reyes got traded to the Rockies (and from a team in playoff contention to a team who was not), Reyes clearly did not want to be there and changed his approach to, “swing as hard as I can in case I hit it.” Then, in September he missed a few games because of a bruised achilles and (we think) just completely checked out, “hitting” .231/.259/.250 the rest of the way despite playing plenty of games in Coors. In 2016, Dee Gordon got suspended in May, came back in August and was basically the same player he had been, stolen base wise at least. He had 6 stolen bases in April on a .289 OBP in 21 games and after he returned in August, he had 8 stolen bases on a .296 OBP in 26 games. Then September came around and apparently he just decided he was going to steal every single time he got on first base no matter what, and no one could catch him. He had a .289 OBP, played in 27 games and had 15 stolen bases, including stretches where he’d steal every game. We may be to that point right now with Gordon, as he has 4 steals in his last 5 starts. Am I saying to play Dee Gordon every day? No. For all we know he’s just had a few good opportunities to steal in the last few games. But I am saying to keep an eye on him, and if he’s in “stat padding” mode, to give a small nudge to him if you’re debating between rostering him and someone else.

On to the picks once I pad my stats…

New to FanDuel? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond?  Well be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.  Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care!

Please, blog, may I have some more?