So with September baseball upon us, I offer one tidbit of DFS knowledge that can end up being the difference between winning and losing on a given slate. September baseball means far more late scratches, as teams with expanded rosters are more willing to tell a player to sit a game out if he injures himself in warm-ups or just doesn’t feel right that day. For example, yesterday, two Indians were scratched and the White Sox starting pitcher was scratched, all well after the lineups were announced, and all after DFS lineups locked. Granted, the scratches were not players who were likely to be played in any DFS lineups (maybe Zimmer, but if you were using Greg Allen or Rodon in your lineups, please email me so I can challenge you to h2h matches), but there’s been plenty of scratches over the last few days of players that were relevant to DFS lineups. So the one piece of advice I can offer is that when you build your lineups, try, where possible, to keep as much of your lineup “open” and flexible, so that if there are late scratches, you can make pivots where possible, since both FanDuel and DraftKings offer late swap for baseball. Now, that does not mean make an entire lineup of 10pm night-game players, because often times the best plays are from the early games, but it does mean that if you’re deciding between two players at similar price points for a position, and one plays at 7:05 and the other at 10:05, I would give the edge to the 10:05 guy as it gives you more flexibility in case there is a late scratch somewhere else in your lineup (unless the 10:05 guy would be the only late night player in your lineup – in which case I would actually advocate for an entire lineup of 7:05 guys so that you have no risks of late scratches whatsoever). Basically – unless you’re building an entire lineup of 7:05 starts, which means no risk of late scratches, you should try to have as many late starts as possible (all else equal of course, don’t choose an inferior play simply because the player starts later) to keep your lineup open as much as possible.

On to the picks once another post lock scratch happens…

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PITCHERS

Max Scherzer, SP: $11,600 – He’s got a 35.1 K% and a 6.5 BB%, he’s the ace of the day. The Phillies are an awful offense right now outside of Rhys Hoskins and on the season they have an 89 wRC+ and 5th in the league in strikeouts. In the last month, they have been even worse with an 86 wRC+.

Yu Darvish, SP: $9,100 – Yu’s strikeouts on the year are down to 26.8% this year to go with an 8.1% walk rate. But with the Dodgers, he’s back to 29.8 K% (compared to 29.6% career). He gets to face the Rockies on the road, who in August were terrible (91 wRC+) and on the season have an 82 wRC+ vs righties. Loyal readers will remember me saying how terrible of a team this is outside of Arenado and Blackmon and especially on the road. If the value opens up and you can get to Scherzer, i’d get to Scherzer, but if you need the savings, Yu is a very fine option and the 2nd best of the day.

HITTERS

Daniel Murphy, 2B: $3,800 – Jake Thompson is a well below average pitcher who doesn’t get strikeouts (17.8%), walks guys (9.3%) and is average at getting ground balls in his career (45.7%). Daniel Murphy is always in play vs those type of guys with his .382 wOBA and .232 ISO vs righties.

Justin Smoak, 1B: $3,400 – Buck Farmer’s career includes being below average at striking guys out (18.8%), above average at not walking guys (10.5%) and slightly below average at inducing ground balls (43.2%). Smoak is fairly cheap and has a .366 wOBA and a .282 ISO, plus the Blue Jays should score some runs (which implies they will have lots of base-runners), which should give Smoak extra at-bats (and present Smoak more opportunities to drive runners in).

Cincinnati Reds – Righty Seth Lugo combines a low strikeout rate (18.1%) with a low walk rate (7.2%) and a 42.5% ground ball rate. The Reds have a few lefties with power to take advantage of Lugo. Joey Votto (.431 wOBA and .264 ISO) is the top play, but Scooter Gennett (.387 wOBA and .268 ISO) and Scott Schebler (.261 ISO and 40% hard hit ball rate) are right there as well. If you’re the kind that is into stacking, you can play Zack Cozart (.377 wOBA and .222 ISO), Adam Duvall (.236 ISO) or Eugenio Suarez (.365 wOBA and .208 ISO). I haven’t talked about the too-cheap-for-a-leadoff-hitter Phillip Ervin yet. Simply put, he’s a great play at $2,100 (assuming he’s leadoff) not because he’s a good hitter (he is above replacement level at least) but because anytime you can get a leadoff hitter on a decent total in a good matchup for almost stone minimum, you should probably take it.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: $2,600 – d’Arnaud this year is hitting .324/.400/.563 vs lefties. Now, it’s coming with a .392 BABIP, but over his career he is still above average vs lefties with a 105 wRC+. He’s also super cheap and likely batting 4th, plus Amir Garrett is nothing special (16.6 K% and 11 BB%), so he’s one of the better value plays out there.

Cleveland IndiansWade Miley has had control issues all year as he’s walked 12.4% of batters (it’s not a recent trend either – it’s been consistently bad all year). Even though he’s a decent ground ball guy, he doesn’t strike out that many batters (19.6%) so he’s definitely someone we can attack. Cleveland has a bunch of guys who are lefty mashers and can generate power – Austin Jackson has smoked lefties (.431 wOBA and .245 ISO), Jose Ramirez (.379 wOBA and .236 ISO), Francisco Lindor (.374 wOBA and .220 ISO), Yan Gomes (.368 wOBA and .258 ISO), and Edwin Encarnacion (38.7% hard hit rate and .361 wOBA) are all playable. Yandy Diaz, the Ground Ball King, is also a walk king as he’s walked 16% in MLB so far with very little power. But considering that Miley walks a lot and Diaz does as well, he should be able to get a few points and whether or not he piles up the points relies on his teammates to do some work. He’s still too cheap if he’s going to be hitting in the top 3, just don’t expect a dong out of him. That said, 2 walks and 2 runs is 13.4 points and that’s quite good for his price.

Aaron Judge, OF: $4,200 – Martin Perez is not someone I like to target as he’s normally a good ground ball guy and thus doesn’t give up many home runs, which we like in DFS. But Judge has some monster power, we’ve all seen it, and Perez’s inability to strike guys out should help neuter Judge’s other “skill” (striking out) and provide Judge’s raw power some more chances to hit one out. The game is also in Texas in solid weather for hitting.

New York Yankees Right Handers – While Martin Perez’s targetability is always suspect because generally speaking he is a fairly good ground ball guy, when you look at his splits, he shows a fairly noticeable split in terms of GB-rate to lefties and righties – this season, for example, against lefties, his GB-rate is 54%, but against righties, it drops to 45%. So while a full stack is a questionable proposition, picking out other Yankees righties besides Judge as 1-offs, preferably those who are good at hitting fly-balls, may help round out your lineups.

Brian Dozier, 2B: $4,400 – Ian Kennedy is bound to give up a few bombs in this game, it’s just what he does. Brian Dozier hits bombs (especially in the 2nd half where he’s had a .407 wOBA), it’s just what he does.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Jordan is back! Lyles that is. He’s a pretty mediocre major league pitcher – he has a career 15.2 K%, a career 7.7 BB% and a well above average 49.8% ground ball rate. Over his career as a starter, he’s been significantly better at getting ground balls vs righties (52.7% vs righties and 46% vs lefties). Given that, Jake Lamb (.391 wOBA and .272 ISO) is too cheap at $3,000 and David Peralta (.355 wOBA) is also a fantastic play. Obviously if Paul Goldschmidt (.421 wOBA and .288 ISO) plays, he’s as good as anyone and JD Martinez (.367 wOBA and .315 ISO) is solid.

Houston AstrosJharel Cotton has struck out 18.3% and walked 9.3% to go along with a 36.1% ground ball rate. He’s a reliever who’s starting every 5th day and we should take advantage of that. The big three for the AstrosJose Altuve (.413 wOBA), Carlos Correa (.378 wOBA) and George Springer (.376 wOBA) are all top plays, and anyone else works in a stack. Random note – Houston Astros 7th batters have hit 27 home runs this season, 8th batters have hit 26 home runs, and 9th batters have hit 22 home runs. If you’re building an Astros stack, throw one of the bottom order hitters in that stack since someone at the bottom of the lineup is going to go yard tomorrow. Also, one other thing about Correa is he’s too cheap at $3,400. He’s an elite SS and priced as a mid range one.

Corey Seager, SS: $2,800 – I don’t know why Seager is $2,800, maybe because the Dodgers are losing every game, or the algorithm thinks he’s supposed to be playing, so the 0s he puts up in pinch-hitting appearances are being treated as “standard” 0-fers and thus his salary is being lowered due to a string of 0 and 3 point performances? Whatever the reason, his salary is going to shoot back up once he gets back into the starting lineup…which is likely to be today, so get him now before his salary is adjusted back to the range it should be at. Note – if the Dodgers lineup isn’t announced by lock, I’d make sure to have a pivot (or a 2 v 2 swap) that I’m comfortable with because there’s a non-zero chance the Dodgers decide to hold him out for a few more games.

I’m Only Happy When It Rains

With Irma about to hit, we’re clear in DFS for a day.

Doing Lines In Vegas

It’s warm in Texas, but it’s not “weather truther” hot and Tanaka is a good pitcher (albeit with a home run problem), so i’m not in love with that implied total of 4.5 for Texas.