Loyal readers of mine know that from time to time, I will offer FanDuel DFS advice that is not specifically tied to a pick or a player, or even just that day’s slate. This is because while I am sure the vast majority of you reading this are well aware of the particulars of any game theory concept relevant to DFS contests that I could write upon, there are some out there who don’t know about the concept, or could use a reminder about its usage. Usually I try to tie the tactic to that slate, but sometimes there’s nothing and I just write. But, today, there is one!
It’s Late Swap, and how to use it in a cash game when there’s significant early chalk. There’s a very good chance Carlos Carrasco is going to be mega chalk today (if he is not, then anything I am writing here becomes irrelevant), and there’s also a very good chance hitters from the Angels/Rangers game are going to be mega chalk. In other words, if your lineup contains Carrasco and a significant number of Angels and Rangers, it’s very likely that your success in cash contests will ultimately come down to the few non-Angels and Rangers you play. For example, suppose that a vast majority of lineups are nearly identical except some go Ryan Zimmerman and some go Ji-Man Choi. And suppose you picked Choi, and then suppose Zimmerman’s already hit a 3-run HR and Choi’s 0 for 2 before the Angels/Rangers start. This is where late swap can save you. If it’s abundantly clear that the players you have remaining are all going to come with significant ownership and the other lineups that have those players are ahead of you, then you must move off of those guys because you need to create a new point of differentiation from the chalk. Even if Mike Trout’s median projection is higher than everyone else, this is still baseball and Mike Trout can easily go 0-4 or 1-5 and say, Khris Davis can easily drop 3 bombs and be the high score of the slate. Whatever chance that Khris Davis has at out-scoring Mike Trout is still a chance, and that chance is still greater than zero (your odds of winning if you simply do nothing and let your super chalky guys remain in your lineup). Of course, I must stress that it must be clear that you are drawing dead (or basically dead) if you keep your chalky players in your lineup. If you’ve got guys who are say, 55% owned yet to play, and need points, you’re still far better off sticking with them because if they put up a big enough number you should be able to sneak into the last few winning sports in a cash game. But if they’re going to be 90% owned (and this will require you looking through your contests and taking your best guess as to who will be owned and by how much), then it just may be the case that you need to make that swap to an inferior median play in order to have a chance. So don’t forget to monitor your contests and make that swap if you have to, and if you’re a true degenerate, you’ll monitor every single contest you have because each contest is different, and I don’t care if you have registered for 500 contests, you’ll still do it! Not that I speak from experience or anything…
On to the picks…
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Carlos Carrasco, P, $9,600 – Talk about an overreaction to a horrific start, and to be clear it was a complete and total train wreck, although not as bad Steven Matz yesterday not even getting an out and giving up 8 runs. Carrasco is still showing similar skills to his career with a 30.9% strikeout rate and a 5.5% walk rate. The Mariners are a high strikeout lineup and aren’t particularly good even though they were the hottest team in the league for the first 10 or so games.
Ji-Man Choi, 1B, $2,700 – Choi has always hit pretty well throughout his career (108 wRC+ and 118 vs righties) and is facing David Hess and his 16.9% strikeout rate and 8% walk rate. Hess backs those statistics up with a 33% groundball rate. All of this means it’s a good environment for Tampa to hit pretty well, and Choi is cheap.
Tampa Bay Rays – I singled out Choi because he’s cheap, but this is a great spot for the Rays, and virtually the entire starting lineup is playable here because of the aforementioned David Hess. Tommy Pham (.406 wOBA vs righties), Austin Meadows (.441 wOBA) and Brandon Lowe (.364 wOBA) are the best plays. The Rays lineup outside of Choi doesn’t offer much in the way of savings, so you’re going to have to pay for the production, but Carrasco and Hamels are cheap enough that you’re going to have money to spend.
Ben Zobrist, OF, $2,500 – Last week I wrote this about Ben Zobrist: “Zobrist is too good a hitter at too cheap a price to not exploit this. I want to quickly point out that outside of a weirdly horrible 2017 (82 wRC+ and .251 BABIP), Zobrist has been quite good the last couple of years, and this year he’s just continued his good offensive production. Since he came to the Cubs, his wRC+ are 124, 82, 123, and is at 131 so far this year.” Zobrist hasn’t hit for any power since then and sits at a 103 wRC+ and his price has dropped even further. He’s not going to hit for zero power all year and he’s still too good for the price, especially if he’s hitting leadoff.
Los Angeles Angels – It’s unfortunate Mike Trout will never have a good offense around him, because the Angels seemingly have no clue what a good offensive player is. This team probably thinks Trout’s best contribution is his defense. This offense is garbage and the fact that it’s projected to score 5.3 runs tells you all you need to know about Lance Lynn, especially since this game isn’t on the moon or in 100 degree heat with a 90 degree dew point. Lance Lynn is exploitable vs lefties (15.9% strikeout rate and a 13.6% walk rate) and does pretty well vs righties (28.6% strikeout rate and 8.7% walk rate), so the the lineup the Angels will likely throw out there will have 4 lefties, 4 righties and the corpse of Albert Pujols, who happens to swing a bat from the right side. All the lefties are in play with Kole Calhoun, Justin Bour being the best plays. And obviously Mike Trout is always in play since he’s the best hitter in baseball, but even though their total is high, these aren’t 100% rock solid cash game plays since if Lynn dominates righties, rallies are going to be somewhat difficult to come by.
Texas Rangers – Matt Harvey’s strikeout and walk rates to lefties and righties are similar to each other. That’s not a good thing though. Versus righties, he has 20.2% strikeouts and 5.6% walks and versus lefties, he has 19.3% strikeouts and 5.6% walks. The only difference is when he faces lefties, he induces ground balls 39.2% of the time, but versus righties he gets ground balls at a legitimately solid 45.7% of the time. So while righties are still in play, the guys we’re looking for here are lefties because we can fire away with the utmost confidence with any left handed bat here. I want to start with the power-quad of Shin-Soo Choo (.396 wOBA and .213 ISO vs righties), Nomar Mazara (.345 wOBA and .171 ISO), Joey Gallo (.364 wOBA and .294 ISO) and Asdrubal Cabrera (.356 wOBA and .242 ISO). Danny Santana is getting up there in price at $2,800, and I would consider him in stacks only.
Atlanta Braves – Zack Godley’s early season struggles are definitely a concern. He’s continuing his sub par pitching from last year, but now he’s managed to lose another .9 MPH on his fastball. He’s failing to get ground balls so far this year (down to 40.8%) and his strikeouts are down to 20.8%. If the velo stays where it is now, Godley is going to be someone we’re targeting repeatedly in 2019. I’d start with Freddie Freeman and his .379 wOBA vs righties, especially given his price is coming down to $4,100. The rest of the Braves team seem better off as stack-options as opposed to cash as this is an excellent stacking lineup given that Godley’s control is poor. And if the velo remains at this lower level we’ve seen in 2019, we’re looking at a fly ball pitcher.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
Minnesota is going to rain, Atlanta is going to be warm and it may rain some in Texas, because weather messes with Texas (as we all should).
Doing Lines In Vegas
Jeff Samardzija obliterates the Rockies away from Coors, and suddenly the Giants are good enough to make the Nationals only -130 tomorrow? Come on. Shutting down the Rockies offense away from Coors isn’t hard. Their lineup often includes Pat Valaika and/or Tony Wolters, two of the only “hitters” so bad that they actually enter the conversation of “are there pitchers who hit better than this” (the answer is still no, but simply the fact that the question has to be asked is damning enough). Blackmon’s 2017 power surge has faded away. Ian Desmond? Mark Reynolds? Come on. Nolan and Story are good, Dahl might be good but he’s hurt, and that’s it. Wait, this isn’t about them, okay, getting back on track. The point is, shutting down the Rockies in San Fransisco isn’t exactly impressive. .It’s something every single major league starting pitcher should do. Now he faces a real offense. Take Nationals -130 and laugh at people who make dumb decisions based on the thought process that Nolan and Story are Trout and Betts, and the other Rockies hitters are solid.