I had a bad day in this space yesterday. I admit it. I have bad days, sometimes too often. Sometimes I get in the zone and roll off a few good ones in a row. Such is life in the fantasy world, and it’s why a lot of people prefer the long-game of seasonal leagues. In those leagues, some of the daily variance goes away because there are far fewer decisions to be made.
Daily leaguers, though, crave that renewed challenge every morning to try and beat the system and beat each other. It’s a part of what makes formats like DraftStreet or Fangraphs The Game so fun and addicting – if you win, you feel the high and want to keep rolling, and if you lose there’s a chance to bounce back the next day.
In that way, daily fantasy leagues are a lot like actual baseball, though it’s certainly much more difficult than “you throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball.” Those who avoid daily leagues? Lollygaggers.
Yes, today’s post is inspired by the 25th anniversary of Bull Durham, one of my favourite movies (even if it is a bit of a chick flick at times). No advice in the grafs, but hopefully some beauties in the daily five.
The Daily Five
Corey Kluber – $11,400
Kluber has been a solid find in the Indians rotation this year, posting a 4.08 ERA with friendly underlying peripherals (3.39 FIP and 3.03 xFIP). Perhaps more importantly, he draws the punch-less Washington Nationals, who have just a .300 wOBA against right-handed pitchers this year. There is a risk of scattered showers at this writing, but with a day game limiting the chance of rainout and a wind blowing balls foul to the right field side, Kluber has the makings of a fine start. Only once in his last five turns has he failed to net a quality start and only one has he come up short of five strikeouts, and those games were against tougher line-ups than this one.
Tyler Lyons – $9,806
This duo means 20% of your budget is tied up in your two starters, leaving ample spending room for the batters on a day that should be friendly to hitters around the league. While warm, there’s a strong wind blowing in towards home plate in Miami, so only Giancarlo Stanton’s mighty bat stands in the way of a good start for Lyons. As much as it’s tough to chase wins, too, the Cardinals against the Marlins is as good a bet as there is in that regard. Don’t expect ample whiffs, but the Marlins’ .258 wOBA against lefties should really limit the downside.
Jonny Gomes – $6,131
Am I getting too cute looking down the price list for Gomes on a day when the heavy hitters should hit? Perhaps, especially given that the Sox threw me a curve and benched Daniel Nava on me yesterday. However, Dallas Keuchel is a homer-prone lefty and Gomes is a homer-prone righty who loves homer-prone lefties. In fact, Keuchel has given up a homer to righties every 28 plate appearances for his career while Gomes has hit one every 19 plate appearances against lefties. I’m not sure there’s a predictive model with those inputs, but add in 88-degree heat and a 15MPH wind blowing to center, and I’d say the odds are good Gomes goes yard for a second straight day.
Made an error here – the White Sox draw the Astros, not Red Sox. Gomes faces a righty but IS in the starting line-up, but I don’t feel as strongly. A right-handed White Sox outfielder (Viciedo cheap, Rios if you have the budget) could slide in here for the same reasons (Keuchel). Sorry about that.
Prince Fielder – $9,966
If you want to pass on dropping 10% of your budget on a single player, I can accept that, but we’ve saved some cash with these earlier picks. Fielder is “due” if such a thing exists, having not homered since June 4, which I believe plays in to the pricing algorithm and makes him artificially cheap, even though he has 13 hits in that 10-game span. Today he gets P.J. Walters, a smoke-and-mirrors guy who is probably set for a game where such trickery doesn’t work because, you know, he’s terrible. It’s going to be a warm one, and for what it’s worth there’s a 14 MPH wind blowing to left-center, so a right-handed Tiger wouldn’t be a bad play either.
Nelson Cruz – $7,665
Like with the Tigers, have your pick of Rangers for the day. Chien-Ming Wang in Arlington? Yes, please. I pegged Crus because despite his 16 homers he comes much cheaper than teammate Adrian Beltre and, curiously, Jeff Baker (plus I’ve been burned on David Murphy a few times of late). Not much more to say here, really, other than a favorable starter in a favorable hitting environment.
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