Baseball is a beautiful game. Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter is a perfect example of why. Down on his luck for the past three seasons, at least compared to his earlier success, Lincecum was able to be damn near perfect for one night, retiring all but one batter and striking out six.
Of course, for the purposes of daily fantasy, this type of unpredictable outburst is a black swan – you can’t plan for no-hitters, or anticipate them at all. You can, however, take two reminders from Lincecum’s performance.
For one, as we’ve been repeating here plenty, rest-of-season projections are generally very good. Despite ERAs of 5.18, 4.37 and 4.42 from 2012 to 2014, Lincecum still projects for a 3.98 ERA and 3.71 FIP by ZiPS (4.04 and 3.65 by Steamer). It’s easy to lose sight of underlying talent when a guy like Lincecum (or Justin Verlander?) has a rough stretch, but trusting the projections can help uncover value.
Second, the Padres are terrible. Like, really, atrociously, cover-your-eyes-but-you-still-have-to-watch-because-they’re-always-a-no-hit-candidate bad. Opponent performance matters. The Padres are hitting .217 off righties and have a wRC+ of just 74. That means they’re 26 percent worse than league average against righties, even when controlling for the impact of Petco. A team of Fangraphs writers, with Eno leading off and Carson in the clean-up spot (I’d bat eighth, obviously), would…okay, well that’s an exaggeration, but the Padres stink, and they’re even worse (wRC+ of 71) against lefties.
The Daily Five
Doug Fister – $17,199
Like the Padres, the Cubs also can’t hit righties (wRC+ of 74), and they also strike out 22.5 percent of the time. Fister isn’t cheap but he’s only the fifth most-pricey option on a thin day. His 2.65 ERA isn’t the real deal, but his strikeout rate should come up about half a strikeout per nine, and the absence of fly balls and walks raises his floor appreciably.
Jarred Cosart – $12,302
I’m generally not the biggest Cosart fan for daily because the strikeout rate isn’t great and I’m not quite convinced (yet) that his control issues have been ironed out, but this is a pretty good set-up. The Braves have just an 82 wRC+ against righties and, more importantly, strike out 22.3 percent of the time. Cosart’s ground ball rate insulates his floor some, too, and the pitching options are, as mentioned, thin.
Mike Leake – $12,349
I’m suggesting a third pitcher just to throw my entire set on the table on a thin day. This is a $42K trio, which leaves a solid chunk of the budget for hitters. I have a bit of a soft spot for Leake (I love the no-minors thing), and he’s having his best season by FIP and xFIP, enough that the projections systems see him as a solid 4.00-ERA guy moving forward. Today, he draws the Giants, a league average team against righties, but at AT&T Park, where home runs are suppressed some. It’s not a slam dunk, but it could be a decent value.
Angels stack – We’ve left you plenty of money for hitters, so you’ve got options (Tor/CWS should be fun, for example), but we’re going with the Angels here because Ricky Nolasco has been hot garbage for good chunks of the year and is especially friendly to lefties.
Mike Trout – $10,430 (hey, you gotta spend money to make money)
Kole Calhoun – $5,331
C.J. Cron – $5,397
Josh Hamilton – $7,303
If you don’t like any of those, and you can wait until there’s word on the lineup, Hank Conger at $5,212 could be good, too.
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