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Daily Fantasy Strategy – 7/23/13 – For Draftstreet

The trade deadline is upon us, and guys are on the move. Yesterday, it was Matt Garza heading to the Rangers. Today, it sounds like it could be Alfonso Soriano moving back to the Bronx.

Daily fantasy, like any other fantasy format, requires us to keep a careful eye on the guys moving from one situation to another. Unlike in most formats, though, we don’t have to play guessing games or acquire a player hoping that his situation will change. All we have to do is read, analyze, and react in daily leagues. So what do we want to keep in mind when a player changes their situation?

Playing Time

The first thing I want to look at when a player gets moved is how they are likely to be deployed by their new squad. Oftentimes, contending teams look to add bench players at this point in the season, and where a guy like Nate Schierholtz might be more of an everyday guy to the Cubs, if he gets moved to the Pirates, maybe he only sees the strong side of a platoon. If the Rangers add Matt Garza, maybe Alexi Ogando goes to the bullpen instead of the rotation eventually. Look to reports written by smart beat writers or analysts for this kind of info, as playing time isn’t something that we should make guesses about. It doesn’t always track with our analytical views.

Park Factors

Don’t forget to account for the changes in park factors, and how they can affect a player’s performance in daily fantasy games. Matt Garza moving to Arlington may be good for the Rangers, but is it good for Garza’s numbers? Probably not. Pitching in the heat of Texas in the middle of the summer, and against better competition, is likely going to mean fewer strikeouts and more runs against him. And if Chase Utley moves away from friendly Citizen’s Bank Park and to something less forgiving, like say O.co, then he could be in for a small dip in power. Try to account for this, especially in the first few days of a team transition.

Change of Scenery Effect

Let’s talk about something that is completely non-analytical … I do think some players get a non-quantifiable benefit from moving to a new situation, particularly when the circumstances of the move are positive. Vernon Wells moves from the Angels to the venerable Yankee franchise, where he’s looked at a valuable piece instead of a fifth outfielder, and he sees a small increase in productivity over a short time. I think there are some guys who do get a little jacked up to move into a playoff race, or a starting role, and I’m willing to move my bet a short bit to account for this info. I’m not saying bet big on every guy who gets dealt to the Yankees, but I do think this can change the calculation a little bit.

Keep these couple of things in mind when guys change locations, and you’ll be in the best possible position to take advantage of late-season changes in daily fantasy.

The Daily Five

Gerrit Cole – $9.402

Cole gets outs, and though he’s flashed a pedestrian strikeout rate (14.5% this season), his peripherals have led him to a 3.26 FIP and 3.89 ERA, he’s going to go up against a Nationals team that hasn’t hit very well. Though the Nats have scapegoated Rick Eckstein, there’s no reason to assume that they’ll start launching bombs immediately, especially against Cole and his advanced approach to pitching.

Hector Santiago – $9,240

Now’s the time to strike while the iron is hot against the Tigers. Hector’s ERA of 3.30 isn’t all that telling, but he does have real strikeout stuff, even when used as a starter. Meanwhile, Detroit looks to perhaps be missing the best offensive player in baseball, as Miguel Cabrera may sit out this game with an injury to his side. If there’s any time to pay a starter to pitch against the Tigers, today is probably it.

Joe Mauer – $7,932

He’s only one of the best hitters in baseball, posting a 144 wRC+ this season and playing a position without a whole lot of competition in daily fantasy. He faces off against Tommy Hanson, a pitcher who, over the last two years has been injured, ineffective, or both. This season, he’s certainly been both, and I like Mauer’s chances against him.

Adrian Gonzalez – $7,148

Todd Redmond is the opposing pitcher that Gonzalez will face tonight. Todd Redmond is a pitcher who’s thrown less than 45 innings this season, going back and forth from relief to starting. Also, Redmond hasn’t actually been good, carrying a 6.65 FIP in his limited major league action, and not beating the world in the minors. Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ first baseman is, rather quietly, hitting 30% above league average on the season.

Todd Frazier – $6,386

I know Frazier has been a source of frustration to Reds fans this season, but he’s also been pretty decent at hitting left-handed pitchers, and has hit much better at home. In fact, Frazier has a 173 wRC+ at home against lefties. And not all lefties are as bad as Barry Zito is. That’s the right kind of investment.

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