We have an 11-game MLB Tiers fantasy baseball slate for Friday. Something to always remember when playing Tiers is with a player pool so limited, it is likely a large portion of the field is aware of who the “best plays” are. But in a sport such as baseball, where variance reigns supreme, you will need to avoid the chalk in a few spots in order to take down a GPP. Stacking in Tiers where you can is another thing to take advantage of.
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Tier 1OF Austin Meadows, TB at BOS
C Gary Sanchez, NYY at CLE
OF Christian Yelich, MIL vs. PIT
SS Trevor Story, COL at NYM
Yelich is enjoying another MVP-caliber season, hitting .328 with 23 home runs, 13 steals and 51 RBI. Additionally, the Brewers have the top run total of the day. It appears to be a good bet Yelich will be the highest owned player in the first tier. I always recommend a Tiers approach that fades the chalk, but fading Yelich will not be for the faint of heart.
Indians rookie Zach Plesac has been impressive in his first two starts, allowing two earned runs in 12 1/3 innings. However, his xFIP is 4.20, indicating there might be some luck involved in those outcomes. The betting lines agree, as the Yankees still have a 4.8 run total. Sanchez has had a great year, with 19 home runs in 43 games played. He has a .413 ISO against righties this season.
Meadows is the best overall play of this tier. He is enjoying a breakout season in his first full year with the Rays, hitting .349 with 12 home runs and seven steals. Tampa Bay also will be facing a reeling pitcher in Rick Porcello, who has a 4.76 ERA and just 56 strikeouts in 68 innings. The past two seasons, he has allowed a 41% fly-ball rate and .185 ISO to left-handed hitters. In that same timeframe, Meadows has a .223 ISO when facing righties.
Tier 33B Alex Bregman, HOU vs. BAL
SS Francisco Lindor, CLE vs. NYY
2B/3B D.J. LeMehieu, NYY at CLE
1B Luke Voit, NYY at CLE
OF Tommy Pham, TB at BOS
OF Avisail Garcia, TB at BOS
This is a great tier that allows for some excellent correlation with Tier 1. If you aren’t looking to stack (but really, you should), Bregman and Lindor each make for interesting one-off plays. Bregman has the better matchup, but both are top-end MLB hitters capable of breaking out in any spot. I do not expect there to be an overwhelming amount of chalk in this tier and would not worry about any player being too owned to use.
If you are going the stacking route, we have two different Yankees to choose from if deploying Sanchez in Tier 1. Of the two, I greatly prefer Voit, who has displayed a lot more power than LeMehieu throughout his career. LeMehieu is an excellent hitter and is batting .323 on the year, but he never has had a season with more than 15 home runs despite playing for the Rockies, while Voit already has gone yard 15 times this year. I am much more interested in ceiling than floor in Tiers contests.
The Rays’ bats are a lot more competitive if stacking with Meadows. They are within 10 points of ISO of each other the past two seasons against righties, with Garcia having a two-point edge this year. Both are over .200 in 2019, and both bat from the right-hand side, so there is no platoon advantage between the two. There are two pieces of information that likely point us to Pham, however. He has a 40-point wOBA advantage the past two seasons against right-handed pitching, and is also likely to bat next to Meadows in the order. Garcia is typically all over the lineup and could hit as low as sixth, which greatly would reduce his correlation with Meadows.
Tier 62B/OF Whit Merrifield, KC vs. CHW
2B Brandon Lowe, TB at BOS
3B Matt Chapman, OAK at TEX
OF Alex Gordon, KC vs. CHW
OF Michael Brantley, HOU vs. BAL
OF Eddie Rosario, MIN at DET
OF Bryce Harper, PHI vs. CIN
Tier 6 is one of the more interesting groups I’ve seen in a while. In particular, we have an obvious standout who is expected to be highly owned by the name of Bryce Harper. Very rarely do we see a player of Harper’s name value in the final tier, but he finds himself here due to hitting only .250 with 11 home runs through 62 games. At just 26 years old, he appears to be in some form of decline. Because people still will roster him, and perhaps the most in the tier, he is a must-fade for me.
I like Gordon here as a one-off play as he faces Ivan Nova, who has a 4.45 xFIP the past two seasons and tries to generate a lot of ground balls with his sinker. He throws the pitch more than 40% of the time. Gordon has hit sinkers very well, with a .227 ISO and .381 wOBA against right-handed sinkers since the start of 2016. Nova also has struggled with lefties, giving up a .217 ISO and .376 wOBA to them. That represents and extra 40 and 50 points, respectively, than what he allows to righties.
Lowe is my favorite play here, especially if stacking Rays. He should complete a 1-2-3 stack with Meadows and Pham and has the same platoon advantage against Porcello as Meadows does. Lowe has a .232 ISO against righties since the start of 2018. Porcello throws his fastball twice as often when facing left-handed batters (30%), and Lowe has smacked fastballs in a major way. He has a .364 ISO and .461 against the pitch. He might be the most valuable part of the Rays stack.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is amicsta) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.