I played a good chunk of change last night and, when I went to bed, I was cashing exactly 0.33 percent of that amount. If you aren’t familiar with the business of winning money, that’s not good.
It was pretty late when I checked my lineups for the final time—late for me anyway because I have the sleep habits of George W. Bush—so I considered it a huge win when I woke up with losses that amounted to somewhere around just one-third of my buy-ins. Clearly losing money is bad, but considering how I started the night, I was very happy with the outcome.
So what happened? Well, I rostered Luis Valbuena and Madison Bumgarner quite a bit, both of whom were unpopular choices and had big games. I’ve talked about the importance of being contrarian with bats, but I don’t do it that often with pitchers. However, I thought last night was a great example of how you can be contrarian on a top arm.
There were a lot of things working for Bumgarner last night—Vegas liked him, he has high strikeout upside, etc—but the main thing that was going against him was that he was facing Clayton Kershaw, so he wasn’t in line to get a win. However, I thought people would overrate the importance of that and it would drag down Bumgarner’s usage, which it did—one of the few correct decisions I made yesterday.
If you do the math, you’ll realize there’s no reason Bumgarner’s ownership should have been at 2.7%. Even if you’d expect him to get a win just 20 percent of the time versus Kershaw—and the number is probably higher than that—you’d then have an expectation of 0.8 points from a win (4.0 points multiplied by 0.2). If Bumgarner were a coin flip to win, you’d expect just 2.0 points over the long run, so you’re basically “losing” only 1.2 points in that situation as compared to a coin flip.
Is 1.2 points (or even two or three points) enough to fade Bumgarner at 2.7% ownership? Hell no! When two aces face each other, I think there’s a major value opportunity on the one who is expected to lose the game.
NOTE: All of today’s plays are for the late slate of games.
Colorado Rockies (vs Josh Collmenter)
The Rockies’ bats had low usage (most around 3%) in last night’s tournaments while playing against a weak right-hander in an awesome park. They’re in the exact same situation tonight with the exact same Vegas run projection of 4.3 runs, so I’d assume ownership is going to be only slightly higher due to a smaller slate and fewer options.
I love the Rockies’ lefty bats against right-handers since they almost all have extreme splits. I think you can run a mini-stack of Charlie Blackmon, Corey Dickerson, Justin Morneau, and Carlos Gonzalez out there that you can pair with a cheaper mini-stack—perhaps Oakland—to fit at least one top arm into your lineup. I realize it probably isn’t long-term profitable to target Colorado bats outside of Coors, but their price is dropping more when on the road this season, Chase Field rocks for batters, and you’re probably looking at low ownership.
Los Angeles Dodgers (vs Ryan Vogelsong)
This is probably my favorite potential stack of the night. A lot of the Dodgers’ bats crush right-handed pitching and, best of all, the stack is really cheap. Way too cheap, in my opinion, so you can realistically fit two aces into your lineup, or one ace and two big-time stud bats around a full six-man stack.
OF Corey Dickerson, Colorado (vs Josh Collmenter) – $5200
When Dickerson is facing a right-hander at home, he’ll often be my top overall player. Playing in Arizona isn’t a big enough drop that I’m going to fade a player who has a .425 wOBA and .285 ISO versus righties over the past 12 months. His ownership isn’t even going to be close to where it would have to be for me to not roster him in half of my lineups tonight.
1B Adrian Gonzalez, LA Dodgers (vs Ryan Vogelsong) – $4900
I mentioned a lot of Dodgers bats crush righties and Gonzo is one of them. He’s not quite at Dickerson’s level, but he’s close. It’s also worth noting that the Dodgers are currently getting over 80 percent of public betting money, which has actually added over a half-point per batter to a team’s fantasy scoring (over the expectation based on their salaries).
1B/3B Mark Reynolds, Milwaukee (vs Aaron Harang) – $3000
This is mostly a pricing play, but Reynolds does have “reverse splits” over the past 12 months in favor of right-handed pitching. He has a .235 ISO, which is about as high as you’re going to find at $3000. I also love players with multi-position eligibility because they just make lineup building far easier.
P Carlos Martinez, St. Louis (vs Philadelphia) – $7700
Martinez is the perfect mid-priced pitching option. Vegas has Philly projected at only 3.0 runs, which is 0.3 fewer than the Rangers versus Felix Hernandez. Jeff Nelson is the umpire behind the plate in this game, and he has historically added 1.1 fantasy points above expectation to pitchers’ DraftKings fantasy scores.