Editor’s Note: As part of our expanded fantasy coverage, this season Baseball America will dedicate a weekly column to daily fantasy baseball, a growing part of the fantasy landscape that offers a lot of flexibility to competitors. These stories will include general tips and strategy, as well as a list of players to target in your daily games each week.
Drew Smyly, TAM: So far this season, the 25-year-old Smyly is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA and 89 Ks in 105.2 IP, although he’s carrying just a 3.77 ERA in his 18 starts (4 1/3 of his innings have been in five relief appearances this season). As a lefty fly ball pitcher, he struggles against righthanded bats and has yielded 14 homers this season, but he’s given up a bunch of cheapies and most batters don’t make excellent contact against him, something the Rays were clearly looking for. While moving from Detroit to the Rays rotation doesn’t appear, on the surface, to be a good thing, I’m optimistic about Smyly’s chances to meet value by notching more strikeouts and getting knocked around a bit less in the second half.
David Price, DET: Price has pitched a lot over the last calendar year, but he’s one of the pitchers I recommended as an excellent second-half option in daily fantasy—and the move to the Motor City only enhances his prospects for more run support. The park factor difference is probably not all that significant, and the Tigers—along with the Athletics, are favorites to reach the ALCS once again this season. Price has a lot of great company in the Detroit rotation, so there’ll be less reliance on him going super deep into games like there was in Tampa Bay. But that’s not enough to get me fading him as a high upside option.
Jon Lester, OAK: Moving to Oaktown will be a good thing for Lester, even if there’s an adjustment period. For one thing, the park has plenty of foul ground and is a pitcher’s paradise compared to the double-generating left field wall in Fenway Park. The AL West competition isn’t quite as tough, and more games against Seattle in Safeco can only bolster his ERA. Lester is a capable pitcher who deals well with adversity, and he’s getting a break with the move out of the AL East. I’m eager to start him Thursday at home against the Twins, and you should be too.
Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, BOS: Cespedes has to benefit from the move to Fenway and batting fourth behind David Ortiz, and Craig had been reduced to pinch hitter status before coming over from St. Louis. This helps both their values in daily fantasy play, though Craig should be monitored as he’s dealing with an ankle injury.
Martin Prado and Stephen Drew, NYY: The Yankees gained some positional flexibility with the addition of Prado and Drew, which is important when most of your starters are pushing 40. While it’s hard to say how much regular time they’ll get in the Bronx, there will be opportunities to plug them in on occasion, especially if their prices stay low.
Austin Jackson, SEA: Jackson’s daily fantasy value definitely takes a hit with the move to Seattle—and out of the productive Detroit lineup. The one thing to watch is the reunion with former hitting instructor Lloyd McLendon, who really had him mashing in 2012 (.300/.377/.479 with 16 HR, 103 RBI and 12 SB). Stay tuned.
Last week’s Tuesday/Wednesday starter review
Cole Hamels, PHI (@NYM)—Hamels threw a gem to defeat the Mets on Tuesday, tossing eight innings of shutout ball and giving up just six hits and zero walks while striking out eight batters. He took an undeserving loss on Sunday in Washington (7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO), as the one run he gave up was unearned. I’ll continue to feature Hamels in my recommendations, even though his run support has been pretty poor this season.
Tyson Ross, SD (vs. STL)—Once again, Ross (10-10, 2.62 ERA this season) turned in quality starts last week, earning a win (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 7 SO) over the Cards on Tuesday and a no-decision (6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) on Sunday versus the Braves. It’s of some concern that he doesn’t go too deep past the sixth inning on many occasions, but he mixes in a lot of upside with his strikeout totals.
|INJURED PLAYERS TO WATCH/AVOID|
|Paul Goldschmidt, ARI (hand, DL: out indefinitely)
Cody Ross, ARI (calf, DL: possible mid-August return)
Chris Owings, ARI (shoulder, DL: possible early-August return)
Cliff Pennington, ARI (thumb, DL: possible August return)
A.J. Pollock, ARI (hand, DL: possible mid-August return)
Matt Wieters, BAL (elbow, DL: 2015)
David Ross, BOS (foot, DL: possible late-August return)
Shane Victorino, BOS (back, DL: out indefinitely)
Kelly Johnson, BOS (groin, DL: August 7 return)
Brandon Phillips, CIN (thumb, DL: possible late-August return)
Joey Votto, CIN (quad, DL: possible early-September return)
Nick Swisher, CLE (wrist, DTD)
Michael Bourn, CLE (hamstring, DL: out indefinitely)
Jason Giambi, CLE (knee, DL: possible August return)
Nyjer Morgan, CLE (knee, DL: out indefinitely)
Carlos Gonzalez, COL (ankle, DTD)
Troy Tulowitzki, COL (quad, DL: possible mid-August return)
Michael Cuddyer, COL (shoulder, DL: possible mid-August return)
Jesus Guzman, HOU (back, DL: out indefinitely)
George Springer, HOU (quad, DL: possible early-August return)
Alex Presley, HOU (ribs, DL: out indefinitely)
Dexter Fowler, HOU (ribs, DL: possible late-July return)
Eric Hosmer, KAN (hand, DL: possible early-September return)
Grant Green, LAA (back, DL: out indefinitely)
Collin Cowgill, LAA (nose, DL: possible mid-August return)
A.J. Ellis, LAD (knee, DTD)
Chone Figgins, LAD (hip, DL: possible late-July return)
Derek Dietrich, MIA (wrist, DL: out indefinitely)
Rafael Furcal, MIA (hamstring, DL: out indefinitely)
Scooter Gennett, MIL (quad, DTD)
Jean Segura, MIL (quad, DTD)
Jeff Bianchi, MIL (elbow, DL: possible early-August return)
Joe Mauer, MIN (ribs, DL: possible mid-July return)
Nick Punto, OAK (hamstring, DL: out indefinitely)
Craig Gentry, OAK (hand, DL: possible mid-August return)
Coco Crisp, OAK (neck, status uncertain)
Kyle Blanks, OAK (calf, DL: possible mid-July return)
Domonic Brown, PHI (illness, DTD)
John Mayberry, PHI (wrist, DL: possible early-August return)
Andrew McCutchen, PIT (back, status uncertain)
Neil Walker, PIT (back, DTD)
Starling Marte, PIT (concussion, DL: early August)
Clint Barmes, PIT (groin, DL: possible mid-August return)
Carlos Quentin, SD (knee, DL: possible mid-August return)
Cameron Maybin, SD (suspended)
Marco Scutaro, SF (back, DL: possible late-August return)
Angel Pagan, SF (back, DL: possible early-August return)
Corey Hart, SEA (knee, DL: late August return)
Willie Bloomquist, SEA (knee, DL: out indefinitely)
Michael Saunders, SEA (ribs, DL: possible early-August return)
Jon Jay, STL (wrist, DTD)
Yadier Molina, STL (thumb, DL: possible late-September return)
David DeJesus, TAM (hand, DL: possible mid-August return)
Ryan Hanigan, TAM (ribs, DL: Early August return)
Wil Myers, TAM (wrist, DL: possible mid-August return)
Jake Smolinski, TEX (foot, DL: possible early-August return)
Prince Fielder, TEX (neck, DL: 2015)
Mitch Moreland, TEX (ankle, DL: 2015)
Kevin Kouzmanoff, TEX (back, DL: possible July return)
Jurickson Profar, TEX (shoulder, DL: possible September return)
Dan Johnson, TOR (hamstring, DL: August return)
Adam Lind, TOR (foot, DL: possible early-August return)
Edwin Encarnacion, TOR (quad, DL: possible early-August return)
Brett Lawrie, TOR (finger, DL: possible early-August return)
Maicer Izturis, TOR (knee, DL: possible September return)
Nate McLouth, WAS (shoulder, DL: mid-August return)
Ryan Zimmerman, WAS (hamstring, DL: out indefinitely)
(Day) David Price, TAM (vs. MIL)—Before Price was traded to the Tigers, he turned in a ho-hum performance against the Brewers, taking his first loss since June 20. Price went seven innings and gave up seven hits and two walks (3 ER), and striking out six. Since the trade rumors were already swirling at the time, I’ll give him a free pass.
(Night) Jon Lester, BOS (vs. TOR)—Like Price, Lester was traded before the deadline last week, and was pulled from his July 30 start against Toronto. On August 2, he made his debut for the Athletics on Saturday (6.2 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). It could take some time before he’s adjusted to his new squad, but he’s always worth considering with such a great offense behind him in Oakland.
This week’s starter recommendations
(day) Chris Sale, CWS (vs. TEX)—His last outing left much to be desired, but I like to ignore second starts against the same team in less than a week, which was the case after Sale dispatched the Twins in Minnesota on July 26 (8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 SO) before getting roughed up at home against them six days later (6 OP, 8 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 7 SO). The Rangers hitters have been better lately, but they can’t scare me off one of the best pitchers in the AL.
(night) Yordano Ventura, KAN (@ ARI)—With the D-Backs lineup depleted due to injuries and Ventura regaining some of the strikeout ability he flashed in the early season, I’m going heavy on the flame-throwing young righty in the late games. He’s never faced Arizona, and though Chase Field is a hitter’s park, I’m convinced he can handle this lineup since he fares pretty well against lefties.
CONTRARIAN BONUS: (night) Jake Arrieta, CHC (@ COL)—There won’t be too many folks paying up for Arrieta in Coors Field, but I might dot a few lineups with him as a contrarian play. He hasn’t given up a home run since June 18, and he’s striking his K/9 rate is at 9.73 this season. Even if the Rockies string together a few hits, I like his chance at picking up a win and fanning close to 10 batters or more.
NOTE: Make sure you check the weather forecast and any changes in probable starters from the revised schedule. There’s not much worse than a zero from one of your starters—and it’s usually avoidable if you’re prudent about the risks you’re willing to take.
Hitters to watch/target this week
Orioles hitters: Nelson Cruz and most of the rest of the Orioles lineup have been slumping lately, but I think the O’s offense is ready for a turnaround, and this week it might be prudent to get some of them in there while the prices are depressed.
Cubs hitters: Everybody likes hitting in Coors Field, and while Starlin Castro, Junior Lake, Justin Ruggiano and plenty of the other Cubbies are a streaky bunch, you can definitely count on some dingers from them, a boatload of points from stalwart slugger Anthony Rizzo, and plenty of hits from the young Arismendy Alcantara.
White Sox hitters: They take on Texas in U.S. Cellular Field before heading to Safeco , but they won’t deal with King Felix, who pitched Tuesday, until Sunday. Jose Abreu, Conor Gillaspie, Gordon Beckham and Adam Eaton all have huge upside at varying levels of price, so pick and chose a few of these guys and you’ll have an leg up on the competition.
Other hitters to watch/target this week: Todd Frazier/Devin Mesoraco, CIN: Miguel Cabrera/J.D. Martinez/Torii Hunter, DET; Daniel Murphy/David Wright, NYM; Ian Desmond/Denard Span/Bryce Harper, WAS; Chase Utley/Ryan Howard/Ben Revere, PHI; Ryan Braun/Carlos Gomez, MIL; Dustin Pedroia/David Ortiz/Yoenis Cespedes, BOS; Alex Gordon/Billy Butler/Sal Perez, KAN; Brandon Moss/Josh Reddick/Stephen Vogt/Josh Donaldson, OAK; Mike Trout/Kole Calhoun/Howie Kendrick, LAA; Yasiel Puig/Matt Kemp/Dee Gordon/Adrian Gonzalez, LAD