In this article, I’m going to lay out the groundwork to build off in three to five entry max contests. When playing these types of contests, I find that I have the most success when I have a core, (generally one pitcher on FD and two on DK with a three-player stack and one to two one-off bats) that will find their way into 100% of my lineups. The idea of locking in a core is to limit, for lack of a better term, “randomness” across our lineups. By mixing and matching a few bats around our core across all lineups, we’re able to rule out some tough lineup decisions we may face while not getting completely overwhelmed with a large pool of players.
Below I’ve outlined the pitchers, stacks, and one-offs that I’m considering incorporating into my core for tonight.
Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)
Tanaka is a guy that I've always been critical of simply because I think he's mediocre, and have thought that since he joined the Yankees. With that being said, he's been solid over his last seven starts, outside of one or two outings, and faces a mediocre White Sox team at home. Tanaka has gone at least six innings in five of his last seven outings with at least six K's in four of those starts and has allowed two or fewer runs six times over that span. The White Sox have a strikeout rate of 24.3 percent and a walk rate of 7.2 percent over their last 14 days as a team. On the season against righties, they've struck out 25.6 percent of the time (second-highest in baseball) and walked just 6.8 percent of the time (second-lowest). In a game in which the Yankees should win, Tanaka pitches well and pays off his salary on both sites as a floor with high upside by way of the strikeout.
Jon Gray (COL)
Gray was sent down to Triple-A earlier this season which still baffles me. Anyway, Gray, who was dealing with horrific luck early on in the campaign has coincidentally seen his numbers regress to the mean since being called back up. His numbers are very good to great across the board. With a 10.36 K/9, 27.1 percent K rate, 6.5 percent walk rate, and a 3.27 FIP Gray takes on the Angels on the road who are still without one of the middle-of-the-order bats in Justin Upton. In his last two road starts, in Atlanta and Milwaukee, Gray has combined for 15 innings, 17 strikeouts, and four earned runs. His price on FD is preposterous at 8.9K which is 1.3K less than Tanaka and is sixth-highest on the slate. He's 8.7K on DK which for the setup over there is still underpriced, but more realistic than FD's tag sale pricing.
*Using both Tanaka and Gray on DK is something I will consider tonight with value bats worth looking at and taking into account their manageable salaries on DK. With that being said, some were asking me to include SP2 option(s) on the lower end as far as salaries go. I will do that when they're in play for me to consider, however, keep in mind that this article is based on building a core to use in multiple lineups, meaning that the SP2 option I would list I would feel comfortable enough to roster in ALL of my lineups. That is not always the case, but tonight I like...
Sam Gaviglio (TOR)
Gaviglio pitched like dog shit two outings ago against the Royals of all of teams but bounced back against the Orioles in his next start. That was the second time this season that he pitched well against Baltimore, both of which were in Toronto. This time, Gaviglio faces the O's and their watered down lineup in Camden Yards which is a bit worrisome, but at this salary it's impossible to not think that Gaviglio will bring back 18 to 20 DK points which is less than his average of 22.75 in his two starts against Baltimore this season.
Curtis Granderson, Billy McKinney, Justin Smoak
Billy McKinney has been red hot since he's been given regular playing time for the Jays, specifically over his last six games. With a hard-hit rate of 61 percent over that span, McKinney has two doubles and three home runs. Granderson is another lefty that I feel good about using against David Hess. All 11 of Grandy's home runs have come against righties this season and he was given Sunday off suggesting that he should be in there tonight. If he's NOT in the lineup, the pivot I would make as we stand right now is Randal Grichuk. Justin Smoak is priced at just 3.2K on FD and 4.2K on DK. Yes, I am well aware that Kendrys Morales is going bananas right now. However, so is his salary and at the end of the day he's still Kendrys Morales and will slow down. Smoak has a .369 wOBA and .244 ISO against righties while hitting 10 of his 19 home runs on the road this season. Hess pitched well in his last starts, somehow against the Indians in Cleveland, but lefties have beaten the hell out of him all season. He allows 2.39 HR/9 and a .359 wOBA to left-handed hitters.
Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel
Somehow Brett Anderson has pitched well which is odd because I thought for sure that he'd be hurt or banished to the bullpen by now. However, the Astros will get him tonight and Bregman, Correa, and Gurriel are the three to lock in for me. On FD Evan Gattis is a pivot worth considering off of Gurriel for just 100$ more at the same position. Bregman and Correa hit lefties very well and Gurriel fits in salary-wise in the middle of the order for the 'Stros.
Top One-off Bats
More often than not these are value/underpriced high upside bats, otherwise, they could be bats that I simply have to have in all of my lineups. At times they’ll serve as salary relief allowing you to mix and match some exposure with higher-priced bats throughout our lineups.
Steven Souza (ARI)
Souza fits in as a guy with good reverse-splits numbers facing a pitcher who struggles with that split. Chris Stratton has allowed a .347 wOBA, 47.2 hard-hit rate, and a 37.6 fly ball rate to righties this season. Souza for his career has a .320 wOBA, .189 ISO, and a 20.2 percent HR/FB rate against righties.
Carlos Gonzalez (COL)
CarGo has three doubles in his last three games going six for 14 and has hits in 12 of his last 14 games. He's hitting righties well with a .358 wOBA and .205 ISO on the season and is doing damage on the road with five of his 14 home runs coming on the road. Despaigne is on the mound for the Angels and has allowed eight runs over his last two starts. The value that CarGo brings to the table (2.9K on FD especially) makes him an easy player to plug in.