MLB Sim Sports Picks for 4/3/20 on FanDuel
Do you miss baseball? Yeah, we do, too.
Maybe you can't quite fill that sports void in your heart, but FanDuel has been coming up with new contests to keep us entertained during these strange times.
Enter MLB Sims Sports, a new free-to-play format that simulates the baseball games that were originally scheduled for play each day. Starting pitchers and batting orders are announced in advance, and then games will play out through numberFire's custom simulator.
Starting pitchers will have a simulated pitch count that we won't know beforehand but should be roughly based on their performance last season. Hitters will play the whole game, so there's no fear of pinch hitters and the like.
Best of all, the simulation is meant to replicate real life, so all the usual things you typically analyze in MLB DFS -- player skills, matchups, park factors, and platoon splits -- are in play here, so you can approach this in much the same way you would on a real baseball slate.
Below are the starting pitchers for Friday's slate, which locks at 1:10pm ET. Stats are from 2019 and limited to just games started, so you may see slight changes in the overall numbers of some players who made appearances out of the bullpen, such as Carlos Carrasco. Note that Lance McCullers missed the entire 2019 season, so his 2018 numbers are listed instead. Opposing strikeout rate and wRC+ are last year's numbers against a given pitcher's handedness using updated active rosters, per FanGraphs.
|Pitcher||Salary||Opp.||SIERA||K %||BB %||Opp. K%||Opp. wRC+|
|Walker Buehler (R)||$11,000||@SFG||3.50||29.2%||5.0%||24.0%||89|
|Blake Snell (L)||$10,100||@TEX||3.56||33.3%||9.1%||26.4%||97|
|Carlos Carrasco (R)||$9,400||@DET||3.49||28.7%||4.0%||25.6%||82|
|Lance Lynn (R)||$8,900||TAM||3.83||28.1%||6.7%||24.3%||99|
|Lance McCullers Jr. (R)*||$8,300||@LAA||3.69||26.5%||9.6%||20.3%||109|
|Cole Hamels (L)||$8,000||MIA||4.55||23.2%||9.1%||24.9%||82|
|Kyle Hendricks (R)||$7,900||ARI||4.38||20.6%||4.4%||21.8%||96|
|Luke Weaver (R)||$7,600||@CHC||3.84||26.5%||5.4%||23.5%||108|
|Dylan Bundy (R)||$6,800||HOU||4.54||23.1%||8.3%||16.3%||129|
|Jeff Samardzija (R)||$6,700||LOS||4.92||18.9%||6.6%||20.2%||122|
|Joey Lucchesi (L)||$6,500||@COL||4.48||23.0%||8.2%||24.1%||98|
|Jordan Yamamoto (R)||$6,300||@ATL||4.71||25.2%||11.1%||22.4%||100|
|Ivan Nova (R)||$6,200||CLE||5.16||14.1%||5.8%||22.1%||96|
|Kyle Freeland (L)||$5,800||SDP||5.19||16.7%||8.3%||24.5%||107|
To help get you started, let's go through some of the top pitchers and stacks on today's slate.
I published a study last month on how high-priced pitchers performed in 2019, and lineups that spent $10k or more at the position performed overwhelmingly better than those that did not. While shelling out cash for top pitchers isn't anything new, it was telling to see just how successful it was, meaning if you're paying down, you should typically only be doing so if you feel really good about a pitcher.
Buehler is a clear top choice, owning some of the best overall numbers on the board while also benefiting from a cushy matchup against the San Francisco Giants. And remember, ballparks still matter, too, so he gets another boost from the pitcher-friendly virtual confines of Oracle Park. He also probably has a good shot at nailing the win behind a powerful Dodgers lineup.
Snell owns the best strikeout rate of the slate (33.3%) and is going up against the team with the highest opposing strikeout rate split (26.4%) -- a beautiful DFS combination. His 9.1% walk rate likely gives him a wider range of outcomes than Buehler, but he gets a $900 discount and has just as much upside, if not more.
The simulation may not know about Carrasco's bout with leukemia last season, but his peripherals actually remained strong despite the final 5.29 ERA, and he should still get credit for his prior track record. The unknowns put him behind Buehler and Snell, but his matchup doesn't get much better than the lowly Tigers, and the lower price tag will come in handy on a Coors Field slate.
Similar to the study on pitchers, I also took a look at how well stacks did in 2019, and the popular strategy paid off immensely. Rostering at least one four-man stack is pretty much a must, and we should take the same approach in MLB Sim Sports.
Of the two, San Diego has the preferred matchup against Kyle Freeland, who was absolutely abysmal in 2019. The left-hander was rocked for a 6.73 ERA and allowed 2.16 homers per nine innings, which doesn't come as a surprise considering his sorry marks in the table above. While his peripherals remained fairly solid against lefties, righty sticks did most of the damage, posting a 6.56 FIP and 5.38 xFIP against him.
Fernando Tatis Jr. ($4,000), Tommy Pham ($3,600), and Manny Machado ($3,900) are a formidable trio at the top of the order, and all of them mash lefties. On the cheaper side, you could go with Wil Myers ($3,100) out of the five-hole, who still posted a .368 wOBA and .279 ISO with the platoon advantage despite his overall struggles last season. The bottom three batters are all inexpensive if you need to fill out your stack, and of that group, the simulation could favor switch-hitter Jurickson Profar ($3,000), who was actually above average versus southpaws in 2019.
The Rockies get the tougher matchup versus Joey Lucchesi, but the lefty was pretty much league average against right-handed hitters, posting a 22.9% strikeout rate, 7.6% walk rate, 4.25 FIP, and 4.48 xFIP in the split.
Nolan Arenado ($4,300) and Trevor Story ($4,200) are the obvious choices, though they're among the most expensive bats on the day. Ian Desmond ($3,100) and Garrett Hampson ($3,000) are cheaper righties lower in the order. The number of lefty sticks in today's lineup makes stacking Colorado a little more tricky, but Lucchesi isn't so dangerous that we have to avoid leadoff man David Dahl ($3,700) or Charlie Blackmon ($4,100) from the three-hole.
Coors Field figures to still be popular even in a simulated environment, so you could pivot to Cleveland against Ivan Nova, too. Nova posted a mere 4.72 ERA last year and has perhaps the worst overall peripherals next to Freeland.
Best of all, Cleveland isn't especially expensive outside of leadoff man Francisco Lindor ($3,900), who's followed by Cesar Hernandez ($2,300), Jose Ramirez ($3,600), Carlos Santana ($3,300), and Franmil Reyes ($2,800). The rest of the order is all below $3,000, too, giving you plenty of ways to stack this team while still being able to pay up at pitcher.
The author of this article has no involvement with the MLB Sim Sports simulations powered by numberFire and has no knowledge of the results of tonight’s contest.