MLB Sim Sports Picks for 4/15/20 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 Wednesday's slate, which locks at 7:10pm 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. Opposing strikeout rate and wRC+ are last year's numbers against a given pitcher's handedness using updated active rosters, per FanGraphs.
Note: Lance McCullers Jr. missed all of 2019, so his 2018 stats are listed instead.
|Pitcher||Salary||Opp.||SIERA||K %||BB %||Opp. K%||Opp. wRC+|
|Lance McCullers Jr. (R)||$10,700||@TAM||3.69||26.5%||9.6%||24.3%||99|
|David Price (L)||$9,700||STL||3.85||28.0%||7.0%||22.4%||96|
|Jon Gray (R)||$9,700||@SDP||4.28||23.7%||8.4%||25.0%||88|
|Joey Lucchesi (L)||$7,600||COL||4.48||23.0%||8.2%||24.1%||98|
|Reynaldo Lopez (R)||$7,500||@KAN||4.88||20.9%||8.0%||22.1%||93|
|Rick Porcello (R)||$7,400||ATL||4.86||18.6%||5.9%||22.4%||100|
|Vince Velasquez (R)||$7,300||@MIL||4.42||24.6%||7.9%||22.8%||102|
|Trevor Williams (R)||$6,900||@ARI||5.08||17.8%||6.9%||21.8%||96|
|Mike Leake (R)||$6,600||PIT||4.79||15.2%||3.2%||20.1%||94|
|Homer Bailey (R)||$6,500||@TOR||4.60||21.4%||7.6%||25.2%||85|
|Brett Anderson (L)||$6,500||PHI||5.17||12.1%||6.6%||23.9%||109|
|Adam Wainwright (R)||$6,400||@LOS||4.70||20.5%||8.6%||20.2%||122|
|Tanner Roark (R)||$5,900||MIN||4.57||21.9%||7.1%||20.9%||119|
|Brad Keller (R)||$5,900||CWS||5.23||17.2%||9.9%||25.6%||107|
|Felix Hernandez (R)||$5,600||@NYM||5.02||17.5%||7.7%||21.5%||109|
|Yonny Chirinos (R)||$5,500||HOU||4.22||22.3%||5.6%||16.3%||129|
To help get you started, let's go through some of the top pitchers and stacks on tonight's eight-game slate.
Apparently all the aces got used up on Monday and Tuesday, as this is a rather ho-hum pitching slate.
Case in point, Lance McCullers Jr. ($10,700) is the night's most expensive pitcher and only one priced above $10k, and he missed the entire 2019 campaign recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Still, McCullers' 2018 stats and overall career history is quite favorable, and considering his salary, it doesn't look like the simulation is docking him for any injury concerns as we would in real life. He also gets a pitcher-friendly venue in the virtual Tropicana Field, and the Rays are a plus matchup for punchouts. It might feel a little weird, but under these circumstances, McCullers is worth the extra cash.
Similarly, David Price ($9,700) and Jon Gray ($9,700) are the next most expensive hurlers practically by default, but they're also worthwhile plays. Price has the highest 2019 strikeout rate of the bunch, and while his matchup against the Cardinals is somewhat neutral, the $1,000 discount off McCullers could come in handy. Gray's numbers don't quite match those two, but he benefits from arguably the best opponent of the three on the road against San Diego.
The talent drops off pretty quickly after those three, but if you would rather pay down, Joey Lucchesi ($7,600) is the way to go against the road-tripping Rockies. Attacking the Rockies away from Coors tends to work wonders in real life, so it's certainly worth a shot in these sims, which do account for park factors.
On the surface, Brett Anderson stands out in the above chart as a potential stacking target for the Philadelphia Phillies, but he actually posted a 3.89 ERA last year and tends to minimize home runs with a high ground-ball rate (54.5% in 2019). It's difficult to assess how the sim will view him tonight. Maybe you can use Bryce Harper ($3,600) or Rhys Hoskins ($3,400) as one-offs in case they can take advantage of the low strikeout rate, but it might not be the best spot for a full stack. Despite the lefty-lefty matchup, Harper is an above-average hitter versus lefties (career 119 wRC+), and he posted a .299 ISO against them last year.
Brad Keller presents a similar situation against the Chicago White Sox. He owns pretty uninspiring peripherals the past two seasons but has come away with a 3.68 ERA while allowing just 0.65 home runs per nine innings.
Considering those uncertainties, you could instead just ride with a powerful Minnesota Twins against Tanner Roark. The Twins are curiously cheap, and you probably don't need much convincing to roster home run threats like Nelson Cruz ($3,100), Miguel Sano ($3,000), and Josh Donaldson ($3,000) at these salaries. Roark posted a 5.41 FIP and 5.49 xFIP versus lefty sticks last year, so rocking with Max Kepler ($3,400) and/or Eddie Rosario ($3,200) is a wise move, too. And while we should expect Mitch Garver ($2,500) to come back down to earth even in a virtual setting, he did post a ridiculous .357 ISO last year (.327 versus righties), so there's no reason not to give him a whirl.
The Milwaukee Brewers should also be in consideration against Vincent Velasquez. The righty may have a solid strikeout rate, but he's no stranger to the long ball. Last season, Velasquez gave up 1.99 homers per nine innings, the 10th-worst rate among pitchers with at least 100 innings.
That's especially enticing at a home-run-friendly Miller Park, so Christian Yelich ($4,500), Justin Smoak ($3,500), Avisail Garcia ($3,200), and Keston Hiura ($2,900) are some candidates to launch a few balls into some simulated outfield seats. Omar Narvaez ($2,500) produced a .201 ISO and .351 wOBA with the platoon advantage in 2019, so he's also worth a look as a punt.
We passed Adam Wainwright's peak a long, long time ago, so there shouldn't be any hesitation in stacking an offensive juggernaut like the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cody Bellinger ($3,800), Joc Pederson ($3,500), Max Muncy ($2,900), and Corey Seager ($2,300) will enjoy the platoon advantage, and Mookie Betts ($3,100) and Will Smith ($2,500) can still provide plenty of pop in same-sided matchups.
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.