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2018 ALCS & NLCS Playoff MLB DFS Primer

Breaking down the ALCS and NLCS playoff match-ups to help you win MLB DFS cash on FanDuel and DraftKings this October.

We’ve decided to take a bit of a different approach to the ALCS and NLCS portion of the season. Rather than daily Primer articles or Cheat Sheets, we’re going to break down some of the most notable pitchers, hitters and respective stats that you should know as you build your lineups.

Whether it’s for 2-game slates (traditional roster formats) or the single game setup – you’ll be able to come back to this column to help you along your way.

Keep in mind strategy is paramount on small slates. And what I mean by that is simply roster construction beyond the chalk. In a high variance sport like baseball, often times you can leave money on the table in team salary and have a good chance at finding an optimal combination. The same can be said for NFL at times, but almost never for NBA which is one of the lowest beta sports.

So, remembering these principles can really come in handy. I live by them when it comes to small slates and feel they are great to have top of mind when building your lineups:

  1. Lineup uniqueness is critical. That is why leaving money on the table is not a bad thing, at least for a good mix of your multi entry approaches.
  2. Playing 2-3 batters against your SPs is basically a necessity for small slates. Don’t be shy to do so.
  3. Play at least a couple hitters in the 7-8-9 slots. Ownership level is almost always 10-15 points lower, and often times they’ll be a part of an optimal lineup (particularly because they are almost always cheaper).
  4. Find hitters that show good skills against the “reverse” split (i.e. LHB vs LHP). Overlaying SPs that have exploitable LvL or RvR splits will help lead to an ownership advantage, too.
  5. Cash games require a pretty high precision of projections. In a high variance sport like MLB, this will often be difficult to handicap… we recommend focusing on GPPs.
  6. Multi-entry strategy will give you the best shot at capturing GPP glory. Single entry formats have a similar underlying narrative of being hard to “capture lightning in a bottle” due to the high variance nature.
  7. Varying up your exposure to “core” and “pivot” groups of players can set you up for success.

Now, let’s have a closer look at some of the scheduled starters for each series. This is a section we’ll update regularly as both series unfold as many of the managers are yet to announce things outside of their first 1-2 games (or if you’re MIL – all your SP cards are close to the vest right now).

Pitching Corner

Friday, October 12

Saturday, October 13

Sunday, October 14

Monday, October 15

Tuesday, October 16

Wednesday, October 17

  • MIL TBD @ LAD TBD
  • BOS TBD @ HOU TBD

Thursday, October 18

  • BOS TBD @ HOU TBD

Friday, October 19

  • LAD @ MIL TBD

Saturday, October 20

  • HOU TBD @ BOS TBD
  • LAD @ MIL TBD

… and so on

The important things to know for pitchers:

  • Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are by far the highest skill SPs going in this round of the playoffs. Hyun-Jin Ryu is also in fantastic form and helps to round out what I would say is a clear top 5. They are the SPs I would try to think about limiting your hitting exposure against in general (i.e. ideally 2 on the high side, 3 absolute maximum if the slate’s pricing permits).
  • The Dodgers and Red Sox against RHPs are elite offenses – this is a split you want to attack with a high level of exposure when the opportunity presents itself. I expect the Brewers will try to get the most out of Wade Miley and Gio Gonzalez in this series.
  • The Astros are RHP heavy, even with their elite arms (Cole, Verlander). This is a good lower own% situation to exploit when they’re on the slate. They both give up more long balls to LHBs, but RHBs are just as strong (if not stronger) plays based on the skill of bats from that side of the dish.

Hitting Corner

  • Strongest team splits to know:
    • BOS vs RHP (.350 wOBA; 19% K%; 35% HH%)
    • LAD vs RHP (.345 wOBA; 22% K%; 39% HH%)
    • HOU vs LHP (.342 wOBA; 20% K%; 34% HH%)
    • These are therefore some of the best situation to build stacks (mini or full) against when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Weakest team splits to know:
    • BOS vs LHP (.308 wOBA; 32% HH%)
    • MIL vs LHP (.316 wOBA; but high 39% HH%)
    • HOU vs RHP (.317 wOBA; 19% K%; 32% HH%)
    • MIL vs LHP is a situation we’ll see a lot of this series with Kershaw, Hill and Ryu all likely to make at least 1 start – so picking the right bats there will be critical (some good RHBs in that lineup).
  • SP splits to know:
    • Gio Gonzalez vs RHBs (.319 wOBA; 1.1 HR/9)
    • Junior Guerra vs RHBs (.313 wOBA; 1.2 HR/9)
    • Junior Guerra vs LHBs (.322 wOBA; 36% HH%; 1.4 HR/9) – showing he’s fully stackable against if he does get a start
    • Rick Porcello vs RHBs (.308 wOBA; 1.3 HR/9) – when he struggles, he gives up long balls
    • Rick Porcello vs LHBs (38% HH%; 1.3 HR/9)
    • Hyun-Jin Ryu vs LHBs (.368 wOBA; 1.8 HR/9) – smaller sample due to injuries, but major contrarian opportunity here given his power splits
    • Zach Davies vs LHBs (.334 wOBA; 1.1 HR/9) – does a good job limiting damage and pitching to weak contact – so not as stackable against
    • Jhoulys Chacin vs LHBs (.336 wOBA; 1.2 HR/9; 36% HH%) – very good against RHBs, though
    • Justin Verlander vs LHBs (1.3 HR/9) – the better split to exploit against him if need be
    • Chris Sale – basically unhittable for LHBs; RHBs have higher splits across the board
    • Clayton Kershaw – elite splits vs both LHBs and RHBs, but higher HR rate vs LHBs (surprisingly)
  • Plus split bats:
    • HOUSTON
      • Tyler White mashes LHPs – don’t forget about him since he will get plenty of chances here… especially against David Price.
      • Alex Bregman is their second best hitter vs LHP… get your share of exposure here.
      • George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez have strong splits vs LHP, too… with Marwin being a bit stronger vs RHP
      • They are more of a balanced team vs RHP, with White, Bregman, Springer and Correa having ISOs over .200… though Carlos Correa is clearly not “right” in 2018 so I would limit exposure overall (own% will be lower based on recent struggles, though).
    • MILWAUKEE
    • LOS ANGELES
      • Max Muncy has been elite against both LHP and RHP this year… whenever he is in the lineup, his HR probability is high and you need to take him seriously. He’s the real deal (.275 ISO vs LHP; .334 ISO vs RHP).
      • Justin Turner, Manny Machado, Enrique Hernandez, Brian Dozier and David Freese are all absolutely elite talents against LHPs – you can go stacking big time when there’s a LHP on the mound. They mash.
      • Against righties, Turner is a high wOBA guy but a lesser power threat. Machado is similar but has a higher power rating than Turner in that sense. Cody Bellinger should get looks against RHPs thanks to his high ISO and wOBA splits vs RHP (.279 ISO; .376 wOBA). Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson are great vs RHP as well (Puig is actually more of a reverse-split guy – don’t overlook this).
    • BOSTON
      • Against LHP, it’s all about J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts in terms of elite splits. They have a .357 and .289 ISO respectively. Steve Pearce has appeal if he gets some ABs against LHP thanks to a .243 ISO and .364 wOBA in his last 219 PA for the split. Xander Bogaerts has good numbers against LHP and RHP alike – a very safe play if you’re going after a BOS stack regardless.
      • Truth be told, anytime you can have Martinez, Betts and maybe Pearce as your BOS bats against a good LHP – that’s as far as I would go.
      • Guys like Ian Kinsler and Andrew Benintendi are fine for the split but nothing special… they are lower own% talents (along with Christian Vasquez/Sandy Leon, Jackie Bradley Jr..
      • Where the team excels is against RHPs – so guys like Rafael Devers, Mitch Moreland (assuming he’s healthy), and Andrew Benintendi get major boosts.

Best of luck!

About Jared Kwart

Jared is an expert fantasy sports player for both DFS and season-long formats. Specializing in DFS Baseball, Football & Basketball, with tens of thousands of dollars in career DFS earnings. Active player on FanDuel, DraftKings & FantasyDraft. Annual NFBC high stakes league participant.

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