Every Tuesday and Friday, I am going to give you my top tournament plays for all Daily Fantasy Baseball GPPs (guaranteed prize pool). GPPs are a general term used across the industry for your big money tournaments.
GPPs are very different from your cash games and you use a different strategy with them. In our GPPs we are not interested in safe plays, since GPPs are all about UPSIDE. We want players who can explode, as all-or-nothing type players can become GPP gold, and your value players are just as important as your star players. You need your players to have huge nights in order to take down these big tournaments.
My goal is to provide players who will be underowned and have that big game upside you are looking for. I will also try to find as much value as I possibly can.
Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians - After a rough start the season, Kluber got back on track in his last start versus the Detroit Tigers, throwing eight sterling innings, allowing only one earned run with 10 punch-outs. The light hitting Philadelphia Phillies are a team we can target pitchers against all season long. The Phillies rank in the bottom third of the National League offensively and they are striking out the third-most at 23.8%. On a night where we are lacking aces with good matchups, Kluber is easily the top dog, and I expect him to be highly under-owned in tournament play due to his high salary.
Drew Smyly, Tampa Bay Rays – Smyly has been terrific for the Tampa Bay Rays this season. In his last three starts (totaling 22 innings pitched) he has only allowed three earned runs, while striking out 28 batters. The Toronto Blue Jays are definitely a scary offense, but they are not swinging the bats well right now. Not to mention, the Blue Jays are striking out over 25% of the time versus southpaws and Smyly will have the benefit of facing them in pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field. Is this a risky play? Absolutely, however, Smyly has double-digit strikeout potential and this is a risk worth taking in tournaments.
Juan Nicasio, Pittsburgh Pirates - Nicasio has always had a powerful arm with strikeout upside, but control issues and pitching in Coors Field have not helped his career. With the tutelage of Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage we should continue to see improvements from Nicasio all season long. So far in 2016 the 29-year-old Dominican has been a mixed bag, but he has maintained a high strikeout rate, whiffing 21 batters in 20 innings pitched. The Cincinnati Reds are not as bad as many think, but they are a very good matchup for Nicasio. The Reds are dead last in the National League in walk percentage (6.1%) and they are striking out the fourth-most (22.1%) versus right-handed pitching. With his inexpensive price across the industry, Nicasio is my top arm for GPPs.
Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians – Philadelphia Phillies southpaw Adam Morgan has not fared well in his brief time in the Majors and right-handed batters have hit him hard (career .351 wOBA VS RHB). Gomes gets a nice park boost with this game being played in Miller Park and he does his best work against lefties.
Dioner Navarro, Chicago White Sox - Mike Wright is a “Gas Can of the night” nominee each and every time he toes the rubber. Wright has been touched up by hitters from both sides of the plate so far in his young career, however, lefties have really done some serious damage against him (.325 BA, .414 wOBA). Navarro is seeing the ball well right now and makes a solid punt option in GPPs.
Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels - Colby Lewis was never an elite pitcher and he continues to decline year after year. He has been extremely hittable the last couple of seasons and Pujols has smacked him around throughout his career (9-26, .346 BA with a double and three home runs). With Phat Albert off to a slow start, he could be under-owned tonight in a terrific matchup.
David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox - The matchup against Masahiro Tanaka is not ideal, but Ortiz has murdered right-handed pitching at Fenway Park his entire career (.321 BA, .435 wOBA), and he may not be all that popular in large field tournaments. Regardless of who is on the mound, the games between these two hated rivals tend to be high scoring. Big Papi has sneaky potential tonight.
Neil Walker, New York Mets – Walker continues to rip the cover off the baseball, registering 14 hits in his last nine games, including six home runs. Jake Peavy has been shelled this season and this is a definitely a pitcher in decline, and we want to pick on him tonight. Look for Walker to stay red-hot in this plus matchup.
Jed Lowrie, Oakland A’s - In terms of pure value it is hard to find a better play at the keystone position than Jed Lowrie. Not only is Lowrie hitting in the clean-up spot in the order, but he has also produced three multi-hit games in his last four contests and 16 hits in his last nine games. Lowrie has multi-hit upside again this evening at a bargain basement price.
Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees - At this point in his career, Rodriguez is not a guy we can trust in cash games, however in the right situation I am willing to roll the dice in a GPP. Facing an average left-handed pitcher in hitter-friendly Fenway Park is a great spot for Alex. A-Rod has started to heat up offensively with four hits in his last two games, including two doubles and a bomb. Rodriguez is very reasonably priced across the industry and he has big game upside in this one.
Derek Dietrich, Miami Marlins and Juan Uribe, Cleveland Indians - If you are looking for salary relief at third base tonight, we have a couple of decent options with home run upside. Both Derek Dietrich and Juan Uribe have the splits in their favor and they are facing hittable pitchers in very good hitting environments.
Francisco Lindor Cleveland Indians – With his combination of pop and speed, Lindor can do it all offensively and I love his upside tonight against a lefty in the bandbox known as Citizens Bank Park. Lindor has punished left-handed pitching since he has arrived in the Show, compiling a .337 BA and a .391 wOBA. Despite the potential, I expect Lindor to be low owned in tournament play this evening.
Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers - Villar has been hitting in the two-hole when the Milwaukee Brewers square off a against a left-handed pitcher. The 26-year-old Dominican has been productive versus southpaws and he not only has multi-hit/run upside, but he can also have a multi-steal game. Villar’s inexpensive salary also allows you to upgrade another bat or two in your lineup.
Angels in the Outfield – If you can afford to pay up for any one player tonight make it Mike Trout. He is not only one of the best players in the game, but he has also crushed Lewis over the years (12-30, .400 BA with seven extra base hits). Left-handed hitters have beat Lewis like a rented mule over the last few seasons and that means Kole Calhoun and Rafael Ortega are also great inexpensive options. Considering how hittable Lewis is, the awful Texas Rangers bullpen and the hitter-friendly ballpark, it is easy to see why we want to target Angels in the outfield.
Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson, New York Mets - Jake Peavy has been awful this season and lefties have absolutely destroyed him (.439 BA, .527 wOBA) to start the 2016 season. Sure it is a small sample size and he is bound to get better, but I am not counting it happening tonight against a Mets team full of left-handed boppers. Both Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson have monster potential in this prime matchup.
Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera, Chicago White Sox – I spoke earlier about Mike Wright’s issues with left-handed batters (.325 BA, .414 wOBA) and that means we are definitely interested in both Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera tonight. Because they lack home run upside, I expect them both to fly under the radar in GPPs. We may not see a double-dong performance from either of them, but they both have multi-hit/run/RBI upside.
Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay Rays and David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks - I just wanted to mention two more high upside plays before I wrap up this article. Both Corey Dickerson and David Peralta wear out right-handed pitching and they both have multi-homer upside tonight. As a bonus, both sluggers are under-priced on most sites.