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.
Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks - Greinke has started to look a lot more like his all-star self recently, producing 20 strikeouts with just two walks in his last 21 innings pitched. Perhaps he is finally getting comfortable as an Arizona Diamondback. The Tampa Bay Rays are merely an average offense versus right-handed pitching, striking out 25.7% of the time, which is the second-most in Major League Baseball. Greinke may not be at the top of your GPP chart with his high salary, but with Tampa Bay striking out a ton and losing their DH, this matchup becomes a lot more appealing.
Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs - Hendricks has been outstanding for the Cubs this season, posting a 2.84 ERA along with a .201 BAA. His fastball/changeup combination has kept hitters off balance all season long, leading to a lot of soft contact against him. The 26-year-old right-hander may lack strikeout upside, but his low walk rate, along with a high ground-ball rate, allows him to be extremely effective. The Philadelphia Phillies are a below average offense and Hendricks should handle them with ease tonight. Look for Hendricks to cruise to an easy victory tonight, throwing five-to-seven quality innings.
Michael Pineda, New York Yankees - Pineda was excellent in his last start against the Detroit Tigers (5.2 IP, 1 ER 8 Ks) and he finds himself in a very good spot again tonight. The Los Angeles Angels do not offer up many strikeouts, but they are one of the weakest offenses in baseball. Although he does own an ERA over six, a deeper look at his advanced statistics tell us he has been extremely unlucky. Despite the ugly numbers, I think Pineda is a guy we can trust tonight, thanks in large part to his high strikeout rate and low walk rate. We are unlikely to see a double-digit strikeout performance tonight, but I can see seven solid innings with a K per inning, and that will work just fine in GPPs.
Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers – Lucroy is smoking hot at the dish right now. Not only has he hit safely in nine consecutive games, but seven of those have been of the multi-hit variety. Sean Manaea has had a hard time adjusting to Major League hitters. The Oakland A’s young southpaw was very good in his last start, but right-handed batters are still having their way with him (.328 BAA, .393 wOBA). Lucroy has massive upside in this game.
Stephen Vogt, Oakland A’s - Vogt is currently riding an 11–game hitting streak, which includes nine hits in his last four contests. Hitters from the left side of the plate have tagged Zach Davies in 2016 (.377 wOBA with a 38.2% hard hit rate) and I expect Vogt to stay hot in this prime matchup.
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks – Matt Moore has yet to find his groove after Tommy John surgery, as evident by his 5.46 ERA and .292 BAA. The Tampa Bay Rays lefty has really struggled to retire right-handed batters this season. After facing 214 righties this year, Moore has already given up 10 home runs to go along with a .360 wOBA. Enter notorious lefty-killer Paul Goldschmidt. Giddy up!
Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers - There are so many reasons to love Adrian Gonzalez tonight. A-Gon is very reasonably priced across the industry and he has annihilated right-handed pitcher throughout his career. With Eddie Butler’s ugly numbers against lefties (.372 wOBA and a 39.2% hard hit rate), you are going to want to have at least some exposure to Gonzalez in GPPs this evening. Because of his mini-slump, I also expect him to be low percentage owned.
Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs - I really like Jerad Eickhoff and he has done a great job shutting down right-handed batters this season, but lefties remain his kryptonite. The Phillies’ young right-hander has allowed an alarming .361 wOBA to left-handed batters in 2016. Despite his terrific numbers against right-handed pitcher (.327 BA, .404 wOBA), Zobrist tends to get overlooked in this loaded Cubs lineup. I hope that is the case again tonight as I plan to have plenty of exposure to him in large field tournaments.
Starlin Castro, New York Yankees - Due to a rash of injuries, the Los Angeles Angels are rolling out journeyman southpaw David Huff this evening. Huff has been a below average pitcher throughout his Major League tenure and I do not expect him to pitch well tonight. Starlin Castro is best unleashed against lefties and he makes a great value play in tournaments this evening.
Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays - Detroit Tigers prospect Matt Boyd has yet to put it all together at the Major League level. He is a fly-ball pitcher who has allowed a lot of hard contact, which is not a good combination. Boyd has not had much success pitching deep into games either, which means Donaldson and the Blue Jays’ offense should see plenty of that bad Detroit Tigers bullpen. We know Josh smashes lefties, but he is nursing a thumb injury. With most fantasy owners likely to stay away, Donaldson could be GPP gold tonight.
Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners - Cody Anderson is yet another arm we want to attack tonight. Lefties have crushed Anderson this year (.329 BAA, .410 wOBA) and that puts Kyle Seager on my radar. Seager has been a beast versus right-handed pitching this season (.346 BA, .435 wOBA) and those numbers get even better at home (.361 BA, .474 wOBA).
Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox - The Boston Red Sox offense might go highly under-owned tonight playing on the West Coast in the best pitcher’s park in baseball. Albert Suarez is nothing special and Xander Bogaerts is a multi-hit and multi-run machine. Look for the Red Sox shortstop to keep rolling in this one.
Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals – After a strong start to the season Mat Latos has been blasted in each of his last six starts, allowing 23 earned runs and giving up eight home runs in the process. Espinosa has homers in five of his last 10 games and he is a great source of power at a moderate price.
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers – Braun has always enjoyed hitting left-handed pitching and this season has been no exception (.370 BA, .456 wOBA). I mentioned earlier that Oakland A’s rookie southpaw Sean Manaea has struggled mightily with right-handed hitters (.328 BAA, .393 wOBA) and I think Braun takes him deep tonight.
St. Louis Cardinals Outfield – John Lamb has a decent arm and possibly a bright future, but until he figures it all out, this is a pitcher we want to pick on. Lamb has been anything but good so far this season with a low strikeout rate, high walk rate and a hard-hit rate just under 40%. The Cardinals should have no problems scoring runs tonight off Lamb and that horrible Cincinnati Reds bullpen.
Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds - We are all about home run upside in GPPs and Jay Bruce certainly brings that to the table. Bruce does his best work against right-handed pitching and he is swinging a hot bat these days, with 10 extra-base hits in his last eight contests. Mike Leake is a hittable, fly-ball pitcher, who can be homer prone. Bruce has big potential in this matchup tonight.