We've finally made it to the weekend of the trade deadline, where every hug sets Twitter buzzing with a trade rumor. Keep that in mind with David Ortiz -- it's just what he does. With the weather really heating up, teams schedule fewer day games on Saturday, so we're looking at a truncated, four-game afternoon slate. The pitching on the evening docket lacks an ace, but for some, that makes DFS more fun, if not challenging. We accept that challenge, so to help you make sense of a tricky Saturday, here are the Daily Notes.
Regression is a funny thing. To be clear, this is regression in the statistical sense where something out of the player's control regresses to the mean. It's unfortunate regression has morphed into meaning "play worse" since that clouds the message when regression is discussed in the practical sense.
Jake Arrieta's 2015 Cy Young campaign was buoyed by an eight percent home run per fly ball rate (HR/FB), well below the league average. It's generally accepted that all hurlers will cluster around an 11 percent mark. If you're below, you likely incurred some good luck, tempered by the park factor of your home park.
This season, through June 22, Arrieta allowed just three homers on a five percent HR/FB. Since then, he has surrendered five long balls on the heels of a 19 percent HR/FB clip, raising his seasonal level to 9 percent HR/FB. There's nothing wrong with Arrieta; he's simply the victim of some regression with respect to home run rate.
Well, Arrieta's walk rate is up from last season, but if his 2016 homers allowed were more evenly distributed over the past four months, no one would be concerned. The bottom line is if you're in a seasonal league with Arrieta as your ace, there's nothing to worry about. This doesn't guarantee a stellar stretch run, only that there's nothing in the numbers to lose sleep over.
On Saturday, Arrieta is the clear top DFS option on a short slate, despite facing a Seattle Mariners squad that handles righties effectively. It just seemed more important to spend a little time discussing the Cubs righty in a big-picture sense, based on some of the concerns expressed by his owners in traditional leagues.
Leading off the solid tier may be a surprise, but it shouldn't be if you check the numbers and consider the matchup. Anthony DeSclafani may not have a dominant strikeout rate, but he doesn't beat himself with the walk and is facing a weak San Diego Padres club that offers strikeout upside with a 25 percent whiff rate against right-handers. The Cincinnati Reds righty is in play for all DFS formats.
Scott Kazmir's ranking may also look oddly high, but this is another case of a favorable opponent driving the score. On the road versus southpaws, the Arizona Diamondbacks carry a league average weighted on base average (wOBA) along with a whopping 27 percent strikeout rate under those conditions, the second highest mark in the league. This feeds right into the Los Angeles Dodgers lefty's impressive 9.6 K/9. In addition, the Snakes are among the least patient squad in the league which helps ease the risk that sometimes Kazmir struggles with control. This combination renders the left-hander as a nice GPP option.
Justin Verlander is another candidate for those looking to take down a DFS tournament. The Detroit Tigers host the powerful but strikeout-prone Houston Astros in Comerica Park. The venue is a little more hitter-friendly than perceived but it's still a better place to pitch than Minute Maid Park. The veteran right-hander is having a strong July, allowing two runs or fewer in all five starts, tossing at least seven frames in three.
Pedestrian middle relievers may have more wins than Julio Teheran, who has managed a scant three victories for the punchless Atlanta Braves despite pitching to an impressive 2.71 ERA. Perhaps Saturday will bring win No. 4 as the right-hander draws the equally offensively-challenged Philadelphia Phillies. Jeremy Hellickson is scheduled to oppose Teheran, but is allegedly on the trading block which would benefit Teheran as the replacement would certainly be a downgrade. Teheran is already in play for DFS. If Hellickson is scratched, the spot is even better.
Continuing the theme of high-strikeout potential, Jaime Garcia leads the St. Louis Cardinals into South Beach for a date with the Miami Marlins. The Fish fan at a 23 percent pace versus southpaws, adding Garcia to the growing list of GPP candidates.
Why stop now? Jameson Taillon takes the hill in Miller Park to challenge the Milwaukee Brewers and their bloated 26 percent whiff rate versus righties. The Pittsburgh Pirates rookie right-hander has tossed six frames his last three outings -- fanning 16 over those 18 stanzas -- so he's capable of taking advantage. Adding intrigue to this contest is Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun, who are potential hug recipients, which would weaken an already soft lineup.
There are a few more hurlers in the solid tier but they're not set up as well for DFS action. If you have questions on anyone not featured, please post your query in the comments or send a Tweet to @ToddZola.
Despite sporting a 2.25 ERA over his last six outings, Hellickson is owned in only 41 percent of ESPN leagues. He's not especially dominant with 26 punchouts in those 38 frames, but he's not hurting himself with only five walks. If you can get him out of your lineup in the event he's traded, Hellickson is in play against the anemic Atlanta Braves.
Those waiting for the complete turnaround from Drew Smyly appear to be facing disappointment. However, the New York Yankees don't hit lefties very well and are incurring a big park downgrade in Tropicana Field, so the Tampa Bay Rays southpaw is in play for this home affair.
Facing Smyly is Nathan Eovaldi, so if you need some strikeouts, the Yankees righty is a solid choice facing a Rays club that whiffs at a 24 percent clip when facing a right-hander.
We've got a trio of arms registering a projected Game Score of 45 or below that are automatic avoids in Reynaldo Lopez, Yovani Gallardo and Martin Perez. Of course, your team situation trumps the score, so if using one of these risks is necessary to win, do what you have to do. Additionally, Tommy Milone against the Chicago White Sox and Hector Santiago facing the Boston Red Sox look to be in for a long day, or an early shower.
It seems to be all or nothing with the Boston Red Sox. On paper, Saturday sets up to be an all-in affair with southpaw Hector Santiago on the bump in Angel Stadium. Even in a venue that suppresses homers, Santiago has allowed 12 long balls in 51 frames. Granted, he's been throwing better lately, but that feeds into the hit-or-miss nature of the Red Sox in general. Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia will be in their usual table-setting spots, enjoying the platoon bump along with Xander Bogaerts in the three-hole. Then it gets tricky, as you need to choose between Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez. This looks like a spot to go with the platoon edge in Ramirez, though Big Papi has hit lefties well, thus, is a viable play that can even be termed contrarian.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are beginning to get rolling, and with a nice park upgrade in Miller Park, they're in play versus righty Chase Anderson of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Bucs are especially solid as a contrarian stack since they're mostly right-handed. John Jaso and Gregory Polanco are the standard options since they swing lefty at the top of the order. It's using Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Jung Ho Kang that afford the stealth differentiation from other entries.
The Kansas City Royals are thrilled to have Lorenzo Cain back, inserting him into the familiar three-hole where he'll have the platoon advantage over Martin Perez as the defending World Series champions visit Arlington. Alcides Escobar and Cheslor Cuthbert are strong plays, especially in cash action. If you're looking to stack Royals, Kendrys Morales and Salvador Perez are the choices with more power potential.
Most likely to hit a home run: Joey Gallo
Exactly half of the slate's 30 scheduled starters sport a HR/9 of 1.4 or greater. If the balls aren't flying out of the yard on Saturday, there's something amiss. Of the bevy of possible culprits, Ian Kennedy will take the ball in hot and humid Globe Life Park which does no favors for his 2.1 HR/9. Let's give the nod to the kid that swings so hard in case he hits the ball, and call on Gallo to do the honors.
Most likely to steal a base: Nori Aoki
Despite the extended "don't worry" treatment extended to Arrieta, one thing he has never done well is control the running game. Aoki is back on top of the Seattle Mariners lineup, and while he's only 4-for-11 on the season when attempting thievery, he has seen Arrieta enough to take advantage.