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MLB DFS Look Ahead: Stacks and Fades for August 16-19

In the midst of all the talk about stacks and fades and roster construction and points per dollar, what’s often lost in the discussion of DFS is the crucial factor of game selection. Do you want to be a cash game player or a tournament bro? Are you interested in regular, smaller wins, or are you alright putting up a bankroll and you might win a couple of days out of a long season.

If you’re on the fence about what to play, especially as NFL approaches, I recommend the Twitter conversation that starts with this tweet discussing some of the common misperceptions about cash games versus tournaments.

Just because some advice is common or the “industry standard” doesn’t make it right. Set yourself some realistic goals. Do you want to pad your bank account with a little extra fun money? Great. Do you want to really invest in trying to take down a big score? Good for you. But defining those goals will determine how you approach DFS, particularly in what games you enter.

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This biweekly MLB DFS piece will look ahead to upcoming series with an eye towards which bats to Stack (rostering multiple players from the same lineup, a key to DFS success) and which bats to Fade (recommended spots to avoid, based on the data). I will also look at pitchers with Potential (high-upside hurlers who might save you a little salary) and arms to Avoid (perhaps pitchers who look promising on the surface but have difficult waters to navigate in the games ahead).

We have games at Coors Field, Yankee Stadium, Great American Ballpark, and Chase Field this week so offense should be plentiful. Where do we stack? Where do we fade? How do we find the right pitchers sin these spots? Let’s look at what might be signal and what might be noise as we try to differentiate our rosters this week.

MLB DFS Look Ahead: Stacks and Fades for August 16-19

Bats to Stack

Philadelphia Phillies (@ ARI) – Here we are again (like the Mariners against the Blue Jays this past weekend) with an offense facing three straight mediocre left-handed pitchers. What do we do with that information? Do we still stack the Phillies even if their best hitter and MVP candidate Bryce Harper might be slightly neutralized?

Well, the Phillies as a team rake against lefties. They rank seventh in the majors in OPS against left-handed pitchers and their wOBA is sixth-best in the league. In addition, they hit the sixth-most line drives off of lefties at 22.6%.

But what about Harper? He is the undeniable engine to their offense. How does he perform against lefties? As you might expect, it’s still quite good. He has a .275/.403/.422 slash line with a 16% walk rate and a 129 wRC+.

Madison Bumgarner and Caleb Smith have both had moments in their career, and the Tyler Gilbert no-hitter on Saturday was literally the stuff movies are made of, but this is going to be an offensive onslaught from the Phillies and they are one of the more underrated stacks of the week.

Bats to Fade

St Louis Cardinals (vs. MIL) – Somewhere, out in the distance, maybe four days from now, better days are ahead for the Red Birds. But for this week, Mr. T predicts “PAIN” for St. Louis as they face the gauntlet that is Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, and Brandon Woodruff at home.

Even before this three-headed monster gets to town, it’s been tough to rely on the Cardinals for any kind of offensive consistency. They rank 24th in the majors in home OPS and just haven’t gotten any kind of authority on their hits this year, ranking 22nd in HardHit% at home.

Add it all up and you get an offense that has scored just 221 runs at home this year, with only the Mets scoring fewer this season. Combine a weak offense with a K/9 of 9.7 and 1.08 WHIP from Milwaukee’s starters this year, and St. Louis is a full fade for me until the Brew Crew find their way back through the Arch.

Pitchers with Potential

Atlanta Braves (@ MIA) – Oh, Miami. What a baseball team we have here. Remember when they had an outfield of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna. All gone. Remember when they were a fun offensive team with Starling Marte and Adam Duvall earlier this year. Gone. In Marte’s case, he fled to Oakland and looks like Reggie Jackson circa 1973.

What that leaves the Marlins with is a young, play-your-heart-out team that frequently finds itself overmatched against superior competition. Well, that’s exactly what the Braves are.

Since the All-Star break, the Marlins are 22nd in OBP, 21st in SLG, and have the second-highest strikeout rate in the league at 25.4% combined with the fourth-lowest walk rate. Enter the right-handed trio of Touki Toussaint, Huascar Ynoa, and Charlie Morton, part of a Braves pitching staff that has allowed the third-fewest home runs since the All-Star break. They also feature the eighth-lowest WHIP and induce the seventh-most groundballs among pitching staffs.

With so few runners reaching base, it’s best just to fade the Marlins this week until they have a better matchup and park environment.

Arms to Avoid

Chicago Cubs (@ CIN) – Just in case you were going to try and get cute with guys like Justin Steele ($5,700 on Monday) or Keegan Thompson to try and fit a few more big bats into your lineups this week, let me implore you to think again. The Cubs are entering into one of the most dangerous offensive environments in baseball and they just don’t have the pitching horses anymore to fight it off.

Even Kyle Hendricks ran off course last week, tossing up his worst start ever.

Great American Ballpark is the best park for home runs the last three years, according to Baseball Savant, allowing them at 28% above league average. The Reds, of course, take advantage of that and rank third in OBP and fourth in SLG at their home park. They also have the fourth-most hard contact at home all year.

This is not the place to try and tempt the baseball gods with a random, outlier performance from guys who are likely to get rocked in Cincinnati.

Data SourcesFangraphsBaseball Savant

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