FANTASY PLAYS: Bullpen quality changes when ahead or behind
It’s important to consider the opposing bullpen when selecting hitters in daily fantasy leagues, both the quality of the team’s bullpen as a whole and the differences in quality between its individual pitchers.
The best bullpens in the league, like the Astros, have very little drop off in quality from their best relievers to their worst. That means whether a game is competitive or not, Houston’s opponents are facing high-end relief pitching. The Astros have five relievers with expected fielding independent pitching (xFIP) below 3.00, a measurement similar to ERA that strips away defense and some luck.
This isn’t the case with the bullpens in the middle of the league’s rankings. Some are top heavy while others are balanced. In daily fantasy baseball, top-heavy bullpens are the ones to take advantage of when they are large underdogs. The hope is that if your offense plays from ahead, you will avoid the elite relievers in a top-heavy bullpen. A balanced opposing bullpen won’t have as much of a difference in quality of reliever based on the game situation.
Take for example the Reds bullpen, which diminishes quickly. The Reds bullpen xFIP is 4.16 but when they play from ahead opponents will often see some combination of Amir Garrett (3.10 xFIP), Jared Hughes (3.41 xFIP), and Raisel Iglesias (3.30 xFIP). However, if they get behind the bottom of the bullpen contains Wandy Peralta (5.83 xFIP) and Michael Lorenzen (4.34 xFIP).
On the other hand, the Angels have a team bullpen xFIP of 4.15 but maintain a much more balanced bullpen. Their top six relievers all have xFIPs between 3.42 and 4.22. That makes it less important to identify game situations against the Angels.
Let that difference play to your advantage when top-heavy bullpens are underdogs – that improves your odds of facing the weakest relievers.
TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm is this year’s host for the Quicken Loans Invitational, hosted by Tiger Woods. TPC Potomac also hosted the 2017 version of this event, while previous years it was held at the nearby Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. Because of the limited sample size, fantasy players shouldn’t put much weight in course history this week.
Last year, the Quicken Loans Invitational played as the fourth most difficult event on tour and played harder than the U.S. Open and Players Championship, so birdies will be hard to come by. When courses feature few birdies, the finishing position makes up more of the fantasy scoring and paying up for the tournament favorites can be a profitable strategy. Last year, strokes gained tee-to-green was the biggest differentiator between players as 22.5 percent of strokes were gained off the tee and 36.6 percent of strokes were gained on approach compared to tour baselines of 15 percent and 34.8 percent, respectively.
While Woods headlines the field for public rooting interest, Rickie Fowler is the class of the field with a 42 percent chance to finish inside of the top 10 this week. Fowler is ranked first in the field in strokes gained total, 10th in strokes gained tee-to-green and first in DraftKings scoring. On a week where capturing the top end of the leaderboard will prove critical, Fowler will anchor many winning DraftKings lineups.
In order to have the salary cap space to pay for Fowler, finding a cheap complementary player is required. Adam Hadwin is our favorite value selection this week on DraftKings and his $7,300 price lets you comfortably roster Fowler. There are 40 golfers priced more expensive than Hadwin, whose 75 percent odds to make the cut are inside of the top 20 made cut probabilities. While Hadwin is ranked outside of the top 50 in strokes gained off the tee, he rates inside of the top 20 in strokes gained approach and 10th in total strokes gained over the last 50 rounds.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by DailyRoto, http://dailyroto.com