Major League Baseball
FANTASY PLAYS: Bullpen trades have big effect on daily game
Major League Baseball

FANTASY PLAYS: Bullpen trades have big effect on daily game

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 3:38 p.m. ET

The trade deadline is right around the corner in Major League Baseball and with roster turnover comes opportunity in daily fantasy. Two things happen every trade deadline: The good teams get better and the bad teams get worse.

The most common deals are with relievers, where contending teams often scoop up the best late inning options from non-contenders, while the teams out of the playoff race turn over the back end of their roster to give minor leaguers an opportunity. Bullpens are already an area of opportunity for daily fantasy as they're often overlooked in traditional analysis. Those who don't account for the changes at the trade deadline will be at a disadvantage.

The first big reliever trade is a great example of how quickly a good bullpen can turn into a bad one. The Padres traded both Adam Cimber, 3.17 ERA, 2.33 fielding independent pitching (FIP) and 2.80 expected fielding independent pitching (xFIP), and Brad Hand (3.05 ERA, 3.18 FIP, 2.89 xFIP) to Cleveland and in their place recalled Kazuhisa Makita (7.09 ERA and 5.63 FIP) and Robert Stock (ZIPs projected 5.54 ERA, 5.52 FIP). The Padres are removing two of their best and most heavily used relievers in favor of two below average relievers. This takes their bullpen, which ranks fourth in xFIP and 11th in ERA, and makes it one of the weaker bullpens in the league.

This will happen repeatedly over the next week and makes it important as the season goes on to stack more frequently against the worst teams in all of baseball. As the bullpen balance skews across the league, the savvy daily fantasy baseball player will be ready to pick on the teams who just made themselves worse.



Glen Abbey Golf Club hosts this week's RBC Canadian Open in what should be a welcome change for many in the field who played in last week's British Open, including headliner Dustin Johnson.

Glen Abbey will play as a 7,253 yard par 72 and was the ninth easiest on tour last year relative to par. There were 71 eagles recorded at last year's event, leading to a high scoring fantasy event where par 5 scoring will be important for DraftKings and Fanduel formats. Notable bombers Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson have exceptional history at this event and are also joined by Jhonattan Vegas who has won in back-to-back years. Beyond taking advantage of the par 5s, historical strokes gained data shows that strokes gained approach will make up a greater mix of shots this week, representing 42.3 percent of strokes gained at last year's event compared to a tour average of 34.8 percent. With so much fantasy scoring expected, it will be important to get all six golfers through the cut to the weekend where they can continue to make birdies and eagles, but finding the winner will still be necessary for tournaments.

Dustin Johnson is the class of the field and over the past 50 rounds rates first in total strokes gained, strokes gained off the tee, DraftKings scoring and is second in strokes gained approach and par 5 scoring. DJ averages an eagle every 75.3 holes and is a favorite to record at least one eagle this week at Glen Abbey. At face value, Johnson's $11,700 price tag on DraftKings is expensive, but that is missing the context that he was $11,300 in last week's British Open versus a much stronger field. Johnson is a heavier favorite in betting markets this week and makes for a stronger daily play, particularly in tournament formats. DailyRoto's fantasy golf projections rate Dustin Johnson as a plus-600 favorite and two times more likely to win this event than any other golfer.

If not paying up for Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau is our preferred anchor for fantasy rosters. Over the last 50 rounds, Finau is first in the field in strokes gained efficiency on par 5s and inside of the top 10 on tour in holes per eagle and par 5 birdie or better percentage. Fantasy formats on DraftKings and Fanduel reward this type of scoring, and Finau should find himself safely inside of the top 20 in DraftKings scoring this week. DailyRoto's fantasy golf projections give Finau better odds of finishing inside of the top 10 (27 percent) than they do to miss the cut (just 22 percent), making Finau the perfect play for tournaments and cash games.

Stewart Cink is DailyRoto's top fantasy value selection at a $7,100 price on DraftKings. Cink has now made four straight cuts, all of them finishing inside of the top 25, and is coming off a top 25 finish at the British Open. Cink has a 69 percent chance to make the cut, which rates inside of the top 15 in this field, yet his price is outside of the top 50, making him a strong option to pair with either Johnson or Finau.


This column was provided to The Associated Press by DailyRoto,


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