Mad Max’s GPP Rundown (8/28)

Welcome to my Friday edition of Mad Max’s GPP Rundown!


I don’t know about you, but it’s an especially exciting day for me as DraftKings is running a $1,500 buy-in MLB tournament called the Main Event, where the winner (hopefully me) will win $1,000,000. They’re also running big $50 and $5 buy-in tournaments for those of us who can’t afford the big one. Lots of money to be won today.

I think this is legitimately the hardest day of Daily Fantasy Baseball I have ever encountered, which is either very unfortunate for very fortunate depending on how you like to look at things. It seems like every way we can construct our lineups has a big opportunity cost. Here are the options as I see them:

1) Use two high salary pitchers (i.e. Clayton Kershaw and Francisco Liriano). If we do this, we’re going to have to save money at hitter by using multiple min-salary hitters in your lineup. This will limit our upside hitting wise, but we will have the safest plays at pitcher and the most potential upside.

2) Use a mid-salary pitcher (i.e. Raisel Iglesias or Aaron Nola) and an elite pitcher. But this strategy has many issues as well, all the mid-salary pitchers that I like are either on the road, projected to allow around 4 runs by Vegas, or have low strikeout potential. Not only that, this still doesn’t free up that much salary, especially if we go with Clayton Kershaw who is the best pitcher today.

3) Don’t use Clayton Kershaw. This is probably the most attractive option in terms of how your lineups will look, but it has a ton of downside. Kershaw is an awesome pitcher and he’s facing a very high-strikeout team that will likely put out an ugly looking lineup against such a dominant lefty. The issue here though is he is very expensive, and it totally limits the hitters you can choose.

4) Don’t use a pitcher over $10,000. We can make a sweet lineup hitting wise doing this option but if we do we are taking a ton of risk at pitcher, and even if those pitchers do well we still may not have the hitting at the high salaries to back them up.

5) Use Kevin Gausman and pray. Gausman has been really, really good lately and if he wasn’t on the road at Texas he would be a guy I really liked. The issue is it’s really hot and dry down there tonight and the ball is flying, so Gausman is expected to give up 4.5 runs to the Rangers. That being said, his $5,600 salary is way under-priced (he should be in the $7,000’s, maybe even $8,000s) and he does have upside here.

So which options do I recommend?

My answer, sadly, isn’t going to be set until most of the lineups come out. This is because I need to be able to see all the min-salary options tonight at hitter to really know if spending a ton of money at pitcher is going to be viable. If we get some $2,000 options on DraftKings with some upside, then I’ll be a lot more comfortable making Kershaw lineups. But if that value just isn’t there, I may have to recommend forgoing Kershaw or using Kevin Gausman and praying he allows under 3 runs. After looking at some hitters salaries, I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to make a quality hitting lineup spending up at pitcher.

I’m going to leave something at the end called min-salary hitters, and by 2:00 PST I’ll have it updated with guys I like who you can use in your tournament lineups. If the options seem good enough, I’ll let you know that I’m leaning on going high-salary at pitcher. If they’re not, I’ll let you know as well.

Ok, now for some actual analysis.

Elite Pitchers

Clayton Kershaw ($14,400): In my opinion Kershaw and Chris Sale are by far the best in baseball, I could break down why but I think you likely agree so I won’t waste your time. His price is high but he has both the highest upside tonight and he’s also the safest play. As I stated earlier, how much or little I’ll use him depends on how much value there is at hitter, but right now sadly it doesn’t look like there’s a lot.

Max Scherzer ($12,500) and Francisco Liriano ($10,000): has these games at almost the exact same moneyline and over under. While Scherzer is the better pitcher, Liriano has the better match-up here which I evens them out a bit. Liriano’s price gives him the edge here, but I do like Scherzer more if salary isn’t taken into account. Scherzer has struggled lately in theory but when I look at his relevant stats it seems he’s getting unlucky more than anything.

The Others High Salary Guys

Out of Harvey, Salazar, Gray, and Tanaka, I probably like Salazar ($10,800) the best. His match-up isn’t great but he’s a great pitcher and is at home. Gray is out for me, he doesn’t have the strikeout upside and is at a terrible park for pitchers on the road. Harvey also has a poor match-up strikeout-wise, Boston has high contact rates as a team, but Vegas likes him a lot so I think he’s viable. And as for Tanaka, a lot of people like him on the road against the Braves, but I don’t. His peripheral stats to me don’t stand out and the Braves are not a high-strikeout lineup, and not even a particularly weak lineup when facing a right-hander with Freddie Freeman back. I just don’t see it.

Tourney Options Under $10,000

Cole Hamels ($9,800): He has been awful lately but I feel it’s mostly because of luck. The Orioles are awful against lefties and should put out a lineup that Hamels can have a big game against.

Taylor Jungmann ($8,700): I wish his price was lower but despite having a bad past start he has been very good lately, and in his past 5 games his contact rate has been incredibly low. He had trouble locating in his last start but I don’t see why he can’t bounce back. He’s not an awesome option with a mediocre match-up but he’s certainly viable.

Raisel Iglesias ($7,800): The only thing that worry’s me about this pick is Vegas has the Brewers scoring almost 4 runs tonight, but I’m going to watch that line closely because Iglesias looks like the real deal. His velocity is up a bit, and his contact rate is very low. In his last 5 starts, his xFIP has been 2.65. And if you believe in prior games building confidence, his contact rate in his last game against Arizona was absurd. The D-backs only made contact with 54% of the pitches they swung at, a number that’s simply unheard of. He also benefits here from a great match-up with the Brewers, not only are they a high-strikeout team, they are a high-strikeout team full of righties. Iglesias has been dominant against right-handers in his short career.

Cheap, Risky Option

Kevin Gausman ($5,600): I really wish he had a different match-up because if that was the case I would be all over Gausman tonight. Sadly, he’s on the road at the Rangers and Vegas expects him to allow quite a few runs. That being said, if he keeps the ball in the park he is easily capable of scoring 20-30 points, which on a night like tonight would be huge given his price. He really should be in the high $7,000s/low $8,000s. This is a risky move but it allows us to use Kershaw and still play high upside hitters, so you may see me use him in a couple of lineups tonight.


Aaron Nola ($8,000): This seems to be a popular play tonight, but I don’t like him at all. Vegas has the Padres scoring 4 runs tonight, but what is really troubling to me is what is showing up on our recent performance spreadsheet. His stats in his past 5 games are almost a carbon copy of Chase Anderson, but Nola’s contact rate is higher (82.7% in his last 5) and throws a slower fastball. The Padres are a solid match-up, but they’re healthier and are using some guys like Spangenberg and Jankowski who don’t really strikeout. I would definitely rather use Iglesias at a similar price-point, and one could honestly make an argument for playing Chase Anderson ($5,700) instead.



Here are a few guys I like tonight.

Troy Tulowitzki (SS, $4,300): His price is way too low and he’s facing a high HR allowed lefty. He’ll be a popular pick but he’s a very good one.

Anthony Rendon (2B/3B, $3,700): Vegas likes the National’s a lot tonight against a bad lefty, and Rendon’s price is fantastic given his skill and spot in the order.

Yasiel Puig (OF, $3,300): He’s facing a pretty good right-handed pitcher, but our pitch type analysis suggests Puig likes fastballs with big movement and has crushed sliders. That’s a good enough argument for me since Puig is a great hitter with an amazing price tonight.

Yangervis Solarte (1B/2B, $3,400): Perfect for a Aaron Nola fade, Solarte rates well on our projections because of Vegas’ optimism on the Padres lineup. Just make sure he’s still at the top of the order.

Michael Cuddyer (1B/OF, $3,200): He’s been hot and probably finally healthy, and also has a great pitch type match-up against a young lefty Henry Owens.

Jacoby Ellsbury (OF, $4,500): Williams Perez rates horribly on our recent pitcher performance sheet and Vegas agrees that he’s likely to get wrecked by this Yankees lineup. Perez is a young pitcher and likely not great at holding baserunners, Ellsbury certainly has big SB potential here.

Low Salary Hitters (This will be updated throughout the day)

Byron Buxton (OF, $2,900): He should be leading off and he has a sneaky great match-up. Kazmir is a solid pitcher but is bad against base-stealers and righties. Buxton certainly fits that bill!
Abraham Almonte (OF, $2,000): He’s still inexplicably $2,000 and Andrew Heaney has been awful lately. He’s a quality min-salary option with some upside.

Adam LaRoche (1B, $2,800): He’s very low priced and has HR upside.

Ryan Raburn ($2,200)

Will Venable ($2,800)

Melvin Upton ($2,900)

Juan Lagares ($2,900)

Yan Gomes ($2,900)

Erick Aybar ($2,700)

That’s it guys. Make sure to check back later for some more low-salary options and tweet me @maxjsteinberg if you have any questions!

View all posts by Max J Steinberg
Max J Steinberg

About the Author

Max J Steinberg Max Steinberg is a professional poker player and a top Daily Fantasy player who uses his creativity and mathematical abilities he cultivated as a poker player to win money on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He already has several big tournament scores to his name including the Victiv Bowl and countless MLB Monster wins. Follow him on twitter @maxjsteinberg.

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