FANTASY PLAYS: Fading pitchers and catchers for daily steals

FANTASY PLAYS: Fading pitchers and catchers for daily steals
Chicago White Sox's Yoan Moncada, right, slides safely into second base on a steal as Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor cannot hold on to the ball in the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, May 28, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

When Tyler Glasnow made his season debut last year against Cincinnati, it seemed like a bad spot to take Reds hitters for daily fantasy lineups. Glasnow was highly talented and the Reds were getting a negative park shift. Still, the Reds tallied five steals for 25 DraftKings points just on the basepaths.

Stolen base upside should be an important part of your daily fantasy baseball research but it often gets overlooked. You want to pick on pitchers with a slow time to the plate, and catchers with a slow time throwing to second base, often referred to as “pop time”. You also need your batter to get on base to take advantage of the favorable stolen base matchup. In Glasnow’s case, his slow time to the plate combined with his wildness (career 5.65 BB/9), made him the perfect matchup for opposing base stealers.

Fangraphs uses a statistic called rSB that roughly measures how many stolen base runs a pitcher or catcher has saved, with positive numbers meaning the pitcher or catcher does a good job controlling the running game. Among starting pitchers since 2015 with at least 100 innings pitched, Glasnow has the lowest rSB per inning. Other current starting pitchers that struggle in this metric are Noah Syndergaard, Andrew Triggs and Trevor Cahill.

On the catching side of things, Atlanta has always been a good team to run on. Jarrod Saltalamacchia has passed the torch to the duo of Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki. Among all catchers with at least 300 IP behind the plate since 2015, Flowers has the eighth worst rSB/IP and Suzuki the 15th worst. Not surprisingly, this meshes with pop time, which can be found on MLB’s site for advanced stats. Flowers ranked sixth in 2016 and second in 2017 in slowest pop time to second base. Currently this season, both Suzuki and Flowers are ranking inside the top 10 slowest pop times to second base among 79 catchers that have attempted at least one such throw.


The PGA Tour heads to Dublin, Ohio, where an elite field will compete on “The Course that Jack Built” at The Memorial. The Jack Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village hosts the invitational tournament featuring a 120-man field and seven of the top 10 ranked golfers in the world, as well as Tiger Woods.

Muirfield Village is a challenging par 72 that consistently ranks inside the toughest 15 courses on tour and is designed so that it can’t be overpowered off of the tee. Nearly 40 percent of strokes are gained on approach at this event compared to a tour average of 35 percent, and half of the holes feature water hazards on approach. Overall, fantasy golfers should be looking to target players who are strong tee-to-green with an emphasis on iron play and strokes gained on approach.

Matt Kuchar is a strong option who offers a lot of safety for fantasy lineups, in addition to upside. Kuchar has made eight of his last nine cuts on tour and has elite course history at Muirfield Village. Kuchar has made his last 10 cuts at this event, including a victory in 2013 and six other finishes inside of the top 10. Kuchar may be highly owned in tournaments, so a fade — to pivot off of a highly owned golfer onto a lower owned golfer with similar upside — may be warranted in tournaments with a lot of entrants. But Kuchar looks like a great option in head-to-heads, double-ups, or survivor pools.

One pivot off of Kuchar would be Phil Mickelson, who offers higher odds to win (45-1) than Kuchar does (90-1) in the DailyRoto fantasy golf projections. On the surface, Mickelson has average course history, having made the cut eight times and withdrawn twice. Digging a level deeper, Mickelson actually finished second last year in strokes gained tee-to-green but suffered from a rare poor putting performance and finished 22nd in the field. Putting can be extremely volatile on a week-to-week basis, and Mickelson makes for a good target in large field tournaments where most opponents will overlook his upside for the safety of Kuchar.


This column was provided to The Associated Press by DailyRoto,