Yesterday, I took a look at how teams have been performing relative to their Vegas projections from a DFS perspective. One of the teams that really stuck out to me while I was putting that together was the Houston Astros. As I referenced in my other article, Vegas had a really hard time with the Astros earlier in the year, but has been extremely accurate with them lately.
When the season began, the Astros seemed like the perfect team for Vegas to struggle with – they were near the top of the leaderboard in terms of both strikeouts and home runs. It seemed like they were always as likely to hit four home runs in a game as they were to strike out 12 times – maybe they’d even do both.
A team with power up and down the lineup is always going to be appealing from a DFS perspective. Let’s look at the Astros recent performance through some different trends and see what we find.
Houston has continued their trend of striking out and homering all the time as they currently rank first in total home runs and second in K% on the year. You would expect the team with the most home runs to be smashing Plus/Minus on the year, but surprisingly, the Astros rank only 20th in the category as a team. As we are constantly reminded though, MLB DFS is a game of splits.
When I started breaking down the Astros by handedness, I found more players sitting above +1.00 in Plus/Minus than perhaps any other team I have profiled, and that is great news for stacking purposes. As a team, the splits are relatively unimpressive, but we’ll get into that more in a moment:
Against lefties, here are Houston’s top performers:
Wow, that’s pretty good, right? So how come they’re at -0.17 as a team? Here’s why:
In case you’re wondering, Preston Tucker’s Plus/Minus is seventh-worst right now among players with 10 or more starts vs L. Against righties, it’s more of the same, some really good and some really bad numbers:
Coming into 2015, the Astros were a team everybody loved to stream pitchers against because they strike out so frequently. They still strike out a ton, but now that they are a top 10 offense in terms of total runs scored and they win more games than they lose, should we still use pitchers against Houston?
Examining results over the course of the 2015 season, the answer has been yes, we should. Only San Diego has raised Plus/Minus by a higher value than Houston for opposing pitchers. Looking on a month-to-month basis, the Astros were a GREAT matchup in April (+3.57) and May (+4.56) and were only a decent matchup in June and July where the Plus/Minus hovers around +0.50.
That split roughly lines up with Carlos Correa’s call-up date, and of course they have Carlos Gomez now. Once Springer returns to the lineup, it will be really interesting to see if pitchers are still able to generate positive value against this offense.
A couple other things to keep in mind when picking pitchers against Houston:
- This huge split. From June-August, you can use pitchers against the Astros, but make sure the game isn’t taking place in Houston:
- I’ve mentioned that Vegas has been very good at projecting the Astros lately. We can look at that from an opposing pitcher’s perspective too. Here’s what happens to opponent starting pitcher’s Plus/Minus when the Astros are projected at four or fewer runs:
After checking in on the Astros, they’re kind of the perfect team for MLB DFS. They hit tons of home runs and have players with very favorable splits, which lets you add huge Plus/Minus value when putting together mini-stacks or full stacks. They also kill pitchers at home and struggle on the road. What more could you want from a team?