Throughout the season, I am using our FREE Trends tool to create a custom trend, and then I am tracking the results of my matches for the week in this article. The goal is to create trends with high Plus/Minus values and share them with our readers every Friday.
I’m going back to Vegas for this week’s pitcher trend. Rather than looking at the total itself, I’m going to look at how much the line has moved. Specifically, I’m going to look at games in which the Over/Under has fallen and the pitcher’s team is favored to win.
If FanDuel’s MLB pricing factors in Vegas at all, pricing would incorporate only the opening line, leaving a possible edge to be exploited when there has been significant movement after open. I’m not going to look at significant movement here — there simply wouldn’t be enough matches — but you can certainly feel free to increase the threshold should you choose to copy this trend for your own use.
The filters used to create this trend were as follows:
• The pitcher’s team is the favorite.
• The Over/Under has fallen by at least 0.5 runs.
If you’ve figured out Michael Pineda in 2016, you’ve likely made quite a bit of money for yourself. I certainly won’t claim to know what’s going on with him. After allowing a combined two earned runs in back-to-back starts against the Blue Jays and Red Sox, Pineda turns around and allows five to Seattle.
On the other hand, you couldn’t have asked for much better from Carlos Carrasco. And Vegas was all over it here. Not only had Oakland’s implied total fallen by a third of a run, but also the Indians were commanding 78 percent of bets placed on the spread and 83 percent of moneyline bets.
On a slate in which David Price and Carrasco both met or exceeded 60 points, it’s somewhat easy to overlook Jameson Taillon’s performance. Taillon’s opposition, the Astros, had seen a slate-worst -0.4 decrease in their projected run total, bringing that number all the way down to 3.4 before first pitch.
Taillon came into this start on a roll, having allowed only six earned runs against 26 strikeouts over his previous four starts. His salary hadn’t increased quite as rapidly as it probably should have on FanDuel, which led to high ownership despite the presence of Price and Carrasco. He fell just short of an elite score because the Pirates were unable to reward him with a win, but when you consider that his salary-based expected point total was just 27.93, there’s no room for complaints.
On Tuesday, the two pitchers I used combined for only 5.2 percent total ownership. This was a full 15-game slate that included two top-dollar options in Jake Arrieta (@SD) and Madison Bumgarner (@LAD) as well as a couple of cheaper options who seemed to be popular in DFS circles in Jon Gray (@MIL) and Joe Musgrove (@PIT).
Bumgarner and Musgrove crashed and burned, while Arrieta and Gray returned value, scoring 54 and 42 points respectively. Given the relative costs, though, you could make an argument that R.A. Dickey kept pace with the top performers.
Although the Angels’ implied run total had fallen by a slate-worst 0.4 runs, Dickey’s 4.1 K Prediction was also the worst in its category. Lacking strikeout upside, Dickey somehow submitted a 32-point performance in which he limited damage and was awarded with a win. It was basically a best-case scenario. This again reinforces the value of pitcher wins on FanDuel and at the same time highlights the low ceiling of pitchers who won’t rack up a ton of Ks.
The Braves have seemingly played the role of DFS spoilers all season long. Despite having a positive matchup against the light-hitting Braves, who were projected to score only 3.8 runs, Zack Greinke turned in a subpar performance. As I mentioned a moment ago, Greinke is hardly the first victim. In 2016, here’s what has happened when a pitcher priced $10,000 or more on FanDuel has faced the Braves:
Greinke’s ownership indicates that DFS players may be starting to wise up to this matchup. In any event, Vegas was way off base on this game and it was a DFS disaster for the 4.6 percent of the field who did roster Greinke.
The real story came on the early slate, which I unfortunately did not play. Rockies pitcher Tyler Anderson matched for this trend in an away game against the Brewers. Although Anderson lasted only five innings, he collected 10 Ks en route to a 39-point performance on FanDuel. The Over/Under in that game had started above nine runs but had fallen by one run by first pitch.
Both Robbie Ray and Tom Koehler came extremely close to hitting their implied point totals right on the nose. If either had been awarded with a win, the performance would have gone from OK to great, but their offenses (and bullpens) did not comply. Although neither had the most impressive fantasy performance, both players met expectations and had reasonable upside that unfortunately did not come to fruition.
Players in this contest did not hesitate to roster Ray against the Braves one night after passing on Greinke. Ray’s most recent start prior to last night was a 69-point performance against the Padres, which clearly gave investors confidence.
While relying on the actual Vegas implied run total has become a go-to strategy for many DFS players, following the total’s movement is also helpful. Given the trend’s overall Plus/Minus, this trend can be considered in both cash games and tournaments. As we saw, ownership ended up being all over the place this week. The average ownership among qualifiers for this trend was 9.5 percent. Aces like Clayton Kershaw, who qualify frequently, had enormous average ownership numbers when matching the trend, but there were other frequent qualifiers who have generally gone overlooked:
Again, the reason I like this trend is because, if FanDuel were to account for Vegas at all in player pricing, it would need to use the opening numbers because slates are released well in advance. Any movement after that point cannot be accounted for in pricing but may be relevant. This trend’s overall Plus/Minus of is very encouraging, and I would recommend it as an option in both cash games and guaranteed prize pools, despite some of the hiccups this week.