CJ Kaltenbach continues his discussion of MLB DFS Strategy
for the unique 2020 season!
This MLB season is going to be the craziest DFS season we’ve ever had. For starters, it’s only 60 games instead of the normal 162 game season, but we also have expanded rosters that change size during the season. We have a 60-man taxi squad, we have a new three-batter rule for relievers, and we have time-zone based scheduling. I wouldn’t blame you if you were saying to yourself, “how the hell does any of these things affect my DFS lineups,” and it’s a good question to ask.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to tackle these topics and show how they can affect the way we build lineups. Am I redefining how we play MLB DFS? Of course not. Come Opening Day, we’ll be stacking and taking mini-stacks heavy in power and low ownership, but I wanted to show how nitty and gritty I get when analyzing baseball. Hope you enjoy!
MLB DFS Strategies Part III: How Different Roster Sizes + Short Season Can Affect Stack Selection
This year in MLB, we aren’t going to have a stable roster size and how many players are on the active roster at game-time will drastically affect the upside of stacking. For the first two weeks, MLB teams will have 30 players active for games (from their 60-player pool). Two weeks later, it gets cut to 28, and then two weeks after that, it lowers to the standard 26 players.
With 30 active players (assuming most teams will go with 15/15 or 16 hitters and 14 pitchers), you are able to substitute out a much bigger percentage of your starting lineup in a blowout. This is something we’ve seen happen rampantly in the KBO during this short season. Teams up 6-0 in the fifth or sixth inning will start emptying out some of the bench. If you have a five-man DFS stack, in a normal season, teams generally only have three reserves to put in the game, meaning the maximum of a five-man stack you could lose is 60% with the minimum being zero. In the first few weeks, the maximum you can lose is 100% and the minimum you can lose is 20% (they sub out the four guys you don’t have along with one of yours).
Now, this type of aggressive substitution pattern wouldn’t be a big deal in a normal season, as teams aren’t that desperate for rest, but again, that all changes this year. With 60 games in 66 days (and some teams have three of those off-days within an eight-day stretch), teams are going to be seeking rest for their players at all times (also they are ramping up quickly so having players play partial games as they ramp up would also be helpful).
So, let’s look at how this should affect our stack choices. Let’s say we have the following options of top-end teams to stack:
Team A: 5.4 implied team total, -330 favorite
Team B: 5.1 implied team total, -240 favorite
Team C: 4.9 implied team total, -125 favorite
In the past, Teams A and B would be your priority, as substitutions weren’t a big factor, but now? If you only get 5-7 innings of Teams A and B a decent percentage of the time, are they worth the chalky ownership they are going to draw? I would argue not and would choose to stack Team C. Team C is more likely to be in a competitive game, and therefore, has a limited risk of mass-substitutions. Like there is no way Team C is going to pull players in a 6-2 game in the seventh inning.
In GPPs where our focus is ceiling, we need our batters to get all the at-bats they possibly can get, and taking a chalky stack who has an increased risk of being PH for is suboptimal. Also, this applies to underdogs as well as favorites. If a team is down 6-0 in the seventh inning, they are more likely to pull the plug and get their players some rest, as well. So, that talented one-off on a bad team will be less valuable early on in the season than he will be after four weeks when the rosters return to their natural twenty-six size.
Now, much like in Part I, this dynamic will shift during the season. As the rosters get smaller, the risk of having your massive favorite stack all getting subbed out decreases to normal, as teams won’t have the extra players to bring on as a substitute. Also, every team won’t be the same in these situations so we should carefully see how managers handle these situations for the first couple games. Do managers sub out old players? Do they leave the DH in no matter what and sub out five fielders? These are questions I have an opinion on (think old players first to come out and DHs stay in games), but I want to see if my theories hold up when MLB managers get their crack at it.
That’s the third and final part of the season preview. I hope they put some new thoughts into your mind about the dynamics the short-season will provide us. There is actually one more (SP selection due to ramping up) that I didn’t get to but plan on covering in-depth during the first livestream of the season, so be on the lookout for that!
As always, if you have any questions, hit me up on Twitter or drop them in the Baseball chat!
Next Week: Opening Day Preview! (9 DAYS AWAY FROM BASEBALL!!!)
Don’t miss Part II of Seige’s MLB DFS Strategies!