If you read this column on a weekly basis, you will have noticed that "gaining edge" is a common thread that runs through the advice contained within. Sometimes we need to dig deep to find this edge, incorporating data into our lineup building that likely isn't used by the majority of our opponents. In some instances, however, the edge we gain is in doing something simple, such as paying attention to detail. This means making sure that we don't overlook anything that might give us an opportunity to improve our lineups.
FanDuel has recently had a makeover of sorts, at which time it has implemented a few new tools to help us build lineups more successfully. This includes adding a news widget, which allows users to see the latest developments regarding players we may use on our teams. This dovetails nicely into one of the simplest, yet perhaps most effective things you can do in order to garner an edge: Make sure you are up to date on the latest player news.
The reason this is so helpful is because sometimes we run into situations where a player may be hurt, but for a variety of reasons, has been allowed to play through the ailment rather than be sent to the disabled list. This can help us on both sides of the ball, but in the case of targeting against pitchers, specifically, someone being permitted to play through an injury can give us potential stacking opportunities in unfamiliar places.
For a recent example of this, let's turn to Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. When he's on top of his game, Iwakuma is arguably one of the best starters in the American League. Recently, however, the 33-year-old has been dealing with neck stiffness. It was such an issue, in fact, that he was forced to miss his bullpen session prior to a start against the Royals on June 20. How has he performed since it was first reported he was dealing with the injury?
In two starts since the news broke, Iwakuma has allowed 10 runs in nine innings pitched, causing his ERA to jump almost a full point, from 2.59 to 3.48. Perhaps even more dramatic, his latest efforts mark the first time Iwakuma has failed to last at least six innings in two consecutive outings since September of 2012.
It's interesting to note that ownership rates for Red Sox in Iwakuma's outing Wednesday were frightfully low. David Ortiz, who collected 8.5 points on the evening, was owned by one percent of teams in the 7:05 P.M. ET Squeeze, which included 8,380 participants.
Assuming we can be fairly confident that Iwakuma's neck ailment is at least partially responsible for his recent struggles, how do we go about picking hitters against him?
In the same manner we always do, of course. Look for platoon advantages, ballpark factors, hitter-friendly umpires, and so forth. The important thing is to not get carried away. Sure, he may be hurting, but there could be another matchup in a different game that is also worth looking at.
I've given just one example here, but I think it's sufficient to show that a pitcher dealing with an injury can sometimes be prime pickings for daily fantasy players. If they're generally successful, or are in a situation that your average player wouldn't normally take a look at, so much the better, as we can pick up on that scarcity and have all those beautiful points to ourselves (relatively speaking). In instances such as Iwakuma's, we have an opportunity to potentially gain a significant edge on the field, not by digging into obscure numbers, but simply by following the headlines.