The impact of late-season chaos is not quite as extreme for the MLB as, for instance, the NBA. Still, there are many considerations to consider post-All-Star break as we get into the season’s later months. We can break these factors into five categories, with a unique one specific to these times in particular: trades, motivation, rest, late-season call-ups, and COVID-19.
With the trade deadline hitting, we are seeing a lot of big impact moves across the MLB. Player performance is not affected by the team a player plays for in the MLB in the same way that it might be in the NBA or the NFL. Still, it is essential to consider the impact of big trades in MLB DFS.
For one, pure motivation can be a factor for a player going from a cellar-dweller to a contending team. In addition, a hitter that is used to hitting in an inferior lineup with no protection around him may benefit significantly from going to a contender with a stacked lineup.
Some teams will, as a whole, become much more stackable due to the addition of one or more high-powered bats. We will want to quickly adjust our perception of the overall potency of certain offenses based on trades before the field picks up on the impact.
As non-contending sub-par teams unload their few quality hitters, we will also need to adjust to just how impotent these teams may be down the stretch.
On the other hand, we’ll also want to look at who non-contenders may call up from the minors to replace the players they’ve traded. Some of these newcomers might be top prospects, and much of the field won’t click on names they’ve never heard of. We should do our due diligence and research these late-season call-ups to stay ahead of our competition.
In DFS, we are trained to look at pure numbers more than narratives and abstract concepts that may or may not have any real bearing on the end results.
However, in sports, we really need to look at what teams have a chance at the postseason down the stretch and how this affects player performance. In the NBA, we see a dramatic effect on DFS and betting related to which teams are in the playoff race and which are not.
We don’t see quite this level of gambling impact in baseball. Still, there is a different type of impact specific to the late-season stretch in the MLB.
With the rigorous and grueling 162-game schedule playing outdoors during the hottest months of the year, players wear down. Consider this in combination with playing for a team that sits well below .500 with no chance of making the postseason. Sometimes these teams have even traded away some of their best players. This may affect overall motivation and performance for individual players and teams as a collective.
I wouldn’t suggest over-weighing this factor, but it can be a tiebreaker when considering stacking teams deep in the doldrums of failed seasons late in the year. Particularly those fielding a lot of veterans rather than young players excited to simply be in the MLB.
As the season rolls along, you may see more late scratches and rest days for veteran players in particular. You’re really want to keep an eye on the actual lineups that teams are throwing out there on a day-by-day basis. Certain players riding the pine can drastically affect the overall potential of a team stack or the viability of a pitcher against them.
There will also be more late scratches, so you really need to have some sort of alerts system on your devices letting you know when players are scratched. This can often happen close to slate lock with little notice. It can also occur during the slate and require quick alterations to your lineups to avoid getting a dreaded 0.
You can also use this to your advantage. By making a point of playing the replacement for a late-scratched player, you can gain an advantage over the field since they will generally be inherently low-owned. How you thoughtfully rearrange your lineups to react to late scratches can give you a significant edge in GPPs beyond just avoiding rostering players who aren’t playing.
Late Season Call-Ups
Aside from players being called up specifically to replace traded players, we will also see losing teams getting at-bats for younger/less experienced call-ups. Even younger bench players that have been with the big club may get more ABs, and veterans may get more rest.
Again, we should look into these players to establish if they are high-level prospects or not. They will be cheap and low-owned for the most part, but once they start hitting, people will start noticing, and their prices will go up. We want to be ahead of the pack here.
The bottom line is that COVID-19 is still having a relevant impact on the MLB and MLB DFS. There have been recent late scratches and even game postponements without much notice due to players and staff coming down with the virus. It is seeing a resurgence, and this is happening more than it was earlier in the season.
This is another reason we need to be on our toes and get alerts regarding all breaking MLB news. This can be the difference between a lineup full of 0s and not only a viable DFS roster, but an advantage over those that have 0s in their lineups because they weren’t paying attention.
It can be a hassle to deal with some of the additional considerations that come with late-season MLB DFS. Still, you can gain an edge on your opponents by being aware of the impact this point in the season has on DFS play.