Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

James Davis

Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel, DraftKings and Draftster 5/21/15

Full disclaimer - this is a massive slate, and there's no way I could ever possibly list every decent play today. So, I'll do my best in highlighting whom I believe to be the elite plays. If you want the rest? Go ahead and get access to the exclusive projection system that produces these picks. Sign up now and get a free 3 day trial to our lineup construction tool for FanDuel, DraftKings and Draftster.

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Early Slate
There's just a bevvy of big dollar pitching in the early slate. No one could fault you for grabbing Clayton Kershaw or Madison Bumgarner, but trying to get a win from either of them is such a dice roll. That's why I'll probably go for

David Price - FD 10900 DK 9600
The Astros are striking out at the 8th highest rate in the MLB against left handers this season, and are in the bottom half of the league in terms of wOBA as well. Price has basically been Price-like so far this season - but the big news here is Scott Feldman. I think he's going to get positively run by the Tigers' tough offense, leaving Price in great shape to grab the W. It's just awfully hard to pass up on a huge K guy in a great match-up when the opposing pitcher is this lousy, so that's likely where I'll go for cash games.

Late Slate
Julio Teheran - FD 8200 DK 8800
What to make of Julio Teheran's sudden control issues? It's tough to say. Has a 24 year old pitcher just gone off the rails, and started walking almost twice as many guys? Is he hurt? No confidence? Or just a lousy string of games at a glaring time in the season? Barring any news, I'll take the latter. And if there were a time to turn it around, this would be it. Matt Garza has been a train wreck, and the Brewers have amassed the 5th highest strike out percentage against right handed pitching to go with the league's 7th worst wOBA. And for all of his bad luck, Teheran has still put together nearly a K per inning. His woes have made him quite affordable, so I'll get while the getting is good.

Also considered: Clay Buchholz.

The interesting punt:
Kyle Hendricks - FD 6100 DK 6700
Don't look now, but Kyle Hendricks has been non-terrible, at least from a peripheral perspective this season. His BABIP allowed is about .15 points higher than his projected totals, and a couple of disastrous outings have his season ERA in shambles. And that could happen here! But he did have his best outing of the season against the Dads earlier this season - striking out 8 over 6 innings. This one will take place in the best pitcher's park in the league, and Odrisamer Despaigne isn't striking fear into the hearts of Cubs everywhere. Not saying it's a safe play - but it is an interesting one.

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Early Slate
Yadier Molina - FD 2400 DK 3700
Due to the big pitching in the early slate, catching is pretty tough to come by. So I'll probably go cheap, here. If he plays, Molina represents a nice value against Jacob DeGrom. Molina's been a pretty dramatic reverse platoon split guy this season, posting a more than respectable .725 OPS against RHP. Now, this is largely a result of an out of this world BABIP, but our projection system isn't even seeing this season's results for Molina. Just a guy who makes a lot of contact that's a better value than the other dregs on this slate.

Carlos Ruiz - FD 3000 DK 3500
If you do decide to pay up a little bit more, Chooch is a fine option. Hopefully you rode him as a reliable cheap option during our system's love affair with him earlier this season - he's been the definition of reliable recently. The price really is a modest concern, though. Ruiz offers basically no upside, but grabbing him against the left-handed Jorge De La Rosa in Coors is still a more than nice spot.

Late Slate
Stephen Vogt - FD 3600 DK 3700
It's a little awk paying up for Vogt here given the general lack of track record, the decent opposing pitcher, and the lousy ballpark - but here you go! What you're getting in Vogt is obvious. The guy has wrecked right handed pitching for a 1.058 OPS this season, including 9 homers. And while I'm skeptical that he's the left handed version of Mike Piazza, his combination of power and patience and the fact that he's doing this without much BABIP help has me reluctantly acknowledging that I'll be playing him in the late slate and hoping for the best.

If you want to go cheap, too bad. All of the cheap catchers in this slate look like garbage, to me. But Robinson Chirinos might be a respectable way to escape the position in Fenway, even if Buchholz is a rough matchup.


First base

Early Slate
Chris Davis - FD 3200 DK 4200
First base on the early slate is about as rough as you can get. The top three options in Miggy, Goldie and Gonzo are all over-priced relative to their matchup and ballparks so I don't know if I want to spend up there. The rest of the story is bleak. Davis is obviously worse against lefties, but Happ is platoon neutral and the ballpark helps boost power. Know that I don't love this pick, but options are slim.

Also considered: Wilin Rosario.

Late Slate
Freddie Freeman - FD 3300 DK 4400
I honestly remain puzzled as to why Freeman remains so cheap. He's right at his steady .875 OPS against right handers this season, and everything continues to go in the wrong direction for Latos. Miami's not the greatest place to hit, but Freeman is still a high-floor option that is as unlikely to kill you as anyone on the slate.

Carlos Santana - FD 3600 DK 4400
Oh, how I love to grab Carlos Santana against left handed pitching. For the uninitiated, Santana is one of the most patient hitters in the game when it comes to squaring off against south-paws, walking 15.1% of the time while striking out just 13.9% of the time. He isn't a conventional high-upside 1B play, but his incredible eye taken together with Danks' lack of K stuff & command issues could change that in this game. Throw in a great hitter's park, and I'm sold.

Mike Napoli - FD 2600 DK 4000
Wandy special! Not that Wandy has actually been horrible this season, but even in his advancing age, Napoli can mash left handed pitching. His overall line is greatly depressed by his .250 BABIP. This could easily turn around in a great platoon match-up with an over the hill lefty.

Also considered: Jose Abreu. I like Salazar quite a bit, but Abreu's a lot closer to platoon neutral than most sluggers of his caliber, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him turn on one in his friendly home park.

Second base

Early Slate
Robinson Cano - FD 3000 DK 3900
Cano's price continues to slip, and somewhat understandably. He just hasn't produced at the same level this year as he has in the past, and the peripheral stats aren't looking great. But how far am I to believe he's fallen, exactly? I believe it's a lot more likely that he's getting a little worse and combined that with some run bad to start the season. And Safeco is no picnic to hit in. In this game, he'll be hitting in a far more favorable park (Camden Yards), and he's up against a pitcher who has just been terrible this season in Chris Tillman. Tillman's 27 Ks against 19 BBs in 39 IP are a huge red flag, and I think the lefty-heavy Ms feed him his lunch.

Dee Gordon - FD 3600 DK 4700
Gordon's Tim Raines impression isn't fooling me, but it is fooling some people. Listen - he's been BABIPing .100 points ahead of his established levels, and that can't continue. But even then? He's still a fine fantasy player. His contact skills against right handed pitching combined with his 99th percentile speed make him an intriguing upside play on any day, and Archie Bradley's 15 Ks against 14 BBs aren't chasing me away, here.

Late Slate
Dustin Pedroia - FD 2800 DK 4100
Pedroia's one of the underrated platoon split guys in the game, and while we've recommended him against right handed pitching just due to his price (see Cano, above), he becomes a no brainer against lefties. While he's been bad against lefties this year, he's still walked against them more than he's struck out, and I'll trust the career-long .50 point OPS bump he's gotten against lefties over his career to whatever we're seeing so far this season. Wandy's a league average pitcher at best, and Fenway is a great spot for Pedroia's right handed gap power. I like him here in all formats.

Also considered: Honestly? No one, really. Just love Pedroia's value here.



Early Slate
Troy Tulowitzki - FD 4500 DK 5300
If you can save up today, and I think you probably can, Tulo makes a very intriguing option. Troy's a must play when he's up against left handed pitching at home, and he's only facing a righty here. But! He's still put together a .924 OPS against right handed pitching at home over the course of his career. And while he might be tailing off a little bit, Jerome Williams! Williams' skill set, such as it is, is pretty much the opposite of what plays in Coors. He leaves balls up in the zone, doesn't strike anyone out. If there's a man on earth that can make him pay for that, it's Troy Tulowitzki.

Brad Miller - FD 2900 DK 3500
Mariners stack day! The 25 year old Miller is coming into his own this season, and it's all come on the back of his devastation of right handed pitching. His blistering .923 OPS against right handed pitching is among the very best in the league, positions be damned. I think he'll be front an center on the assault of Mr. Tillman today, bless his heart.

I hate paying up for it, but I wouldn't mind Freddy Galvis against De La Rosa in a game where the Phils should put together some good counting stats.

Late Slate
Xander Bogaerts - FD 2200 DK 3500
The 22 year old Bogaerts has managed a .765 OPS against left handed pitching so far in his career's infancy, which is actually pretty darned remarkable. He's still got a LOT to learn, of course, but he's writing his meal ticket against left handed pitching, and that's the chance he gets today. And while I don't love taking young hitters in general, getting Bogaerts at the bare minimum salary on the better side of his platoon against a guy who hasn't posted an xFIP under 4 since 2011 takes away most of the downside. I'll play Bogaerts everywhere.

Erick Aybar - FD 2400 DK 3600
RA Dickey's peripherals are just a mess this season. Less than half a strike out per inning, and nearly as many walks in the 50 innings that he's managed to struggle through this season. Aybar's no great shakes necessarily, but he still bats in the heart of the lineup, and should have plenty of RBI chances against Dickey here.

Also considered: Mike Aviles.


Third base

Early Slate
Maikel Franco - FD 2700 DK 4600
This is a home-run play, to be sure. The right-handed Franco has posted ISO's north of .200 in the minors, and now he'll get a crack at Jorge De La Rosa in a park better known as "God's gift to hitters." One thing I really bristle at is taking young hitting against elite veteran pitching - it's why I haven't recommended Bryant this season, for instance. But here? I'll take my chances. We're getting Franco on the good side of his platoon, and De La Rosa isn't exactly a Cy Young Candidate. Now, Franco could go down in flames. But I'll take the risk on the great price in a great park.

Manny Machado - FD 3700 DK 4300
Machado has actually been a reverse platoon split guy in the majors, but that trend wasn't there in the minors, so I'm not going to read too too much into it. What I really love here, though? Machado's become a double-threat. He's hit 6 homers to go with a surprising 7 bags, giving him considerably greater upside in fantasy circles than we may have assumed. I'm not spooked by Happ if you're not, and Camden Yards remains a nice park to hit.

Late Slate
Kyle Seager - FD 3000 DK 3700
Seager blasted 25 home runs and nabbed a respectable 7 steals last year, but has apparently taken a step back this year. Until you look at the data. What's really going on? Seager's running 40 points off last year's BABIP, which is really holding down this year's triple-slash. He's actually improved as a hitter this season - cutting his K rate by about 8%. All of the stuff I wrote about Tillman in Cano's write-up applies here as well. I love me a Mariners stack today.

Also considered: Adrian Beltre.



Early Slate
Carlos Gonzalez - FD 3300 DK 4400
Another guy who's taken a step back this season that's largely BABIP fueled. Sure, he's certainly making a lot less hard contact, but 2 homers in the last week has me thinking his price could climb as high as 30% from here. While the strikeouts are troubling, Jerome Williams just isn't a strikeout pitcher. This could be Gonzalez's low price point for the season, and a monster game could be in order.

Adam Jones - FD 3400 DK 4400
Jones has been literally absurd against left handed pitching, putting together 1.375+ OPS against left handers this season. Now some of that is BABIP fueled, but he's actually not running too hot this season - this is kind of just who he is. His OPS is .70 points higher at home for his career - so grabbing him here is always a plus.

Yoenis Cespedes - FD 2700 DK 4200
Cespedes isn't the huge upside guy we thought he might be, at least so far, but that's okay. He's providing value in different ways. And his lack of huge upside actually makes him a great value play at these near-basement prices. He's actually been a reverse platoon guy so far this season, and he'll be facing a righty today. Feldman's shown improved peripherals this season, but he's still well below league average, and it's a nice park to hit in. Cespedes is a fine play in all formats.

Michael Cuddyer - FD 2400 DK 3600
Cuddyer's had a tough go of it so far this season, and he could very well be cooked, but he was just soooo good against left handed pitching last season. A 1.200+ OPS! Now he won't ascend to those levels any time soon, but he doesn't need to to provide great value to pay off these near-free prices. Jaime Garcia? I don't trust him this quick back from injury, and I think it could be a rocky start for him.

Late Slate
Hanley Ramirez - FD 3600 DK 4800
He'll just be a huge start in the late slate, but he should be. Han-Ram has put up a 1.1+ OPS against left handers this season, and I've already talked sufficient trash about Wandy Rodriguez. If you're spooked by small sample sizes, he's also been .70 OPS points betters against lefties for his career. This is a great upside play at a very reasonable price, and it's starting to look like it's going to be in a Red Sox stack day!

Kole Calhoun - FD 3100 DK 4400
Mike Trout - FD 5000 DK 5300
Just great parts of any anti-RA Dickey stack. Trout in particular is one of the very best points per dollar huge money plays of the day. For the uninitiated, Trout has actually been a reverse platoon split guy over the course of his incredible career. Also, Trout is a God. But yeah - his .957 OPS against right handers and elite speed mean he's a great play on any day, and in particular against a guy as washed up as Dickey.

Matt Kemp - FD 2700 DK 4100
The price is just a joke, and while Hendricks has some promise here, I'm just playing Kemp at this price against a guy who's an average pitcher at best. No more analysis needed.

Also considered: Mookie Betts, Shin-Soo Choo, Josh Reddick.


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