Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Brent Holloway
Via Keith Allison

Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel, DraftKings and Draftster 5/22/15

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Lots of good arms to choose from tonight, but…

Max Scherzer - FD 11700 DK 12700
Scherzer stands above the rest for me. The only question is, are you willing to pay? Here’s why I think you should: Not surprisingly, Scherzer looks like an even better pitcher now that he’s on the Senior Circuit. His Ks are up a tick and his walks are way down. If there’s any regression coming, it’s gonna be via the long ball, but the Phils aren’t the team suited to punish him with power. They’re last in the league in home runs and slugging percentage by a decent margin. My only reservation is that Philadelphia actually makes decent contact on the whole, but I think the win likelihood mitigates the risk than Scherzer only fans five or six instead of his usual nine or 10. Pay up and trust your ability to find bargain bats.

Zack Greinke - FD 9900 DK 10400
Or not. The savings you could pick up with Greinke compared to Scherzer are not insignificant, so I get it if you wanna go this route. Greinke’s upside is somewhat limited by a K-rate that’s off his career average and the fact that he hasn’t worked more than seven innings yet this season. Even so, he’s a pretty safe place to put your fantasy dollars. He’s benefited from a ridiculously high strand rate this season, but he doesn’t walk anybody, and the Padres strike out more than the league average against righties.

Gerrit Cole - FD 9400 DK 9200
Or maybe you’d prefer door No. 3. It probably depends on how scared of Noah Syndergaard you are. Our projection system gives the Mets rookie quite a bit of respect, which diminishes Cole’s chances for a win somewhat, but I’m ok with that. Cole’s peripherals are almost as good as the surface stats, and he’s striking out more than a batter per inning. He’s the real thing, folks. The Mets are right around league average in K-rate vs. righties, but really kinda terrible by everything other metric. Don’t believe me? Ask their .628 team OPS.

Looking to get some separating from the field? Consider: Rick Porcello. Remember how bad the Mets are against right-handed pitching? The Angels are the only team worse. Porcello’s HR problems are still a thing, but his K numbers are back to 2013’s semi-respectable levels. I dunno. Maybe that’s enough to give him a shot here.

Just killing time until fantasy football season? Fantasy Pros has a pretty cool mock drafting software you can check out!


Brian McCann - FD 2800 DK 3700
Pretty weak slate for catchers, but the projection system genuinely likes Mac here. Part of that is due to McCann’s ever-rising BABIP, which is finally returning to reasonable levels. Significant love is also generated by Yankee Stadium’s homer-boosting right-field dimensions. But let’s not overlook Colby Lewis’ role in this affair. His solid-looking numbers through eight starts this season start to crumble upon further inspection, and he’s been especially fortunate with home run-to-fly ball ratio. Don’t be stunned if that starts to normalize tonight.

Wilson Ramos - FD 2900 DK 3800
Though I’m leaning pretty heavily toward McCann’s big-fly upside, you could form a persuasive argument to pay similar prices for the relative consistency of Ramos. The power Ramos showed when he broke into the league hasn’t been there lately, but he’s making up for it with otherwise pretty steady production. Some of that is due to a .340 BABIP that played a big role in his recently snapped 19-game hitting streak. But he makes contact at a decent rate, and since Sean O’Sullivan doesn’t strike people out, he should be putting plenty in play tonight.

Consider: Mike Zunino or Welington Castillo. Whichever sorta-awful Mariners backstop gets the call is worth thinking about due to the HR potential.


First base

Jose Abreu - FD 3500 DK 4600
Little-known fact: Every time our projection system evaluates Jose Abreu, it demands that we play that Whitney Houston song about Kevin Costner. Lasting marriages have been built on lesser loves than this one. Ok, so we recommend Abreu every day. I’d feel bad about it if it weren’t for the fact that he keeps producing. Some fun with arbitrary endpoints: Abreu has hits in 15 straight games and has had either a run or an RBI in eight of his last nine. What’s more important as it pertains to tonight’s game is that Phil Hughes gives up homers and doesn’t strike out a ton of guys, and that US Cellular field props up righty power better than nearly every park in the majors.

Freddie Freeman - FD 3300 DK 4000
Freeman isn’t a sexy GPP play, but he’s putting up another year with a .500+ slugging and .900+ OPS against righties and remains a very affordable DFS commodity. Also enticing here: Wily Peralta is a below-average K pitcher, and the Braves strike out fewer than any team in MLB outside of Kansas City. Lots of balls in play could yield extra run-producing opportunities for Freeman.

Chris Davis - FD 3100 DK 4300
Holy cow. His K-rate is closing in on 40 percent. Even for an all-or-nothing dude like Davis, that’s crazy high. And yet, here we are telling you to spend money on him. What gives? Henderson Alvarez, mostly. Alvarez is a pretty good about inducing ground balls, and for that reason I won’t be investing much in Davis tonight. But Alvarez is also striking out fewer than four per nine this season, which  greatly increases the chances Davis will get into one.

Consider: Matt Adams. If you need to go cheap, I like Adams at this price against a fly-ball pitcher.

Second base

Robinson Cano - FD 2900 DK 4500
I’m loving Cano at these prices for cash games. It becomes more apparent with each passing game that the power he once possessed is no long part of his game, but that’s totally ok when you’re not paying for it. And while his numbers are down across the board this year, his batted ball profile shows no reason he won’t hit in the .300 range for the rest of the season. In this park against a pretty average pitcher, he’s a bargain.

Logan Forsythe - FD 2600 DK 3100
Don’t love the park, and I’m a little skittish about the Kazmir matchup, but if you’re not buying Cano tonight, you’re gonna find your options limited at the keystone. The case for Forsythe is his numbers in this split. He’s hitting well against everybody this season, but he’s long shown a pretty marked preference for lefties. And anecdotally, he’s just been really steady this year. He’s only had two games this month where didn’t get you positive points in FanDuel scoring.


Troy Tulowitzki - FD 4500 DK 4600
If DFS baseball was a road, shortstop would be a lightly traveled, ill-maintained desert highway, and Tulo would be your last chance for fuel for the next 150 miles. Fill up here or take your chances with the treachery that follows. There’s been a fair amount of hand-wringing about Tulo this year, which I suppose I understand. His Ks are up and he's basically stopped taking walks for some reason. Those trends are troublesome, but I’m choosing to put more stock in the 900-plus games he played at the Major League level prior to this season than in the 35 or so he’s played in the last six weeks. You’ll have to pay for him, but for one of the best hitting shortstops of the last 20 years playing in Coors Field, these prices are doable.

Erick Aybar - FD 2400 DK 3800
Of course, with pitching costing what it will cost tonight, you might not be able to squeeze Tulo in. In that case, I think Aybar becomes the obvious choice, at least for cash games. He’s never had power and the fact that he’s not running this year further limits any upside he had. But he’s dirt cheap, makes contact, and is hitting lead off in front of Mike Trout. At shortstop, that’s enough.

Consider: Ian Desmond if he’s in the top third of the lineup.


Third base

Evan Longoria - FD 3200 DK 3800
Longoria’s one of those guys who gets mentioned every time he faces a lefty. The combination of Kazmir’s K stuff and Tropicana Field gives me pause, but since the beginning of last season, Longoria walks nearly as much as he strikes out and owns a .371 wOBA in this split. That’s just too good to ignore, especially given Kaz’s ongoing consistency issues.

Chase Headley - FD 2500 DK 3900
Though Longoria is our projection’s top 3B play of the night on a pure points basis, Headley gets the nod on value. As mentioned with regard to McCann, the pieces are aligned for a lefty homer tonight, and Headley is significantly better from the left side of the plate.

Consider: Kyle Seager


Gonna try to save you some salary with these picks…

Carlos Gonzalez - FD 3300 DK 4700
Finally starting to come around, and while the price is creeping up, it hasn’t yet caught up to where it should be when CarGo’s hitting at home – especially when he’s going against the likes of Ryan Vogelsong. The 37-year-old hurler is a fly-ball pitcher who leans on his curveball. That’s a recipe for an impromptu game of home run derby at altitude. It’s a good night to play the affordable Rockies, and Gonzalez is chief among them.

Kole Calhoun - FD 3000 DK 4500
Calhoun is following up last year’s breakout season with a similar turn and is now hitting clean up. If the Angels had anybody behind him, that might make him more exciting, but as-is, he’s still a solid cash gamer. Fenway doesn’t help lefty homers, but it does yield an extremely high number of doubles, which plays more to Calhoun’s game anyway.

Carlos Beltran - FD 2800 DK 4100
Looks like the projection system is not-so-subtly suggesting a Yanks stack tonight. I especially like the Beltran pick. He’s sliding ever-further off his career averages, but he’s still solid from the left side and his batted ball profile suggests bad luck has played a role in the fact that he’s only hit two home runs so far this season.

Angel Pagan - FD 2600 DK 4600
One of my all-time, cash-game go-to guys when he’s healthy – much less when he’s healthy and hitting in Coors and coming this cheap. He missed a couple of games earlier this week when his back issues flared up again, but has performed well since returning. Don’t look to Pagan for big points, but the already high floor is raised by this matchup/park combo, and his gap-power ceiling gets a bit of a boost, too.

Consider: Melky Cabrera. Running bad right now, but never Ks. BABIP should be due for positive regression.

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