Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

James Davis

Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel, DraftKings and Draftster 5/23/15

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
Corey Kluber - FD 10500 DK 11300
By now, you've heard of Corey Kluber. He's averaged 15 strike outs per start in his last two outings (you read that right, if you are just learning this for the first time). But the crazy thing is, our projection system loves him without even knowing that he is as hot as the sun right now. It's simply that the man's got skills. In this game, he'll go up against Anthony Desclafani. While the youngster shows promise, his 34 Ks against 21 BB in 45 innings tell the real story. It's a pitching mismatch, and Kluber should be heavily favored to grab a win here. Throw in the Reds' .302 wOBA (good for 19th in the majors) against righties and you have yourself a favorable and relatively safe match-up all around.

Stephen Strasburg - FD 8700 DK 9500
I gave you Strasburg before his outing against San Diego, and while he didn't utterly dominate or anything, he turned in a more than serviceable performance against the Dads. I actually believe the hype - Strasburg's mechanics haven't fully recovered from his injury. Even if you take that into consideration, though, his xFIP is a full 2.30 runs below his year to date ERA. It simply can't keep going at that rate. He's maintained an excellent K rate and BB rate, and a lot of those seeing eye singles are going to turn into outs. In this game he'll go up against Philly, who has managed the 2nd worst wOBA against right handed pitching in the majors in spite of their favorable home park. He's facing a tough pitcher in Hamels, but I think Washinton's superior lineup should help Stras net the win.

Late Slate
Oy, this is a tough slate to project for me. So few respectable pitchers, and those that do have warts. CJ Wilson has been pitching decently and should be a favorite to snare a win against the underqualified Steven Wright, but do you really want to play him in hitter friendly Fenway? Jake Arrieta is off to a good start this season, but Arizona has some legit bats. Mike Wright had one nice start... but could it continue? Our projection system likes Dan Haren in his hitter friendly home park, but the Orioles are 4th in wOBA against righties this season, and he's frankly disaster prone. I'll probably spread my pitching exposure out a bit here, or I might just go with a guy who's been pretty bad this year. Who?

Our projection system is sticking with Ian Kennedy, in spite of the high ERA. The peripherals are still there, and the price is ridiculously affordable. Just throwing it out there.


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Early Slate
Brian McCann - FD 2800 DK 4400
McCann will occasionally sit for early games, but if he doesn't, I'm prepared to call him a near must play against Nick Martinez. Now, I hope Nick Martinez's dear mother doesn't read DFSR, because if she does, she's read no shortage of relatively nasty things about her very accomplished son. But we have to be the ones to say it - Martinez's 25 Ks against 15 BBs in 48 IP just don't add up to a sub 2 ERA. The baseball Gods are already rapping on his door, and the lefty heavy Yanks should continue to pound nails into his coffin, with left handed McCann smack in the middle of it all.

Mike Zunino - FD 2300 DK 3500
I like to picture Mike Zunino walking around the Mariners' locker room when they're facing a lefty, being all chatty and in a fantastic mood. Brad Miller won't make eye contact with him. Cano pretends he's got a song playing in his headphones. Kyle Seager takes an extra long shower. It's true, Zunino is basically the only M who prefers left handed pitching, but boy does he appreciate it - he's been about .86 OPS points better against southpaws over the course of his career. Now usually it doesn't even matter that he's facing a lefty. He's frankly just not been very good. But most of that is because he just strikes out constantly. The lefty he's facing today? Mark Buehrle. He of the embarrassing 4.40 K/9. One of those moveable object/stoppable force things here. I'll take the stoppable force, and be happy to escape the position cheaply.

Want upside for miles? How about Evan Gattis. Big price tag, but the match-up with lefty Kyle Lobstein is ideal.

Late Slate
Yasmani Grandal - FD 2800 DK 3900
Grandal is fully delivering on the prospect promise he showed in the minors, and it's a wonderful sight to see. Even more wonderful? We can still get him at a skeptic's price. I'll go ahead and say I'm not really skeptical about anything Grandal is doing this season. Sure, the .333 BABIP is on the high side, but it's decidedly lower than the BABIP he posted in the minors. It fell off a cliff when he came up with San Diego, but, Petco! Now that he's out of that hitter's hell-hole, Grandal is blossoming into a star. His 16.4% walk rate is elite, and his .178 ISO is terrific for the position. I love him here even though I'll consider playing Ian Kennedy. Kennedy gives up a lot of hard hit balls, and Grandal hits a lot of those. Should be a great spot for him.

Yadier Molina - FD 2300 DK 3500
I find myself playing Molina a lot this season for a couple of reasons. First of all, I tend not to chase upside at catcher. I often just like to take a guy who won't kill me. Next, is his price. He's priced very safely, and largely because of his total lack of upside. He's been a reverse platoon split guy this season, and he still makes a ton of contact. Often times, you don't need a whole lot more from the position in cash games.



First base

Early Slate

Adam Lind - FD 2800 DK 3900
Lind has tortured right handed pitching for a .960 OPS this season, and while Shelby Miller has looked elite this season - he's running a full 2.41 ERA points ahead of his 3.74 xFIP. Not to say that will necessarily come crashing down against the Brewers, but I think there's a lot of safety built in to Lind's affordable price.

I get irritable when I think about Jose Abreu. I don't understand the .80 point drop off in ISO. I'll probably play him in some GPPs against Trevor May, but I don't trust him quite enough to grab him in cash games until the price dips a little further or the power comes back.

Late Slate

Chris Davis - FD 3100 DK 4200
If you want upside like you read about, Chris Davis is the play today. The Kid Who Only Hit Homers (big ups - Matt Christopher!) will take on a guy who's been about as plagued by the long ball as any in the last few years - Dan Haren. Haren's combination of 6 Ks per 9 innings and a 34% ground ball rate will have Marlins fans, if they exist, cringing in every pitch he throws Davis' way. Now, the crafty Haren could fool the free swinging Davis into striking out early and often - but the upside is just too tantalizing for me to pass up on. Correction: Davis is on the late slate. He was originally an early slate play. 
Albert Pujols - FD 2800 DK 4400
Hopefully you kept a steadier hand than I did with Pujols. With 2 homers in the past week, he's shown why our projection system has been insisting that he's a play at these ridiculous prices. And I tend to agree. Taking him against the wallowing Steven Wright in a fantastic hitter's park for right handers seems like an easy play, today. Sure, Pujols prefers left handed pitching, but he mostly prefers bad pitching, and Steven Wright appears to offer just that.

Also considered: Mike Napoli. Insane upside against the left handed Wilson if you want to go cheap on first base today.


Second base

Early Slate
Jose Altuve - FD 4100 DK 4600
One of the coolest players in baseball history - do you need any other reason to play him? Altuve is the rare combination of super-high floor (due to his elite contact skills and his speed) and delightful upside. He's actually hitting for more power and walking more this season, making an already lovely daily fantasy baseball option even better. And Altuve's little secret? He's a HUGE platoon guy. He's fared a ridiculous .180 OPS points better against left handed pitching over the course of his career. He'll be up against Kyle Lobstein here - a left hander who's posted just 19 Ks against 13 BBs in 42 innings this season. The guy isn't a major leaguer. Altuve is, and then some. Mismatch of the day.

Rickie Weeks - FD 2200 DK 3400
He'll be a big start if he plays, I'd imagine. Weeks has been a true embarrassment against right handed pitching this season, amassing 3 singles (and that's it) in 41 at bats. But he's been good against lefties, posting an .897 OPS. Buehrle is definitely a well below average pitcher at this point, and this is a perfect spot to get a high upside guy on the super cheap, if you see other spots where you'd like to spend.

Also considered: Joe Panik. Paying the Coors premium, but it's a great spot against Jordan Lyles' total lack of peripherals.

Late Slate
Dustin Pedroia - FD 3000 DK 3900
This is an easy one, for me. Wilson's K rate is just really far off its prime, and Pedroia's .932 OPS against left handed pitching at home tells you all you need to know about the little guy's ability to put on a laser show against the Green Monster. I love him in any format, here.

Dee Gordon - FD 3400 DK 4600
If you want to shoot for the moon, I really don't mind going after Gordon here. And, in classic DFSR fashion, as I am writing this he steals 4 bases tonight. I promise - that's not why I am recommending him. But it does speak to what our projection system sees in the guy on a nightly basis. When he faces righties, anyway. The young speedster has accrued an OPS .90 points higher against northpaws, and more time on base means more time to flex his elite speed. While Mike Wright came in like a lion in his last start, he just doesn't have the pedigree to cut down every team he faces that way, and Gordon should get plenty of chance to put his decent contact skills and elite baserunning skills to good use.



Early Slate
Asdrubal Cabrera - FD 2400 DK 3600
Cabrera's been coming on a bit recently, but this is mostly the Kendall Graveman bonanza speaking. His numbers are so grizzly I'm actually just going to save them for a later write-up. Cabrera's not a huge upside guy necessarily, but all of the Rays should have lots of opportunity here, and Cabrera's very reasonably priced for what he could do here.

Troy Tulowitzki - FD 4500 DK 4400
While Tulo is on another planet entirely against left handed pitching, he's still a total terror on righties as well. He posted a 1.126 OPS against right handed pitchers at home last year. And that was against all righties, not just league average ones like Chris Heston. While the young Giants' righty is having an admirable season, his last trip to Coors was a frightful display. I imagine he'll get chased here as well, and Troy will be featured prominently. If you want the highest upside big money play of the day, here's your guy.

Late Slate
Erick Aybar - FD 2300 DK 3800
Xander Bogaerts - FD 2300 DK 3500
By my estimation, it's a nice night to go cheap at shortstop. I love Aybar for the high floor he should have against the lousy Steven Wright, and I love Bogaerts for the transcendent points per dollar upside at home against a left handed pitcher. Not too much else to say, here, other than I think it makes more than enough sense to go cheap here and spend up on some high upside guys at other positions.

Jimmy Rollins - FD 2600 DK 3600
If you decide to spend up a bit, J-Roll makes an intriguing option as part of a potential Dodgers stack against Kennedy. The seemingly daily DFSR recommendation has flashed the elite upside he's capable of recently, and I maintain that when his BABIP woes clear he'll be 10%-15% more expensive. Buy him while the buying is good, especially while he's still batting in the middle of a pretty stacked order.

Third base

Early Slate
Josh Donaldson - FD 3900 DK 5300
Donaldson is back to blistering left handed pitching this season, putting up a simply absurd 1.260 OPS against southpaws so far and improving on last season's insane 1.007 figure. While James Paxton is a fine young pitcher, a lot of his nice season can be attributed to a more than nice home park for pitching. He won't have the same benefit at the Rogers Centre, and I think Donaldson will be all over him. Lots of upside, plenty of floor here.

Adrian Beltre - FD 3000 DK 4200
Beltre is having a bad season, there's no doubt about it. But like a lot of guys with less than stellar year to date numbers, this is largely BABIP driven. The man who posted a .330 BABIP over his last three seasons in Texas is down to a .260 figure this season. Now it stands to reason that his BABIP will decline over time, but this is way too fast a decline to be legit. He's come on a bit recently, hitting a pair of homers in the last 10 days, and my guess is a lot of this normalizes over the course of the season. We really like him here though because of the match-up. CC is no longer CC, and Beltre STILL has a .927 OPS against left handed pitching this season. Great park, great platoon spot.

Evan Longoria - FD 3200 DK 4000
I generally avoid playing Longoria against right handers, but Kendall Graveman has just been so damned bad I might not be able to resist. Graveman's allowed 33 baserunners in 16 innings while striking out just 7. He's not a major league talent at this point in time, and I'd like to think the wily Longoria can put some hard hit balls in play here. Just a GPP play for me, but I wanted you to be aware of it.

Some cheap guys like Chisenhall and Headley are very attractive in good platoon situations, so keep an eye out and see if they're playing.

Late Slate
Mike Moustakas - FD 2900 DK 3700
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Mike Moustakas is breaking out. A lot of this is BABIP driven, of course, but he was no stranger to huge BABIP numbers in the minors. The guy just makes hard contact. And it's particularly devastating against right handers. Moustakas has put up a .983 OPS against them this season. Lackey is still an above average pitcher, but Moustakas is turning into an elite hitter, and he's just dramatically underpriced.

Manny Machado - FD 3500 DK 4300
One of the rare reverse platoon guys in the game, Machado has posted an OPS .40 points higher against like-handed pitchers in his young career. Like Davis, listed above, Machado should really benefit from facing a pitcher who only strikes out 6 guys per 9 innings, and I expect quite a nice outing of him here. I'm a little gunshy on making him a universal play just due to the price tag and the fact that the park should limit his upside, but he's a solid play nonetheless.



Early Slate
Nelson Cruz - FD 4700 DK 5400
If this were an auction draft, many of your peers would be chasing Cruz. Can you blame them? Cruz will be escaping the treacherous hitting environment of Safeco to head to the more friendly Rogers Centre, AND he'll be facing a left hander who can't strike anyone out. I actually just did a double and triple take at Cruz's stats vs. left handers this season. I'm almost embarrassed to share them. A 2.079 OPS?! I've never seen such a figure this late in the season. While he probably won't bat .577(!!!) against left handers for the rest of the season, he really only needs to get a hold of a ball or two to justify this figure. Are you betting against him?

Carlos Gonzalez - FD 3200 DK 4400
Has the 29 year old Gonzalez just gotten terrible? Our projection system says, emphatically, "no." While he might not be the guy he used to be (the steep ISO decline is troubling), a man with his talent just can't be priced at these figures in Coors in a favorable platoon spot against a pitcher with no track record. He went 2/4 with a double the last time he faced Heston, and while 1 game is a joke of a sample size, I thought you might like to know!

Brandon Moss - FD 3300 DK 4200
Brandon Moss is a guy that our projection system has been absolutely insisting that you play against right handed pitching so far this season, and hopefully you were able to sneak him in there during the last week. He's smacked two homers in that time, including 1 just last night. Moss has a fairly wide platoon split over the course of his career, favoring right handed pitching by about .60 points. Anthony Desclafani and his shaky peripherals shouldn't spook us a bit here. Like Moss in any format you can imagine.

Also considered: Brett Gardner, and tons of cheap guys. Check out a free three day trial of our projection system if you're interested in seeing who they are.

Late Slate
Mike Trout - FD 5300 DK 5600
Kole Calhoun - FD 2900 DK 4500
It's a day where you can absolutely afford to spend up at outfield, and I'd venture to say that maybe you should. Trout has actually been better against right handed pitching over the course of his career, and you can guess what it wants you to do against poor Steven Wright in Fenway. Calhoun favors the offerings of righties as well, and I'd play him in cash games.

Hanley Ramirez - FD 3400 DK 4500
Some say Han-Ram has lost a step or two, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some fireworks here. Much of Hanley's less than impressive line was put together against right handed pitching. Against lefties? He's put up a 1.093 OPS, and that figure jumps to 1.112 at home. Needless to say, we like him against the aged Wilson in this game. A must play in all formats, pretty much.

Joc Pederson - FD 3500 DK 3700
Pederson has 30 hits this season. 10 of those are home runs. All of those came against righties. I like him for huge upside against Kennedy, who occasionally struggles with leaving the ball up in the zone.
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