Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel, DraftKings and Draftster 6/17/15
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Quick note on this slate: This one's a doozy. There are a lot of big-time hitters going against weak arms on the awesome side of their split. That being said, the sites have accounted for this and made a bunch of these guys cost-prohibitive. That, combined with a pitching situation that's less-than-enticing and you've got work cut out for you. We've highlighted here some of the better values on the day. But expect a lot of home runs tonight.
Clayton Kershaw - FD 12300 DK 12900
Maybe if the series stayed in Texas we’d have some reservations here. Probably not, though. That’s how wide the margin is between Kershaw and a pretty strong field tonight. The Rangers whiff more than the league average against lefties, and Dodger Stadium is historically a pitcher-friendly park. Not that Kershaw needs an assist, and any lingering questions should have be silenced by his last four starts. During that span, he’s tallied 39 Ks and walked six in 28.2 innings. He’s as good as he’s ever been, and even at these prices, he’s a sound investment.
Consider: There are four other ace-level arms going tonight. The bad news is that they’re all facing each other. The projection systems has basically thrown its hands up and called for a push, with Johnny Cueto getting the slightest of value nods over David Price, Madison Bumgarner and Felix Hernandez. However, if you just want fade Kershaw for some reason, we think Michael Pineda is your guy. Hesitation is understandable given what happened last time out and what the Marlins did last night. But what you might give up in safety with Pineda, you get back in upside and savings.
*Note: You can consider going super cheap on arms today and loading up on Coors. But I wouldn't suggest it other than an upside tournament play. Guys like Drew Hutchinson and Jeff Locke come to mind here.
Lucroy is a sturdy, low-K cash gamer, even when he’s not facing Joe Blanton. About Blanton: he’s not historically bad or anything, but he’s also not as good as his numbers look right now. His seven prior appearances this season have all come out of the bullpen, and his much more extensive history as a starter tells us his current numbers are untrustworthy. Lucroy hasn’t quite rounded into form after missing the early stages of the season, but he’s been better lately and his BABIP is lagging more than .60 points off his career average at the moment. He’s also hitting near the top of the lineup in a matchup our projection system is very high on.
Yan Gomes - FD 2200 DK 3400
Whereas Lucroy gives you a desirable floor, Gomes is your guy if you’re looking to maximize ceiling on a budget. Since returning from injury he’s walking less and striking out more than his already iffy previous rates, but at less than 100 plate appearances so far, the typical sample-size warning fully applies. And besides, you don’t grab Gomes if those types of things give you pause anyway. What you’re looking for with his pick is a long ball on the cheap, because Gomes hammers lefties (.857 OPS since beginning of 2014).
Consider: Wellington Castillo
Jose Abreu - FD 3800 DK 5100
Abreu hasn’t seen many southpaws this season, getting just 43 plate appearances against a lefty through 58 games. Maybe that’s why he’s “only” slashing .283/.339/.500. Because even though he hasn’t had much of a chance in 2015, his year and half of big-league ball tells us he’s downright filthy when he given the opportunity: .435 wOBA, 1.029 OPS. Against a very average lefty like Jeff Locke in a hitter’s haven like U.S. Cellular, he’s a near automatic play for me tonight.
Chris Davis - FD 3300 DK 4500
Kevin Correia threw 5.2 shutout innings in his season debut against the Pirates last week. Presumably this is due to the shock suffered by Pittsburgh hitters when they learned Kevin Correia wasn’t just a character on their dad’s NES baseball game. Ok, Correia’s only 34, but still. It’s an old 34. His career ERA, FIP and xFIP are all firmly in the mid-4.00s, and he hasn’t cracked the 5 K/9 barrier in five years. Correia’s inability to miss bats should offset Davis’ staggering ability to miss balls, and if they meet somewhere in the middle, Davis might knock one off the Liberty Bell tonight.
Consider: Adam Lind
Ben Zobrist - FD 2900 DK 3800
Not a super fun day at second base. The Coors inflation puts Altuve out of range, Kipnis is facing a lefty, and while the projection system doesn’t hate Kolten Wong and his history of reverse platoon splits, I can’t pull the trigger there either. Instead, we’re going with old reliable for our cash game needs. You know the good and the bad of Zobrist. Unless K:BB does it for you, he’s not all that sexy. But if you value a high floor, he’s a steady supply. And as he showed last night, he’ll still flash the power/speed of his prime on occasion.
Chase Utley - FD 2200 DK 3700
I’m tempted to go this route just to get out cheap. Utley and Zobrist are actually pretty similar at this point in their respective careers – unless you really believe that Utley is a sub-Mendoza hitter all of the sudden. Personally, I’m not buying it. He’s popping it up more than he has in the past, but that’s not enough to explain a .100 point drop in BABIP from last year. A little expected positive regression mixed with a low K-rate and solid command of the strike zone make him an attractive escape hatch against the mercurial Ubaldo Jimenez.
Consider: Jimmy Paredes
Jung-ho Kang - FD 2900 DK 3800
Kang’s had three straight games playing third and batting cleanup with the Pirates facing three straight lefties. Guess what? Another lefty. Sucks to be Pedro Alvarez right now. Also: John Danks is bad, the park is good, and Kang’s patient approach raises floor. He’s cooled off lately, but has still managed to reach base in eight straight games that he’s started and has been especially good against lefties in (very) limited opportunities.
Troy Tulowitzki - FD 4700 DK 5000
Let’s talk Tulo, if for no other reason than parsing out which minimum-priced guy is the least awful makes me sad. Even at Coors, this feels overpriced, but Tulo's projected points far outpace everybody else at the position. With so many high-priced arms, it’s likely gonna be tough to slot him into your cash game lineups. But in tourneys, he’s worth a long look in lineups where you find a cheaper arm to deploy.
Chase Headley - FD 2200 DK 3900
Primarily a price play, but also a short-porch alert. We’ve got a pitch-to-contact rookie making his first trip to Yankee Stadium. It’d be wise to get some exposure to the Yankees left-handed bats, and Headley looks like the most economical option. Headley is historically slightly better from the left side, but the splits are skewed dramatically this season. He’s got three home runs in 63 plate appearances off of right-handed pitchers in Yankee Stadium this year. In all other situations, he’s got three home runs in 197 PAs.
Josh Donaldson - FD 4700 DK 4700
Just because he’s so awesome. In a show of mercy, he’s cooled off a little lately and his season wOBA is back below .400, but facing a fringe lefty in Rogers Centre would a good time to heat up again. Similar to Tulo, you’re gonna find it very difficult to afford him if you’re paying for pitching. In any lineups in which you don’t, Donaldson deserves strong consideration.
Consider: Anthony Rendon, Aramis Ramirez
Ryan Braun - FD 3800 DK 4800
Note: If Carlos Gomez is back in the lineup, he’s the preferred play here. But since a lingering hip issue has kept him out of the lineup for the last couple of games, we’re gonna write up Braun, because the projection system is pretty keen on him, too. Or maybe it just likes picking on Joe Blanton. For our purposes, the result is the same. Though his lagging BABIP is dragging him down somewhat, Braun is easily enjoying his best year since injury cut him short in 2013, and his batted ball profile (42 percent hard contact) says his batting average could be climbing soon, too.
Kole Calhoun - FD 2700 DK 4400
Calhoun is pretty close to split neutral overall, but he does put up better power numbers against righties, and that bodes well going into Arizona and one of the top-five offensive parks in baseball. Diamondbacks starter Chase Anderson is the x-factor here. He’s carrying a 2.82 ERA through 12 starts, but it looks pretty hollow upon further inspection. His K numbers are down significantly to 6.01 per 9, he’s below the league average in BABIP, above in strand rate, and his HR/FB rate is nearly a third of what it was last year. Maybe he’s completely altered his approach on the mound. Or maybe he’s due for some regression. The projection system and Anderson’s own 3.99 xFIP are suggesting it’s the latter.
Travis Snider - FD 2200 DK 3300
Kevin Correia’s pitching in a homer-friendly park. Fade the Orioles lefties at your own risk. Snider could be line for another start tonight, and if he’s near the top of the order again, he makes a fantastic minimum-priced play. And the algorithm that says so doesn't even have any idea that he went bananas last night.
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