Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings 7/12/15
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.
Francisco Liriano - FD 10000 DK 9700
However you want to slice it, Francisco Liriano is back to pitching like a true ace. It may have taken 9 years to return near the form he flashed in 2006, but here we are. Liriano has matched 2014's elite K/9 Rate and shave off 1.5 BB/9 while maintaining his elite ground-ball rate, and he has opposing hitters flummoxed. And today just happens to be the very perfect match-up for his skills. The Cardinals have paired the league's very highest K% rate against left handed pitching with the 5th worst wOBA, making them a true push-over for pitchers like Liriano. What's more, they'll be starting the non-prospoect Tim Cooney, who is basically a below league average pitch to contact guy. It's amazing that we're here, but we're here: Liriano seems to be the safest pitcher on the board, and he has arguably the highest upside as well.
Johnny Cueto - FD 11000 DK 10900
Cueto will be a huge play today. His credentials are well-known at this point - so I won't bore you there. He's a fantastic pitcher. Miami is a great place to pitch. So why list him below Liriano? Well, the Marlins are terrible against right handed pitching (the 3rd worst wOBA in the majors), and have the 8th highest strikeout rate. So it's not them. Basically, it comes down to Cueto's price and the opposing pitcher. Dan Haren is much better than Tim Cooney, and Cueto costs $1k more than Liriano. Don't get me wrong - I love the guy, and won't blame you if you grab him in 50/50s. I'm just taking a stand and saying Liriano is my guy.
Rubby De La Rosa - FD 6600 DK 7200
If you want to buy basically every big $ hitter today, Rubby De La Rosa looks pretty interesting to me. First of all, he's been wildly unlucky. His xFIP is 1.6 runs better than his ERA. He is striking out nearly a guy per inning this year, and has flashed good control to go with it. Basically, he's allowed a wildly unsustainable 19% HR/FB rate (8% ahead of his previous levels), and that's put his ERA in the crapper. That should move in a better direction today. The Mets have a pitiful .353 SLG against right handed pitching this season (the league's very worst), and strike out plenty as well. While Jon Niese shouldn't be considered a push-over in the other dugout, everything is headed in the wrong direction for him - and his xFIP has crept near 4 even as his ERA has held on for dear life. Don't get me wrong - this is NOT a safe play. But on a points per dollar basis, this could absolutely pay off.
Salvador Perez - FD 2400 DK 3900
Sal Perez is a 25 year old catcher who has an .810 OPS against left handed pitching over a 500 plate appearance sample size. It's not a fluke. While he hasn't lived up to those lofty figures this season, I'm not particularly concerned. Most of that is due to a ridiculously unsustainable .214 BABIP. A guy that hits line drives with the frequency of Perez won't stay held down to that number for long. On this day, he also happens to get to hit against fringe lefty Felix Doubront. And he's the minimum salary. Fantastic spot to escape the position cheaply.
Michael McKenry - FD 2700 DK 3100
Right, so, there's some chance McKenry is just a quad A guy having a "career year" in Coors. In fact, that's likely the case. But today? He gets to hit in Coors! He'll also be facing the left handed Alex Wood. While Wood's true talent level is probably a little better than the results he's achieved this season, the fact remains that he's not anything resembling an ace, and McKenry has owned lefties this season. He's walked 7 times against just 3 strike-outs, and has a 1.212 OPS in his limited plate appearances against them. This is your fairly classic high-upside, low floor play.
Brandon Belt - FD 3000 DK 4000
Were you aware that Brandon Belt's 32% line drive percentage is the best among qualified hitters in the major leagues this season? Taking that into account, his super-high BABIP is more likely a result of extremely hard contact than luck, and his early season success is fairly likely to continue. Now, Belt's not a dude you can just throw out there on any given day and expect top tier results. While he is crushing the ball when he hits it, his 27% K rate is worrisome, and his max-effort approach can lead to some real stinkers. The saving grace here is one Chad Billingsley. The Buzz-Saw is just... not a buzz-saw anymore. He has stuck out just 11 batters in 27 innings this season, meaning that he really won't strike you out unless you foul off a couple of balls and get distracted or something. Take strike-outs off the table, and Belt becomes a high floor high upside beast.
David Ortiz - FD 3400 DK 4300
Papi has been a 30 hr/600 PA guy for something like 15 years now, and it looks for all the world like he'll be that again. His excellent 12.5% BB rate and 15.8% K rate are exactly the same as they were last season, and he's really a little bit of BABIP luck from having a respectable fantasy year. And really, most of his lousy triple-slash line comes from his total incompetence against lefties. Against righties, he has a great .911 OPS, and offers plenty of fantasy value. Today he'll grab below-league-average Nathan Eovaldi in a fine hitter's park. I don't mind grabbing him at all.
Joey Votto - FD 3300 DK 4400
Interestingly, Votto has been basically the same guy Ortiz has been against right handed pitching this year, but his season line looks a hell of a lot better because he's hitting lefties as well. For daily fantasy baseball purposes, this helps in that he isn't vulnerable to opportune pitcher changes. Today he'll grab right hander Dan Haren, who's floated an unsustainable 3.27 ERA on the back of lackluster peripherals. Haren is a pitch to contact guy who leaves a ton of balls up in the zone (he has just a 32% GB rate), and just the kind of guy Votto can put up a huge day against.
Danny Espinosa - FD 2500 DK 3100
In 2015, Espinosa is continuing his trend of turning in plus performance against left handed pitching at a phenomenal price. His .845 OPS against southpaws is a tick better than his .808 career number, and while it's slightly BABIP fueled, I still think he's a legitimate threat from that side of the plate. Wei-Yin Chen is like a lot of pitchers we're picking against today in that his ERA is far outpacing his xFIP. He is basically a league average pitcher who has benefited from some luck this season. And hey! He hit a home run last night (albeit against a righty). I'll be happy to bet against him in any format.
Wilmer Flores - FD 2300 DK 3100
Second base is a freaking wreck today, if our projection system is to be believed. When that happens (at any position), the best bet is usually to go cheap and spend up elsewhere. The 23 year old Flores has interestingly been a dramatic reverse platoon split guy in his short time in the majors - posting an OPS .130 points higher against right handed pitching. While our system likes De La Rosa's chances against the Mets generally, it still thinks Flores is a fine play on a points per dollar basis. Certainly Flores has plus power for the position, and this could wind up being an interesting play for big tournaments as well as cash games.
Consider: Neil Walker, and even Robison Cano.
Troy Tulowitzki - FD 4300 DK 4400
It's safe to say that season-long fantasy owners are having their buzz killed daily by Tulo's YTD performance, but daily owners have still done well with him by deploying him properly - taking him against left handed pitching. He's raked an 1.073 OPS against lefties this season, and that number balloons to 1.327 at home. The man is still ridiculous. I'll play him everywhere I can afford him against a lefty at home unless it's one of the league's very best.
Jose Reyes - FD 3400 DK 4400
If Reyes is getting the green-light to steal, and his legs feel up to it, his price will continue to climb. If Tulo is slightly out of your price range, Reyes is intriguing. He's facing Edinson Volquez, whose 4.12 xFIP shouldn't cause any stirrings of fear in your heart. Reyes has been down-the-line platoon neutral for his career, so the handedness doesn't play any part here, but the 4 steals in the last weak is a sea change. I love grabbing him right before the all-star break in hopes that we can get one more electric game before he rests his legs again.
Kris Bryant - FD 3500 DK 4500
Young players like Bryant tend to have dramatic platoon splits when they first come up as they get more comfortable with major league pitching. Even top tier studs like KB. Bryant's approach is very clearly more refined against lefties at this early stage in his career, as his walk rate and strikeout rate vs. pitchers of either hand suggest. Now, Quintana is no slouch of a left handed pitcher, but he's also not Clayton Kershaw or anything. While he could theoretically give Bryant some problems here, I'm actually fine playing Bryant in any format - sacrificing a little bit of safety for some truly elite upside.
Alex Rodriguez - FD 3600 DK 4300
A-Rod turns 40 this month. That makes me feel old. And, well, he's back. He's on pace for the same WAR he posted in 2009 and 2010, and for a similar number of homers. And while Rodriguez has been better against right handed pitching during his career, Wade Miley is a special kind of match-up. He's allowed an .800 OPS to all right handers this season, and lacks swing and miss stuff. Our projection system actually doesn't love this play (partially because it doesn't know what to make of Alex), but I'm on board if you want to spend up to get him and perceive him to be safer than Bryant. I prefer Kris, though.
Miguel Sano - FD 2600 DK 3900
Ugh, I'm such a sucker for 80 raw power. Sano feels far from safe to me just because he's still so raw in general, but the very early returns are intriguing me greatly. He's walked more than he's struck out against right handed pitching, and he's positively stung the balls that have come off his bat to the tune of a ridiculous 1.486 OPS. Is any of this sustainable? Probably not. But it doesn't have to be to make him against Shane Greene (he of sub-6 K rate this season). It's an upside play to be sure, but don't be shocked if Sano tops third basemen in total fantasy points on Sunday.
Nelson Cruz - FD 3300 DK 4600
Andrew Heaney is a fine young pitcher, but Nelson Cruz has put on a fireworks display against left handed pitching this season. He's hit nearly a home run every 10 plate appearances to the tune of a 1.295 OPS against southpaws, and he's hitting moonshots that will play anywhere. I like him in all formats against Andrew Heaney.
Joc Pederson - FD 3300 DK 3700
While Kyle Lohse isn't as bad as his 6.15 ERA would have you believe, he's still plenty bad, and the Dodgers' lefties should have plenty of great pitches to make seat-deposits with today. Pederson has bludgeoned right handers for an .890 OPS this season, and this off a 30/30 season in the minors where he emerged as a potential fantasy superstar. While the speed hasn't translated to the majors for reasons unknown, the power is here in spades, and he could have a monster game against Lohse and the Brewers.
Andrew McCutchen - FD 4700 DK 5200
Starling Marte - FD 3700 DK 4800
These are the guys you're going to up to grab if you go cheaper on pitching today. And maybe if you don't. Cooney couldn't top 7 K/9 in either stop at AAA in 2014 or 2015, so I don't have a lot of optimism when it comes to him shutting down two of the greatest destroyers of left handed pitching on planet Earth. These guys are a no-brainer stack for large tournaments, and Cooney's lack of stuff has me feeling fine to see them show up in cash games as well.
Hunter Pence - FD 3000 DK 4400
Pence has been mildly better against left handed pitching during his career, but he, like a lot of hitters, has always been better against awful pitching. Sadly, Billingsley now falls into that category. Pence has also put up a lovely 4.25 FanDuel fantasy points per game in his last 5 games - no small feat. A Giants stack looks good from any angle, and Pence is priced at a point where he should have huge points per dollar upside.
Again, a bunch of cheap guys. Way too many to list here. Just grab a free three day trial of our projection system and mix and match them for yourself!
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- Troy Tulowitzki: AP Images