Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

James Davis

Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings 7/18/15

We're back after the dullest week in sports. Thank goodness. I'm too eager to write much of a preamble. Let's do it.

Full disclaimer - this is a double slate day, 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 in the second (and main) slate, while giving you a play per position at the early slate. 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.



Early Slate
Michael Pineda - FD 9700 DK 10400 Victiv Yahoo
Revenge game? Nah, it's not that. It's just that Pineda isn't as dead as many (including me) left him. While his ERA looks like his break-out 2011 year, he's actually been more than a full run better than that, xFIP wise. He's pitching like a true #1, and making the Pineda/Montero swap look ridiculous, even if it is years later. And then there's his former team. They've struck out at the 4th highest rate against right handed pitching this year, and managed the league's 6th worst wOBA against righties. It also helps his case that Iwakuma has gotten torched on his short innings this year. If I play the early slate (I may not - it's my son's birthday!), Pineda will be my guy in every format.

I'll pass on Clayton Kershaw. The Nats just aren't that good a match-up, and frankly, Pineda has been comparable at almost $3k less on FanDuel.

Late Slate
Jon Lester - FD 8900 DK 9800 Victiv Yahoo
Solid pitcher meets great match-up. Lester 3.14 xFIP is nearly the best of his career, and he's still up around a K per inning pitcher. And then there's the Braves. The offensively mascotted team from Atlanta has been the 2nd worst team against left handed pitching this season - outdone only by the White Sox's historical futility. The young Manny Banuelos has a nice looking ERA, but he's walked 4 batters since his last strike-out. There's some chance he's not ready, and the Cubs have some power bats that could make him pay.

Tyson Ross - FD 8400 DK 8900 Victiv Yahoo
Taking a pitcher against the Rockies! Live a little. Let's get your big concerns out of the way - in spite of the Rockies' strong overall line this season, they've been awful on the road. They've paired the league's 4th highest K rate with the 5th worst wOBA. As for Ross, he's one of the game's great underrated pitchers. He's got a 3.25 xFIP over his last ~430 innings pitched. That's pretty damned good. Ross pairs an elite K rate (better than 9 K/9 this year) with one of the league's best ground ball rates (3rd best in the league behind Dallas Keuchel and Brett Anderson). He's also pretty wild. But in Petco, as a groundball pitcher, you can get away with a little wildness. Throw in a great match-up with Chad Bettis, and I'm a buyer.


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Early Slate
Salvador Perez - FD 2400 DK 3400 Victiv 4700 Yahoo 14
Salvador Perez is a 25 year old player with an .803 against left handed pitching through 450 plate appearances. He's not a fluke - he can crush lefties. With his surging power this season, he's one of the higher upside catchers going, independent of price. Getting him for the near minimum salary on FanDuel? It's kind of a joke, honestly. Quintana is a good pitcher, but this is just a straight value play that will be hard to resist on a very short slate.

John Jaso - FD 3000 DK 4000 Victiv 4200 Yahoo 10
Jaso is an .800 OPS guy against right handed pitching for his career, and he's hitting against the corpse of RA Dickey. Dickey's 4.78 xFIP is an embarrassment to the game, and at this stage in his career, he doesn't do a single thing well. Jaso should put some balls in play, likely get on base, and his teammates should be able to knock him in. Very attractive option for double ups and 50/50s.

Late Slate
Stephen Vogt - FD 3000 DK 3600 Victiv 4400 Yahoo 11
Vogt has just crushed right handed pitching this season - a .950 OPS and 13 homers in 236 plate appearances. That's fantastic for any position, and downright elite for a catcher. His Achilles Heel is the strike-out, but Phil Hughes' sad regression to a 5.40 K/9 should erase those fears from your mind. He also has just a 33.7% ground ball rate. This is a pretty reasonable price for top tier upside.

No one. It might sound silly, but I will play Vogt everywhere. I can see a case for going super-cheap if you just want to spend up elsewhere, but I won't do it. You could play Alex Avila, maybe? Blech. I'll take Vogt.


First base

Early Slate
Jose Abreu - FD 3300 DK 4600 Victiv 5400 Yahoo 18
Jeremy Guthrie. The man with the league's 5th lowest K/9 has had a worse xFIP than every pitcher except Kyle Kendrick and Chris Young. He's real bad. As for Abreu, he had a 14 game hit streak with 6 extra base hits in that time right before the All-Star break, and he'll get one of the most coveted match-ups of the season. While he prefers hitting against lefties, he mostly prefers hitting against terrible pitchers. And that's Guthrie. Very affordable high upside, high floor play for the early slate.

Adrian Gonzalez - FD 3500 DK 3900 Victiv 5300 Yahoo 15
Gonzo has cooled off from his blistering early season MVP pace, but he's still having a more than respectable season. His .902 OPS against right handed pitching is solid, and his 18 homers paints a pretty clear picture of the upside you can get from him in the right match-up. Enter Doug Fister. If he qualified, his pathethic 4.36 K/9 would be the very worst in the major leagues. This is going to be straight batting practice, and, controversial opinion alert, I think Gonzalez can hit batting practice.

Late Slate
Brandon Belt - FD 3000 DK 4400 Victiv 4900 Yahoo 15
Belt doesn't strike too impressive of an offensive profile compared to other first basemen, but there's a lot to love about him in the right match-ups. Belt's weakness, like Vogt above, is the strike-out. Except he makes even less contact than Vogt. When he does make contact, though, Belt has been awesome. He's got the majors' highest line drive percentage, and the BABIP that goes with it. Today he'll face Chase Anderson, who's another run of the mill, no K's below league average pitcher. Arizona is also a fantastic place to hit. I think this is a sneaky spot to grab big upside at a reasonable price.

Prince Fielder - FD 3400 DK 4500 Victiv 5200 Yahoo 17
Fielder came on nicely right before the All-Star break, bringing his OPS against right handed pitching up to a blistering 1.000 even. Ex-Ranger Scott Feldman, meanwhile, is up to his old tricks: Generally Sucking. Great upside, likely high floor play here in a great hitters' park.

Consider: Ryan Howard.


Second base

Early Slate
Howie Kendrick - FD 3000 DK 3800 Victiv 4800 Yahoo 14
To be honest, I want to suggest you play no one at second base in the early slate. If that's an option on whatever site you play, do it. As for Kendrick, well, there is some stuff to like here. First of all, he bats second around some pretty damned good major league hitters. Next, he's been about .060 OPS points better against right handed pitching this season. Last, he's hitting against Doug Fister. You guys! Doug Fister! Okay, I'm pretty excited about playing Kendrick. And while his raw points per dollar projection isn't through the roof, I'll probably prioritize him above some other Dodgers just because the rest of the position is so bad.

Late Slate
Ben Zobrist - FD 3000 DK 3700 Victiv 4800 Yahoo 16
While Zobrist doesn't light the world on fire in terms of homers or steals, he's just a fine hitter at a position without many of them. He's walked more than he's struck out this year, and while he's certainly better against left handed pitching, Hughes has had trouble against batters of all stripes this season. If Zobrist's BABIP was in line with his recent or career levels, he'd be having something like his second or third best season offensively. He's still got it - and I'm still a buyer.

A sea of cheap dudes: Just too many to name here. Our projection system likes them basically all the same. If I can afford him, I'll just play Zobrist.



Early Slate
Alcides Escobar - FD 2500 DK 3900 Victiv 4800 Yahoo 14
You can get an all-star shortstop for just $2,500 on FanDuel!! What else could you ask for? Okay, okay. Escobar is no stud, at least offensively. But! He does bat lead off for a team that can hit left handed pitching, and he'll get the opportunity to face one on Saturday. Escobar has been .021 OPS points better against left handers during his career, but the real story here is a cheap price and great opportunity. On a tough early slate, that will have to do for you.

Late Slate
Erick Aybar - FD 2800 DK 3400 Victiv 4500 Yahoo 14
A position full of uninspiring options, but I'm intrigued by Aybar. He bats behind some guys that can really hit, and the switch-hitting Aybar is as close to platoon neutral as exists in the big leagues, so the right-handedness of Porcello won't bother him. Kid Ricky is one of the most hittable pitchers in the majors - averaging 8 hits allowed and less than 6 innings pitched a start since the beginning of June. Aybar should have some nice RBI opportunities here, and he's priced in such a way that he should have a nice high floor as well.

Starlin Castro - FD 2200 DK 3000 Victiv 4200 Yahoo 11
As dopey as a saying as it is, Castro "is what he is" at this point. He's not a fantastic offensive player, but he does have an OPS about .050 points better against left handed pitching over the course of his career, and Manny Banuelos isn't a terrible spot for him. He bats behind some guys who can hit, and could have some RBI chances? IDK. Shorstop is simply a terrible offensive position, and this is a spot where I can't be shy about telling you to get away from it cheaply.


Third base

Early Slate
Evan Longoria - FD 2900 DK 3600 Victiv 5300 Yahoo 15
While Longoria's been way better against lefties this season, it really doesn't matter much here. Dickey's game doesn't rely on that extra split second of deception that righties get against righties - it relies on his now defunct knuckle-ball. For his career, he's allowed basically the same OPS against right handers and lefties. Longoria can hit the weaksauce that Dickie currently lobs up there, and he's priced very affordably for you to grab him and let him do it. It might not be the safest pick on the board, but I like it quite a bit.

Late Slate
Adrian Beltre - FD 2600 DK 3500 Victiv 5000 Yahoo 14
A steady hand paid off if you stuck with Beltre until right before the ASB. The Rangers' third basemen had an extra base-hit in 5 of his last 6 games, and paid off handsomely on a points per dollar basis in each of those. Scott Feldman should be his best match-up of that group by far, and Beltre has not recently been too susceptible to platoon splits. I love grabbing him here as a high floor, sneaky upside play that lets you spend up elsewhere.

Kris Bryant - FD 3400 DK 4900 Victiv 4900 Yahoo 17
Much of Bryant's bell-tower-power has come against left handed pitching this season, and some of that has come against hardened big league arms. Manny Banuelos, for all his promise, ain't that. Banuelos' K rate has been declining at each stop since his injury in 2012, and that doesn't leave him with a whole lot else. Bryant's obviously very susceptible to striking out, but you can't deny the upside here. So just stop trying to deny it, hypothetical upside-denier.

Can monster Miguel Sano keep up his insane pace against Scott Kazmir? Oy. Our projection system likes him, but I'd be gun-shy in double-ups and 50/50s. As a big tournament play, though? Why the hell not?


Early Slate
Joc Pederson - FD 3200 DK 3700 Victiv 4600 Yahoo 14
I've already made the pro-Dodger case earlier, but it's worth highlighting Pederson at the top of this list. He's a true power/speed dual threat, and is probably the most mandatory Dodger going today. I won't set a lineup without him in it.

Jose Bautista - FD 4800 DK 4800 Victiv 5800 Yahoo 19
It's not a phenomenal points per dollar play, but among the true top dollar guys going in the early slate, I like Bautista. Ramirez is pretty much a run of the mill, league average pitcher. While he's right handed (Bautista prefers lefties), Ramirez has actually been worse against right handed hitters over the course of his career. Bautista could sneakily have the highest upside going, even if it is a reverse-platoon situation.

Adam Eaton - FD 3000 DK 3500 Victiv 4700 Yahoo 14
Alas, the White Sox's general suckitude leaves us without a lot of phenomenal options to take against JeremY Guthrie, but Adam Eaton is interesting. Eaton's a speedster with a sustainably high BABIP that struggles against top tier pitching. Guthrie ain't that. I don't necessarily buy the power surge from Eaton this season, but I believe we should see some positive regression for more speed soon. Going against the soft-tossing Guthrie is a perfect spot to let loose.

Late Slate
Dexter Fowler - FD 2600 DK 4200 Victiv 4200 Yahoo 14
Dexter Fowler is a guy on pace for 15/25 that you can get for super cheap in a great match-up with Banuelos. He's also a pretty dramatic platoon guy - he's more than .100 OPS points better against left handed pitching this year and about .060 points better over the course of his career. It's a cheap spot to grab some serious points per dollar upside for the road.

Michael Brantley - FD 3200 DK 4400 Victiv 5100 Yahoo 16
Brantley is now priced at a level where he's hard to ignore against right handed pitching. The 28 year old is a season removed from a 20/20 campaign where he had nearly 100 runs and RBI and walked more than he struck out. And he hasn't been quite as good this season. I haven't written much about Anthony Desclafani so far, but his 74 Ks against 41 BBs in 104 IP is sort of a mess, and I like the left-handed Brantley quite a bit here. Our system likes Brandon Moss, too, though I'm not sure I have the stomach for it.

Josh Reddick - FD 2900 DK 3300 Victiv 4300 Yahoo 12
If I've written it once, I've written it a thousand times - at these prices, Reddick is a near must-play against non-elite right handed pitching. Reddick's got a near .900 OPS against righties this year, and I've already made the case against Phil Hughes. Great spot for huge upside, and his sub 10% K rate against righties means he's got a higher floor than you might expect as well.

Curtis Granderson - FD 3000 DK 3300 Victiv 4500 Yahoo 14
The Grandy Man has one of the more hilarious platoon splits this season - he's .500 OPS points better against right handed pitching this season. As for Lackey - don't be spooked. His sub 3 ERA is more than a run better than the 4.01 xFIP his true talent level would suggest. His 6.60 K/9 should help Granderson not strike out too much here, as well. It's strictly an upside play, but I'm very much interested in big tournaments.

Also considered: Tons of cheap guys, and most notably, Angel Pagan.

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