Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

09/20/2015
James Davis

Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel, DraftKings and Starsdraft 9/20/15

If you're here, you're either a guy (or gal!) who can't get enough action in on a football Sunday, or you're a daily fantasy baseball diehard. Or you're both, like me. Still, we have a lot of football prep going on here (we're mostly preparing for another huge overlay on DraftPot), so today's article will be a little briefer than some others. Still, I'll give you a few great plays at each position that you can build around, and of course you can always grab a free three day trial of our projection system for FanDuel & DraftKings that offers projections for every player for both MLB and the NFL.

Pitchers

Stephen Strasburg - FD 10700 DK 10400 StarsDraft
Opponent- Mia (Nicolino) L Park- @Was
Regular DFSR readers will know that we've been on Strasburg ever since he returned from injury and it was clear that his peripherals were returning to pre-injury levels. That's worked out well in the last two starts. Unfortunately, really regular readers will recall that I recommended Strasburg against these same Marlins a couple of weeks ago, and it was a disaster. That's baseball, folks. It's not always going to work out. On the whole, Strasburg has been absolutely lights out in August and September (a 10.58 K/9 in August, and a ridiculous 15.85 K/9 in September). And the fact remains, the Marlins have still been the very worst team in the majors against right handed pitching this season, sporting a league worst .292 wOBA when facing a righty. And, blessedly, he'll be up against the terrible Justin Nicolino (more on him coming later, rest assured), which means a win is even more likely than usual. Love Stras in any format on these prices, to be honest.

Huge gap

Listen - it's really tough to imagine going away from Stras today for safety purposes. There are a few fliers you could take - it thinks CC Sabathia has some upside against the Mets, for instance, and thinks you might be able to roll the dice on Julio Teheran, but those are strictly big tournament plays from where I'm sitting.

If you want to go against the grain in the big money department, though, there is one somewhat interesting match-up...

Jon Lester - FD 10700 DK 10300 StarsDraft
Opponent- Stl (Martinez) R Park- @Chc
Carlos Martinez - FD 9500 DK 9300 StarsDraft
Opponent- CHC (Lester) L Park- @ChC
Our system actually kinda likes both of these today, for different reasons. For Martinez, it's pretty much just an upside play. The Cubs are in the top half of the majors in terms of wOBA against right handed pitching, but they also strike out at an NL worst 24% against righties. Carlos has put up double digit strike-outs a handful of times this season, and that could happen today. Or he could get rocked.

Lester is interesting in his own right for both safety and upside. The Cards have been underratedly horrible against left handed pitching this season. They've got the 2nd highest strike-out rate against left handed pitching, and the majors' 4th worst wOBA. That's a pretty juicy combination. Their best hitters are righty killers like Matt Carpenter and Jason Heyward, and their best right hander (Matt Holliday) happens to be injured. And Lester, while he's not on Strasburg's level, is an ace in his own right. He strikes out a guy per inning, and his 3.13 xFIP is the
11th best among qualified pitchers in the majors. I could see playing him any format today.

 

Catchers

Russell Martin - FD 3100 DK 4100 StarsDraft 4300
Opponent- Bos (Hill) L Park- @Tor
I probably should have included Martin in the picks a few more times this season, but if we're being real, I kinda didn't trust our system on him. Well, this just doesn't seem to be a lesson I'm very quick to learn. Martin is blistering left handed pitching to the tune of a .953 OPS this season, and his 20 homers are the 2nd best in the majors for his position. That's damned good upside for a backstop, and it's probably time he gets his due. Rich Hill was dominant in his first start this season, but he has some eye-popping control issues from the minors. Like, walk rates of 6+ guys per 9 innings in the minors this season. I'm not quite ready to crown him as "back" just yet, especially since "back" in this case means being a 35 year old pitcher who was never really good in the first place.

Buster Posey - FD 3500 DK 4200 StarsDraft
Opponent- Ari (Hellickson) R Park- @SF
We had you stacking Padres the last time Hellickson took the mound against them, and he wound up with -1 fantasy points on FanDuel. The Padres, incidentally, don't have a single hitter of Posey's caliber. While Posey is certainly better against left handed pitching, he's been all over right handed pitching this season, walking more than he's struck out, and putting up an .867 OPS. Hellickson, meanwhile, is his same lousy self - his 4.22 xFIP is actually a tick ahead of his awful career 4.35 xFIP - and should be a real deal sweetener for anyone considering playing a few G-men today.

Some solid safety plays: V-Mart and Wilson Ramos against a couple of bad lefties.

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First base

Miguel Cabrera - FD 3900 DK 4800 StarsDraft
Opponent- KC (Medlen) R Park- @Det

Freddie Freeman - FD 3300 DK 4400 StarsDraft 5200
Opponent- Phi (Nola) R Park- @Atl

An interesting upside play: Pujols, even though he's up against a righty. Tyler Duffey shouldn't be scaring you, here.

 

Second base

Anthony Rendon - FD 3300 DK 4100 StarsDraft 5400
Opponent- Mia (Nicolino) L Park- @Was
Nicolino was slated to pitch on Saturday, so we were stacking right handed Nationals. He's going to pitch on Sunday - here's what we wrote about Rendon:

A no brainer's no brainer for double-ups, today. He's a 25 year old righty who's got a solid .823 OPS against left handed pitching during his young career, and he bats lead off in front of some guys who can actually knock him in. Now, Rendon's not a power or speed threat, so his upside has to come when he gets lucky and piles up counting stats in bunches, but that might just be the case here. Nicolino has a rather amazing 2.98 K/9 in his 54.1 innings pitched this season, which is the lowest figure I've ever anecdotally while viewing information like this over such a sample. Yup - all systems go, here.

Brian Dozier - FD 2800 DK 4100 StarsDraft 5200
Opponent- LAA (Shoemaker) R Park- @Min
Dozier is a DFSR stalwart when he's up against left handed pitching, but he's actually been pretty respectable against righties this year as well. He's got 20 homers and 9 steals in 450 plate appearances against right handed pitching, and his 27 home runs give him a double digit lead over 2nd place at 2nd base. If you are wondering as to whether that was a purposeful internal rhyme, it was. Matt Shoemaker, meanwhile, has taken a fairly dramatic step back during his age 28 season. His K's are down, his walks are up, and his xFIP has taken the kind of rise you might expect as a result. It's only an upside play, but a fine upside answer to Rendon's solid (but boring) safety.

Also considered: We went against the grain and gave you Jason Kipnis against a lefty last night, and he went 2 for 4. Danks will be a much better spot for him tonight - don't be surprised if Kipnis has a nice night on a great price once again.

 

Shortstop

Brandon Crawford - FD 2200 DK 3400 StarsDraft
Opponent- Ari (Hellickson) R Park- @SF
Brandon Crawford has a fascinating season long trajectory. He's basically been the same guy peripherally since the season began - a 21% K 7% BB rate guy with a .200 ISO. His triple slash line has been pretty erratic because of rather dramatic BABIP clustering, but his September has gone off the rails - he hasn't walked, he's struck out 34% of the time, and his ISO is a dismal .043. He's also been a little banged up, and that's a small sample size. In Crawford, though, you're getting a minimum priced hitter with the most home runs for his position. That's easily worth the risk, especially against an innings eating bottom feeder like Hellickson.

Ian Desmond - FD 3100 DK 3600 StarsDraft 4900
Opponent- Mia (Nicolino) L Park- @Was
Another retread from last night, and since there's no reason to just paraphrase exactly what I'll wrote, I'll just paste it here for you:

Ian Desmond is a neat player because he just cuts a profile almost totally unlike anyone else at his position. He's got a .195 ISO against lefties this season, and has been about .140 OPS points better against southpaws overall. But he's a shortstop! I don't get it. What I do get here is that he's a lefty-mashing (at least, for the position) shortstop who's facing a pretty damned terrible pitcher who also doesn't strike anyone out. Desmond seems like a clear play for big tournaments today.

Desmond didn't go off against Brad Hand, but that's going to happen with a boom or bust guy like Desmond. Sunday could easily be the boom.

Also considered: For safety, consider Aybar and Peralta.

Third base

David Wright - FD 3600 DK 4100 StarsDraft
Opponent- NYY (Sabathia) L Park- @Nym
I'm just licking my chops, here. Quick aside - what exactly are my chops supposed to be? My lips? A pork chop? Bizarre saying. Anyway, if I knew what my chops were, I'd be licking them. Wright has had a 1K OPS against left handers for his career, and it hasn't exactly faded with age - he's over a 1.100 OPS against lefties in a small sample this season. And the lefty he's facing today? He hasn't quite aged as well. His strike-outs are down, his walks are up, and he has maintained what appeared to be an unsustainably high home-run allowed rate. His 1.76 HR/9 over the last two seasons is just terrible, which means Wright should be a phenomenal play for safety and upside.

Todd Frazier - FD 2800 DK 5200 StarsDraft
Opponent- Mil (Pena) R Park- @Mil
And this one is just an upside play that most will ignore. We gave you Frazier last night, and he did exactly what we thought he could - he only got 1 hit in 5 at bats, but that hit happened to be a home run. He quickly paid off his price and made himself a viable play with one swing of the bat, and that's been his MO all season. Frazier's normally a lefty crusher, but he's now up to 21 homers and 9 steals in 475 plate appearances against right handed pitching in 2015. Today he'll face Ariel Pena - a young right hander with promising upside who very clearly hasn't figured it all out just yet. Picture a right handed, poor man's Carlos Rodon. He's got swing and miss stuff, but a huge walk-rate (5+ BB/9 in the minors last year, and some slight improvements this year), and that lack of command means he also makes mistakes in the zone. Could be more yardwork for Fraze.

Mike Moustakas - FD 2600 DK 4400 StarsDraft 4800
Opponent- Det (Simon) R Park- @Det
Your high safety answer if you're scared of Frazier, but don't want to spend up for Wright. Most of the Royals are in this same boat tonight, but they are just so boring that I have trouble tapping my fingers to the keys to do their write-ups. Moustakas is a little more fun than his teammates, at least. After Saturday's homer, he's up to 20 on the season, and he's about .070 OPS points better against right handed pitching. His high floor comes from his fantastic approach - his 12% K rate against a 7% BB rate speak to a guy who's tough to fool. And Alfredo Simon isn't exactly known for his ability to fool hitters. His 4.67 xFIP is good for the 4th worst in the majors among qualifying pitchers, and this should be a great spot to grab Moose on the cheap.

 

Outfield

Mike Trout - FD 4600 DK 5500 StarsDraft 5800
Opponent- Min (Duffey) R Park- @Min
Seems like a nightly recommendation recently, and he'll remain that way until his price climbs back to pre-slump levels. With another bomb after last night's recommendation, Trout now has 5 home runs in 6 games, and seems like a must play against basically anyone outside the top tier of pitchers. Tyler Duffey has mixed in some good starts with some duds, and is fairly clearly not in that aforementioned "scary" tier. Trout's a go in all formats, if you can afford him.

Jay Bruce - FD 2700 DK 4400 StarsDraft
Opponent- Mil (Pena) R Park- @Mil
Another seemingly nightly recommendation when he's up against lousy righties, and that's the case again here. Bruce has a .200 ISO and an OPS .100 points higher against right handed pitching for his career, and Pena is plenty prone to giving up the long ball. Only an upside play, but a fine one nonetheless.

Alex Gordon - FD 2700 DK 3800 StarsDraft 5200
Opponent- Det (Simon) R Park- @Det
Your boring answer if you don't want to deal with Bruce's potential strikeouts. Gordon's got a fairly unimpressive home run/steal total, but you're getting him here for his flat .838 OPS against righties this year. His workmanlike approach yields very few terrible games, and his recent little slump has just made him that much more affordable. He's an easy go in 50/50s and double-ups.

Nelson Cruz - FD 3900 DK 5200 StarsDraft
Opponent- Tex (Holland) L Park- @Tex
Did you know Nelson Cruz has 42 home runs? That's a lot. As many or more, in fact, than any hitter in major league baseball. Truly incredible, though, is Cruz's season line against left handed pitching. He's made pretty much nothing but hard contact, and has a 1.100+ OPS with southpaws on the mound this year. Today he'll face Derek Holland - a once promising prospect who never truly got it together. He's reinvented himself as a pitch to contact guy who relies on a good defense to get through games, but unfortunately for him, you aren't allowed to play defense where Cruz can hit it in the warm Texas air.

Adam Jones - FD 2600 DK 3900 StarsDraft 5100
Opponent- TB (Odorizzi) R Park- @TB
Strictly an upside play, but it could be a good way to bob when your opponents are weaving. Jones was a recommendation last night as well, and his 2/4, 2 RBI night seems to have justified the recommendation. Here's the deal with Jones - he's a reverse platoon guy (about .050 OPS points better against righties for his career) with more upside than reverse platoon guys typically have. He's got 21 homers in 423 plate appearances against righties this season, and that 30 home run season long pace is just a lot to get for a $2,600 price on FanDuel. Today he'll face Jake Odorizzi, a fine young pitcher with an Achilles Heel - leaving a lot of balls up in the zone. He's mastered that a little bit this season, but he's still got the 11th lowest ground ball rate among qualifying major league pitchers this year. Could Jones put up some numbers here once again? One way to find out!

And infinity cheap guys - for those, grab a free three day trial of our projection system (and get access to the NFL projections as well). Good luck out there!

 

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