Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Brent Holloway

Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel & DraftKings - 7/21/16

We're expecting Boston and Colorado bats to dominate tonight's seven-game slate. Not exactly stunning news, we know. But you might be surprised by who we like at pitcher. Read on for today's position-by-position breakdown.


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Francisco LirianoFrancisco Liriano FD 7900 DK 6800
Opponent - MIL (Garza) Park - @PIT
FD - 38.29 DK - 25.26

By now, you already know what the pitching slate looks like tonight. Even if you haven't looked at a schedule or pulled up the slate on a DFS site, you've now seen Francisco Liriano's name at the top of this column, and that's enough. But here's the peculiar thing about this pick: the projection system is actually all in on Liriano today and has him as the top play, regardless of slate, from a raw points perspective. I'm as surprised to have written that sentence as you are to read it, so let's dig in a little. We've talked a lot this year about the Brewers' strikeout tendencies against RHP, but what goes relatively under the radar is that they haven't been much better against lefties, despite their right-handed-heavy lineup. They rank 23rd in wRC+ against southpaws this season and K in 23.5 percent of PAs, and that makes them a fine target against a pitcher with nice strikeout upside, like Liriano. But listen, we can't pretend there isn't some risk here. Any way you slice it, Liriano hasn't been good this year, so this is a bit on the boom-or-bust side. But if he can find the strike zone consistently, Liriano is in a good spot. PNC Park will cushion the effect of the mistakes he makes over the plate, and the Pirates are a nice-sized -175 favorite, which is a huge boost on sites like FanDuel that award big points for wins. If you're still skittish, I get it. In fact, I am too. But I'm gonna trust the system here, because it's steered me right more times than not.

Adam WainwrightAdam Wainwright FD 9200 DK 10400
Opponent - SD (Cashner) Park - @STL
FD - 36.12 DK - 23.61

If you're craving more safety, you'll probably feel a least a little bit better with this pick. Wainwright's not the guy he used to be, but he's been pretty good this season if you wipe away a horrendous April, with an improving xFIP in each successive month. But arbitrary end points aside, the matchup is a nice one. The Padres have been marginally better lately, but they're still one of the worst offenses in baseball against RHP, with an upside-boosting 24.5 percent K rate in the split. And when it comes to upside, Wainwright could use a little help. He's never been a big-time strikeout guy, and his whiffs have been in decline over the last few seasons as injuries and age have taken a toll. That said, like the rest of his stats, the Ks have been much better lately. He fanned more than a batter per inning in June, which is better than double what he was doing in his first five starts of the season. The Cards are also a massive favorite (-230) as of this writing, and we always like to see that.

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Nick HundleyNick Hundley FD 3100 DK 3400
Opponent - ATL (Foltynewicz) Park - @COL
FD - 11.16 DK - 8.72
Sound the Coors siren. If you opt for Liriano tonight, you'll have no trouble fitting in all the Colorado bats you want, including paying up a little for catcher. Actually, as far as Coors Field prices go, Hundley's aren't that bad. His value is dinged by his spot in the lower third of the order, but we feel OK with playing him in the right spot, and a matchup with Mike Foltynewicz qualifies as such. One caveat here: Folty is a decent prospect and has shown signs of getting things figured out this season. He's coming off back-to-back decent outings, including seven innings with four hits and three runs allowed in his last time out against the Rockies. And if the Rockies' recent struggles with fireballers gives you pause, then be warned: Foltynewicz has pretty good gas. On the other hand, Coors Field is a lot different than Turner Field, and plenty of teams have hit Foltynewicz hard this season; just prior to the two solid outings we mentioned, he gave up four bombs in 5.2 innings at Philadelphia, so the blow-up potential is there. For his part, Hundley has been a solid offensive option as far as catchers go. He's got decent pop (.181 ISO), and though most of his damage has come against lefties, he rarely whiffs and walks a ton against righties, so the floor/ceiling combo is respectable.

Brian McCannBrian McCann FD 2900 DK 3400
Opponent - BAL (Tillman) Park - @NYY
FD - 9.75 DK - 7.31

For a similar price, McCann is never a bad choice when he's at home or any other park that similarly caters to lefty power. His spot in the heart of the order is extremely attractive as well, and while Chris Tillman isn't exactly a pushover, he gives up an awful lot of fly balls to lefties (43.6 percent) and with a 37 percent pull rate, it's not hard to imagine Mac yanking one into the right-field bleachers today.


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David OrtizDavid Ortiz FD 4500 DK 5600
Opponent - MIN (Duffey) Park - @BOS
FD - 15.97 DK - 12.02

Predicting ownership percentages has never been my forte, but if I had to guess, I think we'll see more than a few players chasing points with Hanley Ramirez coming off last night's monster game. That's not the projection system's style though, and it's got Papi as the top choice at first base by a solid margin. Tonight's foe, Tyler Duffey, probably isn't actually as bad as his 5.23 ERA suggests, and it's worth noting that he's actually been better against lefties pretty much across the board this season (more on that later). But it's also worth noting that those stats have been achieved against mere mortals, and not ageless Lords of Thunder like David Ortiz. Trigger warning: If you're offended by video game stats, you can go ahead and skip ahead; it's about to get obscene. Ortiz's exploits are well-documented, so we'll just take a cursory glance at his stats against RHP this season: .479 wOBA, .395 ISO, .444 OBP, .742 slugging. Not surprisingly he leads the majors in every category, and in most cases second place isn't even close. Per usual, feel free to play him at will.

Matt AdamsMatt Adams FD 3400 DK 3500
Opponent - SD (Cashner) Park - @STL
FD - 12.41 DK - 9.62

After writing up Papi, pretty much anybody else is going to come across as a let down, but if you're looking to save a little salary, we've got plenty of options who should return solid value at 1B tonight. We're especially high on Adams on DraftKings, but he's in play everywhere, as he's going against the eternally disappointing Andrew Cashner. The righty has lost more than full mile per hour on his fastball this season, and is mired in the worst year of his career with a 4.73 xFIP.  Righties have actually done the most damage so far, but he's giving up harder contact and far fewer ground balls against lefties, so an adjustment could be on the way. Adams' surface numbers aren't going to wow anybody, but there's nothing wrong with his .222 ISO against RHP, and hitting in the middle of the order for the Cardinals is a nice place to be for run production. St. Louis is one of baseball's best offenses against RHP this season, so Adams should have more than his share of opportunities to push a couple across tonight.


Dustin PedroiaDustin Pedroia FD 3400 DK 4300
Opponent - MIN (Duffey) Park - @BOS
FD - 11.69 DK - 9.22

Even though he was probably the guy who prevented your Red Sox stack from make boat loads of money last night, don't be afraid to go back to Pedey tonight. As mentioned, righties have been the ones doing damage against Tyler Duffey this season, and the Red Sox have a lineup full of guys who pound RHP. They're neck-and-neck with the Cardinals in most of the offensive categories we like to look at, so we're expecting crooked numbers in this one. Pedroia should be in the middle of the action, and though he doesn't have the home run upside you might find elsewhere, his .357 wOBA vs. righties this season coupled with the chances he'll have hitting at the top of the order makes him a fine play in all formats.

Derek DietrichDerek Dietrich FD 2600 DK 3200
Opponent - PHI (Eickhoff) Park - @PHI
FD - 10.09 DK - 7.8

I know what you're thinking: two straight positions without a Coors Field guy?!? Hey, if you want to pay up for LeMahieu (or Mark Reynolds, for that matter), we've got no problem with it. The projection system is high on them as well, but from a value perspective, we like a few guys better. Chief among them is Dietrich, especially on FanDuel, where he's coming in at near punt prices. He's not a big upside guy and his value would get a nice bump if he were higher in the order, but it's hard to find fault with what the guy does against righties (.366 wOBA, .838 OPS). Jerad Eickhoff isn't a guy we're just dying to pick on, but he doesn't exactly strike fear in our hearts, either. This is more of a cash game play, but if Dietrich is creeps up out of the six hole, we think it's an really nice one.


Trevor StoryTrevor Story FD 4000 DK 5200
Opponent - ATL (Foltynewicz) Park - @COL
FD - 12.14 DK - 9.78

Story isn't quite as automatic against RHP, and the price tag on DraftKings is a hefty one, but he's still the top play on the board for raw points, and we're all over him in tournaments. Part of the reason for that is precisely because of his price. The higher it goes, the lower the ownership, and that's exactly what we're looking for in GPPs. Equally important is the fact that the power upside is there in either split (.286 ISO vs. RHP), and Story does his best work against fastballs and sliders, the two pitches Foltynewicz relies on most.

Xander BogaertsXander Bogaerts FD 3600 DK 4300
Opponent - MIN (Duffey) Park - @BOS
FD - 12.05 DK - 9.67

Bogaerts is the safer play, and while he can't match Story's multi-homer ceiling, he can put points in a variety of ways, thanks to hitters around him and his own power/speed combo. Back to Tyler Duffey for a second. While the sample size is admittedly low, the depth and breadth of his reverse splits is pretty striking. It goes beyond the wOBA allowed (.88 points higher to righties) and all the way across his batted ball profile. Right-handed hitters make significantly more hard contact, hit fewer grounders, more fly balls and pull more of them. All of which adds up to a greater likelihood for homers (or shots off the Green Monster, as the case may be). Don't hesitate to take advantage of those tendencies with Bogaerts, who owns a .361 wOBA and .833 OPS against RHP this year.


Danny ValenciaDanny Valencia FD 2800 DK 4200
Opponent - TB (Moore) Park - @OAK
FD - 10.56 DK - 8.15

There was a time when Valencia against a lefty was one of the most profitable plays in DFS, because as a part-time player his salary was low and the general awareness of his aptitude in the split was maybe even lower. Those days are gone now that he's a full-timer, but the production remains. This season against southpaws he owns an Ortiz-esque .444 wOBA and .271 ISO, which makes him a great play against everybody outside of the elite lefties in the game, of which, Matt Moore is not one. I don't mean to trash the guy for the sake of dry humor, but despite flashes here and there, the Rays lefty is looking like he's never going to live up to the potential he was once believed to possess. His strikeout rate is pretty pedestrian, and he gives up too many homers, resulting in a 4.71 xFIP. The home run issue is especially pronounced against righties, so even though Oakland is a bad hitter's park, we like Valencia's chances to return nice value.

Maikel FrancoMaikel Franco FD 2900 DK 4400
Opponent - MIA (Koehler) Park - @PHI
FD - 10.49 DK - 8.11

This one's a little bit sneakier, and as such may be best suited to large-field GPPs. For one thing, Franco's been a bit of disappointment this year after a stellar half season on the back end of 2015. At least it feels that way. The strikeouts are up a little and the walks are down, so that's kind of a bummer, but the power is still there in ample supply (18 HRs, .208 ISO in a little over half a season of work). And the dip in batting average looks like it's at least partially due to some bad BABIP luck. He's also been slightly better by most metrics against RHP this season, so don't let the platoon push you off, especially not when it's Tom Koehler he'll be facing. Unfortunately, Koehler doesn't own reverse splits, but in his case it really doesn't matter, because he's been pretty bad against everybody. One thing we should mention is that Koehler doesn't give up a ton of homers, so we're not necessarily counting on that from Franco. But the way he's priced on FanDuel, we don't need a long ball to get our value back.

One quick note here: Both of these 3B picks are mostly FanDuel specials, because the prices there are just too low for what we've got them projected to do. Over on DraftKings, you might prefer to go ahead and spend up, but we like these two fine there, as well.


Carlos GonzalezCarlos Gonzalez FD 4200 DK 5300
Opponent - ATL (Foltynewicz) Park - @COL
FD - 15.98 DK - 12.27

We're going to make up for a column relatively light on Coors picks by all but insisting you play CarGo everywhere tonight. All the things mentioned previously of course apply here as well, but here's the big difference between CarGo and most of his Colorado teammates: he's left-handed, and Foltynewicz has had big, big problems with lefties this year. Like a 53 percent fly ball rate kind of problem. Like 2.42 HRs per 9 kind of problems. Big, big problems. And of course those problems came outside of Coors Field, where letting guys elevate your fastball is just a complicated way of asking for an early shower. One other thing we haven't mentioned with regard to this game: The Braves bullpen is awful, so if Folty gets chased early this one could get ugly.

Mookie BettsMookie Betts FD 3900 DK 5300
Opponent - MIN (Duffey) Park - @BOS
FD - 14.38 DK - 11.93

If you've read this far, you already know what we're going to say. The Red Sox mash righties, and Tyler Duffey gets mashed by righties. Sometimes it doesn't take a math whiz, you guys. Betts is right there with the rest of his teammates when it comes to beating up on RHP. He's got a .370 wOBA and a .211 ISO in the split, so the fact that he hits at the top of the order and is liable to steal a base is just a bonus.

Melky CabreraMelky Cabrera FD 2600 DK 3600
Opponent - DET (Pelfrey) Park - @CHW
FD - 10.76 DK - 8.4

You know we couldn't let a Mike Pelfrey day go by without recommending at least one guy going against him. Melky is more of a cash game guy, but that's fine, because unless you're stacking against him, picking on a ground ball guy like Pelfrey isn't the surest way to find home run upside. What you get with this pick (both from the hitter and the pitcher he's facing) is a sturdy floor at a nice price. Melky has been better against lefties this year, but he's a good on-base guy from either side and walks nearly as often as he strikes out against RHP. Speaking of walks and strikeouts in equal measure, did we mention Mike Pelfrey? He averages 4.14 Ks and 3.78 walks per 9, which puts him among the league's worst in both categories. No qualifying pitcher strikes out fewer guys, in fact. That's no guarantee that he'll get lit up, but more balls in play means more chances for hits, and we think Cabrera is a solid bet for a couple of them. And if he gets any help from the guys around him, he should be exceeding value by a wide margin.

Consider: Charlie Blackmon. For all the same reasons that apply to Gonzalez. CarGo's the better power hitter, so he's our top pick, but Blackmon does a good job of getting balls in the air, so we wouldn't be surprised to see him pop one either.

So yeah, baseball season! And we've got some goodies you can take with you. At the end of the post, we have our MLB eBook that you really ought to check out before setting even a single daily fantasy MLB lineup. It's free, below.



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4 Visitor Comments

    • then again he seems to have been off for the last 5 games…

  1. I would still like less features on the Rockies. Story, Cargo every day with suggestions on the rest of the team. Got it.

  2. I didn’t look here today and regret it. I had Valencia, Bogearts and Cargo, but took a pitcher another site suggested.

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