Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Austyn Varney

2017 MLB DFS Preview - AL East

Welcome to the first in DFSR's series of MLB previews as we look ahead to the 2017 MLB season for FanDuel and DraftKings. Here we'll catch you up, division-by-division on player movement, projected rotations, and how teams improved (or not so much).

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Baltimore Orioles

2016 record - 89-73 (3rd in East)


Seth Smith - Trade w/ Mariners

Welington Castillo - 2 year, $13 million


Yovani Gallardo - Trade w/ Mariners

Vance Worley

Pedro Alvarez

Tommy Hunter

Drew Stubbs

Matt Wieters

Nolan Reimold

Steve Pearce

Projected rotation

1. Chris Tillman

2. Kevin Gausman

3. Dylan Bundy

4. Wade Miley

5. Ubaldo Jimenez


This is a pretty rough rotation. With the Orioles playing in one of the best hitter parks in the league, we will be targeting opponents a ton. Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman are both very serviceable, but they don't offer anywhere near the same upside the ace and 2 should provide. Dylan Bundy is probably the guy who has the most upside, as he has been one of the biggest MLB prospects for years now. Bundy was pretty good last year, with a wOBA in the .320's vs both lefties and righties. He did strikeout almost a batter per inning, solid and just a tick below elite. On the backend of the rotation, we have Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez. These guys are both dumpster fires. I don't expect either of these guys to last it to the All-Star break, and we will target agains them nearly every time they pitch. Miley was horrible against righties last year, giving up a .360 wOBA combined with a 4.14 xFIP & 1.53 HR/9. I can't wait to play some hitters against him especially in that park. As for Jimenez, he is bad against both lefties and righties, and we will target him heavily anywhere he takes the bump.

Projected lineup

C - Welington Castillo

1st - Chris Davis

2nd - Jonathan Schoop

3rd - Manny Machado

SS - J.J. Hardy

LF - Hyun-soo Kim

CF - Adam Jones

RF - Mark Trumbo

DH - Seth Smith & Nolan Reimold


The Orioles did a whole lot of subtracting this off-season, and not too much adding. Welington is a good hitting catcher, but is nothing special and doesn't have the ability to change the dynamics of the lineup. However, he can hit left-handed pitching extremely well and will be someone we target a lot in Camden Yards. It will be interesting to see how lethal Davis and Trumbo can be with one nice addition, but a weaker overall lineup. Camden Yards is one of the best parks in the league for hitters, and we will be looking at big over under here throughout the season. As for the rest of the lineup, there are a lot of guys who are great in certain spots. For example, Hyun-soo Kim held a dominant wOBA vs R's last year and struggled mightily against lefties. He will see the top of the lineup on occasion and is someone you will want to look for when it happens. Nolan Reimold and Jonathan Schoop will also see their turns at the top of the lineup and are both often solid tournament adds if hitting near the top of the order. All in all, we will be targeting a lot of hitters for and against the Orioles.


Boston Red Sox

2016 record - 93-69 (1st in East)


Chris Sale

Tyler Thornburg

Junior Lake

Matt Dominguez


David Ortiz

Travis Shaw

Yoan Moncada

Clay Buccholz

Aaron Hill

Brad Ziegler

Ryan Hanigan

Koji Uehara

Projected rotation

1. Chris Sale

2. David Price

3. Rick Porcello

4. Drew Pomeranz

5. Eduardo Rodriguez / Steven Wright


Coming into the year, the Red Sox figure to have one of the best rotations in baseball. Adding Chris Sale to a rotation that already sported the AL Cy Young in Rick Porcello and another 17 game winner in David Price. Sale comes in as the best pitcher in this rotation, whether the coaching staff wants to think Rick Porcello is the ace or not. With that being said, it will be interesting to see how Sale does in Fenway. As we know, the Green Monster can be a particular issue for left-handed pitchers. Though Sale did play in a hitter's park in U.S. Cellular Field for the last 7 years. He has held a top 3 wOBA against both lefties and righties over that time and has been one of the scariest pitchers in baseball. Rick Porcello and David Price should have productive seasons, though I wouldn't expect another Cy Young season from Porcello. He gave up a .271 BABIP and a 32% hard contact rate. Those are not numbers that should win you a CY Young, and he did get very lucky. However, that's not to say he isn't a great pitcher. He will still be very good and makes a great 3rd wheel to David Price and Chris Sale. Pomeranz and Wright/Rodriguez will hold the 4 and 5, and all of those guys have upside. Pomeranz was the ace in San Diego, and could very well be an all-star pitcher eventually. Rodriguez and Wright are both pretty average, and guys we will ignore on most slates.

Projected lineup

C - Sandy Leon

1st - Mitch Moreland

2nd - Dustin Pedroia

3rd - Pablo Sandoval

SS - Xander Bogaerts

LF - Andrew Benintendi

CF - Jackie Bradley Jr.

RF - Mookie Betts

DH - Hanley Ramirez


The Red Sox match a fantastic rotation with an almost equally great lineup. While the loss of David Ortiz will impact them a little bit, I still think the offense improves as a whole. 5 of the 9 starters are under 26, and those are the guys with the most upside. Mookie Betts is a real candidate to win MVP, and he will continue to improve as the seasons progress. Betts will be one of the best players in the league, and you can play him almost no matter the match-up. He did hit better at home last year, but was still elite on the road. Bogaerts and HanRam are both lefty mashers and will be targeted heavily in Fenway Park. Benintendi and Bradley Jr. round out the outfield with the former heralded as the possibly the best major league-ready prospect in the game. Bradley solidified himself last year with the longest hitting streak of the season, and Benintendi made an impact as soon as he was called up.  Mitch Moreland and Pablo Sandoval are the 2 big unknowns, and it will likely be them that decides whether this lineup will be elite. If those 2 guys play like they are capable of, this will be one of the scariest lineups in baseball.




New York Yankees

2016 record - 84-78 (4th in East)


Aroldis Chapman

Matt Holiday


Mark Teixeira

Billy Butler

Brian McCann

Nathan Eovaldi

Projected rotation

1. Masahiro Tanaka

2. Michael Pineda

3. C.C. Sabathia

4. Luis Severino

5. Adam Warren


This is a rotation with A LOT of volatility. While Tanaka is nearly a guarantee to produce, he has a long history of injuries and is somebody who is scary to rely on as your ace. Beyond him, we have Pineda and Sabathia at the 2 and 3. Both of those guys are very hit and miss, though there are times where they can be targeted. You will want to target Pineda against lineups that are right handed and strikeout heavy as he's elite against that split. Sabathia on the other hand, excels against lefties, and in ballparks that limit right-handed power. Severino is a prospect who does have a lot of potential, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him finish as the 2nd best starter. Adam Warren is a temporary fill-in and he should be gone at some point in the season. the Yankees do have some quality arms in the farm system, so watch out for a prospect that is unknown and too cheap. All of these guys will also be forced to pitch half of their games at Yankee Stadium, which is not great. Yankee Stadium is the 2nd best ballpark in the league for left-handers, and there are some potent lefties in this division. There will be spots to target these guys, but they will not occur often.

Projected lineup

C - Gary Sanchez

1st - Greg Bird

2nd - Starlin Castro

3rd - Chase Headley

SS - Didi Gregorius

LF - Brett Gardner

CF - Jacoby Ellsbury

RF - Aaron Judge

DH - Matt Holliday


I can't sit here and act like I know how this lineup is going to turn out. Like the starting rotation, a lot of these guys are extremely volatile. Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Holliday, and Brett Gardner are the 3 guys who will be very consistent and can be targeted on a regular basis. Gary Sanchez also went off to end the year, hitting 20 homers in just 53 games. While we definitely can't expect that type of production, we can expect him to be very good. He has been one of the biggest prospects in baseball and is just finally paying off. The same can be said for Aaron Judge, who has an insane amount of power against both righties and lefties. Gregorius and Hadley are the scrubs of the lineup, and can only be targeted in stacks, or as punt plays in Yankee Stadium. Starlin Castro is a guy who was terrific against lefties last year and was cheap across the industry. There will be times to stack this lineup, and there will be times to completely fade it, like all teams. The big bonus they have is the home ballpark, Yankee Stadium. With such a short right field wall, the lefties get a big bump at home.


Tampa Bay Rays

2016 record - 68-94 (5th in East)


Mallex Smith

Wilson Ramos

John Lamb

Jorge De Leon



Drew Smyly

Mikie Mahtook

Logan Forsythe

Kevin Jepsen

Logan Morrison

Alexei Ramirez

Projected rotation

1. Chris Archer

2. Jake Odorizzi

3. Blake Snell

4. Alex Cobb

5. Matt Andriese / Jorge De Leon


This is another lineup with a lot of volatility, and that will tend to be the case when Chris Archer is your ace. Archer had a very nice season last year, but did give up 30 homers and 90 earned. He also had 10 starts where he gave up 4 or more earned runs. On the contrary, he had 10 starts with 9 or more strikeouts. Moving into the middle of the rotation, we have 2 pretty safe guys in Jake Odorizzi and Bake Snell. Odorizzi has been a good, not great starter over the last 2 seasons, finishing with a 4.12 combined xFIP. Snell is still extremely young, though I do think he is very safe. He displayed a 9.91 K/9 last year, along with 20 scoreless innings vs lefties. Alex Cobb is now 19 years old and hasn't put up a 150+ inning since 2014. He does have some upside, but I would definitely be cautious. As for the 5 spot, there isn't much to love. Jorge De Leon is a huge prospect, but might not get the spot right away. Andriese is a decent safe option and is a fine punt against bad offenses.

Projected lineup

C - Wilson Ramos

1st - Brad Miller

2nd - Nick Franklin

3rd - Evan Longoria

SS - Matt Duffy & Brad Miller

LF - Mallex Smith

CF - Kevin Kiermaier

RF - Steven Souza Jr.

DH - Corey Dickerson


Blah. This offense is very boring, and could definitely have some trouble producing runs. The loss of Logan Forsythe is a huge one, as he has been one of the better lefty mashers in the lineup, sporting a .377 wOBA over the last 2 seasons. They did add Wilson Ramos, who is a good hitting catcher, but not as good as Forsythe. Souza and Dickerson are both guys with a ton of upside and can hit 2 homers on any day. Longoria and Kiermaier should be the same consistent bats they were last year and can be targeted in plenty of situations. Matt Duffy and Brad Miller will split time with platoon roles at SS, and both will be in play most times they are in the lineup. Tropicana Field is a pretty spacious park and is below average for both lefties and righties. This is a lineup that will struggle against right-handed strikeout teams, and we will look to target them a ton.



Toronto Blue Jays

2016 record 89-73


Steve Pearce

Kendrys Morales


Josh Thole & R.A Dickey

Edwin Encarnacion

Scott Feldman

Brett Cecil

Dioner Navarro

Michael Saunders

Gavin Floyd

Projected rotation

1. Aaron Sanchez

2. Marco Estrada

3. J.A. Happ

4. Marcus Stroman

5. Francisco Liriano


When Francisco Liriano is sitting at the backend of your rotation, you know you have a lot of upside. Liriano is a guy who can still strike out 10 and is an elite GPP play against left-handed heavy lineups. We have Aaron Sanchez at the front end of the rotation, coming off a season where he finished with a .272 wOBA and 3.61 xFIP. He will continue to improve as he is only 24 years old, and I would expect another very nice season. You can target him on a regular basis, and pitches well in the Rogers Centre. Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ are both guys that sported +.340 wOBA's against both lefties and righties, and still somehow had a good season. Do not expect the luck to continue this year, and I'm willing to target both. Marco Estrada is a very homer-prone pitcher and will look to play power bats against him in tourneys. The same can be said for Happ, who sported a 4.19 xFIP against righties. Marcus Stroman comes in at number 4, though he is the 2nd best pitcher in this rotation. You can be assured that Marcus Stroman will be one of the best pitchers on the 4th day of the season, and we will probably be playing him in cash games. Stroman pitched 202 innings last year, finishing with a .311 combined wOBA. He also held a .311 BABIP, which suggests there was no luck involved. Stroman has a lot of upside, and should be a safe bet against weaker offenses.

Projected lineup

C - Russell Martin

1st - Justin Smoak & Steve Pearce

2nd - Devon Travis

3rd - Josh Donaldson

SS - Troy Tulowitzki

LF - Melvin Upton Jr.

CF - Kevin Pillar

RF - Jose Bautista

DH - Kendrys Morales


The Blue Jays did lose a huge power bat in Jose Bautista, and the team numbers could take a small hit. However, they did get a much more power-centric guy in Steve Pearce, who is a very all-or-nothing type of hitter. They do still have 3 monsters in Donaldson, Bautista, and Tulowitzki. They will remain one of the most lethal offenses against lefties in the league, and one we will want to stack on a regular basis. Kendrys Morales is aging, but has shown no sign of slowing down in the last couple seasons. I would not be surprised to see him have a productive season as a DH. In the outfield, we have Kevin Pillar and Melvin Upton. Upton is a guy who hit lefties extremely well last year and also has a lot of stolen base upside. Devon Travis was battling an injury for the majority of last year and should be able to bounce bak after a full recovery. Russell Martin did take a dip last year, and I would take a wait and see approach before deploying him in cash games.All in all, this is a lineup with infinite upside, though they will also go very cold on occasion.

Projected Standings

1. Boston Red Sox
2. Toronto Blue Jays
3. New York Yankees
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Tampa Bay Rays




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6 Visitor Comments

  1. This is awesome stuff Austyn. Very informed article. Baseball is my passion in real life and in the fantasy world. I made sure I bookmarked this for future reference and I will do the same for all of your other MLB division previews. Thank you!!

    • Appreciate it Ryan! I had a lot of fun putting it together, so glad it’s liked!

  2. Wow, I love this article. Please keep it going!

  3. I can’t wait till baseball season starts. My true passion. Great article.

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