Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

04/18/2017
Brent Holloway

Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 4/18/17

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Pitcher

Max ScherzerMax Scherzer FD 11400 DK 12800
Opponent - ATL (Foltynewicz) Park - @ATL
FD - 40.88 DK - 26.91

So how are you guys enjoying life in the multiverse? In this new reality we inhabit, the Braves are apparently good at baseball. How 'bout that? Nonetheless, our commitment to the former paradigm, in which Nick Markakis cannot exist as the cleanup hitter for a decent offense, remains strong. So we're throwing caution to the wind and recommending Scherzer for cash games Tuesday night, because until we see reason to believe otherwise, we're going to trust that he's still one of the most dominant arms in the game, a guy who in 34 starts last season went at least seven innings 20 times and had 14 outings with double-digit Ks. And even in this topsy-turvy world in which a five-game Atlanta winning streak is possible, we think their offense is kinda weak. Scherzer's one weak spot is a tendency to give up bombs, but we're not that concerned. I mean, cheers to Ender Inciarte for already surpassing last year's home run total, but beyond Freddy Freeman, there's not much in the Atlanta lineup to scare us.

Yu DarvishYu Darvish FD 10700 DK 10700
Opponent - OAK (Triggs) Park - @OAK
FD - 37.4 DK - 24.54

Darvish is similar to Scherzer in a lot of ways: a right-handed power pitcher with a fly-ball profile who averages more than 10 Ks/9 in his career. In fact, at 11.25 per 9, Darvish's career K rate is higher than Scherzer's, and he's stingier with the long ball. Of course, he's less durable and -- more salient for our purposes -- less likely get into the seventh inning and beyond. But that's baked into the price, and the projections say both make fine plays. We're partial to Scherzer, but Darvish's fly-ball tendencies will be cushioned by Oakland Coliseum, so as long as he's hitting his spots and keeping the pitch count manageable, there's plenty of upside for Darvish tonight as well.

Zack WheelerZack Wheeler FD 7300 DK 7800
Opponent - PHI (Eflin) Park - @NYM
FD - 34.7 DK - 22.83

For cash games, we can't see looking beyond Scherzer and Darvish. There's just not enough reason to go full contrarian in that format tonight. But for tournaments, on the other hand, the projection system is pretty geeked about Zack Wheeler taking on the Phillies. In case you've slept since 2014, here's the Cliff's Notes on Wheeler: he was a highly touted prospect when he broke into the bigs in 2013, and over the course of the next season and a half appeared poised to make good on the hype, showing K-per-inning stuff with excellent home-run suppression (even if the control was a little wobbly). And then he was gone. Tommy John surgery and multiple setbacks in the recovery process kept him on the shelf each of the last two seasons, but he's shown glimpses his old form through two starts, despite what the 7.45 ERA might have you believe. He's not yet missing bats like he once did, but he's throwing strikes, and he's not getting hit hard, so look for the ERA to fall in line with the xFIP (3.22) soon if he keeps it up. As for the Phillies, they made modest personnel additions in the offseason and the early returns show marginal improvements. Which means they've gone from terrible in 2016 to just kinda blah in the first two weeks of 2017. We could go further into the stats they have (and have not) accumulated so far this year, but he sample size would render it kinda pointless, and it probably wouldn't tell you anything you couldn't glean from glancing at the lineup card: they're not that good.

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Catcher

Victor MartinezVictor Martinez FD 2600 DK 3400
Opponent - TB (Andriese) Park - @TB
FD - 8.33 DK - 6.15

Since this column is geared mostly toward cash games and you're gonna want to spend up at pitcher tonight, we're going to try to be cost-conscious with the hitter picks. So while you could pay a little more and get higher upside than we expect from V-Mart in a bad park, it's just really hard to beat a serviceable cleanup hitter at these prices. He hasn't done much yet in 2017, but even though he's now 38 years old and the end probably isn't far away, we don't think he's done yet. This is the same guy who had 27 HRs with a sub-15% K rate last year while posting an .827 OPS. We just can't see that dissipating entirely over the course of one offseason. Sure, it happens, but we'd say the odds are a against it.

Salvador PerezSalvador Perez FD 2900 DK 3400
Opponent - SF (Cain) Park - @KC
FD - 8.48 DK - 6.29

But if you've got a little left to spend and you're seeking some of that aforementioned upside, here ya go. Perez is mashing to start the year, but this pick is more about his solid resume and the fact that he's facing Matt Cain. At one time, Cain made a living out of out-performing his peripherals, living in the 3.00 ERA range while his xFIP suggested it ought to be about a full run higher. Honestly, it's getting hard to remember those days. Cain's descent into crappiness began back in 2013, and he hasn't pitched a full season since then -- and when he has been out there, the results have been ugly. He got his most extensive work since '13 last year, when he compiled a 4.81 xFIP with 1.61 HRs/9. Cain's always been a fly-ball guy, and they've been leaving the yard with regularity ever since the decline began. So even though Kauffman Field is nobody's idea a hitter's paradise, it shouldn't come as a shock f Perez extends the early-season power surge tonight.

First Base

Kendrys MoralesKendrys Morales FD 2900 DK 3800
Opponent - BOS (Rodriguez) Park - @TOR
FD - 10.08 DK - 7.32

I honestly don't know if this is the projection system telling all the Toronto cliff-jumpers, "chill out, it's only April 18," or if the Blue Jays offense has been so terrible they just broke our algorithm. I mean, I know it's only two weeks into the season, but they're dead last in wRC+, wOBA, slugging and ISO. Not great. But here's where the phrase positive regression needs to be mentioned, because these guys aren't that bad, and soon enough the results will bear that out. Yeah, Morales is hitting just .227 and slugging .409 right now, but he's actually walking a little more and striking out a little less than he did last year, when he hit 30 bombs with a .209 ISO while playing his home games in a bad hitter's park. So it would appear that he's seeing the ball fine, and soon enough the hits -- and the power -- are going to come. Tonight's a fine time to bet on it, because Rogers Centre provides a nice boost to offense and so does Eduardo Rodriguez (4.69 xFIP, 1.5 HRs/9 dating back to last season). Update: Brian Johnson is actually getting the call for Boston, but it does very little to change our projection. Johnson's a southpaw, too, and a middling 26-year-old making his second career MLB appearance.

Chris DavisChris Davis FD 3300 DK 4700
Opponent - CIN (Arroyo) Park - @CIN
FD - 10.66 DK - 7.6

If you've got the money to spend, Crush has all of the upside tonight. The Great American Ballpark ranks with Coors Field in terms of home run factors, and Bronson Arroyo will be up there tossing BP. He doesn't walk many guys, but that's more than negated by an utter inability to generate swings and misses. And when Davis swings, you better hope he misses. Ks are the his kryptonite (31.4% career rate), but the power is virtuosic. Since 2015, he owns a .309 ISO vs. RHP.

Second Base

Ben ZobristBen Zobrist FD 3000 DK 4100
Opponent - MIL (Nelson) Park - @CHC
FD - 9.03 DK - 6.76

The wind plays a bigger role in expected offense at Wrigley than any other park in baseball, but it's less of a factor for Zobrist, who we're not really counting on for homers. His value comes in the form of run-producing opportunities, thanks to his spot in the four-hole behind Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. He's posted a wOBA over .350 vs. RHP since coming to Chicago, with significantly more walks than Ks. So what we're giving up in upside, we're getting back in the form of a high floor.

Daniel MurphyDaniel Murphy FD 3600 DK 4400
Opponent - ATL (Foltynewicz) Park - @ATL
FD - 9.14 DK - 6.96

And here's the play if you're feeling a little less frugal. Murphy's always been a nice contact hitter, but what he's done since the second half of 2015 is stunning. Since the All-Star break of that year, he's a .331/.368/.566 hitter with a .389 wOBA, .235 ISO and 9% K rate. If you prefer words to numbers that translates roughly to "one of the very best hitters on the planet." Mike Foltynewicz looks like a decent young arm on the rise, but there are few matchups Murphy can't get the better of, and he's definitely got the upper hand here, especially considering Folty's struggles vs. lefties (4.70 xFIP since 2016).

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Shortstop

Brandon CrawfordBrandon Crawford FD 2700 DK 3400
Opponent - KC (Hammel) Park - @KC
FD - 8.35 DK - 6.26

Crawford in Kauffman isn't the sexiest combo we can imagine, but there's nothing wrong with a .199 ISO and .800 OPS at these prices, and that's what the Giants' SS has tallied against RHP since 2015. That's good enough to get the job done against a guy like Hammel, who's showing signs of wear at 34 years old. He's tailed off significantly since a solid 2015, especially against lefties. He owns a 5.24 xFIP in the split since the beginning of last season.

Troy TulowitzkiTroy Tulowitzki FD 3300 DK 4000
Opponent - BOS (Rodriguez) Park - @TOR
FD - 9.47 DK - 6.96

It's well-established that Tulo's not the guy he used to be, and truthfully, these prices are a hair higher than we wish we had to pay. But the matchup/park combo alone make him a play worth considering. Eduardo Rodriguez has been a bit of an enigma through 43 big league starts, but he's trending in the wrong direction, with escalating issues with walks and homers. Unsurprisingly, the long ball problem is especially pronounced against righties; he gave up 1.58 per 9 last year and has already surrendered three through 9.2 IP in the split this season. Johnson has never given up many homers in the minor leagues, but in 15 games at Triple-A last year, he posted pretty ugly peripherals (6.31 K/9, 4.21 BB/9). He also wasn't pitching in the Rogers Centre, so feel free to look past their recent struggles and deploy the Blue Jays tonight.

Consider: Carlos Correa, if he's back in the lineup.

Third Base

Manny MachadoManny Machado FD 3900 DK 4900
Opponent - CIN (Arroyo) Park - @CIN
FD - 10.77 DK - 8.08

If you've gotta spend on a hitter, it might as well be this one. Machado. Arroyo. Great American Smallpark. It doesn't get much better than that, you guys. Yeah, Machado's off to a slow start, but we'd have a hard time caring less about that. His BABIP is .172. That's just dumb, and there's nothing in the underlying numbers to suggest this struggle is real. He's got a .366 wOBA with a .227 ISO and nice contact rates (16.5 K%) since the beginning of 2015, with slight reverse splits. If you can afford it, there's no reason not to buy in tonight.

Mike MoustakasMike Moustakas FD 3300 DK 3200
Opponent - SF (Cain) Park - @KC
FD - 9.86 DK - 7.27

Anybody remember when Moustakas was a stud prospect? True story. Look it up. He had a rough go early in his career, bottoming out with a .212/.271/.361 season in 2014, but the breakout started the next year when he gave up his dead-pull ways. He looked like he was ready to follow up on it last season before getting shelved after 27 games due to injury, but he's picked back up where he left off and is raking to start 2017. All told, he owns a .356 wOBA with .209 ISO and 12.7 K% since the beginning of 2015. You'll have a hard time beating that at these prices, especially on DK.

Consider: Anthony Rendon

Outfield

Kyle SchwarberKyle Schwarber FD 3400 DK 4400
Opponent - MIL (Nelson) Park - @CHC
FD - 11.39 DK - 8.32

The direction and intensity of the wind will play a bigger role with Schwarber than with Zobrist, but only by a matter of degrees. Because the one thing Jimmy Nelson has going for him is that he doesn't give up a ton of homers. When we're playing Cubs against him, we're not necessarily hunting for homers (though homers are always in play with Schwarber). We're more looking to accumulate points bit by bit, and there are a lot of ways Schwarber can do that. It starts with his spot atop the order. For one, that slot increases the likelihood of an extra at-bat, and an extra at-bat means more chances to produce. The value of that opportunity shouldn't be undersold. He's also a very patient hitter -- which is how he earned the leadoff spot in the first place -- and that could come in handy against Nelson and his subpar walk rate (4.32 per 9 last season). Though the sample is still relatively small, through 334 career PAs, Schwarber owns a .360 OBP, and when you're getting on base in this lineup, good things can happen.

Jose BautistaJose Bautista FD 3300 DK 4600
Opponent - BOS (Rodriguez) Park - @TOR
FD - 11.36 DK - 8.17

Personally, I'm getting a little worried about Joey Bats, but the projection system is smarter than me and remains undeterred. That's probably because even though the surface numbers were kinda ugly last year, Bautista was still getting on base an a nice clip (.366 OBP) and still supplying nice power (.217 ISO). So even though he, like pretty much every Blue Jay, has started 2017 like he's swinging blindfolded, it's gonna take a few more weeks of paltry production to convince the algorithm that he's really done. That steady-handed approach is usually (almost always) smarter than chasing streaks, but still, if you want to reserve your Bautista exposure to tournaments until he shows some signs of life, I wouldn't try to convince you otherwise.

Matt HollidayMatt Holliday FD 2900 DK 3900
Opponent - CHW (Gonzalez) Park - @NYY
FD - 9.49 DK - 6.91

Speaking of streaks, what in the world is going on with the Yankees? Even without Gary Sanchez, this mish-mash group of youngsters and placeholders is clicking like the best offense in baseball (MLB-leading 126 wRC+ entering Monday night, and they didn't do anything to hurt that number with seven runs against the White Sox). Matt Holliday is sitting in the middle of the good times, with an OBP over .400, an ISO over .200, and an equal number of walks and Ks. Look, nobody expects it to last forever, but independent of all the preceding, there's plenty to like about a solid bat facing Miguel Gonzalez in Yankee Stadium. Mix in a short porch, neutral-ish splits on both sides of the equation, plus fly-ball tendencies/home-run generosity from Gonzalez, and you've got the makings of a nice bargain play, especially at FanDuel's price.

Consider: Nelson Cruz

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10 Visitor Comments

  1. Excellent article Brent 👍. Today’s 4/18 just so people don’t get confused when clicking the article .

  2. Nice catch. Thanks.

  3. The Braves hit Scherzer well, so be careful. The best value at pitcher today is Fulmer. I am rolling with him and Darvish in most line ups. If you want to go cheaper, Chen is a much better play today than Wheeler. Brian McCan is almost a must play today at C. He kills Nolasco. Pedroia and Boegarts are priced nice today and should produce.

    • JJ Hardy 7 dingers against Bronson also just not the preferred batting slot rite DSFR… Jerome your right on with Scherzer also I won’t be touching him anywhere & how do you not mention McCann? He’s owned Nasty Nolasco & yes please with Chen out west tonight

  4. Just FYI guys: we don’t do BvP, but thanks for presenting the info for people who do.

  5. No one looks at B vs. P before suggesting picks to these people? I would not suggest going strictly be B v. P history, but ignoring it is not very wise.

  6. It’s probably the most controversial stat in DFS circles.

    I’ll let Doug defend his system — which works while excluding BvP entirely — and just speak for myself. I’ve been playing four years with a positive ROI in baseball and I rarely (almost never) use BvP data.

    There are myriad reasons while BvP is unreliable, including, but not limited to small sample sizes and wide variations in when stats are accumulated. But it boils down to this: it’s a descriptive stat, not a prescriptive one. In other words, it tells us what happened, but research has shown it has little value in telling us what is going to happen in the future — which is obviously what we’re interested in.

    I do think there’s some value in digging into pitch types, and if a sample size is large enough, or if the results are extreme, I’m happy to incorporate it as sort of a tie-breaking mechanism or maybe identifying a GPP one-off, but the preponderance of evidence that I’ve seen shows you’re better off keeping BvP influence on your lineups at a minimum.

    • Don’t think anybody does their whole lineup on BvP but to not use it all? Don’t really understand the logic. I could see if your looking at Jerad Weavers career numbers when he now clocks in 83mph but not to use it all . Different folks different strokes I reckon. Please send me an email when James Shields finally gets blown up like the forecast has been calling for all season.

  7. Hey, if you’ve got a system working for you that incorporates BvP, by all means, keep working it. I can only attest to the effectiveness of my own and DFSR’s, which don’t use it (or use it sparingly, in my case).

  8. BlueJays and V Mart. You guys are hilarious. Thanks for the giggle everyday.

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