Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 5/9/17
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Facing the Orioles in Baltimore is never ideal, but there's a certain safety that comes with bankable strikeouts, and on a night like this one is shaping up to be, that cushion could be even more valuable than usual. The 14-game main slate features seven of the best hitting environments in baseball in either overall park factors, HR park factors, or both. That mitigates the risk that comes from Camden Yard to some degree, and the fact that Scherzer is one of the most reliable power arms in baseball should help wipe away any damage done by a stray Baltimore homer or two. He's had at least 7 Ks in all six starts this season, and 11 straight if you go back to last season. He's also gone at least six innings in each of his 2017 appearances, with five quality starts. In other words, he's exactly the guy he's been for the last five-plus seasons. So even with Coors Field on the slate, we think you should be able to find enough value bats to make his salary worth paying for.
There's an awful lot of similarity between Scherzer's situation and the one Verlander finds himself in at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks' home park is a little less homer-prone than Camden Yark, but a better overall venue for offense, while the Arizona lineup is a slightly better matchup. They're right behind the Orioles in wRC+ vs. RHP on the season (right about average), but strike out a good bit more (4th highest K% in league). The source of the comparative discount between our top two pitchers, though, is the pitchers themselves. Verlander is a quality arm, but he can't quite match Scherzer in terms of upside or consistency. He's struggled at times with his command this season and he's getting hit harder than we'd like, too. Still, there's plenty to like about a guy who approaches 9 Ks/9 against a strikeout-heavy lineup, and the velocity is there for Verlander, so we think his intermittent issues are probably related to command -- and given his track record, we don't think that'll be a lingering problem. We still probably prefer Scherzer for cash games, but if you need to save a little salary, the projection system is actually giving the value edge to Verlander.
Or if you really want to go cheap, the projection system is loving the new version of Charlie Morton. He's our clear choice for a value play at SP2 on DraftKings, and you'll want to give him a look on FanDuel, too -- at least for GPPs. The sample size is still small on Morton 2.0, but we like what we see. He's gone from a below-average bat-misser to a guy who's fanning 10.17 per 9 IP since the beginning of last year. Of course, he only made four starts last year before a hamstring injury shelved him, but the reason we're buying in is Morton's substantial increase in velocity. Sitting over 93 mph with his two-seamer last spring, he was well above his previous averages, and though there've been some questions regarding the accuracy of the radar guns in parks this year, it's clear Morton's throwing harder than he ever has (95.4 mph on the two-seamer in 2017). It hasn't exactly made him an ace, and a 40% hard-contact rate is a good reason to worry, but at these prices, everybody's gonna have some warts. And few guys in this salary range are going to have 3.11 xFIP over their last 10 starts, so if we're looking to save at SP, Morton's the first guy we're turning to.
Gary Sanchez FD 3200 DK 4800
Opponent - CIN (Adleman) Park - @CIN
FD - 11.48 DK - 8.89
Yikes. That DK price is steep and might take him out of cash-game consideration there, but in one format or another, the Yankees' second-year backstop is firmly in play on both sites. We all knew last summer's power binge was unsustainable, but there's still plenty of pop here that hasn't manifested itself this season, and even though he's only got 39 PAs in 2017, it's hard not to be encouraged by an equal number of Ks and BBs. We're maybe equally encouraged by the prospect of facing Tim Adleman in one of the best homer parks in baseball. Adleman is a 29-year-old with a track record dating back to the minors that tells us he presents very little to fear. Since breaking into the bigs last season, he owns a 4.91 xFIP with less than 7 Ks/9, 1.78 HRs/9 and a .473 slugging percentage allowed vs. righties.
Salvador Perez FD 2800 DK 3300
Opponent - TB (Andriese) Park - @TB
FD - 8.67 DK - 6.71
The park is kind of bummer, because Tropicana Field mutes power, and we'd like Perez more if he showed the slightest inclination toward drawing an occasional walk. But truthfully, a couple of bases on balls aren't typically going to determine the difference between a winning night and losing one, and these prices are pretty tasty for a middle-of-the-order catcher with thump. Since last season, Perez holds a .196 ISO vs. RHP and his strikeout rate is trending back down after last year's career high of 21.8% (still not a terrible number in today's MLB, but a lot higher than his career 14.9%).
Anthony Rizzo FD 4700 DK 5600
Opponent - COL (Freeland) Park - @COL
FD - 13.95 DK - 10.64
With last night's game washed out, we've got a doubleheader on tap at Coors Field, which could lead to some screwy lineups in the nightcap, so keep an eye on that. But as long as he's in the lineup, Rizzo's our top choice at 1B -- assuming you can afford him. Don't be cowed by the LvL matchup here. Rizzo handles southpaws just fine, with a .360 wOBA, .205 ISO and an 11.9% K rate. Put those numbers in Coors, and you can see why the projection system is expecting a big night. Freeland is still on tap to get the call in Game 2 of the doubleheader, and while the rookie has done solid work in his first six starts, he's due for some regression. Like most of the Rockies' current generation of young SPs, he's a groundball guy, but his current 64% rate is well above his minor league averages, and a 4.5% HR:FB ratio isn't going to hold for long.
Edwin Encarnacion FD 3100 DK 4100
Opponent - TOR (Undecided) Park - @TOR
FD - 11.88 DK - 8.9
It looks like Mike Bolsinger will be getting the nod for Toronto tonight, which elicits little more than a yawn from the projection system. He's a 29-year-old with a spotty track record that's hard to glean much from other than the fact that he's consistently mediocre. Meanwhile, Encarnacion looks like he's slowly emerging from his April funk. For the second straight year, he's gotten off to a bad start, but in 2016 he rebounded from .250/.298/.396 triple slash in the first month and hit 39 HRs the rest of the way to finish at .263/.357/.529. It probably shouldn't surprise us if ends up in that neighborhood again this season. His hard hit rate so far in 2017 is way up at 47% and he's drawing loads of walks. The problem has been the Ks, which is unusual for Encarnacion. That could be an indicator of decline for the 34-year-old, and his contact rates have dropping over the last two years. But everything else in the peripherals suggest this is just a sleeping giant bound to awaken soon.
Consider: Albert Pujols
DJ LeMahieu FD 3600 DK 4500
Opponent - CHC (Undecided) Park - @COL
FD - 10.84 DK - 8.92
I think we still need a little more data on LeMahieu for this season. It looks like last year's power surge (hey, when your career ISO is .99, the bar is pretty low) may have been a one-year thing, and his current BABIP is well below his career average of .350 (but at .311 is still above league norms). But whether he's more like the guy who put up a studly .391 wOBA last year or just the slap-hitting on-base guy he was prior, he's still somebody who can be plenty useful in the right situation. John Lackey is expected to get the start tonight for the Cubs, and he's had his share of struggles in the early stages of 2017. But really, that's almost beside the point. No pitcher is safe from Coors, and LeMahieu is rarely a bad cash game play at these (FanDuel) prices when he's at home.
Jed Lowrie FD 2300 DK 2800
Opponent - LAA (Meyer) Park - @OAK
FD - 8.45 DK - 6.61
Or you can get another high-contact, high-walk, limited-upside guy for a lot cheaper. The biggest disparity between LeMahieu and Lowrie might just be the park, because Oakland is practically the anti-Coors. Not that these two are the same guy, but they're more similar than their career batting averages might have you believe. Lowrie's also off to a nice start this year, entrenched in the top third of the order and sporting a .345 wOBA entering Monday night, his best since 2013, the final season before any semblance of power deserted him.
Consider: Dustin Pedroia
Carlos Correa FD 3700 DK 4800
Opponent - ATL (Colon) Park - @HOU
FD - 11.21 DK - 8.89
It takes a notoriously long time for hitter splits to stabilize, but from what we've seen so far out of Carlos Correa, it looks like he might be among the few true reverse guys. Through 585 career PAs vs. RHP, he's far outpacing what he's done against southpaws, racking up a .286/.364/.474 triple slash with a.360 wOBA. The early returns in 2017 are similar, but even more stark. That could be trouble for Bartolo Colon, who's having his own reverse splits issues this year. Really, though, Colon's having problems with pretty much everybody right now. The soon-to-be 44-year-old has seen his numbers tail off consistently in recent seasons, and if he can't get that 4.62 xFIP turned around soon, we could be nearing the end of a career that outlasted the entirety of his current team's former home park. Don't expect the Astros to take any pity, though, and considering Colon's escalating HR tendencies, the short porch in left could make an inviting target for Correa tonight.
Tim Anderson FD 2400 DK 3300
Opponent - MIN (Santiago) Park - @CHW
FD - 9.22 DK - 7.96
Regardless of who you roll out there at SP, if you're playing enough Coors bats, you're gonna need a punt play or two along the way. That's really what this is, but what makes Anderson palatable (at least in relation to the other guys in the bargain bin) is the fact that he handles lefties pretty well. The free-swinging second-year shortstop has been bad in 2017, putting up a Rafael Belliard-esque .230 wOBA, but when he gets the platoon advantage he can make some noise. He's got a .322/.344/.430 triple slash against southpaws since getting called up in June 2016, and Hector Santiago and his perpetual 5.00 xFIP is a fine guy to pick on.
Kris Bryant FD 5100 DK 5500
Opponent - COL (Freeland) Park - @COL
FD - 14.98 DK - 11.56
You guys know Kris Bryant, right? Big guy, about 6'5". Swings hard. Hits homers. Kinda awesome. Ok, cool. More about Kyle Freeland, then. One of the pitcher types we always like to pick on are low-K, high-walk guys, and Freeland fits the profile. That's especially bad against the Cubs, who can be had now and then by guys who can miss bats and don't hand out free passes. But if you're putting guys on and can't work your way out of it with whiffs, this is a lineup that can make you pay. Since last season, no team walks more often or has a higher wOBA or has a better wRC+ than the Cubs. Bryant, of course, is a big reason why. He's quickly becoming one of the preeminent lefty killers in baseball, with a .459 wOBA (!) and .362 ISO (!!) against southpaws since the beginning of 2016.
Anthony Rendon FD 3400 DK 4600
Opponent - BAL (Jimenez) Park - @BAL
FD - 10.39 DK - 8.17
You've always gotta play Rendon, because you just never know when that 99 FanDuel points game is coming. Ok. Just kidding. But seriously, that 6-for-6, 3 HR, 10 RBI game aside, Rendon has rounded into form lately. We don't put much stock in hot streaks (more on that in a minute), but the recent uptick from Rendon is really just confirming what we already believed. He's now up to a .365 wOBA on the season and is at .346 vs. RHP since last year. That's especially valuable in this Nationals lineup, because he's afforded ample run-producing chances. We'd like him more if he were bumped up in the order, but the opportunities should be there regardless against Ubaldo, who has a 4.79 xFIP and 4.8 BB/9 dating back to 2016.
Carlos Gonzalez FD 3300 DK 4500
Opponent - CHC (Undecided) Park - @COL
FD - 12.2 DK - 9.35
Ok. So about streaks. They're definitely a thing. When people say hot/cold streaks don't exist, it makes me cringe, because they clearly happen. But, for our purposes, they don't really mean much, because we're not really all that concerned with what happened in the recent past. What we want to know is, what's going to happen in the immediate future, and an ongoing hot/cold streak tells us very little about that. Put simply, they don't hold predictive value. Meaning: there's no way to discern when they'll begin or end. Sure, it's more fun to roster a guy on a heater, but it's often the smarter play to take the discount on a guy who's been slumping but has a clear, established history as a stud -- which brings us to CarGo. No doubt about it, the 2017 numbers are ugly. .192 batting average, 2 HRs, .244 wOBA. Gross, and we could keep going. But if we dig a little, we see the same guy who has produced a career .366 wOBA and .226 ISO. His K and BB rates are actually better than his career averages, and the shifts in his batted ball profile are minor (34.1% hard contact rate in 2017 vs. 35.2% career, for example). Hey, if you want to fade him on DK until he turns it around, that's not a terrible idea, because you're not getting a massive bargain there. But he's a steal in Coors at his FD price, and we think it'd be wise to get some exposure there.
George Springer FD 3600 DK 4500
Opponent - ATL (Colon) Park - @HOU
FD - 11.81 DK - 9.29
Josh Reddick FD 3100 DK 3600
Opponent - ATL (Colon) Park - @HOU
FD - 11.09 DK - 8.71
Ah, Bartolo. We don't like picking on the guy, because he's been an awful lot of fun to watch over the last two decades. But DFS is no place for mercy, this matchup looks too good to pass up on for the Astros hitters. Minute Maid Park is among the league's best for HR factors, and Astros punish righties. They rank second in MLB in wRC+ and third in wOBA vs. RHP this season, and we really like the two outfielders at the top of the lineup tonight. Springer has a .345 wOBA and .198 ISO in the split since last season, and Reddick looks like an even better play from a value perspective, with a .314/.375/.481 triple slash in the same span.
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- Max Scherzer: AP Photo - Eric Risberg