Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 6/6/17
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It can be tough to pay up for pitching when Coors Field is on the slate, and the Dodgers are not a fun team to pick on. There you have, in its entirety, the case against Max Scherzer. Regarding the former, the tag on DK is hefty and if it pushes you off, so be it. You've got another high-caliber arm in a better spot with a better price you can turn to (see below). But as good as Chris Archer is, he's still a tier away from Scherzer, especially when it comes to reliability. Scherzer has notched a quality start in 9 of 11 tries this season, and he's recorded at least 6 Ks every time out. He's also recorded double-digit Ks five times, and had 9 in another start, so he's obviously not lacking for upside, either. Of course, we can't ignore the fact that the Dodgers are a formidable foe, but they may not be *quite* as imposing as you might think. They cemented their righty-wrecking reputation last season, ranking 2nd in wRC+, and while they've been good in the split this season, they're a little off that pace, ranking 7th in wRC+ and 11th in wOBA vs. RHP. They also strikeout quite a bit, ranking 7th with a 23.2 K% in the split. So while they have to be respected, we don't think they have to be feared by the likes of Scherzer.
All that said, we're totally cool just taking the discount and playing Archer, because the White Sox have an identical 23.2 K% and are one of the worst offenses in baseball vs. RHP, ranking 28th in wRC+ and wOBA. Archer can't match Scherzer when it comes to dependability, but he can come pretty close in upside. He's fanning 10.78 per 9 IP this year, and after a hiccup last season, he's back to doing an excellent job of controlling the long ball. That adds up to a 2.73 FIP/3.35 xFIP which will definitely work in a pitcher-friendly park against a feeble opponent. All told, we feel slightly safer with Scherzer, but the discount on Archer might make him our preferred play.
We really don't see much of a reason to look beyond the top two guys in cash games on one-pitcher sites, and we can't see paying Ray's price tag in cash games with Coors in play, but he deserves to be mentioned as a GPP play, if nothing else. The combination of a high-price and hitter-friendly park will probably keep his ownership low, but if he's hitting spots as well as he has in his last two starts, he could definitely keep pace with any pitcher on the slate. Entering 2017, doubt about Ray lingered based on an extremely high BABIP and walk rates last season. He's shrunk the BABIP by 100 points thanks -- at least partly -- to a dramatic increase in curveball usage (and probably some due to a balancing of the luck ledger). And now, for the first time in his career, he's gone back-to-back starts without walking anybody. Ok, yeah. Just two starts. Maybe it's a mirage, but it's hard not to dream on a guy who can fan 11 per 9. Also, the Padres are trash. They rank dead last -- by a lot -- in wRC+ and wOBA vs. LHP.
Consider: Marco Estrada. Not exactly cheap, but still in a good spot to return value with a nice park and a facing a K-prone Oakland lineup.
Brian McCann FD 3000 DK 3200
Opponent - KC (Junis) Park - @KC
FD - 8.71 DK - 6.58
Oddly, McCann has produced reverse splits through the first 1/3 of 2017, but we're not putting a ton of stock in that. It takes splits a long time to stabilize, and over the length of his career, this is a guy who favors righties, as expected, putting up a .350 wOBA and .200 ISO. Tonight, he'll be facing Jakob Junis, a lightly regarded prospect with a sketchy track record. To be fair, Junis had by far his best run in the minors prior to getting called up this season, but the pedigree isn't exactly intimidating. He's had intermittent home run issues in the past and was never much of a strikeout guy until seven starts in Triple-A this year. Make of that what you will, but we're siding with the known quantity here -- especially on DraftKings, where the price is just too low.
Roberto Perez has his handsome mug on DFSR, which can mean only one of two things: An all-catcher low-ball slate or we've got Coors Field to contend with tonight. Obviously, only one of these guys is getting the start, and whoever does is in play. Neither guy is a great hitter, but being competent with the bat isn't a prerequisite for putting up numbers in Colorado. The price on FanDuel is a bit steep for us in cash games, but you're getting a solid deal on DK.
Miguel Cabrera FD 4000 DK 4400
Opponent - LAA (Chavez) Park - @DET
FD - 13.23 DK - 10.02
Are we witnessing the decline of Miggy? Hard to say. He's 34-years-old, so it wouldn't be shocking, and he's still been a pretty good hitter this year, but the returns in 2017 are nowhere near what we're accustomed to. For what it's worth, the projection system is still a believer, and it's easy to understand why. The guy's been one of the elite hitters in baseball for over a decade now, and it's not all ancient history. Even with this year's so-so numbers, he's still posting a .386 wOBA and .239 ISO vs. RHP since the beginning of last season. Meanwhile, Jesse Chavez is just a guy. His overall numbers aren't terrible, but he's giving up massive power numbers to righties since the start of last season (.245 ISO, 2.1 HRs/9).
I promise we'll ease up on the double-Indians after this, but there's no getting around it here. Our algorithm can barely make up its mind, and it's not even burdened with human phenomena like self-doubt or lingering memories of getting burned by E-5 repeatedly in April. Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela has been serviceable in his first 11 starts as a big-leaguer, but we're far from overwhelmed. That sub-6 K/9 tells us the ERA will like be moving in the direction of his xFIP (4.45) soon. As for the Indians guys, we don't think you can go wrong with either. Encarnacion has perked up after a slow start -- just like he did last year -- and owns a .359 wOBA and .253 ISO vs. RHP since the beginning of 2016. Santana's numbers in the split during that time (.380, .271) are even better.
Jason Kipnis FD 4100 DK 4600
Opponent - COL (Senzatela) Park - @COL
FD - 11.82 DK - 9.46
Ok, we never said we were backing of the Indians entirely. In fact, you're going to be seeing a couple more, as usual on Coors slates. Kipnis' overall stats aren't fully up to his standards after missing the first couple of weeks of the season, but the power numbers are well above expectations, with 7 HRs and a .185 ISO in 39 games. The rest of it should be coming along, because he's not striking out, and the BABIP is lagging 74 points off his career average. It could be that he's selling out for power, because his fly-ball rate is at a career high for the second straight year. If that's the case, that's OK by us, because putting the ball into the thin Denver air is a fine strategy.
Neil Walker FD 3100 DK 4700
Opponent - TEX (Gee) Park - @TEX
FD - 10.39 DK - 8
If you're looking for a Coors pivot, the Mets could be a good one, because Globe Life Park is an excellent hitter's park, and Dillon Gee has a lifetime .344 wOBA allowed vs. lefties. Sitting in the middle of the order, Walker should be in a good position to take advantage of the matchup. He's got a career .346 wOBA and .181 ISO when hitting from the left side, and the power numbers are up in 2017 (.200 ISO vs. RHP). The DK price is pretty steep, but he looks like a nice value on FanDuel.
Francisco Lindor FD 4200 DK 5100
Opponent - COL (Senzatela) Park - @COL
FD - 12.54 DK - 10.13
Lindor has said he isn't consciously taking part in the fly-ball revolution, but whether it's intentional or not, those are the kind of results he's getting in 2017. The on-base numbers are down, but he's more than making up for it with a dramatic increase in power. With 12 HRs already, he's on pace to blow by his previous career high in HRs (15) by the All-Star break, and his ISO (.249) is 115 points higher than it was last year, which has also helped boost his wOBA. He's doing most of his damage against southpaws, but a .234 ISO/.330 wOBA vs. righties is pretty strong, too.
Xander Bogaerts FD 3600 DK 4700
Opponent - NYY (Tanaka) Park - @NYY
FD - 10.05 DK - 8.05
If you guys haven't noticed yet, Masahiro Tanaka has been getting shelled this season. I mean, it's violent. 2.07 HRs/9, with a .402 wOBA allowed vs. righties. Both numbers should be regressing, but pitching in all the hitter-friendly parks in the AL East isn't going to make it easy. Of course, power isn't a big part of Bogaerts' game, but a boost like the one Tanaka is offering certainly doesn't hurt his value. He's raking again this season, with a .330/.386/.463 triple slash and .365 wOBA -- all of which would represent career highs if he can hold them. And he's actually been better vs. RHP. The 2o17 splits aren't fully trustworthy yet, but dating back to last year he's at .301/.358/.445, so it's clear this guy can handle the bat, regardless of the matchup.
Nolan Arenado FD 4600 DK 5400
Opponent - CLE (Clevinger) Park - @COL
FD - 13.5 DK - 10.34
As always, if you're looking to stack, both sides of any game in Coors have to be considered. Indians starter Mike Clevinger has been pretty solid in limited work this year, but he puts too many guys on base (4.38 BB/9) for that 3.08 ERA to hold much longer. He also gets hit pretty hard by righties. Reverse splits are rare, and we don't have enough of a track record on Clevinger to be fully confident in his, but we also can't overlook that .364 career wOBA vs. righties. As for Arenado, he's a stud. A third straight 40-HR season is in play, and he owns a .376 wOBA and .267 ISO vs. RHP since last season.
Kris Bryant FD 4000 DK 4600
Opponent - MIA (Locke) Park - @CHC
FD - 12.95 DK - 10.03
We've got Arenado as the top 3B on the board for raw points, but for value among the top-shelf guys, Bryant gets the edge. He's good against practically everybody, but against lefties, he's arguably the best hitter in baseball, ranking second among everyday players since the beginning of last season in wOBA (.450), third in ISO (.342) and second in OPS (1.093). He'll get Jeff Locke, making his second start of the season, tonight. Locke's a pretty average arm, but he's had major issues with righties in the recent past. Last season he allowed a .372 wOBA in the split.
Consider: Nic Castellanos, if you need a bat on a budget.
Nelson Cruz FD 4300 DK 4900
Opponent - MIN (Santiago) Park - @SEA
FD - 12.78 DK - 9.65
Y'all know the drill. Cruz vs. a lefty. Plug him in. He may not quite match Bryant when it comes to scalping southpaws, but he's not that far off, with a .302 ISO and .404 wOBA in the split since last year. Also, the cool thing about facing Hector Santiago is that he gets worse every year. Not kidding. His HRs/9 have risen every year since 2013 (now at 1.88/9). His ERA has risen each of the last two seasons and now sits at a career worst 4.76. His FIP (5.68) and xFIP (5.71) are also up in each of the last two seasons -- both career worsts. And his Ks/9 have declined steadily since 2015 and is now at -- you guessed it -- a career worst 6.71/9. And the beat goes on. Don't sweat the pitcher-friendly park, either. Cruz has the kind of power that plays anywhere.
Michael Brantley FD 4300 DK 4900
Opponent - COL (Senzatela) Park - @COL
FD - 12.34 DK - 9.82
You could give Michael Brantley's stats a cursory glance and decide that he's due for some regression. And maybe he is. That .352 BABIP is awfully high, right? But we can't dismiss it without also acknowledging the fact that's earned some of it, because he's out that spraying lasers with a 38% hard contact rate. That's why his .347 xwOBA based on Statcast data isn't that far off from his actual .356 mark. In other words, he's legit. He's not a power hitter, and that makes his price tag a little daunting, at least until we consider the spacious gaps in Coors Field just begging to be exploited. He gets even more enticing when we drill down to the splits. In 2017 he's got a .376 wOBA with a .178 ISO vs. RHP, so if the guys in front of him are doing their job, there's enough extra-base pop here to start adding up the points quickly.
Jay Bruce FD 3600 DK 4600
Opponent - TEX (Gee) Park - @TEX
FD - 10.97 DK - 8.41
Whether you're stacking Mets or not, we think you're going to want some exposure to the lefties in this matchup, and Bruce is a good place to get it. He's cheaper than Michael Conforto and delivers similar upside. There's not much in the numbers to tell us what we don't already know; he's made moderate improvements steadily over the last few seasons, striking out less and making more solid contact. He's also putting more balls in the air, but unlike some, it hasn't cost him in the form of pop-ups, as his infield fly rate is at a career low in 2017, which is at least part of the reason why his batting average has stabilized in the .250 range. And as is well-established by now, almost all of his production comes against righties. Since the beginning of 2016 he holds a .369 wOBA and .289 ISO vs. RHP.
Consider: Mark Trumbo
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