Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

06/15/2017
Chris Durell

Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 6/15/17

Welcome back for another full day of daily fantasy baseball. Thursday begins early with a three-game slate with first pitch in Cleveland at 12:10 ET and is followed by a seven-game main slate highlighted by a division matchup in Coors Field between the Rockies and Giants. Let's dig in and take a look at some of the top plays from the projections on both slates.

 

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Pitchers

Early Slate

Jose BerriosJose Berrios FD 9500 DK 8800
Opponent - SEA (Miranda) Park - @MIN
FD - 26.17 DK - 17.47

Small slates are hard enough with limited pitching options but without a true ace on the slate, it makes it even tougher. I could see making a case for either of the young pitchers in this game but I will lean on Jose Berrios for a few reasons. He and the Twins are the early favorites(-115) at home and Berrios sits atop the raw points projections in the system for the early slate. Like almost all young pitchers, Berrios and Miranda have had issues with control and both have walk rates greater than three per nine but Berrios gets the edge when it comes to missing bats with a strikeout rate just over a batter and a half per nine higher. These two have also been very effective in limiting hard contact to the opponent but again Berrios gets the big edge with his minuscule 22% hard contact rate compared to Miranda's 29% rate. The slate has a heavy GPP feel to it so might as well ride with the pitcher with the most upside.

 

Main Slate

Chris SaleChris Sale FD 11500 DK 14100
Opponent - PHI (Pivetta) Park - @PHI
FD - 45.69 DK - 30.18

Even the main slate will have you scratching head, at least on DraftKings, as Chris Sale has reached a season high $14,100! It probably has to do with the limited options after him and the elite matchup vs. the Phillies but come on, his price on FanDuel has been within $700 all season. Either way, Sale is completely in play tonight as he is not only the best pitcher on the slate but arguably the best pitcher in the big leagues(sorry Kershaw fans). He leads all qualified starters with a 12.46 K/9 rate, absolutely absurd 16% swinging strike rate, and sparkling 2.56 xFIP on the season. Sale also gets a park upgrade tonight as the Red Sox head to Citizens Bank Park which has been historically a much better pitcher's environment than Fenway(small sample size is opposite this season). He is an elite play in all formats on FanDuel and with no other pitcher in the same stratosphere tonight, I believe you have to play him on DraftKings as well and swallow the extreme salary.
Be sure to check out the pitcher's article for a couple other options on the mound today.

 

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Catcher

Early Slate

Caleb JosephCaleb Joseph FD 2200 DK 2400
Opponent - CHW (Holmberg) Park - @CHW
FD - 7.54 DK - 5.96

In an effort to load up on bats at almost every other position I will be punting with Caleb Joseph. This is assuming he makes the starting lineup which I think is very likely considering Beef has made the start at catcher in four of his last five games with last night's game getting the late start due to a rain delay. He doesn't provide a ton of upside but has been much better vs. left-handed pitching with a .343 wOBA and 113 wRC+ and will face a below average option in David Holmberg. If it is Beef Welington back behind the plate again today, you can trust him as well with positive splits vs. southpaws.

 

Main Slate

Alex AvilaAlex Avila FD 3300 DK 4100
Opponent - TB (Cobb) Park - @DET
FD - 11.03 DK - 8.31

On the main slate, I am going to roll with Avila who is tearing the cover off the ball this season. He is currently hitting over .300 for the Tigers with a nine home runs and 25 RBI and has gotten even more opportunity since being moved up to the two-hole in the lineup in mid-May. Although the current numbers aren't completely sustainable, we do see some trends that will continue to make him a viable asset in fantasy as long as he stays healthy. The big difference this season has been the increase in fly balls which seems to be all the rage. He just happens to be doing it with extreme consistency and power. Avila sits with a 43% flyball rate(highest since his big season in 2010) and incredible 58% hard contact rate which really helps put his strikeouts at the back of your mind. The price is creeping up into that elite territory at the position which should only help create a gap in ownership seeing as he isn't a household name like Buster Posey or Gary Sanchez.

 

 

First Base

Early Slate

Jose AbreuJose Abreu FD 3500 DK 4300
Opponent - BAL (Tillman) Park - @CHW
FD - 12.37 DK - 9.48

Abreu leads the way when looking at raw points and PTS/$ projections at the position on the early slate today. Since joining the White Sox in 2014 he has been extremely consistent with 25+ home runs and 100+ RBI in each of his first three seasons and while the run production is slightly behind in 2017, he sits with a .349 wOBA and 118 wRC+ on the season. We know the power upside is still there as he is coming off a May where he hit eight out of the park and sits with a career-high 40.6% hard contact rate. This afternoon he gets an elite matchup vs. Chris Tillman who has yet to strike out more than four batters in any of his seven starts(6.3% swinging strike rate) and sits with an 8.01 ERA that isn't helped a whole lot by his 5.82 xFIP. The upside comes in his 18.9% HR/FB rate thanks to him giving up seven home runs in his last three starts. Abreu is a great play in all formats.

 

Main Slate

Miguel CabreraMiguel Cabrera FD 3700 DK 3400
Opponent - TB (Cobb) Park - @DET
FD - 13.67 DK - 10.35

For those who have been in chat frequently, you most likely heard me mention that Cabrera was going to heat up as I traded him in my only season-long league. Your welcome Tiger fans and Cabrera owners.  With two hits last night, he now has multiple hits in three straight with a wOBA over .360 and wRC+ over 125 for the month of June. The power seems to be in big decline but the price is no longer in the elite range making him a safe play cash games, especially on DraftKings where he comes to you at a season low $3,400 on Thursday.

Albert PujolsAlbert Pujols FD 2600 DK 3300
Opponent - KC (Strahm) Park - @LAA
FD - 10.4 DK - 7.97

Chances are you are paying up for Sale tonight and if so, you are likely going to need a value play or two. If first base is a place you are looking to save, consider another future Hall of Famer in Albert Pujols who comes at a low price, especially on FanDuel. He is not safe in cash games anymore with a career-high 16% strikeout rate and career-low .232 average but he can still provide some power for GPP's and should also come with low ownership. The projections like his matchup today as leads the PTS/$ value plays at the position on FanDuel and is right up there on DraftKings. He gets a matchup vs. Matt Strahm making his first career start after making 41 appearances for the Royals over the past two seasons. He has shown strikeout upside as a reliever but has struggled to keep the ball in the park with a 21% HR/FB rate. He will be on a pitch count which is good news for Angels hitters as the Royals have one of the worst bullpens in the league and could see heavy work on Thursday.

 

 

Second Base

Early Slate

Chase UtleyChase Utley FD 2500 DK 3700
Opponent - CLE (Tomlin) Park - @CLE
FD - 9.84 DK - 7.68

The second base position is pretty ugly in the early so save some salary, at least on FanDuel, and roll with Chase Utley. The 38-year-old veteran no longer has the upside he had in Philly all those years but still has been a nice fantasy option this season. He started off a little slow but has come on strong lately slashing .296/.402/.531 since the beginning of May with five doubles, two triples, and four home runs and has even stolen three bases. He reaches top value if he is back in the leadoff spot today against a struggling Josh Tomlin and the Indians.

 

Main Slate

DJ LeMahieuDJ LeMahieu FD 3400 DK 4600
Opponent - SF (Moore) Park - @COL
FD - 11.92 DK - 9.73

You thought I forgot about Coors Field didn't you? Ok, to be honest, I almost did but it doesn't help that they have only played two games here in June. They return home on a bit of a role winning eight of their last 11 games scoring an average of just under six runs per game. The 2016 National League batting champ has got off to a "Rocky" start in 2017 hitting just .283 but the big concern has been the slugging that has dipped below .370 which has been affected by his inability to elevate the ball(17% FB rate). The good news is that most of the struggles have come against righties as he still maintains a 35% hard contact rate vs. southpaws with a .400 wOBA and 131 wRC+. Even more good news as he faces Matt Moore tonight who has gotten destroyed by the Rockies twice this year giving up 11 earned runs(4 HR) in 10.2 innings pitched and enters tonight with a 5.27 xFIP on the season with a below average strikeout profile. Look for the Rockies to enjoy the home cooking as they feast on Moore and the Giants tonight.
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Shortstop

Early Slate

Corey SeagerCorey Seager FD 3700 DK 4900
Opponent - CLE (Tomlin) Park - @CLE
FD - 11.77 DK - 9.08

With money to burn on the early slate, it won't be too hard to load up on Dodgers bats making Seager the top choice. He leads all shortstops in raw points projections on the early slate and trails only Trevor Story(playing in Coors) when looking at the entire day of games. After running away with the National League Rookie of the Year in 2016, Seager has almost duplicated his numbers across the board with a .369 wOBA(.372 in '16) and 132 wRC+(137 in '16) and has 31 RBI and 46 runs scored through 63 games. The only down trend is the average which still sits at a respectable .281 and the good news is that it should come up some as he is running a BABIP 30 points lower than last year. Don't overthink the position this afternoon, Seager provides the highest floor and has a ton of upside vs. Josh Tomlin.

 

Main Slate

Trevor StoryTrevor Story FD 4000 DK 3700
Opponent - SF (Moore) Park - @COL
FD - 12.01 DK - 9.44

There are two ways to go about the shortstop position tonight. The first is paying up for Trevor Story who is the top projected player at the position today when looking at raw points. For the projection system, that looks weighs batting order very highly, that is tough to find from a hitter who consistently hits from the seven hole. It comes from the fact he gets a near perfect matchup at home facing a below average southpaw, which seems to be all he can hit anymore. After posting a near identical average vs. both handedness last year he has fallen off the table vs. righties but has sustained his success vs. left-handed pitching with a .402 wOBA and 132 wRC+. He comes at a high cost on FanDuel making him a GPP only play if you want to fit Sale but on DraftKings he is an elite play under $4K tonight.

Aledmys DiazAledmys Diaz FD 2800 DK 3100
Opponent - MIL (Davies) Park - @STL
FD - 9.2 DK - 7.34

The other option for me tonight at the shortstop position is saving some salary and rolling with Aledmys Diaz. He also gets a bit of a knock to his profile hitting down in the bottom half of the Cardinals lineup but sits near the top of the PTS/$ values tonight making him a great play, especially if you want to roster Sale on FanDuel. He lacks the upside that Story or Turner provide but he has been consistent for the price and comes in with hits in eight of his last 10 games. A better play in cash games but can be used in all formats to help fit some big names in your lineups.

Third Base

Early Slate
Miguel SanoMiguel Sano FD 3900 DK 4400
Opponent - SEA (Miranda) Park - @MIN
FD - 12.82 DK - 9.58
Eduardo EscobarEduardo Escobar FD 2900 DK 3700
Opponent - SEA (Miranda) Park - @MIN
FD - 8.95 DK - 7.04

The Twins, overall, have not been the best team vs. southpaws this season ranking 21st in wOBA but Sano and Escobar have been two of their best. Sano is the clear upside play with 15 home runs on the season and an elite 51% hard contact rate. Somehow he has managed to maintain the crazy high 36% K rate from last year while raising his batting average over 50 points and adding more power. Against left-handed pitching, he has a wOBA just shy of .400 and a wRC+ of 149. The matchup is not the best but we have seen the Twins put up runs in bunches including a 20 run game on Tuesday. On DraftKings, you can also lean on Escobar at third base where he is also eligible. He comes in with a very respectable .389 wOBA and 145 wRC+ vs. lefties and has been hot lately with multiple hits in five of his last six starts. He also makes a nice salary relief option on FanDuel if you are looking to pivot off Corey Seager.

 

Main Slate

Nolan ArenadoNolan Arenado FD 4600 DK 5400
Opponent - SF (Moore) Park - @COL
FD - 15.07 DK - 11.5

On the main slate, it's Arenado or bust for me as the matchup is just too good and the ownership should be through the roof so I will go overweight in my exposure to make up for it. Arenado leads the world vs. left-handed pitching in almost every category including wOBA(.535), ISO(.433), SLG(.851) and home runs and is second in wRC+(219) and RBI(17). He now faces Matt Moore who is giving up a slate-high 39% hard contact rate and must now travel to Coors Field where it will most likely lead to some big home runs. There is more than enough value on the main slate to get him in your lineups easily with Sale without taking away the overall floor or upside.

 

 

Outfield

Early Slate

Cody BellingerCody Bellinger FD 3800 DK 5300
Opponent - CLE (Tomlin) Park - @CLE
FD - 10.21 DK - 7.98

With no pitcher over $10K on the early slate, it makes it real easy to pay up for the elite de play in Bellinger who has been on an absolute tear lately. Going into Wednesday night, he had hit five home runs in his last three games giving him 17 on the season and the most impressive part is that he has hit multiple home runs four times. He is still 21 years old for another month and has been a key piece for the Dodgers who sit inside the top 10 when looking at overall runs scored. Tonight he gets to face the inconsistent Josh Tomlin who has lost five of his last six starts and while he doesn't offer free passes(.55 BB/9 rate), he also doesn't strike anyone out with a 6.0 K/9 rate and 7.2% swinging strike rate. Look for the Dodgers to get to him early and often.

Adam JonesAdam Jones FD 2900 DK 3200
Opponent - CHW (Holmberg) Park - @CHW
FD - 11.93 DK - 9.25
Mark TrumboMark Trumbo FD 3500 DK 4400
Opponent - CHW (Holmberg) Park - @CHW
FD - 12.68 DK - 9.64

If you are playing Tomlin or just don't want to pay up for Bellinger, especially on DraftKings, jump on board the Orioles train as they have the best matchup on the early slate. The O's sit mid-pack when looking at hitting vs. left-handed pitching but have struck out over 25% of the time. That number should be suppressed today against David Holmberg who has really struggled to miss bats with a slate-low 5.7% swinging strike rate which is only producing five strikeouts per nine innings, well under league average. If you are playing cash games on the early slate and need to choose just one, I lean Adam Jones who has seen his salary drop off the table recently creating a buy-low scenario. Trumbo, like Jones, has struggled recently as well but has seen is salary oddly go in the opposite direction making him a GPP only play on both sites. If you're planning on stacking the Orioles, also consider Joey Rickard who should be back in the leadoff spot today.
Main Slate

Mookie BettsMookie Betts FD 3700 DK 5200
Opponent - PHI (Pivetta) Park - @PHI
FD - 13.45 DK - 11
Andrew BenintendiAndrew Benintendi FD 3200 DK 5000
Opponent - PHI (Pivetta) Park - @PHI
FD - 11.02 DK - 8.92

Although the Red Sox offense is still a little light in the power department, they have been putting runs together in bunches making them very viable assets from a fantasy perspective. Since getting pummeled by the Yankees 17-1 in the closing two games of that series, they have scored 29 runs in their last five games and are currently up 5-0 early on Wednesday night. They will be in another great spot to close out the series on Thursday night as they go up against arguably the worst pitcher on the slate in Nick Pivetta. He has shown a bit of strikeout upside with an 8.3 K/9 rate but has walked close to five batters per nine and has been punished in the process with a 5.52 ERA and 4.93 xFIP that suggests things won't be getting better anytime soon.  Betts is my first choice if I had to choose just one guy from the Red Sox as he hits leadoff and also comes with some power upside although he has yet to hit one out in June. *Update-He is currently 4 for 5 with two home runs.* The good news is that Pivetta gives up a wOBA over 50 points higher to right-handed batters with over 8% more hard contact. While Benintendi's price seems a little crazy on DraftKings, especially looking at Pivetta's splits, he is still in play for GPP's as some may avoid for that reason while he is in play in all formats on FanDuel in the low $3K range. He went into Wednesday night's action with hits in four straight and seven of his last eight starts with four multi-hit efforts including four home runs and has driven in 11 runs. Safe to say he has heated up with the weather.
Yoenis CespedesYoenis Cespedes FD 3600 DK 4400
Opponent - WSH (Gonzalez) Park - @NYM
FD - 11.46 DK - 8.82

He made his return to the Mets lineups last Saturday and promptly went yard for a grand slam. The risky part about this pick is that he was pulled early in Tuesday's game and sat out yesterday's game with pain in his heel but if he is back in the lineup on Thursday makes an elite play facing a southpaw. After posting a .441 wOBA and 183 wRC+ against left-handed pitching in 2016 he has picked up where he left off with a wOBA over .500 with three home runs and although it's a limited 23 plate appearance sample size, it is very impressive. Cespedes may also make a nice contrarian play as some will be riding Gio's hot streak where he has limited opponents to no home runs and three earned or less in four straight starts. I am not buying it as he still sits with a 13.9% HR/FB rate. The price is right to roll with Cespedes tonight and if he stays healthy you can expect the price to go up very soon. Jump on board and buy low on the enormous upside.

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image sources

  • Nolan Arenado: By Keith Allison (Flickr: Nolan Arenado) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

3 Visitor Comments

  1. Forgot to give BIG THANKS to Chris yesterday for the pitching cheat sheet….much appreciated in a pinch!

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