Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

07/06/2017
Austyn Varney
Boston Red Sox's Chris Sale pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Boston, Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Daily Fantasy MLB Baseball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 7/6/17

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Pitcher

Chris SaleChris Sale FD 11800 DK 13300
Opponent - TB (Faria) Park - @TB
FD - 48.55 DK - 32.15

We have a pretty interesting 7-game main slate on our hands tonight. We do have a short 4-gamer in the afternoon and a weird 6 P.M. game that has been completely ignored. As for our main slate, the pitching options are somewhat limited, naturally. With that being said, our limited options are very, very nice. We'll start with Chris Sale, who goes on the road to face the Rays in Tropicana Field. I'd rather see Sale on the road, especially in Tampa where the park is much better for pitching. The Rays also stink, so that's always nice. They've held a below-average .305 wOBA against lefties, but strikeout at an astronomical 26.5% rate, which is below just 1 team in the Texas Rangers. The Rays biggest bats are lefties and when facing a guy like Sale, they often rely on power bats like Steven Souza or Trevor Plouffe to get things done, which as you'd expect, doesn't work out. Sale, though it goes unsaid, is one of the 3 best DFS pitchers in the league (Scherzer, Kershaw). He's striking out a ridiculous 12.3 batters per 9 innings and ha somehow not been ban anywhere. He's actually been worse (LOL) against lefties this year with a .243 wOBA, which more so speaks to his overall dominance. This is one of his best match-ups so far and I personally don't see myself going elsewhere in cash games. There is no 1 team you must pay up for and I'm willing to prioritize Sale over the field.

Robbie RayRobbie Ray FD 9400 DK 10500
Opponent - LAD (Hill) Park - @LAD
FD - 34.61 DK - 22.99

If you want to fade Chris Sale (why?) or if you're playing on a site like DK that forces you to roster 2 pitchers, Robbie Ray deserves a lot of attention. I will say, it's very rare that an underdog will be one of the top pitchers of the night. Rich Hill is on the other side and the D-Backs is projected to struggle. While that does hurt Ray for cash games, it may draw his ownership down in tournaments. No matter the line, Robbie Ray will do what Robbie Ray will do. What do I mean? If he's on his game, I don't care who he's facing. he can strikeout 10 and put them in a body bag for 7 innings. If he's off, goodbye. He'll give up 10 runs to the juiced little league team from Chicago a few years back. You can look at Robbie Ray a bit like Alex Wood, though I do think Wood is a bit better long-term. As of 2017, Ray is striking out a fantastic 11.15 batter per 9, sitting 4th among qualified pitchers behind Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, and Corey Kluber. Yep, I'd say that's some strong company. He's also posted a .270 combined wOBA and hasn't shown any weakness towards lefties or righties. His opponent, the Dodgers, are definitely tough. They are a top 10 offense in the game and rarely get shut down. With that being said, they're also much better against righties and do hold an above league-average 21% K rate. Ray is moving from Chase Field to Dodger Stadium and will hopefully reap the benefits. As always, he's a better option in tournaments.

Early - Michael Wacha

With this main slate, you almost have to pay up for pitching. Because of that, I'm forcing a few value options in here. What I mean to say is don't yell at me for going Bruce Maxwell over Russell Martin or Alex Bregman over Jose Ramirez. Ramirez and Martin are obviously the 2 better plays there, but it's simply impossible to play everyone if you're pitching either Sale or Ray. Let's get into it!

Catcher

Evan GattisEvan Gattis FD 2700 DK 4200
Opponent - TOR (Liriano) Park - @TOR
FD - 11.36 DK - 8.68

The end is nearing for Francisco Liriano. At 33 years-old, he has hit a wall. After showing some reason to worry in 2016 with a .339 wOBA against righties, he's now at a .370 in 2017. He's nowhere near the pitcher he used to be and shouldn't be thought of as that guy. You can think of the new Francisco Liriano as Martin Perez or Daniel Norris in terms of numbers, at least. Liriano is a sinkerballer who is no longer getting groundouts from his sinker, which is inevitably a big issue. Righties are hitting the ball hard (35%) and rarely striking out like they used to. Gattis, in particular, is a guy you want to target against lefties. He held a .366 wOBOA against them last season and hit 10 of his 32 homers against them. He's only at 6 right now, so I'm definitely expecting Gattis to send a few more out in the 2nd half of the season, or maybe even tonight. Catcher is very ugly and while Gattis may hold some significant ownership, I'm not sure I'm willing to fade him.

Bruce MaxwellBruce Maxwell FD 2300 DK 2500
Opponent - SEA (Gaviglio) Park - @SEA
FD - 3.61 DK - 2.82

At least I warned you. To keep it simple, catcher stinks and Maxwell has been solid against righties. Dating back to 2016 and through 115 at-bats, Bruce Maxwell has sported a .342 wOBA and while he has gotten lucky a bit, not enough to completely discredit his numbers. He has been moving a bit higher in the order against righties and was in the 5 hole the other day. He's super cheap on both sites and if you need to pay down somewhere, catcher has the least opportunity cost. The opposing pitcher of the Athletics, Sam Gaviglio, has also been EXTREMELY lucky against lefties with a .190 BABIP. That number is obviously going to go up and so is the damage done by left-handers. Maxwell may not be very good, but he's cheap, facing a bad pitcher, and in a spot in the order where he should see some RBI opportunities.

Early - Yadier Molina

First Base

Yonder AlonsoYonder Alonso FD 3300 DK 4000
Opponent - SEA (Gaviglio) Park - @SEA
FD - 8.76 DK - 6.78

We'll stick right with the A's here, but move on to a guy who's much easier to recommend. Yonder Alonso is a very good hitter and he actually has been for quite some time. He's just now getting the opportunity to play every day and hit 3rd or 4th. He's taken full advantage, brutalizing righties to a .411 wOBA. He already has 15 homers against them and hits the ball hard 42% of the time. He is not priced like an elite 1B, though it's the true hitter he is. He also plays in the Oakland Coliseum, which is actually slightly bigger than Safeco Field. He'll face off with a pitcher in Sam Gaviglio that we just touched on. He has been very lucky with a .190 BABIP and has to know things are going to turn around sooner than later. I do expect the general public to look at the surface stats or Gaviglio and just ignore the lefties. It may not seem true just yet, but I will guarantee you that Gaviglio ends up with worse numbers against lefties if he ever reaches 300 innings in his career. First base is actually not too great tonight and Alonso is my top option. He should go under 20% owned and has just as good of a shot as anyone to put one over the wall.

Edwin EncarnacionEdwin Encarnacion FD 3500 DK 4500
Opponent - SD (Lamet) Park - @CLE
FD - 12.77 DK - 9.54

The Indians are always and offense you can look towards. Even against good pitchers, they will almost always put up some runs and give the pitcher a headache. Against bad pitcher, it's open season. You would usually see both Carlos Santana and Encarnacion here, but Santana is on paternity leave, so we're left with just 1 power bat at first. It certainly makes it easier when stacking them. The Indians face off with Dinelson Lamet tonight, who is definitely a solid prospect. He's a big strikeout guy, but has also been stupid lucky against righties with a .151 BABIP. you can ignore every number he has put up so far as a .151 BABIP is about half what it will be in a few months. Righties will start doing damage and with them already hitting some homers, it could get ugly. Encarnacion doesn't really care if you're a lefty (.361) or a righty (.372), he's swinging hard and if he makes contact, it's likely an XBH. He's extremely lethal in every match-up and this one is just a magnification. I see Lamet either dicing up Encarnacion and striking him out 2/3 times, or Encarnacion pinpointing his fastball from the start and having a huge game. he's definitely more of a tournament option, but would still take him over Alonso in a cash game if they were the same price.

Early - Joey Votto, Matt Carpenter

Second Base

Robinson CanoRobinson Cano FD 3500 DK 4800
Opponent - OAK (Blackburn) Park - @SEA
FD - 11.59 DK - 8.9

Paul Blackburn has moved up the ranks fast, but is expected to have some serious trouble in the majors. He struggles to strikeout 6 batter per 9 in AA and when you move to MLB with those numbers, it's tough to consistently get through innings. If you look through an Athletics prospects list, you either won't find him or will have to find the "other" section on FanGraphs. While I don't think Blackburn is a bad pitcher, I know as a fact that he's 23 years old, average at best, and doesn't strike anyone out. Against Robinson Cano, it's all I need to know. Cano has been excellent against righties this year with a .362 wOBA, but has also gotten a bit unlucky and is expected to be around .400 when everything settles. He's still one of the top 2B in the game and should never leave the argument when facing a righty. Cano will hit another 30 homers this year and most will come in Safeco Field, so don't worry about that. He hits well in the park and has adjusted to the point of a .341 wOBA. Second base is one of the spots you want to pay up for and there's no better candidate than Robbie Cano. If you have the funds to pay up even further, let's look at Daniel Murphy.

Daniel MurphyDaniel Murphy FD 3900 DK 5000
Opponent - ATL (Foltynewicz) Park - @WSH

 

If you have some extra funds and want to pay up from Robinson Cano, Daniel Murphy is a fantastic way to go. The Nationals are facing Mike Foltynewicz, who is exactly who we think he is. He is a cookie-cutter right-hander that dominates righties and is absolutely horrible against lefties. So far in 2017, he's held a .366 wOBA and has allowed lefties to hit the ball hard almost 38% of the time. He has always been the same pitcher and it looks like he has no reservations to change. It's crazy to me that an MLB pitcher can have such an obvious problem and do absolutely nothing to fix it. Getting back on subject, Daniel Murphy is a damn good hitter. His insane numbers have naturally come down a bit from last year, but he still holds a .406 wOBA and is nobody to mess with. We'll get to Harper later, but they are a tournament duo I will have on every team I fade Sale on. They both have huge upside and at least 1 of them should connect.

Early - Ben Zobrist, Joe Panik

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Shortstop

Carlos CorreaCarlos Correa FD 4400 DK 5100
Opponent - TOR (Liriano) Park - @TOR
FD - 11.53 DK - 8.96

Carlos Correa is currently 2nd in the AL MVP betting odds, which speaks to not only his hitting, but also his elite defense. While we don't really care about that in DFS, we definitely care about the dominant hitting. Correacurrentlyntly holding a .414 wOBA against lefties and has 17 homers on the season. It'snot a fluke, either. Correa has always demolished lefties and has just stepped it up again this year. He'll face off with Francisco Liriano, who we skimmed on with Evan Gattis. Liriano is a lefty with 4 pitches and at this point, 0 good ones against righties. His slider and sinker still rate + against lefties, but have nowhere near the same effect on batters from the right side. It's forced him into spotting the corner and eventually falling behind, before being forced to lay n good pitches in bad counts. It's how Liriano has always gotten into trouble, but he can't get out of it this time without his crazy K rate. The Astros are expensive and rightfully so. Liriano is very bad against righties and I think the Stros will hit a minimum of 2 HR in this game. Correa is my top choice at SS and one of my favorite overall options on the entire slate. Don't worry, we'll get to some more Astros a bit later.

Francisco LindorFrancisco Lindor FD 3300 DK 3900
Opponent - SD (Lamet) Park - @CLE
FD - 12.11 DK - 9.77

Shortstop is another spot where you should either pay up or wait until lineup come out and completely punt. If you want to swerve off of Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor is a tremendous option in both cash games and tournaments. We've touched on the Indians a little bit with Encarnacion and they have to be one of the slates top options. Dinelson Lamet, as I've said, is a prospect that has a lot more work to do. He has posted a .422 wOBA against lefties and has already allowed 6 homers to them in 17 innings. While he may not be that bad, those numbers don't come around by accident. He has thrown no positive pitches against lefties and his fastball is getting stroked at a +.500 wOBA rate. Lindor is not the best hitter in the world, but he has some power for SS and is sitting right in the middle one of the more lethal offenses in the league. He's priced down on both sites and gives you some freedom in other spots, while offering upside similar to the expensive options. We're used to seeing Lindor priced right next to the likes of Correa and Seager, but have to adjust the way we think of him as he sits next to guys like Eduardo Escobar and Chris Owings.

Early - Brandon Crawford

Third Base

Miguel SanoMiguel Sano FD 3600 DK 4700
Opponent - BAL (Bundy) Park - @MIN
FD - 13.28 DK - 9.92

Dylan Bundy is a very good prospect and will end up being a good pitcher. As of now, he's just not there yet. He's posted a .331 combined wOBA and has allowed 18 homers in 100 innings. He now moves into Minnesota to take on the Twins. The Twins, while a bit hindered at the moment, have plenty to offer a right-hander. It all starts with Miguel Sano, who is actually 6th right now in MVP betting odds. He is absolutely obliterating every baseball he sees and is proving himself as a 3rd baseman that should be discussed with the likes of Kris Bryant and Manny Machado. Sano has held a .381 wOBA against righties and has already hit 16 homers off of them. Target Field is a very average park and the Twins have done a good job of hitting there. As a team, I don't love the stack. Bundy isn't horrible and I would much rather go with a 1-off like Sano or Kepler. Either way, Sano is the top dog at third and is my personal pick for HR of the night. Good luck!

Alex BregmanAlex Bregman FD 3000 DK 3500
Opponent - TOR (Liriano) Park - @TOR
FD - 9.25 DK - 7.29

It's rare that you will ever want to target a guy in the bottom third of the order. Unless you're getting them dirt cheap for a punt, it's often the wrong play. However, the Astros lineup is no ordinary lineup. Bregman would be in the5 or 6 hole on most teams and could very well end up seeing 4 or 5 at-bats in this one. Bregman was one of the more exciting newcomers at the end of last season, but has flown under the radar a bit so far in this campaign. He's still hitting lefties exceptionally well at a .379 wOBA clip. He faces off with Francisco Liriano, who we touched on earlier. He's allowed a .370 wOBA to righties and had a huge HR issue in 2016 with 21 allowed. This entire Astros team is in play and Bregman will give you the opportunity to pay down a bit from the studs like Sano, Machado, Donaldson, etc. It'll help you pay up elsewhere and secure a spot for the beloved Chris Sale. While Miguel Sano is still my top option at the position, I see nothing wrong with Bregman at his price. He has a ton of HR upside in the Rogers Centre and has never shown any struggle in hitting lefties.

Early - Nolan Arenado

Outfield

George SpringerGeorge Springer FD 4400 DK 5000
Opponent - TOR (Liriano) Park - @TOR
FD - 13.38 DK - 10.39
Carlos BeltranCarlos Beltran FD 3000 DK 3400
Opponent - TOR (Liriano) Park - @TOR
FD - 10.54 DK - 8.09

The Astros are clearly one of the team we're looking to target tonight. There facing off with a pitcher in Francisco Liriano that used to be feared. He struck out over 10 batters per 9 in multiple seasons and was never a guy you looked to target offenses against. That has all changed since the start of 2016. Liriano is now strictly horrible against righties and great against lefties. Fortunately, the 'Stros have plenty of guys to offer that hit from the right side. Two of them go by Carlos Beltran and George Springer. Ever hear of them? They're a pair of pretty powerful OF's that do a decent job of hitting homers and driving in runs. All jokes aside, Springer and Beltran are elite hitters against righties and move into the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. Both Springer and Beltran have posted a .365+ wOBA dating back to the start of 2016. Springer is a bit better against lefties, but Beltran is a switch-hitter and will also see some platoon advantages once the bullpen comes in. Either way, you can't go wrong with these guys. They are great options in both tournaments and cash games, though not nearly a must with some other great OF's to choose from.

Michael BrantleyMichael Brantley FD 3400 DK 3900
Opponent - SD (Lamet) Park - @CLE
FD - 11.73 DK - 9.42

We'll touch on another Cleveland Indian here, after looking over Encarnacion at first and Lindor at short. Brantly is actually my favorite play of the 3, at least in terms of price considered. Brantley is an absolute monster against righties and always has been. He's posted a .357 wOBA against righties dating back to last year, but has already shown improvement on this season alone. He'll be sandwiched between Francisco Lindor and Edwin Encarnacion, so the RBI opportunities should be no problem to come by. We've touched on Dinelson Lamet and there isn't much else to say. He's a young arm who has been the worst pitcher in baseball thus far to lefties with a .422 wOBA. He's can't get lefties out for the life of him and I can't imagine how he will fare against some of these elite lefties. Brantley is one of the top cash game and tournament options in the OF. Progressive Field is a slightly positive for hitting and Bratley has been better there than on the road. All things considered, the Indians have to be considered as one of the top options on the slate.

Bryce HarperBryce Harper FD 4800 DK 5300
Opponent - ATL (Foltynewicz) Park - @WSH
FD - 14.38 DK - 11.11

We prefaced this Harper pick a while back with Daniel Murphy, who is right up there as one of the top 2nd basemen on the slate. Bryce Harper is actually my favorite hitter, but not when you consider the price. If you're playing Chris Sale or even Robbie Ray, you probably can't afford Harper. He's simply expensive and may not be worth the tag in cash games. In tournaments, however, there is no argument against Harper. Because of his price, he should be about 10-15% owned. If Sale and Ray were wiped off this slate, he would be 60% owned. Use that game theory to your advantage and take a shot on Harper in a big tournament. Mike Foltynewicz has posted a .366 wOBA against righties in 2016 and has shown no signs of getting any better. Harper is the current favorite for NL MVP and sitting in the top 5 in almost every hitting category. If you can afford him, play him.

Early - Coors Field, Hunter Pence, Ryan Braun, Domingo Santana, Tommy Pham

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image sources

  • Chris Sale: (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

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