Daily Fantasy MLB Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 5/11/18
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Welcome to MLB Friday! We have a full 14-game slate on our hands tonight with more than enough options at each position. At pitcher, there are a few guys to consider paying up for and a few more if you need value. The top dog is Max Scherzer, per the usual when he's on the mound. He faces off with the Diamondbacks in Chase Field tonight. They are projected for just 3.10 runs. If you haven't been paying attention, Chase Field has added a humidor and is nowhere near the hitter's park it was prior to this season. The Diamondbacks rank 23rd against righties in baseball with just a .304 wOBA and an enticing 25% strikeout rate. We know Scherzer is as elite as it gets, but let's take a quick look: Since the start of 2017, a .189 wOBA against righties and a .291 wOBA against lefties. He is always striking out 12+ batter per nine innings and has as much upside than anyone in the game. He's the top option on this slate and it's just a case of whether you can afford him or not.
If you don't like Max Scherzer, want to be a little bit different in tourneys or you just need to pay a little bit down, Justin Verlander is a solid pivot. It doesn't make all that much sense, but he's been better than ever before at age 35. No matter the reason, but the peripherals are legitimate and everything lines up. There is no luck going on. He's currently striking out 11.74 batters per nine innings and has held an excellent 3.41 xFIP. The Astros will host the Rangers in Minute Maid Park, where Verlander has been elite. The Rangers have been horrid against righties, ranking 24th in baseball. They also strike out the 3rd most at 26.5%. Verlander is just a tad bit cheaper than Scherzer, but that's not the only reason to pivot. He will also be far lesser owned and you can capitalize in a tournament. I personally like Scherzer a bit more, but the difference is minimal.
There are a few different ways that people will go to pay down. I think the most popular of the bunch will be Luke Weaver, who’s in a solid match-up with the San Diego Padres. Weaver is perfectly fine, but we just like Gray more. Arrieta may also be a bit heavily owned and is in a solid match-up with the lowly Mets. Our favorite of the bunch, however, is Sonny Gray. After a pitiful start to the season, Gray has gone 6 innings in back-to-back starts. Those two starts were against the Astros and Indians, so we may be seeing the old Sonny Gray come back. He’s struck out 11 hitters over those games and looks like more like the 2017 version, who allowed a sub .300 wOBA to both sides of the plate and was a true ace. Gray is extremely cheap on both sites and I can see every reason for paying down and looking towards every bat you desire. I will go there in a few tournaments but lean the safety on this particular slate with Scherzer, Verlander, or Sale. Let’s get to the fun!
As mentioned, consider Luke Weaver coming on the cheap
We’ll kick off the bats with one of the more expensive and obvious options on the slate: Freddie Freeman. Dan Straily and the Marlins will host the Braves, who are heavy favorites. Straily is a bottom of the barrel pitcher who has struggled vs lefties. He’s posted a .321 wOBA since the start of last season and has backed it up with sketchy peripherals and a 4.78 xFIP. Freddie Freeman is one of the more elite hitters in all of the league and mashes righties of all kinds. In 2017, he sported a .396 wOBA in that platoon and is now in a spot with protection, allowing him to actually see pitches to hit. After Dan Straily exits the game, we get an all-righty bullpen that ranks in the bottom 10 in just about every category. It’s not going out on a limb to say Freddie Freeman is a top choice, but he’s our favorite at the position and worth paying up for if you’re able to.
If an uber-expensive Freddie Freeman doesn’t get it done for you, one of these two absolutely should. The Indians face off with Jason Hammel, who’s one of the worst pitchers in baseball. Not on the surface, but his underlying peripherals suggest a 5+ xFIP against both sides of the plate. The Indians are projected for well over 5 runs and are going to be a lineup we focus on. At first base, we have two options. Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso. Neither has been as good as we’ve expected, but both have held a wOBA over .320 against righties and are under-performing their peripherals. Encarnacion has always been better against righties and I like him more if price isn’t a problem. Alonso is a great option as well for a bit cheaper with similar upside.
We'll stay in Cleveland at second with Jason Kipnis, who's been too cheap for a while now. DraftKings has priced him up for the match-up, but FanDuel not so much. He's obviously struggled this season, but he still hits 2nd in the order and is sandwiched between all-star hitters. Jason Hammel hasn't been terrible on the surface since the start of 2017 (.329 wOBA), but his peripherals suggest impending doom. He' held a 5.27 xFIP and everything points to a terrible 2018. Vegas has him slated to give up 5+ runs in this start and Jason Kipnis should be involved in the 2-hole. He's the top option in all formats at 2B.
If you're willing and able to pay up at second base, Cesar Hernandez is interesting. The Phillies face off with Steven Matz, who was terrible against righties in 2017. In 52 innings, he allowed a .370 wOBA and 12 homers in just over 50 innings. We know Matz has a ton of upside, but he's shown no progress against right-handed bats. Cesar Hernandez will hit at the top of the order and has been excellent against lefties. A .419 wOBA is a small sample size for this season, but a .350 in '17 is about right for his peripherals. He'll lead the offense off and gives you speed + power combo that's not all that easy to find. I prefer Kipnis if salary is considered, but Hernandez is safe and has a lot of upside, along with likely lower ownership.
Shortstop is a pretty interesting position. We'll get right back to the Indians in a second, but there's a guy who's a bit cheaper and just as good of a play. Chris Taylor has been leading off against lefties and it's not hard to figure out why. He's held a .355 wOBA against lefties since the start of last season and has backed it up with a 33% hard contact rate and plenty of other solid peripherals. The Dodgers face off with one of the worst pitchers on tonight's slate in Brandon Finnegan. We haven't touched on them just yet, but it speaks more to the lackluster Dodgers lineup. We'll get to a couple more. Brandon Finnegan, a southpaw, has allowed a .341 wOBA to righties since the start of '17. Vegas has the Dodgers at 4.89 runs and Chris Taylor should be a big part of it all. Update: Matt Harvey is making the start for the Reds. We are downgrading the Dodgers a bit, though Harvey is no great shakes.
Francisco Lindor FD 4800 DK 5400
Opponent - KC (Jason Hammel) Park - CLE
FD - 13.64 DK - 10.45
I know it seems like a lot of Cleveland Indians bats, but you have to pay attention when a team is projected for 5+ runs and is the only one outside of Coors Field. Jason Hammel has over-performed like crazy and his peripherals suggest a 5.27 xFIP. He faces off with one of the games best offenses and especially at home. Francisco Lindor has sported a .353 wOBA against righties since the start of 2017 and is consistently getting better. His price is up there and Chris Taylor is fine at a bit cheaper, but if you're stacking the Indians, Lindor is a must. He's in play in all formats if you have the funds to pay.
We're only going to touch on one Milwaukee Brewers bat, but that's just because we don't want to fill up the article with Coors Field. The Brewers will face Chad Bettis, who's been a whole lot worse in Coors Field over the past couple seasons. He gave up a .333 wOBA to lefties in 2017 and has always struggled with the HR ball. Travis Shaw posted a .373 wOBA against righties in 2017 and has only improved so far in '18. Moving to Coors Field, he has to be one of the best options on the entire slate. His price is high on both sites, but not nearly high enough to the point where you need to fade. Shaw is a great option in all formats if you can afford him. If you need to pay down, we have a great pivot.
Kike Hernandez FD 2400 DK 3300
Opponent - CIN (Brandon Finnegan) Park - LAD
FD - 11.17 DK - 8.46
If you need to pay down, you have a very solid pivot in Kike Hernandez. He's always been a lefty-masher and proved it more than ever in 2017 with a .390 wOBA against southpaws. He'll be in the top of the order against one of the worst pitchers on the slate in Brandon Finnegan. He's given up a .341 wOBA against righties and his peripherals suggest worse. He's cheap on both sites and makes for a great way to pay down, which you'll need to do at least a position or two. Hernandez is a guy I love to target against lefties and while he's always a candidate to get pinch-hit for, it doesn't happen as much as it did last season. Hernandez is cheap enough for all formats and gets you exposure to one of our favorite offenses. Update: With Matt Harvey starting, Hernandez doesn't project to hit as high in the order.
We haven't touched on the Rockies yet, but that's because paying up for pitching is likely going to make the Coors' pricing tough to swallow. You can obviously play 1-8 and the top 4 or 5 are top bats on the entire slate. The guy we'll focus on is Charlie Blackmon, who's the top Rockies bat of all. The Rockies will face off with Brandon Woodruff tonight, who’s been one of the worse Brewers starters so far. He’s been great against righties with a .246 wOBA allowed, but has been pitiful against lefties with a .376 wOBA and 40% hard contact rate. As for Blackmon, he’s as good as it gets. Against righties, a .396 wOBA allowed turns into .400+ in Coors Field. This entire Rockies team is expected to put 6 runs on the board and Blackmon is the best hitter in the lineup against righties. He’s going to cost you a pretty penny, but could easily pay if off on this slate.
Matt Kemp FD 3400 DK 3900
Opponent - CIN (Brandon Finnegan) Park - LAD
FD - 12.01 DK - 9.14
We’ll focus on the Dodgers again here, who we’ve been a little enamored with in the second half of this article. They face off with a porous lefty in Brandon Finnegan, who’s struggled against right-handers. Kemp excels vs left-handed pitching and has always said so. We’ve touched all over him and it just comes down to whether or not you like the Dodgers as a squad. Kemp alone has a ton of power vs lefties and can send one to the moon on any given night. Per cash games, he’s cheap enough to deal with and not worry about.
We’ve ignored the Mariners up to this point, but a few are in play. They face off with the lefty Matthew Boyd, who’s been putrid against righties. His surface numbers actually haven’t been terrible, but a 5.64 xFIP is something to completely take advantage of. Both Nelson Cruz and Mitch Haniger are lefty-mashers and just need to connect once to pay everything off. Haniger has been better on the season, but both are .380 wOBA hitters against lefties. Cruz has been a prominent lefty masher for years now and hasn’t shown a sign of slowing. You cannot go wrong either way. Good luck tonight and feel free to comment down below with any questions or thoughts!
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- Max Scherzer: AP Photo - Eric Risberg