Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

James Davis

Daily Fantasy MLB Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 5/20/18

A nice relaxing Sunday of baseball. We've got some excellent high end pitching, some scrubby pitching to target with our bats, and only one position that seems to have zero playable options. Joyous days! Let's get to it.

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Noah SyndergaardNoah Syndergaard FD 10000 DK 10200
Opponent - ARI (Clay Buchholz) Park - NYM
FD - 41.1 DK - 22.88
Stephen StrasburgStephen Strasburg FD 10000 DK 13400
Opponent - LAD (Alex Wood) Park - WSH
FD - 39.7 DK - 21.73
On FanDuel it's the case of dueling $10,000 righties. As of now, our system is leaning slightly toward Syndergaard. By the numbers, these guys are remarkably similar. Syndergaard's 10.69 K/9 is just ahead of Strasburg's 10.14, and Strasburg walks .15 fewer guys per 9 innings. Both sport excellent career HR/9 rates, with Syndergaard slightly edging Stras .11 per 9. So how do we break the tie? The match-up. Vegas has Thor with a better moneyline (-180 to Stras' -145) AND has the Mets giving up fewer runs. Arizona has been downright embarrassing against right handed pitching this season, posting the league's 2nd lowest wOBA and striking out at the 4th highest rate. The Dodgers meanwhile are the very definition of a league average match-up for opposing righties. Two equal pitchers, one of whom has a much better match-up? Maybe it's not as close as I made it seem.

Lance McCullers Jr.Lance McCullers Jr. FD 9300 DK 15000
Opponent - CLE (Carlos Carrasco) Park - HOU
FD - 34.87 DK - 18.46
What to make of Lance McCullers this season? The prices on FD and DK are as widely spread as I can literally ever recall, with the DK price making him unplayable and the FD price making him oddly enticing for big tournaments. He's striking out guys at the same rate as either of the above aces, but he gives back a decent portion of his value with significantly worse command. It's not even the walks necessarily - they are worse than Syndergaard's or Strasburg's numbers, but he runs enough deep counts that his innings pitched per start really suffers. He barely topped 5 innings per start last season, and while that's up a hair this season, you can't pencil him in to go deep into the games the way you'd like expensive pitchers too. Still, he's cheaper than the top dogs today and should have significantly lower ownership in an AL game against a league average Indians team and a capable opposing starter in Carlos Carrasco.

So crazy it just might work: Yu Darvish for free on FanDuel? I'm just saying.

First Base/Catcher

Buster PoseyBuster Posey FD 2900 DK 3900
Opponent - COL (Tyler Anderson) Park - SF
FD - 10.31 DK - 7.9
If you must play a catcher today (thanks again, FanDuel), Posey seems like the least of several evils. Posey is the very picture of solid but unspectacular this season, posting nearly an .800 OPS with next to no power and speed. Still, he's a very tough K (11.5%) and has a good eye (10.8% BB rate), which is a heck of a lot more than most catchers can boast. He's always been a great deal better against left handed pitching, and while Tyler Anderson isn't the very worst lefty in the league, he certainly isn't the best. It's funny, you'd expect a Coors guy to be a lot better on the road, but his dismal .343 wOBA allowed on the road is actually .021 points higher than his home wOBA. I think Posey is a very high floor option here, and arguably playable on FD.

Anthony RizzoAnthony Rizzo FD 4100 DK 4700
Opponent - CIN (Tyler Mahle) Park - CIN
FD - 13.87 DK - 10.34
If you are looking for some beef, I'm not giving up on Anthony Rizzo. He's still batting in the middle of that Chicago lineup, and a lot of his woes rest in a BABIP that's .090 points lower than his career figure. It's a little troubling that the ISO is down and that his Ks and BBs are going the wrong directions, but that's why we're getting a little discount here. One reason I'm loving Rizzo for big tournaments is Mahle's home-run rate this season. He's allowed 1.89 HR/9, and while it's a limited sample size, it's clear that the youngster is trying to live up in the zone in a way that is a lot trickier in the majors than it is in the minors.

Logan MorrisonLogan Morrison FD 2800 DK 3400
Opponent - MIL (Junior Guerra) Park - MIN
FD - 10.13 DK - 7.6
Morrison is certainly more of a budget option, but like Rizzo, I'm not quite ready to give up here. He's coming off a 38 home run season in one of the worst hitters' parks in the majors, and he's batting 5th for the Twins at a price that suggests he's batting 7th or 8th. The risks with Morrison are straightforward - last year's explosion is the outlier for his career, with his career ISO (.184) a lot closer to this season's .164 than last season's .270. Still, the price is right, and Guerra is coming off a season where he allowed a near historic 2.3 home runs per nine innings last year. Morrison seems like a good option at a position that isn't providing a lot of great top end options right now.

Second Base

Brian DozierBrian Dozier FD 3700 DK 4000
Opponent - MIL (Junior Guerra) Park - MIN
FD - 12.34 DK - 9.29
It's actually a pretty tough slate to find hitting, all things considered. We've got exactly 0 games with a total of 10 or higher, and as of this writing we have a number of games where the pitchers are as yet undecided. We'll certainly have better info on those inside of our lineup optimizer later tonight, but in the event that we don't find a lot of value there, we still need to do our best. This is going to start to sound repetitive at some point, but Dozier is another guy with an unimpressive season line on the back of some terrible luck. The ISO is down .050, which you don't love to see, but the rest of his line is nearly identical outside of a .050 drop in BABIP. Dozier is showing an increase in his infield fly ball percentage (thanks to a reduced hard contact rate), but again, Guerra has been giving up so much hard contact recently that I'm ready to roll Dozier out once again.

Eduardo NunezEduardo Nunez FD 2600 DK 3800
Opponent - BAL (Undecided) Park - BOS
FD - 10.82 DK - 8.44
That dreaded undecided pitcher label, but given how terrible Baltimore has been on the mound this season, who could they possibly roll out? Cashner followed up Bundy the last time around, and it stands to reason that the O's will either roll him out or somebody even worse. You're going to be sick of me by now, but Nunez's case is going to sound a lot like the other folks today. He was a serviceable fantasy option last season on the back of his modest power and reasonable speed. The power is roughly on track to where it was last season, and while the speed is lagging, a lot of that can be attributed to him getting on base a lot less. Like the rest of the guys in this write-up so far, he's also having BABIP problems. I don't think you can count on him getting back up to last year's lofty .333 figure, but something in the .315 range is reasonable for a guy with his batted ball profile and his speed. Either way, he should handily top the .274 number he's put up so far. It's a good park and likely a bad pitcher, so this could be a good spot to go cheap at yet another thin position.



Didi GregoriusDidi Gregorius FD 3800 DK 4100
Opponent - KC (Eric Skoglund) Park - KC
FD - 12.37 DK - 9.52
Okay, we're starting to get in range to where we might be able to spend up a little. Unlike most of these mopes so far, Didi is actually building upon last season's breakout campaign, boosting both his power and his speed in spite of having BABIP issues himself. His ISO is up nearly .080 points, and batting in the heart of that insane Yankees' lineup means the counting stats are an afterthought. Skoglund is basically just a guy at this point in his career, with below average stuff and a below average 4.29 xFIP. At a position where production is normally exceedingly scarce, he's the kind of option that makes you grateful you can spend up elsewhere.

Jurickson ProfarJurickson Profar FD 2700 DK 3200
Opponent - CHW (Reynaldo Lopez) Park - CHW
FD - 9.72 DK - 7.47
Profar is finally delivering on a little bit of that minor league promise this season, even if he's not exactly the super star that many projected. Still, it's been good enough to have him batting 5th in Texas' admittedly weak offense, and that's a lot of opportunity for a guy at a scarce position at these prices. His 14 Ks against 12 BBs in April were especially promising, even if that discipline hasn't translated to May just yet. He's also got an incredibly good match-up with Lopez. The Chicago righty has amazed his doubters by being even worse than he was last year, raising his walk rate to 4 per 9 while increasing his Ks or decreasing his home run rate. He generates ground-balls just 30% of the time, among the very lowest in the league, which can lead to lots of big innings. The Rangers are actually one of my favorite stacks on the day.

Strongly consider: Marcus Semien, especially if he finds himself back in the lead-off slot again.

Third Base

Matt ChapmanMatt Chapman FD 3300 DK 4100
Opponent - TOR (Joe Biagini) Park - TOR
FD - 10.48 DK - 7.86
This is quite simply a bet against Mr. Joe Biagini. The Blue Jays' righty has failed to convert his bullpen success to the starting rotation, boasting a 7.98 ERA through his first 3 starts this year. He's basically bad across the board with a sub 7 K/9, a 4+ BB/9, and plenty of homers to boot. While he won't maintain an 8 ERA as a starter, the near 5 xFIP still paints a picture of a man who is less than major league quality. As for Chapman, he's a solid power bet in a good park for hitters, and his .800 OPS and 8 homers this season should point to enough talent to put some numbers up today.

Kyle SeagerKyle Seager FD 3500 DK 4100
Opponent - DET (Francisco Liriano) Park - SEA
FD - 10.8 DK - 8.16
This one is a straight platoon play. Seager has not been super impressive so far this season, but he's still been about .040 OPS points better against opposing lefties, and oh boy, does he have a lefty match-up that you'd like to see. Liriano has replicated last year's absurd control issues with a 4.69 BB/9 rate while losing 1.5 strikeouts off his already reduced rate as well. Seager should be batting in the middle of the order the way he always does against lefties, and looks like a solid upside option.

Eduardo EscobarEduardo Escobar FD 3300 DK 3900
Opponent - MIL (Junior Guerra) Park - MIN
FD - 11.12 DK - 8.52
Hey, if I'm going to give you a long list of run-bad guys with poor year to date performance, you can forgive a couple of guys who have actually been good, right? Escobar is showing improvement across the board this season, and while some of that is BABIP fueled, the big jump in isolated power is certainly a welcome sign. I've given you the case against Guerra already. Escobar seems like a reasonable mid-range option today.

Also considered: Matt Carpenter, for the same bad BABIP luck reasons I've cited some other guys today.


Giancarlo StantonGiancarlo Stanton FD 5000 DK 5100
Opponent - KC (Eric Skoglund) Park - KC
FD - 17.08 DK - 12.62
Aaron JudgeAaron Judge FD 4900 DK 5400
Opponent - KC (Eric Skoglund) Park - KC
FD - 16.72 DK - 12.37
Yes, even at these prices. The left handed Skoglund has allowed an eye-popping .845 OPS to right handers in his short major league career - a .364 wOBA! And that's an average of his performance against all the righties he's faced. The light hitting shortstops, opposing pitchers, and occasionally superstars like these two. His 7 K/9 and 3 BB/9 vs. righties shouldn't scare anyone, much less two of the most powerful right handers in the entire majors. I don't need to give you Judge and Stanton's splits rundowns, do I? Just play these guys with the savings you get from relatively cheap pitching tonight and reap the benefits.

Curtis GrandersonCurtis Granderson FD 3100 DK 3700
Opponent - OAK (Daniel Mengden) Park - TOR
FD - 11.45 DK - 8.57
I'm a sucker for a Grandy-Man write-up, so I'm tickled that I get to do one on my first baseball picks article of the year. And I have to say - it's looking justified! Granderson has been drawing the lead-off spot against right handed pitchers, and playing the role well. He's walking an incredible amount this season (20%!) and while he's striking out a lot, he's still doing exactly what the Jays need at the top of the order: getting on base. I love this match-up against Mengden as well. While the A's young righty doesn't walk anybody, he also doesn't really strike anyone out, and if you take strike-outs off the table Granderson becomes a far more attractive play for his power potential. Throw in a good park at the Rogers Centre and you've got me sold across the board.

Nelson CruzNelson Cruz FD 3600 DK 4200
Opponent - DET (Francisco Liriano) Park - SEA
FD - 12.85 DK - 9.64
If we liked Seager for platoon purposes against the shell of Francisco Liriano we have to love Cruz. The overall line has dropped for Cruz this season, but he's still been .072 OPS points better against southpaws in spite of posting a dismal .231 BABIP against them. He's K'd 8 times against 6 walks against lefties as compared to his 19 Ks and 4 BBs against righties. He'll be seeing the ball very well against the erratic Liriano, and I wouldn't be surprised to see some fireworks here.

Shin-Soo ChooShin-Soo Choo FD 3200 DK 3700
Opponent - CHW (Reynaldo Lopez) Park - CHW
FD - 11.26 DK - 8.52
Another integral part of the wise man's Texas stack, if you ask me. I've given you the case against Lopez, but the case for Choo is a little more nuanced. His season line doesn't look amazing right now, but so much of that is because of his truly awful performance against lefties (a .482 OPS against them!). He's actually been more than serviceable against righties, putting up a .838 OPS and 6 homers in 143 plate appearances against them this year. I love him assuming he's back near the top of the order once again.


image sources

  • Noah Syndergaard: By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Noah Syndergaard) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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