Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy MLB Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 5/31/18
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It's a bit of a tricky slate for pitching as Clayton Kershaw makes his return to the Dodgers rotation after sitting out for a month due to tendinitis in his left bicep. He did throw a four-inning simulated game on Saturday but I am just not sure what to expect from him in his first start back which has me implementing a wait and see approach. The pitcher I will be looking closely at as my top option tonight will be Sean Newcomb as the Braves open as -116 favorites against their rivals, the Washington Nationals. Newcomb has made some adjustments since his rookie campaign last year including throwing a curveball about 8% less and replacing it with a ton more changeups(22.4%). The control is still a bit of an issue as he is walking 4.53 batters per nine but he sits with an impressive 2.75 ERA and 3.79 xFIP on the season while flashing upside striking out 26.6% of batters he faces(10.02 K/9 rate). While the Nats sit Top 5 against right-handed pitching, they have been much less effective against southpaws ranking 20th in wOBA(.306) and wRC+(90) while striking out 23.2% of the time. All things considered, I think we can count on Newcomb in all formats tonight.
While I am playing a wait and see approach with Clayton Kershaw, I feel it is important to get some exposure to this game tonight considering it opens with an extremely low 6.5 Over/Under. While the Phillies open as +149 underdogs, Aaron Nola makes a fantastic option on the mound and outside of the one start where he gave up four earned runs to the Cardinals he has been near elite. Over the course of 11 starts in 2018, he has held opponents to one or fewer earned runs six times and two or fewer nine times for a 2.27 ERA backed up by a 3.15 xFIP and 3.39 SIERA. He is striking out just under a batter per inning but has flashed much bigger upside with two double-digit K performances. The matchup isn't elite but it isn't that bad either as the Dodgers sit middle of the pack in most offensive categories and do strike out just over 21% of the time. It will really come down to the Phillies offense and if they can get runs off Kershaw and the bullpen and I will like the matchup even more if they get Hoskins back tonight.
It took awhile to get in the groove in 2018(.194 average in April) but Anthony Rizzo has officially heated up for the Cubs. He entered Wednesday night with hits in 11 straight games pushing his May average to .308 and in the month he has also added seven home runs and 28 RBI. The time to jump on board is now as the price still sits in the low to mid $4K range on both sites and to top it off he gets a pretty good matchup tonight against Seth Lugo who is making his first start of the season after making 20 appearances out of the pen. He made 18 starts for the Mets in 2017 and was less than impressive with a 4.71 ERA thanks to giving up four or more earned runs six times. Even if he doesn't last long in this start, Rizzo will get to take hacks against one of the worst bullpen's in the league as the Mets rank 23rd in both ERA(4.33) and xFIP(4.28).
Much like Rizzo, Yulieski Gurriel started out slow this season hitting just .224 in April but now appears to be fully recovered from a pre-season hamate bone injury. He went into Wednesday night's game with hits in six straight and 10 of his last 11 games including six multi-hit efforts and is now hitting .312 in the month of May. I am no doctor nor do I play one on TV but the lack of power can most likely be tied to that injury to his left hand and is something that will likely come as the season goes on. He and the Astros get a tremendous matchup on Thursday as they sits with the third highest implied runs as they face Drew Pomeranz who has struggled walking over five batters per nine and sits with a 6.75 ERA, 5.13 xFIP on the season. You can also consider J.D. Davis at first if he was to get another start.
Catcher Consideration: Francisco Cervelli(PIT)
Cabrera isn't a sexy option at a position with Jose Altuve and Ozzie Albies leading the way and while he doesn't provide the same upside, he has been a very consistent option for the Mets. He has primarily been hitting out of the two-hole and entered Wednesday night with a .315/.353/.550 slash line with 10 home runs, 34 RBI, and 30 runs scored. That not only gives him a high floor for cash games but also a ton of upside for GPP formats at a normally low ownership level. He is a switch hitter who has been good from both sides and will face Jose Quintana who has shut down lefties but really struggled against right-handed bats giving up a .368 wOBA and 40.5% hard contact rate. Take the value and fire up Cabrera in all formats.
Harrison doesn't get the same juicy matchup as Jack Flaherty has been impressive in his five starts but he comes at a big discount if you are looking to load up bats at other positions. The good news is that he hits leadoff for the Pirates and since returning to the lineup on May 20, has been very consistent hitting .297 and finally broke through with a home run last night. It's not a flashy play and the Pirates are underdogs tonight but there are some great spots to stack and Harrison helps us get there while providing some stability.
Also Consider: Starlin Castro(MIA)
Anytime Segura is facing a mediocre southpaw pitcher he is going to be a staple in my lineups and my article. He entered Wednesday night's game with a .355 average, .364 wOBA, and 135 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers and now gets another terrific matchup against Mike Minor of the Rangers who has been absolutely terrible since the middle of April giving up 31 earned runs in 43.2 innings(6.39 ERA) while also giving up nine home runs in that time(16.7% HR/FB rate) and a 41.7% hard contact rate. He has done a good job holding lefties in check(.283 wOBA) but has really struggled against righties(.380 wOBA) giving up nine of his 10 home runs in that split. On DraftKings, I will probably just pay up a little more for Lindor or Correa but on FanDuel, Segura is a lock in all formats in the low $3K range.
If you are loading up on bats at other positions and looking for a punt play at shortstop, you can do worse than super utility player, Brock Holt. He has played shortstop, second, and right field lately and although he hits near the bottom of the lineup he still has provided a ton of value in both real life and fantasy as he enters tonight's game with a .329/.402/.474 slash line in 26 games. The matchup is never great against a stout Astros rotation but McCullers has looked human at times allowing seven or more earned runs twice this season and the Red Sox rank #1 against righties.
Also Consider: Didi Gregorius(NYY) for GPP formats as he has shown signs of life lately going 5 for his last 13
If you have the salary to spare and are looking for power upside look no further than Jose Ramirez. The Indians currently sit with the third-highest implied run total of the main slate and Ramirez currently sits Top 5 in the league with 16 home runs on the season. He is also slashing a cool .296/.389/.616 with 39 RBI and 37 runs scored. More good news s the Indians will face Jake Odorizzi tonight who has been no stranger to giving up home runs and has given up at least one in seven of his last eight games(12 on the season) and Target Field has been one of the better hitters parks over the last couple seasons.
Like I mentioned above with Gurriel, the Astros get a terrific matchup vs. Drew Pomeranz and are one of just two teams on the main slate with an implied run total over five. This will make them very popular tonight and while they are very expensive for the most part, there is some value and it starts with Alex Bregman. He hits second in the lineup between George Springer and Jose Altuve and while the average(.266) isn't where he would expect it, he has been getting on base at an elite rate(.384) and has already scored 27 runs. Bregman has also shown positive splits against left-handed pitching through the early portion of his career with a .365 wOBA and 133 wRC+. All things considered, he is a great play in all formats.
Also Consider: Jedd Gyorko(STL)
There are some nice values at the pitcher position tonight which make it very possible to absolutely load up on bats and there is a no better place to start than the Yankee outfield. For cash games, I would lean Judge as he has not only hit for a better average(.288) but is getting on base at an elite level(.422) and has been better against right-handed pitching. For GPP's, it makes sense to stack them together in a lineup as they have big-time upside with 15 and 11 home runs respectively and are coming off a season's where they both hit 50+ bombs. On top of that, they get a great matchup vs. Andrew Cashner who is walking over 4.5 batters per nine and has already given up 11 home runs on the season(15.5% HR/FB rate) with a 34.6% hard contact rate.
If you are rostering one or two(DraftKings) of the high priced options on the mound and looking to go more balanced with your bats, Nelson Cruz fits the bill. He may be a bit on the decline but still rakes against left-handed pitching with a.349 wOBA, 125 wRC+, and .216 ISO on the season and like I mentioned with Segura above, faces a pitcher in Mike Minor who has not only struggled a ton lately but also struggles a lot more against right-handed bats. Considering his splits vs. southpaws and the value price on both sites, he ranks right near the top of the PTS/$ rankings tonight and is safe in all formats.
Another path to help you get multiple high-end bats or arms in your lineup is to take a risk with a hitter who is buried on the lineup card. Enter Greg Allen of the Indians who has been hitting primarily out of the nine-hole but comes in red hot with hits in five straight and nine of his last 11 games with three multi-hit efforts. He was chalk during yesterday's day slate as he led off for the Tribe and would garner even more value should he hit anywhere near the top of the lineup again on Thursday. Either way, he gets a decent matchup against Jake Odorizzi and even from the bottom of the order can get on base in front of Lindor, Martinez, and Encarnacion and be setup to score some runs.