Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Doug Norrie

Daily Fantasy MLB Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 6/25/18

Monday's baseball slate has a couple of (rare) early affairs and then a bevy of action for the evening with all kinds of ways to take lineups. We'll take a look at some of the main slate pitching options and then look at bats across the whole day of games.

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Justin VerlanderJustin Verlander FD 11700 DK 13300
Opponent - TOR (J.A. Happ) Park - HOU
FD - 44.89 DK - 24.32
Any relevant projection system is going to have him as the highest raw point starting pitcher on the slate. That isn’t exactly news. What we are wondering here is if he’s the strongest cash game option in the matchup against the Blue Jays. He’s posting the best strikeout numbers of his career at 32% (career 23% K%) which is rather remarkable considering this is his age 35 season. That really doesn’t happen this late in a career for pitchers but he’s doing it on the back of his fastball (61% of the time, highest of his career) and the abandonment of the changeup which used to be one of his most thrown secondary pitches. Earlier in his career, he threw it in the teens and now it’s all but disappeared. He’s now strictly fastball, slider, curveball and the results are the spike in K’s and disappearance of walks. That’s a nice way to trend. He’s not as good as the 1.60 ERA would suggest (3.45 xFIP) but I do think the strikeouts will stick. The Blue Jays are top third in the league in wOBA against righties, but do strike out 24% of the time in the split. Verlander’s -240 home money line helps a lot and considering the rest of the options, I do think we end up overpaying a little here.

Jameson TaillonJameson Taillon FD 7800 DK 7900
Opponent - NYM (Seth Lugo) Park - NYM
FD - 32.29 DK - 16.72
Taillon isn’t an overwhelming favorite in this matchup which, from a projection standpoint, does cut into his expected win points. But everything else seems to line up in his favor on Monday. He gets to face a middling Mets’ squad ranked around average against righty arms this season. They have a few bats at the top of the order worth paying attention to (Nimmo and Conforto come to mind) but there’s a steep drop off after those bats. In his third season, Taillon is posting his best strikeout numbers to date with a 23% K rate while limiting the walks to 2.4 per nine. He’s had three complete disaster games this year, driving down his per game innings pitched but has gone six or more in four of his last six games. I thought the matchup with Lugo would lend itself to a slightly higher money line but I still like everything else setting up for Taillon on Monday.

Mike FoltynewiczMike Foltynewicz FD 8700 DK 11800
Opponent - CIN (Tyler Mahle) Park - ATL
FD - 34.99 DK - 18.13
He missed a couple of weeks on the DL with triceps tightness, so there’s some concern about pitch count in this matchup. The DraftKings’ price is a non-starter with that concern, so he’s really only a consideration on FanDuel for Monday. Before landing on the disabled list, Folty was putting up the best strikeout numbers of his career (10.71 per nine) with an xFIP nearly three-quarters a run lower than his career average. He was leaning on the fastball and slider more than any other time of his career and the results were paying dividends. The Reds are merely a league average offense helped greatly by their home park. Vegas still likes the Braves here even with the righty coming back from injury. It helps that the DL stint wasn’t too long and he may be on a longer leash than another pitcher returning from injury.

First Base/Catcher

Edwin EncarnacionEdwin Encarnacion FD 3900 DK 4800
Opponent - STL (John Gant) Park - STL
FD - 12.2 DK - 9.05
Yonder AlonsoYonder Alonso FD 3200 DK 3900
Opponent - STL (John Gant) Park - STL
FD - 10.24 DK - 7.72
First base is pretty light on the main slate of games and anyone who’s read some of my picks knows that when you think about writing one of the Indian first basemen, you really have to write about both. These guys are values in tandem simply because they get the same matchup, typically hit 4-5 in the lineup and have very similar splits over the last couple of seasons. In fact here are their numbers in that platoon over the last two seasons with Encarnacion first: OPS (.868, .876), OBP (11.7%, 12.8%), wOBA (.368, .372). I think you get the point. These dudes are platoon doppelgangers and while they don’t have a fantastic matchup on Monday, do represent some of the better options at the position. John Gant has solid peripherals this season but has moved back and forth between the starting rotation and bullpen. Vegas isn’t overly bullish on the Indians today, but again, the first base position feels pretty damn shallow. I do like the value a little more on Alonso simply because he’s much cheaper, but the case for each is basically the same.

Freddie FreemanFreddie Freeman FD 4700 DK 5400
Opponent - CIN (Tyler Mahle) Park - ATL
FD - 13.19 DK - 9.89
He’s expensive on both sites but could be worth paying up for in this matchup against Mahle. He’s among the elite hitters in baseball and has especially worked righty pitching over his career. In his last 590 plate appearances, he’s hitting to a .990 OPS, .408 wOBA, and 155 wRC+. That puts him in the top ten in that split in baseball. Tyler Mahle is no gas can so it isn’t like Freeman is an overwhelming play here, but it’s damn hard to ignore the production and he’s entering that class of hitter where matchup only tells part of the story. I like Atlanta’s implied run line against the Reds’ righty and will only avoid Freeman if we end up spending up at pitching to the point where his salary becomes an issue.

On the Early Only slate strongly consider Albert Pujols


Second Base

Dee GordonDee Gordon FD 2900 DK 4300
Opponent - BAL (Andrew Cashner) Park - BAL
FD - 11.43 DK - 9.17
Gordon seems like the pretty easy cash game play on FanDuel as long as he’s hitting leadoff against Andrew Cashner on Monday. For a guy whose primary role (presumably) would be to get on base, Gordon is walking a crazy 1.7% of the time this season. He’s never been patient, but that number is low even for him (or anybody). But the Mariners have him pretty much locked up as the *table setter* so we need to buy him in this matchup and hope he swipes some bags. He already has 19 stolen bases on the season and does thankfully make contact a fair amount. Gordon’s lack of patience will be put to the test against Cashner who’s walking more than four batters per nine this season. There’s a reason the Mariners have one of the higher implied run totals on the evening and much of it has to do with the Orioles’ righty.

Jose PirelaJose Pirela FD 2300 DK 3100
Opponent - TEX (Cole Hamels) Park - TEX
FD - 9.89 DK - 7.65
I think he hits fifth against the lefty Hamels on Monday and makes for something of a punt play if you’re looking to save salary at the position. Considering his home ballpark and the National League West in general, Pirela has respectable splits against lefties. In his last 182 plate appearances, he’s hitting to a .827 OPS and 124 wRC+. At his salaries, those are excellent numbers and I have no problem taking the cheaper route on him if he’s hitting high enough in the order.

Early Only
Ian KinslerIan Kinsler FD 2900 DK 3800
Opponent - KC (Jake Junis) Park - KC
FD - 11.24 DK - 8.58
The Angels have the second-highest opening implied run line on the Wednesday slate of games and Kinsler should find himself in the leadoff spot once again for the Halos. He hasn’t been all that great against righties over the last two seasons, though some of that stems from a brutal .224 BABIP against the split. He’s still a tough strikeout (13% ) and does draw walks (9%) from time to time. He already has 10 home runs on the season with seven stolen bases and is working his way back from a crazy-bad start to the season. He’s certainly picked things up over the last month.



Manny MachadoManny Machado FD 4200 DK 5000
Opponent - SEA (Felix Hernandez) Park - BAL
FD - 12 DK - 9.12
This is something of an overpay on Machado but that’s often where we are left with shortstop because there just really aren’t many options (outside of the occasional punt play) who can even wield anything like a competent bat. So do we overspend on the position or just completely punt it away? Machado makes a case for spending up here. He’s putting together his best offensive season to date with a .941 OPS, thanks in large part to a career-high .375 OBP. He’s walking the most of his career and is also on pace for a career-best in home runs. King Felix can probably drop the regal part of his nickname at this point. He’s turned into a below average major league arm with little in the way of strikeout stuff.

After Machado, I think you either need to pay up for one of the other expensive guys or just totally punt the position completely. The latter strategy will involve playing guys like J.T. Riddle or Freddy Galvis. If Jean Segura hits second then he’s a fine play against Cashner, but the lineup slot is no guarantee.

Early Only
Marcus SemienMarcus Semien FD 3300 DK 4400
Opponent - DET (Jordan Zimmermann) Park - DET
FD - 10.8 DK - 8.23
I feel like, for better or worse, I write this guy up every time I’m tasked with slotting in some value plays on a given slate. And believe me, I’ve thought long and hard about why this is the case. The simple answer is: leave me alone, I just feel like it. The more complex answer is something like: Semien exists in this weird middle ground of shortstops. He’s given out-sized opportunity relative to many of his peers simply because the A’s hit him so high in the lineup. Other shortstops with a similar opportunity (Correa, Didi, Machado etc) are very expensive. The rest of the group hits at the bottom of their team’s order and just generally stink. So we are often left with a middle tier Semien who’s (usually) just enough above average to warrant a look. He’s been fine enough against righties over the last couple of seasons and Jordan Zimmermann is simply *meh*. I like the FanDuel price a little more, but could be talked into it on DraftKings as well.


Third Base

Adrian BeltreAdrian Beltre FD 3300 DK 4300
Opponent - SD (Joey Lucchesi) Park - TEX
FD - 12.04 DK - 9.26
Joey Lucchesi lasted less than two innings in his return last game, giving up four runs on two home runs while only facing 11 batters. He’d been good earlier the season and I tend to think he gets back to striking batters out, but Vegas isn’t buying it at all today. The Rangers have the highest opening implied run line of the night at 5.26 and Beltre ranks as one of the better points per dollar bats on the night. Even for an old man, dude still rakes lefties with a 1.015 OPS over his last 128 plate appearances in that split. He has a .422 wOBA in that time period with a 165 ISO. Again, I’m a little concerned with Lucchesi’s strikeout ability, but the park is completely in Beltre’s favor with Globe Life playing among the best in power pads during the summer months.

There are a couple of other cheaper options also worth exploring on the main slate at third base. Kyle Seager is in a great matchup against Cashner. The former is a decent, not great, bat against righty pitching who should slot into around the sixth spot in the lineup. Meanwhile, if Jace Peterson hits leadoff for the Orioles then I like his upside against Felix Hernandez.

Early Only
Jeimer CandelarioJeimer Candelario FD 2800 DK 4500
Opponent - OAK (Edwin Jackson) Park - DET
FD - 10.43 DK - 7.94
In 13 starts for the Nationals last season, Edwin Jackson had a 5.21 ERA and a 2:1 K:BB ratio. And yet he’s right back in the majors with the A’s this season and set to take the mound on Monday. Candelario is much better against lefty arms, but I’m willing to buy on him in a reverse platoon matchup on Monday simply because Jackson is just so damn bad (relatively speaking). The young Tigers’ third baseman has 11 home runs on the season with a respectable 12% walk rate. He should hit second in the lineup against the righty and the Tigers have a 4.94 implied run line coming in. That’s one of the highest you’ll see for this squad and it’s tied directly to the guy on the mound for Oakland.

Strongly consider Luis Valbuena still coming on the cheaper side of things



Wil MyersWil Myers FD 2700 DK 4500
Opponent - TEX (Cole Hamels) Park - TEX
FD - 11.26 DK - 8.51
There isn’t often a ton to love about the Padres on a given evening which must frustrate Wil Myers because he’s actually a major league hitter forced to play on this rookie-level squad of a team. He’s very patient against lefties with a 15% walk rate in that split over his last 192 plate appearances. The power numbers, of course, get driven down by having to play so many games in San Diego (and San Fran and LA while making the occasional trip to Colorado). But tonight he gets to hit in Texas with some hot air and a lefty on the mound. Hamels has been fine on the strikeout side, but also walks a ton of guys and has rounded into something of an average pitcher. I like Myers’ price on both sites and see him as something of a one-off in the Padres’ order.

Adam JonesAdam Jones FD 2800 DK 3900
Opponent - SEA (Felix Hernandez) Park - BAL
FD - 10.39 DK - 7.98
Jones is one of the rare reverse platoon guys and has been that way over the course of his entire career. It just doesn’t ever really happen where a righty hitter is significantly better at the plate against other righty pitchers. But Jones bucks the trend. He’s been marginally better against southpaws this season, but for his career owns a .796 OPS against righties compared to a .728 OPS against lefties. He should hit in the second slot in the lineup against the Mariners and Hernandez isn’t coming with much in the way of swing and miss stuff these days. It’s looking good for the Orioles in this matchup and I can see stacking 1-4 in the lineup if things break right.

Early Only
Mike TroutMike Trout FD 5200 DK 6100
Opponent - KC (Jake Junis) Park - KC
FD - 16.8 DK - 12.47
The only real case *against* Mike Trout on a night-to-night basis is whether you think affording his salary is prudent. There’s literally nothing bad to say about a guy with these kinds of numbers. For as amazing as he’s been over his 7+ seasons, this is arguably the best one yet. He’s first in WAR by a country mile (it factors in defense, but worth mentioning), first in home runs (23), first in runs scored (62) and first in OPS. He’s not outside the top 20 in any other relevant counting stat. There aren’t many new ways to say it: he’s the best hitter in the game and at this point, it doesn’t appear all that close. Jake Junis isn’t a bad pitcher all things considered, but the Angels are projected to put up some runs in this matchup and if you aren’t paying top dollar for pitching you are likely rostering Trout’s bat.

Leonys MartinLeonys Martin FD 3000 DK 4600
Opponent - OAK (Edwin Jackson) Park - DET
FD - 11.03 DK - 8.57
Nicholas CastellanosNicholas Castellanos FD 2800 DK 4900
Opponent - OAK (Edwin Jackson) Park - DET
FD - 12.22 DK - 9.35
Leonys Martin really struggled last season in limited playing time between the Mariners and Tigers, but he’s picked it up in 2018 thanks to a greatly improved walk rate (9.4% up from a 6.7% career average) and power numbers more resembling his 2016 season. He’s been a solid leadoff hitter for the Tigers and, like I said with Candelario, gets to face Edwin Jackson. He’s also tuned up righty pitching this season with a 129 wRC+ and .835 OPS. The struggles against lefties are some of the reason his price is totally in check on FanDuel. It’s tougher call on DraftKings where you are paying something of a premium.

Meanwhile, Castellanos is coming in on the worse side of his platoon splits but he’s still an above-average hitter against righties over the last couple of seasons. In his last 700+ plate appearances, he’s sporting a somewhat respectable .771 OPS. Like Martin, he’s just too cheap on FanDuel against such a weak arm with such a high implied run total.


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1 Visitor Comment

  1. Wait, y’all have a first base/catcher part yet no catcher suggestions?

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