Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Doug Norrie

Daily Fantasy MLB Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 6/30/18

Man, I love MLB Saturdays. Games start early and I get an extra excuse to ignore the wife and kids in favor of watching some ace-level pitchers and offenses against below average arms. Everything seems to be breaking right for this Saturday except of course my family's ability to hang out with their rock (me).

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Justin VerlanderJustin Verlander FD 12200 DK 13400
Opponent - TB (Matt Andriese) Park - TB
FD - 38.32 DK - 20.88
Verlander was roughed up for his worst outing of the season last game against the Blue Jays on the 25th, allowing four earned runs in 6.6 innings with *only* six K’s. He’s still putting up career highs in strikeouts at a 31% rate with a career low in walks (1.82 per nine). I’m not buying the 1.82 ERA with the 3.57 xFIP coming in way behind it because he’s still somewhat living off of a .223 BABIP against and an 88% strand rate. What this means is that while he’s definitely an ace, he’s priced like a Scherzer type when the reality is something a tier below. That leaves us in a tricky spot because while you’d love to roster him in cash, you are overpaying some for the services. The Rays are a bottom-third offense on the season and strike out 23% of the time against righties. There’s no early line on the Astros, but I suspect Verlander comes in around where Cole hovered last night at -170-180. That’s fine on the win expectation but again, you are paying a premium.

Jacob deGromJacob deGrom FD 11700 DK 13600
Opponent - MIA (Pablo Lopez) Park - MIA
FD - 36.66 DK - 20.04
deGrom’s start getting pushed back to Saturday helps to go a long way towards some issues on the day. Namely, that starting pitcher completely sucks after Verlander for basically the entire day. He's right in line with the latter on both sites for the late afternoon slate of games considering his matchup, stats and the rest of the starting pitcher player pool. deGrom continues another season-over-season improvement with a 31% strikeout rate (career 27%) and still keeps the walks in check. He’s working with a career-low 2.60 xFIP which is running behind a 1.69 ERA. His issue is, of course, the wins where he has only five on the season despite being firmly in contention for the NL Cy Young with these numbers. As of this writing, there was no early line of the game because of the late scratch but one has to assume it opens right where Friday’s game did with the Mets at -155, 7 o/u. That would put the Marlins right around 3.1 implied runs, the lowest on the slate.

Kenta MaedaKenta Maeda FD 8900 DK 11000
Opponent - COL (German Marquez) Park - LAD
FD - 35.13 DK - 18.94
I’m often hard-pressed to trust anything about the Dodgers’ pitching rotation when it comes to DFS because no other team has played as conservatively with their starters’ pitch counts. Maeda has been the most variant of the bunch with some starts lasting a few innings or, like last game, getting to go seven innings while striking out nine. That being said, he only threw 84 pitches in that game and he won’t hit value on his prices with that few pitches very often. But if he can get that number closer to 100 (96 or more pitches three times in May) then we are looking at the evening value on the bump. He’s a -175 home favorite against the Rockies on Saturday with Colorado coming in at only 3.2 implied runs. It’s not a fantastic spot simply because of how many times Maeda’s been pulled early this season, but at these prices I’m willing to take the risk.

Strongly consider Chris Sale against the Yankees because they will strike out and hell, he’s Chris Sale. But he’s expensive and there’s significant downside having to run through the middle of that order.

First Base/Catcher

Albert PujolsAlbert Pujols FD 3100 DK 4100
Opponent - BAL (Andrew Cashner) Park - BAL
FD - 11.06 DK - 8.41
Well, on the one hand Albert Pujols continues his rather steady decline into baseball oblivion with a sub .700 OPS while looking like a shell of his former, unreal, self. But at the same time, you have to like these prices against Andrew Cashner on Saturday. Pujols’ upside is that he still hits two spots behind the best hitter on the planet and the Angels are coming in with one of the highest implied run lines on the slate. Pujols has been slightly above average against righties over the last two seasons with an OPS over .700. I know it seems like we are talking crazy with these numbers, but the contract is the only thing keeping Pujols planted in the cleanup role for the Angels. Cashner is pretty damn bad this season (and previous seasons) with an 18% K rate and 10% walk rate. We are going to get to some of the other Angels later on in this article, but almost to a man, they are coming at bargains in this matchup.

Strongly consider Brad Miller if he’s hitting in the leadoff slot again on Saturday.

At catcher for DraftKings, you are looking at a straight up punt scenario. Consider Manny Pina or Jonathan Lucroy on the cheap but I don't have any great conviction there.

Jose AbreuJose Abreu FD 3400 DK 4400
Opponent - TEX (Bartolo Colon) Park - TEX
FD - 12.19 DK - 9.31
Sometimes you get the Bartolo Colon who goes three innings and gets totally rocked because he doesn’t strike out anyone and just kind of stinks because he’s old. And then sometimes you get the Bartolo Colon who luck-boxes his way into more than five innings and is able to look *competent*. I’ll take the expectation on the former any day of the week. This is a guy who strikes out about 5.5 batters per nine with a 44% hard contact rate against this season. Abreu is fine in this reverse split which makes him a play on the main slate. He’s put up a .837 OPS in his last 785 plate appearances against righties. In the middle of the lineup against Colon at these prices, I’m all for it.

Much like the early slate at catcher, consider just punting it away with Mike Zunino or Raffy Lopez

Second Base

Jonathan SchoopJonathan Schoop FD 2600 DK 3400
Opponent - LAA (Tyler Skaggs) Park - BAL
FD - 9.75 DK - 7.45
This obviously isn’t an ideal spot for Schoop considering Skaggs is one of the more competent pitchers going on Saturday. But we are buying very low on the Orioles’ second baseman and the position comes across super thin for the afternoon games. He’s been very good against lefties over the last couple of seasons with a .353 wOBA and 121 wRC+ in that split over his last 250 plate appearances. The Orioles have really struggled this season and Schoop’s been no exception. A lot of it stems from a .222 BABIP and 11% Hr/FB rate. These are both well off his career averages and are likely due for some positive regression. I’m not completely encouraged it bounces totally back because the GB rate is up and Hard contact rate is down. Both aren’t great signs, but the later has gone up in June since coming back from injury and I still think this is a buy low spot.

Yoan MoncadaYoan Moncada FD 3300 DK 4500
Opponent - TEX (Bartolo Colon) Park - TEX
FD - 11.16 DK - 8.39
I feel like I’ve written this guy up every day this week, but it’s tough to get away from him again against Colon on Satruday. Moncada’s biggest issue is the strikeout which he’s doing at a 34% clip against righties over the last couple of seasons. That expectation is greatly reduced against Colon who, as we mentioned before, doesn’t strikeout anyone at this point in his career. With Yoan we’re getting a guy on pace for a 20/20 season (10 HRs and 8 SBs so far) hitting leadoff for a team with 4.7 implied runs going in. If he's in the leadoff spot then we are essentially being dared into playing him even at these mid-tier prices. He just has too many ways to score points to avoid in a matchup against one of the lowest-K guys in the league.


Manny MachadoManny Machado FD 4400 DK 5000
Opponent - LAA (Tyler Skaggs) Park - BAL
FD - 11.8 DK - 8.97
This follows along the same line of thinking with Schoop in that, we are buying a guy in a bad matchup, but the rest of the field looks so grim that it might just mean we have to bite the bullet. It will be close considering some cheaper names like Andrelton Simmons or David Fletcher could creep up to value, but we may be maxed out on Angels as it is. That leaves us (possibly) paying up for a guy like Machado in a less-than-optimal matchup. Now, he’s putting together the best season of his career with a .930 OPS thanks in large part to a crazy .557 slugging percentage. He already has 20 home runs on the season and is walking at a career-high 10.4% rate. Skaggs has been well above average this season and while not an ace, is certainly a solid rotational starter. I don’t love these spots, but if you aren’t going full punt then Machado is the guy worth paying up for.

Elvis AndrusElvis Andrus FD 3500 DK 3900
Opponent - CHW (Carlos Rodon) Park - TEX
FD - 12.29 DK - 9.56
Carlos Rodon might sport a mid 3’s ERA, but the reality is more like the 5.38 xFIP because this guy’s been running super hot from the mound over the short term. Batters have a .229 BABIP against him and he’s not striking batters out at nearly the clip we’ve seen from him in the past. Andrus is one of the better hitting shortstops in the game, sliding into the third hole in the lineup when the Rangers face off against lefties. He’s been solid in this split with a .346 wOBA and .812 OPS over his last 180 plate appearances against lefties. The Rangers have a 5.24 implied run line on Saturday, the highest of the day. We are going to want to have exposure to these bats in some shape or form. It’s best to start at a position bereft of real offensive talent.


Third Base

Travis ShawTravis Shaw FD 3400 DK 4200
Opponent - CIN (Tyler Mahle) Park - CIN
FD - 12 DK - 9.01
The Brewers, who already have a nice park advantage playing in Miller, get an even bigger step up heading into Great American on Saturday. Cincinnati plays as one of the best power parks in the game and you could be looking at a lot of value from the Brewers’ order if things break right. Shaw has actually been one of the best hitters in the league against righty pitching over the last couple of seasons with a .893 OPS and 130 wRC+ in that split over his last 683 plate appearances. He’s cemented into the cleanup hole for the Brewers and his power is certainly more than anyone expected when he came over from the Red Sox. Tyler Mahle is about as league average as they come with a low eight per nine strikeout rate and a 4.20 xFIP. These aren’t terrible numbers for sure, but he walks a lot of batter (3.77 per nine) and allows a 42% hard contact rate. It might be tough to fit the salary considering the top-end pitching options, but that he’s still coming firmly in the middle tier is encouraging.

David FreeseDavid Freese FD 2100 DK 3100
Opponent - SD (Joey Lucchesi) Park - SD
FD - 8.78 DK - 6.69
It’s tough to find a lot of value (early) on the evening slate of games at 3B. I suspect Freese hits around the middle of the order against the lefty Lucchesi and that might tell the whole tale for a guy at his prices. He doesn’t have overwhelming numbers, but considering he’s basically a punt play, we aren’t looking to be overwhelmed with production. That being said, Freese has been solid enough against lefties to consider him at near-minimum pricing. Over his last 189 plate appearances against lefties he has a fantastic 14% walk rate and .742 OPS. The latter isn’t really anything to write home about except when you consider it’s well above average and Freese is coming as cheap as they get. Check in with the Pirates’ batting order prior to lineup lock, and if he’s in the top five then you are looking at a cash game play.



Mike TroutMike Trout FD 5000 DK 6000
Opponent - BAL (Andrew Cashner) Park - BAL
FD - 17.2 DK - 12.77
Kole CalhounKole Calhoun FD 2500 DK 3400
Opponent - BAL (Andrew Cashner) Park - BAL
FD - 11.98 DK - 9.1
Justin UptonJustin Upton FD 3800 DK 4800
Opponent - BAL (Andrew Cashner) Park - BAL
FD - 13.29 DK - 9.96
When it’s all said and done you’ll tell your great-great-grandkids (science makes major leaps in the next few years, we are going to live much longer) that you were just happy to see Mike Trout play. It’s just kind of getting stupid how good this guy is at baseball. Enjoy it while you can see it, folks, we aren’t going to get a lot of guys like this going forward. For a guy who’s been the best hitter in baseball over the last few years, he’s putting up his best season yet here. Dude’s putting up a sick 1.101 OPS thanks, in part to an absurd 19.6 walk rate. He’s also hitting bombs and is on pace to easily eclipse his most home runs in a season. Look, I don’t need to give you a ton of reasons to play the guy. But can you afford him and the pitchers labeled above? It’s close and I’ll lean the pitchers if push came to shove, but it’s a testament to Trout’s consistency that it’s even a question.

Meanwhile, Calhoun moved into the leadoff spot on Friday, supplanting Ian Kinsler in that role. It will be interesting to see if it sticks. The latter had been putrid over the short term with a borderline disgusting .460 OPS on the season. You don’t see things get much worse than that over 217 plate appearances, but man here we are with Kole. He’s run ridiculously bad on the BABIP (.207) and the Hr/FB ratio is half of its career number. All of this is contributing to his lack of production and honestly, things are getting a little weird at this point. Let’s buy him for upside on the turnaround with the single best thing for his value being if he can set the table again.

And finally, Upton just kind of falls in there with the rest of the Angels in this matchup. It’s likely a little or outlier stuff, but he’s been better against righties this season with a .829 OPS and 129 wRC+. That doesn’t fall in line with his career splits (he’s been better against lefties) but it’s encouraging to know he’s not exactly a bum against this platoon.

Avisail GarciaAvisail Garcia FD 2500 DK 3700
Opponent - TEX (Bartolo Colon) Park - TEX
FD - 11.05 DK - 8.52
Garcia has been on and off again with the disabled list this season, leading to erratic performances and numbers that aren’t quite jiving with how we do things around here. But Friday he was solid in the two-hole and if that kind of lineup placement sticks then we are positively looking at one of the best values on the slate. He’s coming off of a .886 OPS season and has been fine against righties in that time period. Again, Colon will work some strikeouts and does induce groundballs to limit damage. But because Garcia was on the DL for so long, his price in unnaturally low across the board. It’s hard to beat this kind of power upside coming for this cheap in this matchup.

Delino DeShieldsDelino DeShields FD 2800 DK 3900
Opponent - CHW (Carlos Rodon) Park - TEX
FD - 11.91 DK - 9.21
Here’s to hoping he hits second the lineup against the lefty on Saturday. If not, then these next few sentences aren’t going to amount to a hill of beans. Deshields has made his bones on hitting lefty pitching in his short career, with a 114 wRC+ and .791 OPS in that split over his last 217 plate appearances. At these prices, with his speed upside (15 SBs on the season so far) he makes for the perfect value play if he’s slotted high enough in the order. The split help but he needs that kind of plate appearance expectation to really run as a value play on the main slate of games. For sure keep an eye out for the Rangers’ lineup as it will be on one of the most important of the slate.


4 Visitor Comments

  1. If you haven’t noticed, the article si based around our projections in the system so that happens on smaller slates. Thank for reading the free article.

  2. My MLB sheet for today. I added teams to target with notes and specific player targets at each position. Today has the 6-game early slate targets. Will add main slates shortly. Cheers!

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