Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

07/13/2018
Doug Norrie

Daily Fantasy MLB Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 7/13/18

It's Friday the 13th which is about the best explanation I can come up with for why pitching is so bad today. But there are a few arms we can take a look at, plus a game in Coors to jack up the ole expected run line.

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Pitcher

Madison BumgarnerMadison Bumgarner FD 9400 DK 11400
Opponent - OAK (Edwin Jackson) Park - SF
FD - 39.07 DK - 20.84
In his first three games back off the DL, Bumgarner struggled to find his strikeout stuff, K-ing only nine total in his first 17.3 innings. But the last four games have seen him return to previous form, striking out about a batter an inning and going six or more innings in three of his last four starts. From a pedigree standpoint, there are few other pitchers on Bumgarner’s level going on Friday (blame yesterday that sucked up all of the good pitching). He’ll face an Oakland team below average against lefties who strike out 23% of the time in that split. He’s a solid -165 opening line favorite with Oakland coming in at only 3.3 implied runs. They do have some solid righty bats at the top of the order, but by and large this is a mediocre bunch and AT&T Park really helps to surpress power, ranking dead last in home runs in 2017. This is close to an ideal situation for Bumgarner, even moving the A’s into the NL where he’ll get the pitcher slot in the lineup. He’s a bit expensive on DraftKings and I’m not sure the strikeout upside makes for enough to pay a mid-$11K salary. But it’s close.

Carlos MartinezCarlos Martinez FD 8800 DK 8100
Opponent - CIN (Matt Harvey) Park - STL
FD - 34.82 DK - 18.07
Martinez’s season numbers look a bit grizzly with the 4.59 xFIP running more than a run and half behind the 3.05 ERA. The biggest *issue* for C-Mart, over the course of the season, has been the spike in walk rate that went from 8% last season to 11% this season. That being said, there’s a clustering effect to the control issues with half of his walks (24) coming in only four starts (15 games total). It means when he’s been off to start, he’s been really off. The last three games have seen things moderately under control with a 6:1 K:BB ratio in 19 innings. This isn’t a great spot against a Reds’ team ranked in the top third of the league against righties. But some of that stems from their advantageous home park. St. Louis plays much differently for power (bottom third) and the Reds enter at a 3.75 implied run line. For a day light on pitching, Martinez does offer one of the better points per dollar plays.

Dallas KeuchelDallas Keuchel FD 9000 DK 8400
Opponent - DET (Mike Fiers) Park - DET
FD - 35.11 DK - 17.76
Keuchel opens as the biggest opening moneyline favorite on the day at -269 with a 8.5 over/under. That puts the Tigers at right around 3.3 implied runs, the lowest of any team heading into the evening slate of games. Keuchel's already low strikeout numbers are down even more this season where he's posting only an 18% K% (21% last season). He lives on the groundball to get out of innings and induce double plays. It's a tricky place to navigate and one of the reasons his ERA is creeping toward four. He's lower down on this list as well because the Tigers have actually been very good against lefties this season, ranking in the top ten in that split. I'd be hard-pressed to run him out there in cash on FanDuel as my sole pitcher, but as a SP2 on DraftKings I think he makes a bit of sense at his current price point.

First Base/Catcher

Lucas DudaLucas Duda FD 2400 DK 3700
Opponent - CHW (James Shields) Park - CHW
FD - 10.31 DK - 7.68
Happy James Shields Day everyone! After putting together two competent games in a row, Shields returned to his old ones against the Astros allowing eight earned runs in five innings. He somehow found a way to strike out nine in that game while also getting completely rocked. He continues to be one of the very worst regular starters in the majors with a 5.09 xFIP and less than 2:1 K:BB ratio. We are buying on the low side for some of these Royals’ bats, Duda included. His numbers are down from last season thanks in large part to a big decrease in walk rate (from 12% to 6%). His home run to flyball rate has also been cut in half despite the hard contact rate being right in line with last season’s numbers. I’m buying on him at these prices in this matchup. It’s a big power upgrade moving into U.S. Cellular and he increases the walk expectation while decreasing the strikeout expectation against Shields.

Jose MartinezJose Martinez FD 3100 DK 3600
Opponent - CIN (Matt Harvey) Park - STL
FD - 11.52 DK - 8.81
He’s still coming entirely too cheap on both sites for a guy hitting in the middle of the order. Martinez’s first two seasons in the majors have been a resounding success with a career .876 OPS and 27 home runs over his first 674 plate appearances. He walks about 9% of the time against righties while striking out about 17%. These are solid numbers in the platoon even if we are on the worse side of his splits. What we are mostly looking at here is a cheaper price against Matt Harvey who strikes out less than seven batters per nine. The Cardinals have an implied run line creeping toward five because of the matchup with some recent struggles driving down their prices across the board. Even with not having to pay for pitching, Martinez still makes for an excellent value play.

Even in a down season, I don't mind considering Jose Abreu against Keller.

At catcher, consider Buster Posey against the corpse of Edwin JacksonSalvador Perez is also worth a look against James Shields.

 

Second Base

Yoan MoncadaYoan Moncada FD 3300 DK 4300
Opponent - KC (Brad Keller) Park - CHW
FD - 11.12 DK - 8.36
Moncada was back in the leadoff role Wednesday against the righty Luke Weaver and I expect him to stick there. In his second full season, the guy remains an absolute strikeout machine at 35% and has seen a moderate decrease in the patience we saw during his 2017 campaign (walk rate down to 8% from 12%). But he still finds ways to put up points with 11 home runs and nine stolen bases on the season. At this point, he’s essentially relegated to a platoon role, not taking at-bats against lefty pitching. That’s fine as we have a sample size against righties that tells most of the story. Considering the biggest issue is the strikeout, the matchup against Brad Keller could work wonders for Moncada’s upside. Keller registers just around five K’s per nine with a 4.38 xFIP. This is remarkably bad considering most of his work is out of the bullpen.

Whit MerrifieldWhit Merrifield FD 3200 DK 4000
Opponent - CHW (James Shields) Park - CHW
FD - 10.33 DK - 8.09
It can feel weird to be overexposed to one game on such a big slate, but when you have Shields vs. Keller in a hitter’s park how else can it really go? Merrifield is locked into the Royals’ leadoff spot and has been one of the few glimmers of offensive hope for the team. His .370 OBP is thanks in part to a 9% walk rate and once on base has the speed to add points up through stolen bases (16 on the season). He is worse against righty pitching over the last couple of seasons, but Keller is the kind of arm where you can withstand a bump down in platoon multipliers. We aren’t looking at an overwhelming over/under (9) but that’s mostly because the offenses aren’t all that prolific. That means we are getting them on the cheaper side of things.

Strongly consider Dee Gordon hitting leadoff in Coors against the righty. He’s still reasonably priced on both sites.

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Shortstop

Elvis AndrusElvis Andrus FD 3000 DK 4100
Opponent - BAL (Alex Cobb) Park - BAL
FD - 10.57 DK - 8.16
There’s almost no shortage of subpar pitching going on Friday, making for a lot of different ways to stack offenses. Alex Cobb is one of those garbage-y arms taking the mound and will have to do so in one of the better hitter’s parks in baseball. We should see Andrus in the two-hole for the Rangers as they stagger a righty bat in between Choo and Mazara. Over the last two seasons, the Texas shortstop is right around platoon neutral with a .785 OPS and .336 wOBA against righties. These numbers won’t wow you in a vacuum, but are well above average for a shortstop and unlike most of the rest of the position, Andrus gets a bump in plate appearance expectation hitting so high in the lineup. Cobb has a low strikeout rate (15%) but is able to mitigate it some (but not really) with a 50% groundball rate. It’s good for a high 4’s xFIP and the Rangers come in with an implied run line right around five (one of the highest on the day).

Xander BogaertsXander Bogaerts FD 4000 DK 5100
Opponent - TOR (Ryan Borucki) Park - TOR
FD - 11.84 DK - 9.11
He's getting expensive, but paying for a shortstop could be the way to go on Friday at a weaker position. It helps, again, that we won't be paying all that much for pitching so ponying up at a premium for a shortstop, which typically features only around 4-5 guys who can actually hit, should be the play. Bogaerts is actually better against righties over the last two seasons, so we aren't necessarily getting him in a tremendous platoon advantage here, but the Red Sox do open with a 5.8 implied run line (one of the highest on the day). He's putting together one of the better shortstop seasons with a .875 OPS, 14 home runs, and 57 RBIs. It helps hitting in a fantastic offense and he should slot into the cleanup role on Friday.

 

Third Base

Matt CarpenterMatt Carpenter FD 3300 DK 4700
Opponent - CIN (Matt Harvey) Park - STL
FD - 12.09 DK - 9.02
April was a brutal month for Carpenter, but since then he’s been lights out on the season with an OPS over .950 for each of the following months. He continues as one of the most patient hitters in the game, averaging a 15% walk rate this year helping him to a .372 OBP. He’s better in the righty split with a .379 wOBA and 137 wRC+ in his last 768 plate appearances. Meanwhile, Matt Harvey’s been blown up by lefties this season, allowing a 42% hard contact rate and .356 wOBA. That’s a nice intersection of statistics, putting Carpenter in play as one of the best cash game plays out there. It helps if we aren’t spending up all that much on pitching to fit his bat and if you are fading Coors he becomes almost a must play in his price tier.

Kyle SeagerKyle Seager FD 3400 DK 4500
Opponent - COL (Antonio Senzatela) Park - COL
FD - 11.62 DK - 8.78
There aren’t a ton of value bats in the Seattle lineup heading into their trip to Coors, but we might be able to get away with something here running Seager. He’s firmly in the middle tier of pricing with the Mariners getting a sizeable bump in their implied run line compared to their averages. That’s to be figured with Coors playing so well in the power department (understatement). Seager’s price is also lower simply because he hasn’t been all that good this season. But a .700 OPS can get it done in this ballpark.

Consider Mike Moustakas against James Shields

 

Outfield

Charlie BlackmonCharlie Blackmon FD 4200 DK 5500
Opponent - SEA (Christian Bergman) Park - COL
FD - 15.11 DK - 11.46
Carlos GonzalezCarlos Gonzalez FD 3400 DK 4700
Opponent - SEA (Christian Bergman) Park - COL
FD - 11.87 DK - 9
There's no early line on the game as Vegas waited for the Mariners to put out their starting pitcher, but it looks like righty Christian Bergman will take the mound. That's good news for Blackmon and Cargo who stand to hit second and fourth in the lineup in a game that will likely have the highest over/under on the day. Over the last two seasons, Blackmon has been one of the very best in the league against righties (the park has a lot to do with it) with a .974 OPS, .404 wOBA, and 136 wRC+. His numbers are down a little it this season from last, with the OPS sitting only in the mid .800's but he's still in a tremendous spot on Friday with the season-long dip in stats keeping his price down across the board.

The same can be said of Gonzalez who brings a .788 OPS into this matchup. It continues a second straight season of numbers significantly lower than what we saw just a few years ago from the lefty. But a guy priced in the mid $3K range hitting cleanup in Coors on the better side of his split is a place we will go most times.

Tommy PhamTommy Pham FD 3000 DK 3900
Opponent - CIN (Matt Harvey) Park - STL
FD - 12.7 DK - 9.55
Marcell OzunaMarcell Ozuna FD 2900 DK 3200
Opponent - CIN (Matt Harvey) Park - STL
FD - 11.88 DK - 9.02
I prefer targeting these guys against lefties, but Matt Harvey has been such a punching bag over the last couple of seasons that I’m fine rolling out guys on the wrong side of their platoon splits when they’re priced in the lower middle tier on both sites. Ozuna’s DraftKings price seems almost like a mistake. Sure, this hasn’t been a great season for the guy, but almost all of his issues are explained by a recent run of terrible BABIP (.214 in July) and a season-long Hr/FB dip despite the best hard contact rate of his career (46%). The walks are down some, possibly a result of pressing because of the bad luck on the batted balls, but in general, I see a guy who still has tons of upside for a very low cost. He’ll be a near lock on DraftKings hitting in the middle of the order against a weaker arm.

Meanwhile, Pham came out of the gate on fire to start the season but June and July have been a nightmare for the Cardinals’ number two hitter. Overall, he’s having many of the same issues as Ozuna. The 47% hard contact rate is, by far, the best of his career but the BABIP is 30 points below his career average and the Hr/FB rate is a little lower than what we’ve come to expect. This is a guy who still walks 11% of the time with power (13 home runs) and speed (9 stolen bases) to boost the fantasy floor on a given night. It can be tough rostering guys in *slumps* but baseball is such a long season you need to weather guys on a downturn especially if the numbers suggest regression going forward.

George SpringerGeorge Springer FD 3600 DK 4500
Opponent - DET (Mike Fiers) Park - HOU
FD - 14.44 DK - 10.86
We are still getting such tremendous FanDuel and DraftKings prices because Springer is running off his career averages in two key areas: BABIP and Hr/FB. The .277 BABIP is thirty points lower than his career numbers and the 14% Hr/FB rate is 8% lower as well. That goes a long way to explain why his overall fantasy production is off the mark from what he did in 2017. The walk rate, K rate, and hard contact% are all right around what we’d expect from Springer and I do think we see some regression over the second half of the season. Michael Fiers offers that kind of opportunity as a low-K pitcher who is running hot on ERA. The xFIP is about a run higher this season and Springer hits righties well enough with a .800 OPS over the last two seasons in that split.

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