Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Doug Norrie

Daily Fantasy MLB Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 8/23/18

It's a very small Thursday in baseball, but that doesn't mean there aren't some close decisions out there. The early slate has a glut of pitching plus a Coors' game, making for some very interesting decisions. And then the evening slate looks, well, not as interesting. So it goes in the world of MLB grinding.
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Max ScherzerMax Scherzer FD 12200 DK 11500
Opponent - PHI (Aaron Nola) Park - WSH
FD - 46.42 DK - 26.1
Man, what an early slate of pitching. There are only four games, and they include Scherzer vs. Nola and deGrom vs. Bumgarner. Plus there’s even David Price hanging out there. It’s something of a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we’d always rather choose between a group of good pitchers. On the other, these aces (for lack of a better term in grouping them all together) do cut into each other a bit because they’re either facing off against each other or have tough matchups. For the sake of ease, let’s just roll the highest projected guy and very best arm of the group. It’s not a cop-out, seeing as how Scherzer is just still head and shoulders above almost any other pitcher in the game at this point. He has the fourth-highest WAR in the majors to go with a 12.06 K/9. With him, you get the best of all worlds because he strikes out a lot of batters and also runs a super low BABIP because of the higher flyball rate. The Phillies made some trade deadline moves to bolster their offense (Asdrubal and Bour) but still rank in the lower third of the league against righties. They are marginally improved, but not dramatically so. I’ll take Max as a -158 home favorite and the Phillies come in with a low 3.1 implied run line.

Madison BumgarnerMadison Bumgarner FD 9000 DK 7500
Opponent - NYM (Jacob deGrom) Park - NYM
FD - 34.68 DK - 18.27
This one is a tougher sell considering the other arms on this slate. But he’s here because of price, especially on DraftKings. There are definite warning signs with Bumgarner’s output this season, combined with some time spent on the DL to start the year. I’m a little worried considering the K rate has dropped significantly and he is walking more batters. The former does seem to be rounding out in the short term after he failed to produce much in the way of K’s right after coming back from injury. But the walks are definitely still there. This is the Mets though, the team ranked dead last against lefty pitching this season (.286 wOBA) who strike out more than 25% of the time in the split. Bumgarner is an underdog because he’s facing deGrom but with the over/under sitting at 6.5 the Mets are still coming in at only 3.5 implied runs. That has to be one of the lowest for a favorite at any time this season.

Look, you can obviously consider Jacob deGrom here as well because the Giants also suck.

Cole HamelsCole Hamels FD 9200 DK 10400
Opponent - CIN (Anthony DeSclafani) Park - CHC
FD - 35.7 DK - 17.72
The Cubs grabbed Hamels at the trade deadline and he’s been worth every bit of the swap so far. In 25 Cubs’ innings, he’s struck out 23 batters (3.8 K:BB rate) and allowed only two earned runs. The matchups haven’t been tough (two against PIT and a KC game) but still, this is a guy who’s getting the job done even pushing into his age 35 season. The Reds, without Joey Votto, don’t pose a tremendous offensive threat (outside of Suarez who crushes lefties) even though they’ve been solid in this split this season. But without their best hitter and outside of the home ballpark, Hamels looks like the cash game play on the evening slate as a -230 home favorite. The big wild card here, as always with the Cubs’ home games, is which way that Wrigley wind is blowing. As of this writing, there’s no over/under on the game because books wait to see where the gusts will take us. Hamels looks like the play as long as we are within a reasonable range of wind.

Very strongly consider Trevor Cahill against the Twins. If the run line in Chicago gets nuts then he’s an acceptable pivot.

First Base/Catcher

Mitch MorelandMitch Moreland FD 3200 DK 4500
Opponent - CLE (Adam Plutko) Park - BOS
FD - 12.58 DK - 9.47
The Red Sox Moreland between the third and fifth spot in the lineup against righties with really either one putting him in play against Plutko on the early slate. The early run of games features so many good arms that picking on the few bad ones will be the name of the game.

Strongly consider Ian Desmond against the lefty in Coors, but with so many good arms it’s going to be tough fitting a bunch of Colorado bats.

At catcher on DraftKings, you are looking at almost surely punting with a guy like James McCann or a cheap White Sox catcher against Matthew Boyd.

Anthony RizzoAnthony Rizzo FD 4100 DK 4700
Opponent - CIN (Anthony DeSclafani) Park - CHC
FD - 13.28 DK - 9.97
Pitching isn’t going to cost anything close to what you are looking at on the early slate, so loading up on some pricier bats should be the way to go here. Rizzo has shuffled around the Cubs’ order depending on matchup and injury issues with other guys, but anywhere from first to fourth has me wanting to play him on Thursday. Rizzo started off the year very slow but has made up for lost time of late. Over the second half of the season, he has an amazing .999 OPS thanks to a .239 ISO and a walk rate of 11%. He still rates out among the best hitters in the game. Anthony DeSclafani comes in as an average pitcher but I’m not worried about it so much here with Rizzo. Like with Hamels, we are waiting on the wind direction in Wrigley, but I’m also not concerned too much outside of extreme inward gusts.

At catcher on DraftKings, consider Willson Contreras even if he’s hitting near the bottom of the lineup. Also keep an eye out for who is catching on the Braves between Kurt Suzuki or Tyler Flowers.


Second Base

Ian KinslerIan Kinsler FD 2600 DK 4200
Opponent - CLE (Adam Plutko) Park - BOS
FD - 10.49 DK - 8
Brock HoltBrock Holt FD 2300 DK 4100
Opponent - CLE (Adam Plutko) Park - BOS
FD - 10.07 DK - 7.79
I’m willing to go either/ or with these two guys depending on where the Red Sox lineup comes in on Thursday. With Devers on the disabled list, Holt has had more opportunity considering he’s something of a utility man at this point. And Kinsler is getting run at second base as well. The two hit 6-7 on Wednesday against Carrasco and the Red Sox could run that lineup back on Thursday considering they put up nine runs. It’s something of a guess, but both are coming very cheap on FanDuel for an offense at a 5.5 implied run line, the second-highest of the slate behind Colorado. They aren’t quite the values on DraftKings but become more palatable if you are able to get away with any kind of savings at SP2. Both are serviceable, if unspectacular, against righty pitching over the last couple of season and what we’d mostly be buying on here is the increased plate expectation because of the potential run-scoring.

Obviously strongly consider DJ Lemahieu who tags lefties and faces Joey Lucchesi in Coors

Jed LowrieJed Lowrie FD 3400 DK 4900
Opponent - MIN (Kohl Stewart) Park - MIN
FD - 11.1 DK - 8.46
Kohl Stewart’s short time in the majors has been, what’s the word, bad. It’s only been seven innings but he’s walked twice as many batters as he’s struck out and it’s not like we can look back at tremendous minor league numbers to make a strong case for the guy. Lowrie got the day off on Wednesday but should be back in the lineup on Thursday in his standard three spot in the lineup. For a switch hitter, Lowrie is better against righties with an .839 OPS over his last 847 plate appearances, an excellent 12% walk rate and is tough to K at only 17%. This is a perfect cash spot to roster him even if the park doesn’t play very well for power.

Consider Ben Zobrist if he’s hitting higher up in the Cubs’ lineup



Tim AndersonTim Anderson FD 3000 DK 4300
Opponent - DET (Matthew Boyd) Park - DET
FD - 10.15 DK - 8.01
We should see Anderson in the leadoff spot against the lefty Boyd on Thursday. The White Sox aren’t projected for much in the way of runs because their offense is pretty bad, but Anderson could fill some needs at shortstop if he gets to hit at the top of the lineup in the much better side of his split. Over the last two seasons, he has a .775 OPS and .328 wOBA against lefties, excellent numbers for a shortstop. He’s actually closing in on a 20/20 season (16 home runs, 24 stolen bases) which makes him fantasy viable even though some of the other real-life baseball stats leave a lot to be desired. Sure, he K’s a lot but getting him in the lower-middle tier in his better platoon against an arm like Boyd makes a ton of sense. Sure, if you roster anyone but the most expensive pitchers, then Trevor Story is probably the play, but the savings you get on Anderson could be worth it here in cash if he’s hitting leadoff again.

Javier BaezJavier Baez FD 3900 DK 4700
Opponent - CIN (Anthony DeSclafani) Park - CHC
FD - 11.16 DK - 8.52
Look, I feel comfortable writing up the Cubs on this slate because there isn’t a pitcher on FanDuel priced at more than Hamels ($9,200 on FD, $10,400 on DK). Those are very low starting points for pitcher and means we will be able to afford a lot in the way of bats. Baez is putting together a career season with a .883 OPS and career-high 25 home runs. Sure, he’s running a little hot on the HR/FB rate, but not to an absurd degree compared to his career averages. And he’s posting his best hard contact rate (37%) while also cutting down on his strikeouts. In his age 25 year he’s starting to mature as a hitter and lot of these numbers look relatively sustainable going forward. For his career, he’s a better hitter against lefties for sure, but I’m not dissuaded from the reverse platoon here against DeSclafani. We could get into a scenario of “How many Cubs are too many Cubs?” but that’s not a crazy concern of mine on the smaller evening slate.


Third Base

Nolan ArenadoNolan Arenado FD 4600 DK 5400
Opponent - SD (Joey Lucchesi) Park - COL
FD - 16.57 DK - 12.49
I’ve been dancing around some of the Rockies on this slate mostly because I don’t think it’s intellectually honest to just recommend the most expensive pitcher and then all of the Colorado bats. The salaries simply don’t work in that scenario. But if you are picking just one guy from the Rockies then Arenado is the way to go. His numbers against lefties over the last couple of seasons are just completely absurd. His .538 wOBA is 67 points higher than the next closest guy (Stanton) which is the same difference between number two and number 26. That’s just how big of a gap this guy has over other batters against southpaws. I’m awestruck. He’s expensive, but it’s almost worth punting other positions (as many as possible) to fit his bat in the lineup. And believe me, I really never talk that way about hitters because the nature of their fantasy scoring is just so damn volatile. Yet here we are with Arenado who crushes this split like few others ever have.

Consider Jeimer Candelario against James Shields

Matt DuffyMatt Duffy FD 2400 DK 3400
Opponent - KC (Danny Duffy) Park - TB
FD - 8.47 DK - 6.59
I don’t always love projecting the eventual Rays’ lineup order, but I do feel safe enough putting Duffy into the two slot against Danny Duffy (no relation - I don’t think, I’m too lazy check). The former is a platoon neutral guy over the last couple of seasons with an OPS ranging just a bit over .700 in both splits. That doesn’t knock your socks off but he’s cheap for a top of the order guy and third base looks fairly grizzly on the evening slate. Danny Duffy has allowed 19 earned runs in his last 23 innings and has always been prone to getting blown the f#$% up. Look, I don’t see Duffy as much more than a guy hitting in the two spot against a weaker arm at a position that doesn’t offer a lot in the way of depth on Thursday. But there’s still a case to play him in cash games because he’s tough to strike out (18% against lefties) and rates out as above average for a guy coming awfully cheap.



Avisail GarciaAvisail Garcia FD 2500 DK 3700
Opponent - DET (Matthew Boyd) Park - DET
FD - 10.11 DK - 7.76
We might have some real issues at OF on the early slate of games. It sure seems like the position is awfully thin and we could be stuck with some difficult decisions. One guy I’m not all that worried about here is Garcia who should hit fifth in the White Sox lineup and has tuned up lefty pitching over the last couple of seasons. Sure, some of that is driven by an unsustainable .469 BABIP (crazy regression coming) but he still is much better against lefties and even with a big drop off in production over that split would be well in the value play range against Matt Boyd. The latter owns a 4.67 xFIP on the season and a 4.92 number against righty bats. Garcia has a .415 wOBA and 165 wRC+ in this platoon over the last couple of seasons and building in regression still leaves him as one of the best points per dollar plays on the slate.

Brandon GuyerBrandon Guyer FD 2000 DK 3000
Opponent - BOS (David Price) Park - BOS
FD - 8.62 DK - 6.57
The problem is that after Garcia (and maybe some of the DET bats like Nick Castellanos and Jim Adduci we are left with few options. The good news on Guyer is he should hit around the middle of the lineup against Price and is well above average against lefties over the last couple of seasons. It’s a nice spot to punt away with near-minimum salaries. The bad news is he’s a big-time pinch-hit candidate later in the game which dramatically decreases his plate appearance expectation. It might be a devil’s bargain that you need to go with because of the price and splits.

Jason HeywardJason Heyward FD 2700 DK 3800
Opponent - CIN (Anthony DeSclafani) Park - CHC
FD - 10.18 DK - 7.79
The Cubs seem to now feel comfortable (or out of options) playing Heyward near the top of the lineup and the price is just stupid low for that kind of opportunity in this game. We can fully write off any kind of power potential the guy once had a lifetime ago with the Braves. But he’s tough to strike out (11%), gets on base 34% of the time and should have solid plate appearance expectation with the Cubs’ implied run line. He’s infuriating to watch because I don’t think I’ve ever not seen him ground out to first base. But he’s found other times to at least score runs this year (when I haven’t been watching). With the Cubs likely trotting him out near the top of the lineup I suspect he’s something like a chalk play on both sites.

Nick MartiniNick Martini FD 2700 DK 3800
Opponent - MIN (Kohl Stewart) Park - MIN
FD - 10.37 DK - 7.97
The outfield is another place to save on the evening slate and I do think we see Martini once again in the A’s leadoff slot against the righty. Dude is probably running hot on BABIP, but for a guy with no home runs in 93 plate appearance, he also has an .838 OPS thanks to some doubles and triples. He’s walking 12% of the time, making him something like an ideal leadoff hitter for the A’s and is getting on base more than 40% of the time. Kohl Stewart is struggling with walks since being called up and this is a higher-floor opportunity in cash games for Martini. Because of the lack of power, he doesn’t have tremendous upside, but I’m fine living with that at these prices.


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