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Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

08/30/2018
Doug Norrie

Daily Fantasy MLB Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 8/31/18

Football might be right around the corner, but we've still got plenty of baseball action to wet our beaks on for Friday. The Yankees come in as huge home favorites, rookie pitchers take the mound and the Twins and Rangers could put up a lot of runs.

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Pitcher

Luis SeverinoLuis Severino FD 10600 DK 11300
Opponent - DET (Jordan Zimmermann) Park - NYY
FD - 44.08 DK - 24.22
After hitting a six-game rough patch in late July/ early August, Severino bounced back in the last two games with 16 strikeouts in 10.6 innings and only four earned runs. The strikeouts were able to make up for the lack of innings. He didn’t reach six in either start even though the pitch count got into the triple digits. He’s still striking out more than 10 batters per nine (28.2%) and doesn’t allow much in the way of free passes (6% walk rate). BABIP was a big-time issue for the guy during the rough stretch and even two games ago against Toronto. I do think that if/ when that number regresses some in the short term we are still looking at one of the very best pitchers in the game. He has, by far, the best money line win expectation on Friday as a whopping -330 home favorite against the lowly Tigers. Detroit ranks as the worst team in the league against righty pitching this season and doesn’t have much in the way of a bright future there. I think we see Severino as the chalk play at pitcher for Monday.

Zack WheelerZack Wheeler FD 10000 DK 10600
Opponent - SF (Andrew Suarez) Park - SF
FD - 36.55 DK - 18.92
After Severino, things get a little bit weird on the mound. But I think we can track down some upper-middle tier value at pitcher. It’s a shame Wheeler plays for the Mets because on almost any other a team a guy with his numbers would be more than a -110 road favorite against the Giants. But here we are with the Amazins’. He strikes out almost a batter an inning and is averaging more than six innings per start this season thanks in large part to reducing his walk rate. The Giants are trash, ranked as the fourth-worst offense in baseball against righty pitching and Wheeler has the gift of going in one of the best pitcher’s parks in baseball. He’s getting a little pricey for the lack of win expectation but checks every other box on this slate.

Framber ValdezFramber Valdez FD 6200 DK 6900
Opponent - LAA (Jaime Barria) Park - HOU
FD - 30.21 DK - 15.28
Here’s where we walk out on to a limb and hope that s@#$ doesn’t snap in half sending us plummeting to the ground. Valdez is a weird one. One the one hand, I’m not buying the sub-1 ERA we are seeing and that’s not why he’s a pick at all. On the other, the typical metrics we use for solid cash game plays (xFIP, K%, etc) just haven’t been there for the guy in his first nine major league innings. But that innings number is really the key. We don’t have anything close to a sample size to make a determination on his major league innings alone. This is a guy who flashed major strikeout potential in the minors at basically every level and looks like he has some real stuff. Plus, you are getting a very cheap pitcher with one of the best money lines of the day. The Astros are -205 home favorites against the Angels who come in at only 3.45 implied runs. On DraftKings as a SP2, that leaves a lot of wiggle room for the bats. It’s a bit of a stab and I get that, but Valdez does have a lot going for him here.

First Base/Catcher

Matt CarpenterMatt Carpenter FD 4600 DK 5400
Opponent - CIN (Homer Bailey) Park - STL
FD - 13.58 DK - 10.09
There are a lot of different ways to take things on Friday. If you are spending all the way up for pitching then rostering a guy like Carpenter is going to be tough considering just how expensive he’s gotten this year. But if you’re taking any savings at all on the mound then you are going to want to strongly consider rostering this guy. He’ll hit leadoff against Homer Bailey in Great American Ballpark and could be in line for a big game. Bailey can’t strike anyone out (14.8%) and is allowing a 42% hard contact rate. The 6.17 ERA looks worse than the 4.77 xFIP, but it’s all pretty bad. And then we have Carpenter who in his age 32 year is having one of the best seasons of his career. The 34 home runs are a career-high (by far) and he’s still drawing walks 15% of the time. This guy is just one of the best hitters in the game. And he’s priced accordingly. But this is a spot where it could be worth it to pay up.

Joe MauerJoe Mauer FD 2800 DK 4100
Opponent - TEX (Drew Hutchison) Park - TEX
FD - 11.06 DK - 8.48
Get ready to see a lot of Twins in the write-up today. There’s no other way around it at these prices.* Mauer doesn’t jump off the page at you, but he has such a high fantasy floor because of his leadoff spot in the lineup and a 10% walk rate. He gets on base 35% of the time and from a *safety perspective rates out as a cash game play at these prices. He doesn’t have a tremendous amount of upside because of the lack of power or speed, but the plate appearance expectation in a potentially high-run game does make him a strong consideration. And like I said, get ready to see a lot of Twins here.
*Note: there is a way around it, I just don’t want to go that way.

Consider Greg Bird if he’s in the middle of the lineup against Jordan Zimmermann

At catcher on DraftKings, you can think about paying up for Robinson Chirinos against the lefty. It’s a lot to spend on a guy behind the dish, but this is the better of the this guy’s splits. Also, consider guys like Matt Weiters or Yadier Molina

 

Second Base

Lourdes GurrielLourdes Gurriel FD 2500 DK 3900
Opponent - MIA (Dan Straily) Park - MIA
FD - 9.81 DK - 7.57
There are a couple of ways to save at second base on Friday. Gurriel, since coming back from the DL is locked into the two spot (or even leadoff at times) for the Blue Jays. For what it’s worth, he has come back down to earth some going just 2-22 since returning. There was bound to be a little regression on his counting stats considering the BABIP was running a little hot and the Hr/FB ratio wasn’t likely to sustain. But this is still a guy hitting near the top of the lineup and coming very cheap because the production hasn’t been there in the short term. He’s facing Dan Straily who owns a 5.00 xFIP and walks more than four batters per nine. The Blue Jays have some value bats for sure on this slate considering the matchup.

Logan ForsytheLogan Forsythe FD 2300 DK 3000
Opponent - TEX (Drew Hutchison) Park - TEX
FD - 9.9 DK - 7.5
The bad news is facing righties is definitely the worse side of Forsythe’s splits, so we are getting him in something of a reverse platoon here. The good news is everything else about this game. Forsythe is the everyday two-hitter for the Twins after coming over at the trade deadline and is near punt prices on both sites. Considering second base isn’t all that deep of a position, I’m fine getting away from it with some cheap, top of the order guys. The Twins come in with the third-highest opening implied run line on the day at 5.18.

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Shortstop

Elvis AndrusElvis Andrus FD 2800 DK 3800
Opponent - MIN (Stephen Gonsalves) Park - TEX
FD - 12.2 DK - 9.43
Stephen Gonsalves only has six innings in the major leagues, but they’ve been about as bad a six innings as anyone who’s spent their lives making it to the bigs could expect to have. The 11.37 ERA is running bad off the 6.72 xFIP. And yes I get that the sample size is too small for any real judgment, but man. Woof. The Rangers come in with the highest implied run line of the day at 5.82 thanks to the home game in Arlington and a struggling pitcher on the mound. Andrus is platoon neutral over the last couple of seasons with a .763 OPS against lefties. He makes a lot of contact, striking out only 14% of the time in the split with a 7% walk rate. He should hit third or fourth in the lineup on Monday against the lefty and is coming oh-so-very cheap on both sites. I think this is a pretty easy cash game play as long as the Rangers keep the same lineup we usually see against lefties.

Trea TurnerTrea Turner FD 3400 DK 4600
Opponent - MIL (Jhoulys Chacin) Park - WSH
FD - 12.8 DK - 9.98
The Nationals come into this game with a healthy 4.8 implied run line against Jhoulys Chacin whose peripherals leave a lot to be desired. The Brewer righty has a 2.2:1 K:BB rate, walking batters 9% of the time while sporting a 4.48 xFIP. Turner doesn’t flash much in the OPS category (.740 on the season) but makes up for it fantasy-wise by stealing a ton of bags (33 in 2018, 79 over his last 1K plate appearances) and putting in some pop as well (16 home runs). He’s slotted into the Nationals second spot, after Eaton, against righties and I really like the middle-tier FanDuel price. I think I prefer Andrus more for cash games because of the savings you get on both sites. But Turner makes for an interesting pivot and has as much upside as any shortstop in the game.

Strongly consider Jorge Polanco hitting in the middle of the order for the Twins. He’s not that much of an offensive dynamo, but the Twins are projected for a lot of runs and he’s coming around the same salary tier as Andrus.

 

Third Base

Miguel SanoMiguel Sano FD 2400 DK 4100
Opponent - TEX (Drew Hutchison) Park - TEX
FD - 12.69 DK - 9.44
Sano homered yesterday and has five home runs in his last 80 plate appearances, which would put him just off his career per PA homer run pace. So it sure looks like the power is rounding back for the guy after going through an abysmal early part of the season. The issue for Sano is the home runs represent a disproportional amount of his hits (13 total) in that span. That isn’t great. So while you do get the boom from the guy, the bust is always lurking around the edges. He’ll have a chance for success against Drew Hutchison, a big reason the Twins have such a high implied run line. The Texas righty is garbage this season with a 5.60 xFIP thanks to a crazy terrible 1.1:1 K:BB ratio. Sure, it’s only 39 innings this season, but considering so many of them came out of the bullpen, those numbers look even worse. Sano, like Forsythe, is likely to be a chalk play on FanDuel because of the ultra-cheap price point. It’s a little close on DraftKings, but he doesn’t get an extra nod because of the multi-position eligibility there.

Adrian BeltreAdrian Beltre FD 2900 DK 3900
Opponent - MIN (Stephen Gonsalves) Park - TEX
FD - 12.59 DK - 9.63
We could be looking at some higher ownership on Beltre as well considering how cheap he’s coming across the industry and just how many runs the Rangers could put up in this matchup. Beltre is finally showing his age, which is to expected but there have been some luck issues as well in some of his numbers. The 0.0% Hr/FB rate against lefties despite a 43% hard contact rate is an issue. Sure, the ground balls are up a little too much, but there should be something of a power regression coming (right?). This is still a guy with a .848 OPS over the last two seasons against lefty pitching with a 12% walk rate. He’s still taking the free passes this year 9% of the time in that split and I’m still willing to believe there’s some pop in the bat.

 

Outfield

Eddie RosarioEddie Rosario FD 3600 DK 5100
Opponent - TEX (Drew Hutchison) Park - TEX
FD - 13.09 DK - 10
It’s all Twins, all the time on Friday with a realistic chance of just stacking the entire top of the order against Hutchison. Rosario isn’t coming as cheap as his teammates, mostly because he’s spent the season being one of the team’s lone offensive bright spots. Rosario is following his breakout 2017 campaign with a nearly identical 2018. It’s eery how close his numbers are this season to last. He’s just a hair off the home run pace, but the walk and K numbers are the same and he’s got a .813 OPS and 115 wRC+. And with just a little aggressive baserunning to close the season he could be in double digits for stolen bases. Because he’s an everyday player, the price actually stays a little in check because he struggles so much against lefties (.696 OPS over the last two seasons). Against righties, he’s closing in on a .900 OPS and is tough to strike out at only 18%. We are all in on the Twins’ stack for Friday.

Consider Max Kepler right along with the rest of the Twins.

Rhys HoskinsRhys Hoskins FD 3500 DK 4500
Opponent - CHC (Jose Quintana) Park - PHI
FD - 11.97 DK - 8.92
There was a point when Jose Quintana was good, but those days appear well behind him now. The guy used to get by on solid control and a high groundball rate. The former is dissipating and the latter isn’t holding up to the old standards. He’s walking more than four batters per nine and the xFIP is around 4.5. He’s very much an average pitcher at this point. Meanwhile, Hoskins has some terrific numbers against lefties over this first two seasons. For starters, he has a completely nuts 22% walk rate in his first 188 plate appearances against southpaws. I’ve been writing about baseball for a long time and can’t remember seeing a number quite lie that over that many at-bats. The power is there as well and he has a .365 wOBA in that split. He should slot into the two-hole in the lineup and I like him as a one-off.

Strongly consider Roman Quinn if he finds his way to the top of the order again against the lefty.

Giancarlo StantonGiancarlo Stanton FD 4500 DK 5000
Opponent - DET (Jordan Zimmermann) Park - NYY
FD - 16.33 DK - 12.13
Brett GardnerBrett Gardner FD 3600 DK 4300
Opponent - DET (Jordan Zimmermann) Park - NYY
FD - 12.84 DK - 9.83
The Yankees come in at the second-highest implied run line of the slate (5.7) in a matchup against Jordan Zimmermann. The latter was striking out batters at a decent clip earlier in the season but is starting to regress back to his personal mean in that department (and some of the K numbers looked better because of an 11 strikeout game in early July). The Yankees’ 1-2 hitters in Gardner and Stanton could be in line for an above-average amount of plate appearances in a high-scoring game with both guys priced a bit below expectation. I’m not over-the-moon about these plays but wanted to give a nod to the Yankees who have such a great projection going in.

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