Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

05/17/2019
James Davis

DraftKings and FanDuel MLB Picks for Saturday 5/18/19

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Pitchers

Madison BumgarnerMadison Bumgarner FD - P 8600 DK - SP 9700
Opponent - ARI (Zack Godley) Park - ARI
FD - 31.82 DK - 16.47
Right now it essentially looks like we'll be deciding whether we want to go cheaper with Bumgarner or more expensive with Stephen Strasburg. We'll get to Stras' case in a second, so let's take a look at Bumgarner. First, the bad news. Getting Bumgarner in Arizona instead of the pitcher friendly Oracle park is less than ideal. It also doesn't help that the Diamondbacks have been, well, awesome against left handed pitching. Their .365 wOBA against lefties is the second best in the majors, and are far from a conventional target for our cash game pitchers. So why bother with Bumgarner? It's mostly a function of his price, the other options, and his own talents. The Mad Bum has been great this season, posting a 9.38 K/9 against a pristine 1.29 BB/9. He's been averaging six innings per start as well. Like I said, this isn't exactly a spot you're dreaming about, but given the lack of great options today it might be our best.

Stephen StrasburgStephen Strasburg FD - P 10800 DK - SP 10700
Opponent - CHC (Jon Lester) Park - WSH
FD - 36.75 DK - 20.11

You won't get any argument from me that Strasburg is the best raw talent pitcher on this slate. He's got a sparkling 2.72 xFIP thanks to his career best 11.84 K/9 this season. He's also rolling with a near career best 51.1% ground-ball rate, and all of these improvements have come without the cost of his control. His ERA is nothing to write home about, but the 2.72 xFIP very much paints the picture that we're looking at peak Stras. Like Bumgarner, though, Strasburg has some match-up issues. The Cubs hold the 6th best wOBA against righties, and are striking out at a below average rate against them. While Strasburg is better than Bumgarner, he's also more expensive. I'll be curious to see where our lineup optimizer lands on this one.

Nick MargeviciusNick Margevicius FD - P 7000 DK - SP 6900
Opponent - PIT (Steven Brault) Park - SD
FD - 28.33 DK - 13.69

Put away your pitchforks! No, Margevicius hasn't been very good so far in his brief major league career. But the 22 year old southpaw has more promise than you might realize. He was basically a 10 K/9 and 1 BB/9 guy in the minors, though those stats are a little inflated by being old for his various stops. Still, the Padres rushed him from high A ball to the majors for a reason, and he does have some promise. Pitching in the best park in the NL for pitchers can't hurt, either. The Pirates have actually been quite bad against left handed pitching this year, with the 3rd lowest wOBA and the 7th highest strikeout rate. I don't think Margevicius is quite ready for the majors, and you could honestly make a case for stacking Pirates here, but if you need a cheap pitcher two on DraftKings he's a very reasonable option.

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Catcher/First Base

Francisco CervelliFrancisco Cervelli FD - C 2200 DK - C 2800
Opponent - SD (Nick Margevicius) Park - SD
FD - 9.12 DK - 6.95

Fresh off of writing up Nick Margevicius, I'm here to give you a batter that's facing him! Cervelli is actually in a great spot here, and you can frankly play him even if you start Margevicius thanks to his absurdly low prices. While Cervelli's best days (such as they were) are behind him, the 33 year old catcher has a career .779 OPS against lefties for his career, and the Pirates have given him the nod toward the top of the lineup against lefties this season. If he's in the top half of the order he makes a great play on sites where you need a catcher.

C.J. CronC.J. Cron FD - 1B 3500 DK - 1B 4100
Opponent - SEA (Wade LeBlanc) Park - SEA
FD - 11.51 DK - 8.74
It's nice when we can get right into Wade LeBlanc this early in an article! The 34 year old Seattle lefty has been sneaking by with subpar stuff for a couple of years, but as with most "crafty" lefties losing even a single tick has made his useless. Through 16 innings this year he has a 5.58 xFIP, and his fly-ball centric profile is perfect to stack against. Cron has actually been almost platoon neutral for his career, but he is about .020 OPS points better against lefties, and LeBlanc is just a bad one. At these prices I'd be happy to play Cron in any format.

Freddie FreemanFreddie Freeman FD - 1B 4200 DK - 1B 5000
Opponent - MIL (Chase Anderson) Park - ATL
FD - 13.03 DK - 9.88

If you want a hair more upside today at a slightly higher price, you can consider Freddie Freeman. The Braves' stud first baseman has only improved on last year's excellent season, adding to each of his triple slash stats thanks to a career best 13% walk-rate. His .220 ISO is not at his peak levels, but he's just such a solid high floor contributor that you can't complain too much. Stacking against Anderson carries moderate risk, as he's basically a league average pitcher with good strike-out stuff, but if Vegas' 4.75 implied total for the Braves is to be believed you can run them anyway.

Also considered: Eric Thames.

Second Base

Ian KinslerIan Kinsler FD - 2B 2400 DK - 2B 3300
Opponent - PIT (Steven Brault) Park - SD
FD - 10.23 DK - 7.9

Brian DozierBrian Dozier FD - 2B 2200 DK - 2B 2800
Opponent - CHC (Jon Lester) Park - WSH
FD - 10.45 DK - 7.87

If this was 5 years ago, these prices would look absolutely ridiculous! Alas, it's this year, and these prices are mostly fair. The two past-their-prime righties are still totally playable here, though. Both Dozier and Kinsler move up in the lineup against lefties, with Kinsler in particular seeing some time in the leadoff spot. He's also got the better match-up against Steven Brault, whose career 5 BB/9 tells you most of what you need to know about how ready he is to be a major league starter. Lester, meanwhile, has actually been solid again this year, so Dozier is more of a big tournament play for me.

Ozzie AlbiesOzzie Albies FD - 2B 3600 DK - 2B 4200
Opponent - MIL (Chase Anderson) Park - ATL
FD - 12.1 DK - 9.36

After signing his critically panned contract, Ozzie Albies has been mostly awful, with a .218 wOBA in the month of May. The Braves have experimented with moving him down in the lineup, and his DFS price has come down as a result. Like I said in Freeman's write-up, Anderson is not exactly the greatest pitcher to stack against either. Still, Albies is probably a higher floor option than Kinsler or Dozier, especially if he bats toward the top of the lineup.

Shortstop

Carlos CorreaCarlos Correa FD - SS 4000 DK - SS 5400
Opponent - BOS (Hector Velazquez) Park - BOS
FD - 12.53 DK - 9.44

Xander BogaertsXander Bogaerts FD - SS 3900 DK - SS 4600
Opponent - HOU (Corbin Martin) Park - BOS
FD - 12.53 DK - 9.56
If we are grasping at straws at second base, we actually have a refreshing number of solid options at short today. I've lumped the two big ticket items together here, since they are both playable for similar reasons. I do think they are different than you might think, though. On the surface both of these guys are playing against relatively new pitchers to the majors, so you should just play either, right? It's not quite so simple. Correa's match-up with Velazquez should actually be quite a bit better, here. While Velazquez has kept an ERA under 4 for his brief major league career, the 30 year old has nearly a 5 xFIP, and wasn't considered much of a prospect. Martin, meanwhile, was a top 50 prospect on FanGraphs and has posted a double-digit K/9 at nearly every stop along the way. I don't mind either, but at similar price points I'd grab Carlos Correa.

Andrelton SimmonsAndrelton Simmons FD - SS 2800 DK - SS 4300
Opponent - KC (Jake Junis) Park - LAA
FD - 10.59 DK - 8.27

Simmons honestly has one of the more bizarre profiles so far this season. Normally you'd see a relatively cheap shortstop with a .300 batting average in the clean-up spot and you'd just run with it, but Simmons requires a little bit more digging. His microscopic 3.4% walkrate is actually comical, and would make him almost unplayable if it weren't for his absurdly good 6.7% K rate. That means he's putting the ball in play 89.9% of the time this season - by far the highest in the majors. Simmons is a very solid high floor option against Jake Junis and his 4.63 xFIP.

Third Base

Josh DonaldsonJosh Donaldson FD - 3B 3400 DK - 3B 4100
Opponent - MIL (Chase Anderson) Park - ATL
FD - 12.91 DK - 9.65
We've gone deep enough on Anderson by now, so we'll give you the deets on Donaldson instead. While Donaldson hasn't tapped into his prime power in some time, he's altered his game in a way that's brought plenty of value to his team. His 15.9% walk rate is a career best, and he's actually been quite a bit better against righties so far this season with an .871 OPS. I'd be happy with Donaldson in any format.

Rafael DeversRafael Devers FD - 3B 3400 DK - 3B 4700
Opponent - HOU (Corbin Martin) Park - BOS
FD - 12.09 DK - 9.2

I know I just got done making a case that Corbin Martin is a capable young pitcher, but that can be true without making Devers a bad play. The sensational young lefty has shown a patient approach that's yielded nearly a .400 OBP this season, and he's been .041 OPS points better against righties for his career. And while Martin is a good young pitcher, Boston still holds an implied run total over 5 here. At these reasonable prices (especially on FanDuel) I'm happy to play Devers.

Also considered: Tommy La Stella.

Outfield

Josh ReddickJosh Reddick FD - OF 2800 DK - OF 4100
Opponent - BOS (Hector Velazquez) Park - BOS
FD - 11.53 DK - 8.82
If I had a nickle for every time I recommended Reddick in a positive platoon situation against a subpar righty, I'd just retire. In Velazquez you've got a guy who has a 4.63 career xFIP as a reliever, and a beastly lineup like the Astros should chase him before the fifth. Reddick's .832 OPS this year is admittedly somewhat BABIP-fueled, but he's also been almost .100 OPS points better against righties for his career, so it sort of comes out in the wash. Reddick is just a solid play regardless of where you want to run him.

Mike TroutMike Trout FD - OF 4700 DK - OF 5500
Opponent - KC (Jake Junis) Park - LAA
FD - 16.34 DK - 12.2

Shohei OhtaniShohei Ohtani FD - OF 3600 DK - OF 4400
Opponent - KC (Jake Junis) Park - LAA
FD - 14.18 DK - 10.7
Angels stack today is actually looking pretty credible! Our system thinks the price might finally be high enough on Mike Trout, but it's seeing Ohtani as a great value. The Angels' two-way star has had a slow-ish start to his first 8 games so far, but the .088 ISO is just not sustainable. His hard contact rate and exit velocity are actually higher than they were last year, and his 7.7% soft contact rate is just godly. In case you can't tell by now, I'm not a believer in Junis, and I'm happy to run as many respectable Angels as I can.

Also considered: All the Red Sox guys, really - Betts, Benintendi, and Martinez are all great plays as well, if expensive.

Some early slate outfielders that I wrote up by accident, as a bonus:

Stephen PiscottyStephen Piscotty FD - OF 3000 DK - OF 3600
Opponent - DET (Matthew Boyd) Park - DET
FD - 11.25 DK - 8.54

Hey, I've been just as impressed by Matthew Boyd's hard start as anyone, but his very human start against the Astros shows that he might not have solved everything just yet. If you're not familiar with Piscotty's work, he's a classic platoon guy who has a 1.091 OPS against lefties so far this year. I don't know if you'd call it safe given the strikeout rates Boyd has posted so far this season, but he's cheap enough that you ought to consider it.

Andrew McCutchenAndrew McCutchen FD - OF 3500 DK - OF 4100
Opponent - COL (Antonio Senzatela) Park - PHI
FD - 13.09 DK - 9.89

I could have listed a few different Phils over the course of this article, so I'll put McCutchen here as sort of a catch-all at the end. The 32 year old former superstar has undoubtedly lost a little bit of his luster, particularly in the homerun department, but the career best 16.4% walk rate is going to keep him relevant for DFS purposes. Senzatela also plays into McCutchen's strengths (he walks a lot of guys) while not pushing the envelope with his weaknesses: the strike-out. Senzatela's good ground ball rate might limit the Phil's upside overall, but I still think they can smack him around a bit here.

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