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Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

07/18/2019
Chris Durell

DraftKings and FanDuel MLB Picks for Thursday 7/18/19

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Pitchers

Early
Caleb SmithCaleb Smith FD - P 8500 DK - SP 9200
Opponent - SD (Dinelson Lamet) Park - MIA
FD - 35.28 DK - 19.6

The chalk will likely fall with Sale on this small, four-game early slate but I love pivoting off him as he just hasn't been consistent whatsoever this season. Despite the Marlins only sitting as a pickem(-105), Caleb Smith is where I will turn as he has been solid all season allowing two or fewer earned runs in 10 of his 14 starts and comes in with an impressive 3.46 ERA and supporting 4.04 xFIP. What really stands out, however, is the K upside as he has struck out 30.5% of batters and now faces a Padres team that has an 83 wRC+ over the last 14 days and strikes out 24% of the time vs. left0-handed pitching. I will have exposure in all formats.

Also Consider: Chris Sale(BOS) 
Main
Trevor BauerTrevor Bauer FD - P 10800 DK - SP 11000
Opponent - DET (Matthew Boyd) Park - CLE
FD - 40.79 DK - 22.05

On the main slate, I will be directing my attention to the pitcher's duel in Cleveland and siding with the -300 home favorites and Trevor Bauer. He has had his struggles in certain giving up four or more earned runs in eight of his 21 starts but still sits with an above-average 3.65 ERA and 4.43 xFIP so you can only imagine how good he has been in the rest of those games. Like Smith, he also provides big upside with a 27% K rate facing a bottom three offense in the Tigers who also strike out 26% of the time vs. right-handed pitching. The other $10K+ pitchers on both sites have much tougher matchups making Bauer the easy choice in all formats, at least in cash games.

Also Consider: Madison Bumgarner(SF) in the other premier pitching matchup of the night as the Mets have slumped lately scoring just 17 runs(23rd) since the All-Star break 

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Catcher/First Base

Early
Cheslor CuthbertCheslor Cuthbert FD - 1B 2600 DK - 1B/3B 4100
Opponent - CHW (Ross Detwiler) Park - KC
FD - 9.55 DK - 7.31

With Mondesi being placed on the 10-day IL, the Royals have been forced to adjust their starting lineup and it appears Cuthbert has earned a spot in the two-hole which gives him excellent PTS/$, especially on FanDuel. Despite a small sample size this season(37 games/147 plate appearances), he has been consistent with a .296/.320/.444 slash line and has been much better against lefties with a .359 wOBA, 124 wRC+, and 43% hard contact rate. Take the savings at first today and pay up for bats at other positions.

Also Consider: Garrett Cooper(MIA)
Main
Matt OlsonMatt Olson FD 3800 DK 4700
Opponent - MIN (Kyle Gibson) Park - MIN
FD - 11.32 DK - 8.45
Mark CanhaMark Canha FD 3000 DK 4200
Opponent - MIN (Kyle Gibson) Park - MIN
FD - 9.56 DK - 7.24

The A's lineup has two players at the position who stand out and have been red-hot to start the second half. Let's start with Olson who projects out better as he hits third between Chapman and Davis. While he has been known best for his power(20 home runs) he has been very consistent over the last month posting a .300/.364/.656 slash line with nine of those home runs to along with 18 RBI and 17 runs scored. The price has slowly come up all season but if you can fit him, he is in play in all formats. The same can be said for Canha who was best known for his splits vs. lefties but has been terrific against righties this season as well with a .418 wOBA and 168 wRC+. While he hits a bit farther down in the order, he comes at a sizeable discount from Olson on both sits if you need the salary relief and he will likely be low owned in GPP formats as well.

Also Consider: Christian Walker(ARI) especially on FanDuel at just $3K

Second Base

Early
Nicky LopezNicky Lopez FD - 2B 2100 DK - 2B 3100
Opponent - CHW (Ross Detwiler) Park - KC
FD - 7.41 DK - 5.68

Considering how much Red Sox exposure I want and will force on the early slate, I will be looking to save salary anywhere I can. Nicky Lopez provides that salary relief today despite hitting down in the order but the good news is that he has shown reverse splits and has been much better against lefties(.321 wOBA, 98 wRC+) than against righties(.237 wOBA, 42 wRC+). The matchup also lines up for the Royals as they will face Ross Detwiler who has struggled in his return to the bigs giving up 21 hits and eight earned runs over three appearances(two starts).

Also Consider: Cesar Hernandez(PHI) if back in the leadoff spot
Main
Keston HiuraKeston Hiura FD 3600 DK 5000
Opponent - ARI (Merrill Kelly) Park - ARI
FD - 9.84 DK - 7.54

It has been a lightning-fast journey to the major leagues for Hiura to who was drafted 9th overall in the 2017 amateur draft. He hit for average at every level but has really progressed in the power department in 2019 with 19 home runs in Triple-A with a .329/.407/.681 slash line in 57 games. He has carried that success over to the majors and comes into tonight red-hot with hits in seven straight including five multi-hit efforts pushing his average over .320 on the season with an OBP approaching the .400 mark. He is in play in all formats but his best value comes on FanDuel in the mid $3K range.

Also Consider: Jose Altuve(HOU) or Derek Dietrich(CIN)

Shortstop

Early
Xander BogaertsXander Bogaerts FD - SS 4500 DK - SS 5500
Opponent - TOR (Thomas Pannone) Park - BOS
FD - 11.16 DK - 8.52

It is a small slate today but if I am paying up for one team it will be the Red Sox and most definitely Xander Bogaerts. He has been arguably the Red Sox best bat all year and he has been especially good lately posting a wicked .356/.450/.710 slash line since mid-June. Word is the Jays will be starting Thomas Pannone who has been very good at Triple-A but struggled at the major-league level and will have a tough test vs. a Boston team that is really starting to heat up offensively.

Also Consider: Marcus Semien(OAK)
Main
Marcus SemienMarcus Semien FD 3300 DK 4500
Opponent - MIN (Kyle Gibson) Park - MIN
FD - 10.65 DK - 8.18

If you can afford him, Alex Bregman is my top play from a raw points perspective but for cash games, I am going to take the savings and PTS/$ value with Semien. He is coming off an 0 for 4 but has been consistent lately with hits in 11 of his last 14 games which includes multi-hit efforts in four of his last six. He hits at the top of a red-hot Oakland lineup, gets on base at over a .350 clip, and has turned that into 66 runs scored this season(17th overall). All things considered, Semien is a great play in all formats.

Also Consider: Jorge Polanco(MIN) as a low owned GPP pivot sandwiched between Bregman and Semien in pricing on both sites

 

Third Base

Early
Yoan MoncadaYoan Moncada FD - 3B 3700 DK - 3B 4800
Opponent - KC (Brad Keller) Park - KC
FD - 9.49 DK - 7.25

Since coming over in a trade from the Red Sox, Moncada has gotten better each season(3) and is now enjoying a big breakout campaign in 2019. He has raised his batting average almost 70 points over where it was his first two seasons and bringing his strikeout rate below 30% has helped him to an above-average .361 OBP and he is just one home run and 12 RBI away from career-highs there as well. He has had his struggles against southpaws but the good news is that he has been tremendous against righties with a .386 wOBA, 145 wRC+, and 44% hard contact rate. All things considered, he is my top play at the third base position on the early slate.

Also Consider: Rafael Devers(BOS) as a GPP pivot who should be lower owned considering the higher price and lefty/lefty matchup
Main
Yuli GurrielYuli Gurriel FD - 3B 3900 DK - 1B/3B 4700
Opponent - LAA (Matt Harvey) Park - LAA
FD - 8.62 DK - 6.68

The Astros are in a great spot tonight and are my top team to target. They get one of the best matchups on the board facing Matt Harvey who is allowing over a hit per inning and walking over 10% of batters resulting in an ugly 1.49 WHIP and has been punished for it with a 6.88 ERA/5.25 xFIP with 21% HR/FB rate. As for Gurriel, he has been one of the hottest players in the league as he enters tonight with hits in six straight and 17 of his last 19 games with 10 multi-hit efforts and 11 home runs. The price is still in a fair spot on both sites making Gurriel a top play in all formats.

Also Consider: Yandy Diaz(TB) who has crushed lefties(.406 wOBA, 160 wRC+) and faces a homer prone J.A. Happ

Outfield

Early
J.D. MartinezJ.D. Martinez FD - OF 4000 DK - OF 4500
Opponent - TOR (Thomas Pannone) Park - BOS
FD - 13.01 DK - 9.77

I talked about Boston being my favorite team to target with Xander above and of the big bats in the outfield not only is Martinez cheaper than Betts on both sites he also has much better splits vs. left-handed pitching. So far this season in 86 plate appearances against southpaws, he has posted an elite .484 wOBA, 206 wRC+, and .397 ISO(Betts-.283 wOBA, 69 wRC+, .097 ISO). He has hits in just two of his last six games coming into tonight but has been a consistent bat to pay up for all-season with a .291/.366/.522 slash line and has a ton of upside.

Also Consider: Whit Merrifield(KC) 

Main
George SpringerGeorge Springer FD - OF 4500 DK - OF 5500
Opponent - LAA (Matt Harvey) Park - LAA
FD - 10.66 DK - 8.06
Michael BrantleyMichael Brantley FD - OF 3800 DK - OF 4500
Opponent - LAA (Matt Harvey) Park - LAA
FD - 9.56 DK - 7.36

I talked about Matt Harvey's struggles above with Gurriel and the Astros provide us with two top outfield options in different tiers tonight. Right near the top of the salary is George Springer who has picked up right where he left off after missing a month due to injury. In 16 games leading up to last night, he has posted a .284 average and .377 on-base percentage and is currently 1 for 3 with his 21st home run of the season as I write this. If you can make the salary work, he is an elite play in all formats. If you need the savings, roll with Brantley who also has a home run on Wednesday night(13th of the season) and has been very consistent all year with a .324/.381/.501 slash line. What I also like about Brantley's matchup is that Harvey has really struggled against lefties with a .399 wOBA and .577 SLG against with 5.57 xFIP in the split. All the Astros on Thursday night!

Also Consider: Tyler O'Neill(STL) who has been hitting cleanup, been hot with hits in 10 of his last 12 games, and gets a plus matchup against Tanner Roark

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