Before we get into today's recommendations, it is important to remind everyone to understand your scoring format and the pricing of the individual players on the site you're playing. These vary from site to site and all daily sites price their players differently, which could make someone a must start on one site but not another. It is also important to double check starting lineups as news often breaks after this column is written. In the space below I will break down the best plays by position and make notes as to which type of formats to utilize players. If you are new to the daily fantasy baseball scene, there are daily fantasy websites which offer one day contests. These contests are mostly salary cap games where you can take any players you want as long as you stay under the cap and meet the positional requirements and all are points-based (not roto). Please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com if you have any further questions regarding daily fantasy baseball.
Important Note: There is a game at 6:35 (Houston at Boston) tonight, which some sites are counting (and thus have a 6:35 roster lock time) and others are not (and thus have the normal 7:05 start time). More sites seemed to take the latter route, so I did not include Boston and Houston guys in my write ups.
Weather Note: At the moment, none of the evening games appear to be in danger of being postponed.
Twitter: If you can, it is a good idea to follow both me (https://twitter.com/leonem4444) and Drew (https://twitter.com/DrewDinkmeyer) on Twitter. We often post updated thoughts as lineup and weather information becomes known.
Joe Mauer (MIN) - Pricing aside, I think Mauer is the top C play today. He feasts off of RHP, posting a .333 BA since 2011 and .386 wOBA. He faces off against Nick Tepesch who is off to a really solid start, but I'm not completely sold on him yet. One of Tepesch's best skills has been his high GB rate, but that shouldn't deter Mauer too much whose .851 OPS against GB pitchers is pretty much in line with his career .874 OPS.
Wilin Rosario (COL) - Given Rosario's upside, he appeared underpriced to me on the sites I checked. No, it's not a Coors start for Rosario, but he is hitting in hitter friendly Chase Field. Normally I like Rosario at home against LHP, but with his low price and not a lot of catcher values sticking out to me, it makes sense to gamble on Rosario's upside. While Cahill is a heavy GB pitcher, when batters are able to elevate the ball against him they are successful given Cahill's 15.5 HR/FB rate allowed to RHB since 2010.
Welington Castillo (CHC) - One strategy today may be to save money on catcher. If you choose to do that, take a look at Castillo who faces off against Kevin Slowey. Slowey's .340 wOBA allowed to RHB is the worst of any starting pitcher in action today. I'm not enamored with Castillo's skill set, but he should be hitting 6th tonight against a pitcher with one of the higher probabilities of having a disaster start. Given Slowey's skill set, Castillo's likely RBI opportunities and Castillo's price on most sites, this is an acceptable cheap play.
Another cheap play that comes with some high upside is Tyler Flowers who is at home (where RH power is enhanced) facing Jeremy Hellickson who gives up 1.31 HR/9 on the road for his career. Matt Wieters seems adequately priced going against a struggling Jarrod Parker. I don't love the matchup, but if you can't pay up for Mauer and have the cap room, it's tough to argue with him.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) - Last week Goldschmidt turned in a disappointing performance in Coors against Jorge de la Rosa, but I think he gets some revenge tonight. Goldschmidt for his career has a .979 OPS against southpaws with a huge .280 ISO. Meanwhile, de la Rosa allows a .329 wOBA to RHB and a 13.6 HR/FB% which could mean big things for Goldschmidt's power. De la Rosa is off to a solid start, but there are signs that could come to an end quickly. He has a low GB rate (39.7%) which is dangerous, and his low ERA is being driven by unsustainable marks in LOB% and BABIP.
Best Value Play
Adam LaRoche (WAS) - LaRoche is just way too cheap for a LHB going up against Bronson Arroyo who has allowed a .364 wOBA and whopping 1.82 HR/9 to LHB since 2010. Take advantage of this low price and strong matchup which make LaRoche my top value play even though the batters listed below may be more skilled.
Other Value Plays
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) - I expect opposing pitcher Kevin Slowey to suffer from some regression soon (.288 BABIP, 91.9 LOB%, 6.9 HR/FB%), and that along with Slowey's FB tendencies (career 47.6 FB rate) makes Rizzo a high upside play.
Paul Konerko (CHW) - I talked about Hellickson's propensity to give up long balls on the road already, but his overall game also suffers with his road FIP being 4.99 (a full run higher than at home). An underpriced Konerko in his hitting favorable home park should be in position to take advantage of Hellickson's road woes. Consider that Konerko leads all White Sox RHB since 2011 with both a .376 wOBA and .207 ISO against RHB.
Kendrys Morales (SEA) - Garrett Richards is a very favorable matchup for any LHB (.365 wOBA allowed, 24.4 LD rate, 13.9 HR/FB rate). Morales has a solid .340 wOBA against RHP in his last 511 PA's.
Adam Dunn (CHW) - This is a high upside cheap play as Dunn (.263 ISO home versus RHP in 2012, .190 ISO home versus RHP in 2011) faces off against Jeremy Hellickson who has yielded 1.63 HR/9 on the road to LHB in his career.
Ian Kinsler (TEX) - Vance Worley against the Texas Rangers is, on paper, one of the biggest mismatches of the day. As a result, it's easy for me to make Rangers' leadoff Kinsler my top play at 2B. I personally might not be willing to pay Kinsler's price tag with him on the road and against a RHP, but if you have the cap room he's the best 2B on the day.
Ben Zobrist (TB) - Despite facing a tough pitcher in Chris Sale, Zobrist is almost always a solid value play when he's moderately priced and matched up against a LHP. He has a .380 wOBA against LHP since 2011 which is really good, and Sale is at least human against RHB (3.85 FIP). Throw in a much better hitting park than his home park, and I like Zobrist at his tag on most sites today.
Dustin Ackley (SEA) - We've been listing Ackley in this space a lot over the past week for a few reasons. First of all, we feel he's going to be better than he's shown so far this season and last year. Secondly, his price has been really low due to the slow start. Thirdly, he has had some solid matchups. Ackley has started to turn it on a bit with hits in 5 straight, including two 3-hit games. However, his price is still really low for another favorable matchup. As mentioned before, Garrett Richards struggles against LHB (.365 wOBA allowed), and Richards' one strength (getting ground balls) is actually good for Ackley as he has a career .763 OPS against GB pitchers, much higher than his overall career OPS of .663.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) - Tulo, in my opinion, is just so far ahead in terms of fantasy value than the next best SS that I'll have him as the top SS play almost any day unless it's a real poor matchup. Today in Arizona against Trevor Cahill does not qualify as a real poor matchup, so if you have the room get Tulo in.
Starlin Castro (CHC) - This value play is a combination of 1-me continuing to hate on Kevin Slowey, 2-Castro being the 2nd best fantasy SS overall rest of season and 3-Castro being moderately priced.
Elvis Andrus (TEX) - Elvis Andrus has a pretty decent .347 OBP against RHP since 2011 (third on the Rangers), which matches up well against Vance Worley who has allowed a .339 OBP to RHB - the worst of any pitcher in action today against RHB. With the Rangers likely one of the higher scoring teams on the day, I think Andrus hitting out of the two hole is a safe choice for positive points on most sites.
Cliff Pennington (ARZ) - Cliff Pennington is not very good, but if you want to take a super cheap SS you might as well make it a guy in the game with the highest over/under on the night (9). Arizona is a positive hitting environment and de la Rosa struggles against RHB so this is not a throwaway, but I'll still likely pay for someone with a bit more individual skill.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) - It's no secret by now that I'm not a big fan of Vance Worley in his matchup against the Rangers, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that Beltre (.250 ISO against RHP since 2010) is my top 3B play of the day. The next closest guy is Evan Longoria who I do like facing a LHP in US Cellular Field, but if you had to pick between the guy facing Worley or the one facing Sale, who would you take?
Best Value Play
Martin Prado (ARZ) - As I said before, I think we start to see some regression hitting de la Rosa, and even besides that de la Rosa in ARZ is a good matchup for RHB. I think that makes Prado a safe bet to score positive points today as he has a .286 BA against LHP since 2011 to go with a double digit walk rate and a K rate under 10%. He will likely be hitting second in the lineup tonight.
Other Value Plays
Kyle Seager (SEA) - Seager's had a few good games this week, so I like him better on sites where price changes are a bit more delayed and he's still cheap. He's got a good matchup against Garrett Richards whose troubles against LHB I've already documented. For his career, Seager is way better against RHP (.342 wOBA) than he is against RHP (.281 wOBA).
Conor Gillaspie (CHW) - It's probably dangerous to take too many White Sox against Hellickson, but I would definitely try to fit in two or three. Gillaspie is pretty cheap on most sites and has handled RHP well so far in his career, although in an extremely small sample size (78 at bats). He will likely be hitting 6th tonight.
Bryce Harper (WAS) - I have a tough time, if I had to pick just one guy, taking anyone over Bryce Harper and his power going up against Bronson Arroyo and his 1.82 HR/9 allowed to LHB since 2010.
Best Value Play
Cody Ross (ARZ) - Ross is really underpriced on most sites as he started off the year injured and has been relatively quiet since returning the lineup. Given that, I think he is almost a must play at home against a LHP (Jorge de la Rosa). Since 2011 Ross has an .873 OPS, .370 wOBA and .245 ISO against LHP, and this is nothing new given that his career marks in those categories against LHP respectively are .926, .390 and .288.
Josh Hamilton (LAA) - I haven't mentioned any Angels up to this point primarily due to their prices. Hamilton seems the most reasonably priced of the bunch and most likely to take advantage of opposing pitcher Brandon Maurer. Maurer has been better lately, but in a limited sample LHB have really owned him (.469 wOBA, 3 HR/9). Hamilton since 2011 has a .920 OPS and .265 ISO against RHP.
Vernon Wells (NYY) - Don't call me lazy but I'm pretty much copying and pasting the same blurb I wrote about Wells last time he faced Buehrle (he homered in that game) as the thought process has not changed. Wells' overall offensive value has been reduced dramatically the past couple of seasons but he still hits for power especially against LHP. He has looked comfortable at the plate so far this season (5 HR) and is hitting in Yankee Stadium, a park that enhances right handed power (although not as much as left handed power). He is facing a finesse pitcher in Mark Buehrle who has allowed a .327 wOBA to RHB since 2011.
Michael Morse (SEA) - Last time I wrote, Morse let me down big time. However, one of the skills you have to have in daily fantasy is not letting your emotions dictate your picks. Since suggesting Morse the last time I wrote, his price has only dropped. Now he gets a matchup against Garrett Richards who has allowed 1.34 HR/9 to RHB. Morse leads all Mariners with a .371 wOBA and .225 ISP against RHP since 2011.
Jose Bautista (TOR) - Bautista has a tough matchup against Kiroki Kuroda who is really good against RHB. The price is so low (relative to where it normally is) on some sites that Bautista is worth playing. Bautista homered yesterday, and he is in a favorable offensive environment tonight (Yankee Stadium).
Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) - Stanton is off to a dreadfully slow start (0 HR, 3 RBI) and his price on most sites is starting to reflect that. He doesn't have a great matchup at home versus Edwin Jackson, but it's tough not to take the chance on Stanton at his current price regardless of matchup given his .375 wOBA and .268 ISO against RHP.
Other potential value plays depending on price include David Murphy, Alfonso Soriano, Nate Schierholtz, Mark Trumbo, Jayson Werth, Alejandro de Aza and Raul Ibanez.
Additional Note: Do not forget about some of the cheap Tampa Bay splits specialists such as Sean Rodriguez and Ryan Roberts who hit LHP well and are in a ballpark that favors RH power.
Best Value Play
Edwin Jackson (CHC) - This isn't anything you haven't heard from me before. The Marlins have been laughably bad against RHP (.244 wOBA). Today in their big home park, I'm taking Edwin Jackson against them. Jackson has been a little wild this year, but also is posting some great GB and K rates. He's a very safe play.
Other Value Plays
Jarrod Parker (OAK) - There's no doubt Parker has pitched terribly to begin the season (6.17 FIP), but in a home matchup (2.61 ERA here last season) I'm gambling on Parker to turn things around. He's also extremely low priced for someone who has a ZIPS projected rest of season ERA under 4.
Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) - Kuroda is one of the most consistent pitchers in the game, consistently posting high K/BB ratios and solid GB rates. He's only been better so far this year with a higher K rate, 3.17 K/BB ratio and 60.6 GB rate. Those skills won't stay that high, but I like him today as a safe play against a Toronto offense that has been scuffling a bit. Also consider that Kuroda faced the Jays in Toronto his last time out and allowed just 1 ER over 7.1 IP to go with 7 strikeouts.
Brandon Maurer (SEA) - On multiple SP sites I might try to fit in some high priced hitters (Goldschmidt, Harper), and in order to do so I'm going to risk Maurer at home. He is pitching in pitcher friendly Safeco Field and is priced dirt cheap on a lot of sites due to a horrid start. It's definitely risky, but on a site like DraftStreet where you start 3 SP and pricing is tighter, I think he is worth the risk.
Also keep in mind Gio Gonzalez. If you aren't in the camp that is worried about early season velocity reports, than you might want to take Gio who is at home and priced below where he normally is after a couple of rough starts.
Astros/Red Sox Game: If you play on a site that does include the 6:35 Astros-Red Sox game, Clay Buchholz has to be on the short list for top SP of the evening. He's shown an increased K rate so far this season, and that should continue in tonight's game against an Astros team that strikes out a league leading 27.5% of the time against RHP. Almost all of the Boston bats should also be considered as Phil Humber is taking the mound for the Astros. In particular, Humber is bad against LHB so Jacoby Ellsbury has to be considered a top OF play.