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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. In the space below I will break down the best and worst 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). As a result these recommendations often focus on value. By reading the notes below you'll be able to identify not only value options but potential weak pitchers to exploit. If a player is not touched on, it doesn't mean they're not a good play. We have limited space and assessing value across all the sites is a bit subjective. Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions regarding daily fantasy baseball.
Weather: Weather looks favorable for a day of delay free baseball.
Miguel Montero (ARZ) - I'm a little concerned Montero won't be in the lineup on Sunday because he's started both games of the series so far but if he is in the lineup Montero is one of the stronger values on Sunday. As we've noted in this space before Montero has been good against RHP in his career (.277/.358/.458) and Chase Field is a strong hitting environment. Kyle Kendrick has made nice strides in recent years but he still struggles against LHB's. He's yielded a .339 wOBA and 1.22 HR/9 to lefties since 2010. Montero's typically an above average hitting option at the catcher position but the slow start to the season has his price way down on most sites. Take advantage while you can against average RHP in his home park.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (BOS) - Brandon Morrow was scratched from Sunday's start with a stiff neck and the Jays are giving the start to Chad Jenkins. Jenkins is a 26 year old who has stalled out at AA posting a 4.96 ERA there last year. He's probably the least qualified SP going tomorrow, making the Red Sox an attractive stacking option. Saltalamacchia has posted a .783 OPS in his career against RHP and this year is hitting .297/.358/.554 against RHP with an insane .471 wOBA against RHP at home. It's a small sample size, but the matchup with Jenkins should be enough to get daily gamers excited about utilizing Salty on Sunday.
Jason Castro (HOU) - One of our favorites against RHP, Jason Castro, gets another favorable matchup on Sunday. Nick Tepesch has allowed a .374 wOBA and 1.69 HR/9 to LHB's in his brief major league career. Castro has hit .270/.349/.419 against RHP in his career and typically hits in the #3 hole against the RHP for the Astros. You'll have to shop around as his price varies across the sites but he's a strong play if you can find him priced as a below average catching option.
Derek Norris (OAK) - Joe Saunders is taking the hill for the Mariners on Sunday and he's been a favorite of the Fix all year long. Saunders allows a .363 wOBA and 1.33 HR/9 to RHB's over the last three years. For his career Derek Norris has just been OK against LHP (.685 OPS) but he's been pretty good against it this year (.250/.386/.417, good for a .359 wOBA. Norris' strong 18% BB% matches up well with Saunders 8% BB rate against RHB's and suggests Norris should be good for at least one trip on base. His .167 ISO against lefties this year also suggests there's power potential in the matchup. For a minimal price, Norris is a nice "punt" option at the catcher position.
I think Carlos Santana is probably the top play against very hittable Rick Porcello with the Indians offense red hot. Yadier Molina is a good play against LHP as the Cardinals lineup tends to produce stronger results against lefties and Jorge de la Rosa has significant issues with RHB's. Wilin Rosario is so dominate against LHP that he deserves a mention but the lefty he gets is a GB specialist negating a lot of Rosario's best skill, his power. I probably won't have him on Sunday.
Paul Konerko (CHW) - Konerko has hit .296/.382/.551in his career against LHP (.395 wOBA) and even while his skills have diminished as he gets into his late 30's, he's remained above average against LHP - 2011 - .361 wOBA, 2012- .363 wOBA, 2013 - .366 wOBA. CJ Wilson has allowed a .306 wOBA to RHB's over the last three years, but the numbers have been steadily declining (.316 wOBA last year, .322 wOBA this year) as he's struggling to command the zone. Konerko still hits in the middle of the lineup against a lineup that should be better against LHP because of all their RHB's. Priced as a below average option on Sunday, I think Konerko is a fine value play.
Nate Freiman (OAK) - Freiman is pretty much only on the A's roster to play against LHP. So far he's rewarded the front office's confidence by hitting .346/.419/.538 with a solid 0.80 EYE. Joe Saunders struggles against RHB's (.363 wOBA allowed) so if you want to save money at the 1B position, Freiman is an excellent value.
Mitch Moreland (TEX) - Moreland gets a matchup with Jordan Lyles who has allowed 1.49 HR/9 in his major league career to LHB's along with a .358 wOBA. Moreland has been above average in his career against RHP (.346 wOBA) and much of his .273/.336/.474 line is power driven which plays nicely against Lyles HR issues.
If you're spending at 1B on Sunday you'll want to hone in one of two guys either Joey Votto who gets a matchup with Wily Peralta (.351 wOBA allowed to LHB's) or David Ortiz who gets the aforementioned AA starter Chad Jenkins. Other top options include Prince Fielder against Zach McAllister who allows 1.24 HR/9 to LHB's; Mike Napoli who hits RHP very well and also gets to face Chad Jenkins. Lance Berkman is also a solid 1B play against Jordan Lyles HR issues. Lance has been drastically better against RHP the last few years. Allen Craig is also very strong against LHP. His price is now fair across most sites, but he's an elite offensive option against a shaky LHP at home.
Robinson Cano (NYY) - Cano gets to face Ervin Santana who has allowed 1.34 HR/9 to RHB's along with a .337 wOBA over the last three years. Cano is obviously more dangerous at home against RHP than he is on the road but his career .388 wOBA against RHP on the road is nothing to sneeze at. He also has the benefit of some nice history against Santana for those who like BvP stuff. He's hit .324/.350/.784 against Santana with 7 XBH's (5 HR's) in 37 AB's.
Dustin Pedroia (BOS) - Pedroia is 1B to Cano's 1A on Wednesday. We don't have much to evaluate Chad Jenkins on because he's pitched infrequently above AA but his minor league numbers suggest he's not major league ready. Pedroia is better against lefties but has a .371 wOBA against RHP's at home in his career. He's always a good play at Fenway and on sites he's considerably cheaper than Cano I'll likely be playing him.
Honestly 2B is a position on Wednesday I think you must have one of these two players. As a result we're not going to spend much time on the "value plays" at 2B.
Ryan Roberts (TB) - Roberts typically appears in this section for us against LHP. For his career he's hit .267/.345/.448 against lefties (.345 wOBA) and on many sites he's priced as a reserve. The Rays are smart about exploiting splits which allows Roberts to hit in the middle of the order when he does play and on Sunday he'll face Eric Stults who has given up a .329 wOBA to RHB's over the last three years.
Jed Lowrie (OAK) - After his torrid start Lowrie's production has slowed down and his price has fallen accordingly. We've noted throughout the season Lowrie is a bit better in his career against LHP (.370 wOBA) than RHP (.312 wOBA) so any time you can get him in against a LHP is a great chance for value. On Sunday he gets to face one of the worst lefties in the league, Joe Saunders, who allows a .363 wOBA to RHB's over the last three years. There isn't a better value option at the SS position than Lowrie on Sunday.
Stephen Drew (BOS) - All the same things we've said about BOS hitters and the matchup with Chad Jenkins applies to Drew. On many sites where you can't fully stack it comes down to a question of if you want one of your limited # of Red Sox bats going to Drew. For me, he probably won't make that cut as I'll focus on their better overall hitters.
I also like Asdrubal Cabrera quite a bit but most places his price has surged with his recent streak. If you can get him at the price of an average SS option he's a great play. Rick Porcello struggles against LHB's and the Indians offense should be able to hit him well.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) - Tulo gets to face a LHP which is usually a good thing for him but after playing consecutive days he could also be in-line for another day off. Jaime Garcia also significantly limits power against RHB's by rolling a 56% GB Rate. Tulo is never a "bad" play against LHP, you'll just have to confirm he's in the lineup.
Miguel Cabrera (DET) - Zach McAllister is pretty homer-prone (1.18 HR/9 to RHB's) and he doesn't have any severe splits (.328 wOBA against RHB's), so Cabrera is a fine play.
Evan Longoria (TB) - Longoria just crushes LHP at home (career .421 wOBA) and he gets a favorable matchup against Eric Stults (.329 wOBA allowed to RHB's over the last three years). Longo has been swinging it really well of late and is worthy of a high price if you're spending at the position.
David Freese (STL) - Freese is starting to look a bit more like himself here in May (.308/.357/.346) although the power continues to lag. He's always been much better against LHP (.362 wOBA vs. LHP, .344 wOBA vs. RHP) and in particular he's been his best at home against lefties (.378 wOBA). Jorge de la Rosa walks more than 9% of the RHB's he's faced over the last three years and given up a .332 wOBA overall to righties. Freese should hit 5th or 6th in the Cardinals lineup which will provide some extra RBI opportunities and at home on a discounted price; he remains a nice value.
Josh Donaldson (OAK) - We've hammered home Joe Saunders issues against RHB's so let's focus on the positives for Donaldson. Donaldson has been really good lefties in his career (.846 OPS, .365 wOBA) and this year he's hit .368/.455/.737 with a 1.20 EYE in 44 PA's. He's been dominant and the matchup couldn't be much better. He's also gone 6-11 with 2 2B's against Saunders in his career for those who like the BvP data.
Trevor Plouffe and Eric Chavez are also good splits advantage plays on Sunday that can be found at some nice values across sites.
Yoenis Cespedes (OAK) - Surprised to see an Oakland A here? Probably not. Cespedes hasn't had wild splits against LHP in his career but a .372 wOBA and prodigious power (.231 ISO) should play very nicely against Joe Saunders and his 1.33 HR/9 allowed to RHB's. Cespedes is one of the best OFs to spend on.
Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS) - Ellsbury has been slumping a bit so you might be able to get him at a mild discount on sites that price adjust rapidly. Ellsbury has posted a .366 wOBA at home against RHP in his career and the wOBA probably under-represents some of Ellsbury's fantasy value because of the great SB potential. Against Chad Jenkins and his career 4.55 ERA and 1.37 WHIP at AA, Ellsbury is a tremendous OF option on Sunday.
Jay Bruce (CIN) - Bruce produced yesterday for Mike and I'm hoping we can make it two days in a row for a streaky CIN hitter. Bruce gets Wily Peralta who has allowed a .351 wOBA to LHB's in his career. Bruce has posted a .395 wOBA in his career at home against RHP.
David Murphy (TEX) - Murphy homered in a pinch-hitting appearance on Friday night and I'm desperately hoping that gets him going against RHP. For his career he's crushed RHP to the tune of .286/.353/.477 (.358 wOBA) but this year he's hit just .157/.224/.329 against RHP. It's been really strange but perhaps Jordan Lyles is the right matchup to get Murphy going. Lyles has allowed 1.5 HR/9 to LHB's in his career as they've hit .275/.349/.487 against him. Murphy is priced so cheaply for his career numbers that he'll continue to find himself in this space against bad RHP's.
Andre Ethier (LAD) - Ethier has always destroyed RHP (.309/.386/.520) and on Sunday he'll face Tom Koehler who outside of his close friends and family is commonly known around the league as "WHO?" Koehler has under 25 major league innings under his belt and lefties have hit .286/.474/.429 with a whopping 26.3% BB%. Koehler has struggled commanding the zone against lefties and Ethier is a very patient hitter against RHP. He's an excellent value again coming off of a 4-hit night on Saturday.
Other Potential Value Plays: Jason Kubel (ARZ), Melky Cabrera (TOR), Leonys Martin (TEX), Trevor Crowe (HOU), BJ Upton (ATL), Dayan Viciedo (CHW), Domonic Brown (PHI), Andy Dirks (DET), Michael Brantley (CLE), Daniel Nava (BOS), Norichika Aoki (MIL)
Under-priced Star OF's to Target: Matt Kemp (LAD), Jose Bautista (TOR), Josh Willingham (MIN), Nelson Cruz (TEX), Shane Victorino (BOS), Austin Jackson (DET), Michael Bourn (CLE)
Additional Stars to Spend on: Mike Trout (LAA), Shin Soo Choo (CIN), Bryce Harper (WSH)
Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) - Most sites continue to price Kuroda as a slightly above average SP and while his lack of elite K potential might keep him in that threshold for daily gamers, he's a true #2 SP in MLB. Kuroda sports a 2.30 ERA and 3.34 FIP and on Sunday won't have to worry about the short porch in RF at Yankee Stadium. He gets to face a Royals lineup that is 25th in baseball in wOBA against RHP and specifically struggles to generate power with just a .132 ISO. Kuroda probably won't rack up a ton of strikeouts as the Royals make a ton of contact but he should pitch deep into the game on Sunday. He's yet to give up more than 3 ER's in a start this year and is one of the safer above average starters out there.
Bronson Arroyo (CIN) - Typically we use this space to pick on LHB's against Bronson Arroyo but against a Brewers lineup that sports just 1 left-handed regular we're going to highlight Arroyo as a value SP on Sunday. He's held opposing RHB's to just a .284 wOBA over the last three years and the Brewers lineup is loaded with righties. He's handled Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Gomez down pretty well in his career and most of the Brewers hit LHP way better than RHP. As a 2nd or 3rd starter, Arroyo is someone that can be plugged in for some salary relief on Sunday.
Kris Medlen (ATL) - Medlen's price is way down to start the season and deservedly so. He's failed to recreate the elite peripherals he posted last year as his GB Rate is down to just 41% and he's striking fewer batters out while walking more. His xFIP has jumped from 2.97 to 4.23 which suggests he should no longer be considered an elite option. However, he gets a favorable pitching environment for all those extra fly balls as SF is a great place to pitch and he gets a Giants offense that is a bit better against LHP than RHP. Buster Posey also gets some Sundays off which could make the matchup dramatically better. In a low run-scoring environment I think Medlen is an appropriate play on sites that are no longer pricing him as an elite SP.
Roberto Hernandez (TB) - Last year the Rays rebuilt relief pitcher Fernando Rodney which left me perplexed trying to evaluate a player that looked nothing like his career history and this year it looks like Roberto Hernandez is an early candidate for the same experience. Hernandez all the sudden is striking out batters at a 23% clip (14% career) and it's stemming from a huge jump in his swinging strike rate (9.7%, career 7.9%). It's only been 36 2/3 innings so far but Hernandez has 7 strikeouts in 4 of his 6 starts and has recorded more than a strikeout per inning. The Padres rank 21st in wOBA against RHP and strike out in 22% of their plate appearances. In a strong pitching environment at the Trop, Hernandez has suddenly gone from a pitcher we like to pick on to one what we might consider a value play.
If you're a gambler Nick Tepesch is a viable 2nd or 3rd SP option for teams chasing salary relief. The league is starting to figure him out but perhaps against the AAA Astros lineup Tepesch can squeeze out another quality outing. I also like Wei Yen Chen against a lefty-heavy Minnesota offense. Chris Capuano and Jaime Garcia are also nice high risk/high reward options. Gio Gonzalez is also a fine start at home against a weak Cubs lineup. You just have to find the right price on him.
Matt Harvey (NYM) - The Pirates have put a lot of runs on the board in the first two games of the series but I wouldn't expect that to be the case on Sunday. Harvey has allowed 1 ER or less in 6 of his 7 starts and has at least 7 strikeouts in 6 of his 7 starts as well. The Pirates have been top 10 against RHP this year but are still striking out in 22% of their plate appearances against righties. Harvey should continue to dominate and is the SP I'd be most comfortable spending on for Sunday's games.