Today's Featured DFS site is FanDuel. Click HERE to receive a first time deposit bonus
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: Only three games that could have potential weather issues tonight and all of them seem like mild concerns. In Minnesota the forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms throughout the evening with somewhere between 30-50% chance of rain. Also in Atlanta the forecast is calling for isolated thunderstorms with a 30% chance of rain throughout the evening. In St. Louis, the forecast calls for isolated thunderstorms and chances of rain between 30-50%. Between the three, Minnesota's forecast is the most alarming. You'll have to monitor each of these up until game-time.
Buster Posey (SF) - Posey is the pre-eminent catching option on Friday night as he gets a plus matchup with a LHP in Coors Field. Those familiar with our work will remember Posey has been incredible in his career against LHP, posting a .355/.415/.651 line his career (.445 wOBA) and Jorge de la Rosa has allowed 1.21 HR/9 and a .327 wOBA to RHB's over the last three years. Posey is almost always going to be our top play at the Catcher position when he's facing a LHP and the matchup taking place in Coors Field is the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae.
Miguel Montero (ARZ) - Miguel Montero you are exhausting! He's too cheap across the industry for a career .275/.355/.455 hitter against RHP. Montero is hitting just .165/.264/.253 against RHP this year and a big part of the problem appears to be a 50% GB Rate that is really sapping the power (career 40% GB Rate against RHP). Some of those issues should be mitigated on Friday night against Kevin Slowey who allows a 48.6% FB Rate against LHB's over the last three years. Slowey has also surrendered a .346 wOBA to lefties, making him one of the weaker SPs going on Friday against lefties. Montero's been so frustrating for daily players, but his long track record of success against RHP suggests he remains a strong value.
Alex Avila (DET) - Avila remains exceptionally cheap and his track record against RHP (career .264/.362/.447) warrants attention against Nick Tepesch who has yielded a .379 wOBA so far against LHB's. Avila typically hits down in the order but in a game with a projected total of 10.5, run scoring opportunities should be plentiful.
Jason Castro (HOU) - Castro gets a favorable matchup with Jeanmar Gomez who has allowed a .341 wOBA to LHB's over the last three years including 1.29 HR/9. Castro has been competent against RHP hitting .265/.342/.415 in his career and the Astros lineup would seem to matchup well with Gomez. The Astros biggest issue is contact and Gomez strikes out just 13-15% of batters faced in his career. With Castro typically hitting in the middle of the Astros lineup against RHP, I think he's a solid value option at the C position.
Evan Gattis (ATL) - It's a bit of a small sample since we only have this year to evaluate but Evan Gattis has been phenomenal against LHP. He's hit .323/.389/.677 against lefties and he's done it with a 0.80 EYE, demonstrating great plate discipline. Hyun-Jin Ryu has been pretty strong against RHB's so far (.303 wOBA allowed) and the Braves haven't seen him yet, so this is definitely a boom-or-bust play. On a big tournament day, Gattis is an intriguing boom-or-bust value.
Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) - Another favorite of the Fix when taking on LHP, Jonathan Lucroy gets a matchup with Jaime Garcia on Friday night. Garcia is pretty tough on RHB's (.306 wOBA) and pretty darn good at home, but he will be tested against a Brewers offense that is nothing but RHB's. Lucroy has hit .319/.354/.541 in his career against LHP and is under-priced on many sites due to his slow start and most sites not taking into account his splits dominance.
Prince Fielder (DET) - Fielder gets Nick Tepesch (.379 wOBA allowed to LHB's) in Arlington on Friday for what figures to be the top 1B play of the day. Fielder has hit .297/.413/.576 in his career against RHP and his power should play quite nicely in Arlington. Tepesch does do a good job at keeping the ball on the ground against LHB's (51.6% GB Rate) but he's also allowing 2.0 HR/9 to lefties so far. Fielder would be the left-hander most likely to homer in the Tigers lineup. The total on the Tigers-Rangers game is 10.5, which is easily the highest of the day. You'll want to get Tigers and Rangers in your lineups tonight
Chris Davis (BAL) - When you put Jeremy Hellickson on the road he often becomes quite homer prone. In his career he's allowed 1.33 HR/9 on the road and if you focus on just the plate appearances against LHB's it jumps to 1.73 HR/9. He's also allowed a .357 wOBA to LHB's on the road and Chris Davis has posted wOBA's at home against RHP of .388 last year and .376 this year.
Garrett Jones (PIT) - Jones makes the list on consecutive days as he has a friendly matchup Jordan Lyles and his home-run issues. Lyles serves up 1.54 HR/9 to LHB's to go with a .362 wOBA over the last three years. Jones has hit RHP well in his career, hitting .280/.347/.505 (.364 wOBA) and for those of you who like the PvB data Jones has gone 6-12 with a 2B and 2 HR's against Jordan Lyles.
Adam LaRoche (WSH) - LaRoche's slow start to the season has him priced way down (.214/.296/.333), but he's started to pick it up of late hitting .356/.434/.467 in May. LaRoche has a long track record of starting slow and starting to pick things up as you get into late May. On Friday he faces Burch Smith who was very good at AAA but has some issues keeping the ball on the ground. In his first start he posted just a 33% GB Rate and retired just 3 of the first 10 batters he faced before getting pulled. LaRoche has been solid against RHP in his career .272/.347/.489 and while we won't know much about how ready Burch Smith is, we do know LaRoche is under-priced.
Lance Berkman (TEX) - Berkman gets a great matchup against Rick Porcello and his .364 wOBA allowed against RHP over the last three years. Porcello gives up over 1 HR/9 to LHB's and also serves up a 21% LD Rate. Berkman has been great against RHP over the last three years (2012 - .369 wOBA, 2011 - .421 wOBA), 2010 - .373 wOBA) and this year he has a .296/.441/.494 line against righties (.402 wOBA). Given Berkman's prowess against RHP and Porcello's struggles he falls somewhere between a top play and a value play. With the matchup in Texas, Berkman looks like one of the stronger 1B options on Friday.
Other 1B Notes:
Paul Konerko remains a nice value play and gets a LHP with command issues on Friday night. Carlos Pena benefits from Jeanmar Gomez's struggles at punching batters out. I also don't mind Brandon Belt against Jorge de la Rosa who is very tough on lefties, but Belt has actually been better his career against LHP. It will be interesting to see if he draws the start or if they give Brett Pill a spot start, which would make him a viable value play as well. Mike Napoli and David Ortiz also warrant mentioning as two top play options against Vance Worley who struggles with HR's.
Robinson Cano (NYY) - The last time Mark Buehrle started a game in NY he allowed 3 HR's to the Yankees in a 5-3 loss. Robinson Cano is always better against RHP than LHP, but Buehrle's allowing a .355 wOBA to LHB's this year and his transition back to the AL has been met with lots of HR's (2.06 HR/9). Given Cano has posted a career .356 wOBA at home against LHP, I think he remains a top option on Friday.
Ian Kinsler (TEX) - The best time to use Ian Kinsler is when he's up against a LHP at home, but a below average righty at home isn't too bad either. For his career Kinsler has posted a .396 wOBA at home and just a .313 wOBA on the road. He's done much of the damage against lefties (.451 wOBA at home vs. LHP) but his .376 wOBA against righties in Arlington is pretty darn good too. On Friday night he'll face Rick Porcello whose .312 wOBA allowed to RHB's is pretty solid, but also comes with a 55% GB Rate which actually benefits Kinsler. Kinsler has posted his highest OPS against GB pitchers (.835 OPS) according to baseball-reference and he'll be hitting lead-off in a game with the highest projected run total of the day. While the matchup isn't ideal (prefer a LHP), the environment is just right for Kinsler to be a top play. The added bonus for Kinsler and a few of the other Texas righties is IF they can get to Porcello early, the Tigers typically back-up Porcello with Drew Smyly who wasn't used in relief last night during a short outing from Justin Verlander. Smyly is a very good LHP, but the Texas lineup eats up LHP, specifically Kinsler, Cruz, and Beltre.
Neil Walker (PIT) - It's a rare day when you're going to see a number of Pittsburgh bats populate the Fix (especially at home in a low run-scoring environment) but it's not every day that they get to face Jordan Lyles. Lyles has made 43 starts in his career and just 16 of them have been the "quality" variety. Quality starts isn't the best stat in the world but over large samples it at least reveals some level of consistency with starters and with Lyles it shows that nearly 65% of the time you're going to get into the bullpen before 6 innings are completed or you're going to score more than 3 ER's off of him. His .362 wOBA against LHB's is the 2nd highest of any SP going today that has thrown over 100 innings against LHB's over the last three years (Porcello is worse at .364 wOBA) and Neil Walker is a switch-hitter who has had much more success in his career against RHP. Walker has hit .286/.349/.446 in his career against RHP, good for a .347 wOBA. This is a nice matchup to exploit Walker's discounted price to start the season and on our featured site today (FanDuel) he looks like the top value play at the 2B position.
Matt Carpenter (STL) - Most sites have adjusted Matt Carpenter's pricing to consider him an above average option at 2B (or 3B on some sites) but there are a few out there that have been slow to adjust. He'll take on Wily Peralta who has allowed a .353 wOBA to LHB's in his career with a 22.5% LD Rate and below average 8% BB%. Carpenter's game is all about getting on-base and letting the Cards bats behind him drive him in. He's posted a .363 wOBA against RHP in his career with a stellar .303/.388/.448 line that is heavy on plate discipline. Atop the Cardinals order against a shaky RHP, Carpenter is a solid value play on sites that are pricing him as an average 2B option.
Dustin Ackley (SEA) - We keep waiting... and waiting... and waiting on Dustin Ackley to show us something that supports his former top prospect status but all we get is the equivalent of a bag of poop at the doorstep. Ackley has hit .242/.311/.351 in his career (.293 wOBA) and he hasn't shown any difference against RHP or LHP which makes him largely irrelevant for daily gamers as there isn't a split advantage to exploit. However, he is DIRT cheap across the industry and still hits 2nd in Seattle's offense. On Friday he takes on Ubaldo Jimenez who is going through some sort of rebirth of late (1.45 ERA, 0.86 WHIP last 3 starts), but over the last three years has allowed a 21% LD Rate and 11% BB Rate to LHB's. Ubaldo's recent renaissance has been largely impressive but he's also benefited greatly from a .186 BABIP allowed in those three outings. He's the type of pitcher that things can go really wrong in a hurry and as a result I think SEA LHB's are an outside-the-box play today. Ackley fits that mold and with his price across the industry, there isn't much risk in deploying him on Friday night.
Danny Espinsoa/Steve Lombardozzi (WSH) - On our featured site (FanDuel) both players are listed at $2200 and one of the two, potentially both, will be in the lineup against Burch Smith on Friday night. As I noted before we don't have a lot to go on with Burch but there are questions if he's major league ready and at the absolute bare minimum it's not a bad salary relief strategy to use one of the WSH 2B eligible players. They're both awful against RHP (sub-.700 OPS career), but if you can get a good lineup spot on them (2nd, 6th) it's not a bad strategy.
Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE) - Cabrera's price surged a few days ago to the point that he was expensive but now he's fairly valued across the industry. On Friday night he'll face Brandon Maurer who has struggled with LHB's in his brief major league career, allowing a .477 wOBA and walking more lefties than he's struck out. Historically Cabrera has been better from the right side than the left side but his .330 wOBA against RHP is average. He hits in the middle of a strong lineup against a pitcher who is showing significant difficulties against LHP. At a fair price, I consider the matchup to make him a solid value on Friday.
Elvis Andrus (TEX) - Andrus is relatively cheap on FanDuel today and with a very limited bucket of SS options I like, I'm going to include him in our daily recommendations. Andrus is much better in his career against GB pitchers than FB pitchers, as you'd expect with his speed, so Rick Porcello is actually a fine matchup. He's also been slightly better in his career against RHP (.312 wOBA) than LHP (.308 wOBA) and he benefits from hitting near the top of the order in a projected high-scoring tilt.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) - Tulo's price is actually down a bit across some of the sites I looked at today, including FanDuel, and I'm tempted to take the plunge. He faces Madison Bumgarner who, as you may expect, is pretty good against RHB's as well as LHB's, holding them to just a .298 wOBA, but on the road he's actually human against RHB's yielding a .317 wOBA. Tulowitzki isn't an ordinary RHB either as he's hit .326/.411/.559 at home against LHP in his career, good for a .413 wOBA. With his price down a bit and the matchup in Coors against a lefty, spending on Tulo looks like my preferred SS option across most sites.
Miguel Cabrera (DET) - On 90% of days Miggy is going to qualify as a top play at 3B and it just depends on if you want to spend on him. With Pablo Sandoval in Coors Field this weekend more often than not the crowd is going to opt to saving the money on the Panda and I can't argue with that play. If you're looking to spend though Cabrera is a never bad option and with the total at 10.5, it's hard not to like the best hitter in all of baseball.
Pedro Alvarez (PIT) - Jordan Lyles would seem to be the perfect matchup for Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez's two biggest issues as an offensive player are the fact that he hits WAY too many GB's for a power hitter (career 48%) and he strikes out way too much to ever post a decent average (30.9% K%). When he does get the ball in the air he's consistently posted a 20+% HR/FB Rate suggesting his natural raw power is immense. Well Jordan Lyles allows 1.54 HR/9 and strikes out just 15% of the LHB's he faces. Alvarez remains priced as a below average 3B option on all sites and his boom-or-bust approach at the plate is something that should be valued by tournament players today.
Pablo Sandoval (SF) - The aforementioned Panda gets a matchup against Jorge de la Rosa in Coors Field. De la Rosa has posted a 5.03 career ERA at home and has allowed a .339 wOBA to RHB's at home in his career. De la Rosa's biggest weakness is the walk as he walks over 9% of RHB's he's faced over the last three years and while that's not exactly Pablo Sandoval's forte, he has also allowed 1.21 HR/9. Sandoval has been a better hitter from the left side (.368 wOBA) than the right side (.331 wOBA) in his career but the game taking place in Coors Field erases a lot of concerns about the fit of this particular matchup.
Nolan Arenado (COL) - Nolan Arenado is easily the best value play option on FanDuel tonight and on a number of sites that have been slow to adjust the rookie's pricing. Arenado has hit .227/.227/.500 against LHP early in his big league career and while his patience needs work, he's made a whole lot of contact (9.1% K%) and his .273 ISO is elite. In a small sample in the minor leagues he was hitting .545/.500/.909 against LHP (11 AB's), with just 1 K. He has a history of hitting LHP well at the minor league levels and should be installed near the middle of the Rockies lineup on Friday night. Madison Bumgarner is a very tough LHP but at $2400 on FanDuel, Arenado is approaching the bare minimum salary.
Bryce Harper (WSH) - Harper was back in action last night, launching his 11th HR of the season to dead center field. He gets a matchup against an unknown quantity in Burch Smith that was shelled in his first outing. Harper's destroyed RHP to the tune of .356/.443/.767 (.497 wOBA) with a 1.07 EYE. Even if Smith is better than his first start (and I think he is), Harper is so dominant against RHP that he earns a top play status.
Vernon Wells (NYY) - Wells has destroyed LHP this year to the tune of .358/.417/.566 and Mark Buehrle is just getting dominated by RHB's, allowing a .299/.350/.520 and 2.45 HR/9 to RHB's. Wells typically wouldn't find himself as a top play because he's not the elite kind of talent that deserves mention when is price is elevated, but Buehrle has been so homer-prone to RHB's this year and Wells has destroyed them that I'm going to list Wells in the top plays section. Wells has already homered off Buehrle in the first two meetings this year and in those two games Buehrle has allowed 4 HR's in 12 1/3 innings.
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) - I typically prefer McCutchen against LHP where he owns a career .412 wOBA, but against bad RHP I'm not opposed to utilizing him. His career .278/.361/.453 line against RHP is modestly above average but I expect the run-scoring for his team to be favorable on Friday night. Jordan Lyles allows a .333 wOBA and 1.1 HR/9 to RHB's so he's a below average starter against righties as well as lefties. McCutchen's price is also relatively low to his typical levels, which makes him a solid value today. On FanDuel, McCutchen is priced at $3700, which is $300-400 below his normal price points.
Travis Snider (PIT) - Mike mentioned Travis Snider on twitter after the Pirates lineup came out last night and he rewarded us with one of the bigger fantasy days on Thursday's slate. Snider has been just average against RHP (.256/.321/.423) in his career but this year he's hit .303/.374/.427 against RHP and is in a favorable spot in the Pirates lineup. We've gone through Jordan Lyles' struggles against RHP extensively and Snider is priced extremely cheap across the fantasy industry. He'll be a popular pick based on last night's performance, but the matchup suggests he's a worthwhile play again.
David Murphy (TEX) - Hopefully by now you all know our feelings on David Murphy. He's a great splits advantage player against RHP (career .287/.354/.478, .359 wOBA), especially at home (.376 wOBA vs. RHP at home) and especially against sinker-ballers. In his career Murphy has hit .327/.385/.499 against ground-ball pitchers as classified by baseball-reference. Rick Porcello in Arlington would meet all of the criteria above for Murphy's strengths and as a result he's a tremendous value on Friday, especially on FanDuel where he's just $2700.
Other Potential Value Plays: Dexter Fowler (COL), BJ Upton (ATL), Reed Johnson (ATL), Don Kelly (DET), Andy Dirks (DET), Angel Pagan (SF), Denard Span (WSH), Avisail Garcia (DET), Michael Brantley (CLE), Leonys Martin (TEX), Roger Bernadina (WSH), Robbie Grossman (HOU), Nick Markakis (BAL), Michael Saunders (SEA)
Under-priced Star OF's to Target: Matt Kemp (LAD), Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS), Michael Bourn (CLE), Nate McLouth (BAL)
Additional Expensive Star OF's to Target: Carlos Beltran (STL), Hunter Pence (SF), Justin Upton (ATL), Ryan Braun (MIL)
Tony Cingrani (CIN) - Cingrani missed his last start due to some shoulder soreness which would certainly be a reason for concern to utilize him in double ups or on main teams, but the Reds have cleared him for Friday's start in Philadelphia. Cingrani has been dominant against LHB's this year allowing just a .251 wOBA and striking out 39% of them. The Phillies most explosive offensive options (Howard, Utley, Dom Brown) are for the most part from the left side. Sure he'll still have to contend with Delmon Young, John Mayberry Jr., and Carlos Ruiz but the Phillies are 27th in wOBA against LHP. If Cingrani is fully healthy, this should be an excellent matchup for him.
Paul Maholm (ATL) - The Dodgers rank 23rd in wOBA against LHP and much of their strength against lefties comes from a 9% BB%. Maholm has battled some command issues of late but for his career he's been pretty stingy with the BB's, posting BB%'s between 6.4% and 7.4% for the last 6 straight years. Maholm has also been really good at Turner Field over the last three years, posting a 3.24 ERA and 8.6 K/9. The Dodgers really only have one threat from the right side that can pose Maholm any significant problems and with Maholm dominating lefties to the tune of .118/.224/.137 this season, I think the Dodgers are an ideal matchup. Take advantage of Maholm's price coming down recently because I think tonight could be a strong start.
Additional SP Notes:
I wrote up fewer players and wanted to talk about SP in a broader sense because I think it is important today. There are some exceptionally high risk/reward plays like Burch Smith and Brandon Maurer who are priced near the minimum on sites and (in large field tournaments) are the kinds of gambles I don't mind taking. If priced similarly I prefer Smith over Maurer simply because he's pitching in the friendlier environment and league. Smith actually has some minor league numbers that suggest he can strike batters out at a high rate which caters well to daily fantasy. On most sites Jeanmar Gomez is priced at a point that I wouldn't be willing to take him, at $4500 on FanDuel though he'd earn consideration in a favorable pitching environment against a free-swinging Astros club. Just understand Gomez isn't very good (career 4.90 FIP) and even this year his 5.01 FIP suggests he's due for an awful lot of regression. I won't be using him. The next tier up in terms of pricing is a lot of potential mistakes (Buehrle, Tepesch, Porcello, Peralta, Lyles). There aren't many matchups I'm comfortable with there. The matchups that are favorable (Trevor Cahill, Ubaldo Jimenez) are priced up on a lot of sites because of recent success. Cahill won't generate many K's against the Marlins which makes me uncomfortable paying a steep price for him and I'm not ready to buy Ubaldo's recent surge. Jaime Garcia is great at home, but the Brewers are great against LHP making him a bit of a scary start, albeit one with upside (when he's right he's unhittable) and Hiroki Kuroda would probably be my next closest recommendation as a "value pick" but he's fairly priced or expensive on all the sites I checked.
The Expensive SP:
Within the expensive starting pitchers Chris Sale, James Shields, and Gio Gonzalez are my favorites. I'll write-up Gonzalez in more depth because he's my favorite of the group. Cliff Lee is a good value on a few sites because of recent performance but on sites that place a high emphasis on the win, I'd be nervous using him as my main pitcher. Clay Buchholz also has a great environment to pitch in and has been pitching well, I just think he's vastly over-priced because of a 1.69 ERA when he has a 3.09 xFIP and there are enough weather concerns that I worry about a delay. I'm not messing around with Madison Bumgarner in Colorado although those in big tournament fields can consider it a contrarian play, I just don't see him delivering a dominant performance there.
Gio Gonzalez (WSH) - If I had one expensive SP to play tonight, Gio Gonzalez looks like the best combination of safety and upside for me. Gonzalez gets to pitch in PETCO Park against a Padres offense that ranks 25th in wOBA against LHP. The Padres best lefty masher, Carlos Quentin, is battling a knee injury and as a whole their offense hasn't been swinging it well of late. Gonzalez looks to have turned the corner with three strong starts in his last four outings and last year in his lone start in PETCO he tossed 6 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits and 2 BB's.
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