There are two daily fantasy baseball aces that I like today more than the rest.
Looking at the other end of the daily fantasy baseball pitching spectrum, the bottom of the pitching barrel yields some exciting matchups. There are no full blown stacks advised in today’s article, but there are couple of daily fantasy baseball hitter pairings that include two Giants, a pair of Nationals, and even a trio from the Mariners.
My Pick: Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds, $16,000
Cueto has been a daily fantasy baseball beast this year. The only things holding him back from being a slam dunk daily fantasy baseball ace the last few years, as opposed to a fringe ace, have been his health and strikeout rate. The health matters a lot more in yearly leagues than DraftDay games, but the strikeouts matter across both styles of play. Piling up strike threes has been no problem for the Reds’ starter this year.
He’s struck out 35 batters in 30 innings this year, including 12 in his last start. That last start was a shutout, and the dominant gem was thrown against today’s daily fantasy baseball opponent, the Pirates. Oh, and that last start came in Cueto’s hitter friendly home ballpark. Today he’ll be pitching in run suppressing PNC Park, and he’s cheaper than six other starters throwing today. There is so much to love about Cueto, and he’s easily the top daily fantasy baseball pitching option.
Value Pick: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants, $13,950
It hasn’t been a banner start to the season for Bumgarner. His season high in innings in a single start through four games pitched is 6.1, and his walk rate is up. All things considered though, there is not much to be worried about. Bumgarner has struck out 26 batters in 20.2 innings and has an ERA south of 3.50 (albeit barely at 3.48). He’s also picked up a pair of wins, which means nothing from a predictive standpoint, but it’s been nice for his daily fantasy baseball owners.
The scariest part about using Bumgarner today isn’t anything in his statistical profile, but the fact he’ll be pitching at Coors Field and not AT&T Park. Coors Field is a scary venue for any pitcher, and Bumgarner has had some messy starts there. He’s also had some strong ones though. Aiding his cause for a good start is a Rockies lineup that doesn’t feature Michael Cuddyer. Passing on Bumgarner is forgivable given the venue, but the discount that comes with starting him in a run scoring environment is too much for me to pass up.
My Pick: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants, $9,650
While pitching at Coors Field won’t do Bumgarner any favors, hitting there provides a healthy boost to Posey’s daily fantasy baseball value. Right-handed batters enjoy a right-handed batter homer park factor of 119 (remember that number, it’ll come in handy for another suggested hitter). The best offensive catcher in the game has been a murderer of baseballs thrown by lefties, hitting .339/.401/.595 in 543 plate appearances against southpaws. Left-handed starter Franklin Morales is also really bad at getting right-handed batters out. There have been 903 right-handed batters that have faced Morales in his career, and they’ve hit a collective .268/.369/.443 against him. Pony up for Posey’s services.
Value Pick: Jason Castro, Houston Astros, $7,650
As I write this, Castro’s batting average has dipped below the Mendoza-line. Have no fear though, the season is young and he’s a much better hitter than that. He has above average power and a patient approach that he hasn’t strayed from even with his early season struggles. The left-handed hitting catcher has done essentially all of his daily fantasy baseball damage against right-handed pitchers this year, which isn’t shocking since he’s been much better against righties than lefties in his big league career. Today he’ll be facing right-handed pitcher Erasmo Ramirez.
The Mariners hurler has been getting pummeled this year. Ramirez has made four starts, and only one has been of the quality variety. His season ERA is 7.50, and he’s been chased inside of five innings in two of four outings. He was knocked out after completing just two-plus innings against the Rangers in his last start, and the Astros won’t be looking to serve as a magical elixir to help Ramirez right the ship.
My Pick: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles, $11,850
Ramirez isn’t the only starter with an ugly ERA this year. R.A. Dickey owns one north of six as well! Davis has power that isn’t forgiving to mistakes, and thankfully, his low power output this season hasn’t led to bad habits. He’s taking walks when they’re presented, and Dickey has been giving in the free pass department (15 walks in 23 innings pitched). The Blue Jays starting pitcher has allowed five runs or more in three of four starts, and one of those starts was against the Astros (they rank last in runs scored this year). The Orioles are a far better offense than the Astros, and they’re likely to make it another ugly daily fantasy baseball turn for Dickey. Davis hits in the heart of the lineup, and he’ll be in on the run producing fun.
Value Pick: Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals, $8,550
Adams is becoming a personal favorite of mine when he faces a right-handed pitcher. He’s priced under $9,000 and is a .309/.359/.516 hitter in 395 big league plate appearances against right-handed pitchers. That sweet left-handed swing takes aim at pitches thrown by Dillon Gee, a pitcher that has allowed the 1,063 left-handed batters he’s faced in his career to hit .255/.338/.429 against him. That’s not an eye popping triple slash line against Gee, but it’s solid. Adams run production upside is up of late, too, since he’s moved out of the six-hole in the Cardinals lineup and into the cleanup slot. He’s hit cleanup for the club in 11 straight games.
My Pick: Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners, $10,750
The $240 million man isn’t hitting like the guy who earned that paycheck, but if you’re overreacting to 81 plate appearances perhaps baseball isn’t the best sport for you to follow. The left-handed hitting Cano faces right-handed starter Collin McHugh today. You’re forgiven if you don’t know who McHugh is. The 26-year old pitcher has made only 15 big league appearances, including nine starts, and has an 8.94 ERA in 47.1 innings pitched in the majors. He’s filling in for an injured Scott Feldman. If you’re not picking against McHugh today, you’re passing up a golden opportunity to pick on a starting pitcher that isn’t of big league quality.
Value Pick: Jeff Baker, Miami Marlins, $5,350
Baker has shared second base duties with Derek Dietrich, serving on the short-side of the platoon facing left-handed pitchers. Today the Marlins face southpaw Alex Wood, who I think is a very talented pitcher, but not so talented that I won’t find room for Baker on some of my DraftDay rosters. The lefty masher has 852 plate appearances against southpaws in his career and has hit .294/.351/.514 with 94 extra base hits (35 homers). Wood’s good enough to dissuade me from using Baker across all of my teams, but at $5,350 Baker allows the financial flexibility to spend heavily elsewhere and that makes him quite enticing.
My Pick: Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals, $8,750
Entry after entry, Rendon appears as a suggested option for DraftDay rosters, so it should come as little surprise that he’s here again. The right-handed hitter strangely hit worse against lefties than righties in his very brief minor league career, but that odd trend hasn’t carried over to the Show. In 130 Major League plate appearances he has hit .325/.385/.553 with six of his 10 career homers. I like Rendon to get the better of fellow youngster Tyler Skaggs today.
Value Pick: Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners, $8,100
As I noted in Cano’s write-up, McHugh is a pitcher that simply must be picked on today. Seager moved quickly through the minors and was in the upper minors for only 416 plate appearances in the 2011 season. In those plate appearances (299 in Double-A and 106 in Triple-A) he hit an impressive .333/.399/.495. It seems odd to be referencing Seager’s minor league numbers when he has more experience in the majors than the minors at this point, but since he’s facing a pitcher that’s basically Triple-A quality, perhaps it’s relevant. Okay, maybe that was a distasteful jab at McHugh, but Seager can hit against bad pitchers and I maintain my stance that McHugh isn’t big league caliber starting pitcher.
My Pick: Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays, $9,250
One plate appearance into Opening Day was all it took for Reyes to injure himself and land on the disabled list. He’s back, though, and he returned to his leadoff spot in the Blue Jays lineup on Saturday. In two games played since his activation from the DL he has totaled three hits, including one double, in 10 plate appearances. Reyes isn’t the dynamic player he once was, but he remains one of the better offensive options at a position where offensive production is lacking. Enjoy his slightly depressed price tag, and use him against one of today’s crummier starters, Miguel Gonzalez.
Value Pick: Brad Miller, Seattle Mariners, $7,000
In 345 plate appearances in Double-A Miller hit .307/.392/.473, and his line soared to a higher level in the hitter friendly Triple-A Pacific Coast League where he hit .356/.426/.596 in 122 plate appearances. Alright, so this joke has already gotten lame. However, the point stands, pick on McHugh!
My Pick: Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals, $9,750
Rendon’s track record against southpaws isn’t extensive, but his teammate Werth’s is. The 34-year old outfielder and veteran of more than a decade in the bigs has 1,242 plate appearances against lefties in the majors, and a gargantuan slash line of .293/.395/.539. That’s superstar offensive production at less than $10,000.
Value Pick: Michael Morse, San Francisco Giants, $7,450
The Giants signed Morse in the offseason to add power to their lineup. The big lumbering left fielder has plenty of raw power, and that will be accentuated at Coors Field today. As a right-handed batter he’ll enjoy the same home run boosting park factor that fellow pick to click Buster Posey will. He’ll also benefit from Morales’s struggles with retiring right-handed batters. Finally, Morse’s daily fantasy value gets a boost thanks to his ascension to the cleanup spot in the Giants order. He’s hit fourth for the Giants in their last four games.
*Batted ball data and splits information comes from that which is provided at FanGraphs unless otherwise stated, and ballpark factors are those found at StatCorner and are for a three-year rolling average.