We won’t outthink pitcher with our Fantasy Baseball Daily Picks.
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Sometimes the obvious choice is the best one, and that’s the case with one of the scheduled starting pitchers tonight. I expect the fireworks from last night at Coors Field, 24 runs scored between the two clubs, to carryover to tonight. My picks reflect that with four Rockies hitters featured as well as a trio of Diamondbacks.
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All salaries listed use DraftDay pricing.
Fantasy Baseball Daily Picks – Pitchers
My Pick: Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals, $18,200
Wacha is the priciest pitcher throwing today, and very easily the best. I’d expect him to be rostered by well over half of the gamers playing tonight, and passing on him will leave you playing catch up for a marginal savings. The second-year big leaguer stepped onto the National League Champions last season in the midst of a pennant chase, and turned heads by missing plenty of bats and totaling a sub-3.00 ERA in the regular season. He also made five postseason starts. The right-handed pitcher hasn’t skipped a beat in his sophomore campaign as he’s striking out 25.2 percent of the batters he’s faced. He also owns a 2.45 ERA that is mostly supported by his underlying stats. Wacha has upped his cutter and curveball usage this year, adding that wrinkle to his already strong two pitch combination of fourseam fastball and changeup. He now has all the requisite goodies to keep lefties and righties quiet. He faces a Royals offense that has been terrible this year, and has already gone about shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic by moving various coaches to different positions in the hopes of jump starting the punchless sticks. Wacha will have little trouble mowing down Royals batters tonight.
Value Pick: Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles Angels, $14,350
Skaggs rejoined the team that drafted him this offseason when the Diamondbacks sent him to the Angels as part of a deal to acquire Mark Trumbo. The southpaw has regained some ticks (and then some) on his pitches that went missing last year. Last season the lefty struggled to consistently break 90 mph with his fourseam fastball, and this year he’s averaging over 93 mph with it according to Brooks Baseball. The lefty is also featuring his sinker much more prominently, and the result is a massive jump in groundball percentage to 51.6 percent this year from 44.8 percent last season. He backs his two fastballs with a wicked curveball, and a good changeup. His pitch mix has helped him avoid any platoon pitfalls, and though his 4.14 ERA isn’t that exciting, the biggest culprit is an unsustainable left on-base percentage. Skaggs isn’t a huge strikeout pitcher, but he’s already totaled 11 against the Astros in his two starts that spanned 15 innings combined. Look for him to make it a third gem against his division rival tonight.
Fantasy Baseball Daily Picks – Catchers
My Pick: Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks, $8,800
Montero flat out punked the Rockies last night going 3-for-6 with a homer and six RBIs. I’m not going to call for a repeat, because I’m not delusional, but the encore should still be more than respectable. The left-handed hitting catcher has a big platoon split, and he’s far better against right-handed pitchers like tonight’s starter for the Rockies, Juan Nicasio, than his same-handed counterparts. The 30-year old backstop’s overall numbers against right-handed pitchers in his career are dragged down a touch (but still very good) by his early seasons in the majors, but since 2011 he’s got 1,351 plate appearances against them and hit .285/.381/.454 with a 125 wRC+. You put an already well above average hitter in Coors Field, where the run scoring gets a mega jolt, and it’s hard to fathom Nicasio having much luck against him.
Value Pick: Travis d’Arnaud, New York Mets, $5,050
The right-handed hitting d’Arnaud didn’t earn my value pick based on his own big league merits, but instead he’s here because of who he is facing. Cubs left-handed starter Travis Wood isn’t very good against right-handed batters. He held them in check in 2010 and last year, but in 2011, 2012, and this year, right-handed batters have slugged over .450 against him. Overall he’s tallied a respectable .245/.315/.416 triple slash line allowed to right-handed batters, but his erratic year-to-year splits provide me enough courage to suggest d’Arnaud as a darn near minimum salary player at catcher.
Fantasy Baseball Daily Picks – First Basemen
My Pick: Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies, $9,800
Morneau is thriving in his first year with the Rockies. The left-handed hitting Canadian is hitting .291/.333/.515 with a 120 wRC+, and that overall line is dragged down by lefty versus lefty matchups. The former American League MVP, even while struggling to regain his form as the offensive force he once was prior to battling lingering concussions problems, has been very good against right-handed pitchers. His first year of near full-time duty since putting his concussion woes behind him was 2012, and since then he’s hit .290/.361/.509 with a 135 wRC+ in 964 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers. He’ll have the added luxury of facing a right-handed pitcher, Bronson Arroyo, who is laughably terrible against left-handed batters. Arroyo has faced 4,572 left-handed batters in his career and they’ve smacked him around hitting .283/.339/.485 with a .355 wOBA. Morneau will be one of a few hitters to reap the rewards of a showdown with Arroyo at Coors Field.
Value Pick: Mitch Moreland, Texas Rangers, $7,900
When the baseball schedule is light, sometimes you have to search for small glimmers of hope when trying to identify value plays. The left-handed hitting Moreland’s numbers are still painful to look at against left-handed pitchers, but today he faces a right-handed starter in Chris Tillman. Unfortunately, the Rangers first baseman hasn’t been as good against right-handed pitchers this year as he’s been in seasons past. With such a small sample of plate appearances, 141, to work with this year, I’m willing to give him a partial pass and weigh his career slash line of .260/.323/.456 more heavily than his 2014 work. Back to Tillman though, because he’s a bigger part of the reason why I’m choosing to show Moreland some love. The 26-year old pitcher’s ERA each of the last two years has defied his underlying stats, but that hasn’t been the case this season.His 4.63 ERA is right in line with more advanced measures of a pitcher’s performance. Save for a sterling 2012 campaign against left-handed batters, Tillman has struggled against them throughout his career. His 2013 and 2014 marks against lefties line up very favorably with his career marks of .253/.323/.430 with a .329 wOBA. The Rangers have some lefties sprinkled up and down their lineup, and Tillman could be in for a long night that even the bottom of the order, which includes Moreland, could benefit from.
Fantasy Baseball Daily Picks – Second Basemen
My Pick: Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks, $8,850
Hill’s night was quiet compared to the rest of his teammates on Wednesday. He did however hit a pair of singles that raised his still disappointing season line to .256/.308/.400. The biggest problem for Hill this year has been a dip in his BABIP from recent seasons, despite similar batted ball rates, and a drop in HR/FB rate. Those are things that should correct themselves and regress closer to what he’s done the last couple of years, which is another way of saying that Hill is fine and remains an above average offensive second baseman despite scuffling two months into the year. Someone holding down the keystone that can hit is a guy I like playing at Coors Field where the right-handed batter park factors are 116 for doubles/triples, 116 for homers, and 128 for runs.
Value Pick: Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers, $5,000
Odor is also at the bottom of a Rangers order and bats left-handed, and thus, he’s another guy I like against Tillman and the Orioles. The rookie second baseman left me hanging after recommending him last night going 0-for-2 before being lifted for a pinch-hitting Elvis Andrus. Fantasy Baseball Daily Picks have to be made with a short memory, though, and Odor has demonstrated enough hitting ability in the minors and his brief time in the majors to make for more than a throw away pick at the minimum salary.
Fantasy Baseball Daily Picks – Third Basemen
My Pick: David Wright, New York Mets, $10,450
If you’re a sports fan who’s around my age, you likely remember growing up with SportsCenter on before school and the program ending with a “did you know” question. Here is my version of that question for you. Did you know that since the start of the 2011 season Wright ranks seventh among qualified batters in wRC+ against left-handed pitchers with a mark of 165? Well now you do, and it’s quite easy to see why he’s a slam dunk pick for DraftDay rosters facing Wood tonight.
Value Pick: Mark Reynolds, Milwaukee Brewers, $8,300
Reynolds is very much a boom-or-bust selection. His propensity for striking out leaves him vulnerable to posting a negative score, but thankfully he’s facing a pitcher, Kevin Correia, who has a strikeout rate more befitting the dead ball era than modern baseball. The Twins right-handed starter has not posted a strikeout rate north of 13.0 percent since 2010. If you allow Reynolds to make contact, you’re asking for trouble. The powerful first baseman/third baseman ranks eighth in average home run and flyball distance according to Baseball Heatmaps. When he gets into one, you can put it on the boooooooooard, yes! I don’t put much stock in batter versus pitcher matchups because there is rarely a large enough sample size to make me feel comfortable, but I am encouraged by the fact that Reynolds has taken Correia deep three times in 42 at-bats. I’d like Reynolds more at Miller Park, but it might come as a surprise to some that Target Field barely suppresses homers to right-handed batters with a homer park factor for them of 97.
Fantasy Baseball Daily Picks – Shortstops
My Pick: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies, $14,450
Tulowitzki costs $100 more than Skaggs, but he’s a necessary expenditure on at least a few rosters today. Only Yasiel Puig has been as potent an offensive force as Tulo this year when measured by wRC+. Oh, and by the way, Puig is an outfielder. Shortstop stinks offensively, and the second highest wRC+ of a player that is shortstop eligible and playing tonight belongs to Brian Dozier and his is 127 compared to Tulo’s mark of 192. He won’t gain the benefit of being left-handed against Arroyo since he’s a right-handed batter, but he does hit behind a couple of lefties that should provide him ducks on the pond. More on those lefties later…
Value Pick: Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks, $8,200
On the rosters you decide to pass on Tulo, look across to the opposing dugout for a suitable alternative. Owings will get the same right-handed batter benefits at Coors Field that his opponent receives, and while he’s not in nearly the same class as Tulowitzki, he has been above average with a 105 wRC+. The still rookie eligible shortstop can sting the ball a bit as evidenced by his 18 extra base hits in 194 plate appearances and stellar .160 ISO. Owings is also an adept base stealer having swiped six of six this season while snagging 20 last year in Triple-A. The costs of the other shortstops between Owings and Tulowitzki are too high for what they can provide, so if you’re feeling thrifty, gamble on Owings power/speed combination and the hearty offensive environment awarded to him at Coors Field.
Fantasy Baseball Daily Picks – Outfielders
My Pick: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies, $11,250
Ah, as promised, one of the left-handed batters hitting in front of Tulo. The Rockies leadoff hitter is in the midst of a breakout season, hitting .310/.351/.505 with a 123 wRC+ and a tiny strikeout rate of just 10.9 percent. He makes contact at a high rate, can reach the seats as his 10 homers suggests, and can steal bases when he gets on as his 10-for-13 mark in stolen bases indicates. Blackmon thrived in the upper minors, so even though his explosion this year is more than most expected, it’s not completely crazy. It’s also only a modest step up from his second-half production last year in the majors when he hit .317/.346/.478 with a 115 wRC+ in 215 plate appearances. If you look at his work over the last calendar year, which is a nice thing you can do over at FanGraphs, you’ll see that Blackmon has hit .311/.344/.492 with a 118 wRC+ and 15 homers, plus 16 stolen bases in 456 plate appearances. That’s against everyone, and says nothing of the dud he’s facing on the hill tonight in Arroyo. Since I’ve already pointed out Arroyo’s pathetic statistics against left-handed batters, let me give you another nugget to salivate on when considering using the left-handed hitting outfielder. The left-handed batter park factors at Coors Field include park factors of 107 for doubles/triples, 117 for homers, and 135 for runs.
Middle of the Pack: Leonys Martin, Texas Rangers, $7,850
And we have yet another lefty to stick into DraftDay lineups against Tillman. Martin is a left-handed hitting outfielder who is much better against right-handed pitchers than southpaws. The Cuban is exactly a league average hitter against right-handed pitchers, and in 564 big league plate appearances he owns a 100 wRC+. What isn’t factored into his wRC+ is that he’s fleet of foot and a big base stealer. He has stolen 11 bases in 15 chances this year and was successful stealing 36 bases in 45 attempts last year. Martin won’t be confused for a hulking slugger, but he isn’t a wheels only type in the Ben Revere or Juan Pierre mold either. He hit 11 homers last year and this year combined, and has a career ISO of .125. If Tillman struggles to retire left-handed batters tonight, the bottom third of the order with Martin, Moreland, and Odor all have a strong shot at justifying their roster spots, especially when factoring in the cost of owning them.
Value Pick: Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals, $7,350
As promised yesterday, Taveras remains a staple in my outfield suggestions since he’s still priced low and done nothing to prove he’s over matched in the Show. The prodigiously talented outfielder has recorded one hit in four of five games played in the majors. It’s a slow burn early, but expect it to turn into a raging inferno sooner rather than later.
Wild Card: Corey Dickerson, Colorado Rockies, $9,400
Hitting squarely behind Blackmon, and one spot in front of Tulo, is Dickerson. A disabled list stint for the fragile Carlos Gonzalez has opened up playing time for the 25-year old outfielder. He’d already begun to put together a case for more plate appearances in Michael Cuddyer’s absence earlier in the year, but when Cuddyer returned from the disabled list it looked as if Dickerson would be the odd man out with the outfield featuring Gonzalez, Blackmon, and Cuddyer, with Morneau locked in at first base. It’s funny how these things often sort themselves out. Now Dickerson and his .348/.398/.668 line with a 175 wRC+ becomes one of the more desirable Fantasy Baseball Daily Picks when a right-handed pitcher visits him at Coors Field. Between his outstanding offensive performance this season, facing a pitcher incapable of quieting the bats of left-handed hitters, and the drool inducing park factors of Coors Field that I’ve cited above, Dickerson is a must grab.