MLB Daily Fantasy Helper: Monday 7/29/13

Can Francisco Liriano be a top option while playing the Cardinals? Our projections say so.

We know that people play all sorts of fantasy platforms, not just from from our friends at StarStreet but on other platforms such as FanDuel, Draft Kings, and Fantasy Feud as well. So once again, we have four optimized rosters, all for you, the numberFire reader. One is for free here; the others can be found in our Premium section.

As always, the full tables for today's action are available at our Daily Fantasy Projections page. Make sure to check it out to see where the best values are for your team.

Our baseball projections are updated throughout the day, so make sure to come back to double-check your optimized rosters for any last-minute lineup changes. Since most action happens later in the day, we will be ignoring the early games (if there are any) and focusing solely on the late contests. That way, you can use and tinker with our optimized rosters throughout the day.

StarStreet Optimized Roster

PlayerPositionProjected FPCostValue
Francisco LirianoSP25.64$29,5000.87
A.J. GriffinSP19.07$25,3000.75
Troy TulowitzkiSS14.7168002.16
Michael CuddyerRF16.48$6,1002.70
Alejandro De AzaCF13.26$5,3002.50
Shane VictorinoRF13.08$5,2002.52
Logan Morrison1B12.02$5,1002.36
Howie Kendrick2B13.14$4,6002.86
Marlon ByrdRF12.04$4,3002.80
A.J. PierzynskiC11.58$4,1002.82
Luis Valbuena3B11.87$3,7003.21

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The Top Three Pitchers

Francisco Liriano - On a night when the Mets, Marlins, White Sox, and Cubs are all playing, the Cardinals may seem like an odd team to attack with our No. 1 pitching selection. They do hold the third-highest OBP and a top ten slugging percentage, after all. But on the flip side, they also hold the fourth-least homerun percentage at 2.1 percent of total plate appearances, which helps out a strikeout guy like Liriano immensely. Even if the Cardinals can get a guy or two on-base, they're not as likely to be brought home with a slam or even a ball in play; Liriano's 63 percent in-play rate is one of the lowest marks in the majors. Tonight's high of 6.37 projected IP doesn't hurt either.

Jeff Samardzija - Eh, it might not be one of the teams I named up there, but with their below-average OBP and league-average slugging, I suppose the Brewers will work as a matchup play too. Milwaukee's main problem is they can't draw a walk to save Chorizo's life - their 6.2 percent walk rate is dead last in a majors. That lowers one of Samardzija's main weaknesses, his 9.0 percent walk rate, and lets his 24.2 percent strikeout rate shine. Samardzija's 5.60 projected K's is the second-most of any pitcher behind Liriano (only three pitchers are above 5), and his 1.22 projected WHIP is the lowest of any starter tonight.

A.J. Griffin - Maybe he won't grab those strikeouts like Liriano or Samardzija - his 4.48 projected K's is pretty indicative of his 19.3 percent strikeout rate - but he's more likely than anybody to pick up the W. With 0.46 projected wins and 0.26 projected losses, Griffin's +0.2 net win projection places him as easily the pitcher most likely to dominate tonight (Mike Leake's +0.13 is second). Toronto may hold an above-average OBP and a slugging percentage in the top five, but Griffin's low 5.3 percent walk rate and .257 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) should mitigate any damage done by Griffin's high HR allowed rate.

Top High-Priced Hitters

Michael Cuddyer - So what can we expect from Brandon Beachy in his first start off the DL? It may be unreasonable to expect the average of his first three seasons, but that's what our projections are going with anyway because we like to pull from relevant data. Yes, that's even if the relevant data means a 25.8 percent strikeout rate, 2.3 percent homerun rate, and a 1.144 WHIP. But one number catches my eye more than any other - how did he hold a .201 BABIP last season while posting a .312 BABIP the year before? That's odd to me, and our projections say Cuddyer (who holds a .356 BABIP himself) could do some damage if he puts balls in play.

A.J. Pierzynski - Yes, I know Pierzynski isn't exactly a high-priced option in the vain of Trout or Big Papi or even Cuddyer. But our optimized rosters are tending towards spending big for pitching today and finding value elsewhere, so other than possibly Troy Tulowitzki, there's nobody else I could reasonably put in this space. So the Texas catcher we go, who we love because he makes such incredibly solid contact (23 percent line drive rate and 3.1 percent homerun rate). Even though Jered Weaver's BABIP hasn't risen dramatically, his 25 percent line drive rate has. We expect Pierzynski to blow other catchers away with 0.89 projected RBI.

Mid-Range Cost-Effective Hitters

Logan Morrison - I guess that whole "Nobody thinks we're on steroids" tweet didn't exactly hurt his playing time; Morrison has hit fourth, fourth, and fifth in the lineup in the past three games respectively. And if he's going to continue that trend tonight against a not-so-tough Mets squad, then I want him on my side. Mets starter Jeremy Hefner may hold a halfway decent 1.233 WHIP, but he also allows an almost double the MLB average 4.0 percent homerun rate and 70 percent of batters against to hit a ball in play. There aren't many low-priced options that will have the combination of Morrison's 0.19 projected HR and .323 projected average tonight.

Howie Kendrick - Nope, the love affair still hasn't ended. I'm just absolutely enamored by Kendrick's 26 percent line drive rate and .340 BABIP (both this season and for his career), giving him immense value even if he walks worse than a zombie. He's one of the guys who you don't want to face if you're a low walk, high in-play type of pitcher... just like Texas's Matt Garza with his 6.3 percent walk rate and 68 percent in-play rate this season. Couple that with a staggeringly high 0.26 projected homeruns for Kendrick, and he's easily the best second base option with no Cano around.