MLB Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 8/22/13

Darin Ruf snuck his way into our optimized lineup as a bargain source of power. Find out why his matchup tonight bodes well.

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
James ShieldsSP15.2$29,2000.52
Jeff LockeSP14.95$20,3000.74
Andrew McCutchenCF14.35$7,4001.94
Troy TulowitzkiSS15.16$6,8002.23
Michael CuddyerRF12.65$6,1002.07
Buster PoseyC9.37$5,9001.59
Alejandro De AzaCF12.22$5,6002.18
Pedro Alvarez3B12.1$5,1002.37
Dexter FowlerCF13.08$5,1002.56
Darin Ruf1B11.63$4,8002.42
Gordon Beckham2B11.69$3,6003.25

Fantasy Feud, Draft Kings, and FanThrowdown Optimized Rosters

For the optimal rosters for the other main players, be sure to check out our brand new Daily Fantasy Optimized Rosters for our Premium members. We know that you're killing it with our picks; maybe now you'll help us continue to help you win each night, every night.

Access to the optimal rosters is immediate, and you'll have it constantly updated for the latest injury news and updates from around the league. The best news of all? For new subscribers, you can use the promo code WELCOME and get it 50% off what was already the reduced price. Think of the savings!

Learn More About Premium

The Top Three Pitchers

James Shields – With only four late games, there isn’t a huge pool of daily fantasy players to choose from, but the pitching options are still solid, led by Shields. Despite more or less getting killed for the offseason trade that shipped megaprospect Wil Meyers to Tampa for Shields, the Royals did still acquire one of the A.L.’s best starters in Big Game James. Shields has a 3.19 ERA that ranks 11th in the A.L. and his 7.06 K/9, while a run lower than his career average, still isn’t shabby. Plus, he’s facing the lowly White Sox tonight, who rank second-to-last in runs scored in all of baseball, ahead of only the AAAA Marlins.

Jeff Locke – Locke had a grand total of 51 major league innings before this season and hadn’t posted an ERA under 5.50. That all changed this year as Locke became one of baseball’s most surprising stories for its most surprising team, making the N.L. All-Star team and carrying a 2.90 ERA into late August. That ERA ranks him 7th among N.L. pitchers, ahead of guys with last names like Strasburg and Greinke. There is some indication that he’s outpitched his peripherals, as his FIP (3.85) is much higher than his ERA, and his K/BB ratio (1.51) leaves a lot to be desired. But it would be gambler’s fallacy to expect Locke’s good luck to all come crashing down tonight, especially since he’s facing the Giants and their 13th-in-the-N.L. offense.

Matt Cain – Earlier in the year, when Cain was struggling mightily, I wrote that he’d been the victim of some bad luck as well as a bizarre spike in home run rate and that he was going to improve. Not to toot my own horn, but he has. In 41 second-half innings, Cain has returned to vintage form, posting a 2.41 ERA after putting up a ghastly 5.06 mark before the All-Star Break. In the second half, his home run rate returned to normal levels, he cut his walk rate dramatically, and batters are hitting just .193 off him. Basically, he figured it out and got back to being Matt Cain. So don’t be scared off by his subpar (for him) season numbers – the Matt Cain that will take the mound tonight isn’t the Matt Cain who kept giving up gopher balls earlier in the year.

Top High-Priced Hitters

Andrew McCutchen – A lot of what makes McCutchen so valuable as a baseball player is his defense, which isn’t especially valuable to fantasy owners. What is especially valuable is his .319 average and .511 slugging, coupled with his elite combination of power and speed. There this: McCutchen has stolen 26 bases this season, which ranks him 12th in all of baseball. Of the guys ahead of him, only Mike Trout and Carlos Gomez have hit more home runs. That makes him hugely valuable as one of the absolute best in the game at putting up fantasy numbers in both categories.

Troy Tulowitzki – We’ve written before about how well Tulo hits lefties, but tonight he’s facing Kyle Kendrick, a righty. However, Kendrick has a reverse platoon split this year, meaning his faring worse against righties than lefties. In fact, righties are hitting 50 points higher than lefties against him. That’s good news for Tulowitzki, who hardly needs it, since he’s the best offensive shortstop in the game by a wide margin anyway.

Cost-Effective Mid-Range Hitters

Gordon Beckham – Beckham is a nifty pick up for his especially low price. In 284 plate appearances this year, he’s put up a very nice .298/.350/.415 line. Sure, he’s facing Shields tonight, but Beckham’s always had a reverse platoon split (meaning he hits right-handers better) that’s become especially pronounced this season. He’s hitting .325 against righties against just .200 facing lefties.

Darin Ruf – Ruf is a very cheap source of power, and his .508 slugging percentage comes in handy without the price tag of a player with more name recognition. One thing about Ruf – he’s basically an extreme platoon player, since he can’t hit lefties at all. (Ruf is a right-handed hitter, so that’s a reverse platoon split.) This year, Ruf’s put up a .313/.416/.573 line against righties and a .147/.237/.324 line against lefties. Tonight he’s facing Chad Bettis – you guessed it, he’s a righty – who’s made all of four major league starts and put up a 5.30 ERA for his efforts. Against the 44 right-handed hitters he’s faced, Ruf has surrendered a .300/.364/.500 line.