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MLB Daily Fantasy Helper: Wednesday 4/26/17

With the night's top pitchers suddenly no longer available, can we trust James Paxton in a tough matchup?

The beauty of daily fantasy baseball is that the top targets are different each and every day. Whether it's the right-handed catcher who destroys left-handed pitching or the mid-range hurler facing a depleted lineup, you're not going to find yourself using the same assets time after time.

While this breaks up the monotony, it can make it hard to decide which players are primed to succeed on a given day. We can help bridge that gap.

In addition to our custom optimal lineups, you can check out our batting and pitching heat maps, which show the pieces in the best spot to succeed on that slate. Put on the finishing touches with our games and lineups page to see who's hitting where and what the weather looks like, and you'll have yourself a snazzy looking team to put up some big point totals. We've also got our Solo Shot Podcast, which breaks down the MLB daily fantasy slate each day. Here's today's episode.

If you need help getting started on that trek, here are some of the top options on the board today. We'll be focusing exclusively on the main slate beginning at 7 pm Eastern.

Pitchers to Target

High-Priced Pitchers

James Paxton ($8,900 on FanDuel): Originally, Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Martinez held down these two spots. Syndergaard was pushed to tomorrow, and Martinez's game was postponed due to rain. We're off to a rousing start here. The only reason James Paxton wasn't in there was due to a rough matchup with the Detroit Tigers, but that's a blemish we can accept given the sudden lack of other options. Paxton has been lights out this year with a 2.67 SIERA, 30.6% strikeout rate, and stingy 5.1% walk rate. Even in his most recent outing -- when Paxton allowed five earned runs -- he had eight walks to one strikeout. Talent isn't an issue here. With the Tigers missing both J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, the matchup does look better than it usually would, making Paxton worthy of a look.

Jon Lester ($10,500): With Jon Lester, you're at least getting the safety associated with his 3.72 SIERA and 30.9% hard-hit rate allowed. Lester's strikeout rate isn't bad at 21.7%, and he limits walks with a 7.2% rate there. The concern with Paxton is floor, and with Lester, it's upside. His swinging-strike rate is just 8.4%, and the opposing Pittsburgh Pirates aren't one for third strikes. Lester is likely the go-to cash-game option with all of the changes on the slate while Paxton is the man for tournaments.

Value Pitcher

Dylan Bundy ($8,100): If neither of those guys pleases you, it's entirely possible that Dylan Bundy could be your top option of the day. Bundy's 3.70 SIERA this year is good, but it may be selling him a bit short. His 20.4% strikeout rate is due for some inflation if you check out his 12.1% swinging-strike rate, making his 4.1% walk rate and disturbingly-low 16.2% hard-hit rate all the more impressive. That hard-hit rate is the second-best mark in the league, trailing only Max Scherzer. Bundy is facing a Tampa Bay Rays team that has some big hitters, but they also carry a 25.8% strikeout rate against righties, potentially allowing Bundy's appeal to stretch into tournaments, as well.

Hitters to Target

High-Priced Hitters

Charlie Blackmon ($4,700): Although Washington Nationals starter Tanner Roark generally limits hard contact, those abilities do subside a bit against left-handed batters. That's what brings us back to Charlie Blackmon yet again. Blackmon has been blasting balls to the sun this year with his 47.9% hard-hit rate and 42.6% fly-ball rate while maintaining his better-than-average strikeout rate. It's the lefties we want in the Colorado Rockies' order, and that all starts with this bad man.

Matt Carpenter ($3,300): Update: Another reminder that this game has been postponed and will be made up tomorrow.

As mentioned with Martinez, there's a chance this game doesn't play due to rain. If it does, Matt Carpenter, Stephen Piscotty, and others are all in a great spot against Mat Latos. Carpenter was slowed a bit by various injuries early on, but he has been his usual beastly self with a 36.7% hard-hit rate and 50.0% fly-ball rate against righties. Over his past 17 balls in play, 8 have been hard-hit, so it seems like ol' reliable is back and ready for deployment once again.

Austin Hedges ($3,200): After posting some saucy numbers in Triple-A last year, there were questions about whether Austin Hedges had suddenly figured something out at the plate. Early indications this year are that he has. The strikeout rate's a bit high, but he's pairing it with a 37.0% hard-hit rate and 48.9% fly-ball rate. With the San Diego Padres facing Zack Godley, we should be checking out some of the Padres' sticks, and Hedges most definitely deserves to be on that list.

Value Hitters

Kennys Vargas ($2,400): Now that Kennys Vargas is back with the Minnesota Twins, we can resume slobbering over his stats against lefties. Since the start of 2015, Vargas has a 46.0% hard-hit rate when facing southpaws like the one he'll see tonight in Cole Hamels. With Hamels' strikeout rate down significantly from last year, we can start to target batters facing him, and Vargas is an easy way to do so without breaking the bank. Vargas and the rest of the Twins are best suited for tournaments due to the matchup, but we can turn here in the pursuit of value.

Seth Smith ($2,800): Speaking of value, Seth Smith's price still doesn't reflect his spot atop the Baltimore Orioles' order, and that is a delight if you're trying to pay for Syndergaard. Smith is rocking a 34.3% hard-hit rate and 14.3% soft-hit rate against righties over the past calendar year, and all of that gets a boost as he faces Alex Cobb. Cobb has allowed more hard contact than any pitcher in the majors, so be sure to check out Smith and all other Orioles you can afford if you're looking for dingers.

Addison Russell ($3,000): Given Tyler Glasnow's walk issues, we want to target batters hitting in the middle of the Chicago Cubs' order. Addison Russell generally hits fifth, meaning he's perfect at this price. Russell's fly-ball rate is up to 43.1% this year from 37.7% in 2016, and it has come with a simultaneous reduction in his soft-hit rate. If Glasnow has issues with his command, Russell should have ducks on the pond with regularity, and he has the talent to bring them all home with one swing.

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