DraftKings Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Wednesday 4/18/18

At $11,900, Gerrit Cole is the most expensive pitcher on the slate. Which hitters can help you afford him tonight?

Every day is unique for daily fantasy baseball, which is both a blessing and a challenge. Although we can’t simply plug and play our favorite studs day in and day out, each slate presents us with a chance for a new gem to vault us up the leaderboards.

Through the use of numberFire’s tools, we can better identify the players primed to succeed each day, making the process of filling out a lineup just that much easier. 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.

Which names stand out for today on the DraftKings main slate? Let’s check it out, starting with the pitchers.

Pitchers to Target

High-Priced Pitcher

Gerrit Cole ($11,900 on DraftKings): Gerrit Cole continues to be one of the biggest and most surprising stories in the early part of 2018. We knew he was pretty good, but he's been arguably the best pitcher in baseball in the first three weeks of the season. He's put up an incredible 46.8 percent strikeout rate, which is up from 23.1 percent in 2017. Obviously, this is a small sample size, but he's started off his time with the Houston Astros having gone seven innings in each of his first three games, totaling 11, 11 and 14 strikeouts, respectively. He's been a strikeout king and looks to continue that against the Seattle Mariners tonight.

Carlos Carrasco ($10,500): Last night, Corey Kluber put up a good stat-line, but for his price he was a bit underwhelming against the free-swinging Minnesota Twins. Tonight, we are hoping for a more elite outcome from Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco has plenty of strikeout upside as his 28.3 percent strikeout rate is the second-best on the slate. Furthermore, his 3.35 skill-interactive earned run average (SIERA) tops all other pitchers tonight. With the Twins striking out 25.1 percent of the time so far in 2018, there is plenty of upside here, and at a nice discount to a guy like Cole.

Low-Priced Pitchers

Vincent Velasquez ($7,100): Throughout his short career, Vince Velasquez has shown flashes of his strikeout upside, but he's never really put everything together as he struggles with giving up hard-contact. He had an okay 21.6 percent strikeout rate in 2017, but his early 2018 numbers have him striking out 25.0 percent of the batters he's faced, which is more in line with his career 25.3 percent mark. Tonight is a very difficult matchup against a Atlanta Braves that has scored 85 runs in their first 16 games -- the seventh most in the Majors. But that strikeout upside is always there.

Hitters to Target

High-Priced Hitters

Mike Trout ($5,500): He is the most expensive hitter on the slate, but we have come to expect that. Trout is hitting only .273 in the early part of the season, but he has smashed six home runs, so the upside is as big as it's always been. Due to that power, he still has a .419 weighted on-base average (wOBA) and a .318 isolated power (ISO), which is fantastic and actually better than his career averages. Against right-handed pitchers, he especially dominates, putting up a .450 wOBA and .359 ISO in 2017. His matchup against Rick Porcello is especially juicy considering Porcello gave up a 38.3 percent hard-hit rate last season, which is the second-worst on Wednesday's slate.

Paul Goldschmidt ($4,800): Goldschmidt is another guy that appears to be struggling compared to what we've become accustomed to. However, he has almost as many walks (12) as he does hits (13), and 4 of those hits are home runs. So, he is still getting on base a lot with an .386 on-base percentage (OBP), but his .232 AVG (albeit, with a .265 BABIP) is leaving a lot to be desired right now. Goldy has historically smashed right-handed pitching as his career .435 wOBA and .273 ISO would indicate. Righty Chris Stratton will be on the mound for the San Francisco Giants tonight, and his 28.3 percent line-drive rate from 2017 is bound to be exploited, with Goldy the most likely to do the damage tonight.

Cody Bellinger ($4,500): Cody Bellinger exploded onto the scene and had a huge rookie year in 2017. He was overshadowed by the breakout of Aaron Judge, however, Bellinger was still great, especially against right-handed pitching. He hit to a .383 wOBA and an incredible .323 ISO against them from the left side. Tonight, he's taking on Luis Perdomo, who is coming off a five-game suspension. Perdomo is a ground-ball pitcher that struggles to strikeout players, so Bellinger's power stroke is in a good spot, particularly if Perdomo is shaking off the rust tonight.

Value Hitters

Buster Posey ($3,700): Buster Posey is just way too cheap for what he can do at the plate. Now, he does have a difficult matchup against left-hander Robbie Ray, but Ray still has some warts in his game. Ray has a slate-worst 40.4 percent hard-hit rate and 89.1 mile-per-hour average exit velocity, both numbers that will benefit Posey in Chase Field, where early signs tell us that the humidor will not limit offensive production. Posey hit for a .415 wOBA and .209 ISO against lefties in 2017 and looks to continue that in a favorable road ballpark tonight.

Christian Villanueva ($3,600): Over his five-game hitting streak, Villaneuva has three multi-hit games and three separate games in which he has hit a home run. In his short career, he has been better against left-handed pitchers, but he has still put up a solid .357 wOBA and .277 ISO against righties. His strikeout rate is way too high at 32.6 percent, but at his price you are paying for the heavy-hitting boom-or-bust potential. Kenta Maeda is far from an easy matchup, but he has holes in his game, including a 40.1 percent fly-ball rate, which has resulted in a 15.0 percent home run to fly-ball rate.

Howie Kendrick ($3,500): Howie Kendrick has been very consistent this year, picking up hits in all but two games so far. His RBI and run total have been underwhelming, though, so hopefully that can change tonight against left-handed pitcher Steven Matz. Matz has pitched decent to start the year, but he has given up two home runs in two of his first three games this season. While Kendrick is not a power hitter -- he has hit more than 15 home runs just once -- there is still plenty of upside tonight if his teammates can get on base or drive him in.

Ryan Sheppard is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ryan Sheppard also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username donkshow_. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.