3 MLB FanDuel Studs to Target on 5/9/19
Just like in other sports, the focal point of your daily fantasy baseball lineups will be your high-priced studs. These guys take up by far the biggest chunk of your cap space, but they also offer the highest ceiling, and in the case of pitcher, by far the highest floors for production.
For hitters, we're looking for guys with big numbers, strong matchups, and with players around them that are likely to produce well too, increasing our chances for runs and RBI. For pitchers we want big strikeout numbers, while the ability to go deep in a game and pick up a win is also valuable.
Taking up so much salary, and playing such a big role in your lineup's ceiling, you're not going to want to whiff on these guys, so lets take a look at a few top-end options that you can count on to anchor your lineup today.
Rich Hill, P, Los Angeles Dodgers ($8,300)
While strikeouts reign supreme for pitchers in daily fantasy, there's a ton of cash game risk in paying up for an underdog, so Rich Hill gets the edge over our top-projected arm Patrick Corbin tonight.
Hill and the Los Angeles Dodgers are -152 favorites over Corbin and the Washington Nationals, and the Nats are implied for over a half a run fewer than the Dodgers (3.25 -- the lowest on the slate -- versus 3.75).
We've only got a two-game sample to draw on from Hill this season, but last season he posted a skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) of 3.57 with a 27.4% strikeout rate, which isn't far off from the 3.61 SIERA and 30.1% strikeout rate he posted in 2017.
Encouragingly, especially for a 39-year-old, his average fastball velocity through his two 2019 starts is actually up from what he posted in the last two seasons.
The Nats are striking out at the fourth-highest rate (26.4%) in the majors this year, and their 93 wRC+ puts them in 20th.They don't pose much of a threat for Hill, and while we don't project him for as many Ks as Corbin tonight, Hill still has some reasonable strikeout upside.
George Springer, OF, Houston Astros ($4,400)
After the last couple of slates have been loaded with strong Coors Field plays, Thursday's short five-game main slate doesn't give us any implied totals above five runs. The Houston Astros are close, though, with a mark of 4.97 as they take on Mike Minor and the Texas Rangers.
Minor has had a solid start to 2019, with a 3.91 SIERA over seven games, and even his 4.27 mark in 2018 wasn't too bad. He gives up some hitter-friendly contact, though, with a hard-hit rate of at least 36% and fly-ball rate of at least 40% in both 2018 and 2019, and in that time he has a weak 4.66 xFIP against right-handed hitters.
Springer will likely do the honors of batting leadoff in this spot, and he's off to an outstanding start to 2019, with a .406 wOBA and .312 ISO over 166 plate appearances. He's turned 30.8% of his fly-balls into home runs this year, which isn't going to be sustainable, but he's on pace for career bests in both hard-hit rate (49.5%) and soft-hit rate (12.1%), and his career average home run-to-fly-ball rate is 20.8%, so we can still expect him to keep flexing some serious power.
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves ($4,000)
Freddie Freeman is putting up exactly the kind of numbers we've become accustomed to seeing from him, with a .393 wOBA and .217 ISO over 168 plate appearances this year. Over the last three seasons (almost 2000 plate appearances) he averaged a .394 wOBA and .243 ISO, so we know that kind of production is certainly sustainable for him.
We also know that his already-strong production gets a nice boost against right-handed pitching, as he's turned in a wOBA of at least .410 with a .293 ISO in two of those last there seasons, and he's got a 42.7% hard-hit rate and 38.8% fly-ball rate in that split since 2016.
His matchup isn't an overly easy one tonight, as Arizona Diamondbacks righty Luke Weaver is showing some real signs of improvement in 2019 -- a significant drop in SIERA with improvements in both swinging-strike rate and walk rate. Weaver's still allowing some heavy contact, though, and his 45.7% hard-hit rate is on pace to crush his previous career high of 36.0%. This year's improvements are still only over a small sample, too, and a career .337 wOBA and 4.15 xFIP against left-handed bats leaves plenty of room for Freeman to produce here.
Our models agree, and Freeman is our top-projected fantasy hitter on the main slate.
Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. 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.