3 MLB FanDuel Studs to Target on 5/16/19

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.

Luis Castillo, P, Cincinnati Reds ($10,300)

If you're looking to pay up for a pitcher today, you only really have one option, so the question is more about whether Castillo is worth the salary than whether he's the guy to pay up for.

Short answer -- he is.

This five-game slate is loaded with close matchups, so while the Cincinnati Reds aren't huge favorites (-122 moneyline), they're still the second-biggest favorites on the slate. The Chicago Cubs' 4.12-run implied total isn't tiny, but it is also the third-lowest on the slate.

The Cubs aren't an especially soft matchup, but their 22.7% strikeout rate puts them in the middle of the pack on this slate, combining with those betting odds to make this a matchup we can classify as solidly "fine" on a short slate.

Where things really get appealing are with Castillo's numbers. Sure, he hasn't been pitching as well as an immaculate 1.76 ERA would suggest, but his 3.48 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) over nine games is still a terrific mark, and it's on pace to be a career-best.

His walk rate is up to 10.9%, but that is more than made up for by the progress he has made on the strikeout front. His swinging-strike rate has jumped for the second straight season, from 13.5% in 2018 up to 15.7% in 2019, and that has come with a big jump in strikeout rate (31.8%) as well.

He's fanned 27 over his last three games, with at least 7 strikeouts in eight of his nine starts this year, and that means he's got a huge ceiling while his floor also gets a boost as he should be able to overcome giving up a few runs to salvage a solid fantasy score.

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals ($3,700)

Goldschmidt's numbers have been somewhat underwhelming in his first year away from Chase Field with the St. Louis Cardinals, and his .352 wOBA is on pace to match the career-low he posted as a rookie in 2011. He's making some of the best contact we've sever seen from him though, with career-highs in both hard-hit rate (53.0%) and fly-ball rate (40.2%), but his BABIP sits well below his career-average (.354) at .327.

With how well he's hitting the ball, there's no need to be overly concerned about his upside moving forward until we get into a much bigger sample-size for that production.

Tonight's matchup puts him in a good spot to right the ship as well. Same-sided matchups don't give him too much trouble, with no worse than a .362 wOBA against right-handed pitching since 2012 (and an increase to .359 in the split this year), and Atlanta Braves righty Julio Teheran is someone hitters like to see.

Teheran has shown improvement in some areas this year, but his walk rate is still in the double-digits (10.3% -- down from 11.6% last year) and his SIERA, which sat at 4.89 and 4.67 in the last two seasons) is still nothing special at 4.39.

He's been cracked for a 42.8% hard-hit rate (a career-high) and a 15.2% soft-hit rate (a career-low) with a 40.7% fly-ball rate this season, and Goldschmidt continues to offer plenty of power upside here.

Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves ($4,000)

Sitting just ahead of the Cards with the highest implied total on the slate are the Atlanta Braves, who boast a 5.03-run mark in their matchup with St. Louis righty Adam Wainwright.

Wainwright has a Teheran-esque 4.30 SIERA this year, and he hasn't posted a mark better than that since his seven-game 2015 campaign. He's also giving up a career-high hard-hit rate (43.8%), and his 16.4% soft-hit rate is his second-lowest this decade. He also has a nice long sample of struggles against left-handed hitters, with xFIPs of 4.45, 4.55 and 4.93 over the last three years (4.61 in 2019), giving up a .359 wOBA in that time.

Freeman's sporting a strong .391 wOBA and .211 ISO on the year, and that's not much of a surprise from a guy who has eclipsed a .400 wOBA in two of the last three seasons. He's yet another player with career-high contact numbers (sense a trend in the majors?), with a 44.9% hard-hit rate and only an 11.8% soft-hit rate.

Once we add in the platoon advantage -- Freeman has a .397 wOBA and .246 ISO against righties since 2016 -- Freeman becomes an attractive way to get exposure to the Braves' upside in this matchup.

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.