3 MLB FanDuel Studs to Target on 6/25/19
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.
Max Scherzer, P, Washington Nationals ($12,200)
The stud pitcher conversation on this slate is entirely a two-arm race. It's either Max Scherzer or it's Gerrit Cole.
Both have turned in stellar 2019 campaigns so far. They're two of only three pitchers to hold a skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) south of 3.00 (Cole in 1st at 2.72, Scherzer in 3rd at 2.99), and they also rank 1st (Cole; 38.2%) and 3rd (Scherzer; 33.8%) in strikeout rate. Those strikeout rates are buoyed by elite swinging-strike rates as well, with Scherzer's 16.4% good for tops among qualifying pitchers while Cole's 16.1% puts him tied for 2nd.
Despite Cole's slight edge in the stats, Scherzer has the edge in fantasy production, leading all arms in FanDuel Points per game with 47.0, while Cole sits third at 44.0. Part of that is because Scherzer is being allowed to pitch deeper in games, averaging about 6 2/3 innings per game compared to only 6 for Cole. That may not seem like a big difference, but when you're punching out a third of the batters you face, it adds up quickly.
Scherzer also finds himself with the better matchup on Tuesday, taking on the Miami Marlins while Cole is up against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates rank above average (13th) in wRC+ against right-handed pitching this season while the Marlins are second-worst in the majors in that stat. Miami is also striking out at the 6th-highest rate in the majors (24.8%) against righties, compared to only 19.7% (3rd-lowest) for Pittsburgh.
The numbers between the two are close enough that this matchup more than warrants a $700 difference, making Scherzer the safe pick as Tuesday's top arm.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs ($3,800)
We saw 11 runs scored at Wrigley Field last night, and with the forecast calling for strong winds blowing straight out again tonight, we can expect plenty of offense again.
The Atlanta Braves will start southpaw Max Fried, who has admittedly turned in a solid 2019 campaign so far. He's sporting a 3.98 SIERA over 15 starts, and he's got a high 53.5% ground-ball rate. But even with Fried on the mound across from unproven Cub Adbert Alzolay, FanDuel Sportsbook has this game as a toss-up, meaning offense is to be expected on both sides.
Fried has been decidedly more vulnerable against right-handed bats over his career, and in 2019 that has meant giving up a .334 wOBA. He's not invincible by any stretch, and that's going to be made much worse by the hitter-friendly conditions in Wrigley.
Kris Bryant is also not an easy out for a southpaw at the best of times. After a down year in 2018, Bryant has rebounded with a .390 wOBA and .248 ISO over 325 plate appearances in 2019.
If we narrow our split to his 63 plate appearances against southpaws, that jumps to a massive .463 wOBA and .453 ISO. That's a small sample, sure, but even if we extend our view back to 2017 we see a .434 wOBA and .308 ISO on a 37.3% hard-hit and 42.6% fly-ball rate over 316 plate appearances in the split.
Bryce Harper, OF, Philadelphia Phillies ($4,100)
Harper has certainly underwhelmed from the dish in his first year with the Philadelphia Phillies, but his .351 wOBA and .216 ISO certainly aren't poor marks -- just not as strong as we've become accustomed to seeing from him.
His contact has also been as good as -- if not better than -- we've seen before. His 44.8% hard-hit rate is on pace to be a career-high, while his 12.9% soft-hit rate is well below his 14.3% career-average. He's doing that while still notching a 37.2% fly-ball rate, which is right in line with his average of 37.1%.
One area causing some of this decline seems to be some bad luck on the long ball. Over his career, with only a 36.2% hard-hit rate, 21.4% of the fly-balls he's hit against right-handed pitchers have been home runs. in 2019 that rate sits at only 14.8% -- down over 10% from where it has been in each of the last two years.
Citizen's Bank Park doesn't seem to be quite as good as Nationals Park in home run factor for left-handed bats, but the gap isn't big, and we should expect regression to give Harper some increased power numbers moving forward.
He also gets himself a great matchup today against New York Mets righty Walker Lockett. Lockett has only pitched five major league games in his career, struggling to the tune of a 5.01 xFIP. He also only managed a 4.99 xFIP in his 24 2/3 Triple-A innings this year, and his 4.30 and 5.09 marks in his last two Triple-A seasons don't inspire any confidence either.
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.