3 MLB FanDuel Studs to Target on 7/17/19
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.
Mike Clevinger, P, Cleveland Indians ($9,400)
It can be tough to fade Gerrit Cole, but tonight he's priced $2,000 above any other pitcher while drawing the dreaded Los Angeles Angels matchup -- an offense that strikes out at the lowest rate in the majors (17.8%).
On the other hand, Mike Clevinger's opponent, the Detroit Tigers, strike out at the third-highest rate (25.8%). Their active roster has a 24.7% strikeout rate (fifth-highest) and a 78 wRC+ (worst by a big margin) against right-handed pitching, so even though Clevinger's career numbers don't nearly match Cole's, it's not hard to see why our models project him for a higher fantasy score.
That's not to say Clevinger's numbers aren't impressive, either. We've only got a six-game sample to draw from so far, but he has been absolutely lethal. His 3.10 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) is a solid step up from 2018's 3.86, and his strikeout rate sits at an absolutely absurd 39.7%. That's probably not a sustainable mark, but it's also backed up by a phenomenal 16.4% swinging-strike rate, which is a stat that stabilize a lot more quickly than strikeout rate. His average fastball velocity is also way up -- from 92.5 and 93.6 miles per hour in the last two seasons to 96.0 so far in 2019.
Even if regression starts to hit, a matchup with the Tigers is so soft that he remains the most well-positioned pitcher on the slate, making him a top play in all formats.
Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox ($4,200)
At 22 years old with over 1100 plate appearances under his belt, Rafael Devers took a couple of years to really get going, but it's safe to call 2019 his breakout season. His .382 wOBA and .224 ISO are both career-highs, sitting well ahead of his previous best marks of .344 and .198, while he's cut his strikeout rate to 15.5% -- down from 24.7% last season.
Both his hard-hit rate (36.1%) and soft-hit rate (18.0%) are also career-bests, and his walk rate (7.7%) remains right in line with his major league career average.
He has been a menace against right-handed pitching across 296 such plate appearances this year, with a .406 wOBA and .253 ISO on a 40.4% hard-hit rate, and that makes him especially exciting tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays and right-hander Aaron Sanchez.
Sanchez never had the breakout year that was being called for a few seasons ago, and he's on pace to match his career-worst SIERA (5.62) in 2019, which will give him three straight years with a SIERA worse than 5.00. Going back to 2018, left-handed hitters have thrashed him for a .364 wOBA and 5.42 xFIP.
Cody Bellinger, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers ($4,800)
Cody Bellinger is the second-most expensive hitter on the slate, and he's well worth the hefty price tag.
Per Baseball Savant, Bellinger ranks second among qualifying hitters in both expected wOBA and expected slugging percentage this season, and only one hitter (Rafael Devers) has more batted-balls of at least 95 miles per hour than Bellinger does.
This phenomenal contact has translated to some serious production, and Bellinger has the highest wOBA (.454) and the second-highest ISO (.370) among qualifying hitters. His numbers get even sillier with the platoon advantage, turning in a .462 wOBA and .389 ISO on a 51.6% hard-hit rate and 40.9% fly-ball rate across 265 plate appearances in the split.
That should mean trouble for Philadelphia Phillies righty Nick Pivetta. It's been a rough year for Pivetta already, struggling to the tune of a 4.90 SIERA over 12 major league starts after only managing a 4.06 xFIP across 37 Triple-A innings, and he has been cracked for a 43.7% hard-hit rate by left-handed bats.
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.