MLB Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 5/14/15
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As for today's lineups -- those can be found here. The information below is to help you understand why particular players are being picked, because we don't want you going into the things completely blind. We want to help you. Keep in mind, however, that things often change up until the games start, so make sure you're refreshing the optimal lineups as close to the start of games as possible.
Johnny Cueto – If you're not playing the early only slate today and still decide to not use Johnny Cueto, you're doing it wrong. Not only does he have the highest projection according to our algorithm, but Vegas has the Reds as pretty heavy favorites in a game with an over/under of seven runs. It's true that Great American Ball Park isn't the best park for pitchers, but Cueto was better at home than on the road last season, and that's been consistent throughout his career (.291 wOBA against versus .310). The Giants, his opponent, have been decent against right-handed pitching this season -- especially in the strikeout department, where they're going down on strikes at a 17.2% rate -- but it's not nearly enough to go against Cueto, especially in cash games.
Brett Anderson – Another day, another low-cost Dodger pitcher to target. Anderson's been decent this year with a 3.53 FIP, but his strikeout per nine of 4.70 is a little alarming -- you may not get the high upside out of him as you would other starters. However, the slate is pretty ugly today and tonight from a pitching perspective, and the Dodgers are still heavy favorites in their game against Colorado thanks to a favorable pitching matchup. Anderson will also have the benefit of pitching in a pitcher-friendly park against a team in the Rockies that, so far this year, has struggled against left-handed pitching. In fact, their .294 wOBA against lefties ranks sixth worst in the bigs, while their 23.6% K rate is seventh worst. Given the options on the table today and tonight, you could certainly do worse than Anderson.
Alternative Option: Vance Worley (early only)
Adrian Gonzalez - We've written about this plenty before -- Adrian Gonzalez mashes right-handed pitching, so when he faces right-handed pitching, he has to be a consideration. That's no different today, as he'll go up against righty Chad Bettis in LA. Bettis just joined the Rockies yesterday, and will make his first start of the year. In AAA this year, he threw to a 5.02 FIP, and in 69.1 career big league innings, Bettis' FIP is a paltry 5.14. He's got a really bad home run rate, and a below average walk rate, too. In all means it could be a big night for both Gonzalez and the rest of the Dodgers lineup.
Josh Donaldson - Our numbers love the Blue Jays today, which makes sense as they face Roberto Hernandez. The Astro righty doesn't have the best home run numbers against, and his FIP is a poor 4.27, an improvement on his career 4.57 FIP. Though Hernandez does have pretty big platoon splits -- and Donaldson, among the other big Blue Jay bats, won't have the platoon advantage -- that may not matter given Hernandez's general poor play. Vegas has the Blue Jays as favorites in a game with an 8.5 run over/under, and Donaldson presents the best value among the top hitters on the team, per our algorithm.
Alternative Option: Jacoby Ellsbury
Pedro Alvarez - As it stands, only three players have better odds of hitting a home run today than Pedro Alvarez: the aforementioned Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Nelson Cruz. The difference is that Alvarez can be had for a fraction of their price. The Pirates will finish their four-game series against the Phillies today, with a matchup against Aaron Harang, who's once again starting hot this season. Though his FIP is a strong 2.94, you have to assume -- because it's Aaron Harang, he who has a 4.10 career FIP and is at the tail-end of his career -- regression is going to hit soon. Alvarez gets a big park shift that will favor his home run ability, and he has the platoon advantage in the matchup. Watch out.
Jay Bruce - There's no denying that Jay Bruce has been bad this year. He's sitting with a .167 average and .270 wOBA, and while his BABIP is a low .192, much of that has to do with a poor 16.7% line-drive rate. But what we know about Jay Bruce is that he's full of power. Usually. Though last year he took an ISO hit, Bruce has a career .220 ISO against right-handed pitching, which he'll get today when he faces Tim Lincecum in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park. Lincecum has been good this year, but the park shift could spell a little trouble, and Bruce may be able to take advantage.
Alternative Option: Luis Valbuena