MLB Daily Fantasy Helper: 5/19/15
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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.
James Shields – Tonight's slate should be fun because you can go in a lot of different directions at pitcher. Our algorithm (and yours truly) like James Shields, who will be in San Diego (pitcher's park) against the Cubs. Chicago has the worst strikeout rate in baseball this year at 25.2%, and that numbers drops to 25.4% against right-handed pitching. Shields, meanwhile, is sitting with an 11.92 strikeout per nine rate so far this year, and though this will regress to his 7.77 career average, he's certainly capable of getting batters to K. With a low over/under set by Vegas, everything is in place for Shields to have a nice outing.
Alternative Option: Francisco Liriano
Jose Quintana – The White Sox are slight favorites against Cleveland today, and our numbers are really high on Jose Quintana. He was great in his last outing against Milwaukee, striking out 10 batters in seven innings of work. And in his start prior to that one versus the powerful Tigers, Quintana was able to go five innings, giving up just a pair of runs while striking out eight. His ERA is a poor 4.39, but don't be fooled -- the man has a strong 3.15 FIP thanks to an unlucky BABIP and strand rate. You're not getting the most ideal matchup for him tonight, but given his price tag and the way he's been pitching, he's not a bad GPP play.
Alternative Option: Carlos Frias
Freddie Freeman - Freeman actually doesn't have that expensive of a tag tonight, so placing him in the "high-cost hitter" section may not be entirely right. Regardless, the Braves are facing Erasmo Ramirez tonight, who has a career 1.29 home run per nine innings average to go along with a FIP that's north of 4.50. Freeman gets the platoon advantage here as well -- against right-handers over his career, Freeman has a .380 wOBA and .197 ISO, and this season against righties, his wOBA is .391 with a .200 ISO. He's a great value tonight.
Josh Donaldson - Each time the Blue Jays face a left-handed pitcher, you have to be interested in at least one of their big bats. I'm highlighting Donaldson here because our algorithm likes him best, but the other Blue Jay righties are in play as well. They get Hector Santiago, who's been putting together a good season with a 2.41 ERA and 3.98 FIP. But there are reasons (like his low BABIP and high strand rate) that he'll regress, and a matchup against a righty-heavy lineup could be where it happens. After all, throughout his career, right-handed batters are hitting to a .326 wOBA against Santiago, far better than the .285 he sees against lefties. It's also at the Rogers Centre, where homers can fly.
Alternative Option: Josh Reddick
Ryan Howard - Howard isn't going to be cheap tonight per se, but he's our top-ranked hitter, so I had to place him somewhere. You can pretty much copy and paste what I said yesterday about him into today's blurb: it's Coors Field against a right-handed pitcher, giving Howard the platoon advantage. The only difference is that this pitcher, Chad Bettis could arguably be worse due to inexperience. The Phillies are definitely in play, and that includes the lefty Howard.
Neil Walker - Ricky Nelasco is on the mound at PNC Park today, which means Pirate left-handers are in play in DFS. Walker's a switch-hitter, but he has a career .350 wOBA against right-handed pitching, far better than the .295 wOBA he has against lefties. PNC is certainly a pitcher's park, but Vegas still has the Pirates scoring over four runs, and it'd be a surprise if Walker didn't have something to do with that. Given his cost, he's a great guy to target.
Alternative Option: Kevin Keirmaier