MLB Daily Fantasy Helper: Monday 9/14/15

Can Clayton Kershaw live up to his insanely expensive price tag tonight?

If you've never played daily fantasy baseball before, it's time to start. Unlike traditional leagues, you're able to select the players you want on that specific day only, giving you a different squad to root for each and every day.

And if you'd like, you can use our optimal lineups here at to crush the competition.

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.

Top Pitchers

High-Cost Pitcher

Clayton Kershaw -- The reigning National League MVP has managed to put together another masterful campaign this season. Kershaw ranks first among all starters in FIP (2.08), xFIP (2.11), SIERA (2.24) and strikeout percentage (33.5%) while ranking second in strikeouts per nine innings (11.60) and strikeout to walk ratio (7.19). Tonight, the Dodgers' ace draws a spectacular matchup against a Rockies team who has been horrific away from Coors Field, ranking dead last in wOBA (.286) and wRC+ (77) on the road while striking out at the second highest rate in the league at 24.2%. Kershaw is an outrageous -360 favorite in what is expected to be the lowest scoring game on the slate and is our number one overall projected pitcher on the board by a wide margin. He is worth every penny of his massive price tag.

Alternative Options: Carlos Carrasco, Jordan Zimmermann

Cost-Effective Pitcher

James Shields -- Shields has quietly had a very solid season, earning an 11-6 record with a 3.66 xFIP and 3.70 SIERA while striking out an impressive 9.58 batters per nine innings for the lowly Padres this season. Although tonight's matchup against a Diamondbacks lineup who ranks 13th in wOBA (.317) against right-handed pitching isn't necessarily ideal, Arizona does rank just 20th in wRC+ against righties (95) and strikes out at the ninth highest rate in the majors at 20.7%. While I'm probably looking more towards the higher-priced pitching options like Kershaw and Carrasco for cash games tonight, Shields makes a very intriguing tournament option with a lot of strikeout upside tonight.

Alternative Options: Tim Hudson

Top Hitters

High-Cost Hitters

Mike Trout -- We already talked about the reigning National League MVP earlier in this column, so why not touch on the reigning American League MVP as well. Although he hasn't put up quite as impressive numbers as a year ago, Trout has posted another outstanding campaign this season. He ranks inside the top 10 in all of baseball in wOBA (.410), wRC+ (167), ISO (.280) and OPS (.965) and is in a great spot tonight against Mariners' starter Taijuan Walker who gives up a whopping 1.38 homers per nine innings. Our algorithm gives the Angels' star the best chance to go yard on the board tonight, making him our top overall projected batter on tonight's slate. He makes an excellent play at just $4,100 on FanDuel and $4,700 on DraftKings.

Bryce Harper -- Harper is one of the few players in the league to rank ahead of Trout in every category mentioned above, actually ranking first in the majors in wOBA (.462), wRC+ (197), ISO (.315) and OPS (1.111). While he has crushed pitching from both sides of the plate, the majority of the damage Harper has done this season has come at the expense of right-handed pitching. The leading candidate for the National League MVP has obliterated righties to the tune of a ridiculous .483 wOBA, .355 ISO and 1.174 OPS. Tonight, Harper gets the pleasure of facing off against Phillies' rookie righty Aaron Nola who -- although he has been pretty solid through is first ten starts of the season -- has amassed a 4.48 FIP and 4.57 xFIP against left-handed bats while giving up a .324 wOBA to lefties as well. Do not hesitate to plug the Nationals' slugger into your lineup in all formats tonight.

Alternative Options: Yoenis Cespedes, Miguel Cabrera

Cost-Effective Hitters

Mikie Mahtook -- The Rays' rookie outfielder has appeared in just 24 games so far this season, but has become a great platoon specialist for the Rays down the stretch. Mahtook has accumulated a .408 wOBA, .317 ISO and .960 OPS against left-handed pitching this season and draws a matchup against Yankees' veteran southpaw CC Sabathia tonight. Sabathia has been a shell of his former Cy Young award winning self this season, posting a 5.16 ERA, 4.80 FIP and 4.04 SIERA on the year. He has also been absolutely lit up by right-handed batters, allowing righties to hit for a .381 wOBA against him through 25 starts. Mahtook is a sneaky good value play at just $2,400 on DraftKings and $2,700 on FanDuel.

Trevor Plouffe -- Speaking of batters who crush left-handed pitching, Plouffe comes into tonight with a .341 wOBA and .189 ISO when facing southpaws this season. Tonight, Minnesota squares off with struggling Tigers' lefty Kyle Lobstein who has allowed a .381 wOBA to right-handed batters while earning an abysmal 5.38 FIP and 5.18 xFIP against righties. The Twins are a pretty healthy -150 favorite in what Vegas expects to be one of the highest scoring games on the slate tonight and Plouffe should be batting right in the middle of the Minnesota lineup. Plouffe is definitely in play at $4,000 on DraftKings, but is an absolute steal at just $2,400 on FanDuel.

Alternative Options: Clint Robinson, Steve Pearce

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