MLB Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 9/23/15

Madison Bumgarner is known for his clutch play and he has been on fire down the stretch this season.

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

Madison Bumgarner -- The Giants' ace has had another spectacular year, boasting an 18-8 record with a 2.70 FIP, 2.99 xFIP and 3.00 SIERA while striking out an impressive 9.58 batters per nine innings. Not only has he been solid all season long, but he has been scorching hot during the second half of this season. Since the All-Star break, Bumgarner has posted a minuscule 1.78 FIP and 2.52 xFIP while holding opposing batters to just a .226 wOBA over that span. Tonight, the reigning World Series MVP draws a great matchup against a Padres squad who ranks just 23rd in wOBA (.299) and 21st in wRC+ (91) while striking out at a massive 23% rate -- sixth highest in the league -- against left-handed pitching this season. With Clayton Kershaw taking the mound in the early slate, Bumgarner is our top overall projected player tonight. 

Alternative Options: Chris Sale, Michael Wacha

Cost-Effective Pitcher

Michael Pineda -- Although he has been somewhat up and down this season, Pineda comes into tonight's matchup with the White Sox with very solid numbers on the year. The young Yankees' starter has earned a 3.31 FIP, 2.97 xFIP and 3.10 SIERA while adding 8.75 strikeouts per nine innings. Meanwhile, Chicago has been one of the worst hitting teams in baseball all season long, ranking 22nd in wOBA (.307) and 25th in wRC+ (92) against right-handed pitching so far this season. Pineda makes a solid number two pitching option on two-pitcher sites and a great GPP play on all platforms tonight. 

Alternative Options: Jarred Cosart

Top Hitters

High-Cost Hitters

Yoenis Cespedes -- Cespedes has been so hot since joining the Mets at the trade deadline that there have even been some talks of him winning the National League MVP award. Although I don't think he's done quite enough to pull that off, his .399 wOBA, .337 ISO and .955 OPS since the All-Star break is pretty damn impressive. With a matchup against Reds' rookie Josh Smith and his 6.36 xFIP and 5.95 SIERA on the docket, Cespedes immediately becomes one of the best plays on the board tonight, especially considering he has faired better against right-handed pitching than left-handed this season. Do not hesitate to plug the Mets' slugger into your lineup in all formats tonight.

Lorenzo Cain -- The Royals draw a matchup against Mariners' southpaw James Paxton tonight, which means Cain is definitely on my radar. The Royals' star has killed left-handed pitching this season, amassing a .404 wOBA, .232 ISO and .954 OPS when facing southpaws this season. Although Paxton has surprisingly had more success against lefties than righties this year, he has still earned just a 4.11 FIP and 4.33 xFIP against right-handed bats this year, which makes him a viable target against batters from both sides of the plate. Cain is an elite play any time he faces off against a left-handed pitcher and tonight is no exception.

Alternative Options: Curtis Granderson, Dee Gordon

Cost-Effective Hitters

Mikie Mahtook -- Speaking of batters who have killed lefties this season, the Rays' rookie Mahtook has earned a .420 wOBA, .302 ISO and .987 OPS against left-handed pitching through the first 33 games of his career. With the Red Sox rolling out lefty Wade Miley and his 4.13 xFIP against right-handed batters, Mahtook is very much in play as a value option tonight. The Tampa Bay rookie is dollar for dollar one of my favorite plays on the board at just $3,200 on both FanDuel and DraftKings.

Andres Blanco -- While the Phillies have not had a spectacular season, there have been several bright spots for Philadelphia this season and Blanco is definitely one of them. The Phillies' switch-hitting infielder has done especially well against right-handed pitching this season, posting a .407 wOBA, .192 ISO and .942 OPS when batting from the left side of the plate. Blanco gets the pleasure of facing off against Marlins' right-hander Cosart and his 5.09 FIP tonight, which is a good sign for the Phillies' veteran. Blanco is very much in play at $3,000 on FanDuel, but is an absolute steal at just $2,400 on DraftKings.

Alternative Options: Steven Souza, Justin Bour

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