6 MLB FanDuel Studs to Target on 4/5/16

Which high-priced hitters and pitchers are worth the investment today?

And just like that, baseball season is off and running. Monday’s 10-game slate really got things going, and it’s followed by another busy day Tuesday.

With 11 more games on the schedule, there is no shortage of quality options on the board.

As always, when playing any sport on FanDuel, it’s imperative to hit on high-priced players, especially when it comes to pitching. Let’s take a look at three hitters and three pitchers, who, despite costing a good chunk of change, are worth the investment.


Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs

Price: $10,700

It’s hard to say a pitcher who is a year removed from signing a six-year, $155 million deal is underrated, but Jon Lester may be just that.

Maybe it’s because Jake Arrieta went historically bonkers, relegating Lester to the number-two role, or maybe it’s because Lester had a win-loss record of 11-12. Whatever the reason -- and I really hope #pitcherwins have nothing to do with it -- the perception is Lester had something of a “down” year in his debut season with the Chicago Cubs.

The numbers tell a completely different story. Actually, Lester had one of the best campaigns of his career in 2015, posting a career-best 3.06 xFIP, 3.19 SIERA and 25.0 strikeout percentage.

Lester fared better away from Wrigley Field -- .259 wOBA on the road, .307 wOBA at home -- and he will face the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim tonight.

Projected for 36.87 points, Lester is our second-ranked pitcher for Tuesday. We see him allowing 5.75 hits and 2.31 earned runs while punching out 6.15 in 6.65 frames.

Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

Price: $9,700

In addition to a cartoonish curveball, Corey Kluber has a lot of things going for him in today’s season-opening home start against the Boston Red Sox. Kluber, a righty, is our top-ranked pitcher despite being the sixth-most expensive arm, which makes him Tuesday’s fourth-best value.

Our models project Kluber to allow 5.58 hits and 2.24 earned runs while fanning 7.21 over 6.74 innings, totaling 40.65 points on FanDuel.

Boston’s offense did rank sixth in wOBA last season with a .321 clip, but two of their central figures, Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts, fared better against southpaws last season.

2015 Plate Appearances wOBA Home Runs
Bogaerts vs. LHP 172 .389 2
Bogaerts vs. RHP 482 .320 5
Betts vs. LHP 161 .361 5
Betts vs. RHP 493 .348 13

Kluber was also stingier with the longball in his home starts a year ago, allowing 0.73 homers per nine innings at home compared to a 1.06 clip on the road.

Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

Price: $9,900

From a pitcher’s perspective, there is nothing better than a strikeout and nothing worse than a walk. Noah Syndergaard excels in racking up whiffs while limiting walks; it’s a beautiful combination. Among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched in 2015, Syndergaard ranked 9th in strikeout percentage (27.5) and 23rd in walk percentage (5.1).

Syndergaard can pound the zone without fear thanks to an all-world arsenal of pitches. We all know about his heater, and his average fastball velocity of 97.1 miles per hour last year was tops among starters. However, it’s Syndergaard’s secondary offerings which really elevate him to another level. He generates stellar swinging strike rates on his curveball (18.4), slider (18.8) and changeup (15.6).

It’ll be a fascinating matchup today against the Kansas City Royals, who, at 15.4 percent, struck out less frequently than any team in baseball last year. Our daily projections have Syndergaard as the day’s third-ranked pitcher. We project him to give up 2.55 earned runs on 5.65 hits and 1.48 walks while striking out 6.11 batters over 6.43 innings.


Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

Price: $4,500

To the surprise of no one, the Toronto Blue Jays’ offense has come out of the gate and put up five runs in each of their first two games. Again, to the surprise of no one, Jose Bautista has been a big part of it, reaching base in half of his plate appearances.

Toronto takes on Tampa Bay's right-handed starter Jake Odorizzi tonight, and Bautista checks in as our third-ranked hitter for the day. We project him to total 13.23 points, and Bautista has the best odds of hitting a homer (0.31), sharing the top spot with Carlos Gonzalez.

Bautista has made a killing in his career feasting off righties, owning a reverse split. Take a look at his 2015 numbers:

2015 Plate Appearances wOBA Home Runs
Versus Right-Handed Pitchers   535 .395 35
Versus Left-Handed Pitchers 131 .363 5

According to, 70 to 95 percent of humans are right-handed. Bautista owns every single one of them.

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

Price: $4,800

Paul Goldschmidt is the day’s second-most expensive hitter, but he’s our top-ranked slugger as we project him to score 14.37 points.

Goldschmidt will face off with Colorado’s right-handed starter Chad Bettis in a home affair. For his career, the Arizona masher owns a .382 wOBA against righties and a .396 wOBA in home games. This just in: Goldschmidt is really, really good.

Bettis made the transition from a reliever to a starter last season and posted a 3.89 xFIP over 115 innings. For his career, he’s struggled to put hitters away, recording a below-average 16.9 strikeout percentage, and his xFIP, interestingly enough, balloons to 4.41 away from Coors Field.

Arizona’s offense, coming off a five-run outing in Monday’s Opening Day loss, could be in for another big day, and Goldschmidt figures to be a key cog.

Yoenis Cespedes, OF, New York Mets

Price: $3,800

Much like Bautista, Yoenis Cespedes is a right-handed hitter with huge reverse splits, and he also gets to face a righty today as he squares off against Chris Young of the Kansas City Royals.

Here are Cespedes’ splits from his exceptional 2015 season:

2015 Plate Appearances wOBA Home Runs
Versus Right-Handed Pitchers   521 .383 27
Versus Left-Handed Pitchers 155 .313 8

Young isn’t just a right-handed pitcher; he’s a really bad right-handed pitcher. Among the 328 pitchers to toss at least 50 innings last year, Young’s horrendous 5.33 xFIP ranked third-worst.

As always, any mention of Cespedes is a good enough reason to include one of the more underrated bat flips the 2015 postseason: