6 MLB FanDuel Studs to Target on 4/7/16

Who are the high-priced studs worth grabbing for Thursday's nine-game slate?

For the most part, there are going to be big sticks available each day, but the same can’t be said for the game’s best pitchers. With most top-of-the-rotation arms having already made their season debut, Thursday is a day where it takes a keen eye to make the right pitching selection.

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.


Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians

FanDuel Price: $9,300

Danny Salazar is our top-ranked pitcher for Thursday, and he’s also the day’s most expensive hurler. Our models project him to amass 32.22 FanDuel points, pegging him to allow 2.49 earned runs and 5.7 hits while fanning 5.71 hitters over 6.16 innings.

Salazar has some of the game’s best stuff, which James Loney can attest to as he got a first-hand look at a sharp Salazar slider followed by some straight gas which would make Kenny DeNunez proud.

Because baseball is unfair, Salazar also has this silly changeup, which generated a stellar 22.4 percent swinging strike rate last season.

Salazar Garcia CH 2

Anytime a hitter takes such an off-balance hack that he spins a full 360 degrees after a swing and miss, the pitcher is winning.

Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber, the first two right-handed flame throwers in Cleveland’s arsenal, did not fare well against the Red Sox, combining to allow 19 base runners and 8 earned runs over 10 1/3 innings. They’ve really been burnt by the long ball, as Boston tagged the Indians’ two starters for four bombs over the first two games of the series.

The Red Sox have gone with a right-handed heavy lineup thus far, and while Salazar doesn’t possess lopsided splits, he did allow just a .279 wOBA to righties last season. At 25.8, Salazar owned the 12th-best strikeout percentage last season. Boston’s implied total today is 3.54, the lowest mark of the slate.

Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals

FanDuel Price: $6,700

Tanner Roark and stud are not synonyms, but they go hand in hand Thursday. Roark will get the ball for the Nationals’ home opener versus the Marlins. Miami’s 3.74 implied total is the second-lowest of the day, and the Marlins' .306 wOBA last year ranked 26th.

Our projections have Roark giving up 2.46 earned runs on 5.85 hits while punching out 3.83 batters in 6.11 frames. He’s our sixth-ranked pitcher, and his economical price tag checks in 12th, making him our third-best value play.

Ubaldo Jimenez, Baltimore Orioles

FanDuel Price: $7,900

If you catch Ubaldo Jimenez on the right day, you’ll swear you’re watching one of the game’s best. He’s a starter with the stuff of a closer -- an electric fastball with two-seam movement, a big hook and a changeup that looks like it buffers on its way to the plate.

I mean, look at this pitch he threw during his first-half breakout with Colorado in 2010. That pitch was clocked at 99 miles per hour and moved five inches back to the right, per PITCHf/x, and wound up at the knees on the outside corner. Ain’t nobody doing nothin’ with that.

And look at what he did to Michael Choice last season. Choice isn’t Ted Williams, but he gets paid to hit baseballs. I can't confirm this, but I'm going to assume this caused Choice to quit the sport. Don't look that up, just run with it.

The problem, of course, is Jimenez is about as consistent as Midwestern weather. Fortunately, he gets a nice matchup with a Twins squad that ranked 22nd in wOBA last year with a .305 clip.

We project him to allow 2.51 runs while scattering 5.39 hits and fanning 5.09 hitters over 6.05 innings.


Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

FanDuel Price: $4,300

Anthony Rizzo and the Cubs will be on the road for a matchup with Rubby De La Rosa and the Diamondbacks. Rizzo, a lefty, just mashes -- period. He has no discernible splits as he racked up a .384 wOBA against righties and a .383 wOBA versus lefties in 2015.

The same can’t be said for De La Rosa, who struggled mightily against left-handed hitters last season. Take a look at his staggering splits:

2015 Batters Faced wOBA Home Runs xFIP Strikeout Percentage
Vs. Left-Handed Batters 410 .404 20 5.15 14.6
Vs. Right-Handed Batters 399 .266 12 3.19 22.6

Against righties, De La Rosa is darn good. Put a batter on the other side of the plate, and he turns into a glorified batting practice pitcher.

So the matchup is good, and Chase Field doesn’t hurt, either. Arizona’s home grounds ranked as the eighth-best hitter's park last year, according to ESPN’s Park Factors. At 4.9 runs, the Cubs have the highest implied total of the day.

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

FanDuel Price: $4,800

Mike Trout is Mike Trout. There’s rarely going to be much of an argument not to roster him. Trout, like Rizzo, isn’t picky when it comes to pitcher handedness, but he did fare slightly better against southpaws last season, which is what he’ll see tonight in Texas’ pitcher Derek Holland.

In 2015, Trout -- who is our top-ranked hitter for Thursday with a projected 13.92 points -- posted a ridiculous .434 wOBA against lefties. For his career, that clip sits at .397.

Holland, like most left-handers, fares much better against same-sided hitters. For his career, he allows a .363 wOBA to righties while his wOBA against lefties is .323. His xFIP is a superb 2.22 when facing a lefty while it shoots up to 4.90 versus righties.

On top of all that, Trout is 0-for-8 through two games this season. In 2015, it took until August 17 for Trout to go hitless in three straight games, and that brief relapse into human form was the only such slump of three or more games Trout had all year. It’s almost like he’s good at this baseball thing.

Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

FanDuel Price: $4,200

The day’s most expensive third baseman, Manny Machado is our second-ranked hitter. We project him to score 13.68 points in his matchup with Minnesota right-hander Phil Hughes.

Both Hughes and Machado, a righty, put up reverse splits last year, making this a nice matchup for the Orioles’ star.

In 2015, Machado posted a .384 wOBA and hit 28 of his 35 jacks against right-handed throwers. Hughes, a strike-throwing machine who walked just 2.5 percent of hitters last year, gave up a .369 wOBA to righties while holding lefties to a .326 mark.

Camden Yards is better for left-handed swingers, but it’s still a nice park for righties, too, ranking second in home run factor, per ESPN’s Park Factors. At 33 percent, we give Machado as good of a chance as anyone to go deep Thursday.