MLB Daily Fantasy Helper: Saturday 4/9/16
The beauty of daily fantasy baseball is that the top targets are different each and every day. Whether it's the right-handed catcher who destroys left-handed pitching or the mid-range hurler facing a depleted lineup, you're not going to find yourself using the same assets time after time.
While this breaks up the monotony, it can make it hard to decide which players are primed to succeed on a given day. We can help bridge that gap.
In addition to our custom optimal lineups, you can check out our batting and pitching heat maps, which show the pieces in the best spot to succeed on that slate. Put on the finishing touches with our games and lineups page to see who's hitting where and what the weather looks like, and you'll have yourself a snazzy looking team to put up some big point totals.
If you need help getting started on that trek, here are some of the top options on the board today. With the staggered start times, these will focus exclusively on the main slate, which starts at 7 pm Eastern.
Pitchers to Target
Editor's Note: The Giants/Dodgers game is in danger of being delayed or postponed due to inclement weather. Keep an eye on the reports. It may be worth it to pivot to a cheaper pitcher, such as Chris Sale in cash formats, or Drew Smyly in tournaments.
Clayton Kershaw ($13,000 on FanDuel): Kershaw exerted his dominance over a helpless San Diego team in the season opener, limiting the Padres to a single and a walk while striking out nine over seven scoreless innings. Kershaw will look to continue his scoreless streak today against San Francisco. The Giants were average against left-handers in 2015, ranking 18th in wOBA against lefties, but this game will be played at AT&T Park, where Kershaw has a career 9-3 record, 1.16 ERA, and 0.78 WHIP in 14 career starts. Not bad. AT&T Park was also the home of the 28th ranked park factor and the 30th ranked HR-park factor last season. Kershaw will also be pitching against a lefty-heavy San Francisco lineup, and he posted an absurd 38.1 percent strikeout rate against lefties last year. In 38.1 innings against the Giants last year, he struck out 52 batters. Kershaw's price is certainly restrictive, but his combination of ceiling and floor make him a fade at your own risk option tonight.
If you are going to fade Kershaw, you need to do so with someone who has considerable upside. Chris Sale and Cole Hamels both are going against teams in the bottom five of the league in strikeout rates against lefties, which limits their potential. Madison Bumgarner faces a Dodgers team that ranks third in wRC+ against lefties, and Gerrit Cole pitches in Great American Ballpark against a Reds team that doesn't strike out very often against righties and has given him trouble in the past.
Drew Smyly ($8,500): We're left with Smyly, who is the biggest risk/reward pitcher of the day. On one hand, he pitches at Camden Yards against a team that boasts several talented right-handers in their lineup. Though, for whatever reason, Baltimore struggled mightily against lefties in 2015, though, as some of their best righties posted severe reverse-splits, such as Manny Machado and Adam Jones. All in all, Baltimore ranked 28th in wOBA against lefties, and posted a strikeout rate of 23.3 percent against left-handed pitching, which was the fourth highest in the league. As for Camden Yards, Smyly went seven shutout innings with 10 strikeouts in his one start there last season, and has a career 0.82 ERA in four games there. Smyly also has a very good chance of picking up an additional 12 points for the win in this one, as his opponent on the mound will be Mike Wright, whose 5.28 SIERA is easily the highest on the slate.
Editor's Note: The Nationals/Marlins game as been postponed. Don't use Ross today.
Joe Ross ($6,800): Ross was terrific in his first 76 Major League innings, but what was most impressive about his rookie season was his dominance against right-handers, which bodes well against a Miami lineup with only three left-handed bats. Ross allowed just a .252 slugging percentage and .205 wOBA against righties, while posting a pristine 26.3 percent strikeout rate and 3.8 percent walk rate. Miami predictably struggled against right-handers last season, posting a putrid .297 wOBA against righties, the worst mark in the league. To be fair, a good bit of that came without some of their best hitters, but at the same time, those hitters also struggle against right-handed pitching. Specifically, Giancarlo Stanton, posted pretty severe splits against righties last year. He's always the one you need to worry about if targeting the Marlins, so it is very encouraging that Ross lines up well against him, from a statistical standpoint. Stanton's career ISO against righties is .263, as opposed to a .323 mark against lefties. His wOBA is down from .415 against lefties, to .377 against righties. He strikes out more often, too, as evidenced by his 29.6 percent career strikeout rate against righties and 24.1 percent against lefties. Ross is far from a cash game play, but he is intriguing for tournaments if you are considering fading Kershaw.
Hitters to Target
Miguel Cabrera ($4,300): Cabrera has a hit in each game this year, and has doubled his FanDuel points in each game, going from 6 to 12, and then to 24 behind his first homer of the year. He looks to keep the good times rolling tonight against CC Sabathia, who is coming off of a 4.08 SIERA in 2015. The main source of Sabathia's struggles was his inability to pitch to right-handers. 25 of the 28 homers he allowed last year were off the bat of a right-hander, and righties posted a .502 slugging percentage against him, a stark contrast from the .279 mark lefties achieved. Unfortunately for Sabathia, Detroit boasts one of the most right-handed heavy lineups in the league, and Miggy is the best of them all. Last season, Cabrera posted a .238 ISO and a .435 wOBA against lefties, both significant improvements from his numbers against righties. He is a terrific play in any format tonight.
Nelson Cruz ($4,300): One of the rules of daily fantasy is that you play Nelson Cruz if he is facing a right-handed fly ball pitcher, and Cruz gets just that today, in the form of 36 year old Rich Hill. Hill posted a 4.15 SIERA last season, and has allowed a career 44.4 percent fly ball rate to right-handed batters. Last season, Cruz posted an obscene .673 slugging percentage, .315 ISO, .459 wOBA, and 46.5 percent hard hit rate against lefties. He is a safe bet for production tonight, and is worth a look in any format.
David Ortiz ($3,900): Big Papi will face off against R.A. Dickey, who boasts the third highest 2015 SIERA (4.76) of any pitcher today. Ortiz absolutely demolished right-handed pitching last season, launching 29 of his 37 homers against righties. Ortiz raised his slugging percentage from .426 against lefties to .613 against righties, while increasing his ISO from .195 to .320. His wOBA against righties was 112 points higher than his mark against lefties, and his hard hit rate of 43 percent was a big improvement, too. This game will be played at Rogers Center, too, in which Ortiz has blasted 39 career homers -- the most he's hit in any stadium other than Fenway. Ortiz is a terrific play if you can't fit Cabrera's salary.
J.D. Martinez ($3,400): Martinez also will benefit from a matchup against Sabathia, as he posted a .274 ISO and a .385 wOBA against lefties last season. Martinez's hard hit rate rose from 41.5 percent to a ridiculous 48.7 percent against lefties, too. At such a cheap price, Martinez is an auto-play tonight, especially if stacking the Tigers.
Matt Carpenter ($3,300): Carpenter will face right-hander Julio Teheran on the mound today, who posted a 4.24 SIERA last season. Teheran struggled specifically against lefties, whom he allowed to hit for significantly higher slugging percentage and wOBA than righties, while striking out far less often and walking more. This all is great news for Carpenter, who is the Cardinals' best left-handed hitter, and performs much better against right-handed pitching. Carpenter saw large increases in his slugging percentage, wOBA, and ISO against right-handers, while also posting a lower strikeout rate and higher walk rate. Carpenter also posted a 40.2 percent hard hit rate against righties. He is a great play tonight atop a Cardinals lineup that could put up a lot of runs against Teheran.
Corey Dickerson ($3,200): Dickerson draws a matchup against Mike Wright, who had a 5.28 SIERA last season and struggled specifically against left-handers. Wright allowed lefties to post a .533 slugging percentage and .392 wOBA last year, while only striking out 10.9 percent of the lefties he faced. Dickerson absolutely crushes right-handed pitching, and should put up some big numbers against Wright. All 10 of his homers came against righties last year, and he has already launched two against righties this season. When facing righties last season, Dickerson elevated his slugging percentage from .357 to .595, his ISO from .089 to .280, his wOBA from .291 to .398, and his hard hit rate from 21.6 percent to 42 percent. He's a must-play in all formats at this price.
Luis Valbuena ($2,400): Valbuena is always a nice cheap source of power when facing a bad right-hander, which he is tonight. Valbuena will face Wily Peralta, who posted a 4.75 SIERA in 2015, and gave up five runs in his first start of 2016. While Peralta struggles against hitters of all handedness, he was especially porous against left-handers last year, allowing a .534 slugging percentage and .376 wOBA. Valbuena, a lefty, absolutely crushes right-handed pitching. 20 of his 25 home runs came against righties last season, and he posted a 36.2% hard-hit rate and 45.1% fly-ball rate against righties. He is an excellent dart throw in tournaments.
Logan Morrison ($2,200): Morrison got his first hit of the season last night, and he has a good chance to build off that tonight against Mike Wright. Morrison hit all 17 of his dingers against right-handers last season, and posted some huge splits, especially in the power department. His slugging percentage rose from .246 to .444 against righties, while his ISO rose from .056 to .203. He also posted a 35 percent hard hit rate against righties in 2015. He was especially effective on the road against righties, where he posted a .529 slugging percentage, .274 ISO, 48.1 percent fly ball rate, and 43.6 percent hard hit rate. Considering he is playing at Camden Yards, home to the second highest HR-park factor in 2015, as opposed to the spacious Tropicana Field he calls home, he could definitely be in store for his first homer of 2016. He is a very cheap source of power potential tonight, and is almost a must for tournament lineups if you're trying to fit Kershaw in.