MLB Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 5/23/13

You know it's a night with few games when the only pitcher I truly trust is Ryan Dempster.

We know that people play all sorts of fantasy platforms, not just from from our friends at StarStreet but on other platforms such as FanDuel, Draft Kings, and Fantasy Feud as well. So once again, we have four optimized rosters, all for you, the numberFire reader. One is for free here; the others can be found in our Premium section.

As always, the full tables for today's action are available at our Daily Fantasy Projections page. Make sure to check it out to see where the best values are for your team.

Our baseball projections are updated throughout the day, so make sure to come back to double-check your optimized rosters for any last-minute lineup changes. Since most action happens later in the day, we will be ignoring the early games (if there are any) and focusing solely on the late contests. That way, you can use and tinker with our optimized rosters throughout the day.

StarStreet Optimized Roster

PlayerPositionProjected FPCostValue
Ryan DempsterSP19.7$22,7000.87
Zach McAllisterSP14.66$22,2000.66
Miguel Cabrera3B12.57$9,2001.37
Mike TroutCF15.25$9,0001.69
Jason Kipnis2B13.23$7,0001.89
Albert Pujols1B13.04$6,3002.07
Carlos SantanaC12.07$5,4002.24
Mark Reynolds1B11.98$5,2002.30
Andy DirksLF10.33$4,6002.25
Alcides EscobarSS11.45$4,2002.73
Jonny GomesLF11.3940002.85

Fan Duel, Draft Kings, and Fantasy Feud Optimized Rosters

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The Three Top Pitchers

Ryan Dempster - I trust exactly one pitcher today. That pitcher is Ryan Dempster. Yeah, I know. He might not be the best overall value in most fantasy formats, but his 2-4 record and 4.27 ERA shouldn't scare anybody away who's actually paying attention. Dempster's 28.1 percent strikeout rate is one of the best in the major leagues, and given he hasn't been under 20 percent since 2007, it's not wholly unsustainable either. His 11.2 percent walk rate is indeed a problem, but at least it's not compounded as Cleveland's 8.6 percent walk rate is right near league average. Given Dempster has only allowed 15 percent of balls in play to be line drives this season, I think he'll be fine.

Rick Porcello - Strikeouts aren't exactly Porcello's game; his 17.0 percent strikeout rate this season is actually a career high. If Minnesota makes repeated solid contact, though, I'll be shocked. The Twins as a team have the No. 26 homerun rate at 2.0 percent of plate appearances and an exactly league-average OBP at .318. Their only key advantage - that 8.7 percent walk rate - is exactly what Porcello is best at guarding against with a 5.0 percent walk rate this season of his own.

Joe Blanton - He can't be that bad. He just can't. An 0-7 record and 6.62 ERA makes me absolutely cringe, as does his 1.967 (almost two!) WHIP. But before you automatically dismiss him, take a look at where those numbers are coming from. Blanton's 14.1 percent strikeout rate is just below his career average, and his 5.2 percent walk rate and 3.2 percent homerun rate are actually better than his career average. It's his 27 percent line drive rate that hurts, and that in turn has led to a majors-high .408 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and 15.2 hits per nine innings. We expect that number to regress to the mean in quick form.

Top High-Priced Hitters

Albert Pujols - On the flip side of Joe Blanton, we don't expect Ervin Santana to keep pitching this well. His .278 BABIP is unusually low given his 26 percent line drive rate (21 percent is the MLB average), and his 4.1 percent walk rate is likely to regress to his 7.4 percent career mean any day now. Pujols, meanwhile, has dipped in price below Chris Davis, Edwin Encarnacion, and Mark Reynolds in most formats. Sure, I'll take advantage of that dip with 0.26 projected homeruns, 0.87 projected runs scored, and 0.82 projected RBIs, thank you very much.

Miguel Cabrera - This is what I said yesterday: "You know us; we're not ones to automatically jump on the bandwagon as soon as a player becomes extraordinarily hot. We like to think long-term. But then again, what's to say that Cabrera can't hit another homerun after four in his past two games? He is the No. 1 player on our current Player Power Rankings after all, and that 5.9 homerun rate is actually below last season." Another day and another homerun later, the mindset still stands against Scott Diamond's 3.7 percent homerun rate.

Mid-Range Cost-Effective Hitters

Carlos Santana - What was that? Ryan Dempster's walk rate is his main issue? Oh, I'm sorry, would you like a starting catcher whose 14.7 percent walk rate this season is actually under his career average? Santana's 0.53 projected walks tonight are just one step towards his catchers-leading 0.65 runs scored, and the patience doesn't hurt his catchers-leading 0.83 RBIs either. And given his 0.23 projected homeruns (only J.P. Arencibia's 0.24 tops him), there is no denying Santana's dominance of other catching options tonight.

Alcides Escobar - Escobar certainly has the speed and stolen base potential; you can't deny that one. He also doesn't strike out very much, as his 10.6 percent K rate is almost half of the MLB average. Escobar's main problem this season is making solid contact: he only holds a .268 BABIP, way down from his .300 career average. When 83 percent of your plate appearances result in a ball in play, that's not good. I suppose it's a positive, then, that allowing a high BABIP is Joe Blanton's exact weakness (covered earlier), making Escobar a top breakout candidate on Kansas City tonight.