MLB Daily Fantasy Helper: Sunday 5/22/16
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. This article is for the main slate, which starts at 1:10 PM ET.
Pitchers to Target
Noah Syndergaard ($11,800 on FanDuel): On the heels of an excellent rookie season, Syndergaard has taken his game to another level this year. After posting a 2.95 SIERA and 27.5% strikeout rate in 150 innings last season, he is sporting a 2.30 SIERA and 31.6% strikeout rate. Today’s opposition, the Milwaukee Brewers, have the third-highest strikeout rate in the league (25.6%), and the game is taking place at Citi Field, the best pitcher’s park, according to ESPN’s Park Factors. Syndergaard is our top-ranked hurler for Sunday as we project him to score 41.76 FanDuel points. Milwaukee’s implied total of 2.78 runs is easily the lowest clip of the day.
Madison Bumgarner ($11,200): In his age-27 season, Bumgarner has been among the game’s most consistently excellent pitchers since his first full campaign in 2011. He has surpassed the 200-inning mark in five straight years while recording 3.24 SIERA for his career. In 58 2/3 innings this season, he owns a 3.17 SIERA with a career-best 28.7% strikeout rate. Bumgarner is our second-ranked pitcher for Sunday. His matchup with the Chicago Cubs is a tough one, to be sure, but it takes place at San Francisco's AT&T Park. In 595 1/3 career innings in his home stadium, Bumgarner has limited hitters to a .278 wOBA, and AT&T Park ranks last in home run factor. The Cubs’ implied run total is just 3.37.
Dallas Keuchel ($8,000): Not very often will you find the previous season’s American League Cy Young winner priced as a value play, but a 5.43 ERA will do that to you. Luckily, we have other -- better -- statistics which tell us Keuchel isn’t throwing quite as poorly as that ERA suggests. The numbers aren’t great (4.17 SIERA and 18.9% strikeout rate), but the big culprit is his career-worst 10.0% walk rate. Kuechel faces off with the Texas Rangers in a home start at Minute Maid Park, where he’s limited batters to a .283 wOBA over his career. While Syndergaard and Bumgarner figure to have high ownership numbers today, as our fourth-ranked arm, Keuchel is a solid pivot play who gives you more budget flexibility with your offense.
Hitters to Target
Josh Donaldson ($3,900): The Toronto Blue Jays’ implied total of 4.69 runs is the second-highest mark of the day, making them a team to target. Donaldson made a brief appearance Saturday, getting tossed in the first inning. It was the latest setback in a what’s been a rough stretch as he has just three hits over his past eight games, a span of 33 plate appearances. Still, his overall numbers -- .368 wOBA, 12.4% walk rate and 10 jacks -- are really good, and the Blue Jays have a superb matchup against Minnesota Twins’ pitcher Phil Hughes, who has a lowly 15.4% strikeout rate. With a projected point total of 14.87 points, Donaldson is our top-ranked hitter for the day.
Nelson Cruz ($4,200): Much like Donaldson, Cruz is a key cog in one of the day’s top offenses. In fact, the Seattle Mariners’ implied total of 4.92 runs for their game at the Cincinnati Reds is the best clip of the day. Playing at Great American Ballpark, which ranks fifth in home run factor, our models project Cruz to score 13.62 points, making him the third-ranked hitter for Sunday. Seattle is taking on Cincinnati Reds’ righty Alfredo Simon, who boasts an unsightly 4.65 SIERA. Through 179 plate appearances this season, Cruz has a career-best 10.6% walk rate with nine bombs and a .378 wOBA.
Justin Smoak ($2,900): Smoak is a cheap way to get exposure to Toronto’s potent lineup. A switch hitter, Smoak fares better against right-handed pitching, which is what he’ll see today in his clash with Hughes. He owns a .320 wOBA against righties, compared to a .291 wOBA versus southpaws. Smoak is quietly having a breakout season, posting a .369 wOBA and 16.1% walk rate, both of which are career-best numbers.
Adam Lind ($2,400): Along the same lines as Smoak, Lind is a nice way to get a piece of Seattle’s offense for an economical price. Playing in a hitter-friendly park, Lind should be in the lineup as the Mariners see a right-handed pitcher. For his career, Lind owns a monster .366 wOBA versus right-handers.