We are one week into MLB daily fantasy and it seems like the non-late swap contests on FanDuel are going to be trash this season. With no meaningful tournaments available in my buy-in range, I am being forced to play the late-swap slates in order to chase a real sweat of any kind. Hooray for giving all the sharps another way to get an edge, eh? I know that makes me sound negative, but it is what it is. I prefer locking my lineups in at 7:05pm and being done with research for the night. But I guess I will just have to work a little bit longer, right?
After the cesspool of pitching that was Friday night’s games, at least Saturday offers us some quality arms to discuss. I will also discuss a stack that might be a little sneaky. Let’s jump in...
Madison Bumgarner ($11,900) @ San Diego
MadBum gets the cheese matchup of the day against the San Diego Padres. He is the clear-cut top option on the slate if you like safety. For reference, Francisco Liriano was the clear option at pitcher last night and he was 35% owned in both of my low-stakes GPPs. MadBum will be very popular.
Clayton Kershaw ($10,400) is slightly contrarian at Coors?
Kershaw’s ownership might be slightly depressed due to the Coors effect, but Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet. He has a healthy ground ball rate (right around 50% the last three seasons) and the obviously high strikeout rate (over 31% each of the last three seasons) that can help him succeed in Coors. For what it’s worth, current Rockies are hitting 50 for 219 (.228) off of Kershaw and striking out 27.7% of the time. If you believe in any Colorado hitter today, it is ONLY because of the home park. That is not enough reason for me to shy away from Kershaw.
Kyle Hendricks ($9,300) @ Milwaukee
Hendricks is probably sneaky because most people won’t believe he is worth his price tag, especially on the road in Milwaukee. But Hendricks boasts a stunning 39.7% K-rate against these Brewers hitters. The Brewers are hitting 10 for 70 (.143) with zero home runs against him. Keon Broxton was available for Milwaukee off of the bench on Friday night...if he returns on Saturday I like Hendricks even more. Broxton struck out 36.1% of the time in 2016 and should be good for a pair of strikeouts. Meanwhile, the vaunted Cubbies offense will take aim at the soft-tossing southpaw Tommy Milone. There is a great chance Hendricks comes away with the all-important victory and quality start in this one.
Dallas Keuchel ($8,600) vs. Kansas City
I kept rostering Keuchel last year, expecting him to regain his 2015 form. Alas, I lost most of that coin as the 2015 version of Keuchel mostly eluded me. However, Keuchel matches up well against Kansas City’s lefty hitters, as lefty bats managed a puny 26.4% hard contact rate and .263 wOBA against him last season. Keuchel allowed 20 home runs in 2016, and 18 of those were to right-handed hitters. Right-handed bats managed a .331 wOBA and 30.7% hard contact against Keuchel last season. So if Keuchel can work around Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez, he should perform well today. All that said, Keuchel only strikes out a shade over 20% of hitters he faces, so against the pesky Royals his strikeout upside is nebulous. Still, I am intrigued by his strong Opening Day turn against Seattle (7IP, 2H, 2BB, 4K, 1W, 1QS) and the low 7.5 run total that Vegas projects. I just can’t quit you, Dallas.
Washington Nationals @ Aaron Nola
Current Nationals are batting 26 for 79 (.329) off of Nola with 6 home runs. Nola had four turns against Washington last season, with two good ones and two poor ones. Left-handed bats fare better against Nola, so Bryce Harper is squarely in play. I won’t go crazy stacking Nationals everywhere, but I will have at least one share given last year’s history against Nola. I think the average player will see Nola’s name and only consider Harper from this Nationals lineup. But Daniel Murphy (.419 wOBA, .261 ISO) and Trea Turner (.413 wOBA, .258 ISO) were both strong options against RHP in 2016. Turner is a right-handed bat but he is more powerful against right-handed pitching, as 12 of his 13 home runs came against righties last season. Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Eaton, Jayson Werth, and Anthony Rendon are all considerations if you choose to stack four, but I like the three-man stack the most.
Wilmer Flores ($2,500) vs. LHP Adam Conley
When the Mets face a lefty, it appears that Flores will be an extreme beneficiary. In the past two games against a southpaw, Flores has batted cleanup for New York. Flores is one of the best options in all of baseball against left-handed pitching, as evidenced by his .370 ISO and .455 wOBA against lefties in 2016. Flores also hit an absurd amount of fly balls (53.9%) and had an epic 22.9% HR/FB rate against lefties last season. For only 2.5K, I expect him to be a popular play. But I won’t let that stop me from having exposure.
Bryce Harper vs. Aaron Nola: 7 for 11, 2 HR
George Springer vs. LHP Danny Duffy: 3 for 6, 2 HR
Corey Seager vs. @ Jon Gray: 5 for 10, 1 HR
Robinson Cano @ Ricky Nolasco: 6 for 12, 2 HR
Nelson Cruz @ Ricky Nolasco: 4 for 15, 3 HR
Last but not least...
Mike Trout OWNS Felix Hernandez. Over 69 at-bats Trout is hitting .406 with 7 home runs against the “King.” I’ll make certain I work the best hitter in baseball into my lineups against an aging Hernandez.
Dallas Keuchel, Francisco Cervelli, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Wilmer Flores, Trea Turner, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Mitch Haniger
Turns out, Ryan Zimmerman fits nicely into this lineup, and his torrid start to the season is an added bonus. Mitch Haniger is projected to bat second in the order against Ricky Nolasco and Haniger only costs 2K today. Cervelli is fresh off a Friday night home run and is 5 of 7 off of knuckleballer R.A. Dickey...you could do worse at the catcher position.
This is only one iteration. I will obviously advance my thought process as the day wears on. Currently, it sure is fun to have Trout and Harper in the same lineup! Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments. Who do you love today?