When looking at “bargains” on FanDuel, we'll typically focus on hitters who are $3,200 or lower. In general, we'll only highlight players at the top end of that scale if they have star potential.
Most of the action is late, with 11 of 15 games starting in the evening. The run away ace is Max Scherzer against the Phillies – a team he posted 63 points against just 12 days ago. Scherzer is joined by Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels as the top pitchers in the slate. Watch out for late storms in Pittsburgh and early storms in Detroit.
Please note, these player picks were organized early in the day. For MLB contests, always check lineups and weather closer to game time. Rain, wind, or unexpected managerial decisions could open up additional sources of value. Be sure to keep an eye on the MLB Headlines and Injuries desk.
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Onto the bargain plays...
1 – Robert Stephenson – SP – Cincinnati (FanDuel $6,400)
Like most rookie pitchers, Stephenson is a risky asset best saved for volatile GPP lineups. He's made three starts this season with scores of 21, 39, and 37. His most recent outing (the others came in April) was his best. He held the Mets to two solo home runs in 5.1 innings with nine strikeouts. Unfortunately, he did not earn the win.
After struggling to induce whiffs in April, Stephenson's September outing included plenty of swinging strikes. That could help him to post something like six innings and six strikeouts against the Pirates. A win and a quality start would put him between 39 and 48 points. Obviously, there's downside for much worse. PNC Park should aid with his high home run rate.
2 – Yasmani Grandal – C – Los Angeles (FanDuel $2,700)
If there's an issue with Grandal today, it's that he's too obvious a pick. Perhaps no catcher is more likely to pop two home runs in a game, making him an excellent fit for GPPs. His high OBP and consistent power will help cash game and 50/50 owners too. Since a three homer game in early July, Grandal is batting .289/.393/.645 with 16 home runs (178 plate appearances). The homer rate is not without smoke and mirrors – it's uncommon for somebody to hit 16 home runs but only four doubles and one triple.
3 – Eric Hosmer – 1B – Kansas City (FanDuel $3,200)
4 – Kendrys Morales – 1B – Kansas City (FanDuel $3,000)
James Shields has been a DFS gold mine this year, but not in the way we might have excepted heading into the season. Shields has allowed 2.08 HR/9 over 151 innings (35 home runs). That's already a new career worst despite throwing at least 50 fewer innings than seasons past. Shields has actually performed much worse against right-handed hitters, but that only goes to prove how useless he's been to the White Sox.
Morales is the better power threat and may therefore be the higher ceiling pick. Since shaking off an early season slump in early June, Morales is batting .304/.370/.558 with 20 home runs in 316 plate appearances. He has a slight ground ball tendency which matches well with Shields' fly ball ways. Hosmer is a more extreme ground ball hitter, such that he may get on top of Shields' offerings too. Hosmer usually bats third while Morales hits cleanup.
Remember, nothing is guaranteed in baseball. But with the game at power friendly U.S. Cellular Field, I expect at least one home run between these two Royals. While it will be popular to target Shields, having a pair of options at first base ensures that ownership rates will remain tame.
5 – Ryan Schimpf – 2B – San Diego (FanDuel $3,000)
I can't stay away from Schimpf. Well, I'll qualify that. I can't stay away from Schimpf when he's opposed by a ground balling right-handed pitcher. Rockies starter Jon Gray has shown positive strides this season, and he has true swing-and-miss stuff. As such, Schimpf's 30 percent strikeout rate could get him into trouble. However, his extreme fly ball and hard hit rates make him a prime candidate for a home run. Practically everything he hits goes for extra bases - 50 hits: 12 singles, 15 doubles, five triples, and 18 home runs.
6 – Jake Lamb – 3B – Arizona (FanDuel $2,900)
This is something of a hero pick. Lamb's matchup versus Cueto is far from ideal since Cueto often stifles the competition. However, the Giants second ace has suffered a second half fade for the second season in a row (seconds anyone?). He's pitched to a luck neutral 3.90 ERA with 7.95 K/9 and 2.25 BB/9 since the All Star Break. Lamb has also scuffled in recent months, but he's been fine in a small sample since August 31 (27 plate appearances, .273/.370/.682, three home runs). The game is at Chase Field which helps Lamb's power potential.
7 – Jose Peraza – SS – Cincinnati (FanDuel $2,800)
While I had some initial doubts about Peraza's potential in the majors, his combination of speed and high contact rate is quite useful. If he gets on base, he's likely to run. Peraza has attempted 20 steals in 166 plate appearances (15 steals, five caught stealing). Only 15 percent of his plate appearances end in a strikeout or walk, although the extra balls in play have limited value since they're almost always singles. With Billy Hamilton out, Peraza is the regular leadoff man. Consider him a high floor option.
8 – Cameron Maybin – OF – Detroit (FanDuel $2,700)
If you're considering using an expensive Tigers stack against Ubaldo Jimenez, pick Maybin to help balance the cost. Maybin has a high average and on base percentage, and he bats ahead of the Detroit big boppers. Translation: he'll score when Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez drive the ball. Maybin probably won't drive a big point total all by himself, but he'll light up the scoreboard if the Tigers stack spikes.
9 – Brandon Guyer – OF – Cleveland (FanDuel $3,000)
This is your mandatory recommendation of Guyer versus a mediocre lefty. This time, it's Hector Santiago. Guyer is slashing .320/.462/.544 against southpaws with a 6.2 percent walk rate and 10.8 percent strikeout rate. Since joining the Indians, his platoon ISO and BABIP have regressed to normal rates. Even so, he still has an OPS over 1.000. If you prefer an Indian who won't be pulled in a close game versus right-handed relievers, try Rajai Davis ($3,200).
10 – Miguel Sano – OF – Minnesota (FanDuel $3,200)
I believe Indians starter Mike Clevinger will one day be a pitcher we frequently start in DFS contests. For now, he's still adjusting to the majors and allowing a ton of hard contact. Sano is the king of hard contact – assuming of course that he actually connects. His 35.3 percent strikeout rate makes him a painful own outside of large GPPs. In the right formats, his massive power potential more than justifies the downside.