We are one week into the daily fantasy baseball grind, so what have we learned? Well, the biggest lesson is that nothing is guaranteed (I'm looking at you, Clayton Kershaw), but what we can do is continue to play the percentages and let it pay off in the long run. MLB DFS is a marathon, and not a sprint. That said, let us get to the picks and hope we are on the right side of variance this evening.
NOTE – These FanDuel picks are exclusively selected from the night slate.
Scott Kazmir at Houston, $8,800
He probably has the highest upside of all the pitchers taking the bump tonight (at worst he is in the conversation), but I will be hesitant to roster him in my cash games. I certainly won't talk anyone out of it, and maybe it is just my personal sketchy history of rostering Kazmir, but again, I'm a little scared. The Oakland hurler makes a lot of sense as he kept Houston in check last season (26 Ks in 27 IP with a WHIP around 1), and the strikeout potential is still there tonight as guys like Evan Gattis, Chris Carter, and George Springer swing and miss a fair amount. That said, they also have massive power upside (especially vs LHPs) so the variance of potential outcomes is great in a one-game sample. I don't know yet if I will roll with Kazmir in my 50/50 lineups, but I will most certainly have a share or two in tournaments with has tempting K upside.
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Andrew Cashner vs Arizona, $8,000
I don't care what happened last game. He gave up three bombs to Adrian Gonzalez, but again, what does that have to do with tonight? This is daily fantasy baseball, and all we care about is today. As for today, the bearded Padre is a healthy favorite (-155) in a game with an appealingly low over/under (6.5). This certainly has to do with the pitching environment, as Petco heavily favors arms over bats. Cashner made sure to exploit this, as he posted an impressive .143 ERA in home games last season, while yielding a minuscule opponent batting average of .187. There isn't a clear cut SP to target this evening - an argument can be made for guys like Jon Lester and Brandon McCarthy, but I expect Cashner to bounce back tonight, and have an excellent shot at earning his first win of the season.
Evan Gattis vs Oakland, $3,100
The man affectionately referred to as "el oso blanco" (The White Bear) is hard to be bullish on when you look at his game log. The brand new Astro has yet to break the seal with his new club, as he is 0'fer his first 20 ABs. Worse yet, he has K'd in 12 of those at-bats. Rest assured, Gattis is not going to go hitless for the season, but why would I consider starting him against one of the day's better pitchers while in such a funk? I expect his ownership to be severely depressed and he had immense power vs LHPs last season: .343 AVG/.970 .OPS. They don't nickname just anyone a bear after all. I'd be pushing it if I were endorse Gattis as a H2H play, but the Houston catcher is undoubtedly an elite tournament option as maybe, just maybe, his bat comes out of hibernation this evening.
Derek Norris vs Arizona, $2,500
While I prefer to unleash Norris vs southpaws, and in a more hitter friendly environment, he does have a few things going for him that make him worth your time. The brand new Padre should hit in a positive lineup position as he has seen some time at both the two and five hole (either before or after Justin Upton/Matt Kemp) to start the season. Secondly, his price tag is appealing as I'm always looking for ways to squeeze in the top bats right I really want. Lastly, opposing pitcher Rubby De La Rosa does not scare me, nor should he you.
Freedie Freeman vs Miami, $3,700
As a Marlin fan, I don't need reminding of how bad Mat Latos was in his first start of the season vs the Braves. No, I don't expect him to not make it out of the first inning again, but the combination of showing poor location and weakened velocity doesn't bode well for his chances against an All-Star like Freeman. If you have the money, by all means give Anthony Rizzo a gander, but Fab Five Freedy will be on the positive side of his split and comes with a very fair asking price that works just fine for me.
Jose Altuve vs Oakland, $4,000
I have an unhealthy love for the Houston second baseman, but today it feels justified. Sure, I'm potentially talking out of both sides of my mouth when suggesting that Scott Kazmir is in play, while highlighting my second Astro, but this is what I meant when I suggested his high variance of potential outcomes. As for the diminutive second baseman, he absolutely rakes vs LHPs. Altuve harassed lefties with a triple slash line of .414/.447/.566 last season and when he gets on is when the real fun starts, as the Astro compiled an impressive 56 stolen bases last season.
Johnny Giavotella at Texas, $2,200
This is nothing more than a pure punt play. The Angels are favored in a game with the highest over/under on the board. Don't expect him to hit a dong for you or anything too ambitious, but at a minimum salary we can't really expect all that much out of him. Simply put, you don't roster a guy like Giavotella because you want to, you roster him to help pay for the guys you really want.
David Freese at Texas, $3,000
Three things are working in the Freese's favor this evening. 1) The Ballpark in Arlington offers a park bump when compared to Angel Stadium. 2) Opposing pitcher has scuffled vs righty bats throughout his career. 3) In the last three seasons, Freese has hit LHPs to the tune of .304 AVG/.857 OPS. Put it all together and the Anaheim third baseman enters tonight's contest with an impressive .370 MUwOBA.
Alex Rodriguez at Baltimore, $3,000
Whatever your personal feelings may be about ARod, you need to check them at the door as DFS is less about emotions and more about numbers. The numbers suggest that the Yankee veteran is a fine play when considering his price, likely lineup spot vs a LHP, and plus hitting environment. I prefer Freese of the two, but there are potential weather concerns lurking in Texas, which would make Rodriguez a worthy pivot play.
Erick Aybar at Texas, $3,100
Oh look, another Angel. Day in and day out, shortstop is generally not a fun position to fill out. Tonight is no different, but switch hitting Aybar should be able to exploit Detwiler's issues with right-handed sticks, and he comes at a reasonable tag.
Asdrubal Cabrera at Toronto, $2,700
Some people swear by BvP (batter vs pitcher) stats while others point to research that suggest its much ado about nothing. Personally, I don't value it a ton, but I do think it has greater than zero value. I bring this up because if BvP was legitimately a thing to some degree, wouldn't it mean something when considering one's history vs R.A. Dickey? I mean, who else is throwing a knuckleball these days? It is fair to think that some hitters dread seeing it, while others look forward to it. It is a ridiculously small sample, but Cabrera is 4-for-9 with a double, two homers, and zero strikeouts vs the crafty Blue Jay. Again, I wouldn't lean on such few ABs, but BvP aside, shortstop is a dead position as is, so why not roster Cabrera with his fair asking price while getting to hit in a hitter's ballpark?
Mike Trout at Texas, $5,000
You don't need me to tell you that Mike Trout is good at the baseball. That said, he is well positioned to be better at it this evening, more than most. Earlier I talked about Ross Detwiler's issues vs right-handed bats. The Angel foundation piece isn't a guy that especially smashes LHPs, as he is just a guy that crushes pitchers. Trout is the number one ranked outfielder on the board according to the RotoGrinders’ top MUwOBA plays as he enters this game with an impressive .385. The LA outfielder is the first bat that I will look to get in the majority of my lineups tonight, and I suggest you do the same.
Scott Van Slyke vs Seattle, $2,500
I'd imagine that Andy's kid will crack the Dodger lineup this evening as he pummels left-handed pitchers. He boasted a .315 batting average along with a whopping 1.045 .OPS last season vs LHPs. Sure, James Paxton is probably one of the better arms on the slate, and there is a decent chance that he may get pinch hit for late in the game, but the price is low enough where he warrants a look.