We’re back with another MLB FanDuel: Daily Pitching Focus, a fantasy baseball column arming you with the best MLB FanDuel lineups, using pitching as a focus, for today’s Early Only and Main slate of DFS MLB FanDuel games.
With twelve teams taking the day off, there’s only nine MLB games scheduled today. Five of the games are scheduled this evening and are part of FanDuel’s ‘Main’ slate. Four of the games all begin before 2pm EDT, and are part of the ‘Early Only’ slate. That leaves us with eight pitchers for the Early Only slate and ten for the Main slate, limiting our options for the pitcher pick and offensive stacking. But each set of games offers great match-ups and several good opportunities.
Yesterday, focused on the Early Only slate, we landed 49 MLB FanDuel points from one of our top picks, James Paxton. Paxton was still reasonably affordable, and most winning lineups had James. While Dan Straily only had 24 points, our mid-salary range option, Straily still helped many MLB FanDuel players score some cash. Jordan Montgomery, our value pick, had a disappointing nine points and unless you loaded up on all of the top bats, he didn’t help.
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Here is the list of games schedule this afternoon and evening:
We’ll start with the top pitching plays for the Early and Main slates today…
Top MLB FanDuel Pitching Play – Early Only
Of all the starters on the mound this afternoon, Jimmy Nelson ($9,300) jumps off the excel sheet with a 3.41 SIERA, the best of the bunch. Nelson has a 26.7% strikeout rate, second only to Castillo, who we’ll visit later, among all starting pitchers this afternoon. Better than Luis, Jimmy has a decent 0.93 home runs per nine innings, along with a 1.22 WHIP and low 6.1% walk rate.
The Pirates bats have been hot lately, presenting some risk. But they’re still sixth worst in baseball with an 89 wRC+ and have an unimpressive .284 BABIP against RHP’s in Pittsburgh. Also, the Pirates have a .303 wOBA in this scenario, which is perfect for a pitcher like Nelson, typically not letting many hitters on the base-path.
Even with the Yankees on the schedule over the last month, Nelson has been on a role with three quality starts and three wins over his last four starts. Along with an 8.5 strikeout-per-game average, Nelson is the ideal pick on a reasonable $9.3K salary this afternoon.
Top MLB FanDuel Pitching Play – Main
Madison Bumgarner ($11,200) pitching against the San Diego Padres in San Francisco is likely the hot pick of the Main slate. But I’m not buying it. While I expect Bumgarner to continue to progress from his long 60-day disabled list stint, Madison still is without a win after five quality starts in five games. Bum has poor run support from the giants offense.
In his start last week against the Padres in San Diego, while going seven innings, Madison had five strikeouts but three earned runs and only 31 MLB FanDuel points. That’s an unimpressive result for $11.2K. He may have a good night, but there’s just too much risk for this much salary.
Luis Severino ($9,400) actually has the best SIERA, 3.29, among all pitchers for the entire day. The reason Luis is cheap, given his metrics, is the match-up. The Mariners have a 117 wRC+ against RHP’s at home. That will likely scare away many MLB FanDuel players and drive down his ownership, especially in comparison to Bumgarner. Presenting a great opportunity for us.
Like Paxton last night against the Astros, Severino is a better pitcher than the Mariners are used to seeing from righties at home. So we need to mute some of those stats, and focus on the decent 21.4% K rate from the Mariners in this scenario, compared to Luis’ awesome 28.1% rate, and realize there’s greater upside with this pick, at a much cheaper price than Bumgarner.
MLB FanDuel Top Pitcher Fades – Early Only
While Nelson jumps off the excel sheet as the best pitching option this afternoon, Jameson Taillon ($8,600) is very clearly the next best option and at a reasonable ‘mid-salary’ range price. Jameson has the third best K-rate among the starters this afternoon, 22.3%. While Taillon has a mediocre WHIP, 1.36, he has a very good 3.93 SIERA and very low 0.67 home runs per nine innings.
The biggest risk with the Taillon play is the Brewers lineup and Nelson on the mound. This year, Pittsburgh hasn’t been a hitter-friendly park, which bodes well for Jameson and Jimmy. And the Pirates offense is hot lately, while struggling on the year. So if you’re unconvinced by Nelson against the Pirates bats, or want more value out of your pitcher pick, Taillon is the best option.
MLB FanDuel Top Pitcher Fades – Main
Earlier in the year, I actually targeted Michael Fulmer ($9,400) a few times for offensive stacks successfully. Fulmer started the season with some up and down results, but is now leveling off and beginning to look like that strong starting pitcher he was late last season.
Fulmer has a quality start in six of his last six games, and is averaging over 40 MLB FanDuel points. So it’s no wonder his salary jumped above $9K tonight, well above his average for the year. While Michael has a lower 17.6% strikeout rate, he’s pitching around eight innings per start, and has a win in each of his last four games, making up for his lower strikeout rate.
Tonight, Fulmer is pitching in Kansas City against a surging Royals lineup. But the Royals are still struggling against RHP’s at home, tenth worst in baseball with a 94 wRC+. Fulmer fanned seven batters in late June, against the Royals in Detroit, and piled up 51 MLB FanDuel points. We should at least see 40 MLB FanDuel points from Michael tonight.
MLB FanDuel: Top Value Play – Early Only
A reminder, each time we discuss value plays, while they’re tempting, we need to always keep in mind the risk involved. FanDuel typically gives pitchers a cheaper salary for a very good reason.
Luis Castillo ($7,600) has the highest strikeout rate among all starting pitchers this afternoon, at 29.3%. Luis has no less than five strikes in five starts, and typically averages around eight-to-nine per game. The biggest problem with Castillo is the 1.86 home runs per nine innings.
This afternoon, Castillo is playing a tough Diamondbacks lineup in Cincinnati where hitting conditions have recently been favorable. That being said, in a hitter-friendly Chase Field on July 8th, Castillo mowed down eight batters, only letting four people on base, taking the win and QS while piling up 54 MLB FanDuel points. The upside with this value play is enormous, and worth a heavy consideration.
MLB FanDuel: Top Value Play – Main
Of all the pitchers on the mound today, Brandon McCarthy ($7,300) is probably one of the more boring options. But for $7.3K, boring opens the door to value.
McCarthy has a bad 4.60 SIERA, but that’s mostly due to his 18.1% strikeout rate compared to his 7.1% walk rate. Beyond his inability to fan hitters, Brandon has a very low 1.17 WHIP, 3.38 ERA, and is only giving up 0.44 home runs per nine innings. At the very least, this is a warning to avoid stacking the Braves against McCarthy.
While the Braves bats have been hot at times, it’s mostly due to their favorable hitting conditions when in SunTrust Field, in Atlanta. Tonight, they’re facing a low ERA pitcher in Los Angeles, and McCarthy has one of the hottest baseball teams on the planet behind him.
If Brandon can eek out another quality start, he’s likely to get the win, and with a 19.6% strikeout rate from the Braves in this scenario, Brandon could hit the 40 point mark on a very cheap $7.3K salary.
Pitching Targets / MLB FanDuel Offensive Stacks – Early Only
Boston Red Sox vs. Francisco Liriano
Liriano has a 5.08 SIERA, second worst only to Doug Fister on the mound this afternoon. Historically, Francisco’s K-rate has been his strong-suite, but he’s only fanning batters around 19.9% of the time, and has a very high 12.1% walk rate. Along with a 1.29 home runs per nine innings, and a hot Red Sox lineup in Boston, they’re a great stacking option afternoon.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Doug Fister
Along with the Red Sox hitters, their starting pitcher, Fister, combines terrible pitching with Liriano for a complete stacking game for us this afternoon. This is a must-watch game if you have the means, it should be a slug-fest.
In the sweltering heat, we should see the Blue Jays bats also come alive against Doug and his horrendous 5.52 SIERA, the worst of any pitcher taking the hill tonight. While the Red Sox bats may be expensive, you should find plenty of value with the Blue Jays today, one of the rare times I’ll like stacking them the rest of this season.
Pitching Targets / MLB FanDuel Offensive Stacks – Main
Baltimore Orioles vs. Cole Hamels
Sticking with the theme of stacking complete games, it’s hard to ignore the hitting going on in Camden Yards this week. The O’s bats have been hot, and they should continue to steam against Hamels, who has a sub-par 5.06 SIERA. Cole is only fanning hitters at a 14.3% rate, while walking hitters at a 7.8% rate. He doesn’t give up a lot of home runs, 0.76 HR/9, but he has a high 4.28 ERA.
Texas Rangers vs. Wade Miley
While the O’s have been hot, the Rangers continue to disappoint this week. That should change tonight against Miley. Wade is giving up 1.45 home runs per nine innings, walking hitters at a 12.6% rate, and has a terrible 5.40 ERA. If there’s an opportunity for the Rangers bats to finally come alive and get one back from the series, it’ll be tonight. Given the history of the week, the Rangers bats should also be affordable, and stacking this game will be fun to watch.
Good luck with your MLB FanDuel plays today, and stay tuned to Fantasy CPR on Twitter for all the late breaking lineup news and roster updates!