MLB DFS Plays for 5/9/16

daily fantasy baseball picks

Monday’s thirteen-game slate will provide a night filled with baseball, including a fantasy-worthy game in Colorado. Thankfully, some of the best pitching options of the days are rather contrarian, thus suppressing their price and allowing more high-priced hitters to be purchased.

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Currently, we are using xFIP and wOBA simply to compare one pitcher’s performance against another – especially against opposite-handed hitters. We aren’t using these numbers for calculation. To help with some calculations, we have assumed that each hitter and pitcher has played at least one game. Each pitcher was assigned an innings total relative to his average projection.

Check the starting lineups and weather reports prior to making any plays, as these change without notice.

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Scott Kazmir – While the main spotlight of the matchup between the Mets and Dodgers will likely shine on Steven Matz, Scott Kazmir is the southpaw to target. Both lineups are susceptible to left-handed pitching – so hitters should be chosen with caution – but Kazmir actually sees a boost in his strikeout rates against right-handed hitting – over the last three years. New York ultimately split its four-game series with the Padres, but the offense averaged a mere 3.25 runs-per-game. Certainly, the Mets have shown the ability to be better than their low output of the past few games, but they tend to run hot-and-cold as a unit. Scott Kazmir – the former Met, himself – is set up for a top-flight outing.

Anibal Sanchez – Anibal Sanchez is still in the slow process of recovering from his disaster against the Indians a few weeks ago. Since then, Sanchez has amassed sixteen strikeouts in two games, but allowed six earned runs in just under thirteen innings pitched. These last two starts are indicative of what to expect from Sanchez – high strikeout totals, but a few too many hits and runs allowed. The bonus is that Sanchez is improving – really, returning towards his mean – and will face a Nationals’ lineup with a decent team strikeout rate. In addition, Sanchez’s splits against hitters from either side of the plate are relatively even, making the balanced lineup of Washington less threatening.

Matt Moore – Matt Moore becomes the second southpaw of Monday to earn a recommendation, opposing Felix Hernandez as an ideal contrarian play. Moore’s ERA has remained high throughout the early portion of the season, but his strikeout rate is fantastic and reaffirms the high praise that the former top prospect received prior to his elbow surgery. The scorching bat of Robinson Cano helped Seattle split its series in Houston over the past few days, but the Mariners scored more than three runs only once during the four-game set. The shift from hitter-friendly Houston to the slight pitcher’s ballpark of Seattle should only hurt the Mariners’ offensive output. Matt Moore should benefit the most.

Jose Fernandez – There is no possible way to ignore Jose Fernandez, at home, against the Milwaukee Brewers. The matchup is so heavily tilted towards Fernandez that it becomes a risk for its one-sided nature. Fernandez has his high strikeout rate coupled with Milwaukee’s, the ballpark factor against a Brewers team with a hitter-friendly home park – recently playing in Cincinnati’s hitter’s park – and the win potential against Wily Peralta. Fernandez is arguably in the best position, to date, but he should be approached with caution. In addition to how perfect the matchup appears on paper – nothing in sports is as easy as it looks – Fernandez has yet to pitch into the seventh inning. This may not be an accident, as inning are precious to an ‘ace’ with a history of an arm injury. With that, Fernandez’s ceiling might be too low to justify his high price.

Sonny Gray – With the amount of big-name pitchers throwing on Monday, it is easy to overlook Sonny Gray. We shouldn’t. The Athletics’ ‘ace’ is striking out just under one batter-per-inning, yet has an ERA higher than his career and projected rates. Conveniently, the Red Sox are scoring runs at an elevated pace, and a regression for both the Boston offense and Gray’s ERA yields a nice buying opportunity. Simply put, Sonny Gray is arguably the best dollar-for-dollar pitching option of Monday.

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Nolan Arenado/Trevor Story/Carlos Gonzalez – Start your engines. Not only are the Colorado Rockies returning home to their hitter-haven of a ballpark, but Archie Bradley is being called up to be the starting pitcher – sacrificial lamb – for Monday’s contest. Don’t miss out on a few Rockies bats.

Kris Bryant/Addison Russell – At the time of this writing, weather appears to be an issue for the Cubs’ next assault on a starting pitcher. If the game plays, San Diego’s Cesar Vargas will take his horrible peripheral statistics to Wrigley Field to face the high-flying Cubs. Specifically, his numbers against right-handed bats are awful, and Kris Bryant and Addison Russell lead the charge, although Chicago’s entire offense should be considered.

Brandon Belt/Brandon Crawford/Denard Span – The left-handed hitting duo of Brandons make the list of hitters to target, once again. Coupled with Denard Span, the Giants’ bats gain a boost against right-handed Aaron Sanchez, although the likelihood of anyone leaving the yard is low. The Giants are potentially being overlooked in this matchup, and at least one of the team’s hitters should be used to take advantage of any misstep by Sanchez.

Andrew McCutchen/Starling Marte/John Jaso – We are on the verge of having a recurring theme of targeting hitters against Cincinnati’s Dan Straily. Amazingly, it has not yielded the expected results, but Straily can only survive outperforming his projections for so long. Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte figure to be the catalysts for Straily’s eventual downfall, with John Jaso reaping the rewards atop the order.

Miguel Sano/Brian Dozier/Joe Mauer – The power-hitting right-handed duo of Miguel Sano and Brian Dozier tend to have their projections rise and fall together. Against Tyler Wilson in Baltimore’s hitter-friendly park on Monday, Sano and Dozier get the nod. Joe Mauer was on an absolute tear before hitting a two-game skid and ultimately getting an off-day on Sunday – although he did have a pinch-hit appearance. Mauer is poised to reset and, again, trend upward.



Be sure to check the above chart for more of the expensive hitters – and the statistics of their matchups. Below, we focus on some of the best upside plays for their price.

Colby Rasmus – Corey Kluber is beginning to return to form, and all opposing right-handed hitters should hide. The singular option to target is left-handed-power-hitting Colby Rasmus, the everyday cleanup hitter for the Astros. Rasmus has been mentioned, time and again, in this column, but has cooled off considerably. Kluber is, admittedly, difficult to hit, but the Astros are still powerful enough to score some runs, and Rasmus could easily sit at the center of the rally.

Jorge Soler – With the high-priced options of Cubs hitters, there needs to be an inexpensive way to piggy-back on the production. Jorge Soler – at times, batting in the middle of the linuep – provides a great value for a Cubs’ team prone to scoring in bunches. Monday should be yet another game where Chicago abuses a starting pitcher.

Francisco Cervelli – Francisco Cervelli has developed nicely into an offensive catching option in a solid lineup, but he is still without a home run on the season. If the rest of the Pirates’ hitters are expected to thrive against Straily, Cervelli is an excellent cheap option.

Featured Image Credit: By MBDChicago on Flickr [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Mario Mergola
Mario Mergola is a writer, avid sports fan, former ESPN Radio producer, husband, and father who specializes in finding the hidden gems of the less-explored option. Follow @MarioMergola