MLB DFS Plays for 5/16/16

While nine games are on the schedule for Monday, only eight will likely fill most daily fantasy slates. In addition, with the lack of ‘aces’ throwing, choosing pitchers will carry more risk than usual.

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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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Adam Conley – There’s little that changes when considering a starting pitcher against the Phillies. The team strikes out at a decent rate, rarely explodes against a pitcher, but also has a tendency to scratch out a few runs. With that, Adam Conley has the same high floor, potentially lower ceiling as all other starters against Philadelphia. Conley, however, has shown flashes of brilliance in the early portion of 2016, and could quietly be the best pitching option of the day.


Drew Smyly – Drew Smyly appears to have drawn the short straw, as he will pitch against the Blue Jays’ power-laden lineup for the third time in eight starts. As always, Smyly sports a beautiful strikeout rate – that ranks second among pitchers starting on Monday – and will pitch to Toronto’s strikeout-prone offense. The same high level of risk-reward exists for Smyly as all other pitchers we target against the Blue Jays, but the events of Sunday – an emotional fight stemming from last year’s playoff game against the Rangers – will make it difficult for Toronto to regain its intensity. Smyly will take advantage.

Rick Porcello/Yordano Ventura – Normally, when we recommend two pitchers in the same game, we analyze them separately to highlight the benefits for each. Monday is an exception, as both Rick Porcello and Yordano Ventura need to be considered for similar reasons in a game that should be low-scoring. Both Kansas City and Boston tout low team-strikeout rates, but Porcello and Yentura are talented enough to nudge them higher. The key to the game is Kansas City’s surprisingly ineffective offense coupled with Boston’s over-reaching run-scoring pace. The Red Sox are averaging more than six runs-per-game, with the next highest team playing on Monday sitting at 4.75 runs-per-game. As Boston shifts from its hitter-friendly ballpark to the pitcher’s park of Kansas City, the production will slow down. If playing on a daily fantasy website that allows two starting pitchers, at least one should come from the duo of Porcello and Ventura.

Jose Berrios – Drew Smyly was noted as the pitcher with the second-highest strikeout rate of Monday’s starters. The leader for the day? Minnesota’s Jose Berrios. The rookie has performed almost exactly as expected, with an elevated ERA and strikeout rate, and averaging a low pace of innings-per-start. Clearly, Berrios is still working through some growing pains, but 19 strikeouts in 14.1 innings suggests that success is not far off. Against the Tigers – the second-most strikeout-prone offense of the day – Berrios is a fantastic upside ‘sleeper’ with a high ceiling.

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Right-handed Yankees Hitters – The Yankees’ bats were mostly silenced over the weekend as Chris Sale and Jose Quintana limited New York to a combined three runs. Sunday yielded a better output, as New York scored seven runs en route to clinching its third consecutive series. As the Yankees head west, they have the benefit of remaining in a hitter’s ballpark, and will face left-handed Robbie Ray with his poor peripherals against right-handed hitters. Carlos Beltran, Aaron Hicks, and Starlin Castro get the biggest boost from the matchup.

John Jaso/Gregory Polanco – In fairness to Pittsburgh, Williams Perez is equally bad against hitters from either side of the plate, but his peripherals against left-handed hitters are horrible. The pitcher-friendly ballpark of Atlanta might not make it worth paying a high price for power hitters, but John Jaso and Gregory Polanco are two of the best hitting options of the day.

Mike Trout – The usual suspect of Mike Trout makes the list of hitters to target, yet again. Trout undoubtedly draws a tough matchup against Kenta Maeda – his 2.30 ERA is indicative of how well he has pitched – but the Dodgers’ starter has also allowed four home runs in his last three games. Trout has been on fire, with a .375 batting average in his last four games and has ten hits in his last eight games.

Arizona Diamondbacks Hitters – On Monday, the Yankees will hand the ball to rookie Chad Green for his first career start in Major League Baseball. While the lack of familiarity with Green makes him somewhat of a wild card, Diamondbacks’ hitters should be considered for use. If Green does provide length, however, the Yankees’ bullpen is virtually unhittable for the latter third of the game, so limit too much exposure to Arizona’s bats.

Minnesota Twins Hitters – Certainly a contrarian set of targets, the Minnesota Twins are looking to continue Jordan Zimmerman’s return to normalcy. Zimmerman allowed a total of two earned runs throughout the month of April, but has a more reasonable 3.60 ERA in his two May starts. Trevor Plouffe has one home run and five hits in his last four games, while Danny Santana and Miguel Sano are experiencing high levels of hard hit contact over the past week.



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.

Yasmany Tomas – As noted earlier, New York will be starting a rookie in the hitter-friendly ballpark of Arizona. Yasmany Tomas has been scorching the ball lately, but, of his eight hits in six games, none have left the yard. That stands to change shortly.

Chase Headley – If taking the high risk-reward approach, Chase Headley jumps off the page as an all-or-nothing buy on Monday night. The switch-hitter was ice cold to start the year, going 28 games without an extra-base hit. Finally, he broke through, and now has two home runs and a double in his last four games.

Jeff Francoeur – Not surprisingly, southpaw Jon Niese sees his numbers take a dip when facing right-handed hitters. Unfortunately for Atlanta, much of its offensive firepower comes from the left side of the plate, but Niese puts Jeff Francoeur on the map as an ideal bargain buy.

Photo Credit: Keith Allison/Flickr C.C.2.0

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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