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May 20 MLB DFS EARLY SLATE: Edwin-ning
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Welcome to May 20 MLB DFS action here at DailyRoto. Below you’ll find our Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium podcast for May 19 MLB DFS along with our LIVE Premium Chat and cliff notes. Make sure you’re using our customizable projections tool, you’re actively participating in the live chat, and you’re reviewing the cliff notes to supplement your research and roster construction process. Very best of luck in tonight’s action!

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May 20 MLB DFS Position Timestamps
02:04 Starting Pitcher
10:22 Catcher
12:50 First Base
15:42 Second Base
18:41 Third Base
21:27 Shortstop
24:12 Outfield
27:53 Stacks

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  • In cash games, we recommend focusing on value plays to build your rosters (far right hand column of Projections page linked above). Value plays are those we feel have the highest probability of out-earning their current price tag. By packing value plays into your roster, you’re creating a team with a higher floor.
  • In tournaments, we recommend building a core of the best value plays and then complementing them with players who have a high ceiling. This combination is essentially turning up the variance on a strong foundation and we believe often is the best recipe for tournament success.

May 20 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES

Starting Pitcher

For full SP rankings, see our projections: https://dailyroto.com/mlb-customizable-projections

The weather on the early slate could be a huge issue for starting pitching with potential rain in the forecast for KC-MIN, MIL-CHC, PHI-PIT, WAS-ATL, and COL-CIN. We’ll address the slate as if weather will be OK but this is a slate you have to be available to monitor weather and alerts.

UPDATE: The Twins have switched projected starting pitcher from Adam Wilk to Adalberto Mejia. Fortunately, they’re both LH and it doesn’t change the recommendations much. Mejia is slightly better than Wilk but the salary relief the Royals provide keeps the content largely the same.

Max Scherzer (WAS) and Jake Arrieta (CHC) top the pitching options on the afternoon slate. Scherzer gets a Braves’ lineup without Freddie Freeman that is far less imposing but gets far warmer temperatures and what appears to be a much tougher pitching park than Arrieta. The temperatures in Atlanta will be in the high 80s while Chicago will be in the high 50s with the wind blowing in from right. As a result, we’re expecting a lower implied run total against for Arrieta and the Brewers’ hefty K Rates (24.3 percent against RHP) keep the strikeout projections in reach for Arrieta, at least relative to the price tags. The challenge with Arrieta is finding a baseline. With decreased velocity this season, he’s allowed harder contact and generated fewer ground balls. His strikeout and walk rates have been fine but the harder contact has resulted in more runs allowed and higher wOBA and ISOs allowed. He’s also had a difficult schedule that included starts at MIL, CIN, COL, BOS and one of his home starts was with the wind howling out. It’s more likely the lost velocity is impacting the results than anything else, but the matchups have potentially exacerbated the results. With the expensive Nationals intriguing on this slate, the salary relief away from Scherzer is a bit of a necessity but Scherzer is very clearly the most stable source of points. If weather holds, our optimals prefer prioritizing Scherzer over Arrieta on both sites and the lack of strong starting starting options prefers pairing the two together on DraftKings.

The next highest projected option on the slate is the one that comes without any weather risk. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) was pounded by this boom-or-bust Rays’ team earlier in the season for seven earned runs in 2 ⅔ innings and he’s coming off a start that was even worse than that (eight earned runs in 1 ⅔ innings), but a look at Tanaka’s 2017 season doesn’t show much difference from past years. Tanaka is generating more ground balls, allowing less hard contact overall, generating more swinging strikes, and generating a similar contact rate inside and outside the zone as usual. The big difference for Tanaka is he’s throwing more pitches inside the strike zone than ever before (47.8 percent vs. career 42.5 percent) and his HR/FB Rate is 21.3 percent compared to a career average near 15 percent. If weather wreaks havoc on the slate, Tanaka will be your primary outlet. While the matchup is boom-or-bust with the Rays (26.4 K Rate is highest in the league, .194 ISO is third highest in the league against RHP), you at least know he’ll come without any weather concerns.

The potential options to pair with the top tier starters all come with volatility but strikeout upside in their respective matchups. Ian Kennedy (KC), Drew Pomeranz (BOS), and Vince Velasquez (PHI) all possess big strikeout rates but issues with walks that impede their ability to work deep into games and leaves them with heftier implied run totals against. Ultimately, Pomeranz may get the nod simply on weather over the other two but Kennedy slightly outpaces him in our projections.

Catcher

Salvador Perez (KC) tops our projections at the catcher position and comes with a friendly price tag on both sites. Perez has been hitting the ball hard of late (36.8 HHR% over last 15 days), generally hits clean-up against LHP, and is getting a park bump for his power in Minnesota. The price tag and opposing starter are what really drive the interest in Perez. Gary Sanchez (NYY) and Willson Contreras (CHC) project as the next two best targets but both are overpriced for their matchups. Sanchez has more appeal with poor conditions for power in Chicago IF going contrarian in tournaments or weather ruins the entire offensive slate.

If Perez isn’t in the lineup or weather removes him from consideration, the best route at the position is likely through salary relief. There aren’t exactly options you’re excited to roster but potential punt plays like Josh Phegley (OAK), Drew Butera (KC), Tucker Barnhart (CIN), and Dustin Garneau (COL) are all potential cheap fits on the two sites.

First Base

Joey Votto (CIN) tops the first base projections against Antonio Senzatela but comes at a prohibitive cost at a typically deep position. Our primary focus at first base is in Cleveland with either Edwin Encarnacion (CLE) or Carlos Santana (CLE) as they get Mike Fiers in Houston. Oddly, Fiers is generating more ground balls this year AND yielding a lot more home runs. A traditional fly ball oriented starter, Fiers has mixed in a two seamer to generate more ground balls but he hasn’t toned down the hard contact and remains homer prone. Edwin gets the edge with a cheaper price tag and Fiers traditionally having some reverse splits.  

The position has plenty of depth to it as usual. In tournaments, the power upside of Hanley Ramirez (BOS), Logan Morrison (TB), Ryan Zimmerman (WAS) and Kennys Vargas (MIN) all make sense as pivots away from the Cleveland first basemen.

Second Base

Brian Dozier (MIN), Jose Altuve (HOU), and Daniel Murphy (WAS) are the top projected second base options. The route at second base is largely influenced by your decision at starting pitcher. If you’re spending up at starting pitcher for Scherzer, you’re not going to have the resources to afford big spends at second base. If not, Murphy is our preferred spend. Bartolo Colon has been hammered by LHBs (.338 wOBA, .214 ISO since 2016) and warm weather plus a weak bullpen behind him has the Nationals with an implied total nearly a run higher than everyone else on the slate.

The position does have mid-tier options on both sites that serve as potential sources of salary relief should you employ the high-end starting pitching. On FanDuel, DJ LeMahieu (COL) and Jonathan Villar (MIL) are priced below $3,000 and road hitters near the top of their respective lineups. Our preference is towards LeMahieu in the stronger run scoring environment. On DraftKings, Villar and Jose Ramirez (CLE) serve as mid-tier options while Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Josh Harrison (PIT) rank slightly behind at similar price tags.

If in need of a pure punt, Chad Pinder (OAK) has a ridiculous hard hit rate (53.8 over last 15) and is just $2,200 on DraftKings. He rarely hits in a good lineup spot but could serve as a pure punt play which is more valuable on DK with the wider salary range.

Third Base

Nolan Arenado (COL) is the top projected third basemen by a decent margin with the Rockies playing in a friendlier offensive environment than the Cubs. Kris Bryant (CHC) follows but both are very expensive and only in play if you’re fading Scherzer.

Jose Ramirez (CLE), Josh Harrison (PIT), Eugenio Suarez (CIN), and Anthony Rendon (WAS) are mid-priced options on FanDuel that represent viable drop-downs. On DraftKings, Ryan Healy (OAK) is priced down at $3,300 and offers a nice combination of salary relief, recent hard hit data (30+ percent) and impressive splits (.419 wOBA and .279 ISO against LHP over last 100 plate appearances) in a small sample. On both sites, Cheslor Cuthbert (KC) could serve as a viable punt/salary relief play but he rarely gets a good lineup spot that we can have confidence in.

On FanDuel, David Freese (PIT) is also a viable pure punt play. The matchup with Velasquez isn’t great but he typically hits cleanup or fifth against RHP and is just $2,400.

Shortstop

As is usually the case with shortstop, salary relief is a big priority. Alcides Escobar (KC) serves as the best source of salary relief on both sites as a road leadoff hitter against one of the weakest starters on the slate. Escobar isn’t a great hitter, even with the platoon advantage, but you’re compiling cheap opportunities at a thin position.

Trea Turner (WAS) is once again the top projected SS option as the road leadoff hitter on the top projected offense on the slate. He’s fully priced, slumping of late, and Colon is historically difficult to run on; so it’s not a premier matchup. Turner makes the most sense as a part of Nationals’ stacks in tournaments. The exception is if the MIN-KC game has severe weather concerns and then building through Turner is a more viable route on FanDuel where the price tag isn’t quite as high as the other elite bats. On DraftKings, if Escobar is removed from consideration, Chad Pinder (OAK) and Adam Rosales (OAK) serve as potential punt plays. Rosales hit second on Friday night, but had been hitting way down in the lineup before that. If you’re fed up with Turner’s recent struggles, Francisco Lindor (CLE) is the next best alternative at a similar or cheaper price tag.

Outfield

Bryce Harper (WAS) is the top hitter on this slate and by a huge margin. The new stadium in Atlanta has played super friendly to LHBs early on and Harper gets an elite matchup with Bartolo Colon in warm and humid weather which is excellent for the ball carrying. It’s difficult to squeeze Scherzer in with Harper on both sites, which makes it a bit of an either/or decision. If weather pushes you away from Scherzer but it’s simply delay risk or you choose to build through alternative pitchers, Harper is a necessity.

If you’re not paying for Harper, you’re basically looking for salary relief on this slate. On FanDuel, Carlos Gonzalez (COL) stands out as an elite value at just $2,800. Gonzalez has the platoon advantage against homer-prone Tim Adleman and he’s been showing signs of breaking out of his early season funk (38 percent hard hit rate over last 15). Jorge Soler (KC) and Lorenzo Cain (KC) are also relatively cheap options against weak LHP Adam Wilk. These three options are all relatively cheap on DraftKings as well. The secondary targets in the outfield include Kyle Schwarber (CHC), Josh Reddick (HOU), Charlie Blackmon (COL), and cheap options like John Jaso (PIT) on DraftKings or Scott Schebler (CIN) on FanDuel. All of these options hold the platoon advantage against below average opposing starters.

Stacks

Tier One

1) Washington Nationals

2) Colorado Rockies

Tier Two

3) Cincinnati Reds

4) Chicago Cubs

5) Cleveland Indians

6) Kansas City Royals

The Nationals and Rockies are the top ranked stacks in the early slate. Both are road teams against homer-prone opposing starters backed up by bad bullpens in hitter-friendly parks. The Nationals should draw far more attention in tournaments given Colon’s struggles, which makes the Rockies a particularly compelling pivot in tournaments.

If you’re looking for a cheap stack to complement high-end starting pitching on this slate, the Royals and Indians fit the bill the best, while the Athletics could serve as an intriguing contrarian stack against Drew Pomeranz