Welcome to May 21 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!
May 21 MLB DFS Position Timestamps
00:39 Starting Pitcher
13:02 First Base
16:26 Second Base
19:00 Third Base
- 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 21 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES
For full SP rankings, see our projections: https://dailyroto.com/mlb-customizable-projections
Stephen Strasburg (WAS), Chris Archer (TB), and Jake Arrieta (CHC) headline the first tier of starters for Sunday’s afternoon slate. Weather could wreak havoc here as we have more thunderstorms in the Atlanta area for Strasburg and early forecasts have the wind blowing out at Wrigley. Arrieta is the cheapest of the bunch on both sites, though the gap is more substantial on DraftKings ($9,400 vs. $10,800/$11,300) than on FanDuel ($9,700 vs. $10,100 for both). 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. Of course, problems with hard aerial contact coupled with winds blowing out isn’t a combination you’re excited for in cash games. Strasburg has the softest matchup of the bunch but the Braves new stadium continues to play friendly for offenses and then there is Archer who faces a Yankees’ team that leads all of baseball in wRC+ against RHP (127). It is not an exciting slate for starting pitching.
Of the expensive trio up top, Archer looks like the best investment. He’s pitching in plus conditions at home with a favorable home plate umpire. The price tag isn’t ideal but there is enough value to make it work on both sites.
The challenge is on DraftKings where you need two starters and the slate holds considerable offense. Archer and Arrieta are a viable combination that still allows enough room for offense, but ideally you’d like a mid-tier starter you could get behind. The options here are limited. Adam Wainwright (STL) comes with the lowest implied total against (3.8) of this group but a modest strikeout rate. We’d feel better about Wainwright as an option if Buster Posey got a day off and the lineup thinned out further. Jason Hammel (KC) and Phil Hughes (MIN) square off in cool temperatures (high 40s) that can help suppress power but Hammel isn’t quite cheap enough and Hughes’ K Rate leaves a lot to desire even for $5,800. This brings us to Chad Kuhl (PIT) who will have to dodge weather concerns in Pittsburgh but gets a below average Phillies’ offense in a good pitchers park and has posted an impressive 11.9 swinging strike rate this season, which hasn’t yet translated to strikeouts. Kuhl is just $5,500 on DraftKings and opens up all of the offense.
In tournaments, Aaron Nola (PHI) is an intriguing option if the weather holds off. He was sharp in his final rehab start (83 pitches, 6 ⅓ shutout innings with seven strikeouts) and has historically dominated RHBs (.295 wOBA, 27.7 K Rate, 4.4 BB Rate, 2.68 xFIP) and the Pirates often run out lineups with just three LHBs. Nola is a bit too expensive for his first game back in cash but has the mid-tier upside that few starters have no the slate. Danny Salazar (CLE) is expensive and the Astros are a terrible matchup but he’s likely coming with very little ownership and is one of the few starters on the entire slate that has 10 strikeout upside.
The catcher position is one you’re filling out last in this slate. Salvador Perez (KC) rates as our top ranked catcher and his price tag is fine on both sites. The Royals are going to play a doubleheader today, so we’ll have to confirm his status and make sure he’s in the lineup for the first game.
Devin Mesoraco (CIN) is cheap on FD ($2.4k) and he’s been a capable hitter vs. LHP (.353 wOBA, .174 ISO in his last 143 PAs vs. LHP). He caught a day game yesterday but he wasn’t in the lineup the day before, so there’s a decent chance we see him in the lineup today. He’s even in consideration on DK since the position is so thin though keep in mind that the price tag is a bit more fair on that site.
Willson Contreras (CHC) will likely drop to seventh with Jason Heyward back in the lineup, but a windy Wrigley game that benefits hitters and power upside (.192 ISO vs. RHP in 294 PAs) keeps him in play.
We’ll see who the Rockies start behind the plate tomorrow, but if Tony Wolters (COL) gets the start he’s in play on FD where he’s cheap.
Mark Reynolds (COL) has been hitting cleanup for the Rockies lately, and a matchup against the bringer of home runs (Bronson Arroyo) puts him squarely in the cash game conversation on both sites. In 41 IP this season, Arroyo has allowed 11 HRs. Given his lack of missing bats, fly ball proneness, and low velocity (his fastball velocity is at an average of 84.2 MPH this season), we’re expecting more of the same for Arroyo moving forward.
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) will have the platoon edge in a Wrigley game that will have 15-16 MPH winds blowing out to center. Chase Anderson is a reverse splits pitcher, but given Rizzo’s elite skills vs. RHP and the favorable hitting conditions, you can target Rizzo across all formats.
Cheaper values to consider in cash games are Edwin Encarnacion (CLE) and Albert Pujols (LAA). Pujols has been squaring up the ball a bit better lately (27.5% HHR over L15), but a hamstring injury has kept him out of the lineup over the last couple of games. If he returns today, he emerges as a good play for the price (particularly on FD) in a matchup against Tommy Milone (.199 ISO allowed to RHBs since 2015). If the Angels decide to hold him out of the lineup in a NL park (no DH), Jefry Marte (LAA) becomes a good salary relief target over on DK, while C.J. Cron (LAA) would be a good cheap target on FanDuel.
Joe Musgrove has allowed a .197 ISO to RHBs in his short career in the majors. That bodes well for Encarnacion, who can be rostered at a discount on both sites. Teammate Carlos Santana (CLE) is a little bit more expensive on both sites, but he can be considered as well. Santana’s HHR over the L15 is sitting at 32.6%.
Rickie Weeks (TB) is just $2.8k on DK and facing a LHP. He’s our best salary relief target at the position on that site.
DJ LeMahieu (COL) is an easy choice for us in cash games over on FD where he’s sub $3k. LeMahieu didn’t have a great start to the season, but he’s starting to turn it around at the plate, generating a 26.6% HHR over the L15.
On DK, the position is a bit less straightforward with LeMahieu priced correctly. On that site, Cesar Hernandez (PHI) looks like a good value but he’s making very bad contact lately (2% HHR over the L15). The matchup against Chad Kuhl (.400 wOBA, 16% K rate vs. LHBs in 213 PAs) is great, but you’re not getting much of a discount on the price.
We’re more inclined to pay $200 extra for Jason Kipnis (CLE) (35.4% HHR over L15) on DK or pay a similar price for Ben Zobrist (CHC). Zobrist was going to hit leadoff yesterday but the game got PPD. There’s a strong chance Zobrist sees five PAs with the wind blowing out in Wrigley today.
Brian Dozier (MIN), Jonathan Villar (MIL) (on FD) and Devon Travis (TOR) (on FD) are upside pivots to consider in tournaments. Ian Happ (CHC) has seen an adjustment in price tag on both sites, but a great start to his career in the majors and favorable hitting conditions puts him in the conversation in tournaments.
Nolan Arenado (COL) represents our top ranked hitter in this slate regardless of position. Arenado has been swinging the bat well lately (32.7% HHR), and Bronson Arroyo in Great American Ballpark is a fantastic context. Arenado is pricey, but if the weather cooperates in Cincinnati we’re going to make an effort to squeeze him in cash games.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, the alternatives are strong at the position with Kris Bryant (CHC) facing reverse splits Chase Anderson in a favorable hitting Wrigley Field and Manny Machado (BAL) in Baltimore though his matchup is tougher (Marco Estrada).
At cheaper price tags on FD, you can have access to Eugenio Suarez (CIN) (.385 wOBA, .247 ISO vs. LHP since 2015) and Evan Longoria (TB) (just $2.8k). Both of these hitters will have the platoon edge in their respective matchups. Suarez is also a strong tournament target on DK.
Miguel Sano (MIN) will be in a damp, chilly environment today (Kansas City) but given how he’s hit the ball this year you can consider him in tournaments.
The shortstop position is one of the positions you’re filling out last in this slate, but you’re more likely to feel better doing so on FD than on DK.
Trea Turner (WSH) is the top projected scorer at the position and he will have the platoon edge in a hitting environment that’s played more favorable to hitters (Atlanta). We prefer him on FD where he’s cheaper.
Alcides Escobar (KC) has been dreadful this season, but he’s been leading off for the Royals and he’ll see favorable matchups against the Twins pitching staff today. Most importantly, he’s just cheap on DK.
It’s also possible to save some money on FD with Darwin Barney (TOR), though he’ll likely hit sixth. He’s a negative value in our projections, but he opens your spending abilities at other positions with a $2.1k price tag.
Charlie Blackmon (COL) and Mike Trout (LAA) represent the top projected scorers in the outfield. They’re facing pitchers than enhance their upside. Trout is facing Milone while Blackmon is in Cincinnati facing Bronson Arroyo. We prefer Blackmon in cash games with a stronger projection, but Trout (who’s the better hitter) is a good pivot if the weather doesn’t cooperate in CIncinnati.
Carlos Gonzalez (COL) has been hitting fifth lately, but he’s the best point per dollar target at the position. We’ve mentioned the context enough, but it’s important to note that CarGo has turned things around at the plate, generating a 40% HHR over the L15. He’s an easy fit on both sites, and the $2.8k price tag on FD puts him in the free square territory on FD.
Up next is Kyle Schwarber (CHC) in a favorable Wrigley Field for hitters. Schwarber is affordable on both sites so he’s not a difficult fit. Odubel Herrera (PHI) has a strong matchup vs. Chad Kuhl, and he’s on the cheaper end as well. Ben Zobrist (CHC), Kevin Pillar (TOR) (on DK) and Rickie Weeks (TB) (on FD) are secondary targets that are viable in cash games. Adam Duvall‘s (CIN) HHR has come back down to earth, but we still like him in tournaments given the context (platoon edge in a good hitting environment – .243 ISO vs LHP in 192 PAs).
Cameron Maybin (LAA) has been on fire lately, and the price tag has adjusted accordingly on both sites. He’ll carry his 23.5% HHR over the L15 (+10.2 change) in a favorable matchup vs. Tommy Milone, which throws him into the tournament mix.
1) Colorado Rockies
2) Chicago Cubs
3) Cleveland Indians
4) Cincinnati Reds
5) Washington Nationals
The Rockies are the focus of our content with affordable price tags and a friendly matchup against Bronson Arroyo and a weak Reds bullpen that has used their top reliever Raisel Iglesias in three of the last four days. While the Cubs offense may get more public interest with winds blowing out in Wrigley, we’re more interested in the Rockies should the weather hold up in Cincinnati.
Cleveland has nice power upside against Joe Musgrove (1.66 HR/9 this year, career 1.45) and makes for a fine contrarian pivot on this slate. They rank as our third favorite stack but we expect ownership will hold relatively in check with more attention on Colorado and Chicago. The Nationals have disappointed in two great spots the last two days but are arguably even more dangerous against LHP and stackable as Harper-Murphy’s hefty price tags tend generate lower ownership in left on left matchups.
In terms of low owned contrarian targets, the Houston Astros are really interesting on this slate. Danny Salazar racks up whiffs but also allows loads of hard aerial contact. Cleveland has used Andrew Miller and Cody Allen on consecutive days so the bullpen may be far weaker than usual. The Cardinals are another contrarian target with a softer matchup than Salazar. Matt Cain has really struggled to miss bats (6.1 swinging strike rate) and the Giants pen has used Melancon on back-to-back days since activation while Strickland worked two innings last night. It’s possible we catch a watered down version of the Giants pen and the Cardinals have plenty of power throughout the lineup that will likely come with low ownership.