FanDuel MLB Plays for Monday, May 12th
by Owen O’Brien
There’s no time like a Monday to get away from it all and savor the experience of a night of fantasy baseball on FanDuel. There are 10 games on Monday’s MLB evening schedule, which means you’ve got a full 20 teams worth of players to choose from when building your winning lineup. I’m here to help you start sorting through all those options with two recommended plays at each position. A dreaded day off or thunderstorm can strike at any time, so before contests begin make sure to confirm that all of your players are starting and that their games are unlikely to be affected by bad weather.
1. Hiroki Kuroda, NYY v. NYM ($7,500) – Kuroda’s numbers don’t look very pretty through his first seven starts of 2014 but he’s coming off his best outing of the season with eight strikeouts and only one earned run allowed in 7.2 innings against the Angels. I’d say he’s been a bit unlucky to find himself with a 4.43 ERA despite a solid 1.24 WHIP and excellent control resulting in just seven walks with nearly five times as many strikeouts. The Mets offense seems as dreadful as ever and the Yankees are pretty heavily favored in this one, which gives Kuroda a great chance to pick up his first win in exactly one month. You can’t bank on a ton of strikeouts from him, but even a half dozen would go well with 6 or 7 low-scoring innings and that always critical win. With the general lack of trustworthy options available at the position on Monday you’ll have a tough time finding a more cost effective option than Kuroda.
2. Jesse Chavez, OAK v. CWS ($7,500) – Chavez has been lights out in each start this year aside from two duds, with his last start against Seattle being one such disappointment. He’s actually struggled in two of his last three starts, but the seven shutout innings with eight K’s and only two baserunners he hurled against Texas in between says just as much to me. I’m guessing a lot of FanDuel users will be avoiding him with those two single-digit fantasy scores on his game log, and that could turn out to be a big mistake. Chavez has struck out at least 8 batters on three occasions on his way to posting more than a strikeout per inning this season and has allowed one or zero earned runs in five of his seven starts. The White Sox bring the highest scoring offense in the American League to the table, but Chavez has proven he can handle strong lineups like the Angels and Rangers, and it helps that the game is in Oakland.
1. Yadier Molina, STL v. CHC ($3,100) – Molina has been slumping for well over a week now going 3 for his last 26 entering Sunday and showing an uncharacteristic lack of plate discipline and extra-base power. For a guy that’s hit so consistently over the last year four years and doesn’t appear to be injured, this kind of streak sounds more like bad luck than anything to really worry about. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he got right back to socking doubles and driving in runs like few other catchers are capable. That storyline seems even more plausible on Monday against opposing Cubs pitcher Travis Wood, as Molina has ripped seven extra-base hits including three homers off the lefty while totaling a 1.220 OPS over 30 previous at bats. The price tag won’t stay this low for long, so take advantage of this discounted star while you can.
2. Chris Iannetta, LAA @ TOR ($2,900) – Iannetta is the first of many Angels and Blue Jays on this list as I anticipate this game will be the highest scoring of them all on Monday, and one of the few with no chance of bad weather impacting the outcome. There are certainly more reasons than that to play Iannetta as the veteran backstop has been playing great all year and shows no signs of stopping after blasting a two-run homer on Saturday. He sports a .370 OBP with nearly identical walk and strikeout totals while packing the upside to punish mistakes for extra bases. He sat out on Sunday so there’s no reason for him not to play on Monday, which bodes well given the matchup against Toronto lefty Mark Buehrle. Iannetta has a 1.038 OPS with all three of his homers against lefties in 29 at bats this season and an even better 1.111 OPS in 9 previous at bats versus Buehrle. He’s certainly priced to succeed below $3,000 and can provide you some salary cap flexibility without having to punt a position.
1. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR v. LAA ($4,200) – I have to say there are a lot of good options at first base on Monday particularly in the mid to high $3,000 range, but I believe it’s worth the extra investment to include Edwin Encarnacion in your lineup. Toronto’s mighty first baseman started the season slow but he’s raking in May with a 1.022 OPS and four homers already this month. Few players in baseball possess the raw power of Encarnacion and when his timing is on the results are explosive. Over a three-game stretch last week he hit four homers and a triple while striking out just once. He’s hit a double in each of his last two games and seems primed to hit his fifth bomb of May in short order. I like his chances to do it Monday against Angels lefty C.J. Wilson, against whom Encarnacion has posted a 1.083 OPS with four walks and no strikeouts in 16 career plate appearances.
2. C.J. Cron, LAA @ TOR ($2,800) – Cron certainly has not disappointed in his first look with the Angels as the rookie first baseman carries an 1.107 OPS into Monday’s game in Toronto. He’s mashed three doubles and a homer in only 24 at bats and has been even more ridiculously effective against lefties with an 1.889 OPS and three extra base hits in nine trips to the plate. I have a feeling that Mark Buehrle’s sparkling 1.91 ERA won’t look quite so shiny after this game, and Cron could be a big reason why. It worries me a bit that he’s yet to draw a walk so far in the majors, but Cron looks a lot like another Mark Trumbo in the making, which should mean quite a bit more power production to go along with a pile of strikeouts the rest of this season. I expect his price to be in the mid to high $3,000 range soon, so buy in while he’s still a bargain.
1. Howie Kendrick, LAA @ TOR ($3,600) – Just like at first base we’ve got an Angel and a Blue Jay as the two recommended plays at second base on Monday. Stacking either or both lineups seems like a smart idea, and if you roll with Los Angeles make sure to include Howie Kendrick as he’s been doing a lot of the heavy lifting in the middle of the Angels lineup while the team deals with multiple injuries. Kendrick has already topped his 2013 season total in stolen bases with seven so far in 2014, and there seems to be more juice in his bat with eight doubles including three in his last two games. He’s also added two triples and two homers, totals he might increase on Monday given his past success against Toronto lefty Mark Buehrle. Kendrick has hit for the cycle against Buehrle on his way to an 1.109 OPS in 22 career plate appearances in the matchup. I can understand the argument for ponying up a few extra bucks for Dee Gordon, but I expect Kendrick and the Angels to generate quite a few more runs than the Dodgers this time around.
2. Steve Tolleson, TOR v. LAA ($2,400) – Tolleson is a great story that’s turned his third cup of coffee in the big leagues into a brief moment of glory with a .429 batting average and an incredible six extra base hits in his first 14 at bats of the season. The story took a bit of a negative turn on Sunday as Tolleson struck out twice while going 0 for 4, but I hate to overreact to one bad game and priced at just $2,400 he is well worth consideration as long as he’s in the lineup. I’d expect to see him in Toronto’s starting nine on Monday with lefty C.J. Wilson on the mound as Tolleson has done most of his damage against lefties including reaching base twice in three previous at bats against Wilson. Projecting his 134 at bat career numbers out to a 600 at bat season, Tolleson would be on pace for 44 doubles, 9 triples, and 13 home runs. I’m hoping he sticks around in Toronto long enough to see if he’s truly capable of that.
1. Josh Donaldson, OAK v. CWS ($3,800) – Donaldson is a perfect example of how quickly things can change in the world of daily fantasy baseball on FanDuel. Just a couple of weeks ago he looked like the best third baseman in the league and a must play any time he was facing a lefty. With no extra base hits in his last 11 games and no home runs in his last 15, the narrative has gone quiet on Donaldson as his price tag has dwindled almost $1,000. Aside from the lack of extra bases though his numbers don’t echo the doom and gloom of his current sentiment, which positions him well as a potential impact player with lower than usual ownership on FanDuel. If anything I think his current price makes him even more of a must play when facing a lefty, as he is on Monday in Chicago’s John Danks. Donaldson doesn’t have much of a history against Danks but his .921 OPS against lefties this year and 1.042 mark last year is plenty of data to indicate a favorable matchup.
2. Manny Machado, BAL v. DET ($3,200) – Machado stumbled a bit out of the gate in his recent return from knee surgery which has left his numbers looking pretty ugly. He’s starting to show some signs though with a homer on Friday and a couple of hits on Sunday. His plate discipline has been significantly improved in this year’s small sample size, and with last year’s American League doubles king lacking a two-base hit in his first 39 at bats of 2014 he seems utterly due for one on Monday. There’s not much history between him and Detroit starter Rick Porcello, but Porcello doesn’t miss a ton of bats and Machado is making fine contact so far this season. I expect the Orioles to score more than a handful of runs in this game and Baltimore’s young third baseman is in prime position to be involved batting second in the order between Nick Markakis and Chris Davis.
1. Jose Reyes, TOR v. LAA ($3,700) – Reyes has really turned it on lately after starting the season with a mix of injuries and subpar results. He’s produced four doubles, two home runs, and five stolen bases in his last 10 games with an OPS more than .150 points higher in May than in April. Reyes doesn’t have the best splits versus lefties or much history against C.J. Wilson, but he does hit leadoff in Toronto’s high-scoring lineup and is easily the cream of the available shortstop crop on Monday. Now that he’s running again and the bat looks alive, it won’t be long before his price tag drifts above $4,000 on FanDuel. Until then, I think he’s underpriced given the diverse ways he’s able to generate fantasy points and his massive upside on those days when everything clicks.
2. Jhonny Peralta, STL v. CHC ($3,400) – Peralta is proving he can still hit for power in the post-steroid era with an impressive eight home runs and eight doubles among his 31 hits this season. He’s also riding an eight-game hitting streak into Monday’s matchup against lefty Travis Wood and the Cubs. The splits aren’t there this year for Peralta as he’s still looking for his first homer against a southpaw, but in the past he’s always been better versus lefties and he’s done well with an .833 OPS in the small sample of six career at bats against Wood. More important is the 1.085 OPS the St. Louis shortstop has posted so far in May earning himself some prime real estate batting second in the Cardinals talented lineup. Expect Peralta to extend that hit streak to nine games with a good chance at extra bases and some run production on Monday.
1. Yoenis Cespedes, OAK v. CWS ($3,700) – Cespedes’ bat looks as powerful as ever with nine doubles and seven homers already in 2014, easily on pace to better his already solid numbers from 2013. He’s been particularly hot of late with at least one hit in all but one of his last six games, including three round-trippers. I like the matchup against lefty John Danks on Monday despite Cespedes having struck out in two of his previous three at bats versus Danks. Cespedes generally owns lefties to the tune of a .918 OPS this year with a home run every 10 at bats. He also seems underpriced as the centerpiece of an Oakland lineup that scores a lot more runs than people would expect. It’s easy to be tempted by pricier options in the outfield like Mike Trout or Giancarlo Stanton, and I can’t fault you for taking them, but its not worth major sacrifices at multiple positions when you can get a guy like Cespedes for so much less.
2. Marc Krauss, HOU v. TEX ($2,300) – If you do want to afford a Trout or Stanton, or you just want to pony up for an expensive pitcher or big names at other positions, you’ll need a player priced near the minimum that’s still capable of producing a big score. The vastly unheralded Krauss fits that bill despite season and career numbers that might vividly suggest otherwise. That lack of success might scare off most FanDuel users, but Krauss is a big dude at 6’2 / 244 lbs. and he has a history of raking with excellent plate discipline in the minor leagues. He’s also got two doubles and a homer in his last three starts and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit another one of either or both on Monday against struggling Rangers righty Colby Lewis. At the very least I’d expect a walk and a hard hit ball with a good chance at driving someone in hitting fifth in an improving Astros lineup.