Monday presents an interesting daily fantasy baseball slate, if only for the fact that we get just 7 MLB games to work with. Intensifying things further is the presence of Max Scherzer, who is far and away the top pitcher available, but also carries an asterisk or two. The first is whether or not we can trust him, as he did exit his last start with neck spasms after just one inning.
Speaking as someone who used Mad Max last time he toed the rubber, I’m a bit hesitant to confide in him again. There is also the point that he’s facing a Marlins offense that can tee off when they’re clicking, largely thanks to the powerful bats of Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton. Scherzer should silence them at home, but what if he doesn’t? A bad or even mediocre outing by Mad Max (and you fading him) could put you light years ahead of the rest of your GPP field on such a controlled slate.
So, where does that have us going with our FanDuel MLB picks tonight? Read on to find out:
SP: Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals ($11.k)
The neck and ownership make fading Mad Max something we certainly need to consider. However, on such a small slate, not using what will probably be the best (or at least the safest) pitcher feels like a grand gaffe. There aren’t a ton of worthwhile backup plans, either. Jake Arrieta has been solid but he’s on the road against a Giants offense that doesn’t K much. Carlos Martinez has a similar situation in Kauffman Stadium versus the Royals.
Ervin Santana probably has the best strikeout matchup against the Brewers, but he’s in a hitter’s park, the Brewers can mash and his price feels a bit inflated. We can go right down the list and point out pitchers we can try, but when lined up opposite of Mad Max, they look pretty weak.
All roads likely lead back to Scherzer and that’s a definite for cash games. I don’t hate the idea of using Arrieta or Martinez for GPPs, but that’s about as cute as I’ll get on this slate. For the most part, we need to back Max and figure out how to build a team of bats that can compete alongside him for us.
Update: Do note that this game has the most questionable weather, with a flash flood warning involved. If the risk of delay or PPR remains high later in the day, we suggest pivoting to Arrieta.
C: Austin Hedges – San Diego Padres ($2.3k)
The first catchers that popped off the board to me were Willson Conteras and Buster Posey, but with both operating in the pitcher-friendly AT&T Park tonight, I’m probably taking a hard pass on them. Instead, since we’re paying up for Max, why not punt catcher entirely and roll with Hedges?
This is admittedly a hit or miss play, but Hedges gets a killer park upgrade at Great American Ballpark and will be facing a beatable righty in Tim Adleman. Only aiding Hedges are his awesome splits versus right-handed pitching (.247 ISO) and fun 40% fly ball rate. Adelman isn’t a trash arm, but he is allowing a sick .204 ISO to righties and the price/park are too tempting at a weak position.
1B: Jesus Aguilar – Milwaukee Brewers ($2.5k)
I also love Wil Myers here at a discounted rate and you may quickly realize I’m into the game at Great American Ballpark today. I don’t mind deviating from that to save some cash with Aguilar, though. We need to make sure the Brewers masher starts, but he has a nice matchup with Ervin Santana in the ever hittable Target Field tonight.
Santana is not always a guy to pick on, but he has his hardest times at home and Aguilar does bring a nice .241 ISO and .341 wOBA against righties to the table. If we switch off of Max and/or find a way to save cash, I don’t mind paying up for Myers or going even further to Joey Votto ($4.2k), either.
2B: Scooter Gennett – Cincinnati Reds ($2.5k)
Like I said, I love this park and with shaky pitching toeing the rubber and solid splits being presented, there are several options I’m into here tonight. Gennett remains very cheap and is back at home against Jhoulys Chacin, who can be a different guy on the road.
That doesn’t mean Chacin will for sure get rocked, but on this small slate, I don’t mind betting that he will. I think a full Reds stack is very much in play, but for now I’ll pick and choose Cincy players that help us out. Gennett is one of them, as he sports underrated power to go with sweet splits (.285 ISO, .409 wOBA) against right-handed pitching. Javier Baez ($3k) isn’t to be quickly overlooked and Jonathan Schoop ($3.9k) is ablaze, but I really like Gennett in this spot tonight.
3B: Anthony Rendon – Washington Nationals ($3.3k)
We can switch gears for a second to touch on Rendon, who destroys left-handed pitching (.365 ISO, .501 wOBA) about as good as anyone and will be at home against what looks like a beatable arm in Chris O’Grady. Actually we know for a fact he’s beatable because the Nats hung 6 runs on him last week.
Rendon wrecks southpaws and is a fine price tonight, so there’s not much reason to go elsewhere. That being said, Kris Bryant also murders lefties and faces one tonight. I just prefer the cheaper option of the two.
SS: Zack Cozart – Cincinnati Reds ($3.1k)
We get another cheap Red in Cozart, who will be starting his second game after missing a couple weeks due to injury. He’s been a relative monster on the year and is obviously going to be in a great park (at home) against a mediocre arm. Cozart happens to own strong splits versus righties (.230 ISO, .381 wOBA), too, while SS is quite thin tonight.
I’m not seeing an obvious pivot or punt here, but if we want to save we can try Wilmfer Difo or Paul DeJong. The savings just aren’t there, though, so I’d rather hitch my wagon to Cozart.
OF: Hunter Renfroe – San Diego Padres ($2.7k)
I’d probably give Jesse Winker a hard look here if Cozart’s return didn’t bump him down the batting order. That is the case, though, so we’re shifting our focus to the other side of this game again and looking at monster masher, Hunter Renfroe. The Padres as a whole see a massive park upgrade in this contest and have actually been hitting the ball fairly well for a while now.
Renfroe offers up a solid .202 ISO in a winnable matchup, but best of all, he’s not a bad price. If I’m down to him or Winker, I’m taking his power and upside all day.
OF: Ian Happ – Chicago Cubs ($2.6k)
I do not want a lot of exposure to a game at AT&T Park, but getting a discounted Cub with power like Happ isn’t exactly a loss. Happ boasts amazing splits versus righties, but his .203 ISO against lefties isn’t too shabby, either. The hope is we get some extra value that opens up, but I don’t mind using Happ as a one-off to close out the night. Just make sure he’s starting if you use him, while we can also consider the aforementioned Winker as a pivot.
OF: Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels ($4.8k)
Who doesn’t love closing a slate out with Mike Trout? This guy murders both sides of the plate, but if you need to see the numbers, we get a gaudy .384 ISO and .468 wOBA against Dylan Bundy. Bundy is coming off of a gem and he gets a positive park shift, but this is the mother of one-off plays. Trout doesn’t need to dong to return value, either, as he’s smoking hot right now with 12+ fantasy points in 7 of his last 8 contests.
Keep an eye on the Nats game, as Scherzer’s status in general and the weather could combine for plenty of reason to fade it, altogether. In fact, I almost hope it does get PPD, because then Mad Max isn’t even part of the equation. Do consider that the Marlins/Nats game getting cancelled would only inflate the ownership of Arrieta and the other top pitchers, so then punting SP would suddenly be an appealing daily fantasy baseball strategy.
Whatever you ultimately decide, we hope our FanDuel MLB picks and insight aid you in your lineup building process. Good luck!