Thursday's smaller-than-usual evening slate shrinks the player pool in daily fantasy baseball contests -- which only forces you to sharpen your strategy and picks. Tonight's DraftKings and FanDuel contests feature players from seven games, but there are still plenty of potential sleepers, values, and stacks to choose from.
For our DraftKings GPP lineup, we're investing a good amount into our pitchers (of course), but we're not going with the top guy, Noah Syndergaard. We're not doubting Thor, but his matchup against the Phillies and rapidly improving Aaron Nola might not be as sure of a thing as it appears on first blush. Instead, we're saving a few bucks with some pitchers who have similar upsides.
We're going to a late-night game for our primary stack, picking on an inexperienced "veteran" pitcher. In fact, we're hoping that having mostly late-night guys in unfavorable parks will help differentiate lineup. Make no mistake, our picks can still mash, but they might be initially overlooked by some.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks: Thursday, April 20
These picks are for a DraftKings GPP contest.
Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals at Braves ($11,100). Strasburg really hasn't had any "dominant" starts this year, but he's been steady, going seven innings every time out and whiffing eight in each of his past two outings. The Braves offense has been above average this year, but Strasburg can light it up against anyone. With the majors top offense backing him, we like this matchup.
Pitcher: Danny Duffy, Royals at Rangers ($8,200). Originally, I wanted Carlos Martinez here, but his extra $800 price tag was a deal breaker. That's fine because Duffy might be safer and lower-owned because of that "@TEX" by his name. The Rangers have been one of the worst hitting teams in baseball against lefties this year, striking out at a 29.3-percent clip, trailing only the Rays and Brewers.
Catcher: Chris Iannetta, D-backs at Padres ($2,700). When you go cheap at catcher, you take what you can get. Iannetta has always hit much better against lefties, and that's even carried over to this year in an extremely limited sample size (3-for-6, homer). Even in a bad hitters park, we'll take our chances with Iannetta against Clayton Richard.
First Base: Chris Davis, Orioles at Reds ($4,800). There's no way Davis is leaving Cincinnati without hitting one out of that Cracker Jack box stadium, right? He's not cheap, but we're gonna play a hunch here. I mean, he's facing Scott Feldman. Scott Feldman!
Second Base: Robinson Cano, Mariners at A's ($4,400). This begins our Mariners stack, and while it's a bit of an obvious one with Seattle facing Cesar Valdez -- someone who made nine appearances in the majors in 2010 and hasn't been heard from since -- the fact the game is in Oakland might cause people to jump on some other situations. Cano is the fourth most expensive 2B today, but with Jonathan Villar currently incapable of getting hits, Rougned Odor facing a lefty, and Daniel Murphy facing an always unpredictable knuckleballer, we think he's the top option.
Shortstop: Taylor Motter, Mariners at A's ($3,300). Here's the danger of randomly watching a guy play: If he has a good game, you can easily overvalue him (and vice/versa). I watched Motter play the other night and he hit the (expletive) out of the ball. You wouldn't think it to look at him, but it was really jumping off his bat. His .629 SLG this year backs that up. He also takes a good amount of walks and can steal some bases. Is he a future star? Probably not, but I'll roll with him in a good spot tonight. I just wish he hit higher than sixth in the batting order.
Third Base: Ryon Healy, A's vs. Mariners ($3,400). This is definitely a contrarian pick, but that's fine. Facing James Paxton, who's on pace to be the AL's Pitch of the Month in April, Healy likely won't be a popular pick, but Paxton is going to give up some runs at some point, and it's not as if Healy and the A's can't hit. Sometimes you need an all-or-nothing play to set you apart from the pack, so we'll go with the guy we liked in the preseason who's gotten off to a slow start. With all that said, if we had $300 more dollars to spend, this spot would be occupied by Eugenio Suarez.
Outfield: Nelson Cruz, Mariners at A's ($4,500). Speaking of hitting the (expletive) out of the ball... It's been a slow burn for Cruz this year, but he's finally coming around, and we know what he's capable of.
Outfield: A.J. Pollock, D-backs at Padres ($4,100). Pollock has always hit with more power against lefties, and I'm banking on him breaking out of his early-season funk vs. southpaws. I'm always somewhat leery of taking speedy guys vs. a lefty like Richard, but Pollock is a good enough all-around hitter that stolen bases aren't the key to his value. Plus, Richard might not be in the game all that long.
Outfield: Hunter Renfroe, Padres vs. D-backs ($3,500). I'm feeling pretty lukewarm about this pick, but Renfroe gets a good matchup against a mediocre lefty (Patrick Corbin), and he likely won't have that high of ownership considering the situation. The Padres have been pretty bad vs. southpaws this year, so hopefully they can get it together enough to give the young slugger some run-producing opportunities.