A nine-game schedule with a Colorado game that features the major's best offense? Yeah, Monday is gonna be a tough one in daily fantasy baseball contests, and for a small slate, there are a lot of ways you can go with your strategy and picks. We've put together a GPP lineup below that makes good use of stat splits to identify values and sleepers, but we're still paying up for a couple big stars and "trusting our gut" more than we probably should.
We started our FanDuel tournament lineup by deciding to go with a Rangers' primary stack and a Pirates (yes, Pirates) mini-stack. The latter just sort of happened; the former was calculated. We blame no one for stacking Rockies and Nationals or even D-backs and Padres in Arizona (the latter being quite the contrarian play against Zack Greinke), but we like lefthanded Rangers at home against Phil Hughes. If you don't already know why, you'll find out in a minute.
We got our pieces of the Nats and Rockies, and also used a tried-and-true bit of non-analysis to pick our 1B. Hey, at least we're honest about it. Pitcher was easily the toughest spot tonight, but a little digging into the numbers helped us find one we're content with.
Daily Fantasy Baseball Picks: Monday, April 24
These picks are for a FanDuel GPP contest.
Pitcher: Hyun-jin Ryu, Dodgers at Giants ($7,200). This is pretty much a make-or-break pick, but at least we'll be "in" our GPP until the very end since this is the latest first pitch of the night. Ryu actually has decent peripherals (10 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 52.3 percent GB rate)...except for his eye-gougingly awful HR rate (six homers allowed in just 15.1 innings). It's worth noting, though, that Ryu's starts have come against Colorado (both home and away) and the Cubs. A much better matchup in San Francisco awaits.
Catcher: Francisco Cervelli, Pirates vs. Cubs ($2,700). Cervelli's career numbers vs. lefties (.305/.392/.405) are the reason for this pick, and the Cubs' Brett Anderson isn't exactly intimidating. There's nothing exciting about Cervelli, but unless you want to pay for one of the Coors' catchers tonight, he's a fine option at a decent price.
First Base: Jose Abreu, White Sox vs. Royals ($2,900). He's due! Yes, that's really our reasoning. Very little about this pick makes sense other than Abreu's affordable price, but we're going with it. Perhaps surprisingly, Abreu has hit worse against lefties in his career (.276/.355/.490), so we don't even have his matchup against Jason Vargas going for us, but he has hit better at home (.313/.379/.525), so that's something. A more sound play would be Adrian Gonzalez ($2,700), who's hit .282/.360/.526 in 78 career at-bats against Matt Cain...you know, if you're into to that sort of thing. (Update: We're pivoting from Abreu to Anthony Rizzo at $4,400 and going from Harper to A.J. Pollock in the OF.)
Second Base: Rougned Odor, Rangers vs. Twins ($3,200). Odor has really cooled off after a hot start, but we still like him against a fly-ball pitcher like Phil Hughes. Hughes allowed a .375/.443/.513 line to lefthanded batters last year, and that has carried over to this season (.357/.379/.571). If there's one thing Odor can do, it's tee off on a pitcher like Hughes.
Shortstop: Jordy Mercer, Pirates vs. Cubs ($2,300). Mercer is hitting .300/.368/.468 vs. lefties for his career, and he's been batting leadoff against southpaws this season. He doesn't exactly have a high ceiling, but his floor looks pretty good, especially at such a cheap price.
Third Base: Joey Gallo, Rangers vs. Twins ($3,100). Gallo is a bit of an all-or-nothing pick, but he's actually been a bit more consistent this year. Really, though, we like him for the same reason we like Odor and Nomar Mazara -- Hughes gives up a lot of dingers and gets crushed by lefties. It's really that simple. And even if Hughes exits early, it's not as if Minnesota has a shutdown bullpen.
Outfield: Bryce Harper, Nationals at Rockies ($5,500). We normally wouldn't pay up for Harper in Colorado, instead opting for a cheaper alternative like Jayson Werth or Ryan Zimmerman, but our hope is that people are scared off by the price tag and the fact a lefty is on the mound for the Rockies. Harper is killing lefties this year in a very small sample (8-for-11) and has almost an .800 OPS against them for his career. Don't let that deter you. (Update: Harper is not in the Nationals' lineup on Monday, so we're pivoting to A.J. Pollock at $3,900 and using the extra money to pivot from Abreu to Anthony Rizzo at 1B.)
Outfield: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies vs. Nationals ($4,500). Blackmon is another high-priced pick that might seem a little too obvious, but we want a piece of the Rockies' offense against Jacob Turner and their lead-off man offers a sky-high ceiling. You can save some money with Carlos Gonzalez or Gerardo Parra, but Blackmon is worth paying up for.
Outfield: Nomar Mazara, Rangers vs. Twins ($3,300). By now you know why we picked Mazara. He'll likely be very popular at his affordable price, but sometimes chalk is chalk for a reason.