ESPN fantasy experts identify MLB players to build around and others to take fliers on in daily fantasy leagues on Monday. Today's panel includes ESPN's Kyle Soppe, Leo Howell, Joe Kaiser and Derek Carty.
There are “sexier” pitchers on the board today (Jose Fernandez, Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish) and truth be told, I don’t really have a major problem with any of them. That being said, it’s within the realm of possibilities that CMart is the best pitcher on the board tonight, regardless of price. He will be facing a right-handed heavy Brewers team that he has already shut down twice this season (0.69 ERA and 1.08 WHIP), a result that should not be considered a fluke, as righties are hitting just .190 against him. Worried about Martinez’s strikeout upside compared to other aces on the docket? Don’t be. Not only are righties striking out 4.5 times for every free pass against him this season, the Brew Crew rank dead last in contact percentage this month.
Honorable Mention: If you’re a fan of BvP and brotherly love, stacking the Seager brothers (Kyle and Corey) is a very viable play this evening.
At some point, it’s easy for this article to feature a bunch of daily fantasy players thinking a bit too hard. Let’s not overthink things tonight. Josh Donaldson is facing a left-handed pitcher who gives up a ton of homers, and that means he should be in your lineups. Wade Miley has a three-game home run allowed streak going, and has ceded 20 earned runs in 22 innings pitched in August. Donaldson doesn’t have a huge left/right split this season, but that’s mainly because he’s been so good against righties all year. He ranks third in the league in wOBA, with solid marks against pitchers throwing with either hand.
Musgrove is coming off two very rough starts. One was a bad matchup, and the other was a pretty good one, so it's a bit concerning and could scare some people off. However, this matchup is better than either, and Musgrove is extremely affordable on both sites (not to mention talented). The A's get a bit of a park upgrade for run-scoring, but the trend for strikeouts is very much in Musgrove's favor. The A's will roll out a lot of righties that Musgrove will hold the platoon advantage against, and with the roof closed blocking out the heat, I actually think there's a chance Musgrove's underlying strikeout rate remains stable or possibly even increases against this Oakland offense, especially if Jason Castro is catching. This is notable, of course, because in most matchups against the A's, a pitcher's strikeout rate decreases. They have added some strikeout bats to the roster recently, though, and if Musgrove gets the right lineup (guys like Brett Eibner, Arismendy Alcantara, Ryon Healy, or Max Muncy would be favorable), I like his chances.
When you’re hot, you’re hot, and right now Sanchez is as hot as just about any rookie has ever been in the opening month of his career (11 home runs, 8 doubles in 22 games this season). He faces Dillon Gee tonight, the veteran righty on the Royals, and that bodes well, considering that Sanchez is 32-for-68 against right-handers this season with 10 homers and all eight of his doubles. Add it all up, and the 23-year-old has a ridiculous 1.549 OPS vs. RHP.
He’s having a strong month for one of the hottest teams in baseball, yet his price has remained very reasonable and tonight is no different. Sure, he may not hold the platoon advantage tonight, but the high-end upside outweighs that. Michael Pineda owns a 5.02 ERA this season, thanks in large part to his struggles with the middle of the order (3-4-5 hitters are batting .330 against him this season) and when runners are in scoring position (.276/.338/.528). Remember last season when Cain was a Top 5 fantasy outfielder (per the ESPN Player Rater)? His current slash line is a near mirror image of that season, making him a prime candidate to capitalize when an opportunity comes his way.
Sleeper plays won’t always be for the faint of heart, but if you’re looking for a cheap pitcher to help afford Toronto, Boston, Detroit and Coors Field bats, Davies just might be your guy. He bounced back from two terrible outings against the Reds and Cubs to hold the Rockies to one run in six innings in his last start, and before those two blowups, he had six straight starts with a game score of 50 or higher. The last time Davies took on the Cardinals, he whiffed nine batters in eight innings of scoreless pitching in what would be his best start of the season. Over the past month, St. Louis has the seventh-highest strikeout rate against right-handers in all of baseball. Again, this isn’t an easy pick to make, but if it frees up salary for the high-upside bats on the slate, it could pay off big time if Davies can make the Cards swing and miss on Monday.
Kiermaier is one of my favorite punts today, particularly on DraftKings where their dynamic pricing seems a little off for the Rays. The Rays’ No. 2 hitter is fine for FanDuel, but on DraftKings we usually get inflated prices in Fenway that just aren't there today. Fenway is one of the premier parks for lefty contact hitters like Kiermaier, so even though he's facing a solid pitcher in Rick Porcello (who is vastly overrated by DraftKings' algorithm, likely contributing to these low prices), he'll hold the platoon advantage in a park that's perfectly suited to his skills.
Joe Kasier -- Yulieski Gurriel, 3B, Houston Astros
Gurriel is 5-for-14 with two walks in his first six MLB games, and the 32-year-old right-handed hitter faces A’s lefty Sean Manaea tonight. He costs $3,000 or less on both DraftKings and FanDuel, making him a solid value, and could be in line for his first major league homer, as Manaea has surrendered eight long balls in his past six starts.