The Contrarian Corner will provide a list of players that can separate your MLB lineups from the rest of the pack. We’ll take a look at those players that will likely be low-owned, who have high-upside for the day. Here is the list of today’s daily fantasy baseball picks in the Contrarian Corner at DraftKings.
Francisco Liriano ($10,000) – Pittsburgh Pirates – I expect Liriano to be somewhat popular tonight, so calling him a contrarian pick could be a stretch, but he’s sharing a slate with Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Johnny Cueto and others, so I don’t expect Liriano’s ownership to be as high as his production warrants. The lefty has been excellent this year and is among the league leaders in strikeout rate with a staggering 30.1% mark. He keeps the ball on the ground at a high rate (54.7%), and most impressively, the usually erratic southpaw (10.0% walk rate for his career and 11.7% last year) has taken a huge chunk out of his walk rate with an 8.0% mark. The results are a sterling 2.92 FIP and 2.62 xFIP. He has a very high ceiling, and that’s exacerbated by a matchup with the Braves. The best offensive player for the Braves, Freddie Freeman, is on the disabled list. This year, the Braves rank 28th in wRC+ (76) with a monstrous 23.3% strikeout rate against lefties, per FanGraphs. And keep in mind, those numbers were largely accumulated with Freeman in the lineup.
Trevor May ($6,300) – Minnesota Twins – May is a small underdog, pitching in a hitter-friendly ballpark and the game has one of the highest over/under totals on the night. Those things will all drive May’s ownership down. Quietly, May has been pitching well. His 4.03 ERA doesn’t do his work justice as his 3.09 FIP and 3.72 xFIP suggest he’s been rather unlucky. May has exceeded the league average in strikeout rate (20.1%) with a 21.0% mark, and he’s taking a page out of Phil Hughes’ book — okay, maybe not quite — with a 4.8% walk rate. His low-ish ground-ball rate of 40.1% isn’t ideal for pitching at Miller Park, but at least he’s facing a mostly punchless offense that ranks 29th in wRC+ (78) against righties and sports the sixth highest strikeout rate (21.5%) against them.
Others to Consider – Jake Arrieta ($9,800), Anibal Sanchez ($8,700), Taijuan Walker ($8,000)
Derek Norris ($3,400) – San Diego Padres – Norris is slumping, and he’s struggled mightily of late. Daily fantasy gamers are a fickle bunch and sometimes have short memories. Don’t have a short memory. Norris is excellent against left-handed pitchers. Since 2012, he has a .192 ISO, .374 wOBA and 143 wRC+ in 494 plate appearances against southpaws. Robbie Ray’s 1.78 ERA is due for regression (3.43 FIP and 4.15 xFIP), and Norris should help with the regression process tonight.
Prince Fielder ($4,800) – Texas Rangers – Fielder is usually best reserved for using against right-handed pitchers, but a matchup with lefty Mark Buehrle should assure of a low ownership rate. Buehrle’s hot June is also likely to dissuade gamers from using Fielder, but I see a southpaw who has allowed a .314 wOBA to left-handed batters since 2012 and a .365 wOBA to them this year. Fielder has been a well above average hitter against southpaws (119 wRC+ and .349 wOBA since 2012) in his career and he’ll get a nice lift playing at Rogers Centre. Left-handed batters are treated to park factors of 121 for doubles/triples and 120 for homers, according to StatCorner.
Luis Valbuena ($4,300) – Houston Astros – Valbuena is priced around the top options at the keystone position and hot corner, yet he’s not a household name. That’s a recipe for low ownership. He’s facing righty Nathan Eovaldi, and that’s been quite the treat for left-handed batters. Since 2012, Eovaldi has served up a .350 wOBA to them and he’s been even worse than that this year allowing a .421 wOBA. Valbuena is an all-or-nothing slugger, and the all will benefit from a left-handed batter park factor of 124 for homers at Minute Maid Park.
Josh Donaldson ($5,400) – Toronto Blue Jays – Donaldson never quite gets the love he’s due when he’s facing a righty at home. His price tag isn’t going to do him any favors turning that around tonight. Yes, I get it, the man annihilates left-handed pitching and he’s not facing one. A 117 wRC+ and .339 wOBA against them since 2012 is nothing to sneeze at, though, and he’s been a beast against righties at the Rogers Centre in his first year playing north of the border. In 123 plate appearances at home against righties, he has a .304 ISO, .433 wOBA and 180 wRC+. He’ll also get a lift from Nick Martinez’s reverse platoon split. The righty has allowed a .336 wOBA to lefties in his career and a .343 wOBA to right-handed batters.
Troy Tulowitzki ($4,100) – Colorado Rockies – Tulowitzki being labeled as a contrarian is something of a rarity, but that’s the case with the Rockies going to pitcher-friendly AT&T Park and facing a right-handed pitcher. That righty, Tim Hudson, has been awful this year and might end up on the disabled list after this start for rest purposes. Yikes, that sounds like a pitcher worth picking on, and that’s before getting to his ugly stats. Hudson owns a 4.68 FIP and 3.99 xFIP and isn’t missing bats (11.9% strikeout rate). Furthermore, righties have totaled a .329 wOBA against him this year. Even on an off day, Tulo showed off his value smacking a pinch-hit homer on Thursday. His offensive excellence speaks for itself, and he’s at a price point we don’t often see him at. Take advantage of that situation and roster tons of shares of Tulo.
Colby Rasmus ($3,900) – Houston Astros – With a righty on the hill for the Yankees last night, Rasmus hit sixth, and he should hit there once again tonight. Hitting outside the top five in an order isn’t ideal for upside, but it will aid his cause in being low owned. I already cited Eovaldi’s struggles with lefties and the homer-amplifying nature of Minute Maid Park as appealing factors for all-or-nothing slugger Luis Valbuena, and those same factors apply to make Rasmus a strong GPP grab. The outfielder’s game features a ton of swing and miss, but his ISO north of .250 against righties this year and his .229 ISO against them since 2012 illustrates why gamers are wiling to roll the dice on him despite his strikeout struggles.
Others to Consider – Yan Gomes ($3,200), Carlos Santana ($4,100), Steven Souza Jr. ($4,100)