Setting DraftKings and Fanduel lineups for Monday, May 23? SI’s daily fantasy expert recommends starting Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto in today’s lineups.
Every weekday during the MLB season, we’ll provide you with our ultimate DFS cash game lineup. Please note that the column is written in the morning, and you should check all lineups to make sure the players we’ve recommended are starting that day. Get all of Michael Beller’s columns as soon as they’re published. Download the new Sports Illustrated app (iOS or Android) and personalize your experience by following your favorite teams and SI writers.
Starting pitcher: Johnny Cueto ($12,600) vs. San Diego and Matt Moore ($6,300) @ Miami
Cueto is proving to be one of the best acquisitions made this offseason, totaling a 2.70 ERA, 2.22 FIP, 1.10 WHIP and 61 strikeouts in his first 66 2/3 innings with the Giants. He’s faced the Padres twice this year, throwing complete games in both outings. and has allowed one run on 11 hits, striking out 19 while walking three in those 18 innings. It takes a special circumstance to not choose Clayton Kershaw on days he takes the mound. Cueto getting a punchless San Diego team he has dominated twice this year is a special circumstance.
Moore has been a hard pitcher to figure out through the season’s first seven weeks. On one hand, he has exactly one strikeout per inning across 46 frames to go along with a 7.5% walk rate that, while high, would be the best mark of his career. On the other hand, he has already surrendered eight homers and has racked up an ugly 5.09 ERA. We don’t need to solve the Moore riddle on Monday, however. We just need to acknowledge the price tag makes him attractive, thanks to his strikeout upside. It doesn’t hurt that Giancarlo Stanton is in one of the worst slumps of his career, and Miami is likely to be without Christian Yelich, who is dealing with back spasms.
Catcher: Wilson Ramos ($3,500) vs. New York Mets, Bartolo Colon
Ramos has at least one hit in 17 of his last 21 games, a run of consistency we haven’t seen from many catchers this season. In that timeframe, he has raised his slash line to .347/.389/.525 from .313/.313/.500. More recently, Ramos is 6-for-15 with two doubles and six RBI in his last five games. Colon has gotten the better of him in their meetings, but the sample is far too small to draw any conclusions.
First base: Eric Hosmer ($4,400) @ Minnesota, Ricky Nolasco
Hosmer fell into a bit of a funk over the weekend, struggling through an 0-for-11 stretch in three combined games against the Red Sox and White Sox. Heading into that stretch, however, he was 10-for-26 across seven games, and he’s hitting .311/.367/.522 on the year. That good Hosmer is the real one. Nolasco’s FIP suggests he has been better than his cosmetic numbers would tell you, but it’s not as though he’s a shutdown starter. With the Royals starting to turn things around, they’re a good bet against a pitcher like Nolasco.
Second base: Ben Zobrist ($4,700) @ St. Louis, Adam Wainwright
There may not be a hotter hitter in baseball, this side of Jackie Bradley Jr., than Zobrist. He has at least one hit in 20 of his last 22 games, running his slash line to .326/.438/.507 in the process. Zobrist is on a nine-game hitting streak, during which he has gone 13-for-34 with three doubles and a homer. Wainwright had his best start of the season his last time out, but the Cubs are a completely different beast.
Third base: Kris Bryant ($5,200) @ St. Louis, Adam Wainwright
Bryant is in the middle of a power binge, leaving the yard twice in his last three games, three times over his last six games, and four times in his last nine. A Cubs stack is always on the table, and pairing Bryant with Zobrist gives us a pair of hitters in the middle of one of the league’s best lineups. He and Wainwright have met just once thanks to his mid-April promotion and the pitcher’s torn Achilles last year.
Shortstop: Aledmys Diaz ($3,100) vs. Chicago Cubs, John Lackey
The most remarkable trait of Diaz’s first seven weeks in the majors is that he really hasn’t hit an extended rough patch. He went 0-for-8 in St. Louis’s final two games with Arizona over the weekend, but he was 6-for-17 with two doubles in his previous four. That also marked just the second time he went hitless in consecutive games. We’ll happily take the affordable shortstop with huge upside.
Outfield: J.D. Martinez ($3,900) vs. Philadelphia, Vince Velasquez; Trayce Thompson ($3,300) vs. Cincinnati, Brandon Finnegan; Cameron Maybin ($2,900) vs. Philadelphia, Vince Velasquez
At the end of play on May 14, Martinez was hitting .230/.312/.385. He’s now up to .261/.333/.485. In the interim, he went 12-for-30 with four homers, two doubles and eight RBI. He can keep rolling Monday, even in a tough matchup with Velasquez. We pair him with his teammate Maybin, who has hit everything in sight since returning from the DL last week. He’s 12-for-20 with a homer, five RBI and four steals in his first 24 plate appearances of the season, though he’s pretty much locked into the No. 7 spot in the order. Finally, Thompson is getting a chance to turn himself into a regular, starting all of the Dodgers last seven games. He has three homers and five RBI in that stretch, pushing his slash line on the season to .280/.343/.559.