Setting your DraftKings and Fanduel lineups for Tuesday, May 24? SI’s daily fantasy baseball expert recommends starting Todd Frazier, Ben Zobrist and Jeff Samardzija 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 Doug Farrar’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: Jeff Samardzija ($11,700) vs. San Diego and Nathan Karns ($8,800) vs. Oakland
It’s hard, and a bit risky, to go away from both Chris Sale and Stephen Strasburg, but we’ve been picking on the Padres with success all season. On Monday, we turned away from Clayton Kershaw in favor of Johnny Cueto against the Padres, and that worked out just fine. Samardzija is enjoying his return to the NL, notching a 2.66 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 1.03 WHIP and 55 strikeouts in his first 64 1/3 innings with the Giants. Even with a great matchup, he doesn’t possess the same ceiling as Sale and Strasburg, but he’s $2,000 cheaper than those aces. That difference is enough to make him our top pitcher play of the day.
My love for Karns is no secret. I also think it’s justified with a cool-eyed look at his numbers. Going back to last season, Karns has exactly one strikeout per inning over his last 193 frames. He has done that while posting an ERA in the mid-3.00s and a 1.28 WHIP that isn’t great, but also isn’t going to kill his fantasy owners. The A’s rank 25th in the league with a .293 wOBA, though, in their defense, they have an impressive 18.7% strikeout rate. This remains a plus matchup for Karns.
Catcher: Miguel Montero ($3,000) @ St. Louis, Michael Wacha
It took Montero some time to shake the rust off after returning from the DL two weekends ago, but he has started to get things going at the plate. In his last three games, he’s 5-for-10 with a triple, two walks and two RBI. He’s just 2-for-16 in his career against Wacha, but investing in the Cubs lineup is never a bad decision, even though they’ve scuffled over the last week, and Montero gives us a cheap avenue while keeping things reasonably priced behind the plate.
First base: Paul Goldschmidt ($4,400) vs. Pittsburgh, Francisco Liriano
You can get an in-depth look at Goldschmidt’s struggles in this week’s Hitting Report, which will be published later on Tuesday. The abridged version is that while he’s completely earning his .245 batting average and .445 slugging percentage, there’s ample reason to believe he’ll be playing like himself sooner rather than later. Combine his poor performance with a matchup against Liriano, and you’ll likely get lower ownership on Goldschmidt than you ever should.
Second base: Ben Zobrist ($4,400) @ St. Louis, Michael Wacha
Zobrist continued his tear on Monday, going 3-for-4 with a walk in the Cubs 4-3 loss to the Cardinals. He’s now 16-for-38 with a homer, three doubles and six walks during his 10-game hitting streak, and is up to a .338/.448/.514 slash line on the season. He has been the one Cub who has kept hitting during the team’s recent mini-slide, and has been hitting third in the order, sandwiched between Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, with Jason Heyward on the shelf.
Third base: Todd Frazier ($4,000) vs. Cleveland, Josh Tomlin
Frazier left the yard in the second game of the White Sox doubleheader with the Indians on Monday, tying him for the major league lead in homers with Yoenis Cespedes and Nolan Arenado. Frazier has six hits in his last 10 at-bats, and has raised his slash line to .243/.335/.521 after getting off to a dreadful start this season. It was just a little more than two weeks ago that he was hitting .194/.273/.419. Frazier has turned things around in a hurry.
Shortstop: Brandon Crawford ($3,500) vs. San Diego, Andrew Cashner
Crawford is one of the easiest players in the majors to back or fade based on pitcher handedness. We avoided him Monday in a matchup with Drew Pomeranz because he’s slashing .218/.271/.255 against lefties. We’ll back him today in a matchup with Cashner because he’s hitting .265/.345/.510 with six homers in 119 plate appearances against righties. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Outfield: Nomar Mazara ($3,700) vs. Los Angeles Angels, Jhoulys Chacin; Odubel Herrera ($3,400) @ Detroit, Justin Verlander; Chris Young ($3,100) vs. Colorado, Jorge De La Rosa
Mazara has cooled off a bit from his hot start, but the rookie is still hitting .303/.348/.451 in 158 plate appearances. He has yet to end a game in his major league career with his season-long batting average south of .300. That’s not a bad way to go in the first 37 games of your career. Herrera got three more hits on Monday, and is now carrying a .335/.445/.456 slash line on the season. It’s never a bad idea to grab a leadoff man on the road who’s swinging a hot bat. Finally, you always want to consider Young when the Red Sox face a lefty. He has made a living out of raking against southpaws, and the story hasn’t been any different this year. Young is 9-for-24 with six doubles against lefties in 2016, and boasts a .265/.264/.477 slash line against them for his career.