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Daily Fantasy MLB Picks, 5/1: Win Big for the Weekend

We have a particularly large slate of games tonight, 14 in all — and lots of high over/unders. It should be a fun night to pick hitters.

The tournaments on both DraftKings and FanDuel are larger than normal today as well. We have a $25 to enter, $250k Grand Slam on FanDuel and a $300 to enter, $300k Mega Perfect Game tonight on DraftKings. With the right lineup and some luck, you could hit big.

Before I get into picks, I want to share a great article I found about injuries on fangraphs.com. Essentially, Fangraphs has come up with a stat they call HURT (Hitter’s Under-performance from Recent Trauma) which, as one might suspect, evaluates using pure statistical analysis whether a player may be playing through an injury. This is important because we need to be able to determine whether an under-performing player is struggling due to variance, or because of an actual injury. If it’s the latter, we want to avoid using that player, but if it’s the former, we want to take advantage of that player’s depressed price and use him in most of our lineups.

Below are three players that particularly stand out:

Shin-Soo Choo (102 HURT) – Choo had a few injuries during the first month of the season, most notably an injury to his upper back. The back is a huge part of a baseball swing, so it doesn’t surprise me that Choo has been struggling. He batted only .096 in April, with a significantly lower line drive rate and higher ground ball rate than previous seasons. Lean towards avoiding Choo.

Edwin Encarnacion (161 HURT) – Had a back injury in spring training, and is 4th highest in baseball this season in the HURT stat. His line drive rate is way down and his groundball rate is way, way up, which will hurt his power hitting numbers. Encarnacion is still a good hitter, just don’t count on him being the elite hitter we’re used to.

Carlos Gonzalez (155 HURT) – I’ll admit my mistakes. In my article a week ago, I suggested nothing was wrong with Gonzalez and to trust his Steamer projection. But HURT indicates he’s playing through an injury, and my gut says it has to do with his knee surgery during the off-season. Expect his numbers to be much closer to 2014 Car-Gon than 2013 Car-Gon.

Hitters

As I stated earlier in the article, there are quite a few games projected to have a lot of offense tonight. I particularly like 3 teams: the Miami Marlins (o/u 8, -165 favorites), the Royals (8.5 o/u, -118 favorites), and the Oakland A’s (o/u 8.5, -144 favorites). In big field tournaments, I like pairing hitters who are close in the batting order, since their performance is highly correlated.

Next are three pairs of players I love:

Dee Gordon and Martin Prado

The Marlins have a very high o/u projection, especially for an NL game. So why not take the hitters who are 1 and 2 in the order, and well-priced on both sites? I like Gordon especially; he’s underpriced ($3,400 on FD, $4,600 on DK) and should put up consistent numbers as a stolen base threat. He’s been on base four times in his career against Jerome Williams, and stolen a base in every single opportunity. Prado will only need singles to knock him in. If you want to spend up, Giancarlo Stanton is a great play as well. His salary on both FanDuel ($5,100) and DraftKings ($5,600) is actually quite reasonable, considering Miami’s projection is almost never this high.

Lorenzo Cain and Kendrys Morales

Considering the Royals play in a singles park, the o/u in this game bodes well for fantasy production. Lorenzo Cain has the benefit of a right on left matchup against Kevin Lobstein, who has been performing well this season but in reality is a horrible pitcher. Cain’s price is depressed, especially on DraftKings ($3,900), and in such a perfect scenario he’s hard to pass up. Morales also has a great price ($2,500 on FanDuel), and batting in the 5th spot he’s in the perfect place to knock in the speedy Cain.

Sam Fuld and Stephen Vogt

These two lefties are in a great situation, going from a righty park in Oakland to one of the best lefty parks in baseball in Texas. Fuld has a great price on FanDuel ($2,300) while Vogt has a better price on DraftKings ($3,800). Colby Lewis is a bad pitcher with big splits, so look for Oakland to score several runs and for these two to be the catalyst for that offense. I also like Ike Davis on FanDuel ($2,400), who is a masher against right-handers and is in the perfect park to go off.

Pitcher

Matt Harvey

Harvey has emerged as a potential Cy Young candidate in the NL, and although he’s going up against Nationals ace Max Scherzer, Harvey is your best bet tonight. The Nationals strikeout percentage is bottom five in baseball this year (around 22%) and they are a lineup heavy with right-handers. Pinnaclesports.com has this game as a pick’em, but don’t let that sway you into choosing Lance Lynn or Scott Kazmir. Harvey will make up for his lower chance for a win (which, by the way, isn’t really that much lower than Kazmir) with strikeouts. I project him to strikeout three more batters than Kazmir tonight.