Weather: Weather has been an issue over the last few days and it looks like it could be again tonight. FanDuel has its own weather page that makes it very easy to quickly see which games could be affected by rain. Tonight it looks like the Nats and Braves should get started in Atlanta, but the rain chances increase to 40% around 10:00 ET.
MLB Injuries: MLB.com’s injury page is a great stop in your daily prep just to make sure you’re up to date on the latest injury news. The big news yesterday was that Jose Reyes finally headed to the DL with a rib injury that had been affecting him for the last few weeks.
Vegas Lines: OddsShark.com is my next stop to see where Vegas thinks the most offense will be taking place. I’ll check out the lines to see who’s favored heavily, but mostly I’m looking at runs totals. Tonight the highest projected totals are the SEA@TEX game (9.5), and the COL@ARI and TOR@BOS games (9.0).
Probable Pitchers: I’ll check a couple sites to be sure, but ProbablePitchers.com is my favorite place to check out each day’s starting pitchers. Of course FanDuel also has this info as well. I just like to verify things on a couple of sites.
Batter vs. Pitcher: First of all as you can read here, I am a firm believer that batter vs. pitcher stats have very limited value in predicting future performance. There are a lot of people who use it though and I’ll admit to checking it out some days as a sort of reverse filter. If a hitter strikes out 60% of the time he faces a pitcher I think that’s less prone to sample size flukes than ball-in-play data. The two sites that present BvP data in the most helpful way are DailyBaseballData.com, where you can also link directly to FanGraphs and Baseball Reference pages for each player, and on RotoWire, where they have adjustable criteria to help you find the most extreme matchups.
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FanDuel Strategy for the Day
My FanDuel strategy always starts with pitching. Even in 50/50 contests, it’s almost a must to come up with the win from your starting pitcher in order to cash in. Taking a chance on a lower priced pitcher may be an option in larger tournaments, but we’re here to help you in 50/50 contests, so I’m looking for an ace who’s matched up against a weak offense and a shaky opposing pitcher.
Clayton Kershaw should do well against a mediocre Giants offense, but he also costs over $1,000 more than any other pitcher and is also matched up against Madison Bumgarner. The pitcher I feel the best about today is Michael Wacha. He draws the Phillies, who have scored the fewest runs in baseball and are starting come guy named Severino Gonzalez, who had a 4.60 ERA with 23 HRs allowed and a 6.52 K/9 in 158.1 innings last year in Double-A. Wacha doesn’t have the strikeout rate I normally like, but he’s healthy and has a 1.33 ERA in three starts. Package that with his $8,400 salary (7th highest on FanDuel) and I think it’s the best starting pitching play on this day.
Top Stacking Options for the Day
Today’s not a day with too many obvious stacks, but here are the best bets I see.
- St. Louis Cardinals vs. Severino Gonzalez (RHP) – I’m not going to lie and tell you I know anything at all about this rookie pitcher that you can’t see on his FanGraphs page. A look at that page though, should tell you everything you need to know. Without knowing his platoon splits, I’ll mostly lean on the left-handed hitting Matt Adams and Matt Carpenter, but I might as well stay with the Matt theme and include Holiday just on principle.
- Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Kyle Kendrick (RHP) – Kendrick may eat some innings for the Rockies, but on most days it’s the opposing hitters who are feasting. Paul Goldschmidt is always a good option, but today the Diamondbacks offers ome cheaper options I may consider. Chris Owings, A.J. Pollock and Ender Inciarte won’t cost much and should should offer a positive return against Kendrick. If Aaron Hill is in the lineup, I might even consider him.
- Mariners vs. Ross Detwiler (LHP) – Many of the Mariners’ best hitters bat left-handed, but I love Nelson Cruz tonight and Rickie Weeks and Austin Jackson are not bad cheap plays. Mike Zunino is also a much better hitter against lefties, but he’s really struggling right now.
Top Starting Pitchers for the Day
The following rankings take into account skill of pitcher, quality of opposing offense, quality of opposing pitcher, ballpark factors, and of course price at FanDuel.
- Michael Wacha ($8,400) vs. Philadelphia Phillies – He’s not really the elite pitcher I normally like to use given FanDuel’s scoring system, but this matchup is about as good as it gets.
- Clayton Kershaw ($11,500) vs. San Francisco Giants – There’s certainly an argument to just plug in Kershaw and try to find cheap hitters in good matchups. In fact I’ll probably build a lineup with Kershaw myself and see what kind of offense I can come up with.
- Johnny Cueto ($10,400) vs. Milwaukee Brewers – Cueto looks like the same elite pitcher we saw last year and right now his arm is fresh. The Brewers are also without Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy, and Ryan Braun looks like a shell of his former self.
- Sonny Gray ($8,900) vs. Los Angeles Angels – The Angels lineup is strong but Gray has been dealing and pitching at home only helps.
- Tyson Ross (8,400) vs. Houston Astros – Ross has struggled, but keep in mind that even last year he was a very different pitcher in Petco. Three of his first four starts have been on the road, so he might straighten things out tonight gainst the K-riffic offense of the Astros. Ross makes a great play in tournaments tonight.
Top Options at Each Position
Here are two choices at each position; one is the best bet for production and the other is a lower priced option with a favorable outlook.
Stephen Vogt ($3,100) vs. Jered Weaver (RHP) – The price has shot up pretty quickly for Vogt, but with all the injury issues at the catcher position, he’s one of the better offensive options and Weaver is not exactly a road block these days.
Yadier Molina ($2,600) vs. Severino Gonzalez (RHP) – The matchups at catcher today are brutal. Molina just came back from a knee injury so make sure he’s in the lineup as he caught nine innings last night. If so he should get in on some of the action against a shaky minor league pitcher making his MLB debut.
Paul Goldschmidt ($4,500) vs Kyle Kendrick (RHP) – Goldy is at his best against left-handed pitchers. Today I’ll name Kyle Kendrick an honorary lefty.
Matt Adams ($2,800) vs. Severino Gonzalez (RHP) – I have a hard time going cheap at my corners, but Adams should get some good swings in against a young right-hander with a shaky track record.
Daniel Murphy ($2,900) vs. David Phelps (RHP) – Murphy had been struggling, but his a game-winning HR last night. With no great matchups at second base, I’ll take a chance on that being the spark that gets Murphy going.
Kolten Wong ($2,700) vs. Severino Gonzalez (RHP) – We haven’t seen the best of Wong yet, but this matchup looks nice. I’m thinking a couple runs with a stolen base thrown in could be in store.
Kris Bryant ($3,500) vs. Jeff Locke (LHP) – I’m calling it now. Tonight is the night we see Bryant’s first career HR. Besides if I’m wrong, you’ll all forget about it in a few days. In all seriousness this is a matchup Bryant should do well in. It’s just a matter of getting some runners on in front of him.
Chase Headley ($2,700) vs. Jake Odorizzi (RHP) – Odorizzi has been lights out so far, but he’s always struggled on the road. Headley did not play last night, so he should be fresh and in the lineup tonight.
Jhonny Peralta ($2,800) vs. Severino Gonzalez (RHP) – I typically only use Peralta against LHP, but depending on how far you want to go with a Cardinals stack, he’s a solid option tonight.
Chris Owings ($2,500) vs. Kyle Kendrick (RHP) – Owings probably fits best into the cheap lineup you use to fit Kershaw in as your starting pitcher. He does offer a little pop and a little speed though, and I don’t see Kendrick shutting the D’Backs down tonight.
Nelson Cruz ($5,000) vs. Ross Detwiler (LHP) – If ever there was a matchup to use Nellie in, it’s this one. Detwiler is a sometimes decent lefty with marginal stuff. That’s what Nelson Cruz should feed off of.
Josh Reddick ($3,300) vs. Jered Weaver (RHP) – Reddick is swinging the bat well and even has a couple of steals already. Weaver is still full of veteran guile, but lefties are starting to hit that guile further.
A.J. Pollock ($3,100) vs. Kyle Kendrick (RHP) – This is another case where matchup overrides platoon advantage. Facing a right-handed pitcher also increases the odds of Pollock swiping a base or two.
Ender Inciarte ($2,700) vs. Kyle Kendrick (RHP) – I’m not sure Inciarte is as good as he’s played so far, but he’s solid cheap option until the league catches on to him.
Austin Jackson ($2,400) vs. Ross Detwiler (LHP) – Jackson’s platoon splits aren’t to extreme, but he does hit for more power vs. LHP. He’s also off to a pretty solid start at the plate and makes a nice play if you’re going with Kershaw as your starting pitcher.
Two Potential FanDuel Lineups
Here are two potential lineups I’m considering for FanDuel tonight. One has Kershaw going and a group of cheaper hitters. The other has Wacha and a little more offensive upside.
Of course before you finalize any lineup, remember to check the MLB Lineups to make sure these players (or any others) are set to start tonight. If you use my recommendations and they bomb, I’ll feel bad, but not if you didn’t check the lineups.
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