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Weather: You’re gonna need to stay on top of the weather tonight, because there are several games that could be threatened by rain. Games with a 50 percent or more chance of rain include MIA @ WAS, CIN @ PIT, BAL @ NYM , and ARI @ COL.  Go ahead and set your lineup early and then visit DailyBaseballData.com and the weather page on FanDuel as game time approaches to see if things have changed. In the end it’s best to stay away from these games if the forecast doesn’t change.

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. New player to be wary of include Leonys Martin (wrist), Jean Segura (head), and Chris Denorfia (hamstring). No need to even mess with slightly injured players with a full slate of games on the menu.

Vegas Lines: OddsShark.com is my next stop to see where Vegas thinks the most offense will be taking place. Of course the ARI @ COL game leads the charge with the over/under at 10 runs scored. After that there’s a handful of games at 8.5. As game time approaches you might want to match the Vegas odds up with the latest weather update to figure out a safe plan.

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 I’m targeting 50/50 contests, so I’m looking for an ace who’s matched up against a weak offense and a shaky opposing pitcher.

Zack Greinke is the most expensive pitcher going today and it’s not a bad matchup against Milwaukee. I’d love to use Stephen Strasburg against the Marlins, but he and the Nats have been maddeningly unreliable this season and Strasburg has not been pitching deep into games. I think the two matchups I like most are Andrew Cashner and Garrett Richards at home vs. the Mariners. Cashner is opposed by Ryan Vogelsong, who has an ERA over 9.00, while Richards draws James Paxton, whose main achievement so far this year is pitching better than Taijuan Walker (barely).

I’d love to consider, Drew Smyly (@ BOS), Danny Salazar (@ KC), and Michael Pineda (@ TOR), but tough road matchups are usually not the best thing for young pitchers.

Top Stacking Options for the Day

Today’s not a day with too many obvious stacks, but here are the best bets I see.

  1. Colorado Rockies vs. Robbie Ray (LHP) – Check back on the weather, but any right-handed Rockie should be in play today. Nolan Arenado, Troy Tulowitzki, and whoever catches between Nick Hundley and Michael McKenry are all solid options if the weather calms down.
  2. San Diego Padres vs. Ryan Vogelsong (RHP) – Vogelsong has been a solid pitcher for much of the last four years, but it’s looking like  he’s an innings-eater who can only do harm at this point. Left-handed hitters have pounded Vogelsong for a .394 average this years, but he hasn’t exactly shut down righties (.283). I’d say the trio of Matt Kemps, Justin Upton, and a cheap shot at Yonder Alonso might be in order.

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.

  1. Andrew Cashner ($8,700) vs. San Francisco Giants – Cashner has been lights out this year with a 2.61 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 31 innings. The Giants only left-handed bat with power is Brandon Belt. It’s also not a bad thing when your opposing pitcher has a 9.31 ERA.
  2. Garrett Richards ($8,600) vs. Seattle Mariners – The Mariners are 24th in MLB in scoring runs and are much less threatening against right-handed pitching. Richards has been solid since returning from the DL and I expect him to get stronger as the season goes on. I’d also expect the Angels right-handed hitters to be able to do some damage against a struggling James Paxton.
  3. Zack Greinke ($10,100) vs. Milwaukee Brewers – The matchup is good, though the Brewers have won three in a row and may be sparked by the managerial change. My big issue with Greinke though, is the salary. With Cashner in such a favorable situation, I just don’t think there’s enough difference between the two tonight to warrant spending the extra $1,400.

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.

Catcher:

Evan Gattis ($3,800) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (LHP) – Boy did his price tag shoot up quickly. Sill Gattis is on fire and he’s always hit left-handers well. I don’t generally buy into streaks, but Gattis is one hitter you want to ride when he’s going good.

Nick Hundley ($3,400) or Michael McKenry ($2,800) vs. Robbie Ray (LHP) – I love to go cheap at catcher whenever possible, so I’d be very happy if McKenry draws the start vs. the lefty, but either will do just fine at altitude.

A.J. Pierzynski ($2,700) vs. Chad Billingsley (RHP) – Pierzynski is a little cheaper and has been solid all year. Billingsley has been having issues in his minor league rehab, but apparently he’s better than the other minor leaguers the Phillies have to throw out there.

First Base:

Paul Goldschmidt ($6,100) vs Tyler Matzek (LHP) – Goldschmidt against a lefty is great. In Coors is awesome. Put the two together and I’m not sure there is an adjective that describes it. Is the matchup worth the obscene price tag? You definitely can’t go with Greinke and Golschmidt, but if you go Cashner and a few other cheap option you could find room for Goldy.

Mark Teixeira ($3,600) vs. Marco Estrad (RHP) – Listen, I’m a sick individual who actually likes Estrada a bit. Even with that, there is no denying that he has a huge problem with the long ball. Toronto, New York, it doesn’t matter. The Yankees and Teixeira are going to take him deep a few times.

Second Base:

Jose Altuve ($4,800) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (LHP) – Is it me or is FanDuel a lot quicker and more extreme in their salary changes this season? If it weren’t for the fact that Altuve is a career .357 hitter against left-handed hitters, I’d say this salary is too high. Since he is, I have to consider using him against this aging, mediocre lefty.

Neil Walker ($2,700) vs. Michael Lorenzen (LHP) – Lorenzen has a 5.68 K/9 in Triple-A last year, yet his fastball velocity averages over 93 mph. That tells me his fastball is straight. Major League hitters like straight fastballs. Neil Walker is a pretty good Major League hitter, who will get going at some point. Lorenzen makes me think that point will start tonight.

Third Base:

Nolan Arenado ($4,300) vs. Robbie Rays (LHP) – It’s in Coors. It’s against a left-handed pitcher. And Arenado is swinging it good right now. The only thing not to like is the weather. I know Goldschmidt is more proven, but is he really $1,800 better?

Kris Bryant ($3,500) vs. Tyler Lyons (LHP) – Yes, I know all about the power draught Bryant is going through. So what! All he’s doing is driving in runs and getting on base at a .458 clip. This kid is already making adjustments and at some point the power will come. It also looked like the ball was really carrying in St. Louis last night, so despite it normally being pretty pitcher-friendly, I like more runs being scored tonight.

Shortstop:

Troy Tulowitzki ($5,100) vs. Robbie Ray (LHP) – Just consider his name penciled in here whenever Tulo is healthy and at home. Throw in a rookie left-hander with an 8.16 career ERA, making his first start of the year and the salary is worth it.

Jimmy Rollins ($2,600) vs. Matt Garza (RHP) – There aren’t a lot of great matchups in the ranks of the cheaper shortstops tonight, but I like Rollins to get some good swings in against a decidedly mediocre Matt Garza.

Outfielders:

Jacoby Ellsbury ($4,400) vs. Marco Estrada (RHP) – Whether it’s with his bat or legs, I think Ellsbury is a lock for solid production tonight. Estrada doesn’t generally give up many walks, but he was very hittable last year and a return to the rotation could cause flashbacks.

Bryce Harper ($4,200) vs. Mat Latos (RHP) – Latos has been better since the seven earned runs he gave up in his first start. He’s been almost mediocre… almost. The truth is that right now Latos does not have the stuff needed to consistently get good hitters out; especially good left-handed hitters with power. Harper is once again having problems with lefties, and doing all his damage against right-handers. Isn’t that the perfect hitter to use in daily?

George Springer ($3,900) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (LHP) – Hey, did you notice that Springer already has 10 stolen bases? He’s got a bit of a reverse platoon split in his young career, but I’m gonna lay that off on sample size. I like his chances to drive in a few runs tonight in what should be a nice offensive day for the surprising Astros.

Jason Heyward ($2,800) vs. Kyle Hendricks (RHP) – Yes, I know it’s Hendricks, not Kendrick. And I know Heyward has been struggling. I also know he had  two hits last night and should get some good swings against the Cubs’ soft-tossing right-hander. The price tag is just an added bonus.

 

Check back closer to game time and I’ll post my lineup, when I have a better idea about what the weather is going to do tonight.

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