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Ok boys and girls, last week was the first ever Tout Wars Challenge over at FanDuel, and to be frank, I kicked most of your butts, finishing fourth in a field of 104 entrants. I did that and my starting pitcher, James Shields, didn’t even get the win; though he did grab me 16 points.

The good news for you is that any time I start talking smack, the harsh reality that is Daily Fantasy Baseball usually comes back and stomps on my fragile self esteem. Not this time though! I’m gonna beat you again this week and you’re gonna like it. I’ll even tell you how I’m gonna win this thing and share my lineup and offer up some other nice plays.

You can thank me for my generosity later. Right now you’ve got some work to do, because I sure as heck am not going to do all the research that might give you a shot (like 1 in a million maybe) of beating me.

Tell you what I’ll do though; because I like you, I’ll share all the links you need to build a lineup that just might have a shot (so you’re saying there’s a chance?) at toppling me. Here you go, get to work. Just make sure you finish this column first, so you can check out my recommendations and see the lineup that will be taking you down.

Links for MLB Weather:

MLB Injuries:

Vegas Lines:

Probable Pitchers:

Batter vs. Pitcher: I’m not much of a believer in Batter vs. Pitcher numbers. You can read why here. Still, a lot of people use this data, so here are the two that are most useful in my opinion.

Also Check out these helpful tools:

FanDuel Strategy for the Day

My FanDuel strategy always starts with pitching, and there are some bonafide aces going today. In 50/50 contests, getting a win from your starting pitcher is a huge leg up on finishing in the top half of the field and it doesn’t change all that much in the Tout Wars Challenge.  Taking a chance on a lower priced pitcher may be an option in larger tournaments, but chasing wins in smaller contests is a necessary evil, so I’m looking for an ace who’s matched up against a weak offense and a shaky opposing pitcher.

He’s at $11,000 despite his relative struggles, but Clayton Kershaw still looks pretty nice pitching at home against the Braves and Julio Teheran. David Price isn’t at home, but he is in a pitcher’s park in Oakland and opposes a mediocre Jesse Chavez for the A’s. Madison Bumgarner has been a bit shaky on the road this year, but gets the benefit of facing Matt Garza, who has given up 14 earned runs over his last two starts.

Even with these three elite options pitching in pretty good matchups, I’m eyeing two other starters today. They may not be established aces, but they’ve been pitching like it lately.

Jacob deGrom has the better matchup facing the Phillies and Jerome Williams, but right now I’m leaning toward Danny Salazar, who pitches at home vs. the Rangers, who will send Wandy Rodriguez to the bump. Salazar actually leads all of today’s starters in average FanDuel points per game with 15.2 (deGrom is second at 12.5). He’s averaging 12.37 K/9 and batters are hitting .152 against him at home. Can you trust Danny Salazar? His history gives reason for pause, but his recent results say his upside is definitely worth it. Salazar might just be the perfect combination of safety and upside that this type of tournament calls for… or maybe that’s deGrom…

Top Stacking Options for the Day

Even though it’s a 50/50 contest, stacking is still an option. Most days I’ll list a few different stacks, but today there’s one that jumps out at me. Feel free to throw out some smaller stacks with the Reds facing Jorge De La Rosa or maybe a few Mets against Jerome Williams. I’m headed to Toronto, where the Blue Jays get to face lefty, John Danks. The Blue Jays lead all of baseball in runs scored by 30, and Danks has a 5.95 ERA on the road. Danks doesn’t have the stuff (6.55 K/9) or the control (3.27 BB/9) to shut down the Blue Jays. Right-handed hitters have hit seven home runs in 30 innings against Danks. Hello Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion.

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. Clayton Kershaw ($11,000) vs. Atlanta Braves – I know I said I’m going with Salazar or deGrom, but Kershaw is still the safest bet to dominate. The questions are whether his salary let’s you build an offense you’re comfortable with and what percentage of the field uses Kershaw today.
  2. David Price ($9,400) @ Oakland Athletics  – The 8.15 K/9 is down a bit, but Price has struck out 21 batters over his last 13.1 innings. Price tends to add velocity as each season wears on and I imagine he’s just rounding into form.
  3. Danny Salazar ($9,300) vs. Cleveland Indians or Jacob deGrom vs. Philadelphia Phillies – I really don’t know which of these pitchers I’ll go with. I’ll probably do some reading through the day and see if one gets recommended more heavily, and then go with the other to stand out a bit more in tournament play. Either way I love both of these pitchers.

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:

Russell Martin ($3,300) vs. John Danks (LHP) – Martin’s lefty/right career splits are pretty neutral, but among starting catchers, he is second in average points at 2.9 (Stephen Vogt is first at 3.4). He bats right after the Blue Jays big boppers and should have some runners on base tonight.

Yan Gomes ($2,700) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (LHP) – How do you feel about starting a player right as they return from an injury? I’m not a big fan normally, but Gomes is a lefty killer (.309 career AVG.)and his price tag makes him awfully attractive today, especially if you go with Kershaw on the hill.

First Base:

Edwin Encarnacion ($4,400) vs. John Danks (LHP) – Can I fit all of Encarnacion, Donaldson, and Bautista in my lineup? I’m sure going to try. I say that between the three of them we’ll see at least two home runs. Double-E’s career splits aren’t extreme, but this year he’s had much more success vs. left-handed pitching. John Danks is left-handed and he’s just not very good.

Jose Abreu ($3,300) vs. R.A. Dickey (RHP) – Right-handed hitters have hit Dickey slightly better over his career, and even more so this season. Abreu is off to a bit of a slow start, but for the price, he’s a very nice play.

Second Base:

Jimmy Paredes ($3,100) vs. Scott Feldman (RHP) – I keep waiting for the bubble to burst, but Paredes is still rolling. He hits right-handed pitching much better and Feldman does not have the stuff to sneak anything past good hitters.

Logan Forsythe ($2,600) vs. J.A. Happ (LHP) – Forsythe has been a revelation this year for the Rays, displaying solid power and nice on-base skills. Over his career he’s also hit lefties much better. If I’m gonna squeeze in all that Blue Jay power, I need to go cheap somewhere and Forsythe is a great play at the price.

Robinson Cano ($2,600) vs. Alex Colome (RHP) – I was getting all ready to move onto third base when I noticed Cano sitting down there with Forsythe. I’m sorry, but Cano will not be in that company for long. He’s always hit righties better and this year it’s been ampliefied with a .191 average against lefties. Colome is not a bad pitcher, but I’ve got a feeling Cano will teach him a few things.

Third Base:

Josh Donaldson ($3,700) vs. John Danks (LHP) – If you happened to read my link above about 50 Hitters to Use Against Left-Handed Pitching, you’d know it’s always a good idea to start Donaldson against a southpaw. Against Danks it’s not just a good idea; it’s a Tony the Tiger great idea!

Nobody ($0) vs. Nobody (P) – Stop trying to outsmart yourself and just start Donaldson

Shortstop:

Brandon Crawford ($2,900) vs. Matt Garza (RHP) – Listen, the position of shortstop sucks right now, but Crawford has been the best of the bunch. He’s got power and Garza gives up the long ball. Simple equation.

Alcides Escobar ($2,400) vs. Adam Warren (RHP) – Say it with me, “There is no good reason to spend money on a shortstop.” Escobar is among the top few scorers of everyday shortstops and his price is low. Warren is right-handed so a SB or two is in order.

Zack Cozart ($2,300) vs. Jorge De La Rosa (LHP) – I don’t buy into Cozart long term, but he’s hitting .353 against lefties this year, with three of his six homers. And since we’re not gonna pay for a shortstop, his salary is closer to zero.

Outfielders:

Jose Bautista ($4,500) vs. John Danks (LHP) – Bautista has been struggling and I wish his salary was lower, but if you’re going full-blown stack he’s in a nice matchup. As I’m building my lineup, I’m not liking the way it looks with all three blue Jays in it. Bautista may be the casualty so I can fit two middle tier guys.

George Springer ($3,800) vs. Chris Tillman (RHP) – Last year Springer was a better play against lefties, but this year he’s running a lot more and that works against RHP. The power is coming on and he’s already got 11 SB. Tillman does not have the stuff to get in Springer’s kitchen. I smell a long ball.

Alex Gordon ($3,200) vs. Adam Warren (RHP) – Nobody really pays much attention to Alex Gordon, but he’s a very good player who can put points on the board in a multitude of ways. This game is in New York, so Gordon will have nine innings to shoot for the short right field fence

Chris Young ($2,200) vs. Jason Vargas (LHP) – Young has been in a deep slump since an early season power outburst, but he’s still dangerous when he has the platoon advantage. Young is hitting .359 against lefties and at $2,200 offers some nice upside if you’re using higher priced players elsehwere in your lineup.

My Lineup for the Day

FanDuel Lineup for May 26, 2015As promised in the intro, here is the lineup I’ll be using tonight. Of course I’ll be visiting RotoWire and BaseballPress.com to make sure all of my recommendations take the field tonight. If one of my picks isn’t in the lineup, I’ll try to select options from my other recommendations. And of course I also reserve the right to tweak things if I hear other news during the day. And remember, if you decide to accept this Tout Wars Challenge and beat me to be gentle. Us Touts can be very sensitive.

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