Robbie Ray was a major hit on Thursday night and was especially a terrific MLB DFS play thanks to Chris Sale not being quite as elite as expected. Ray would have freed up over $2k in salary and ended up getting 13 more fantasy points than Sale. We still liked Sale and using him didn’t cripple your daily fantasy baseball lineup, but he was ultimately a fantastic play.
Our hitting started off in a weird spot, as Evan Gattis looked like the top catcher option but didn’t even play. Ryan Zimmerman (2 hits), Daniel Murphy (1 double), Manny Machado (1 hit), Matt Kemp (1 walk) and Andrew Benintendi (1 hit, 1 walk) all got on the board, but were collectively quite disappointing. Our only hits via the bat department were Jean Segura (15 fantasy points) and Max Kepler (16.2).
This seems to be how it goes sometimes; either your pitching is amazing and the hitting doesn’t show up or the pitching craters and awesome hitting lineup. The former happened to us last night, so we’ll be looking for more of a complete unit for Friday night’s massive 13-game slate:
SP: Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals ($12.4k)
I don’t know if you need to pay for Mad Max tonight, but I know I want to. He’ll certainly be the top play in cash games and there remains a decent chance you need him to take down a big GPP. There are viable (much cheaper) options in Jacon deGrom and Zack Greinke, but one is on the road against the surging Cardinals and the other gets the powerful Reds in Chase Field.
Max, meanwhile, is on a ridiculous tear (61+ fantasy points in 6 of his last 8 starts) and is at home against the Braves. Atlanta does have some power to worry about, but Scherzer has posted a strong 2.25 ERA against them this year. I don’t hate dropping down a bit to deGrom or Greinke, but if I’m paying that much, I’d prefer to go a bit further and land the safety of Mad Max.
We can also look at Carlos Martinez and James Paxton, but I see too many issues with all of these top options below Scherzer. Chalk or not, I’ll roll with Mad Max tonight and dig deep for value. Besides, most of you are doing that anyways, so let’s see what bats can help us form a passable lineup behind the top ace on tonight’s MLB DFS slate.
C: Chris Herrman – Arizona Diamondbacks ($2.4k)
I always consider Herrman when he’s cheap, at home and facing a righty. He’s stuck in a rut at the moment, but he’s always a threat to go yard when he’s got favorable splits at Chase Field. Like usual, we just need to make sure he is active. If he is, it’s hard not to love his date with Tim Adleman, who can deliver strikeouts but gives up loads of home runs.
If we’re looking for a little more stability at catcher tonight, we can also try my boy Alex Avila ($2.8k). He’s not that much more expensive and gets to face a righty in Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco can spell trouble, but the splits are favorable and the Indians ace actually can struggle (5.05 ERA) at home. Avila has also had some success against him, posting a 5 for 19 line with a dong.
1B: Luke Voit – St. Louis Cardinals ($2.2k)
As awesome as Mad Max is, he does give up some power and that usually leads to a long ball or two, even in his best games. Matt Adams isn’t in the best park to take a stab at him, but the splits favor him, he’s dirt cheap and some Brave is probably going yard in this one. Freddie Freeman or Matt Kemp could be more popular, so this should be a fairly contrarian one-off try, too.
If you’re not interested in using a bat against your starting pitcher, we can ride the hot hand of Cardinals top prospect Luke Voit ($2.2k) or try a slightly discounted Cody Bellinger ($3.7k) at home against Jason Hammel. My personal favorite is Voit, who has gone yard twice this week and could be heating up. His matchup with deGrom isn’t ideal, but that might actually help make this elite punt try even more contrarian. We get major upside here and some serious salary relief.
2B: Jason Kipnis – Cleveland Indians ($2.7k)
Kipnis is oddly volatile despite being a terrific hitter, but he’s just way too cheap here. He has good splits tonight at home against a pitcher in Jordan Zimmerman that gives up way too much contact. Kipnis was solid last night and I don’t think I can pass him up at this price.
3B: Jake Lamb – Arizona Diamondbacks ($3.6k)
I’m really interested in paying up for Nolan Arenado, who thrives at Coors (as do all Rockies) and absolutely murders (.452 OBP) left-handed pitching. He’s at home tonight against shaky southpaw, Derek Holland, who has been exposed time and time again in 2017. Holland owns a poor 5.70 road ERA and struggles against righties, so factor in Nolan’s splits and this awful park environment, and I certainly don’t mind paying here.
It’s no secret that 3B is loaded, of course, and unless something else opens up when lineups become official, we might not be able to swing that. We can also spend less with viable threats like Jake Lamb and Mike Moustakas, two powerful lefties facing righties tonight. We’ll go with Lamb here, who is back at home at Chase Field and seems to have his groove back after slamming two homers last night.
SS: Chris Owings – Arizona Diamondbacks ($3.1k)
I like the value here with Owings, who specifically shows great pop at Chase Field and has his best numbers against right-handed pitchers. Much like Herrman, he could be in a great spot tonight against Adleman, who has talent but gives up a ton of home runs. Adleman struggles slightly more against right-handed hitters, too, so that gives Owings an added bump.
OF: Yasiel Puig – Los Angeles Dodgers ($2.4k)
I love how cheap Puig is, especially since we get him at home against a very beatable righty in Hammel. Puig can be hit or miss, but using him at home and in a favorable spot like this is the time to pounce. I love getting value with talented hitters that can offer high upside like Puig can, while using Dodgers to cap the night is always fun.
OF: Max Kepler – Minnesota Twins ($2.6k)
I was high on Kepler last night and he worked out, so we’re going to use him again at home against the beatable Kevin Gausman. Gausman has churned out two strong outings in a row but it’s not easy to keep it together in Target Field against these Twins. Kepler gets another strong splits matchup and is simply too cheap. Gausman’s road woes (7.60 ERA) only add to the allure here.
OF: Andrew Benintendi – Boston Red Sox ($3.4k)
Truth be told, I might not stick on Beni with my final FanDuel MLB DFS lineup. I’ll be hunting for a way to land Nolan Arenado without forcing the issue to much, instead. For now, though, I do like Beni against Jake Odorizzi. The two haven’t faced much, but Odorizzi has his hardest times against lefty hitters and Beni wrecks right-handed pitching. The park isn’t ideal, but Beni provides power and great splits. If I have to end the roster this way for tonight, I’m perfectly content.