We’re back after a two-day break, wishing everyone a fun weekend and all the dads out there a happy Father’s Day, as well. Friday wasn’t especially kind to some who paid up for Max Scherzer, as the Washington ace was actually fantastic, but getting to him may have meant for a shaky roster.
Josh Bell (37.9 fantasy points) was a fantastic call, Mallex Smith (18.2) continued to be a free square and the young Derek Fisher (9) was serviceable, but the rest of our cheap Mad Max team didn’t cut it. All but one of our other picks at least got on the board, but they were pretty disappointing. That’s the risk of chasing an elite arm, but we could always chalk it up to bad luck that would-be studs like Adam Duvall, Corey Seager and Mike Moustakas all combined for six fantasy points.
It’s onward and upward as we start a fresh week, however. We could get a dose of that elite pitcher fever today, too, as Clayton Kershaw demands we ponder it heavily. That’s the starting point for today’s run through our favorite daily fantasy baseball picks at FanDuel:
SP: Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs ($9.9k)
Pitcher is a good place to start tonight, as we need to know if we’re paying up for Kershaw or getting cute. Brad Peacock lit the world up for 10 strikeouts the start after we used him a week ago, by the way, so there’s that. Realistically, I am eyeing Jon Lester at home against the Padres here. Kershaw is a stud, but he’s around $2k more than any other pitcher and has been pretty spare in two of his last four starts. He’s at home, but he draws a potentially tough matchup with a powerful Mets lineup.
We can still use Kershaw, but Lester was awesome in his last start (10 Ks, 1 run) and has been stellar at home in 2017 (3-1, 2.65 ERA). He also has a dream date with the Padres, who rank 22nd in power against left-handed pitching and dead last in batting average. One of their power guys could launch a dong or two, but Lester seems as safe as anyone on this slate.
If we’re taking a dive, we could look at Brad Peacock again, or Gerrit Cole against a Brewers lineup that strikes out a lot isn’t a bad intermediate try, either.
C: Alex Avila – Detroit Tigers ($3.6k)
Catcher got super inflated really quickly. Alex Avila is probably my favorite overall play as he faces a beatable righty tonight, but he’s pretty expensive and I can understand if most people would rather punt the position. I’m using him, but we can certainly get help elsewhere.
That has me looking at Conteras or Russell Martin ($2.2k). Martin has good splits against righties and will be in a hitter’s park tonight. Just make sure he’s starting if you go that route.
I might just roll with Contreras in other lineups, providing he’s the backstop for Lester tonight. He should be and he’s coming off a sweet three-hit game. He actually hasn’t been great at home this year, but he has good splits against lefties and gets volatile southpaw, Clayton Richard. All 9 of Richard’s home runs have come against righties and he’s allowing a .303 batting average to that side of the plate. If we can ignore the home splits, a cheap Cub like Conteras looks awfully tempting.
1B: Josh Bell – Pittsburgh Pirates ($2.9k)
Per usual, there are a ton of stellar 1B options worth considering at FanDuel. Justin Bour ($3.5k) could be a fun one, as he’s a solid price given his upside and solid stability. Bour donged in his first game back from injury a few games back and tonight gets a home date with an overrated arm in Tanner Roark. Bour is actually way more exciting to use against southpaws, but he’s been an absolute monster at home this year. He hasn’t been efficient in his career versus Roark, but he has donged him twice and Roark has endured his most issues against lefty hitters in 2017.
A more enticing play is going right back to Josh Bell, who wrecked for us on Friday and is at the hittable Miller Park tonight against Matt Garza. This is a terrific matchup for Bell, who wrecks righties, sees a sweet park shift and sports a clean 4-for-7 against Garza. The BvsP numbers shouldn’t sway us here, but they can provide us with a mild cherry on top. Bell looks like an elite play tonight and helps us save up for other positions.
2B: Robinson Cano – Seattle Mariners ($3.3k)
Cano gives us a fine value play at home in a beatable matchup. Cano has positive splits against righties and gets a bad pitcher in Anibel Sanchez. There are other values to consider here like Ian Happ and Jason Kipnis, but Cano has superior splits. The 34-year old masher has also been in a nice groove lately, hitting safely in 9 of his last 10 games. He gives us some nice reliability and solid pop.
I don’t hate paying up at 2B, either, where Jose Altuve looks like a stellar play. I’d rather pay for Daniel Murphy against a right-handed pitcher, while Ian Kinsler, Rougned Odor and Eric Sogard all would ideally be a bit cheaper.
3B: Matt Chapman – Oakland Athletics ($2k)
Update: Chapman is not starting. If we just want a quick and easy pivot we can try Trevor Plouffe ($2.1k) in his debut with the Rays or use Wilmer Flores against Kershaw. If we’re paying up we can target Moose (mentioned below) or Evan Longoria.
Tonight’s free square could be talented prospect Matt Chapman, who has impressed with 9+ fantasy points in three of four games this year. The 24-year old rookie has fared well against right-handed pitching in limited action and will be at home against Brad Peacock, who can make batters miss but doesn’t usually go deep into games and isn’t unhittable. Chapman is a total punt, but he could free us up – especially if we go even more expensive at SP.
There are expensive options to consider here, as Mike Moustakas against a righty is always tempting. Another fun dive could be Wilmer Flores, who isn’t a terrible one-off against Kershaw, as he wrecks southpaws.
SS: Xander Bogaerts – Boston Red Sox ($3.4k)
The top SS options are quite expensive tonight and there isn’t much value to seriously consider, so we can go somewhere in the middle with Bogaerts or maybe Corey Seager. Bogaerts is coming off a 2-home run outing and while we can’t expect a repeat performance, he’s very efficient no matter the splits or scenery. A favorable matchup with Jason Hammel only aids him here and he could be a nice glue piece for stable lineups tonight.
Ramon Torres is a nice punt play if he is in Kansas City’s lineup again tonight, while if we can find the funds Carlos Correa is probably the top overall play.
Update: Upon further review, I love the idea of rising up to Carlos Correa at SS and dropping down to Houston OF Derek Fisher. Just make sure Fisher is starting if you also plan on making a similar move.
OF: Mallex Smith – Tampa Bay Rays ($2.6k)
We’ve been using Smith a ton, but I see no reason to go away from him. He usually bats leadoff, is cheap and has been reliable with 6+ fantasy points in each of his last 10 starts. We’re getting utility value from a guy who is getting lots of opportunities and can rack up points in a number of ways. Adding to the allure is a home date with the beatable Scott Feldman (5.58 road ERA). Smith has shown well against all pitchers and simply knows how to get on base, so we needn’t shy away from him now.
OF: Nelson Cruz – Seattle Mariners ($4.1k)
We don’t have to only look at how Cruz has fared against Anibel Sanchez (5-for-12, 4 HR, 9 RBI), but ignoring it feels pretty silly, too. Obviously that makes the mashing Cruz tempting right away, but it’s not like his splits versus righties (.310 BA, 11 HR) are making us shy away, either. Cruz has also been flat out nasty (0.398 OPS) at home and could be due for a long ball after not connecting on one in any of his last 10 games.
OF: Ben Gamel – Seattle Mariners ($3.2k)
If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m a fan of the Tigers vs. Mariners game and prefer Seattle’s side of it tonight. Gamel rounds off a three-man Mariners stack, as he’s a good price, fares well against righties and has also been lights out at home. He’s actually been ablaze in general, hitting safely in each of his last 10 contests, while delivering multi-hit efforts an incredible 7 times during that stretch. He could cool off at any time but at home against Sanchez feels like a good spot to ride the wave.