Cubs

FanDuel Friday: Billy Burns on an absolute tear in Oakland

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FanDuel Friday: Billy Burns on an absolute tear in Oakland

Sometimes the game of baseball can humble you. Other times, it can make you quite cocky, like if you've been playing Oakland A's outfielder Billy Burns lately.

All the 25-year-old has done in his last 11 games is slash .375/.412/.995, hit two home runs, knock in six runs, score 11 more and steal four bases. He's gone for positive FanDuel points in 10 of those games, including the last nine following an 0-for-4 performance on May 25. Riding a nine-game hitting streak as the A's begin a series with the AL East-worst Boston Red Sox, this is a no-brainer to get one of the young and most exciting outfielders going right now into your lineup. He's still going to cost you just $3,400, $200 less than Carlos Gomez AND Carlos Gonzalez. If you've followed us long enough you know fantasy and FanDuel is all about value, so getting Burns while he's still on the cheap side is a must to begin your lineup. Then go from there.

To give you some more advice heading into the weekend, here's what our experts think of tonight's slate of games.

John "The Professor" Paschall

The Mariners have struck out the third most times in the majors this year, they have the third worst batting average in all of baseball and they are losers of six straight games. Enter Odorizzi, who has been a stud this year for the Rays. He has yet to give up more than four earned runs in an outing so far in 2015 and has gone at least six innings in every start. While his strikeout numbers aren't elite, he may get a boost with a free swinging Mariners team tonight.

One trick I've started to notice lately is sometimes FanDuel will have some quality veterans at a cheap price tag. Last week it was Hanley Ramirez and this week it's Holliday. Also, Cespedes is a must-start tonight (if he's over his illness). He has owned Quintana over his career, recording six hits in 10 plate appearances including four home runs.

Bogaerts and Eaton have both really found their stroke lately and are cheap tonight. The Red Sox shortstop is hitting .333 against lefties this year, though Kazmir won't be an easy matchup.

Going cheaper with those options mentioned above allows me to spend big on some Chicago stars tonight in Abreu and Bryant.

Finally, the Rockies are projected to have the most runs tonight so putting the lineup's catalyst in LeMahieu makes a ton of sense and fits in the budget.

Mark Strotman

All aboard the Billy Butler train. As mentioned in the intro, he's riding a nine-game hitting streak and squares off against a Red Sox team that has lost eight of its last 11 games.

Still, while Butler is a must-insert in your lineup I still like what Wade Miley can bring to the place for the Red Sox tonight. Before he blew up in Texas last week (4 IP, 5 ER) he had allowed just three earned runs in his last three starts, spanning 21.2 innings. He faced Oakland back on May 13 and threw 6.2 innings of five-hit, shutout baseball. Boston has to get back on track at some point; perhaps Miley's streak of good play can do it.

Derrick Norris is going to be my catcher until further notice, while Jose Abreu seems to be in a groove following his three-game absence earlier in the week. Carlos Gomez is quietly starting to heat up, while A.J. Pollock is already there - the $4,700 price tag may seem steep, but he's playing worth every penny at this stage.

Wong, Tomas, and Reyes are fillers: Reyes is batting .320 in his lsat 11 games, Tomas has six hits in his last three games and Wong is coming off a big game in LA last night (plus, it's always fun to have a guy playing on the West Coast).

Scott Krinch

During the Detroit Tigers seven-game losing streak they have averaged a minuscule 2.7 runs per game so it's only logical that my starting pitcher for Friday evening is Jose Quintana. The White Sox 26-year-old left hander has ramped-up his strikeout total with an 8.20 K/9 rate in 2015. Expect him to keep the Tigers at bay, turning in a quality start at a low-cost option.

I stacked my lineup with a couple Rockies in D.J. LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado, who have both been on a ridiculous tear, and have a nice matchup in the high altitude against Marlins starter Tom Koehler, who is susceptible to giving up the longball (seven allowed this season). Derek Norris and his five multihit games in his last nine starts is a no-brainer at catcher given he's going up against a guy making his MLB debut. My sleeper is Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario. He's cheap at $2600 and is facing one of the worst starters in baseball in Kyle Lohse. 

Cubs Talk Podcast: Sitting down with new Cubs coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Sitting down with new Cubs coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey

Spring training baseball games are up around the bend, but before the boys of summer get into organized action, two of the team’s new coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey sit down with Kelly Crull.

Plus, Vinnie Duber joins Kelly to discuss these baseball conversations including the memorable first words of Kyle Schwarber to Chili Davis, “I don’t suck!"

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Changes aren't exactly popular, but Cubs and Sox — except maybe Willson Contreras — will adapt to baseball's new pace-of-play rules

Changes aren't exactly popular, but Cubs and Sox — except maybe Willson Contreras — will adapt to baseball's new pace-of-play rules

MESA, Ariz. — We know Willson Contreras doesn’t like baseball’s new pace-of-play rules.

He isn’t the only one.

“I think it’s a terrible idea. I think it’s all terrible,” Jon Lester said last week at spring training, before the specifics of the new rules were even announced. “The beautiful thing about our sport is there’s no time.”

Big surprise coming from the Cubs’ resident old-schooler.

The new rules limit teams to six mound visits per every nine-inning game, with exceptions for pitching changes, between batters, injuries and after the announcement of a pinch hitter. Teams get an extra mound visit for every extra inning in extra-inning games. Also, commercial breaks between innings have been cut by 20 seconds.

That’s it. But it’s caused a bit of an uproar.

Contreras made headlines Tuesday when he told reporters that he’ll willingly break those rules if he needs to in order to put his team in a better position to win.

“I’ve been reading a lot about this rule, and I don’t really care. If I have to pay the price for my team, I will,” Contreras said. “There’s six mound visits, but what if you have a tight game? … You have to go out there. They cannot say anything about that. It’s my team, and we just care about winning. And if they’re going to fine me about the No. 7 mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Talking about pace-of-play rule changes last week, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said his team would adapt to any new rules. In Chicago baseball’s other Arizona camp, a similar tune of adaptation was being sung.

“Obviously as players we’ve got to make adjustments to whatever rules they want to implement,” White Sox pitcher James Shields said. “This is a game of adjustments, we’re going to have to make adjustments as we go. We’re going to have to figure out logistics of the thing, and I would imagine in spring training we’re going to be talking about it more and more as we go so we don’t mess it up.”

There was general consensus that mound visits are a valuable thing. So what happens if a pitcher and catcher need to communicate but are forced to do it from 60 feet, six inches away?

“Sign language,” White Sox catching prospect Zack Collins joked. “I guess you have to just get on the same page in the dugout and hope that nothing goes wrong if you’re out of visits.”

In the end, here’s the question that needs answering: Are baseball games really too long?

On one hand, as Lester argued, you know what you’re signing up for when you watch a baseball game, be it in the stands at a ballpark or on TV. No one should be shocked when a game rolls on for more than three hours.

But shock and fans' levels of commitment or just pure apathy are two different things. And sometimes it’s a tough ask for fans to dedicate four hours of their day 162 times a year. So there’s a very good reason baseball is trying to make the game go faster, to keep people from leaving the stands or flipping the TV to another channel.

Unsurprisingly, Lester would rather keep things the way they are.

“To be honest with you, the fans know what they’re getting themselves into when they go to a game,” Lester said. “It’s going to be a three-hour game. You may have a game that’s two hours, two hours and 15 minutes. Great, awesome. You may have a game that’s four hours. That’s the beautiful part of it.

“I get the mound visit thing. But what people that aren’t in the game don’t understand is that there’s so much technology in the game, there’s so many cameras on the field, that every stadium now has a camera on the catcher’s crotch. So they know signs before you even get there. Now we’ve got Apple Watches, now we’ve got people being accused of sitting in a tunnel (stealing signs). So there’s reasons behind the mound visit. He’s not just coming out there asking what time I’m going to dinner or, ‘Hey, how you feeling?’ There’s reasons behind everything, and I think if you take those away, it takes away the beauty of the baseball game.

“Every game has a flow, and I feel like that’s what makes it special. If you want to go to a timed event, go to a timed event. I’m sorry I’m old-school about it, but baseball’s been played the same way for a long time. And now we’re trying to add time to it. We’re missing something somewhere.”

Whether limiting the number of mound visits creates a significant dent in this problem remains to be seen. But excuse the players if they’re skeptical.

“We’ve got instant replay, we’ve got all kinds of different stuff going on. I don’t think (limiting) the mound visits are going to be the key factor to speeding this game up,” Shields said. “Some pitchers take too long, and some hitters take too long. It’s combination of a bunch of stuff.

“I know they’re trying to speed the game up a little bit. I think overall, the game’s going as fast as it possibly could. You’ve got commercials and things like that. TV has a lot to do with it. There’s a bunch of different combinations of things. But as a player, we’ve got to make an adjustment.”