FanDuel Friday: Is Matt Harvey worth hefty price tag?


FanDuel Friday: Is Matt Harvey worth hefty price tag?

Look, FanDuel baseball is hard. It's not like every other sport, where you have a decent idea of who to play and what to expect on a daily basis.

Baseball is so up and down. You could take salary out of the equation and just pack a roster with the very best players at every position playing that day and still very easily lose. Mike Trout could go 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. Jose Altuve could have an 0-fer and maybe Giancarlo Stanton only manages a single in four plate appearances. Clayton Kershaw could have a poor game against the worst team in the league (that's already happened this week). If you pack a lineup with the best players available in basketball or football, you pretty much know what you're gonna get most of the time.

So FanDuel starts with pitching. Don't try to save money on starters; just pick the guy you think will have the best day and fill out your roster from there.

Friday night, that means springing for Matt Harvey.

John "The Professor" Paschall

The Phillies are hitting .227 as a team this year and Harvey as won all of his starts this year. Remember, pitchers get four points for wins and Harvey is also a strikeout machine. He's a great option tonight and well worth the big price tag. 

The matchup of the left-handed slugger Lind against righty Jason Hammel is too enticing to pass up. Segura is a little bit of a gamble considering his struggles against right-handed pitching but Hammel isn't exactly an ace. 

Betts has brought some pop to the plate lately and he's always a threat to pick up steals as well. Sandoval against a right-hander is always a good play. He's a must-avoid when forced to hit from the right side. 

Blanks, Forsythe and Grandal have been on fire lately (an understatement for Grandal considering his monster day on Thursday) and none of those hitters face difficult starters. 

Ethier has taken advantage of Carl Crawford's injury and has performed very well. A trip to Coors Field and a matchup against a right-hander shouldn't hurt as well tonight.

Mark Strotman

Taijuan Walker has been nothing short of horrendous this season, posing an 8.74 ERA in five starts. In his first start of the year, he got shelled by the A's, who he faces on Friday night. So, naturally I'm going with Walker tonight. The price tag is right and he was better in his last home start, allowing one run over five innings in a no-decision against the Astros. Oakland is scuffling having lost six of their last nine, and while the Mariners haven't been much better I think tonight could be a turning point for the 22-year-old's season.

I put together the fastest outfield I could, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say they steal a combined five bases. Betts has come to a screeching halt after a red-hot April, but he does have a five-game hit streak going, including extra-base hits in four of them. With the Cubs pitching having just played 16-inch softball with the Cardinals hitters I can't get a streaking Jean Segura and always reliable Adam Lind in the lineup fast enough. Also, Kris Bryant is in the lineup because he has to hit his first home run at some point, and though Jimmy Nelson has only allowed one round-tripper I get the sense Bryant's first long ball will come this weekend.

Dee Gordon earns my weekly "Russell Westbrook Award" where a player just needs to be in your lineup, no questions asked. He's riding an 11-game win streak, with multiple hits in EIGHT of them. EIGHT. Don't over-think it.

Tony Andracki

To answer the question in the headline: Yes, Harvey is worth the hefty price tag. Pitching is so vital to the success of FanDuel lineups that you can't skimp there, even if it means taking the second-most expensive pitcher out there. Harvey is a stud and going up against one of the league's worst lineups in Philadelphia.

With Harvey in the fold, I had to look for plenty of bargains elswhere. A collection of Chicago players - Montero, Russell, Garcia - are all swinging the bat well of late and I think it's a good bet that continues Friday night. I also targeted some other guys who are riding hot streaks: Belt has doubled in five straight games - earning 20.75 FanDuel points in that span - and Hechavarria has 10 hits in his last eight games. Maybin is playing everyday in Atlanta right now, hitting homers and stealing bags.

Bryant and McCutchen haven't been Fantasy or FanDuel studs like they were expected to be - with only 2 homers between them - but I had some salary to spend and I think it's a good gamble. Bryant's first MLB homer is coming soon and even if it doesn't happen today, I'll take his walks and runs. McCutchen just picked up three hits, a double, an RBI, two runs, a walk and a stolen base Thursday, showing signs of breaking out of his month-long slump.

Javy Baez can do anything defensively, but what's next for him at the plate?

Javy Baez can do anything defensively, but what's next for him at the plate?

MESA, Ariz. — You don’t need to spend long searching the highlight reels to figure out why Javy Baez goes by “El Mago.”

Spanish for “The Magician,” that moniker is a fitting one considering what Baez can do with his glove and his arm up the middle of the infield. The king of tags, Baez also dazzles with his throwing arm and his range. He looks like a Gold Glove kind of player when you watch him do these amazing things. And it’s no surprise that in his first media session of the spring, he was talking about winning that award.

“Just to play hard and see what I can do. Obviously, try to be healthy the whole year again. And try to get that Gold Glove that I want because a lot of people know me for my defense,” he said Friday at Cubs camp. “Just try to get a Gold Glove and stay healthy the whole year.”

Those high expectations — in this case, being the best defensive second baseman in the National League — fall in line with everything the rest of the team is saying about their own high expectations. It’s been “World Series or bust” from pretty much everyone over the past couple weeks in Mesa.

Baez might not be all the way there just yet. Joe Maddon talked earlier this week about his reminders that Baez needs to keep focusing on making the easy plays while staying a master of the magnificent.

“What I talked to him about was, when he had to play shortstop, please make the routine play routinely and permit your athleticism to play. Because when the play requires crazinesss, you’re there, you can do that,” Maddon said. “But this straight up ground ball three-hopper to shortstop, come get the ball, play it through and make an accurate throw in a routine manner. Apparently that stuck. Because he told me once he thought in those terms, it really did slow it down for him. And he did do a better job at doing that.”

But the biggest question for Cubs fans when it comes to Baez is when the offense will catch up to his defense. Baez hit a game-winning homer run in his first major league game and smacked 23 of them last season, good for fifth on a team full of power bats. But arguably just as famous as Baez’s defensive magic is his tendency to chase pitches outside of the strike zone. He had 144 strikeouts last season and reached base at a .317 clip. Seven Cubs — including notable struggling hitters Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist — had higher on-base percentages in 2017.

Baez, for one, is staying focused on what he does best, saying he doesn’t really have any specific offensive goals for the upcoming season.

“I’m not worrying about too much about it,” he said. “I’m just trying to play defense, and just let the offense — see what happens.”

Maddon, unsurprisingly, talked much more about what Baez needs to do to become a better all-around player, and unsurprisingly that included being more selective at the plate.

“One of the best base runners in the game, one of the finest arms, most acrobatic, greatest range on defense, power. The biggest thing for me for him is to organize the strike zone,” Maddon said. “Once he does that, heads up. He’s at that point now, at-bat wise, if you want to get those 500, 600 plate appearances, part of that is to organize your zone, accept your walks, utilize the whole field, that kind of stuff. So that would be the level that I think’s the next level for him.”

Will Baez have a season’s worth of at-bats to get that done? The versatile Cubs roster includes a couple guys who split time between the infield and outfield in Zobrist and Ian Happ. Getting their more consistent bats in the lineup might mean sacrificing Baez’s defense on certain days. Baez, of course, also has the ability to slide over to shortstop to spell Addison Russell, like he did when Russell was on the disabled list last season.

Until Baez learns how to navigate that strike zone a bit better, it might make Maddon more likely to mix and match other options, rather than considering him an everyday lock like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.

But like Russell, Albert Almora Jr. and Willson Contreras, Baez is one of the young players who despite key roles on a championship contender the last few years still have big league growth to come. And Maddon thinks that growth is right around the corner.

“I want to believe you’re going to see that this year,” Maddon said. “They’ve had enough major league at-bats now, they should start making some significant improvements that are easy to recognize. The biggest thing normally is pitch selection, I think that’s where it really shows up. When you have talented players like that, that are very strong, quick, all that other stuff, if they’re swinging at strikes and taking balls, they’re going to do really well. And so it’s no secret with Javy. It’s no secret with Addy. Addy’s been more swing mode as opposed to accepting his walks. That’s part of the maturation process with those two guys. Albert I thought did a great job the last month, two months of getting better against righties. I thought Jason looked really good in the cage today. And Willson’s Willson.

“The natural assumption is these guys have played enough major league at-bats that you should see something different this year in a positive way.”'s Cubs' 2018 Top Prospects list full of potential impact pitchers

USA TODAY's Cubs' 2018 Top Prospects list full of potential impact pitchers

Could 2018 be the year that the Cubs finally see a top pitching prospect debut with the team? 

Thursday, released its list of the Cubs' 2018 Top 30 Prospects, a group that includes six pitchers in the Top 10. The list ranks right-hander Adbert Alzolay as the Cubs' No 1. prospect, projecting him to debut with the team this season. 

Alzolay, 22, went 7-4 with a 2.99 ERA in 22 starts between Single-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee last season. He also struck out 108 batters in 114 1/3 innings, using a repertoire that includes a fastball that tops out around 98 MPH (according to

Following Alzolay as the Cubs' No. 2 overall prospect is 19-year-old shortstop Aramis Ademan. Ademan hit .267 in just 68 games between Single-A Eugene and Single-A South Bend, though it should be noted that he has soared from No. 11 in's 2017 ranks to his current No. 2 ranking. He is not projected to make his MLB debut until 2020, however.

Following Alzolay and Ademan on the list are five consecutive pitchers ranked 3-7, respectively. Oscar De La Cruz, No. 3 on the list, slides down from his 2017 ranking in which listed him as the Cubs' top overall prospect. De La Cruz, 22, finished 2017 with a 3.34 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) between the Arizona League and Single-A Myrtle Beach.

De La Cruz is projected to make his MLB debut in 2019, while Jose Albertos (No. 4), Alex Lange (No. 5), Brendon Little (No. 6) and Thomas Hatch (No. 7) are projected to make their big league debuts in 2019 or 2020. All are right-handed (with the exception of Little) and starting pitchers.

Hatch (third round, 2016) and Lange (30th overall, 2017) and Little (27th overall, 2017) were all top draft picks by the Cubs in recent seasons.

Having numerous starting pitchers on the cusp of the big leagues represents a significant change of pace for the Cubs. 

Since Theo Epstein took over as team president in Oct. 2011, a plethora of top prospects have debuted and enjoyed success with the Cubs. Majority have been position players, though.

The likes of Albert Almora, Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell all contributed to the Cubs winning the World Series in 2016. Similarly, Ian Happ enjoyed a fair amount of success after making his MLB debut last season, hitting 24 home runs in just 115 games.

Ultimately, Alzolay would be the Cubs' first true top pitching prospect to make it to the big leagues in the Theo Epstein era. While him making it to the big leagues in 2018 is no guarantee, one would think a need for pitching will arise for the Cubs at some point, whether it be due to injury or simply for September roster expansion.

The Cubs have enjoyed tremendous success in recent years in terms of their top prospects succeeding in the MLB. If the trend continues, Alzolay should be a force to reckon with on the North Side for years to come.