FanDuel Friday: Picking the right ace for your lineup


FanDuel Friday: Picking the right ace for your lineup

The weather has finally warmed up in Chicago after a long and dreary winter that seemed to never want to go away. And with the NBA regular season officially over, it's time to turn our attention to a new sport in daily fantasy leagues: baseball. 

Baseball is a different animal than some of the other sports on FanDuel, simply because it's a lot harder to score a lot of points. Avoiding a negative score for a player is, in some ways, a victory. Picking your pitcher is the most vital selection of your entire lineup because that's where a majority of your points will come from. 

Luckily for fantasy players this week, there are a handful of aces to chose from in tonight's slate of games (Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and Johnny Cueto to name a few). 

Check out our first set of lineups for the baseball season down below:

John "The Professor" Paschall

I almost went Scherzer here because he will simply dominate the Phillies tonight but I went a little cheaper with Kluber, who should also have a solid chance of getting a win against a weak Twins lineup. Ramos has been hot lately, getting a hit in six of his last seven games and his matchup with O'Sullivan certainly is enticing. Davis, Segura and Lagares have all been on fire lately at the plate and are good, cheap options to fill out your lineup. It also helps that those sluggers aren't facing ace caliber starters tonight.

Betts and Odor are guys who can stuff the stat sheet, whether it's with hits, runs or stolen bases, these guys have the potential to explode on any given night.

Sandoval is a bit of a risky pick since he's been very up-and-down so far with the Red Sox, but with Jimenez on the mound for the O's, Sandoval should hopefully get back into rhythm when he's forced to go back to hitting from his better (left) side. 

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Mark Strotman

It's been a rough start for the Brewers in 2015, but that hasn't applied to starter Jimmy Nelson. I look for Nelson to keep that going, while Lucroy has to break out of his early-season slump at some point. Jean Segura arguably has been the best fantasy Brewer not named Adam Lind, and his breakout campaign is off to a great start.

I'm definitely going with the big names in Prince Fielder and Dustin Pedroia, but for a combined $7,000 it's too big a steal. Fielder's batting .400 and quietly riding a four-game hit streak; it'd be great if he could pick up that elusive first homer.

I LOVE the outfielders I'm using tonight. Ellsbury is batting just .286 but has seven-game hit streak. I expect the home runs and RBIs to start pouring in soon. Heyward has slowed a bit and has a tough matchup against Johnny Cueto, but he's relatively cheap for an outfielder with pop. And Lorenzo Cain is just the man. He's like my Russell Westbrook of fantasy baseball. Find a way to get him in your lineup.


When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

MESA, Ariz. — The first thing Kyle Schwarber told his new hitting coach?

"His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.'"

The Cubs hired Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach for myriad reasons. He's got a great track record from years working with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and that .274/.360/.451 slash line during an illustrious 19-year big league career certainly helps.

But Davis' main immediate task in his new gig will be to help several of the Cubs' key hitters prove Schwarber's assessment correct.

Schwarber had a much-publicized tough go of things in 2017. After he set the world on fire with his rookie campaign in 2015 and returned from what was supposed to be a season-ending knee injury in time to be one of the Cubs' World Series heroes in 2016, he hit just .211 last season, getting sent down to Triple-A Iowa for a stint in the middle of the season. Schwarber still hit 30 home runs, but his 2017 campaign was seen as a failure by a lot of people.

Enter Davis, who now counts Schwarber as one of his most important pupils.

"He's a worker," Davis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Schwarbs, he knows he's a good player. His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.' He said last year was just a fluke year. He said, 'I've never failed in my life.' And he said, 'I'm going to get back to the player that I was.'

"I think he may have — and this is my thought, he didn't say this to me — I think it may have been, he had a big World Series, hit some homers, and I think he tried to focus on being more of a home run type guy as opposed to being a good hitter.

"His focus has changed. I had nothing to do with that, he came in here with that focus that he wants to be a good hitter first and let whatever happens happen. And he's worked on that. The main thing with Kyle is going to be is just maintaining focus."

The physically transformed Schwarber mentioned last week that he's established a good relationship with Davis, in no small part because Schwarber can relate to what Davis went through when he was a player. And to hear Davis tell it, it sounds like he's describing Schwarber's first three years as a big leaguer to a T.

"Telling him my story was important because it was similar," Davis said. "I was a catcher, got to big league camp, and I was thrown in the outfield. And I hated the outfield. ... But I took on the challenge. I made the adjustment, I had a nice first year, then my second year I started spiraling. I started spiraling down, and I remember one of my coaches saying, 'I'm going to have to throw you a parachute just so you can land softly.' I got sent down to Triple-A at the All-Star break for 15 days.

"When I got sent down, I was disappointed, but I was also really happy. I needed to get away from the big league pressure and kind of find myself again. I went home and refocused myself and thought to myself, 'I'm going to come back as Chili.' Because I tried to change, something changed about me the second year.

"And when I did that, I came back the next year and someone tried to change me and I said, 'Pump the breaks a little bit, let me fail my way, and then I'll come to you if I'm failing.' And they understood that, and I had a nice year, a big year and my career took off.

"I'm telling him, 'Hey, let last year go. It happened, it's in the past. Keep working hard, maintain your focus, and you'll be fine.'"

Getting Schwarber right isn't Davis' only task, of course. Despite the Cubs being one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball last season, they had plenty of guys go through subpar seasons. Jason Heyward still has yet to find his offensive game since coming to Chicago as a high-priced free agent. Ben Zobrist was bothered by a wrist injury last season and put up the worst numbers of his career. Addison Russell had trouble staying healthy, as well, and saw his numbers dip from what they were during the World Series season in 2016.

So Davis has plenty of charges to work with. But he likes what he's seen so far.

"They work," Davis said. "They come here to work. I had a group of guys in Boston that were the same last year, and it makes my job easier. They want to get better, they come out every day, they show up, they want to work. They're excited, and I'm excited to be around them.

And what have the Cubs found out about Davis? Just about everyone answers that question the same way: He likes to talk.

"I'm not going to stop talking," he said. "If I stop talking, something's wrong."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

Carmen DeFalco (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Bernfield join Kap on the panel. Anthony Rizzo returns to the Cubs after an emotional weekend home while Tom Ricketts expects another World Series parade. Plus Hall of Famer Andre Dawson joins Kap to talk about his Cubs reunion and how the current crop unsigned free agents compares to his experiences with collusion.