Cubs

FanDuel Friday: Lester looks to stay hot out west

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FanDuel Friday: Lester looks to stay hot out west

Remember when Jon Lester wasn't mowing down offenses every fifth day?

Since that ugly three-game start in which he went 1-2 with a 6.89 ERA, the Cubs' $155 million ace has strung together five consecutive quality starts (4-0 with a 2.18 ERA). Friday night's start against the Diamondbacks will be just his third road start of the year, but in his two other trips to the hill away from Wrigley Field he's allowed just four earned runs in 13 innings. And still, five starters cost more than Lester heading into tonight's action. Yes, they're all aces with solid matchups, but Lester gives you excellent value for how he's pitching; yes, the Diamondbacks have scored the second most runs in the National League, but I'll take Lester, especially when considering most of the hitters in Arizona's lineup have little to no experience against the southpaw.

Ride the hot (and relatively) cheap hand and go with Lester.

[SHOP: Buy a Jon Lester jersey]

Here's some more advice to get you ready to earn cold hard cash for the weekend.

Mark Strotman

I'm riding the hot hand of Lester, and I'm going to pair him up with David Ross, too. Jose Abreu has hits in his last three games and is really starting to see the ball well, and he's still relatively cheap at $3,500. A-Rod can't seem to get that average up but I think he'll find Yankee Stadium much more fun to hit in following a nine-game road trip. As always I've got my speed going in the outfield, with Carlos Gomez earning my weekly Russell Westbrook Honors. The only thing going right for the Brewers, Gomez is 6-for-16 in his last four games, and has steals in two of his last three games. A guy like that could explode at a moment's notice...maybe it happens tonight in Atlanta. 

John "The Professor" Paschall

Pineda has been a strikeout machine lately and is facing a Rangers' team that is only hitting .237 this year. Gonzalez has been hitting well against both righties and lefties this year but he's had much better power numbers against righties, making him a nice play tonight against Cashner. Soler, Ramos and Cano are slight gambles but the matchups against the weaker starters in both opposing rotations makes me feel confident that both can at least pick up a hit this evening.

My intriguing play of the night is Tomas. He's been on fire lately since being called up, recording six (!!) mult-hit games in a row. Lester won't be an easy opposition but Tomas may be too hot to slow down right now. Get him in your lineup now while he's hot and cheap. 

Jones is five for 11 in his career off Alvarez in his career and isn't that expensive tonight. 

Michael Smith

The foundation of my lineup today is the San Francisco Giants offense, going with Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Norichika Aoki and Hunter Pence.  Their game features the highest over/under on the day at 10 runs, and after watching the Giants offense explode last weekend in Cincinnati, it will not be unexpected to the Giants put up big numbers at Coors’ Field.  With so many “ace” starting pitchers going tonight, I wanted to pick someone who may have a lower level of ownership than the household names like Max Scherzer and Felix Hernandez.  Gerrit Cole is one of the best young strikeout pitchers in baseball, and the Mets at Pirates game has the lowest over/under on the schedule today at 6.5 runs.  The combination of strikeouts and the Mets’ offensive struggles give Cole the potential to be an elite starting pitcher today.  To fill out my lineup I went with a couple of my favorite plays in daily fantasy baseball,  Jimmy Paredes and Ender Inciarte.  Paredes is a switch hitter who does almost all of his damage against right handed pitching, slugging .425 vs RHP, but only .250 vs LHP.  Inciarcte is in one of my other favorite spots, at the top of a lineup facing Jon Lester. Lester’s problems are well known to Cubs’ fans, so if Inciarte is able to get on base, it should lead to stolen base opportunities.

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

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AP

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

The Cubs have been a different team the last six weeks, looking a lot more like the resilient bunch from 2016 than the sluggish 2017 squad that lacked energy. After some wacky circumstances Monday and a tough loss in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Cubs came out and showed what they’re made of in the last two games of the series against the Dodgers, a team that knocked them out of postseason play last fall.

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki sum up the longest short homestand (or shortest long homestand?), updating the status of Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, the Cubs pitching staff and how the team is rounding into form as the season’s halfway mark approaches.

Check out the entire podcast here:

Brandon Morrow lands on DL after hurting back while taking his pants off

Brandon Morrow lands on DL after hurting back while taking his pants off

Remember that one time Sammy Sosa threw out his back while sneezing? Well, Brandon Morrow may have topped that on the Cubs all-time list of wacky injuries.

The 33-year-old closer was placed on the 10-day disabled list prior to Wednesday's game after hurting his back while taking his pants off upon returning from the team's road trip to St. Louis. It's being labeled as "lower back tightness."

"It's frustrating any time you can't get out there, and especially when you can't go because of something stupid like taking your pants off," Morrow told reporters on Tuesday.

And that's put the Cubs pitching staff in a tough spot for the rest of the week, given Wednesday's series finale against the Dodgers is the third game in a little more than 24 hours for the Cubs.

"I don't want to downplay anything," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "Obviously he had back spams, he had the same thing in spring training. We'll start treating it the same way we did in spring training; I think he was out about a week to 10 days. If things go as we hope, I think it'd be the kind of thing where he'd probably be able to be throwing before the 10 days is up.

"But we felt like it wasn't going to be something where he was ready this weekend and if he's not going to be ready all weekend, we can already backdate it three days so it made sense to put him on the DL."

Morrow is tied for fifth in the National League with 16 saves and owns a 1.59 ERA is 26 relief appearances this season. Justin Hancock, who served as the 26th man during Tuesday's doubleheader, stayed with the team as a result.