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.

Forget 2015, the Brewers are more like 2016 Cubs

Forget 2015, the Brewers are more like 2016 Cubs

With the Milwaukee Brewers about to kick off the NLCS, many Cubs fans and pundits have taken to comparing them to the 2015 Cubs.

At first glance, it's easy to see why — they're in the playoffs for the first time as something of an underdog and "surprise" team — but that's not the recent Cubs squad we should be comparing the 2018 Brewers to.

This Milwaukee team is a lot more like the 2016 Cubs.

Here's why:

1. They're not a surprise.

Nobody expected the 2015 Cubs to win 97 games and wind up in the NLCS. They were expected to compete very soon, but everything went right in a red-hot August, they rode Jake Arrieta's right arm to the NLDS and then toppled the Cardinals to get to the LCS, where they ran into the brick wall that was Matt Harvey and and the Mets pitching staff.

The 2018 Brewers are not — and should not be — a surprise. Anybody who was caught off guard by this team being so good hasn't been paying much attention. The Brewers were leading the NL Central in 2017 for much of the year before a late-season fade that coincided with the Cubs' late-season surge.

This Milwaukee squad was always supposed to be one of the top teams in the NL in 2018 and they really hit their groove in September to chase down the Cubs. Still, it took a Game 163 to force a changing of the guard atop the division.

2. They greatly improved expectations with a big free-agent OF signing over the winter.

The Cubs had Jason Heyward in between 2015 and '16. The Brewers had Lorenzo Cain.

Cain has provided quite a bit more offense in the first season of his 5-year, $80 million contract but both Cain and Heyward provided leadership in the clubhouse and elite defense in the outfield in the first years with their new teams.

3. The Brewers have the NL MVP.

This one's an easy comparison to make, though Cubs fans will hate it.

Christian Yelich is this season's NL MVP. Sorry, Javy Baez fans. "El Mago" had a great season, but it's impossible to give the award to anybody but Yelich.

Yelich winning the league's most coveted accolade would be another perfect tie-in to the 2016 Cubs, who had Kris Bryant take home NL MVP.

4. They have a dominant LHP out of the bullpen.

Josh Hader has been doing his best Aroldis Chapman impression in 2018 as an absolutely dominant southpaw out of the bullpen. Unlike Chapman, Hader's spent all season with the Brewers, but like Chapman in '16, Hader will be leaned on heavily for multiple innings throughout the rest of the playoffs.

5. They picked up some valuable in-season assets.

The 2016 Cubs dealt for Chapman, but they also traded for reliever Joe Smith and called up Willson Contreras in the middle of the year, who provided a spark for the offense.

The 2018 Brewers have acquired plenty of valuable assets along the way this season from Mike Moustakas to Jonathan Schoop to Erik Kratz (more on him later) to Gio Gonzalez. But one of their most important additions (especially in October) was the promotion of top prospect Corbin Burnes, a flame-throwing right-hander who posted a 2.61 ERA in 30 regular-season games and allowed only 1 hit in 4 shutout innings in the DS.

6. They're on a mission with a chip on their shoulder.

The 2015 Cubs had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder as they attempted to take down the divisional powerhouse that was the St. Louis Cardinals. But again, they were a surprise contender - even within that clubhouse (especially early in 2015). But after falling short in the NLCS, the Cubs retooled over the winter and came back with one goal in mind - to win the World Series.

It was a goal they accomplished. We'll see if the Brewers will be able to do the same, but they certainly came to play in 2018 with a chip on their shoulder and the ultimate goal of winning the final MLB game of the year.

The Brewers didn't lead the division from Day 1 and weren't able to coast into October, but they still wound up with homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs.

7. They have journeyman catcher who is winning over fans' hearts.

This is a fun one.

The 2016 Cubs had David "Grandpa" Rossy who still elicts deafening cheers whenever he's shown on the giant video board at Wrigley Field. The 2018 Brewers have Kratz, who has become a fan favorite recently and was mic'd up for the final out of the NLDS.

Ross was 39 when he helped lead the Cubs to the 2016 World Series and Chicago was his eighth stop (seventh different team) along his MLB journey. Kratz is 38 and on his ninth stop (seventh different team) along his MLB journey.

In fact, Ross and Kratz are so intertwined, they've already been compared to each other by MLB.com.

But the major difference is Kratz has zero postseason playing experience until a week ago. Will he be able to ride off into the sunset with a championship ring on his finger the way Ross did?

We'll have an answer to that over the next few weeks in the final chapter of the Brewers' 2018 season, though Cubs fans surely wouldn't be too happy to see their division rivals celebrating with a World Series parade just 90 minutes north of Wrigley Field.

Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed for Rangers' manager opening

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USA TODAY

Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed for Rangers' manager opening

The Cubs just lost one coach with hitting coach Chili Davis getting fired. Another opening on Joe Maddon's coaching staff could also open up.

According to report from MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed with the Rangers on Thursday.

Rangers farm director Jayce Tingler was the first candidate the club interviewed, but Hyde and Astros bench coach Joe Espada were also interviewed.

The 45-year-old Hyde has been with the Cubs since 2014. He was a bench coach in 2014 under Rick Renteria before moving to first base coach from 2015-17. This past season he moved back to his original role as bench coach.

He played four seasons in the minors for the White Sox.

The Rangers job opened up when Jeff Banister was fired on Sept. 21. Banister won AL Manager of the Year in 2015 and guided the Rangers to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016, but couldn't get out of the ALDS either year. A 78-84 season in 2017 was followed by an even worse 2018, which led to his firing late this season.