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.

Willson Contreras commissions heart-warming painting commemorating his relationship with Joe Maddon

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USA Today

Willson Contreras commissions heart-warming painting commemorating his relationship with Joe Maddon

Joe Maddon’s time with the Cubs may be over, but the memories made in his five years on the North Side will live on in Chicago sports lore forever. No matter how frustratingly his tenure may have ended, the outpouring of support and appreciation from management, fans and players alike throughout the process of Maddon’s departure are evidence of that.

“I love him like a dad,” Anthony Rizzo said

“I personally never could have imagined having such a wonderful partner,” Theo Epstein later added, standing beside Maddon as they delivered joint reflections on the end of the era.

Maddon touched the lives of so many within the organization and without in his time with the Cubs, but not many more so than catcher Willson Contreras, who burst onto the scene as one of the best young sluggers in baseball under Maddon’s guidance. Maddon — a catcher himself in his short time as a player — never shied away from criticizing Contreras in times he thought it earned, but it’s clear that the two forged a real bond over the last four years. 

Sunday afternoon, artist Austin Ploch revealed that Contreras reached out to him shortly after the end of the 2019 season to commission this heart-warming piece, commemorating the mutual respect and adoration between mentor and pupil:

The painting is derived from a photo of the two that Contreras posted to his Instagram account after it was officially announced that Maddon would not return as the Cubs manager:

Ploch has commissioned work for Contreras before, but now Willson will have a tangible memento to remember his first manager (along with his 2016 World Series ring). We’re not crying, you’re crying.

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Cubs to reportedly conduct second interview with Joe Espada for managerial opening

Cubs to reportedly conduct second interview with Joe Espada for managerial opening

Astros bench coach Joe Espada has two days off before Houston hosts Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, but it looks like some of that time will be spent in Chicago.

According to multiple reports, the Cubs will interview Espada a second time for their managerial opening. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports that the interview is happening on Sunday.

Espada is one of the more sought after managerial candidates this offseason, as he's spent the last six seasons with two of baseball's leading franchises. The 44-year-old has been Astros bench coach since 2018, and prior to that, he spent four seasons with the Yankees — 2014 as a front office assistant, 2015-17 as third base coach.

David Ross was the presumed favorite for the Cubs' opening, when the process got underway. However, by landing a second interview, Espada has clearly given the team something to think about. In fact, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan reported on Thursday the Cubs came away "exceptionally impressed" from Espada's first interview on Monday. 

MLB prefers teams not to make managerial announcements during the World Series. So, it might be a few more weeks before the Cubs announce their decision, unless they do so on Sunday or Monday.

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