Cubs

FanDuel Friday: Is Matt Harvey worth hefty price tag?

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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.

4 Cubs crack MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects list

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MiLB

4 Cubs crack MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects list

MLB Pipeline unveiled its annual top 100 prospects list on Saturday, and four Cubs minor leaguers made the cut.

Nico Hoerner (SS; No. 51), Brailyn Marquez (LHP; 68), Brennen Davis (OF; 78) and Miguel Amaya (C; 95) cracked the list for the North Siders. It’s the first time the Cubs have had four players on the list since 2016: Ian Happ (No. 21), Eloy Jimenez (23), Albert Almora Jr. (82) and Dylan Cease (98).

So yeah, it’s been a minute.

Cubs fans are most familiar with Hoerner; the 22-year-old made his big-league debut last September in an emergency spot after Javy Báez and Addison Russell got hurt. Hoerner hit .282/.305/.436 in 20 games and held his own defensively.

Hoerner is ranked as the No. 9 overall shortstop prospect, and he’ll get an opportunity to make the 2020 Opening Day roster. With Báez entrenched at shortstop, Hoerner will shift to second base and potentially play some center field, though he's still learning the latter.

Marquez, 20, is Pipeline’s No. 9 left-handed pitching prospect. The Cubs have struggled to develop homegrown starting pitching under Theo Epstein. In fact, Marquez is the first Cubs pitcher (LHP or RHP) to crack MLB Pipeline’s top 10 pitchers list during Epstein’s tenure on the North Side.

Marquez sported a 3.13 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 22 starts between Single-A South Bend and advanced-A Myrtle Beach in 2019. The 20-year-old struck out 128 batters in 103 2/3 innings, walking 50.

Cubs senior director of player development Matt Dorey said the club has “really high expectations” for Marquez this season.

“Brailyn, his last half of last year in Myrtle was an epic run, just in terms of the raw stuff, the strikes, the breaking ball development,” Dorey said Sunday at Cubs Convention. “I think it’s a little early to decide where he’s going to start [the season], but I would guess Double-A.

“But I wanna see how he comes into camp — especially with our new pitching infrastructure — that we’re not missing anything with his delivery or anything from a pitch data perspective. We want to make sure that’s really tied before we send him out [for] a long, full season. It’s such a big year for him. But I think it would be foolish to put any cap on what he can do this year.”

Marquez allowed two earned runs or less in nine of his final 10 starts (he allowed three earned runs on Aug. 26 — the lone exception). The Cubs promoted him to Myrtle Beach on Aug. 6, where he posted a 1.71 ERA with 26 strikeouts and seven walks in five starts (26 1/3 innings).

The Cubs drafted Davis out of high school in 2018 (second round, No. 62 overall). The 20-year-old was more of a basketball player and had some Division I offers, but he ultimately signed with the Cubs and received a $1.1 million bonus.

Davis is considered to be a raw, athletic talent. He hit .305/.381/.525 with eight homers and a 160 wRC+ in 50 games with South Bend last season. He missed time after getting hit on the hand on two separate occasions.

Although Davis is listed as a center fielder (199 innings in 2019) he played left almost as frequently (193 2/3) in 2019. Pipeline projects him to make his big-league debut in 2022.

Amaya spent all of 2019 with Myrtle Beach, slashing .235/.351/.402 with a 122 wRC+ in 99 games. His defense has always been ahead of his bat, and he’s known to be an advanced catcher for his age.

The Cubs added Amaya to the 40-man roster in November in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft. However, he won’t make his big-league debut until 2021, at the earliest.

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Cubs agree to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

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USA TODAY

Cubs agree to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

The Cubs have made a roster move.

According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the Cubs and outfielder Steven Souza have agreed to a one-year, big-league deal. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal first reported Friday the two sides were nearing an agreement.

Souza, 30, missed the 2019 season after suffering a torn left ACL and LCL at the end of spring training. He also missed a chunk of 2018, playing 72 games while hitting the injured list on multiple occasions. The Diamondbacks non-tendered him last month.

Souza is a career .233/.323/.417 hitter with 70 home runs in five seasons. His best campaign came with the Rays in 2017: .239/.351/.459, 30 home runs, 78 RBIs and a 121 wRC+ — all career-bests, excluding his average. He sported a walk rate (13.6 percent) above league average (8.5) that season, though his strikeout rate (29 percent) was worse than average (23).

Signing Souza likely rules out a return of fan favorite outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. The Cubs have been linked to Castellanos throughout the offseason, but since they're looking to stay under MLB’s luxury tax threshold, re-signing Castellanos would require some financial maneuvering.

Souza has spent most of his career in right field (3,608 career innings) but has minimal experience playing center (33 1/3) and left (20). He’s above average in right (career 6 Defensive Runs Saved) and posted a career best 7 DRS in 2017.

The Cubs have a five-time Gold Glove right fielder in Jason Heyward, so Souza will see time at all three outfield spots. Heyward moved to center full-time last season after the Cubs acquired Castellanos and has played center at times throughout his career.

He's coming off a serious knee injury, but Souza is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Cubs. If he's healthy, he’ll add power to the middle of the order and add another bat to an outfield group with some question marks. Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ have each struggled offensively at times since 2018. Souza offers another option in case those two slump again, with room for a larger role.