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.

Adbert Alzolay makes some memories on an otherwise forgettable night for the Cubs

Adbert Alzolay makes some memories on an otherwise forgettable night for the Cubs

The Cubs lost an entirely forgettable game on Tuesday night, dropping the second of their four games against the NL East-leading Braves by a score of 3-2. They left four men on base, only managed four hits, ran into two outs, and made one error in a game that was over well in time for a Clark Street nightcap, or three. 

What was memorable about Tuesday night was the performance of Adbert Alzolay, the Cubs’ top pitching prospect who was making his first major league start. The final line: 4.2 innings pitched, one hit, one run, four walks and four strikeouts. It’s certainly not the prettiest line you’ll see in tomorrow’s box scores, but the 24 year old passed the eye test with flying colors. 

“Everything was good - he was outstanding,” Joe Maddon said after the game. “I just think he hit a well there at the end. We just have to get him more used to that. Listen, he’s been injured in the past, he’s coming back - you’ve got to be real sensitive to the number of pitches and workload you put on him, because you can see how good he’s going to be.”

Things got off to an inauspicious start for Alzolay, whose first pitch of the game was crushed 413 feet into the left field bleachers for a leadoff homer, courtesy of Braves’ outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. It would prove to be the only hit and run that Alzolay allowed on the night. 

“It’s just one pitch,” he said. “You have to keep working - the game continues. I was just starting the game, so if you lose your mind in that situation than you’re not going to last a lot of innings.

“Even after the home run, he came right back and said, ‘I’m fine’,” Maddon added. “Then he went up and got three really good hitters out. I liked the mound demeanor, we’ve just got to get him a little further along in regards to being stretched out.”

After coming out flat with his secondary pitches during his 4-inning relief appearance on June 20th, Alzolay flashed better command and execution of both his curveball and changeup. Half of his strikeouts came on the curveball - one to get left fielder Austin Riley in the 2nd and one to get Acuña in the 3rd. After throwing 13 changeups in his debut, Alzolay double that number on Tuesday (27). 

“I’m feeling really confident throwing the pitch in any count,” Alzolay said of his changeup. “Tonight I threw it a couple times when I was behind in the count and I got a good result after that, so I’ll just keep on throwing it.

“For us to get confident at something, you have to practice, you have to execute it, and you have to use it in the game,” said catcher Willson Contreras, who plated both of the Cubs’ two runs with a double in the 4th. “For him to be able to throw the changeup for a strike, and strikeout people, it’s really good - especially at his age.”

Maddon couldn’t answer when Alzolay would make his next start. With Kyle Hendricks eyeing a return around the All-Star break, there would seemingly be a few more opportunities ahead of the rookie. Given what he showed on Tuesday night, it’d be hard to argue against it.

"He can be really good in the big leagues," Contreras said. "He still needs to make adjustments like all of us, but with the confidence he has, the ability he has, and the way he prepares before the games, it's going to take him a long way."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ryne Sandberg: Part 1

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ryne Sandberg: Part 1

Luke Stuckmeyer sits down with Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg for a wide-ranging conversation centered around the infamous "Sandberg Game."

Ryne gives insight into his feelings upon being traded to the Cubs (2:00), and discusses the reason he ended up with the No. 23 (5:00). Plus, how the 1984 season changed everything and raised his personal expectations sky-high (9:00) and the "Daily Double" dynamic between him and Bob Dernier (16:00).

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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