FanDuel Friday: Picking the right ace for your lineup


FanDuel Friday: Picking the right ace for your lineup

The weather has finally warmed up in Chicago after a long and dreary winter that seemed to never want to go away. And with the NBA regular season officially over, it's time to turn our attention to a new sport in daily fantasy leagues: baseball. 

Baseball is a different animal than some of the other sports on FanDuel, simply because it's a lot harder to score a lot of points. Avoiding a negative score for a player is, in some ways, a victory. Picking your pitcher is the most vital selection of your entire lineup because that's where a majority of your points will come from. 

Luckily for fantasy players this week, there are a handful of aces to chose from in tonight's slate of games (Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and Johnny Cueto to name a few). 

Check out our first set of lineups for the baseball season down below:

John "The Professor" Paschall

I almost went Scherzer here because he will simply dominate the Phillies tonight but I went a little cheaper with Kluber, who should also have a solid chance of getting a win against a weak Twins lineup. Ramos has been hot lately, getting a hit in six of his last seven games and his matchup with O'Sullivan certainly is enticing. Davis, Segura and Lagares have all been on fire lately at the plate and are good, cheap options to fill out your lineup. It also helps that those sluggers aren't facing ace caliber starters tonight.

Betts and Odor are guys who can stuff the stat sheet, whether it's with hits, runs or stolen bases, these guys have the potential to explode on any given night.

Sandoval is a bit of a risky pick since he's been very up-and-down so far with the Red Sox, but with Jimenez on the mound for the O's, Sandoval should hopefully get back into rhythm when he's forced to go back to hitting from his better (left) side. 

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Mark Strotman

It's been a rough start for the Brewers in 2015, but that hasn't applied to starter Jimmy Nelson. I look for Nelson to keep that going, while Lucroy has to break out of his early-season slump at some point. Jean Segura arguably has been the best fantasy Brewer not named Adam Lind, and his breakout campaign is off to a great start.

I'm definitely going with the big names in Prince Fielder and Dustin Pedroia, but for a combined $7,000 it's too big a steal. Fielder's batting .400 and quietly riding a four-game hit streak; it'd be great if he could pick up that elusive first homer.

I LOVE the outfielders I'm using tonight. Ellsbury is batting just .286 but has seven-game hit streak. I expect the home runs and RBIs to start pouring in soon. Heyward has slowed a bit and has a tough matchup against Johnny Cueto, but he's relatively cheap for an outfielder with pop. And Lorenzo Cain is just the man. He's like my Russell Westbrook of fantasy baseball. Find a way to get him in your lineup.


Jake Arrieta full of appreciation in return to Wrigley mound: ‘I’ll never forget this city’

Jake Arrieta full of appreciation in return to Wrigley mound: ‘I’ll never forget this city’

The last time Jake Arrieta pitched at Wrigley Field, his night ended with Cubs fans giving him a rousing standing ovation. The former Cubs right hander tossed 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball, leading the Cubs to victory in Game 4 of the 2017 NLCS—their only win against the Los Angeles Dodgers that series.

Arrieta returned to Wrigley Field as a visitor on Monday night, making his first start against the Cubs since joining the Philadelphia Phillies last season. Ironically, Arrieta’s counterpart for the night was Yu Darvish, who ultimately replaced Arrieta in the Cubs starting rotation.

Despite now donning Phillies red, Cubs fans once again showed their love for Arrieta, giving him a lengthy standing ovation ahead of his first plate appearance. Darvish even stepped off the mound in respect for the moment.

“I loved it, absolutely loved it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said to reporters postgame. “[I’m] very happy that our fans would acknowledge him like that. Yu stepped away from the mound nicely. Jake deserved it.”

Arrieta tipped his helmet in appreciation for the crowd, taking in the moment for more than 30 seconds before stepping into the batter’s box. After the game, he told reporters that moment brought back memories of his time with the Cubs.

“That was something that really brought back great memories of getting that same sort of ovation pretty much on a nightly basis,” Arrieta said. “[I’m] very appreciative of that. I can’t say thank you enough to the city of Chicago, I really can’t.”

Arrieta took fans back to his Cubs tenure on Monday, throwing six innings of one run ball in the Phillies’ 5-4 10-inning win. Although the 33-year-old didn’t pick up the victory, he matched Darvish—who threw six innings of three-run ball—pitch by-pitch.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler noted how well Arrieta handled his emotions throughout the night.

“I thought he handled the emotions really well. I thought he was in control of the game even when we were down,” Kapler said to reporters. “He always maintained his poise and he just got stronger as the outing went on and that’s why we were able to have him take down the sixth inning for us.”

It’s well-documented how Arrieta’s career improved for the better after the Cubs acquired him in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles in July 2013. When the Cubs acquired him, Arrieta held a career 5.46 ERA in 69 games (63 starts). He finished his Cubs career with a 2.73 ERA in 128 regular season starts. He also won five postseason games with the Cubs, including Games 2 and 6 of the 2016 World Series.

Despite moving on in free agency, Arrieta spoke highly of his time with the Cubs, their fans and the city of Chicago.

“Cubs fans all across the country, all across the world, they really respect and appreciate what guys are able to do here for them,” he said. “It means a lot, it really does.

"I’ll never forget this city, the fan base, the organization, everything that they did for me. It was 4 1/2 incredible years of my career.”

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Yu Darvish crashed Jake Arrieta's party, but Cubs bullpen falters

Yu Darvish crashed Jake Arrieta's party, but Cubs bullpen falters

Yu Darvish was one pitch away.

Holding onto a 1-0 lead with two outs in the sixth inning, Darvish threw Phillies catcher JT Realmuto a 2-2 cutter. It made sense - Darvish had been spotting that pitch well all night, and the Phillies were averaging a paltry 79.8 mph exit velocity against it.

With one strike standing between Darvish and a 6-inning shutout, Realmuto took Darvish’s cutter and sent it back up the middle for a game-tying RBI single. A 2-RBI triple from César Hernández followed. In the blink of an eye, what was shaping up to be one of Darvish’s finest moments in Chicago was instead reduced to yet another start spent searching for silver linings.

“Really good. He was outstanding tonight,” Joe Maddon said. “He pitched really well.

“He had really good stuff. He had command of his stuff, he had command of himself. I thought he was outstanding - even better than what he looked like in Cincinnati. I thought that was probably his best game for us to date.”

Darvish has continued to lean heavily on his cutter this season, more so than any year prior. After throwing it 13 percent of the time last season, he’s going to that pitch almost 25 percent of the time now. If that holds, it’d beat his previous career-high, set in 2013, by six percentage points.

All things considered, that pitch has actually been good for him this season. It’s his go-to offering when he needs to induce weak contact, and batters are hitting .125 against it so far. He gets batters to chase cutters 29.5 percent of the time, the most of any pitch he throws. While he has admitted in games past that he relies too heavily on his fastball, Maddon sees no issues with the new trend.

“I have no concerns with that whatsoever,” he said. “There’s different ways for pitchers to attack hitters, and if it's successful, I really would not change a whole lot.”

Though the night was dedicated to celebrating one of the franchises most beloved pitchers, it was one of their most maligned that continued to show signs of figuring it out. He’s put together back-to-back starts with three or less walks for the first time this season, and has allowed two or less runs in three of the last five.

The pitcher even stepped off the mound during Arrieta’s first at-bat, in order to let the standing ovation continue on.

“He’s is a legend in Chicago,” Darvish said after the game. “And I pitched against him and pitched pretty good, so it makes me confident.”

The bullpen again struggled on Monday night, as the trio of Mike Montgomery, Brad Brach, and Kyle Ryan allowed two runs on five hits, including the game-winning solo home run from Realmuto in the 10th. For a moment it looked like the Cubs had a win wrapped up when Brach got outfielder Andrew McCutchen to bite on a two-strike slider, but was (probably incorrectly) called a checked swing.  He would eventually draw a walk, leading to Jean Segura’s game-tying single.

“On the field, I thought for sure [that McCutchen swung],” Brach said. “Looking at the first base umpire, I was a little taken aback. That’s why I went off the mound - just to regather myself, because I didn’t want to let the emotion get to me there.

“It’s a 50-50 call, and unfortunately it didn’t go my way.”


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