It may be a shortened slate with just six evening games, but there is still plenty on money up for grabs. In fact FanDuel is rolling out a $125,000 tournament where you can turn a $25 entry fee into fifteen thousand large if you find yourself in first by night's end. Surely I'll throw a few darts at a big score, and here are several suggestions if you are considering doing the same.
As always, make sure to check lineups and potential inclement weather before submitting your rosters. Let’s get to the picks.
Matt Harvey vs St. Louis, $10,600
Despite tonight being a short slate, we have four ace-like arms taking the bump this evening. To say one is definitively better than the rest is something that I'm not completely comfortable doing. First up is Cole Hamels, who has really looked locked in of late. The issue here is that he'll pitch in daunting Coors Field. This immediately puts Hamels in the tournament only bin for me, but if the Rockies Troy Tulowitzki (quad) is unable to go, the path to success looks much more obtainable. Next up is Chris Sale and Corey Kluber. They will square off in what should be impressive pitcher's duel. Kluber is coming off a game where he punched out a ridiculous 18 batters, while Sale will finally get to face some lefties on the season, as the Indians can only get so right-handed. While both hurlers are worthy of your attention and a potential roster spot, the tricky part is trying to guess who will grab the win, and the precious four fantasy points that accompany it. Both should probably pitch well enough that their asking price will be justified either way, but this is what has me looking in Matt Harvey's direction.
Finally, I got to the guy I highlighted. While Sale vs Kluber is a bit of a coin toss, Matt Harvey is a - 130 favorite in a game with a paltry 6.5 over/under. Sure, he isn't the biggest of favorites, but I'd much prefer to take my chances vs John Lackey than the aforementioned studs. The Dark Knight has tossed at least six innings in his last seven efforts, while putting up no fewer than 13 FD points in 6 of those 7 contests. This suggests that Harvey boasts a safe floor. Depending on how lineups unfold tonight, I'll do my best to squeeze him in my 50/50 games this evening. That said, if I have to save a few bucks and pivot down to a guy like Chris Sale to get in the bats I like, I can make that work as well.
Lastly, a relative unknown is starting for the Astros today in Lance McCullers. Most attractive about the rookie is his price ($4,600), as he will allow you to basically roster all the big sticks you'd like. He is being promoted directly from Double-A, where he has dominated this short season (13.34 K/9) and seems to have tempered his previous control issues. I wouldn't expect him to go beyond six innings, but Houston is favored, and the K upside is in play. Of course, just as easily, he can pitch like he did in 2014, which was ugly, and the A's can exploit his flyball tendencies in a hitter friendly ballpark. By no means should you consider him for your head-to-head contests, but he does make for an intriguing tournament option.
Stephen Vogt at Houston, $3,900
I love to roster the Oakland backstop vs RHPs as he absolutely smashes them. On the season he is 30-for-88 with 13 XBHs (including 8 HRs) vs righties, which adds up to an impressive 1.120 OPS. Throw in the sweet park shirt that he'll experience going from Oakland to Houston, and it only makes him that much more tempting. The tricky park here is the price, especially if you are rostering a top flight arm, but if you have the funds, delegating salary Vogt's way projects to be a profitable venture.
Evan Gattis vs Oakland, $3,300
The man affectionately referred to as el os blanco (the white bear) can be a most frustrating player to roster. He has the ability to look like the worst hitter in baseball at times, while on occasion he looks like one of its most threatening. All in the same game. Historically he has shown a devastating power stroke vs LHPs, and with taking his hacks in Minute Maid Park this evening, Gattis is well positioned to poke one over the Crawford Box seats in LF.
Ryan Howard at Colorado, $3,400
I'm pretty sure this is my first time highlighting the Philly first baseman all year, so what gives? This is a combination of a lack of games and Coors Field. Emphasis on Coors Field. Howard's skills have certainly diminished throughout the years, but he still has plenty of dong potential. Certainly when placed in Denver vs a mediocre pitcher like Jordan Lyles, who has really scuffled vs left-handed bats. If you can't quite pay up for Howard, I'm perfectly fine with saving a few bucks and rostering Lucas Duda as an alternative.
Justin Bour vs Arizona, $2,200
He hasn't drawn many starts on the season, but I have a hunch he'll crack the lineup this evening. It certainly wouldn't be the least surprising thing Miami does today (see hiring Dan Jennings as their manager). Miami signed Mike Morse in the offseason to be their stopgap first baseman and it has been a bit of a disaster thus far. As for Bour, he has excelled in his minimal playing time (11-for-25) and he has shown some pop in the minors. The matchup is also enticing, as opposing pitcher Rubby De La Rosa has struggled vs lefty bats.
Jose Altuve vs Oakland, $4,600
Unleashing Jose Altuve vs LHPs is something that is taught day one, in the course that is DFS 101. Sure, the price is steep, but the diminutive Altuve simple rakes southpaws. You need to not look any further than the RotoGrinders Daily Batter Hub, where the Houston second baseman has an absolutely silly MUwOBA of .411 when paired against Drew Pomeranz. Oh, and when he reaches base that is when the real fun starts, as Altuve has the wheels to steal multiple bases.
Chase Utley at Colorado, $3,000
Apparently I'm double down on suggesting over-the-hill former Philadelphia stars. Again, this is yet another sign that we are working with a short slate, and second base is traditionally thin as is. The elder statesman that is Utley has been horrific this season and looks to have aged faster than Robin Williams in Jack, but if ever there was a Fountain of Youth in baseball, it resides in Coors Field. Maybe, just maybe Utley will show flashes of his former All-Star self this evening.
Nolan Arenado vs Philadelphia, $4,000
There is basically zero chance that I roster Arenado in my cash games this evening, but his upside is worth paying up for when building your tournament rosters. No, I don't want to pick on opposing pitcher Cole Hamels and throw too many bats his way, but I suspect the Rockies third baseman will go somewhat underowned and can prove to be the difference maker in a tournament.
Maikel Franco at Colorado, $2,200
This is the reason why Nolan Arenado will not be appearing in my main cash lineups. The idea that I can get a minimum priced hitter, in a positive lineup spot no less (he has found himself in the five hole early on), at Coors Field is just too good to pass up. Franco has demonstrated an attractive amount of power throughout the minor leagues, and need I mention the target that is on the back of Jordan Lyles every time he pitches?
It is 4th and 15, so make like the Jets and punt. This is a gross position to satisfy when thirty teams take the field, let alone just twelve. Basically, I will be looking to take advantage of lineup spots as they sprinkle in. Guys like Marwin Gonzalez, Jonathan Villar, Hector Gomez, and Luis Sardinas all could be worth a look if they find themselves in a more attractive than usual lineup position. Of course if Troy Tulowitzki comes back tonight, he is worth a look, but I'd reserve his for tournament rosters only.
Ryan Braun at Detroit, $4,000
Of course I'd prefer Braun to take his hacks in hitter friendly Miller Park, as opposed to spacious Comerica Park in Detroit, but the Milwaukee superstar has pummeled LHPs throughout his career, and he can get it out of any park when he properly connects. Additionally, it isn't like you fear the arm of Kyle Lobstein, who strikes out so few batters. Braun should put the ball in play and hit it hard it somewhere. Hopefully the BABIP gods are on his side this evening.
Josh Reddick at Houston, $3,900
Truly I'm debating between Reddick and another outfielder in the same game, George Springer. Breaking the tie as to who would get top billing was the fact that Reddick plays for the visiting team, meaning the A's are guaranteed to hit in the 9th inning, thus strengthening the chances for the Oakland outfielder to receive a precious fifth at-bat. Both possess a nice power ceiling and will have the benefit of the splits in their favor. That said, Springer is more of a boom/bust guy, making him more GPP desirable, while Reddick has been cash game reliable this season, and the matchup suggests safety should continue this evening.
If you are looking for a few cheapies to help squeeze in some of the bats you really want to roster, I'd consider guys like Billy Burns, Ryan Raburn, Grady Sizemore, and Coco Crisp. Obviously lineup slotting would heavily factor in when determining which is the most appealing of the bunch, so make sure to take note of them when they are posted throughout the afternoon.