With only four games on the early slate, I’ve chosen to focus solely on tonight’s 11-game main slate. The early slate is tough as there are no obvious plays, and things can go a number of ways. If you’re playing the early slate, I’d play tournaments only.
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals, $11500 – Scherzer is the clear top cash game play for the main slate on FanDuel tonight. He has over double-digit strikeout upside every time he takes the mound, and he draws a nice matchup with a very weak Phillies offense. He’s expensive, but his extremely high floor and ceiling make him my top choice for cash games. He’s also likely to be in line for the win as the Nationals offense should be able to get him some run support against Jerad Eickhoff. Given I don’t expect the Phillies to get any sort of offense going against Scherzer, whatever lead Washington gives him should be enough.
Rich Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers, $9200 – Hill is currently sporting a 31.2% strikeout rate against right-handed batters, and I expect him to pitch very well against a mostly right-handed Marlins lineup. Miami isn’t a team I go out of my way to target, but Hill’s upside is too high to ignore. He’s only $9200, and he can get you double-digit strikeouts while only giving up a run or two and earning the win. He rarely gets blown up, so his floor his safe as well. If you don’t want to spend on Max in cash games, Hill is a perfectly acceptable option, and I love him in tournaments.
Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers, $3600 – Martinez is my top play at the catcher position today. He draws a very favorable matchup with Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez has been brutal against lefties, and Martinez should see some opportunities to drive in runs considering Jimenez typically struggles with his command, which leads to walks. Expect a big day at the plate from Detroit’s number four hitter.
Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers, $2700 – After Martinez, no one really jumps out at me at the catcher position. Grandal is cheap, has been hitting the ball well, and has home run upside. He’ll face average righty Tom Koehler, and while Koehler has done a good job of limiting hard contact this season, he’s still just an average pitcher. Grandal is a nice value play at an otherwise lacking position.
Additional Plays: Buster Posey
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves, $3300 – Freeman is a nice, cheap option with upside facing Bartolo Colon. Colon is allowing an extremely high rate of hard contact to lefties while Freeman has been seeing the ball very well lately. Atlanta is certainly not a top-tier offense, but Freeman is likely to see some RBI opportunities and can certainly send one into the seats today.
Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox, $3700 – Abreu is one of the hottest hitters in the league after disappointing for most of the season. He’s clearly rediscovered his power stroke, and he’s in a very nice spot today against struggling righty Edinson Volquez. It hasn’t been a good year for Volquez, and while there’s nothing in particular that stands out about this matchup, sometimes it’s a simple as taking a good hitter against a pitcher that isn’t throwing the ball well.
Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins, $4200 – If you can afford him, Dozier is a top option today at a mostly weak second base position. He’s absolutely locked in, and in a short sample of major league innings, Mike Clevinger has been worse against right-handed hitters. Mike Clevinger is also a below average major league arm right now, and I really like Dozier’s chances to get a hold of one and hit home run number 40 today. He’s expensive, and you likely won’t be able to roster him with Max Scherzer, but he makes for a great play if you’re using one of the cheaper tournament arms.
Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins, $2000 – Rich Hill’s curve ball makes him more effective against right-handed hitters, and while Gordon hasn’t been very good since coming back from suspension, for $2000, we really just need him to get on first and steal second. Gordon could draw a walk, beat out an infield single, or slap a ball through a gap in the infield, then a stolen base would easily pay off his minimum price tag. I don’t like many second base options, and given all the good ones are expensive, punting with Gordon makes a lot of sense.
Jose Reyes, New York Mets, $2900 – Braves starter John Gant has certainly not been bad, but it’s hard not to like Reyes for just $2900. Reyes has been seeing the ball well, hitting for power and putting himself in position to steal bases. I think he makes for a great cash game option as he’s very unlikely to earn a zero and can contribute in multiple ways. Plus, his price tag makes him a nice cap relief option that’s more than capable of outscoring the top tier options.
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians, $2900 – Like Reyes, Ramirez is a fine cheap option at the third base position that offers both power and stolen base upside. Lefty Hector Santiago struggles with both home runs and walks, and hasn’t been particularly good lately. If we had infinite salary, Nolan Arenado would been the first third baseman I wrote up, but I thought it was important to offer some low salary options that can help you create a more balanced lineup.
Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians, $3600 – There’s not much to like at the shortstop position, but if we’re spending, Lindor is my favorite option. Lindor doesn’t have a ton of power, but he can rack up hits and offers stolen base upside as well. Hector Santiago is prone to some very poor outings if he’s struggling with his command, and while he could certainly come out and pitch well, my money is on Lindor to have a solid game. Also keep in mind that Lindor is a switch hitter that hits well from both sides so he won’t lose any value against a reliever later on in the game.
Additional Plays: Brandon Crawford
Carlos Beltran, Texas Rangers, $3800 – Daniel Wright is likely the least talented pitcher on today’s slate, so it makes sense to target him wherever we can. His minor league numbers are less than impressive, in in his very brief time in the majors, it’s been the same story. Likely, he’s just not ready to face major league quality hitters, which puts guys like Beltran in a very favorable position today. Expect Beltran to see some RBI opportunities today with a good chance of hitting a home run.
Rajai Davis, Cleveland Indians, $3200 – Davis should find his way into the lineup with Cleveland taking on lefty Hector Santiago. Given Santiago’s command issues, I like Davis to get on base in some fashion today. Kurt Suzuki is one of the worst throwing catchers in all of baseball, so if Davis gets on base, he’s a great bet to steal. Hopefully he’s at the top of the lineup, but even if he’s near the bottom, he has a lot of value today.
Ian Desmond, Texas Rangers, $3800 – I’d normally target Desmond against lefties, but I’m willing to make an exception with Daniel Wright. Wright just isn’t very good, and I expect the Rangers to have a lot of success today. They’re likely to be popular today, but that shouldn’t stop you from loading up on them in cash games. Desmond has both power and stolen base upside, which gives him a high floor and ceiling today.