It’s the final Saturday of the regular season, and we have a split slate of games to cover. FanDuel isn’t including the two 1:05 PM EST games in their early only slate, so I’m going to ignore those for the purposes of this article. Both slates offer some solid pitching options to consider for your lineups while also featuring plenty of arms to target with your hitters.
Given there are two days left in the regular season, it’s imperative that you pay attention to MLB starting lineups and make sure your players are actually starting. Teams that have their postseason spot locked up may opt to rest players while teams with nothing to play for might be using the last couple of days to take a look at some of their younger guys. Teams with that are still fighting for a postseason berth include the Tigers, Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners, Giants, Cardinals, Mets, and Giants. You can bank on the best players being in the lineups for these teams.
Let’s get to today’s analysis. Good luck, and hopefully this was a profitable baseball season for all of you.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers, $10,700 – I went back and forth for a while between Kershaw and Lester before finally deciding I like Kershaw a bit more. Kershaw threw 91 pitches in his last start, and unless I read something that indicates he’ll be on some sort of strict pitch count, I think he’ll get above 90 again. That’s still less than what we’re accustomed to, but Kershaw can also throw seven innings with seven or more strikeouts in less than 90 pitches. He’s just that good. Expect the Dodgers to get him enough run support with Albert Suarez starting for San Francisco, and expect a dominant performance against a Giants team that he’s handled very well this season.
Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles Angels, $7300 – Today’s evening slate may be better suited for tournaments as it’s hard to really trust any of these pitchers in cash games. I really like the upside Skaggs offers, but he comes with some risk. He’ll take on a mostly right-handed Astros lineup (as we’ll see once MLB starting lineupsstart coming out), which matches up well given he’s sporting a much better strikeout rate against righties. Houston certainly has some guys who hit lefties well, but I think the strikeout upside outweighs the potential downside. If you insist upon playing cash games, I think Iwakuma is likely the best option against a weak Oakland lineup in a must-win game for the Mariners.
Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees, $3600 – Sanchez has been frustrating lately as he just hasn’t been delivering in good matchups. At first glance, he looks brutal against lefties with a 31% strikeout rate, but he’s been victimized by an extremely low BABIP. His .377 ISO tells you all you need to know. The upside potential is there, especially against a homer-prone lefty in Wade Miley. This guy is the real deal. You don’t become the fastest player to 20 home runs since 1930 without being able to crush the baseball. His price has come down to a more affordable $3600 at FanDuel, and given he has so much more upside than any other option at the catcher position, I have to stick with him.
Welington Castillo, Arizona Diamondbacks, $2800 – If Victor Martinez somehow finds his way into Detroit’s lineup, you should lock him in against gas can Aaron Blair, but given they’re in an NL park, I don’t see that happening. Castillo has posted great numbers against left-handed pitching all season, and while extreme groundball pitcher Clayton Richard is not someone I’m normally looking to target, there’s not much to like at catcher. I’m fine with using Castillo at a very cheap price tag given his terrific numbers against left-handed pitching. Martin Maldonado is also a fine option against Jeff Hoffman, who has really struggled, at Coors.
Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers, $2900 – Gonzalez should be back in the lineup against a right-handed starter, and although he’s clearly not the same hitter he once was, he’s been hitting the ball well lately and deserves consideration due to the price and matchup. Albert Suarez has done a good job of limiting hard contact to lefties, but he allows a high line drive rate. There’s not much to like at first base because spending up is difficult if you’re rostering Kershaw or Lester. If you’re going the value route, Gonzalez is the best option.
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers, $3900 – Cabrera is eight of his last 11 with four home runs, so saying he’s locked in at the plate would be an understatement. The Tigers are getting free wins at the end of the season against Atlanta’s miserable pitching staff, and they’re facing the worst of the bunch in Aaron Blair. Blair posts low strikeout numbers with a high walk rate and a lot of hard contact allowed. That’s a very bad combination when facing a team that’s hot offensively and needing to win to earn a wild card spot. Cabrera will be popular, but he’s the clear top play.
Starlin Castro, New York Yankees, $2800 – Castro is a solid value option against an average left-hander today. Last time the Yankees faced a lefty, he hit fourth, so I would expect the same again today. Wade Miley is coming off of a very strong start, but he’s been mostly unimpressive this season, so I don’t mind using Castro despite him being part of a team that is normally very weak against lefties. He has plenty of pop (21 homers this season), and given the favorable lineup position and solid plate skills against southpaws, he’s an easy play for me at just $2800.
Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers, $3800 – This is a great spot for the Brewers at Coors facing a very weak starting pitcher. Jeff Hoffman is currently sporting a 6.9% strikeout rate, 11.1% walk rate, and 33.9% hard hit contact rate to left-handed batters. He’s simply been brutal, and I’m happy to pay up for Gennett given the ball park, expected success of the Brewers, and the fact that are no expensive pitchers to spend on tonight. Batting second should afford plenty of opportunities, and he has the power to go deep as well.
Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles, $3300 – Machado is simply too good to be priced at $3300. He’s in a slump, but a matchup against struggling right-hander Luis Severino should help. Severino has struggled as a starter, and given he’ll be capped at around 50 pitches, the Orioles are going to see a lot of New York’s bullpen in a game they need to win to lock up a wild card spot. I’m not overthinking this one. I’m just plugging in a guy who is severely underpriced relative to his abilities and upside.
Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers, $4500 – We have three elite third base options all around the same price point. Given Eduardo Rodriguez is pitching very well, and so is Wily Peralta, Villar is my top option based on the matchup. Arenado and Donaldson are still strong options, however. Jeff Hoffman has been anything but good, and given Villar has both power and stolen base upside, I view him a lot like Trea Turner, though not as talented. He can contribute in many ways, and in a game where we should expect him to reach base multiple times against a weak starter and weak bullpen, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to accrue fantasy points.
Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs, $2300 – You normally can’t find a punt shortstop with legitimate upside, but that’s what we have with Russell. Russell has plenty of pop, and he’ll be a facing a pitcher in Tim Adleman who is currently allowing a 37.9% hard contact rate to right-handed batters. Throw in the fact that once Adleman exits the game the Cubs will get to face the miserable Reds bullpen, and you have a great spot for Russell and Chicago’s offense. Since we almost have to roster one of the two elite arms in cash games, Russell is invaluable as a salary cap saver that can also give you a very nice score.
Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox, $2900 – Anderson is too cheap at $2900, and given shortstop is typically a place where I’m trying to avoid spending, he’s a simple solution. He’ll face lefty Hector Santiago, who has been anything but impressive against right-handed batters this season. Anderson offers some power upside and a favorable spot in the lineup, so he should see some opportunities for run production tonight. Other positions are offering better places to spend, so take the savings with Anderson and look to the elite options elsewhere.
Trea Turner, Washington Nationals, $3800 – I think Turner finds his way into my article every week, but when you have both power and stolen base upside to go with a .339 batting average, I’m locking you in at just $3800. He’ll face lefty Wei-Yin Chen, and as long as Turner isn’t facing an elite pitcher, he’s someone I’m looking to force into my cash game rosters. When he gets on base, he’s looking to steal, and he’s very capable of putting one in the seats as well. The only knock on him is a low walk rate, but when you’re hitting .339, I’m not too concerned about that. He should be priced at $4500, so lock him in at a significant discount.
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies, $3900 – Wily Peralta has been pitching fairly well, but he’s always been a guy who has really struggled with left-handed hitters. It’s been somewhat of a down season for Gonzalez in the power department, but when he’s at home at Coors Field against an average to below average righty, he’s always an elite option. Peralta is a heavy sinkerball thrower, which happens to be a pitch that Gonzalez has crushed over his career. I feel like $3900 is too cheap for Gonzalez in this spot, and he’s a core cash game play for me today.
Justin Upton, Detroit Tigers, $3400 – Upton has gotten hot at the right time for Detroit as the Tigers simply cannot afford to lose games against Atlanta. He’s crushing the ball right now, and it’s a great time to be locked in with an army of bad Braves starters and relievers opposing you. Aaron Blair has been certifiably horrible this season, and I fully expect the Tigers to knock him around much like they did Matt Wisler and the bullpen last night. Upton’s price has yet to catch up to his production, and I think he’s a fairly easy play at just $3400.