Each day I will be providing my recommended player picks for your FanDuel daily fantasy baseball lineups. The goal is to help you build the optimal cash game (50/50s/double-ups/head-to-head) lineup.
After a usually busy Saturday, MLB provides us with 15 games today but only 10 games on the main slate for us to focus on. We have one high-priced starting pitcher in the mound that will get the nod for us in cash so we will need to find value bats elsewhere to afford him. Let’s dig in!
Jon Lester — Chicago Cubs — $10,400 — For the first time in a month and a half, we have a great group of high-priced pitchers toeing the rubber on Sunday’s main slate. That said, of the six SPs priced over $9K, the best cash game option is Jon Lester, whose Cubs host the Pittsburgh Pirates and Jameson Taillon at Wrigley Field. Prior to a tough outing against the hot-hitting Rays on the Fourth of July, Lester had recorded four consecutive quality starts and totaled 28 Ks. As a team, the Pirates have just a .298 wOBA against LHP (seventh-worst in MLB) and, while the Angels are hitting to just a .300 wOBA against RHP, Lester’s stronger overall pitching data is more reliable than Darvish as a whole. That said, the Ranger pitcher is a fine option if you need to save some cash at the position.
Low-Tier: Mark Leiter Jr. (PHI)
Gary Sanchez — New York Yankees — $3,500 — With a high-priced pitcher in your lineup now, you may want to save up at the catcher spot by looking to one of the low-tier priced plays set forth below with Welington Castillo being my preferred play at just $2.4K. If you have the salary cap space, RHB Sanchez is in play against Jimmy Nelson, who allowing RHBs to hit to a .310 wOBA and 26.2 hard contact percentage. With an implied run total of over five runs, you can attack Nelson with the Yankees offense at home, but temper your expectations with eight other teams having higher implied run totals. If you opt to roster Sanchez, the play is more about safety at the position.
Matt Carpenter — St. Louis Cardinals — $3,800 — The Cardinals 1B is batting an uncharacteristic .236 halfway through the season. However, he has a .252 BABIP this season which is 50 points less than he had last season and 70 points less than his career average. The fact that his other underlying batted ball data has remained relatively flat or otherwise trending upwards indicates that Carpenter has just been unlucky. The LHB has notched hits in consecutive games and gets to hit against Steven Matz who owns a 2.12 ERA through just 34 innings pitched but is throwing to a much higher 4.66 xFIP. Carpenter’s ISO is down against LHP but he is hitting in the middle of an order that should help hit an expected run total of 4.62.
Low-Tier: Matt Adams (ATL)
Brian Dozier — Minnesota Twins — $3,200 — This has been a trend all season and you should have been taking advantage of it as Brian Dozier continues to be underpriced on FanDuel due to rough first quarter numbers. The Twins have an implied total of 5.38 runs, fifth-highest on the day, and should feast on Ubaldo Jimenez, who has a 6.03 xFIP and a 4.35 BB/9. Ubaldo is allowing opposite hitters to bat to a .309 wOBA against him and he is also allowing over two homeruns per game. Dozier will hit near the top of the lineup, and if Jimenez loses command of his pitches, which is highly likely, Dozier should have a minimum of 4 plate appearances. If the Twins get to the Orioles bullpen, Dozier’s quality at-bats will go up. At just $3.2K, Dozier is a cash game worthy play at such a low price tag.
Low-Tier: Brandon Phillips (ATL)
Stephen Drew — Washington Nationals — $2,200 — Listen, I get it that you just read “Stephen Drew” and thought about turning away from this article. Keep in mind that with Trea Turner on the shelf, the LHB has started seven consecutive games and has seen an average of 3.5 plate appearances during that span. This is your free square of the day at just $200 over the minimum price on FanDuel. Sean Newcomb will toe the rubber this afternoon against the Nationals and looks to have reverse split numbers as he owns a .408 wOBA against LHBs and .266 wOBA against RHBs. This sets up well for Drew, a LHB, who, at near minimum price does not have to do much to pay off his salary at SS.
Nolan Arenado — Colorado Rockies — $4,700 — It’s too bad that the All-Star Break is going to interrupt the impending hot streak of the Rockies third baseman, who has jacked a homerun in consecutive games and knocked in seven runs this weekend series against the White Sox. We typically don’t get a Coors game on the main Sunday slate so you will want heavy exposure to the RHBs on the Rockies against Carlos Rodon. Arenado is the top play at the position and in this game as the RHB absolutely owns LHP with a .374 ISO and .511 wOBA against them. Find value plays at other positions and ensure that you don’t go cheap at 3B.
George Springer — Houston Astros — $4,500 — The 27-year-old Astros outfielder, who is in the middle of just a 1 year, $3.9M contract, has been sensational over the past week and will surely cash in after the season. With 15 hits, including eight extra base hits (two HRs), in his last six games, Springer is one of the hottest hitters in MLB as the season reaches the All-Star Break. The righty should rake LHP J.A. Happ this afternoon as he has earned a stellar .369 ISO and .475 wOBA against lefties. Of the highest-priced OFs in play, Springer is the one I’m paying up for.
Jose Pirela — San Diego Padres — $2,600 — If you somehow have enough cap space to pay up for a second $4K outfielder, then Charlie Blackmon at home in Coors is the easy top play. As your third outfielder, you can safely roster the $2.6K Padre, who owns a .383 wOBA and .250 ISO against RHP. His team has an implied run total of over four and a half runs and will not hurt you if you roster him against Mark Leiter Jr. (but keep in mind this analysis remains even if Jerad Eickhoff gets the start on the mound. In just 28 games this season, Pirela has racked up a strong slash line with his batting statistics being fairly even against each handedness. With hits in five of his last six games, Pirela is nearly a free square as he will certainly add to your point total.