We only have two games today, so it’s going to be a little more challenging to build a solid roster than it was yesterday. It looks like we’ll have wind out to right at Wrigley, so targeting batters in this game should once again be a profitable strategy. Of course, the other game features Clayton Kershaw against Steven Matz, so we probably want to avoid that one as much as we can anyway. Let’s get to today’s FanDuel picks.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers, $12,700 – I’m not too concerned with Kershaw’s subpar (by his standards) outing in his first meeting against the Mets. He still struck out 11 batters over 6 and 2/3 innings. He’s pitching to tie the series back up at two games each, and I think he comes out and dominates. Kershaw is by far the most talented pitcher on the slate, and his upside vastly exceeds that of anyone else. His $12,700 price tag is manageable, and I’ll be taking the guaranteed points in my FanDuel lineups today.
John Lackey, St. Louis Cardinals, $9,000 – Lackey has pitched very well lately, generating a 10.2% swinging strike rate that’s led to a 25.2% strikeout rate over the past month. Those solid strikeout numbers should play well against a Cubs team that’s very prone to swinging and missing. He’s not walking many batters, and I think he should earn the win, since opposing starter Jason Hammel has been anything but sharp lately. Lackey pitches well against this team, and I think the Cardinals will be heading back to St. Louis with the series tied up.
Additional Plays: None
A.J. Ellis, Los Angeles Dodgers, $2,700 – My goal is to spend as little at catcher as possible as the higher-priced options have really bad matchups. Ellis catches Kershaw a lot, so I think he’ll be in the lineup tonight. It’s also no secret that Yasmani Grandal, while being a switch hitter, can’t hit lefties to save his life. Ellis has posted a .438 wOBA with three home runs over the past month, and while Steven Matz is a very good pitcher, his 6.6% swinging strike rate over his past handful of starts is concerning.
Additional Plays: Miguel Montero
Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers, $3,000 – If you’re rostering Kershaw, I don’t think it’s optimal to pay $4,400 for Anthony Rizzo against John Lackey. Lackey’s been great, and $4,400 is a steep price to pay for a sub-optimal matchup. Gonzalez is really the only option I see at first base since we’re not going to use Lucas Duda, who may not even be in the lineup, against Kershaw. Gonzalez’s matchup against Matz isn’t very good, but he should see one, maybe two, at-bats against relievers, so he might get a nice matchup against a righty later on in the game. On a slate like this, it’s about knowing where to spend and where to save, and first base is definitely not a place to spend.
Additional Plays: Anthony Rizzo (if you decide to go contrarian and use Matz)
Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals, $2,200 – Second base offers a great opportunity for cap relief in the form of Wong. Jason Hammel is the most likely pitcher on today’s slate to struggle, as he’s allowed a 35.6% hard hit rate over the past month. His swinging strike rate is down to 8.9%, and he’s been struggling with left-handed hitters all season. Wong hasn’t been great at the plate lately, but he’s $2,200 and has a very good matchup with a righty that’s not pitching well. Also, there’s some wind blowing out to right that will help the ball travel a bit further. Wong also has some stolen base upside, and I think he’s a great play tonight.
Enrique Hernandez, Los Angeles Dodgers, $2,200 – Hernandez is another solid play at minimum salary. He’s been terrific against left-handed pitching all season, and he’d be the clear number one play if he had a better matchup. Steven Matz is a very good pitcher, making it a tough call between Hernandez and Wong at second base. I think Hernandez gets the edge given he’s a better hitter and has a more favorable spot in the lineup, but I think it’s very close. Either way, you shouldn’t be spending more than the minimum at second base today.
Additional Plays: None
Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals, $4,300 – Third base is where I want to spend as I love Carpenter against Jason Hammel. As I mentioned before, Jason Hammel is allowing a high rate of hard contact while struggling with left-handed hitters. Carpenter’s been raking, posting a .532 wOBA and four home runs against right-handed pitchers over the past month. With the wind blowing out to right at Wrigley, Carpenter is my top overall option of the day, making him a batter you should absolutely be trying to fit into your lineups today.
Additional Plays: Justin Turner
Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals, $2,600 – Peralta is the perfect example of a “who the heck else are you going to use?” play. Corey Seager for $3,400 against lefty Steven Matz isn’t a good play, and the rest of the options are hurt, might not be in the lineup, or just aren’t very good. There is, literally, nobody else to use at short outside of Peralta, and given he hits in the middle of the lineup and is facing a pitcher that’s allowing a high rate of hard contact, he’s a pretty solid play anyway. He’s hit righties to a .367 wOBA with a home run over the past month, so lock him in at shortstop and move on.
Additional Plays: None
Dexter Fowler, Chicago Cubs, $2,800 – Fowler’s heating up, and he’s simply too cheap at $2,800. Lackey has been pitching well, but at this price, with the wind blowing out to right, I can’t pass on Chicago’s lead-off man. He has power and stolen base upside, and just doesn’t have to do a whole lot to pay off his bargain bin price tag.
Jason Heyward, St. Louis Cardinals, $3,400 – Jason Hammel is the most likely pitcher to get knocked around today, and I’d be getting as many Cardinals as you can in your lineups. Heyward has posted a .409 wOBA against righties over the past month, and given Hammel’s been getting hit very hard by lefties, Heyward is the top play in the outfield. He has some power and stolen base upside, and at $3,400, he’s a lock for my lineups today.