It’s trade deadline day and we’ve got a FanDuel slate that is beyond boring. It’s not even that it’s a garbage slate or a frustrating slate or whatnot – it’s just boring (with the question as of now of who the Mariners are throwing). The only real question is do you pay for deGrom or go grab the savings of Berrios. There’s an offense that if the Mariners don’t throw Wade LeBlanc as the bulk guy, is clearly the chalk (and deservedly so) play. It’s supposed to be moose nuts hot in Texas today, so if you’re not playing four Rangers today in cash (provided they aren’t facing a lefty) you’re doing something wrong. The only other offense to target is expensive, meaning that the cash formula is basically solved – pick deGrom, pick four Rangers (again, provided it’s not a lefty throwing the bulk of the innings) who make the most sense, fill with the values you like, and if that opens up a spot or two for an expensive Astros bat, all the better. That’s it. When you get a slate like this, there is a lot of GPP value. I’m not a GPP player and this isn’t a GPP-focused article, so any GPP advice I give comes with that caveat. Here’s a pretty big note I’ll put up front if the Mariners go lefty in the bulk role: the Rangers become a bit rougher play than normal, and you’re going to play more Giants than you want and trying to jam in Astros, which might necessitate a move to Berrios or Urquidy if you’re feeling a bit frisky in cash.

On to the picks…

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PITCHERS

Jacob deGrom, P: $12,000 – We all know how good deGrom is, and how bad the White Sox are. But for those uninitiated, he’s got a 31.8% strikeout rate and a 5.7% walk rate. The White Sox aren’t a huge strikeout team, but they don’t walk (5.2%), and they don’t hit (.302 wOBA), so deGrom is a safe bet to do well even if he doesn’t get to face the pitcher.

Jose Berrios, P: $10,400 – The Marlins are no good and Berrios is OK. He’s not a huge strikeout guy (23.9%) but he doesn’t walk guys (6.7%) and the Marlins are trash (.299 wOBA). The savings here might be needed today if you want to avoid the opener in Texas and get Astros instead of Rangers. The Rangers are cheap enough and it’s hot enough down there that I wouldn’t care too much about the opener, but know that Berrios is fine as a cash play, and may be preferable if there isn’t value later in the day.

Jose Urquidy, P: $8,000 – This is a GPP pick. Given that the two pitchers above are great cash game picks, you’re going to get any other pitcher at massively low ownership. And since this is baseball, it’s entirely possible deGrom and Berrios have bad days. So if you can save a ton (allowing you to not have to use questionable values like Austin Nola) and get an equal (or better) fantasy pitching performance from a 2% owned guy, well, that’s pretty much Step Two in winning a baseball GPP (step 1 is finding all the two or three bomb games). Urquidy strikes me as the guy most likely to fit. It’s clear he can strike guys out – 30% at AA, 35% at AAA and 28.8% so far this year in MLB. In case I’ve not made it clear enough – DFS value for pitching is almost entirely driven by strikeouts – Brandon Wood, Ching Ming-Wang and Derek Lowe or any other groundball pitcher from decades ago need not apply. Urquidy’s still relatively unproven and there’s far more risk that he gets shelled than there is with deGrom or Berrios, but that’s a cash-game concern. 

HITTERS

Texas Rangers – As of the writing of this article, the Seattle Mariners have not announced who will be pitching tomorrow. But here’s what we do know – it will be hot in Texas and there’s not a single option on the Seattle Mariners who won’t make someone on the Rangers appealing. Mariners are likely going with a right handed opener followed by someone who throws with a hand. I’m looking at the normal Texas lefty bats i.e. Shin-Soo Choo ($3,200, .397 wOBA and .219 ISO), Danny Santana ($3,600, .382 wOBA and .233 ISO), Nomar Mazara ($3,500, .354 wOBA and .185 ISO), Rougned Odor ($2,800, .310 wOBA and .209 ISO) and Asdrubal Cabrera (.$2,700, 343 wOBA and .216 ISO), unless it’s overtly clear that a Seattle lefty will be in the “bulk relief” role. Odor and Asdrubal are the excellent values of the group, but none of them are prohibitively expensive. If the Mariners go lefty, you can play the righties, but know that the team as a whole is usually not good vs lefties so this becomes more dependant on lineup construction of both the Rangers and your own team.

San Francisco Giants – I wouldn’t really focus on any one particular Giant (besides Brandon Belt, who is actually respectable). It’s more that all of them are cheap and all are in a good enough matchup that they’re the logical choice for value plays. But you’re using them to save money to fit in an elite pitcher and a bunch of Rangers. Don’t sacrifice the Rangers you prefer – pick the Rangers first, then fill with Giant values. Also, if you’re doing a GPP with Urquidy, I wouldn’t use any Giants at all – not because they’re bad, but rather simply because this should be where everyone goes for value, so if you’re being contrarian, fade this spot for value (and find it elsewhere if you need it, but you shouldn’t need nearly as much value since you’re rolling out a much cheaper pitcher).

Austin Nola, 2B: $2,400 – He’s not even particularly good, but you’re looking for value plays today, and as of now, this may be one. Just don’t play him over Rougned Odor. Either use Nola at UTIL because of the price or because you find yourself liking a different set of 4 Rangers. 

Seattle Mariners IF MIKE MINOR IS TRADED – There’s enough trade rumors involving Mike Minor so I’ll just write that if he’s traded, the Rangers are almost certainly going to have to just to just roll out a bullpen game and their bullpen isn’t impressive enough to make me not want to play Mariners bats in this weather. Mallex Smith at $2,800 and leading off in particular strikes me as quite playable given his speed if he wasn’t facing a fairly decent lefty. The aforementioned Austin Nola will still be $2,400 regardless of who is pitching. Kyle Seager becomes playable at $2,700 as well.

Houston Astros – Since this is the other offense to own today, we can quickly roll through this team and figure out who we like. Plesac is a low strikeout (18.1%), high walk (9.1%), average ground ball (42.8%) pitcher. He’s got a fairly normal split, so ideally we want lefties, but the Astros lineup isn’t ideal vs righties. The trio of Yordan Alvarez ($4,000, .473 wOBA and .347 ISO), Alex Bregman ($3,600, .396 wOBA and .245 ISO) and Michael Brantley ($4,100, .390 wOBA and .203 ISO) are the 3 top plays. Even though Plesac isn’t an extreme groundball pitcher, Altuve hits too many groundballs (51.3%) vs righties. Springer is similar (48.5%) but when he hits it, it goes over the fence more often, so I like him more than Altuve. Those are the ones I’d stick to in cash games.

I’m Only Happy When It Rains

It might rain in Philly and it’s going to be moose nuts hot in Texas. Given that the Giants value is likely going to be key in building a cash lineup, you’ll need to monitor the rain in case it becomes a spot where there’s sufficient PPD risk.

Doing Lines In Vegas

It’s cold in Oakland, Brett Anderson isn’t particularly bad and Milwaukee is going from a fantastic hitters park to a pitchers park. 9.5 as an over/under just seems too high for me. I think it’s even begun to move down to 9, so if you can get it at 9.5, take the under.