Today’s introduction isn’t going to be very long. Why, you ask? Well, the FanDuel slate isn’t very complex. That’s not to say it’s a bad slate, just not a very complex one. You’ve got only five games and no expensive pitchers. So with people’s attention turning to football, I suggest you don’t overthink this slate. There’s still a clear ace, a clear best GPP pivot off the ace, and then the obvious offenses to target. The key decision point may just be where you find the one or two value plays you’ll need.

On to the picks…

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PITCHERS

James Paxton, P: $9,600 – Paxton strikes out 31.2% of players and walks 7.5%. It’s likely that the Orioles throw out a ton of righties, but Paxton still strikes out a bunch (31%, a difference of exactly 0.2% for you nit-pickers out there) but walks a few more (8.1%). He’s the best pitcher on the slate but at times this year has gotten bombed. I’m not too concerned because the Orioles suck and aren’t throwing out Mike Trout out there.

Eduardo Rodriguez, P: $9,000 – There’s not a lot of games to choose pitchers from and Rodriguez might be the 2nd best of the group. He’s OK at striking guys out (25.4%) and isn’t great at avoiding walks (8.6%). That said, the Royals aren’t good and the bottom of their order is legitimate garbage fire so the Red Sox and Rodriguez should be able to cruise, although you could be concerned as the Red Sox haven’t exactly been good recently.

HITTERS

Padres Righties – Yusei Kikuchi doesn’t get strikeouts (16.1%). That number is so bad. He’s not Carlos Silva with the walks either, where he’s walking 7.3% with a 45.6% ground ball rate. The Padres righties are all good plays and they will probably throw out 8 righties. The only unfortunate part is Eric Hosmer is going to be in the middle of the lineup and he hits like a pitcher vs lefties. Manuel Margot (.327 wOBA and .147 ISO) and Hunter Renfroe (.373 wOBA and .322 ISO) are the 2 best value plays with Manny Machado (.423 wOBA and .281 ISO) being the top play. Wil Myers (.360 wOBA and .237 ISO) is a good play but his value will depend on where he hits. Fernando Tatis (.462 wOBA and .192 ISO) is a bit expensive for my tastes given that he’s babiping his way to $4,300. 

New York YankeesJohn Means is a strike throwing (6.4%) lefty with no ability to miss bats (19.5%). But a deeper dive into the splits shows that so far he’s actually been able to miss bats vs lefties (27.6%), albeit in a small sample size of 98 PAs. The Yankees this year have made Camden Yards look like they are playing at a little league field hitting 47 bombs at Camden. The Yankees are once again the walking wounded and the lineup might be a little bit odd, but Aaron Judge (.444 wOBA and .283 ISO) does exist and is the best play on the team. Other than that, play Yankees in GPPs as the Orioles bullpen makes hot garbage fire look appealing. If Maybin bats near the top of the lineup, he’s fine in cash at $2,800. 

Boston Red SoxGlenn Sparkman’s one skill is throwing the ball over the plate to righties (3.7% walk rate). Everything else he does is poor, whether it’s strikeouts (13.7% with no split) or walks to lefties (9.8%) or groundballs (40.8%), his skills are not up to MLB caliber. The Red Sox on the other hand are filled with really good hitters. Do you like righties? Mookie Betts (.413 wOBA and .244 ISO) and J.D. Martinez (.399 wOBA and .245 ISO) are two of the best in the game. Do lefties pique your interest? Rafael Devers (.379 wOBA and .240 ISO) and Andrew Benintendi (.363 wOBA and .183 ISO) are two pretty damn good ones. Do you like SS who mash? Xander Bogaerts (.386 wOBA and .243 ISO) come on down! We also have value hitters like Brock Holt (.350 wOBA and .149 ISO). And just for good measure, Mitch Moreland (.350 wOBA and .242 ISO) is projected to hit in the bottom 3rd of the order. This lineup is good and the Red Sox should put up a massive total. Also, a GPP tidbit – a full 4-man Boston Red Sox stack is going to be mega chalk today. Particularly a stack that uses 4 of the top 5 hitters. If you’re trying to win a GPP, consider taking 3 of the top 5 hitters, and then adding one of the bottom of the order guys to your stack. It doesn’t really matter who – but I’d lean towards either someone with very little chance of being pulled (Jackie Bradley Jr.) or the most likely of the lot to hit two bombs (the aforementioned Mitch Moreland).

Tim Locastro, OF: $2,300 – Given that the pitchers today aren’t particularly expensive, you likely will not need that much in the way of value plays. Cheap leadoff hitters for teams with an implied Vegas total of 5 runs or more aren’t very common. To see one on a 5-game slate (much less two, as I’ll get to next) is beyond rare. Take it and be happy. Also, Locastro comes with a fairly decent amount of SB upside – Vargas is well below average at limiting steals, hence why he’s given the third highest SB projection (and the #1 is Jarrod Dyson, if he makes the lineup which he most likely will not). So you’re not simply hoping for a single and a run here – there’s legitimate SB upside here, which means you’ll get a nice 6-point boost a bunch of times.

Trent Grisham, OF: $2,500 – Given that the pitchers today aren’t particularly expensive, you likely will not need that much in the way of value plays. Yes, I already said it once. It bears repeating. Locastro may be all you need and is quite viable, but so is the Golden Boy Trent Grisham, a top prospect out of Texas who hadn’t shown much in his minor league career until this year, when he started hitting home runs and demolished AA and AAA. Steamer projects him for a wRC+ of 97. A projected league-average hitter, batting at the top of the lineup with platoon advantage in a fairly attractive matchup? Remember how I pointed out Locastro’s a cheap leadoff hitter on a team with an implied Vegas total greater than 5? Vegas hasn’t put out the over/under for this game yet but I’d be shocked if Milwaukee’s not rocking an implied total of at least 5. So that’s two cheap leadoff hitters for teams with implied Vegas totals of 5 or more. The only reason the Brewers aren’t one of the top teams today is that they’re in Pittsburgh, which definitely dampens the appeal of the team as a whole, but they’re still facing Trevor Williams. Presuming Grishman is leading off, he’s one hell of a solid value play, giving you league average hitting out of the leadoff spot with platoon advantage and a good lineup behind him.

Wilmer Flores, 2B: $2,200 – Given that the pitchers today aren’t particularly expensive, you likely will not need that much in the way of value plays. The Simpsons taught me that if you want to remember something (or make someone else remember something), say it three times. So hopefully now you will understand. But while it’s true you won’t need that much in the way of value plays, you may still need one or two. And I’m sure many of you are saying “If I only need one or two, wouldn’t Locastro and Grishman be enough?”. They certainly could be – but they also both come with a steep opportunity cost that Wilmer Flores does not – positional eligibility. The two biggest Red Sox bats you’ll want (and believe me – you’ll want them, as previously discussed) are outfielders. If you want to run Betts, J.D. Martinez, and either Judge or Benintendi, you’ll only be able to play one of the two aforementioned value outfielders. If you want to run both (or run Betts, J.D., Benintendi and Yelich, for example), you can’t run either value OF. So you’ll need a value play from a position that isn’t in the outfield. Enter Mr. Flores. Steamer actually projects Flores as a better hitter than either Grishman or Locastro (by a noticeable amount in the latter’s case), but since he’ll likely be hitting down in the order and doesn’t have any stolen base upside, his projection for today isn’t at the same level of either of the outfielders. But on the flip side, he doesn’t eat up a valuable spot in the outfield in your lineup.

I’m Only Happy When It Rains

Definite rain concern in Baltimore, but as of now it looks like it will clear out well in time for baseball tonight. If it lingers and brings about enough of a PPD risk, obviously you may have to pivot all your cash lineups to the other pitcher I recommended, and remove Yankees bats.

Doing Lines In Vegas

I like the Diamondbacks at -138 and the Padres at -156. Simple and straight to the point.