If one goes purely by Streamonator (SON), Justin Verlander is one’s top man on FanDuel today, for his match-up versus Texas. There will be Ks. There may be a win. But… JV is also the chalk play, and at $10,800 (I just choked on my Easter chocolate), he will cost you a third of your total lineup budget. I think we can do better than that. On this very Good Friday — which is also the first day of Passover and a day upon which I’m well chuffed to be here for the first time this season, pinch-hitting for Richardo — let us explore some ideas beyond the obvious. Some of them might be gambles, but hey, we’re here to gamble, right?
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Matt Strahm, SP: $6,500 – SON doesn’t love this start (a pallid $SON 2.5; compare with Verlander at $SON 31). But I’m intrigued. This price is great, and despite a bad beginning to the season, he’s settled down. He has pedigree, with a 10.1 K/9 in 2018 (in only 5 starts, mind you), and this game sees him face off against the third-last Reds at home in Petco Park. Here’s hoping the Hodgepadre factor prevails.
CC Sabathia, SP: $7,700 – Another intriguing play. You never quite know what you’re going to get with CC, and he may have a tasty 0.00 ERA in 2019 but this body of work does consist of a mere 5 IP, and you’ll need to watch the weather (OK, am I talking myself out of this?), but SON is high on CC today as he faces the Royals (who have a meh .681 OPS versus LHP); it rates him 4th overall on the day.
Anibal Sanchez, SP: $6,800 – Here’s your “hear me out!” paragraph, because it doubles as your “anemic offenses alert AROOGA AROOGA” paragraph. Just look at that price attached to Anibal. Look at it. Sure, he “sports” a 4.86 ERA and pretty depressing K/9 of 5.9, but today he faces the last-in-the-league Marlins (they have a grand total of 48 runs to date in 2019), in Marlins Stadium with its retractable roof – a bonus on a day where a great deal of the east will be beset by rain. In a similar boat (hopefully not literally), you’d find Carlos Rodon ($8,800), for his match-up versus the second-last Detroit Tigers. He is overpriced in my view, though.
Jordan Lyles, SP: $8,000 – I’m not sure why, but I’ve always loved the expression “waiting for the other shoe to drop”. Also, on a more Easterish theme, “walking on eggshells.” I bring up these linguistic fancies because I’m sort of waiting to see what might happen when it comes to Jordan Lyles. Which is a couched way of wondering whether he’s going to implode, I guess. He’s been pretty great over his last two starts (0.82 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 12:4 K:BB across 11 innings) – better than he should be, given his history (career ERA of 5.22; WHIP of 1.449), which is why he’s so pricey on FanDuel. Is he a real, rich, Cadbury’s Creme egg or, rather, a hollow chocolate thing (those are so disappointing)? Is he worth spending $8,000 to find out, as he takes on the Giants? SON is wary of this start, but I’m eyeing the match-up versus the non-hitting Giants. If you have cash to spare, or looking for a stream if you’re non-DFS-ing, he may be a good one. Just don’t come back and yell at me if he isn’t. OK, you can.
Freddie Freeman, 1B: $4,100 – This is your Hittertron 1B pick of the day, a lefty-righty match-up versus Corey Kluber. Kluber’s been shaky, and Freddie has a .310 average versus RHP over 3 years. To boot, Freddie already has a .324 average on the season, with a .446 OBP. However, it’s looking like rain in Cleveland tomorrow, so perhaps turn to the slightly less dicier climes of Oakland, and…
Justin Smoak, 1B: $3,700 – He’s heating up (nobody’s allowed to make the “where there’s Smoak…” joke), hitting .350 over the last week with 7 RBIs. He’s a switch hitter who has better splits versus righties, of which Oakland’s Aaron Brooks (with his 4.24 ERA and 1.12 WHIP) happens to be one. Here’s hoping Smoak (… just … can’t … help … myself …) catches fire today.
J.T. Realmuto, 1B/C: $3,600 – I know, yep, yes, I am suggesting a catcher. (In personal news, I plugged him into the Util spot of my FanDuel lineup, rather than 1B/C. YMMV.) That would be for his love of Coors (.444 with a 1.346 OPS there over 27 at-bats), his hitting streak, and the relatively decent price.
Whit Merrifield, 2B: $3,900 – I’m aware that I’ve just finished advocating for (or, perhaps, prevaricating about) CC Sabathia, but now I’m going to suggest starting someone against him. This is one of those nice righty-lefty match-ups. Their history is a small-sample-sized one, of a mere 11 at-bats, but I think it’s significant: Merrifield has pretty much pwned Sabathia, with a .455 AVG and 1.000 OPS.
Eric Sogard, 2B: $2,600 – I can’t believe I’m suggesting him, but I am going to, mostly as a money-saver option should you need one. Since joining the Jays, he’s been producing nicely when in the lineup, and should get a look against righty Aaron Brooks today – with a strong chance of hitting lead-off, too.
Josh Donaldson, 3B: $3,500 – Nolan Arenado in Colorado would be your top 3B for the day, but he costs $4,600… gulp. Maikel Franco at $3,900 is a decent alternative, but at $3,500, Donaldson could work for you, too. I’m going to cautiously suggest that he’s putting his slow start behind him, with a .333 average and 2 home runs in the last week. And traditionally Donaldson has seen Corey Kluber well, with a 7 for 19 history over the years, plus he’s hit 4 home runs in Progressive Field.
Elvis Andrus, SS: $3,800 – A little pricey, but there are not a whole lot of cheap but decent options at short today. Elvis could be worth the look for the robust history of 50 at-bats with a .796 OPS against Justin Verlander. Yes, JV has been great to start the season, but so has Elvis. Thus far, he has a ridiculous .386 average and 3 home runs – 2 of them in the last week. Or slightly cheaper, you could look to Scott Kingery, going for $3,600, hitting .480 on the season (breaking out of his [egg]shell in a big way!), in Colorado today.
Nelson Cruz, OF: $3,600 – Your sure but expensive OF options would include Mike Trout ($4,900; start him because Mike Trout), Bryce Harper ($4,800; start him because Coors) and Michael Conforto ($4,400; start him because lefty-righty match-up versus Adam Wainwright, and 6-day hit streak at time of writing), but I need to go a little cheaper. So let’s turn our attention to an oldie but a goody: Cruz. Is he ever going to slow down? The perennial hot hand has been hitting .308 over the last week and, in a history of 21 at-bats versus Alex Cobb, has an OPS of .824. He also loves hitting at Camden Yards: .357 over 3 years. The drawback? Weather could be a concern here.
Andrew Benintendi, OF: $3,500 – Make sure he’s in the lineup, all healed up post-foot-injury, but if he is, he’s a fairly well-priced option for this game versus Tampa Bay; it’s a lefty-righty match-up for a player who has a decent .296 average over 3 years against RHP, and who had been hitting .417 in the week before he was injured.
Charlie Blackmon, OF: $3,500 – I’m a little wary of this one, given Charlie’s slow start to the season, and that Vince Velasquez has been pretty good (ERA of 2.25). But VV can also stand for Very Volatile; in fact, SON has him rated the very-most-lastest bottom-dweller in the pitcher pile today. Even if VV doesn’t sink to SON’s expectations, I still think the Blackmon-Velasquez lefty-righty match-up is worth a look here — never mind the Coors park factor.
Teoscar Hernandez, OF: $2,900 – He’s cheap, he’s heating up (.381 over the last week), and he tends to hit home runs in bunches (OK, dribs and drabs): currently, he’s sitting at 2 in the last 4 days. He might make for a nice option to fill an OF position at a good price, freeing up some cash for more expensive players.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
We’ve got a ton of rain to worry about, kids: Baltimore (Twins vs Orioles), Pittsburgh (Giants vs Pirates), New York (Royals vs Yankees), and Cleveland (Braves vs Indians). And maybe Detroit (White Sox vs Tigers). Check your line-ups before go time.
Doing Lines In Vegas
If the game isn’t rained out, the Twins are the favorites over the Orioles: -190. The Astros are rather heavily favored over the Rangers, too: -220. I was interested to see the Giants and Pirates so close, at -102 to the Giants; I know I said I’m nervous about Lyles, but I still think the Pirates will take this game.