Given that I’m here to give you my cash game picks for FanDuel (with some references to GPPs where appropriate), I’m never going to tell someone not to play FanDuel on a given day. That said, when the top pitchers on a slate are Clay Buchholz, Jon Gray (facing a good Atlanta team) and Sam Gaviglio (and this might be a rain game), I’m really not sure there’s really any reason to be playing cash. If you truly believe one of those three is way ahead of the other two today, then by all means, play cash, because those are the three top pitchers and if you think one of them is way ahead of the other two, that’s your edge in cash games. If, like me, you think it’s just an RNG dart throw between those 3, then the volatility of the pitchers make the cash game viability of this slate zero. It’s still a GPP-able slate, so for you GPP players, I’d try to make the choice between those 3 based on expected ownership (fading the chalkiest of the three) – as of right now my guess is Buchholz is the chalk of the 3 but I’m not a GPP-ownership-expert and you may think it’s someone else.
On to the picks…
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Jon Gray, P, $9,400 – He’s projected by Razz to have the most strikeouts today, which makes him viable. This concludes my thoughts on the pitchers today.
Toronto Blue Jays – I want to play Glenn Sparkman, not because he’s any good, but because of this and to relive my childhood where I would spend countless hours playing Mega Man 3 instead of doing anything else. Anyway, Sparkman is a generic pitcher who throws the ball over the plate and hopes you don’t hit it out. He throws a little bit harder than your average right hander so he’s not quite as bad as some of the jabronis around the league. Because he throws a fastball and a slider, we’re going to want lefties who can hit for power. That means that Curtis Granderson (.338 wOBA and .225 ISO), Justin Smoak (.369 wOBA and .264 ISO) are the best plays. The biggest problem with the Blue Jays right now is that they are overly right handed and Sparkman should actually be able to get through them without a major problem, so it’s not as good a spot as it appears to be, but lefties should be able to beat the boss and generate some sparks of their own.
Matt Carpenter, 1B: $4,400 – Tanner Roark struggles vs lefties (19.9% strikeouts, 10.1% walks and 41% ground balls) so of course the Cardinals have mostly righties in their lineup. The exception is Matt Carpenter, who went from having a 65 wRC+ in April to 184 wRC+ the rest of the season. Remember, we’re not playing Carpenter because he’s hot, we’re playing him because he’s good at hitting.
Shohei Ohtani, OF: $3,400 – The Angels are going with a bullpen game, so that makes playing Rangers rough since almost every team’s bullpen is better than starters, plus the Angels can matchup with lefties and righties. The Rangers are going the more traditional route and throwing a jabroni at the Angels. Jurado does have the skill of getting ground balls (56.3%) but doesn’t get any outs on his own (9.2% strikeouts) and he also puts guys on base himself (9.2% walks). Vs righties, he has a jabroni-esque K-BB of 4.3% and vs lefties he’s got a, well, what’s way worse than a jabroni? A golden sombrero jabroni? But that implies strikeouts. How about a Mega Jabroni since we have Mega Man on the mind today. Anyway, vs lefties he a mega jabroni with a -5% K-BB. Since he’s a pretty heavy ground ball pitcher, we want guys with power who can get the ball in the air and hit it out. Vs righties, Ohtani gets the ball in the air 59.8% of the time with a .320 ISO. Everyone else on the Angels is playable because Jurado doesn’t get any swings and misses and balls find that green grass pretty often, since when you let hitters make contact this often, balls will find green, but Ohtani has the best combination of leftyness and hitting the ball in the air.
Minnesota Twins – This one is going to be short (like the pitching above). Do you hit from the right side? Yes? Come on down. Do you hit from the left side? Yes? Come on down for GPPs.
Charlie Blackmon, OF, $3,300 – You know it’s a bizarro slate when a Rockie is in play outside of Coors. The reason why Blackmon’s in play is that Julio Teheran is absolutely, positively, horrible against lefties. In 2018, he has a 0.4 K-BB% against lefties. It’s not even that much of an outlier either – last year he had a 4.5 K-BB%, and for his career it’s 6.8%. But when the batter bats from the right side, Teheran becomes legitimately good – this year he’s at 19.4 K-BB%, last year it was 16.2, and for his career it’s 19.7%. This is not some sample size fluke – this is who Julio Teheran is – he’ll shut down righties and be truly atrocious against lefties. Teheran’s ability against righties means that stacking the Rockies isn’t really an appealing option as they don’t have 4 good lefties I’d want to use. Further, Teheran’s ability against righties is to the point where it limits the upside of the lefties because they have enough righties to make it difficult to string together bunches of hits, thus limiting the RBI opportunities of the lefties. If you had a team that can bat 4 quality lefties (or 3 quality lefties and a 4th not-so-quality lefty), like Cleveland (Lindor, Brantley, Ramirez, Alonso, Melky), or even a team of less than quality lefties like the Rays (Wendle, Bauers, Kiermaier, Mallex and Choi), I’d fully support a full stack. And while the Rockies aren’t the Angels or Cardinals, there’s still plenty of righties, so just use Blackmon as a one-off here, or if you’re feeling really frisky, play a cheap lefty Rockie as a one-off.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
It’s increasing chance of rain in Kansas City throughout the night, which could remove one of the better spots for hitters to actually spend your money on. It also could rain in Pittsburgh where you remove another mildly playable spot, have I mentioned that this slate is ugly or did I wait until here? Because this slate is Ugly with a capital U.
Doing Lines In Vegas
The Rockies have enough righties (and their lefties aren’t even good besides Blackmon) that I’ll take both the game over/under of 8.5, and the Braves at -105 (or -110 if you’re at a place that charges full juice on baseball games, but if you’re at that place, try to find a better sportsbook).