I don’t actually have much to say today before getting to the picks, in large part because this FanDuel slate doesn’t really seem that attractive. I won’t ever tell my loyal readers not to play on a certain day, but today’s slate is definitely one of the more unappealing ones I’ve seen in a while. There’s a blatant chalk pitcher and there aren’t that many offenses in particularly juicy spots. There’s also not that many value guys. It’s not so much a “bad” slate, it’s just a boring and unattractive slate. But I know people will want to play, so like any good professional, I will do my job and break it down for you guys. Also, don’t leave Damian Lillard open from 37 feet with your season on the line.
On to the picks…
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Justin Verlander, P: $11,000 – This is the textbook definition of a don’t overthink it spot. The gap between Verlander and every other pitcher on this slate is massive. Yes, the matchup isn’t particularly great, as the Twins offense is underrated and has some pop, but that’s still not enough to close the gap. If you had Coors Field on this slate, or another expensive team in a fantastic spot, you could make the case to go cheap. But the lack of such an offense renders this a chalky no-brainer.
Felix Pena, P: $5,900 – I am contractually obligated to mention at least two pitchers. I wanted to say that because I don’t feel particularly comfortable recommending anyone else besides Verlander. But since I always want to provide a second pitcher so at the very least my loyal readers have a GPP-pivot off of the main guy, here we go. I guess Felix Pena works. The entire Yankees “intended” starting lineup is hurt besides Voit and Gleyber Torres (Hicks, Judge, Stanton, Andujar, Sanchez, Bird, Didi/Tulo). And somehow (well, partly because the Rockies are incompetent) the lineup is still respectable. The Yankees have a lot of depth. Anyway, combined with the park downgrade by playing in Anaheim and there’s definite potential for a pitcher to have a great fantasy outing. The $5,000 in savings from Verlander lets you get whatever bat you want. Do not make this play in cash, but if you want to run a GPP lineup that stacks Astros and Red Sox with a cheap pitcher, Pena seems like the best choice.
Mookie Betts, OF: $4,000 – Yes, he’s struggled so far this season. This is baseball. Players have bad months. When it happens to start the season, people overreact. Last year the entire fantasy community was going bonkers over Matt Carpenter because he was batting .140/.286/.272 halfway into May. He was broken, he was in early decline, people were even saying they were never going to roster him again in DFS and talking about releasing him in season-long. People make rash decisions based on irrational overreactions all the time in fantasy sports. He ended the year at .257/.374/.523. The Mookie Betts we all know and love is not a $4,000 player, the Mookie Betts we know and love is a 300 player (bowling joke!). Tyson Ross has some ground ball inducing ability (45.9% last year), but not at the point he was earlier in his career when it was touching 57%. He also is below average at missing bats (19.2%) and below average at not giving away free passes (9.8%). Put it all together and you have a below average pitcher who Mookie should do well against.
Boston Red Sox – Tyson Ross’s inability to strike guys out, and his struggles with issuing too many free passes, render him someone who is likely to give up a significant number of runs. Luckily for us, the Red Sox have a bunch of talented hitters who are ready to give us huge scores. Obviously J.D. Martinez is the 2nd best play (.425 wOBA and .273 ISO), but Andrew Benintendi (.368 wOBA and .181 ISO), Mitch Moreland (.355 wOBA and .244 ISO) and Xander Bogaerts (.364 wOBA and .229 ISO) are very solid. Anything past that is stack only for me, as Ross is liable to walk a few before giving up a bomb or 3.
Jose Abreu, 1B: $3,300 – John Means has actually pitched pretty well this year, but i’m not buying it. His competence has been almost exclusively out of the pen, whereas when he starts, his strikeout rate is a paltry 11%. Jose Abreu is too cheap for this matchup, with his .378 wOBA and .258 ISO vs lefties.
Jose Rondon, 2B: $2,300, Rio Ruiz, 3B: $2,300, Chris Davis, 1B: $2,200, Welington Castillo, C: $2,600 – None of these guys are particularly “good” at hitting, but they all have platoon edge against targetable pitchers. Both teams are projected well by Vegas (White Sox at 4.9 and Orioles at 5.2). I’d focus on the opportunity cost of each position (basically does choosing any one of these guys cost you the inability to roster a hitter you like at the same position) and the batting order when picking among them.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
I may not be Sam Champion, but as far as I can see there’s no rain anywhere today.
Doing Lines In Vegas
Given that I spent a lot of time talking about how Tyson Ross isn’t particularly good at a macro-level at being a major league pitcher, the Boston/Detroit over/under of 9.5 looks appealing to me. The Red Sox at -200 isn’t nearly as attractive, but if for some reason it moves down to a more appealing line by gametime it’s certainly a good bet.