Did you see last night’s Yankee/Red Sox clash? No? It lasted a super fast 2 hours and 20 minutes and here’s a recap: Sale crushed souls to start the game and then gave up runs late. Masahiro Tanaka threw the year’s first Maddux (CGSO under 100 pitches) and it was glorious. Maddux’s are fantastic. The dominance and efficiency is a thing of beauty (Come on DFS sites, let’s get a Maddux bonus!). On the other side, the Red Sox offense continues to struggle. They have the league’s worst isolated power (.107) and are a below average offense (99 wRC+) with the league’s 2nd best BABIP (.319). They are thoroughly mediocre despite getting well above average offense from Benintendi (143 wRC+), Betts (144) and Moreland (151). Hanley (62), and Pedroia (66) are going to rebound, but I’m not sure that regulars Chris Young (77) and Pablo Sandoval (74) will improve by much – those numbers are likely just who those two players are at this point in their careers. A rebound from Hanley and Pedroia will likely be offset by the normal regression of Benintendi and Moreland and the extreme regression of Christian Vazquez after he just had the best 25 PAs of his life (254). All of this means the Red Sox might be an offense to target in GPPs with pitching because without Ortiz it relies on Betts and Benintendi and a bunch of average-ish bats.  As we are seeing with Toronto right now, you take a link or 2 away from a very top-heavy chain and the entire thing breaks down.

On to the picks once we celebrate the year’s first Maddux, which are better than no-hitters…

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PITCHERS

Max Scherzer, SP: $11,600 – Scherzer is the #1 pitcher on the slate. He’s a 5 win pitcher who strikes out oodles, doesn’t walk many with the only slight against him that he gives up the occasional home run. A Yoenis-less Mets lineup doesn’t scare anyone and on the year, the Mets have the worst slugging vs righties (.329) and only the Royals have shown more offensive ineptitude (69 wRC+). The only question is whether or not you can build a decent offense at his price tag. If you aren’t comfortable with the lineup construction that Scherzer leads to, here are two viable value-play alternatives.

Charlie Morton, SP: $6,300 – The last 2 years saw a different Charlie Morton. He’s increased his velo (averaging nearly 96 mph on his sinker this year) and increased his movement (shocker). These improvements saw an increase in his K%, BB% and swing and miss rate. He’s very cheap and facing an A’s lineup that strikes out. The A’s stealthily hit for a bit of power vs righties, so if Morton can neutralize that, he can be the cheaper pitcher to buy up the bats.

Robbie Ray, SP: $8,800 – I quite dislike the Rockies for a whole variety of reasons that we won’t get into today. As far as this current iteration, it’s 2 player offensive team – Blackmon and Arenado are pretty much the entire offense, with arguably some help from Mark Reynolds. The rest of them are either breaking down (Gonzalez), exposed (Story) or just not very good at offense (Both Catchers and Lemahieu). Versus righties, their wRC+ is an 80 this year and versus lefties it’s barely above average at 102. But if you delve into their numbers closer vs lefties, they strike out a lot (24.4%) and don’t walk at all (4.2%). It’s just not a good offensive team unless Arenado or Blackmon go nuts. Well, enter Robbie Ray, who throws hard, strikes guys out and has a FIP of just under 3.8 the last 2 years. Considering the Rockies, the upside here is pretty good for his price.

HITTERS

Yasmany Tomas, OF: $3,400 – What do you do with a guy who has a .391 career wOBA vs lefties and plays in the hitter friendly Arizona? You roster him vs lefties, that’s what you do. His opponent, Kyle Freeland, is an extreme ground baller (66.2%) who can’t get swings and misses (6.3%), and while it does slightly diminish Tomas ceiling, he does get on base a lot more vs ground ballers.

AJ Pollock, OF: $4,200 & Paul Goldschmidt, 1B: $4,500 – Yeah, there’s not much to say here, these are two of the better right-handed hitters in baseball and they’re facing the aforementioned left-handed Kyle Freeland. They’re both priced fairly high, unlike Tomas, so you may not be able to work all three in the lineup, but if you can, it’s one nasty 3-player stack.

Kole Calhoun, OF: $2,600 – I want to thank FanDuel for this massive misprice. #2 hitter who’s normally pretty good (14% better than league average) with platoon advantage on a massive projected total. As long as he’s batting 2nd and playing in Texas vs Nick Martinez, this is basically a lock and load at this price.

Jordy Mercer, SS: $2,200 – If it were up to me, Mercer would be leading off vs lefties, not Josh Harrison. Jordy is sub-replacement level vs righties, but vs lefties? .360 wOBA. That’s a dead on match for Derek Jeter’s career wOBA. If he’s leadoff, he should be a staple along with Chris Owings in your cash games. And if he’s batting 7th or 8th, he’s a great GPP play in case Freeland just has everyone playing “kill the worms” at the plate.

Francisco Lindor, SS: $3,900 & Carlos Santana, 1B: $4,000– Cleveland is facing Ariel Miranda, who likes to distribute souvenirs to the paying fans while providing them with plenty of action with balls in play. It’s a good combo to target for us DFS players. Santana and Lindor are the top 2 hitters, switch hitters and both really really good at hitting the baseball.

Edwin Encarnacion, 1B: $3,600 – See the previous paragraph? Edwin’s not a switch hitter and not batting leadoff, but he’s also really good at hitting the baseball, and will have the platoon advantage at least as long as Miranda is in the game. DFSBot has him and Santana roughly equal, so if the $400 difference matters and allows you to upgrade somewhere else, consider downgrading from Santana to Edwin.

Detroit TigersMike Pelfrey does one thing well, he licks his hands a lot. He once did it 89 times in a game. He says it helps with grip, but if it helps with grip, does Pelfrey do this all the time? Does he have to lick his hands before he picks up his kids? Before he does anything that involves grip? I’m weirdly obsessed with this. As far as his pitching goes, he’s a well below average MLB pitcher who doesn’t strike anyone out, walks some guys and prevents homers decently. Both Teamonator and Vegas love the Tigers, as they should, and picking any of the righties is going to come down to lineup construction and your stack choice since they are all good hitters and very usable. Tyler Collins stands out because he should be batting 2nd and only costs $2,400 with the platoon advantage.

Whit Merrifield, 2B: $2,400 – 2nd Base is not a particularly impressive position today. Murphy’s facing DeGrom and Odor’s facing a lefty, so besides Ian Kinsler (facing Mike Pelfrey, as discussed in the previous section), and Jose Altuve, there’s really not much there. Sometimes the best play in such a situation is just to get out as cheap as possible. Is Whitley (yes, his name is actually Whitley) a “good” play? Not particularly. But he’s cheap, and there’s a very good chance he’ll be batting leadoff against a fairly crappy pitcher in Kyle Gibson (Career 7.6 K%-BB% and FIP- of 106). Even though some parts of the Royals offense have struggled, Moustakas is hitting (.276/.313/.592 so far this year), and Lorenzo Cain (.402 OBP) and Sal Perez (.452 SLG) are still each doing half of what a good hitter does – so if Whitley’s batting in front of them, there will be guys up who can drive him in. If he’s not batting leadoff, forget this entire paragraph.

Ben Zobrist, 2B: $2,900 – As mentioned with Whitley, this slate has very little in way of 2Bs and you have to go value hunting or look at options that may not seem great at first glance. Zobrist at $2,900 is pretty cheap and he should be able to put up at least a few points. In the last few seasons, he’s destroyed lefties with a .374 wOBA. Pomeranz has given up a boatload of bombs this season and traditionally has been homer prone vs righties (as well as not having the greatest command), Zobrist should be able to take advantage of Pom for at least a few walks and might even hit a homer.

Mike Moustakas, 3B: $3,300 – As mentioned two paragraphs ago, right now Moustakas is the only Royal who is actually hitting (unless you count merging the OBP of Lorenzo Cain with the SLG of Sal Perez). So while it’s one thing to run a punt like Whit, it’s another thing to pay up for a guy when there’s a good chance he’ll have no one on base when he hits, and if he gets on base, no one will drive him in. $3,300 is right in that zone where he’s still cheap enough that you look at his numbers and are fine with it, but it’s also just expensive enough that you start to think “for only a few hundred more, I can get some of the elite guys”. It’s a close call here, but if you can’t afford one of the elite 3Bs, Moose is certainly playable at this price.

Chris Owings, SS: $3,200 – Far be it for me to write up a guy just because he dropped 46.4 FanDuel FP yesterday, with 2 bombs and a steal (and a walk for good measure), although that certainly was impressive. He’s a decent hitter (.311 wOBA last year, .351 wOBA so far this year), with platoon edge, likely batting 2nd, surrounded by other good hitters (Pollock, Goldschmidt and Tomas), in what is either the 2nd or 3rd best home-park for DFS production (Texas is up there as well). Although this is a FanDuel-based article for the most part, I should mention that GPP players on other sites can use his OF/SS eligibility to make some contrarian stacks with him (using him in the OF when most people, if they’re building a 4 or 5 player stack of Diamondbacks will use him at SS).

Mike Napoli, 1B: $2,900 – Speaking of Globe Life Stadium, the Rangers are home today. And Mike Napoli, who has made an entire career out of destroying lefties (.273/.384/.510, although he’s also hit .240/.336/.463 against righties so he’s still decent against them as well) sits at a quite affordable $2,900 thanks to his early-season struggles. Look, I’m sure it’s entirely possible that his .150/.236/.300 triple-slash line (and corresponding .231 wOBA) fortends an ugly decline year and the beginning of the end of him as a productive major leaguer, but it’s far more likely it’s just a bad month. On an unrelated note, spell-check has informed me that fortends is not a word, and a quick google check confirmed that I somehow combined the synonyms foretells and portends into one non-existent word. That said, foretends sounds better, so I’m going to stick with it.

Eric Thames, 1B: $4,500 – He’s priced correctly (finally). But he’s still just on an absolute tear right now. The Cardinals finally held him in check for the final 3 games of their 4-game series, and then he promptly went out and dropped 50.1, 25.2 and 15.4 FanDuel fantasy points in the 3 games against the Reds this past week. Bartolo Colon can spot his fastball as much as he wants, Eric Thames won’t care. He’s doing so well, MLB has “randomly” drug tested him twice so far. I won’t sit here and tell you he’s the best 1B play (he’s definitely up there), but I’m not going to write an article without mentioning him at this point.

I’m Only Happy When It Rains

St. Louis has some drizzles, other than that it’s a clean day.

Doing Lines In Vegas

Remember earlier how I mentioned that the Rockies just aren’t that good? Well, either the oddsmakers in Vegas, or the betting public in general (which would, in turn, force the sportsbooks to adjust) seem to disagree and are grossly overrating the Colorado Rockies. So I’ll explain it a little more. Yes, Charlie Blackmon (presuming he can sustain the 2016 power spike, which he has so far this season) and Nolan Arenado are legit. But this is not basketball – two guys can’t make an offense (Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent being the exception). Carlos Gonzalez is either breaking down or is already broken, Gerardo Parra is 60 years old, Trevor Story is a 24 year old Mark Reynolds-in-training, Mark Reynolds is a 33 year old Mark Reynolds, and DJ Lemahieu is a glorified punch-and-judy middle infielder who happens to play half his games in the biggest stadium in baseball. And unless you think Tony Wolters’ .444 BABIP is sustainable, their catcher platoon is a complete joke. They’re simply not that good of an offense. The entire series with the Nationals, they were either favored or only slight underdogs, and the Nationals just beat the snot out of them for the last 3 games. I will admit that they have some good pitching, but Kyle Freeland is not one of those pitchers. Now they’re on the road in Arizona against a team with a lineup that outclasses them in every respect, and somehow the D-Backs are only -145? I get that Robbie Ray is inconsistent, but so is Kyle Freeland. And whereas the Rockies are balanced in their un-impressiveness (that’s what happens when you have one good lefty and one good righty, and then 3 unimpressive hitters from both sides), the D-Backs are fairly right-handed, particularly when they bench Peralta or Lamb, which they often do against lefties. I just don’t get it.

And, as mentioned last week, a friend of mine has said to just always bet the Brewers over. A matchup against Bartolo Colon makes the team total (4.5 on certain offshore sportsbooks, but juiced to the under, so you’ll get favorable odds if you bet the over) perfectly playable. The extra half-run makes it a little risky, but no gamble, no future right?