How is it going today? Presumably this is our most anticipated day of the year, as it is the penultimate Sunday of the MLB regular season. It’s hard to get better than this – it’s practically been on my calendar my whole life, and today it arrives. Unbelievably exciting. Or, we can at least pretend.
We have 11 games to consider when constructing FanDuel Main Slate lineups. That’s a lot of games, a lot of players, however, it is one game in particular that warrants the majority of our attention: Cubs vs. Cardinals. There is a lot to consider with this game, though. So let’s list out our pros and cons to see if it provides clarity.
Pros for playing them:
• The wind is projected to be blowing out to center at 15-20 mph throughout the scheduled game time.
• High humidity and temperatures in the 80’s means relatively low air density, so hit balls will travel further than average.
• Both Miles Mikolas and Yu Darvish allow higher than average rates of hard contact.
• Mikolas does not strike out hitters at a high rate.
• These teams do not have a mutual off day the rest of the way, this game is potentially meaningful to the playoff race, and there are potential conflicts if relying on making this game up on September 30th, so the incentive to play today should be very high.
• The Cubs have shown they are willing to move the game time up with little notice to pivot into better playing conditions, as they did on May 8th this season.
• If this game ends up playing and we are not invested, then we stand to miss out on heavy point production, putting us at a great disadvantage in our contests.
Cons, don’t touch them:
• The storm front moving through could simply make this game impossible to play. There’s about an 80% chance of rain at the schedule start time, and it only increases through the evening.
• Yu Darvish strikes out hitters at a very high rate of 31%, making Cardinals hitters more open to the goose egg risk.
• MLB intentionally leaves the day after the regular season open for make up games, and it’s more likely than not there wouldn’t be a conflict to rescheduling the game to play then.
• This is the latest game of the slate, so if we decide to stack this game and it ends up postponed, there is no later game for us to move into and we will take zeroes for any of these players we’ve rostered, putting us at a great disadvantage in our contests.
It’s a mess. All we can do at this point is plan for the best and wait for additional information.
So let’s start planning. We’ll get to this game and the rest of our Razzball picks below.
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First, let’s take a look at some pitching options today.
Justin Verlander, SP: $12,800. While the matchup is outstanding – the Angels in their current form are one of the least threatening lineups in the game, sporting ISO and K/BB rates among the worst in the entire league – we should be concerned about a limited workload cutting into Verlander’s upside. Last start he was pulled after 87 pitches, and we should expect about the same cap for him today. It provides us enough reason to look elsewhere, where these dollars are likely to extract better value.
Matthew Boyd, SP: $10,100. This will be his third time facing the White Sox this season. In his previous two match-ups he Boyd put up 43.0 and 49.0 points, both times at Guaranteed Rate Field, which, historically we think of as a hitter’s park, has actually played less friendly for hitters, especially right-handed hitters, than Comerica Park. This all points to lowered expectations for Boyd today, all things considered, but the matchup is still highly favorable. We should start Boyd with confidence.
Luis Severino, SP: $8,000. A pitcher as talented as Severino at $8,000 is tough to pass up, and today he faces the Blue Jays, who offer him one of the higher strikeout rates in the majors. In just his second start back from injury he should get to about 80 pitches today as the Yankees increase his workload heading into the postseason. We shouldn’t expect the world here, but given our options Severino is a decent bet to return the best pitcher value of the slate.
On to our preferred stacks:
Chicago Cubs – If the game is played in full the Cubs could easily score another 10+ runs today with the wind blowing out to dead center at 15-20 mph. Fingers crossed they get this one in. Here’s the order we like them:
Kyle Schwarber, OF: $3,500
Kris Bryant, 3B: $3,700
Nicholas Castellanos, OF: $3,800
Anthony Rizzo, C/1B: $4,100
Ben Zobrist, OF: $2,700
Jason Heyward, OF: $2,800
St. Louis Cardinals – Darvish poses a greater challenge for Cardinals hitters than Mikolas does for the Cubs, but Darvish still allows hard contact at a fairly high rate. As long as the Cardinals can make solid contact they’ll be able to take advantage of the hitting conditions. The risk is Darvish’s ability to limit balls in play when he’s on, which would take the weather out of the equation, but it’s a risk worth taking for exposure to the upside scenario where he does not have his best command. Order of preference:
Marcell Ozuna, OF: $3,200
Paul DeJong, SS: $3,300
Dexter Fowler, OF: $2,700
Matt Carpenter, 3B: $2,800
Paul Goldschmidt, C/1B: $3,500
Harrison Bader, OF: $2,600
Yadier Molina, C/1B: $2,500
Tommy Edman, 3B: $3,000
Seattle Mariners – The Mariners benefit the most from park factor differential of any team on the slate today. Oriole Park at Camden Yards has been the most favorable park for home runs this season, so take advantage of the value potential this provides, even with All-Star John Means on the mound.
Kyle Seager, 3B: $3,500
J.P. Crawford, SS: $2,700
Tom Murphy, C/1B: $3,200
Shed Long, 2B: $3,300
Dylan Moore, OF: $2,600
Braden Bishop, OF: $2,100
Tim Lopes, OF: $2,800
Kyle Lewis, OF: $4,000
Austin Nola, C/1B: $3,000
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
Keep a watchful eye on Wrigley. Hopefully they move the game up an hour to provide more time to get a full game in.
Doing Lines In Vegas
Assuming the game plays in full, the over/under between the Cubs and Cardinals should easily push to the over, even at 12.5.