Veteran DFS players know that FanDuel is horrible about proactively pricing guys who haven’t played so far this year due to injury (as opposed to players who already played this year and then got hurt). This past year in NBA DFS, Kevin Love made his season debut on Feburary 4th, basically four months into the season, and was $3,500 (the bare minimum). He was on a minutes limit so the entire slate became a question of whether he was worth it given the minutes restriction. However, in baseball, when a hitter comes back, odds are (and there are exceptions of course) he’s going to play the entire game (or at least be the DH for the entire game, but DFS lineups don’t care about whether you’re actually in the field). Why bring this up? Because it’s going to come into play fairly soon. More on this after a word from our sponsor.

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Didi Gregorius is $2,000. He’s coming back fairly soon. And FanDuel, despite many people yelling at them on Twitter over the years about this, simply refuses to do anything about it and make him a reasonable price in anticipation of his return. It’s mind boggling when you think about it, because it’s not exactly something that is hard to fix, nor is it something that isn’t foreseeable. It’s not a problem for guys who have already played this year – Giancarlo Stanton was $4,000 when he got hurt, so his price has stayed right there, and he’ll be $4,000 when he comes back. But it is a problem for guys who got hurt in the off-season or in spring training and have yet to play a single game. Now you may be asking yourself, okay, that’s great, but is there any actual wisdom oh wise Cinthree you can impart on us in regards to this injury-silliness? Not really. I just wanted to rant about how ridiculous the situation is and how easy it can be to fix. Actually, that’s not true, there is one piece of wisdom – play Didi when he returns. Period. For whatever reason, he won’t be 100% owned the day he returns. So when he comes back and is available for $2,000 as a middle-of-the-order SS on a good offense with legitimate power, and is only 96% owned, congratulations, you have an edge on 4% of the field. So there. It’s still something that should be fixed.

On to the picks…

PITCHERS

It’s a 3 Aces kind of day with Scherzer, Cole and deGrom on the slate and we have to choose which one we like the best. So let’s check out the pitchers stats since the start of last year:

Max Scherzer – 34% strikeouts, 5.7% walks and 3.17 xFIP

Jacob deGrom – 31.8% strikeouts, 5.7% walks and 2.74 xFIP

Gerrit Cole – 35.3% strikeouts, 7.5% walks and 2.84 xFIP

All are pretty elite and there isn’t that much separating the three, you have a little more strikeouts with Cole, but also a little more walks and Scherzer gets those strikeouts with the lack of walks, but he’s more likely to give up the bomb. Let’s see how their projected matchups stack up to maybe get some differentiation.

Max Scherzer (Mets) – 19.4% strikeouts, 7.3% walks and .324 wOBA

Jacob deGrom (Nats) – 18.6% strikeouts, 8.8% walks and .343 wOBA

Gerrit Cole (White Sox) – 23.6% strikeouts, 6.8% walks and .313 wOBA

Here we get some differentiation, Cole has by far the best matchup with way more strikeouts, fewer walks and just generally worse hitters, with deGrom having by far the toughest matchup. Gerrit Cole (11,700) is the top option given that Scherzer and deGrom are facing each other, lessening the win equity, but given the prices, playing Cole or Scherzer is fine and if you need the savings that Scherzer provides to get the Cubs bats, by all means go for it.

HITTERS

Starlin Castro, 2B: $2,600 – As discussed above, there are three dominant pitchers, all in good spots, and all playable. Regardless of who you play, you’re going to need to find value. And while they may be part of an historically bad offense, sadly, on this slate, the Marlins may be where you find it. Daniel Norris isn’t good (21.3% strikeouts, 8.4% walks and 34.1% groundballs). He’s a fairly neutral pitcher – just equally bad vs both sides. I’m fairly confident this is the first time we’ve seen the Marlins have a Vegas total over 4 in a long time (they’re projected for a whopping 4.1 runs). Normally 4.1 runs isn’t a projection worth getting excited about, but in this case, it’s for a team that has an entire lineup of punt-priced players. That’s what happens when you’re an historically bad offense, from top to bottom, for a month and a half. The most expensive player is Starlin Castro, who actually hits lefties okay with a .354 wOBA, unfortunately it’s with a .132 ISO, which is awful, but the .354 wOBA is still solid. There’s value here. And frankly, I’m not sure I can recommend any other players because they all do suck, it’s just a question of hoping Daniel Norris sucks more. I wouldn’t fret trying to figure out which Marlin is the least crappy (other than Starlin Castro), but rather, I’d just treat them all as roughly equal (except Starlin Castro) and pick the Marlin based on my roster construction elsewhere (Starlin Castro is the best of this sorry lot). In other words, build the rest of your lineup, and whichever position you end up leaving open for a value play is where you plop down the Marlin. By now I’m sure you’re saying wait, why not just make sure it’s Starlin Castro? Well, as I’ll get to next, Addison Russell exists, unfortunately. Castro/Russell at 2B/Util may be the path, but there’s other options too – you can just let your roster construction guide you. For example, If you aren’t playing Baez and find yourself leaving SS open, might I suggest Miguel Rojas, SS: $2,000? If you find yourself liking Baez a lot and instead find yourself with an OF spot open, may I interest you in Garrett Cooper, OF: $2,400? I don’t want to name any more of them, because it hurts my head to look at this team in general. Just pick a Marlin for value that fills your roster and if you’re absolutely stuck, go with the always trusted, time-honored rule of thumb of #respecttheleadoff and play the leadoff hitter. Whoever it is.

Javier Baez, SS: $4,000 and Kris Bryant, 3B: $4,300 – As of now we’ve got a forecast calling for a 76 degree night in Chicago, with 15mph winds out to dead center. This is when things get fun in Wrigley. Actually, hold on, let me start over.

Every Single Right-Handed Chicago Cub (but Baez and Bryant are the two best if you can afford them) – With this weather, and with Cole Irvin pitching, whose skills cannot possibly line up worse for this sort of matchup. He may be solid at preventing walks with a minor league career of around two walks per 9, but he doesn’t get any ground balls (31%) and doesn’t strike out enough guys (13.5%). Given the wind conditions, you do not want a strike throwing fly ball guy out there. Any and every right handed Cub is in play, but obviously the focus should be on guys who don’t strike out, since strikeouts don’t get to take advantage of the extreme wind conditions and then secondarily we would give an advantage to guys who already hit the ball in the air since ground balls also don’t get to take advantage of the good air conditions. Kris Bryant strikes out too much (26.6%) but keeps the ball off the ground like a boss (31.7%) and is the best hitter on the team (.445 wOBA). Javier Baez is next up on the good hitter list with with a 19.4% strikeout rate and a not ideal 45.5% ground ball rate, but with a .440 wOBA. I will say if you prefer Baez due to the cheaper price and the fact that he’s a SS, that’s fine. All the other righty Cubs have some big time warts. Albert Almora doesn’t strike out (12.6%) but hits a lot of ground balls (53.7%) and is generally a terrible hitter (.306 wOBA). Willson Contreras has an annoying spelled first name for one, but he strikes out a bunch (27.3%) without being as good a hitter as Bryant (.362 wOBA), but he does is solid at keeping it off the ground but not elite (40.9%). David Bote has the lethal combination of strike outs (32.3%) and ground balls (56.5%), but 43.5% of the time he gets the ball in the air and is mega cheap and somehow not that terrible of a hitter (.336 wOBA). And while it’s tough to stomach that Addison Russell is actually playing in the Major Leagues this year, he’s historically been OK vs lefties at getting the ball in the air (40.7%), he’s elite at avoiding strikeouts 16.5%), but he’s just not all that good with a .338 wOBA. But he’s cheap as hell and lets you get all sorts of tasty things, as long as you can stomach playing, and rooting for, Addison Russell. And, for you GPP people out there, playing a left-handed Rizzo in your Cubs stack is an excellent way to get differentiation as most people will say why would I play Rizzo when I can get four quality right handed bats with platoon advantage (that’s what I would say). Finally, I want to reiterate one thing from before. Bote and Russell are just too cheap. Hold on, I’ll do it the right way.

David Bote, 3B: $2,400 and Addison Russell, 2B: $2,300 – Yeah, if they’re in the lineup, you just have to play them at these prices.

Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies also exist in this wind game, and while Cole Hamels is a solid pitcher, he’s not elite or anything, especially vs righties (23.7% strikeouts, 7.4% walks and 45.8% ground balls). He’s just a very solid pitcher. But, solid pitchers in a run environment that projects to be “get the ball in the air and watch it sail over the fence” isn’t going to get it done. The Phillies have a bunch of guys who avoid strikeouts and hit the ball in the air. Rhys Hoskins ($4,200) is nutty good at getting the ball in the air (26.7%) and merely very good at avoiding the strikeout (20.3%). J.T. Realmuto ($3,300) is next up at 35.8% groundballs and 19% strikeouts. Maikel Franco ($2,900) (37.8% groundballs and 9.4% strikeouts) does well in avoiding groundballs and strikeouts. Andrew McCutchen ($3,400)(41.8% groundballs and 20.9% strikeouts) and Jean Segura (3,700) (43.1% groundballs and 10.5% strikeouts) are also very solid plays. The Phillies as a team hit a lot of balls in the air (especially if you take out Cesar Hernandez and his ridiculous 58.5% worm killers) compared to the Cubs (39.6% to 46.5%), and they could wind up being the team that capitalizes more often.

Kendrys Morales, 1B: $2,600 – Yeah, he’s struggled so far this year. But as long as 1) He’s still this cheap 2) The Yankees keep putting him in the middle of their fairly solid lineup 3) Vegas keeps projecting 6 runs for the Yankees and 4) The savings is important due to the presence of either an expensive ace pitcher you want to roster, or expensive stud hitters in great spots that you want to play, you just click on Morales’ name and move on. And just in case you skipped over the entire article until this point, we have both an expensive ace pitcher worth rostering and expensive stud hitters in great matchups worth playing. Since Straily gives up bombs, if you’re inexplicably fading the Cubs or the top pitchers (not so inexplicable in GPPs), Gary Sanchez ($4,400) (38% groundballs and .243 ISO) and Luke Voit ($4,200) (38% groundballs and .253 ISO) are the top plays on the Yankees, followed by Aaron Hicks ($3,700)(43% groundballs and .206 ISO).

I’m Only Happy When It Rains

The big news of the day is the speed of the wind in Wrigley and whether or not it pushes it off of must play. Actually, calling it big doesn’t do it justice – the strength of the wind will be critical to how you approach the slate. Also, it may rain in St. Louis again, and Washington weather may wind up in offense suppression territory.

Doing Lines In Vegas

Bet the over in Chicago no matter what it is, and root for both a 40 run day and your Phillies/Cubs stack to crush. It’s terrible advice but it’s more fun that way.