Please see our player page for Max Moroff to see projections for today, the next 7 days and rest of season as well as stats and gamelogs designed with the fantasy baseball player in mind.

A few weeks back we had a slate with nothing but ugly pitching options. That day there was a pitcher who was likely the chalk and it made the cash pitching option rather straightforward as you just played the chalk and tried to win it with the bats. Today, the pitching options are not quite as ugly as they were that week, but the pitchers are still fairly unimpressive. The problem, for cash, is that, at least as far as I can tell, there is no really chalky choice, so the “blocking” strategy is out as the ownership will be split out amongst the different uninspiring options. So it comes down to getting the pitcher right, and I’ll be honest –  I believe there is a high degree of randomness and variance in terms of whether or not you pick the right pitcher today. If you “nail” the pitcher right and the others don’t do well, you’re going to be in fantastic shape, but if your choice duds and the other pitchers do well, you’re going to be pretty much done for the night. It’s definitely not an ideal cash game slate and in addition, the hitting is not my favorite (to put it lightly) as well. I’m not saying don’t play cash – if you’re a cash game player, play cash, and if you’re a GPP player, play GPPs. But if you’re the type of guy who plays a good chunk of both, today might be a good day to focus more on GPPs than cash. That said, you come here for my picks, and even though this may be not the ideal cash-game slate, I’m a professional who always makes sure to put in a high quality effort, so I’m here giving you my cash game picks. That’s what pros do – they perform under any and all circumstances.

On to the picks…

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Cincinnati Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett homered in his fourth straight game Friday night going 4-for-5 with his 6th homer and 3 RBI. After a slow start to the season power-wise, Gennett has been slicker than a Motorola cell phone hitting .458 in the past week with 6 runs, 4 home runs and 10 RBI. Holy Vespa! Even more shocking, this is the second Reds 2B/SS I’ve profiled this year. I must be infatuated with the Reds infield. Which is kind of sad, because there are so many better infields to be infatuated with. But nope. It’s the Reds. Scooter had a career best year in 2017, hitting .295 with 27 homers, 80 runs scored and 97 RBI. If we look at the advanced stats (nerd!), sure that 20.8% HR/FB rate from last year might be a tad tough to match again, but the .339 BABIP in 2017 is not that far off from his career .329 average. In other words, 2017 was no fluke! In 2018, the .364 BABIP may be a bit inflated again, but he’s also striking out less, 18.5% versus 22.9% in 2017.  So what does all this mean to all of us who aren’t mathematicians or data scientists? Speak english, doc! That average might go down but the power is legit, and Scooter is hotter than a Childish Gambino “This is America” video shot by shot breakdown think piece. Did you even notice the dancing symbolizes the fact that the new song is flames, and is distracting you aka SOCIETY from what’s really going on the in background–POLITICS. Don’t let Gennett’s slow start, or inflated sabremetrics or terrible team distract you, he’s the hottest thing on two wheels right now and worth riding where he’s available.

Here’s what else I saw Friday night in fantasy baseball:

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It’s been a long off-season, but we still have some systems to preview. So today, I get back on the horse and dig into a talented Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. For years now the Pirates have done an excellent job of drafting, scouting, and developing talent. Unfortunately this post comes a few days before I attend some extended spring work down in Bradenton, Florida, the off-season home of the Pirates. Annually I’m down in the Bradenton area for a week or two to see my in-laws, and I always sneak away and catch a couple of Bradenton games, or at least make it to the Pirates facility about 5 miles down the road from LECOM Park. So all this to say, I get a decent amount of looks every year at the Pirates talent in the lower levels. Last year I got first hand looks at top pitching prospect Mitch Keller, underrated speedster Cole Tucker, draft-bust Will Craig, and 2015 first rounder Ke’Bryan Hayes. This year I’m hoping to get some looks at some of the members of the Pirates strong 2017 draft class, as well as J2 standouts like Sherten Apostel. Once I have more info on Apostel, I’ll share it, but info is limited. Today we focus more on the bigger names in the system, and those with shorter ETAs. Regardless of your flavor of prospect, there’s something for everyone in this Pittsburgh system. It’s the Pittsburgh Pirates Top Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball.

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What a difference a year makes. Had I wrote this post in 2016 we’d be discussing one of the deepest positional player pools going. But just 12 months later, and there’s no Moncadas, Albies, or Calhouns to be found. Players that would have graced the back end of my top 10 last year, are now ranked at the top of the heap. That’s not to say there aren’t some impact bats in the mix at the keystone. But it’s a mix of transformative players losing rookie status, and the talent not being as close to the majors as it had been in previous years. There’s another element to all this too. Much like with third base, some of the top 2nd baseman are still playing shortstop. It wouldn’t shock anybody if Bo Bichette, Brendan Rodgers, Franklin Barreto, or even Gleyber Torres ended up at 2nd. So there’s a lot to debate in this ranking. Everyone is bound to have some variance and disagreement. But what’s wrong with some disagreement amongst the consensus? Call me crazy, but it’s a lot more fun when there’s debate and a wide range of opinion. I mean you’ve seen my twitter, right? Without further delay, it’s the Top 10 2nd Base Prospects for 2018.

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I shall open this column by quoting September 1st Grey: “I’m not enthused by the guys headed to the majors this September.” I agree completely – I thought there would be a lot more intriguing under-the-radar call-ups to discuss, both for NL or AL-only help over the next few weeks, or to grab with an eye on next year in keeper leagues. Instead, I’m reminded that keeping one’s head in the fantasy baseball game can be less fun and more chore-like with each passing day as we inch towards October.

In September, there’s a lot more inventory, but less of value. Veteran players on non-contenders are getting rested more often, as are young studs on playoff contenders. Starting pitchers are hitting innings limits. And since expanded rosters mean that there’s often no need to officially DL players, it can be hard to tell who is going to get at bats at all, and who is pretty much done for the year. If you’re still actively managing a fantasy team in a deep league at this time of year, there may be more names than ever to choose from on waivers… the tricky part is finding anyone who might actually help your team over the next three and a half weeks.

Now, just since I started writing this, news has arrived that J.P. Crawford and Luiz Gohara have reached the show, so things are getting at least a little more interesting. Meanwhile, here’s this weeks handful of guys who may still be floating around in the deepest of leagues:

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If you hail from Central New Jersey, sorry. I didn’t mean to get your hopes up. Albert Pujols does not represent the 609. If you are a Ludacris fan, sorry. Pujols may or may not have garden hoes in different area codes, but I can neither confirm nor deny it. Rather, Pujols slugged his 609th career home run Friday night. It doesn’t matter that it came off Jeremy Hellickson, who’s allowed the 14th-most home runs this season, and is already the 439th-worst of all time. I was going to go on an epic rant about how all the stories are focused on the fact that he’s tied with Sammy Sosa for the most home runs by a foreign-born player. Who gives a flying F where he was born? Then I started thinking, I wonder which player born in Los Angeles has hit the most home runs. Yet again, I’ve managed to stymie myself. Anyways, who cares that Pujols has a triple slash of .229/.274/.374 with an ISO of .144. Let’s just celebrate the great career he’s had and send him off into the sunset after this season. My self checks to make sure this is his last year…

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Yesterday, Jacob deGrom threw a complete game with 1 ER, 9 baserunners (4 BBs), 6 Ks, lowering his ERA to 4.33.  Oh, his peripherals are beautiful.  Velocity is fine, even up a tad up, and that’s not the new radar gun positioning talking.  For what it’s worth, a radar gun can’t talk.  His Ks are way up.  Walks are up too, but not quite to the point where it justifies his four-plus ERA.  His xFIP is even below where it was last year.  So, what explains his mediocre ERA besides the general answer of:  Mets gonna Mets?  He’s not throwing his cutter or change nearly as much and is almost entirely relying on a slider and four-seam fastball.  The change and cutter were never ‘big’ pitches for him, but mixing them in may have kept hitters honest like Abe Lincoln and iced tea.  His slider this year is barely a positive pitch for him.  Last year, it was a top 20 slider in the majors, right next to Sabathia, and that guy loves sliders!  As with most things Mets pitchers-related, it’s a conundrum wrapped inside a forklift of fortune cookies that is wrapped inside a turkey.  It’s called a turforkum.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Oh the Pirates, a team I was excited to write about due to my fondness for their high end prospects. But much like a beautiful woman with a pretty face and a giant set of sweater puppets, they top heavy. I mean top heavy AF, as the kids say on the Snapface. Seriously, after Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, Mitch Keller, and Josh Bell, the system falls off a cliff. I found myself 10 players in trying to figure out if there was anyone else to write about besides Steven “freaking” Brault. Sorry Noise, I really didn’t want to add insult to injury after that thorough stomping the Pats gave the Steelers, but it is what it is. Razzing aside, it is RAZZ-ball after all, the Pirates have 4 prospects I’d like to own everywhere. Meadows, Glasnow, Bell, and Keller, and all offer potentially premium ceilings with relatively safe floors. Though Meadows is blocked at the MLB level now, I think we all anticipate that changing. One of the great things about owning prospects from small market systems, is they need those players to strive at the major league level to control costs. I’m not saying it’s a value boost, but it leaves their futures less murky than say a Dodgers, Yankees, or Red Sox prospect. Ahhhh whatevs, let’s talk the Top Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball.

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There are just two divisions left to cover in our breakout prospects series. These are players who “broke out” statistically in 2015 and were either ranked in the bottom half of their team’s preseason top ten list or didn’t make their team’s list at all. Some of these names will look familiar and have already been scooped up in many dynasty formats. Others may still be flying low enough that their big performances have gone undetected. Today we’ll look at five breakout prospects from the NL Central.

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