Welcome to our daily look at daily fantasy baseball. We’ll use DraftKings salaries to give you some tips and advice on the day’s action. Since we publish this by mid-morning and first pitch is at 12:35 p.m. ET, we’ll focus on the four-game night slate. The early cash games will be close to full or already underway by the time you read this, anyway.
Remember to check lineups and weather as gametimes approach. We’ll publish this piece in the mornings, and a lot can happen during the day. If Dusty Baker decides to bench Bryce Harper at the last minute, don’t blame us!
I’ll plan to wager $6 per day on DraftKings - $5 on a cash lineup, $1 on a tournament version – and track my progress all season. If you’re a more serious player who doesn’t want to trust his or her bankroll on a guy who enters six bucks a day, I’ll understand.
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Chris Sale did his job, A.J. Pollock scored 17 DK points, and Corey Dickerson (19 points) was a very nice bargain pick. On the other hand, Paul Goldschmidt (11 points) was just OK, while Andrew Toles and the Dodgers didn’t help anyone.
My tournament lineup fizzled, as the longshot Mets’ stack didn’t pan out (the Brewers were the way to go). The cash lineup won again, so we were in the black for the day.
Season status: Plus $7.50
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News & notes
According to weather.com, there’s at least a 95 percent chance of rain from noon until 7 p.m. in Boston. Early-game players should avoid Pirates-Red Sox, as a postponement seems likely … Things look better for Marlins-Nats and Braves-Mets, as rainy conditions in those places look like they’ll clear up as gametimes approach … Brandon Finnegan pitched seven innings of one-hit, shutout ball with nine strikeouts for the Reds on Wednesday. I liked Finnegan as a deep sleeper-type entering the season, and he should be cheap on DK next Monday or Tuesday at Pittsburgh … Francisco Lindor homered twice on Tuesday. Stud … James Paxton tossed six shutout innings, allowing two hits and whiffing five. His fantasy bandwagon is still full … Jameson Taillon and Dylan Bundy also pitched pretty well.
Angels SP Garrett Richards threw 4 2/3 innings of shutout ball before leaving Wednesday’s game with a biceps cramp. Richards says he’s fine, and the Angels apparently won’t even schedule an MRI … Cardinals OF Stephen Piscotty does not have a concussion.
For those playing early, Brandon McCarthy and the Dodgers are a minus-230 favorite over the Padres … Games with the highest projected run total of 9.5 are Rockies-Brewers, Giants-Diamondbacks and Mariners-Astros … Matt Harvey and the Mets are a -181 favorite, the biggest margin among the night games.
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Since you’re not paying ace-level prices for pitchers tonight, you can afford to use Jose Altuve ($4,900) against shaky Mariners LHP Ariel Miranda. Sitting him in a cash game would be DFS malpractice, and make us report you to the authorities.
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY SportsThomas Shea
Cash: Denard Span is still nursing a hip injury, and will probably sit tonight against LHP Robbie Ray with an eye on returning Friday. That leaves Gorkys Hernandez ($2,900) with leadoff duty again. He’ll be hard to pass up if you don’t use Ray at SP.
The weird part about today is that spending so little on SPs lets you load up on expensive hitters, so using guys like Hernandez might involve leaving a little money on the table.
Tournaments: If not Hernandez, lefty killers Steve Pearce ($3,200, 1B/2B) and Wilmer Flores ($3,200, 2B/3B) should both be in their teams' lineups tonight. Find out where before plugging them into yours.
The Astros are the logical option against Miranda, and they’ll be popular. A Springer/Bregman/Altuve/Correa combo will cost you $18,200.
But you can’t go that way in tournaments, right? Well, you could, and try to differentiate your lineup elsewhere (though that’s more difficult on a short slate). If you stay away from the Astros, go with the D-backs (Pollock/Peralta/Goldschmidt/Lamb) against Samardzija, who allowed 17 home runs in 114 innings on the road last season.
The Guys to Avoid
Nobody in these four games is a complete fade, but I actually don’t like the Blue Jays so much because Blake Snell gets whiffs and keeps the ball on the ground. There’s a chance Snell will walk a bunch of guys, and have to serve up fat pitches when behind in counts. But we’ve gotta avoid someone, and it’s most of the Jays for me.
Kim KlementKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Position News & Suggestions
Starting pitcher: There are no aces on the board tonight … The strikeout upside is with Robbie Ray ($8,300), Matt Harvey ($8,100) and Snell ($7,100). The rest of the starters don’t miss many bats … With that said, Harvey and Snell are wild cards, with the former having an up-and-down spring and the latter possessing terrible control … I’m going to use Ray and Marcus Stroman ($8,700) in cash, as Stroman should be solid against the weak-hitting Rays in a game with a projected total of 7.5.
Catcher: Buster Posey ($4,200) kills lefties, and can be used in cash even if you like Ray since it’s a short slate … Brian McCann ($3,400) and Russell Martin ($3,400) are the only other catchers likely to occupy top-six lineup slots.
First base: If you don’t trust Matt Harvey – and really, you shouldn’t – then Freddie Freeman ($4,300) is the smart play here … Pearce’s job description is to crush LHP (.366 career wOBA). He should get a decent lineup slot, and fits at 1B/2B … If you can afford the $5,200 for Paul Goldschmidt, he’s the best option at this position.
Second base: For the non-Altuve tournament users, Robinson Cano ($4,400) is a solid play … Blue Jays leadoff hitter Devon Travis ($3,600) is another pretty good option vs. Snell for the price … Flores has a .350 career wOBA vs. LHP and will probably sub for Jose Reyes or Lucas Duda.
Third base: You’re going to pay $4K or more at this position unless you use Flores (which you can if you play Altuve, Travis or Pearce at 2B) … Josh Donaldson ($4,600) and Alex Bregman ($4,000) bat second in their lineups, and either would be fine – especially Donaldson if you disagree with fading the Jays. However, I prefer Jake Lamb ($4,100) against Samardzija.
Shortstop: Correa ($4,800) is the chalk play, with Jean Segura ($4,400) not far behind … Jose Reyes ($3,900) has been better against righties than lefties in his career, but make sure the Mets don’t bench him for Flores … Troy Tulowitzki ($3,700) isn’t too expensive, and has historically been a lefty killer (.401 career wOBA) … Dansby Swanson ($3,100) is pretty cheap for a decent hitter who bats second.
Outfield: Like his teammates, George Springer ($4,500) is the obvious play … Yoenis Cespedes is next up vs. LHP Jaime Garcia … David Peralta ($3,800) should be back in the two-hole for the D-backs … Mariners No. 2 hitter Mitch Haniger ($3,600) had 30 homers with 12 steals between the minors and majors last season, but hasn’t hit much this week … The aforementioned Hernandez is the best value play on the board.
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Note: Today's lineups are for night games only.
UPDATE (4:30pm): Alex Bregman got the night off in Houston. Instead of swapping in his real-life replacement (Marwin Gonzalez) for the tournament lineup, I broke up the Astros' stack and included Jose Reyes.
UPDATE (5:35pm): Ugh, Yasmany Tomas is sitting, too. We replaced him with Pollock in the tournament lineup. Cespedes would work as well.