Pictured: Christian Yelich
Source: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images North America

Chicago Cubs

Though still loaded with team-controlled talent and star-caliber names, the Cubs enter 2019 looking to rinse out the sour taste of a brutal end to their 2018 campaign. Though Javier Baez has emerged as a terrific, dynamic complement to the steady slugging of Anthony Rizzo, and though the anchors of the starting rotation are as sturdy and established as any in the National League, huge questions hang over the team. They’re still banking on development and improved offensive consistency from catcher Willson Contreras, outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. and utility man Ian Happ, and their success will hinge in some meaningful part on the health and effectiveness of Kris Bryant, who was hampered by a shoulder injury in 2018. No longer a budding dynasty, the Cubs are now an expensive team trying to reclaim its place atop the NL Central.

Cincinnati Reds

The year 2019 marks the sesquicentennial of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional (i.e., salaried) team in baseball history. In celebration, Reds players will wear commemorative patches on their jerseys and caps throughout the 2019 season. The team will also feature 15 throwback uniforms on various home dates. The 1869 Red Stockings, playing amateur teams from coast to coast, went 67–0.

Ironically, the Reds are coming off a season in which they exactly matched the 1869 team’s total of 67 wins. Unfortunately, the 2018 edition played 95 other games, finishing last in the National League Central for the fourth straight year.

The offseason focus has been to improve a perennially weak pitching staff that has, more than the offense, kept the team in the cellar. A blockbuster trade sending prospects and the disappointing Homer Bailey to the Dodgers for Alex Wood, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig strengthens the team, though probably not enough to avert another losing season. But with a new manager and young arms moving up the farm system, better days could lie ahead.

Milwaukee Brewers

What was expected to be a long organizational rebuild by the Milwaukee Brewers quickly shifted into overdrive late last January when, in a 24-hour span, they traded for Christian Yelich and signed Lorenzo Cain to the largest free agent contract in team history. The moves couldn’t have worked out better. Both were named to the All-Star Team, and behind a huge second half that had him flirting with a triple crown up to the season’s final day, Yelich was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player.

Their performances, coupled with breakout seasons from first baseman Jesus Aguilar, righthander Jhoulys Chacin and relievers Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress helped set the stage for Milwaukee’s unexpected late-season successes. The Brewers beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Game 163 to win their first Central Division title since 2011 and then fell just a game shy of advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1982.

All of that has set the bar even higher for 2019. Can Yelich somehow improve upon one of the best individual performances in recent memory? Can Aguilar and Hader continue to ascend? Will the team once again utilize the bullpen-centric approach to pitching that worked so well down the stretch?

Salary-cap considerations led the Brewers to play the offseason conservatively. They made minor trades for reliever Alex Claudio and outfielder Ben Gamel and signed second baseman Cory Spangenberg — not exactly matching the major moves made by division foes St. Louis (Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller) and Cincinnati (Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Alex Wood).

St. Louis Cardinals

For years, the Cardinals have been guided by past championships that set expectations for future contention. A new force steered them into the coming season: the present — and its demand to win. “We realize the importance of 2019,” says John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations. “I’ve always been one for the longer-term decision making. But we’re trying to win now.”

The Cardinals landed their desired blockbuster hitter in a trade for Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt. The six-time All-Star has one year remaining on his contract, as does cleanup hitter Marcell Ozuna, last winter’s big-bat addition. Include Matt Carpenter’s team option for 2020, and the Cardinals’ top three hitters could all walk by season’s end. Franchise favorites Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright near the end of their contracts as well, adding to the Cardinals’ emphasis on immediacy and a sprint for the division title. The push is on to punctuate this era with a return to October.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates hope to build on the momentum of the final three months of the 2018 season to contend in 2019. General manager Neal Huntington believes that he helped paved the way for better days last July when he traded for Tampa Bay righthander Chris Archer and Texas reliever Keone Kela. The Pirates wound up finishing 82–79, better than expected following the winter trades of Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole.

It was only the franchise’s fourth winning record in 26 years, and it was still only good enough for a fourth-place finish in the National League Central behind the Brewers, Cubs and Cardinals. All three teams look strong again in 2019 — and the Reds will be improved as well — meaning the Pirates will have their work cut out, though the team believes that it is on the rise.

Posted in MLB, Top Fantasy Picks

MLB InGame Showdowns

Another two games are set for InGame action.  A maximum of 5 swaps are allowed in this contest with play time of 5 consecutive minutes necessary before a starting player can be benched. Each entry will receive 2 Power Multiplier which can be applied to any starting player to receive 2x points for a duration of 15 minutes respectively. Check out the matchups previews below and play for free.

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Cubs at Pirates Preview

The Chicago Cubs – and especially star first baseman Anthony Rizzo – aren’t making any friends during their three-game road series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rizzo and the Cubs will try to wrap up a sweep of the slumping Pirates when the series concludes Wednesday.

A day after angering the Pirates and their fans by making contact with catcher Elias Diaz on a controversial slide to break up a double play, Rizzo homered to set off a three-run seventh inning in Chicago’s 8-6 win Tuesday. Although Rizzo was ruled safe on the slide and the call was upheld after a replay review, Major League Baseball said Tuesday that the slide was not legal and Rizzo should have been called out. The three-time All-Star first baseman was booed in each of his at-bats Wednesday, but he went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run to help send Pittsburgh to its fourth straight loss and its ninth in 11 games. The Cubs have won three straight overall and four in a row on the road.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, NBCS Chicago, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh

PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Kyle Hendricks (4-3, 3.16 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Joe Musgrove (1-0, 0.00)

Hendricks has posted quality starts in five of his last six outings and seven of his 10 starts this season. The 28-year-old was dominant last time out, striking out seven and allowing only two hits, including a solo homer, over seven innings to beat San Francisco. Hendricks is 4-3 with a 3.21 ERA in 11 starts against the Pirates, including a 2-0 mark and a 3.00 ERA in five outings at PNC Park.

Musgrove was outstanding in his first big-league start of the season Friday against St. Louis, striking out seven and allowing five hits over seven scoreless innings. The 25-year-old bounced between the bullpen and the rotation with Houston the past two seasons but had more success as a reliever. He is 9-12 with a 5.11 ERA in 26 career starts, including a loss to the Cubs in 2016.

WALK-OFFS

1. Rizzo is 15-for-42 with two homers and 14 RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak.

2. Pittsburgh RF Gregory Polanco has been out of the lineup the past two games while he is mired in an 0-for-16 slump, but he should be back Wednesday, as he is 10-for-25 with two homers versus Hendricks.

3. Pirates C Francisco Cervelli (illness) missed his third straight start Tuesday.

Nationals at Orioles Preview

Bryce Harper looks to build off a potential slump-busting performance as his Washington Nationals go for a three-game sweep in the Beltway Series when they visit the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night. Harper launched a solo homer in the first inning and added a pair of singles – after going 3-for-20 with 12 strikeouts over the previous five games – in Washington’s 3-2 victory on Tuesday.

Harper leads the National League with 17 homers despite batting just .238 while 19-year-old rookie outfielder Juan Soto is starting to make an impact after going 8-for-15 with three doubles in the last four games for the Nationals, who have won five straight. Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer has won seven straight decisions and goes for his 150th career victory Wednesday when he takes the mound for Washington against Baltimore rookie David Hess. The Orioles have cooled off with the bats again, managing just six runs during a four-game losing streak after leaving two runners on base in the ninth inning during Tuesday’s loss. Manny Machado belted his 16th homer in the setback – his first in eight games – for Baltimore and has hit safely in four straight despite his batting average slipping slightly to .326.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, MASN2 (Washington), MASN (Baltimore)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Max Scherzer (8-1, 2.13 ERA) vs. Orioles RH David Hess (2-1, 4.15)

Scherzer had his streak of eight straight quality starts halted at Miami last Friday when he allowed four runs and seven hits over six innings in a victory. The 33-year-old Missouri product, who boasts a National League-leading 108 strikeouts along with just 18 walks, also saw a run of 10 straight games giving up two or fewer earned runs end. Adam Jones is 13-for-29 with four homers versus Scherzer, who is 5-2 with a 3.20 ERA in 10 career games against the Orioles.

Hess earned his second win in three starts last Friday when he permitted four hits and three walks across 6 2/3 scoreless innings to beat Tampa Bay. The 24-year-old Tennessee native blanked the Rays in 11 2/3 frames during two wins after surrendering a three-run homer to Matt Duffy in the first inning on May 12 in his major league debut. Hess has struck out 10 and walked five over 17 1/3 innings overall while opponents have smacked four homers against him.

WALK-OFFS

1. Jones had a pair of hits with an RBI on Tuesday and is batting .325 in 50 career games against the Nationals.

2. Washington SS Trea Turner is 13-for-46 with seven RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak.

3. Orioles OF/DH Mark Trumbo had two hits Tuesday and is 6-for-10 in his last three contests, improving his batting average to .310.

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Posted in MLB

Pirates at Nationals Preview

Max Scherzer hasn’t missed a beat since capturing his second straight – and third career – Cy Young Award last season, winning four straight decisions while allowing fewer than three earned runs on six occasions in 2018. Scherzer aims to continue his good fortune on Tuesday as the Washington Nationals play the second contest of their four-game series versus the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.

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Trea Turner highlighted his three-hit performance with an RBI single in Monday’s 3-2 victory for Washington, which has won two straight for the first time in two weeks to even its record after four contests on its 10-game homestand. The 24-year-old Turner is 11-for-21 with three RBIs and four runs scored in his last five games overall and 2-for-6 lifetime versus Tuesday starter Chad Kuhl. Corey Dickerson belted a solo homer in the seventh inning to trim Pittsburgh’s deficit to one, but the National League Central-leading Pirates failed to close the gap and saw their five-game winning streak halted as they began their nine-game road trip. Dickerson is heating up to the tune of going 11-for-31 with four RBIs and six runs scored in his last nine games ahead of his first encounter with Scherzer.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, AT&T SportsNet-Pittsburgh, MASN (Washington)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates RH Chad Kuhl (3-1, 4.55 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Max Scherzer (5-1, 1.62)

Kuhl posted his second straight victory on Wednesday after allowing three runs on six hits while striking out a career high-tying eight in an 8-3 triumph versus Detroit. The 25-year-old excelled in his lone career start at Nationals Park, surrendering just one hit over six shutout innings on July 17, 2016. Kuhl wasn’t as fortune in his most recent encounter against Washington, as he was pummeled for six runs on 10 hits in four innings in an 8-4 setback on May 16, 2017.

Scherzer registered double-digit strikeouts for the fourth time this season after fanning 10 in six innings of a 15-2 romp at San Francisco on Wednesday. The 33-year-old has struck out 57 against just nine walks over 39.0 frames while permitting seven earned runs in that stretch. Scherzer, who has a pair of no-hitters to highlight a 4-2 career mark versus Pittsburgh, has kept Gregory Polanco (1-for-11) and Francisco Cervelli (1-for-12) under wraps.

WALK-OFFS

1. Pittsburgh CF Starling Marte hit safely in nine straight games before being retired as a pinch-hitter in the series opener.

2. Washington RF Bryce Harper has walked a major league-high 38 times in 29 contests, putting him on pace for 212 this season.

3. Pirates 1B Sean Rodriguez is mired in a 1-for-18 slump over his last eight games.

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Posted in MLB

Tigers at Pirates Preview

The Pittsburgh Pirates totaled five runs while getting swept in a four-game series at Philadelphia over the weekend and are losers of six of their last seven. The Pirates will try to turn things around when they return home and host the Detroit Tigers in the opener of a three-game interleague series on Tuesday.

 Pittsburgh scored two or fewer runs in each of its last six losses and wasted a strong pitching effort in a 3-2 loss in 11 innings on Sunday. “It falls in our lap,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters. “We had opportunities. We had them throughout the game. We had a rough week. We need to take a day off and figure it out and show up ready to play at home (on Tuesday).” The Tigers are winners of five of their last seven but suffered a bit of a letdown when they missed out on a chance to win a four-game series by falling to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. The Tigers were swept in a three-game series at home against Pittsburgh to begin the season and will try to get some revenge when they send Jordan Zimmermann to the mound against Pirates righty Chad Kuhl.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FS Detroit, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh

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PITCHING MATCHUP:

Tigers RH Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 7.71 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Chad Kuhl (2-1, 4.57)

Zimmermann picked up his first win of the season against Baltimore on Thursday, when he allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings but received 13 runs of support from his offense. The Wisconsin native surrendered at least four runs in each of his three starts – not counting an outing at Cleveland on April 11 when he left in the first inning after getting hit by a comebacker. Zimmermann struck out eight but was charged with four runs over six innings in a no-decision against the Pirates on March 30.

Kuhl posted his first quality start while holding Colorado to one run and four hits in six innings on Wednesday. The Delaware native failed to complete six innings in any of his first three turns and has allowed 28 hits in 21 2/3 total innings overall. Kuhl faced off against Detroit on April 1 and picked up a win while scattering four runs and eight hits over 5 2/3 frames.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Tigers designated RHP Drew VerHagen for assignment on Monday.

2. Pirates RF Gregory Polanco is 4-for-34 over the last nine games.

3. Pittsburgh RHP Kyle Crick has yet to allow a run in five appearances, covering 4 2/3 innings.

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Posted in MLB

5 new faces key to the National League Central race

Yu Darvish, SP, Chicago Cubs

Cubs’ projected record (FanGraphs): 93-69
Cubs’ projected record (PECOTA): 91-71
Darvish’s projected 2018 WAR (Steamer): 3.9

Unwilling to cede their position as the unequivocal favorite in the NL Central, the Cubs replaced Jake Arrieta this offseason with a younger, bat-missing-er stud in Darvish, giving the four-time All-Star $126 million to prevent their potential dynasty from derailing. Now, barring injury, the Cubs are poised to be an elite run-prevention team again in 2018 following a perfectly-fine-but-not-quite-spectacular performance from their rotation a year ago. Seeing as they’re also going to score a lot of runs in 2018it’s fair to presume that the Cubs will win a lot of games this season. Like, a lot. Darvish wasn’t quite as dominant last year in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery (and, for the record, his World Series struggles have been way overblown), but the 31-year-old is still a top-end starter, having finished 18th in the majors in WAR (3.5) in 2017 despite allowing more hard contact with a drop-off in strikeout rate, too. His velocity didn’t degrade at all from 2016, either – over 17 starts, Darvish managed a 3.09 FIP – and his bloated homer-to-fly-ball rate suggests there’s room for positive regression. Ultimately, though, even if Darvish’s 2017 numbers (3.86 ERA; 3.83 FIP) are indicative of a new performance baseline, the Cubs are going to be fine. Better, even.

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Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Brewers’ projected record (FanGraphs): 78-84
Brewers’ projected record (PECOTA): 84-78
Yelich’s projected 2018 WAR (Steamer): 3.9

Following an unexpectedly competitive 2017 season, the Brewers – who finished one game back of the second wild-card spot – took major steps this winter to expedite their rebuild, none more significant than the January trade in which they sent top prospect Lewis Brinson, an ostensible centerpiece of their future, to Miami for Yelich. They’re still not quite good enough to challenge the Cubs for the division title, but it’s clear that the future is now (or at least rapidly approaching) for the Brewers given that they’re expending prospect capital to improve their 25-man roster and signing free agents on the wrong side of 30 (more on that later). As such, expect the Brewers to be in the thick of the wild-card race again in 2018, as Yelich – who boasts a career 120 OPS+ – should help offset regression from the likes of Eric Thames, Travis Shaw, and Domingo Santana, keeping Milwaukee firmly in maybe-good-but-definitely-not-great territory. Yelich, after all, has quietly been one of the game’s most valuable players over the past few seasons, accruing 15.9 WAR since 2014 while slashing .290/.368/.436 with an average of 14 homers, 34 doubles, and 16 stolen bases per season.

Marcell Ozuna, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals’ projected record (FanGraphs): 86-76
Cardinals’ projected record (PECOTA): 85-77
Ozuna’s projected 2018 WAR (Steamer): 3.8

One of the first teams to take advantage of the Marlins’ dismantling, the Cardinals – undeterred by their surplus of outfielders – shipped a pair of middling prospects and two more non-prospects to Miami in December for Ozuna, a power-hitting left fielder who likely improves their roster more than any free-agent position player could have. Though the 27-year-old may not be able to replicate his numbers from last year, when he set career highs in WAR (4.8), OPS (.924), home runs (37), and defensive runs saved (10), Ozuna still raises the floor significantly. He’s been worth at last 2.5 WAR in three of the last four seasons, and his arrival in St. Louis had ancillary benefits, too; Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk were rendered superfluous, and enabled the Cardinals to trade both outfielders for help on the farm and in the bullpen. Frankly, the Cardinals should’veearned a wild-card berth last year – at 83-79, they finished four wins shy of their expected (Pythag) record – and they didn’t lose any key contributors this winter, so even if the upgrade that Ozuna offers is marginal, they’re still going to be competitive. If he does continue to perform at his 2017 level, though, it’s conceivable that they’re fighting for the division come September.

Lorenzo Cain, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Brewers’ projected record (FanGraphs): 78-84
Brewers’ projected record (PECOTA): 84-78
Cain’s projected 2018 WAR (Steamer): 2.8

Mere moments after landing Yelich back in January, their increasing glut of everyday outfielders notwithstanding, the Brewers finalized a deal to reunite with Cain, handing their former 17th-round pick the biggest free-agent contract in franchise history (5 years, $80 million). Unlike the Yelich trade, however, which has both immediate and long-term value, the Cain deal is – despite its term – a short-term move, a surprisingly aggressive salvo that reinforces the Brewers’ plan to compete in 2018. Cain, after all, turns 32 a couple weeks after Opening Day, and diminishing returns should be expected within the next few seasons given his speed-centric profile. For now, at least, the Brewers have a bona fide stud in center field – a major upgrade over Keon Broxton – as Cain has been the fifth-most valuable outfielder in the majors since his breakout 2014 campaign, combining elite defense and baserunning with an above-average bat. As evidenced by the projections above, the Brewers’ 2018 campaign has a fairly wide range of outcomes, but with Cain holding it down in center, Milwaukee’s less-established players don’t necessarily have to realize their 90-percentile projections for the club to earn a wild-card berth.

Brandon Morrow, RP, Chicago Cubs

Cubs’ projected record (FanGraphs): 93-69
Cubs’ projected record (PECOTA): 91-71
Morrow’s projected 2018 WAR (Steamer): 0.7

Instead of picking up a proven closer to replace Wade Davis, who landed a mammoth $52-million deal with the Rockies, the Cubs opted for the value play in Morrow, the resurgent right-hander who dominated out of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bullpen last year following a largely unsuccessful and injury-marred seven-year run as a starter. Armed with an 98-mph four-seamer and a nasty slider, Morrow crafted a 2.06 ERA with an 0.92 WHIP over 45 appearances, tossing 43 2/3 innings without allowing a home run while also managing the fifth-lowest expected wOBA(.211) in the majors (his postseason, incidentally, was a different story). Still, believing in a breakout season from a relief pitcher and building a bullpen around that guy are two entirely different things. Relievers are notoriously volatile, after all – only a handful can be relied upon to dominate year after year – and Morrow, who turns 34 in July, has been a good one for roughly 3 1/2 months. If he turns back into a pumpkin, or if he’s simply unable to stay healthy, the ninth inning could be a real problem for the Cubs, as each of Morrow’s potential replacements has some kind of red flag: C.J. Edwards struggles to throw strikes; Pedro Strop’s strikeout rate dropped significantly last year; and Steve Cishek can’t really get lefties out.

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Posted in MLB

Daily Fantasy Baseball News

FanPicks (click to play) breakdowns Thursday early MLB daily fantasy baseball news!

Los Angeles Angels win third straight

Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron each batted in runs in support of starter Hector Santiago and the Los Angeles Angels. L.A. has disposed of the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 Thursday afternoon. Pujols opened up the scoring with a single off of rookie Blake Snell (1-4) in the sixth inning . Cron followed up with a groudout that turned into a throwing error by second baseman Logan Forsythe. One more run came in to score on the play that could’ve been a double play and ended the inning. The Halo’s have added two more runs in the eight inning when when Cron pulled a sacrifice fly when bases where loaded. They pulled off a double steal to the perfection with Mike Trout stealing home and Pujols grabbing third base.

The Rays have lost 19 of their previous 22 games. The Angels, on the other hand, have won their last three, their longest stretch in over two month. Santiago (6-4) gave up three hits in seven innings of work. The lefty brought is month of July record up to 8-1 since having been acquired by the Angels in 2014. He allowed four walks and struck out nine on the side.

 

Piscotty halts Pirates streak to seven

Stephen Piscotty knocked a three-run home run. Randal Grichuk clubbed one out too. Those two homers was all it took for the St. Louis Cardinals to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5 to 1 Thursday. They avoid a four game series sweep, as well as put an end to the Bucs seven game winning streak.

Adam Wainwright (8-5) worked seven innings for the Cards win. They take over the National League Central division second spot in the process. Unfortunately for St. Louis, all-star third baseman Matt Carpenter  joins Brandon Moss and Brayan Pena on the 15 day disabled-list Thursday morning. The eleventh Piscotty long ball against pitcher Arquimedes Caminero was object to video review, but was eventually confirmed as a home run.

Pirates starter Tyler Glasnow (0-1) gave up four runs in five-and-one-third innings in his major leagues debut. The 22 year old righty was the eleventh starter used by Pittsburgh this season. Like Steven Brault earlier in this series, Glasnow hit his first career MLB ball.

Posted in MLB

Daily Fantasy Baseball MLB Top Picks

June 7th 2016

All 30 teams are back for daily fantasy baseball MLB gameplay, this Tuesday starting at 4PM ET. It all starts with the first of a double header between the  New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Here’s a look at the top selections for your FanPicks contest (click to play).

Player Pos Team Opp Last Game FP Two Game FP Avg Four Game FP Avg Ten Game FP Avg
Zack Greinke P ARI TB 59.5 40.7 34.5 31.6
Zach Davies P MIL OAK 57 33.3 29 21.8
Justin Upton OF DET TOR 46 21 14.2 10.3
Jacob deGrom P NYM @PIT 44.5 33.3 27.7 24.9
Adam Conley P MIA @MIN 42.5 16.5 17.9 22.9
Kyle Hendricks P CHC @PHI 41 36.5 32.4 29.5
Aaron Sanchez P TOR @DET 41 35.3 31.4 30
Jose Altuve 2B HOU @TEX 40.5 18.3 14.8 13.8
Daniel Murphy 2B WAS @CWS 39 12.8 16 14.5
Desmond Jennings OF TB @ARI 39 13 8.8 4.3
Brandon Moss 1B STL @CIN 39 20 11.5 8.7
Joe Ross P WAS @CWS 38 32 23.7 24.7
Jay Bruce OF CIN STL 35.5 21.7 22.5 19.6
Michael Pineda P NYY @LAA 34.5 20.8 19.7 19.8
Eduardo Nunez SS MIN MIA 34.5 22.5 18.2 17.5
Rougned Odor 2B TEX HOU 33 17.8 16.3 9.1
Wilson Ramos C WAs @CWS 32.5 16.8 19 13
Yasmani Grandal C KC @LAD 32 14.5 9.8 8
James McCann C DET TOR 32 12.5 15.8 8.8

Daily Fantasy Baseball MLB Notables

  • Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is set to return to the starting lineup on Tuesday. Tommy Joseph has started the past six games, allowing Howard to “clear his head,” as manager Pete Mackanin put it. Joseph, who was called up May 13, recorded more hits for the month (10) than Howard (7) in 35 fewer plate appearances.
  • Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain has enjoyed success against O’s pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, going 8-for-17 (.471) with a home run in his career against the righty.
  • Ryan Braun will seek career hit No. 1,500 with the Brewers.
  • Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been reinstated from paternity leave, with the Nationals optioning Trea Turner to Triple-A Syracuse in a corresponding move. Zimmerman is expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday.
  • Charlie Blackmon has reached base safely in 32 straight games, good for the second-longest streak in the Majors. It’s the longest streak for the Rockies since Troy Tulowitzki reached safely in 41 straight last season.
Posted in MLB

Fantasy Baseball Draft Pittsburgh Pirates vs Cincinnati Reds

Dominate your competition with our Fantasy Baseball Draft, create the winning lineup at Fanpicks.com. The Pirates won 98 games last season, posting the Major League Baseball second-best record and reaching the postseason for the third straight year. But they couldn’t quite solve the Reds, the National League Central’s last-place team a year ago. Looking to stay atop an increasingly competitive division, Pittsburgh must first improve its record versus Cincinnati. The Bucs will get their first shot to do so today at Great American Ball Park, where they will open their season series against the Reds at 7:10 p.m. ET.

The Reds defeated the Pirates in 11 of their 19 meetings last season, despite concluding the year 64-98. Cincinnati swept the clubs’ first series a year ago back in their home field, the Great American Ball Park, while pulling out three victories by a total of five runs. The Reds will be looking to start the season 4-0 for the second straight year. Pittsburgh will send their Opening Day starter, Francisco Liriano, to the mound.  Liriano struck out 10 and walked five over six scoreless innings in a win over the Cardinals on Sunday. Despite Pittsburgh woes against Cincinnati, they will be able to count on Liriano who has been lights-out against the Reds current crop of hitters. All 13 Cincinnati players who have faced Liriano, own a collective .212/.307/.321 batting line against him. Catcher Devin Mesoraco has fared better than the rest against the Pirates lefty, going 5-for-13 with seven walks and only two strikeouts. Opposing Liriano will be right-hander Alfredo Simon who prepares to make his season debut for the Reds.

Pittsburgh manager, Clint Hurdle, used the same starting lineup in each of their first three games when they faced the Cardinals. John Jaso was batting leadoff and Andrew McCutchen followed against the trio of right-handed St. Louis starting pitchers. Coming off an off-day Thursday, expect to see the same order deployed against Simon. The 34 years-old Simon has faced McCutchen and Starling Marte in 32 and 31 plate appearances respectively. The most than any other hitters he faced in his eight-year career. McCutchen carry a 7-for-26 with a homer against the Dominican pitcher, while Marte is 9-for-27 with two doubles.

You can expect catcher Devin Mesoraco, shortstop Zack Cozart and center fielder Billy Hamilton to make their returns to the Reds’ starting lineup. All three were given a break on Thursday as manager Bryan Price is trying to ease all three back into action after they had major surgeries in 2015. One piece missing will be second baseman, Brandon Phillips, who is day-to-day with a stomach bug and already missed the past two Reds games.

Top Fantasy Baseball Draft Picks

P Francisco Liriano (PIT)

OF Gregory Polanco (PIT)

OF Jay Bruce (CIN)

 

Posted in MLB

Daily Fantasy Baseball NLWC Preview – Chicago Cubs vs Pittsburgh Pirates

Cash Draft Baseball Contest continues Wednesday with the National League Wild Card Game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Is this the year that Chicago can finally lift the curse of the Billy Goat, or will Pittsburgh follow up on their best season since 1991? One thing for sure, the winner will move on to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.

The Chicago Cubs have won 11 out of the 19 matchups against the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. They’ve also defeated them 6 time in 10 games at PNC Park, Pittsburgh home stadium, during the year. You can follow the game this Wednesday on TBS at 8pm Eastern Time.

Pitching matchup: Chicago Cubs Jake Arrieta (22-6) vs Pittsburgh Pirates Gerrit Cole (19-8)

Two N.L. CY Young contenders will take the mound in the NLWC. The Cubs have the MLB leader in wins Jake Arrieta. He became, this season, the 14th player in Cubs history to get a no-hitter and the 6th in the league this year. The 29 years-old did not lose a game since July 25th, racking up 11 wins and a 0.57 ERA in that stretch. This season, he’s holding an ERA of 1.77 and 236 strikeouts. The Pittsburgh Pirates will turn to their young ace to even the odds. Gerrit Cole finished the year with a 2.60 ERA and 202 strikeouts. What’s going for Cole is that he already has playoff experience (1-1, 2.45 ERA), as opposed to Arrieta who will make his post-season debut.

Arrieta has faced the Pirates 5 time, this year. He’s 3-1 with a 0.75 ERA against them. His counterpart, Gerrit Cole, also had a 3-1 record in 4 games against the Cubs. His earned run average is a bit higher at 2.15. Cole is going to come to the game with a week rest under his belt. He hasn’t pitched since September 30th. Even with the quality pitching Cole bring to the field, he needs to be perfect to defeat Arrieta and the Cubs

Catchers: Chicago Cubs Miguel Montero vs Pittsburgh Pirates Francisco Cervelli

Francisco Cervelli proved that he’s more than a defensive catcher. He bested his career numbers in home run (7), run batted in (43) and runs (56) this season. He has completed the year with a .295 batting average. Miguel Montero has been tagged as one of the best catchers over the last few years. He has hit 15 homers and 53 RBI’s, scored 36 runs and batted .248 in 2015.

First basemen: Chicago Cubs Anthony Rizzo vs Pittsburgh Pirates Pedro Alvarez

Chicago Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo reached over a 100 RBI’s for the first time in his career. He’s been the big bat for his team all season long, hitting .278 with 31 blasts and 101 RBI’s while stealing base 17 times. Opposing Rizzo at first base is Pedro Alvarez. The 2nd overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft is in the prime years of his career. He has 77 RBI’s with 27 dingers and a .243 average.

Second basemen: Chicago Cubs Starlin Castro vs Pittsburgh Pirates Neil Walker

Neil Walker is a solid second baseman, one might even say underrated. With 16 homers, 71 RBI’s and a .269 average this year, the 30 year-old will need to raise his low post-season batting average. The Chicago Cubs shifted Starlin Castro from shortstop to second base back in August. Depending whether he’s still playing at shortstop in your Daily Fantasy League, Castro still needs to improve his bat to become an offensive infielder. He’s hitting .265 with 11 home runs and 69 RBI’s this year.

Third basemen: Chicago Cubs Kris Bryant vs Pittsburgh Pirates Aramis Ramirez

It’s rookie vs veteran in this third base head-to-head. Aramis Ramirez had an illustrious career in the majors. But at 37 years-old saw his bat start to slow down. He had 17 home runs and 75 RBI’s with a .246 batting average, this year. Kris Bryant delivered in his first season in the big leagues. A total of 26 deep flies, 99 RBI’s and a .275 average has him lead the race for the N.L. rookie of the year.

Shortstops: Chicago Cubs Addison Russell vs Pittsburgh Pirates Jordy Mercer

Addison Russell is another Chicago prospect that performed well for the team. Batting .242 with 13 home runs and 54 RBI’s, he’s likely to be the sleeper in this Fantasy Baseball competition. Jordy Mercer hits in the bottom of the order and it shows. He has 3 homers, 34 RBI’s and a .244 average.

Outfielders: Chicago Cubs Dexter Fowler, Kyle Schwarber & Chris Coghlan

vs Pittsburgh Pirates Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte & Andrew McCutchen

Nobody is really standing out in the Cubs outfield this year. Yet again, another rookie has the potential to be a sleeper. Kyle Schwarber was the 4th overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft. A player making the team this soon definitely has something special. He has collected 16 homers, 432 RBI’s, 52 runs and a .246 average this season. His fantasy position is still iffy. He could still be a catcher in some one day cash draft league. Dexter Fowler is the better, more seasoned fantasy option. He is batting .250 with 17 home runs, 46 RBI’s and 20 stolen bases. Chris Coghlan has 41 RBI’s with 16 homers and a .250 batting average.

The Pirates outfield is probably the team best feature. And it’s all thanks to the 2013 National League Most Valuable Player. Andrew McCutchen is a definite fantasy pick in the NLWC. He had 96 RBI’s, 23 homers and a batting average of .292, in 2015. Both Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco made some strides to become stars, this year in the big league. Marte had 81 RBI’s, 19 dingers and 30 stolen bases with an average of .287, while Polanco finished his year with 9 homers, 84 runs, 27 stolen bases and an average of .256.

Daily Fantasy NLWC Picks

P Jake Arrieta – Chicago Cubs

C Miguel Montero – Chicago Cubs

1B Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs

2B Neil Walker – Pittsburgh Pirates

3B Kris Bryant – Chicago Cubs

SS Addison Russell – Chicago Cubs

OF Dexter Fowler – Chicago Cubs

OF Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates

OF Starling Marte – Pittsburgh Pirates

Posted in MLB

Today’s Top Fantasy Picks – MLB – 7-12-15

Fantasy Baseball

Top fantasy value picks for MLB’s July 12th 2015 – Cardinals vs Pirates

Pitcher: Tim Cooney

Catcher: Yavier Molina

Second Base: Neil Walker

Short Stop: Jhonny Peralta

Third Base: Matt Carpenter

Outfield: Adrew McCutchen

 

Posted in Top Fantasy Picks

Pittsburgh Pirates vs St-Louis Cardinals – 7/12/15 MLB Fantasy Sports, Baseball Picks, Odds & Predictions

Fantasy Baseball DFS

The final game before the All Star Break will pit two NL Central contenders as the Pittsburgh Pirates will host the St Louis Cardinals on Sunday Night Baseball on July 12th. MLB Fantasy managers can track the results of their cash league rosters at 8PM Eastern Time from Pittsburgh on ESPN TV.

The St Louis Cardinals have been the class of Major League Baseball as they sport the best record of all 30 teams as they hit the break. Despite their 5-2 loss at Pittsburgh in Game 2 of this series on Friday night the Cardinals sat 56-31 and held a 4 ½ game lead in the division over the Pirates. St Louis pitchers have the best Team ERA in baseball (2.66) and have the most quality starts (58) of any team in the league.

Pittsburgh got off to a slow start to their 2015 campaign. With their win on Friday the club has won eight of ten and played great baseball the past two months to move their record to 51-35 and leading the NL Wildcard standings. They hold a seven game lead in the standings over the Mets for the final playoff spot in the National League.

St Louis Cardinals SS: Jhonny Peralta continues to lead the Cardinals everyday starters with a .291 batting average with 12 homers and 44 RBIs. He is coming off a two hit game on Friday night as he looks to improve on a slow start to July.

St Louis Cardinals C: Yadier Molina is batting .364 over his past seven games to move his average to .289 on the year. Molina was a slow starter struggling in April but has put together three solid months since.

St Louis Cardinals 2B: After a 0 for 4 on Friday Kolton Wong has seen his average dip to .281 on the year. He has produced nine homers and 37 RBIs season to date. Wong is trying to break out of a .231 hitting slump for the month of July.

St Louis Cardinals RF: Jason Heyward after a 1 for 4 on Friday is hitting .276 with nine homers and 30 RBIs. He has cooled off a bit of late hitting just .214 over his past seven games.

St Louis Cardinals 3B: Matt Carpenter is looking to break out of a bad slump in this series with Pittsburgh. Through the first two games of this series the third basemen has gone 3 for 7 with four RBIs.

St Louis Cardinals P: Tim Cooney is 0-0 in three starts with an ERA of 3.95 and WHIP of 1.32. In his two recent starts since his recall from the minors the Cardinals left hander has allowed three earned runs working 11 1/3rd innings against the Padres and Cubs.

1 day fantasy football

Pittsburgh Pirates CF: Andrew McCutchen is hot right now as he is hitting .381 over the past seven days. He has moved his average up to .300 with 11 homers and 51 RBIs. Through Friday McCutchen has hit safely in 12 straight games.

Pittsburgh Pirates LF: Starling Marte did not play on Friday due to an oblique issue. He was on a tear for July with a batting average of .353.

Pittsburgh Pirates 2B: Neil Walker is hot in July with a batting average of .368 after a 3 for 4 performance on Friday night. He has moved his average up to .279 on the year with seven homers and 34 RBIs.

Pittsburgh Pirates SS: Jordy Mercer is coming off a two hit game on Friday. He has improved his average up to .246 with two homers and 19 RBIs.

Pittsburgh Pirates 1B: Pedro Alvarez is in a hitting slump. The left handed hitter is batting just .172 for the month of July. His average has dropped to .237 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs.

Pittsburgh Pirates P: Left hander Francisco Liriano is 5-6 on the year with an ERA of 2.99 and WHIP of 1.01. He has held seven of his past nine opponents to two earned runs or fewer. He deserves a better record because the Pirates don’t give him much run support.

MLB Mock Draft Fantasy Selections

P: Tim Cooney (Cardinals)
SS: Jhonny Peralta (Cardinals)
C: Yavier Molina (Cardinals)
3B: Matt Carpenter (Cardinals)
2B: Neil Walker (Pirates)
CF: Andrew McCutchen (Pirates)

Posted in MLB