MLB DFS Lineup May 12

P: Blake Snell, Tamp Bay Rays

The Yankees injuries continue to derail what could be a dominate lineup.  The most recent injury being power hitting catcher Gary Sanchez.  The Yankees still feature some potential value in their lineup but with no Sanchez, no Torres and the still recent return of Migual Andujar this team is going to be weaker than usual.  Take advantage an put in a reemerging Blake Snell coming off a bounce back start of 30+ DK points against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

P: Martin Perez, Minnesota Twins

You have to monitor whether Perez will make the start as he recently welcomed a new baby into the world last night. If he does make the start you will be getting one of the hottest pitchers in baseball against a Tigers lineup that tends to underwhelm you from an offensive perspective.  Perez has developed a cutter that has mesmerized opposing hitters in his last two outings.  Perez is still very affordable as well.  If he puts up another 30 point he won’t be in his next outing.

C: Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays

You have to have a catcher and Jansen has power upside and he’s cheap.

1B: CJ Cron, Minnesota Twins

Building off of a great double header the day before.  CJ Cron has a history of mashing against lefties.  While I don’t like to stacking against Daniel Norris, the power of Cron is worth a risk at his 3.9K.  Sporting a .526 ISO in against lefties on the season Cron has great potential upside.

2B: Aledmys Diaz, Houston Astros

With Altuve on the IL Aledmys Diaz will be looked on to take a more prominent role within the starting lineup. Diaz has excelled at Tropicana Field this season hitting .300 at home nearly 200 points higher than on the road.

3B: Vlad Guerrero Jr, Toronto Blue Jays

Vlad Jr. has not gotten off to the torrid start that most assumed was coming when he received his call up.  He is coming off of his first double digit DK point day and appears to be seeing the ball well with two walks and two hits.

SS: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox

Bogaerts has been on a tear of late.  The matchup against lefty Marco Gonzales gives him a chance to face a lefty which he has a .400 ISO against during the 2019 season.

OF: Tommy Pham, Tampa Bay Rays

I love to play Pham during day games. During his career he has excelled in day games and especially versus Masahiro Tanaka. Three hits in five career at bats with an exit velo of 101 in his career against the Yankees righty makes him a must play at just 4.3K.

OF: Dennis Smith Jr., Baltimore Orioles

Griffin Canning could be a popular play with the high strikeout rate of the Baltimore lineup.  Dennis Smith Jr. has the potential to jump on Canning early. Smith Jr. features a .524 slugging percentage against lefties in 2019.

OF: Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers

Castellanos has been hitting lefties his entire career and will continue to do so in the middle of the lineup.  Featuring an .854 OPS Castellanos will have a chance to put up some numbers against Perez in the three spot of the lineup.

MLB DFS May 7 2019

P: Griffin Canning, Los Angeles Angels ($8,500)

Canning flew up the prospect ranks for the Angels and now gets a great matchup against the right handed heavy Tigers.  Detroit has struck out at the 5th highest clip against right handed pitchers.  Canning should have his first real opportunity to show his worth in the DFS community.

P: Caleb Smith, Miami Marlins ($9,500)

Smith is a risky play versus the Chicago Cubs, but his production is hard to ignore.  In total opposing offenses are hitting just .168 against Smith this season.  Smith also has averaged 11.9K’s per 9.  The Chicago lineup has been flourishing of late but only Javier Baez has been consistent against left-handed pitching during 2019.  Smith will get strikeouts so even if runs are given up he has a chance to score points.

C: Jorge Alfaro, Miami Marlins ($3,600)

Alfaro has the power to bring some punch for your lineup.  Hitting in the number four spot in the order will against a left handed starter gives him the potential for a big fly tonight.  At his low cost and spot in the lineup he has the potential to have a big game.

1B: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds ($3,500)

Joey Votto is good.  He just hasn’t shown it of late.  He gets a great matchup with Mike Fiers, who over utilizes his fastball which plays right into the hands of Votto.  Votto still carries a .381 WOBA vs. right-handed pitching going back to 2018.

2B: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros ($4,300)

Altuve continues to have low cost due to struggles in the early season. He has however had a strong ISO and WOBA to start the season.  He has matched up well with Danny Duffy over his career to a tune of .474 BA in 21 career at bats. 

3B: David Fletcher, Los Angeles Angels ($3,900)

The Angels could be a sneaky stack for tonight.  David Fletcher has had a quietly productive season. He will face off with Daniel Norris, whom is giving up a .367 WOBA to righties. 

SS: Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers ($3,600)

Chris Taylor is one of the hottest hitters on the planet right now, scoring double digits on Draftkings in four straight games. Taylor has also excelled versus left-handed hitters with a .556 slugging percentage. 

OF: Kiki Hernandez, Los Angeles Dodgers ($4,100)

Kiki mashes lefties. That is all.

OF: Ian Desmond, Colorado Rockies ($3,900)

Desmond is a dart throw at best against Madison Bumgarner.  With over 40 career at bats against him it’s safe to say that Desmond should have a good idea of what is coming. His .486 slugging percentage is worth a start at a low price.

OF: Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox ($5,100)

Benintendi has had eight hits over his last four games.  He gets a matchup with David Hess whom can blow up at any moment.  If affordable a Red Sox Stack would not be out of the question.

Should Cardinals consider the “Opener”

The Tampa Bay Rays currently sit two games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East standings. Since 2018 they have been effectively deploying the “opener” strategy. The opener works by rearranging how pitchers are deployed: a middle reliever starts (or “opens”) the game, with the usual starter slotting in thereafter. The idea is to match up with the opposing teams first few hitters in order to take advantage of matchups and protect weaker starting pitchers that can be over exposed if they are forced to go through a line up more than three times. 

The Cardinals entered the 2019 season believing their starting pitching depth was going to be the catalyst for the season.  Injuries, inconsistencies and youth has changed the outlook of the season, forcing the Cardinals to use the bullpen at an extremely high rate, currently the Cardinals bullpen has pitched 46% of the innings for the staff. While this is not ideal the bullpen has shown that it can be reliable.  Multiple players have stepped up including John Gant, John Brebbia Giovanny Gallegos and the recently sent down Ryan Helsley.  Eventually they will welcome the return Carlos Martinez.  While you don’t want to mess the one-two punch of Brebbia to Jordan Hicks there are multiple statistical reasons behind the idea of utilizing the opener.

Major League Baseball has seen an increase in scoring in the first inning.  While most starters are getting prepared they tend to leave pitches in bad places resulting in a wRC+ of 110, by far this is the highest of any inning in 2018, the next highest inning being the 6th inning where traditionally the starting pitchers is facing the lineup for the 3rd or 4th time of the game. In fact, baseball in general has had a problem with the middle innings based on this 2018 wRC+ by inning chart. The Cardinals do not differ from the rest of the league.

If you dive deeper into the St. Louis starting staff, you can see that many have issues as the game goes on below are the statistics of starters going through the lineup for the 3rd time during the 2019 season.  Outside of Jack Flaherty and Michael Wacha each pitchers ERA inflates by over a run. Wacha in small sample size for 2019 actually hasn’t given up a single run in four innings when facing a lineup for the 3rd time, his struggles come entering in the second time through the lineup with a 7.71 ERA. His xFIP the 3rd time was actually the highest of any other time frames.

ERA third time through the order:

Wainwright: 7.36 ERA (6.00 ERA in 2018)

Flaherty: 3.60 ERA (7.71 ERA in 2018)

Mikolas: 8.20 ERA (4.25 ERA in 2018)

Hudson: 3.26 ERA

Wacha: 0.00 ER (xFIP 4.56)

The Cardinals rank 20th in the MLB giving up .44 first inning runs per game.  If they transition into the opener role for a guy like Adam Wainwright or Dakota Hudson they can avoid a potential rough start and allow your starter one less at bat through the heart of a potentially tough lineup. St. Louis has already made a move to a 13-man bullpen with the addition of Luke Gregorson and the demotion of Tyler O’Neil. This setup is very similar to an American League team.  Having that extra man in the bullpen can open up the options for Manager Mike Shildt.

The next step would be deciding who would take the role of the opener.  Options for me would be Giovanny Gallegos or recalling Ryan Helsley.  Gallegos has the ability to work multiple innings if the matchup calls for it, holding lefties to a slash line of .111/.238/.278. Helsey is a plus arm that has been justifiably considered for a future spot in the back end of the bullpen.  Starting off the game with a100mph fastball is never an easy thing for an opposing lineup to face.  Both of these pitchers are guys you would look for a shutdown middle inning role, why not have them start out the game and allow the Cardinal offense to try and jump on the opposing starting pitcher.

With the depth of Cardinals pitching staff they can utilize multiple players in better leverage roles, they can also look to limit innings for younger starters that will undoubtable be forced into inning restrictions. 

  1. To limit the innings of your young starters.  Dakota Hudson and eventually Alex Reyes.
  2. To get the most out of veteran and injury prone pitchers Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha.
  3. To not expose starters that have statistically shown an inability to handle lineups multiple times through.

Does this really work?  There is a small sample size to base the effectiveness of the opener. The most compelling evidence that has been presented in favor of the opener strategy is Rays pitchers’ performances relative to Baseball Prospectus’ projections. Almost all exceeded expectations. Among them: Ryne Stanek (actual ERA of 2.98 vs. projected ERA of 3.79), Diego Castillo (3.18 vs. 4.90), Hunter Wood (3.73 vs. 4.64), Ryan Yarbrough (3.91 vs. 4.56), Yonny Chirinos (3.51 vs. 4.43) and Vidal Nuno (1.64 vs. 4.86). The pitchers who didn’t: Sergio Romo, Matt Andriese, Jalen Beeks, Austin Pruitt and Ryan Weber. This might not be definitive proof that the opener strategy worked, but the results are persuasive.

The pitcher’s stats are a great way of judging the effectiveness, but their performance of the field has seemed to be the greatest factor in whether or not the opener works.  There may be other factors to the way the Rays have played over the last few months begin last season, but the facts are that they have been winning. 

Who do you use the “opener” for would be the biggest question.  The Rays still featured premier starters Tyler Glasnow, Charlie Morton and of course the great Blake Snell.  The Cardinals feature Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas but after that it can be a mystery at times with which starter is going to give you the best outing. Both Wainwright and Dakota Hudson seem like likely candidates for an opener role due to the fact they have both within the last two years spent time coming out of the bullpen and it could be an easy transition to warmup later and make your way into the game.  The facts of the matter are you have great pitching that is still developing itself and veterans that have a history of wearing down.  The opener may not be the ultimate answer but with the depth of arms you have it very well could be an option to consider until Alex Reyes, Austin Gomber or Dakota Hudson are ready to make the next step into rotation mainstays.

Thanks for reading would love to hear your opinions @italksportsti.

Five Under Appreciated Careers Still Going (MLB)

CC Sabathia amassed his 3,000 career strikeout this week becoming just the 17th pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history to reach that mark.  Sabathia now pitching in his age 38 season is continuing to be relivant in today’s game despite being forced to change his style.  No longer is Sabathia throwing upper 90’s fastballs, instead he has adjusted his abilities to meet the needs of his body.  Sabathia quietly has made himself a hall of famer.  The best part of his career is that despite his age and personal issues CC is still a very effective major league player.  Watching him reach that milestone made me think about other players that seem like they have been in the league forever and have quietly amassed great careers, edging on the hall of fame.  I figured I’d do a top five list.  To make this list you had to have played at least nine seasons in the league and cannot have one an MVP.  Obviously you have to still be active in the MLB and playing at a high level. 

5. Alex Gordon- Kansas City Royals

The longtime Kansas City star has seemed revitalized at the plate in 2019.  The former #2 overall pick has always brought his glove to Kansas City amassing an arsenal of gold hardware with his six career Rawlings Gold Glove awards.  Gordon has shown glimpses of the five-tool player that the Royals thought they were drafting.  From 2011-2014 Gordon was a three time all-star, 3 time gold glover and finished as high as 12th in the MVP voting.  Recent struggles at the plate over the last few seasons have made people forget what kind of a player is in left field for the rebuilding Royals. 

At 35 years old Gordon has been reborn, through 28 games he currently has an OPS of .989, driving in 22 runs. Alex Gordon won’t be a hall of famer but he shouldn’t be gone on the first ballot.

4. Curtis Granderson- Miami Marlins

Curtis Granderson was highly touted prospect in the Detroit Tigers farm system in 2004 when he got the call up to the show two years later Granderson hit 19 homers for the Tigers. The year after that he finished 10th in the MVP voting leading the league with 23 triples along with his 23 homers.  The “Grandy Man” was a star in the motor city he then became a superstar when the Yankees picked him up in 2010. In his second season in  New York Granderson lead the league in RBI’s and runs scored finishing 4th in the MVP voting. 

The three time all-star has been a consistent source of power in the league for 16 years now most recently in 2017 he hit 26 homers and followed that up last season hitting 13 homers.  Granderson has hitting a shocking 336 bombs in his major league career.  Dude mashes!

3. Hunter Pence- Texas Rangers

Hunter Pence is still playing in the majors.  Seriously he is playing in Texas and playing very well.  The former 2007 rookie of the year has 13 RBI’s and a .844 OPS in 19 games played. Pence a three time all-star was a model of consistency over his career when healthy hitting over twenty homers in 7 of his 13 seasons. Known for his crazy antics and his clubhouse leadership, Pence will continue to play and eventually get to 2,000 hits before he calls it a career.  He has also added 227 homers and a career OPS of .800. 

Oh….he also has 3 World Series rings to go along with his great statistics.

2. Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers

Shin-Soo Choo has never been a guy that fans will call “the guy” on a roster.  Choo has been a world class hitter since first opportunity in 2008. In 94 games that season Choo finished with an OPS of .946.  Choo earned his way into the starting lineup consistently continuing to produce with two straight seasons of .880 OPS. Choo is still producing at the major league level in his age 36 season.  The Texas Rangers, a place where veterans go to prosper, have seen the good side of Shin-Soo as he earned his first and potentially only all-star appearance in the 2018 season.

Choo will not be remembered a one of the greats to ever play but he has fit in perfectly to the analytically driven concept that baseball has adapted to. With a career OBP of .379, 193 homers and over 1500 hits most will not remember him to be as good as he has been in his career.

1.Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves

Finally receiving the recognition he has deserved the former Orioles first round pick has had a career that has been completely overlooked by many in the baseball community. A three time gold glove winner Markakis doesn’t bring the flash of a power hitter or the speed of a base stealer. His best season coming in 2008 where he provided a 6.1 WAR to go along with his .897 OPS. Continuing his terrific performance Markakis has continued his stellar career with a .406 OBP while creating a veteran presence with the up and coming Braves.  Nick Markakis’s career numbers will stagger most casual fans.  With 2,273 career hits 3 gold gloves and over 2,00 career games Markakis has established himself as a potential future hall of famer.

Don’t be stupid. Draft Dwayne Haskins

This is strictly targeted at the incompetent front office of the New York Giants.  It is time for you to look in the mirror and understand where their franchise is.  Eli Manning’s total QBR in 2018 ranked behind the likes of Nick Mullens and Josh Allen.  That is with weapons like Odell Beckham, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard and the rookie Saquon Barkley. 

The Giants have had one winning season since 2013 and have shown no signs of understanding a certain direction.  I will give them the credit of ignoring the critics that say running backs can be found in later rounds and taking the best player in the draft last season Saquon Barkley.  They follow that up this offseason by moving arguably the best wide receiver in all of football Odell Beckham Jr. They are clearly trying to go in a different direction, yet they hold on to their 38-year-old quarterback that has been past his prime for about two years.  At the very least you have to try and prepare for time after Eli, if they truly think he still has something in the tank than they may not have another chance to take a high-level quarterback next season. 

The Giants passing on Dwayne Haskins can be a thorn in their sides for years to come as most recently the Washington Redskins have reported that they are interested in the Ohio State quarterback.  Under the tutelage of Jay Gruden Haskins will have a coach with experience bringing along a you quarterback.  If the Giants pass it would be very reasonable to believe that the Redskins would be able to make the move to get their target. 

New York is a tough fanbase to keep happy. Eli Manning has done it for what seems like my lifetime.  He deserves all the respect in the world but when you are sitting at #6 in the draft and have a chance to draft the next face of your franchise you cannot pass this up.  Dave Gettleman has already had a historically bad offseason.  I mentioned the Beckham trade, but we also can’t forget that this is the same guy that let Landon Collins walk away in free agency. Gettelman is still living off of the work he did in Carolina bringing that team to a new level despite the fact that most of the players that took that team to the next level were not drafted or acquired by him.  I don’t believe he is bad at his job but if the Giants decide to pass up on Haskins and he turns out to be the player I believe he will be there is no forgiving the stupidity of the organization.

Why the Cardinals have to win this series.

The Cardinals schedule to start the season was not ideal.  Opening up in Milwaukee with a group of young starters in a hitters park is not going to turn out well no matter how much talent you have.  The Brewers are who we though they were a potential offensive juggernaut that has limitations everywhere else of the field. Nevertheless that Cardinals were one blown save away from a split to start the season.  The scheduling god seemed to continue their cruel joke forcing the Cardinals to make as second trip to Milwaukee just two week later following a trip to Monterrey, Mexico.  The Cardinals were able to salvage the final game of the series, starting the season just 2-5 against the defending Central Division Champs. The third series versus the Brewers may only be a beginning of the week late April showdown but this could be a defining moment in the race for the Central crown.  The Cardinals need to come out and take advantage of a Brewers team that is dealing with serious pitching injuries.  Let’s breakdown how and why the Cardinals must win this series.

Pitching matchups favor the Cardinals in 2 of 3.

Game 1

Jack Flaherty has been tagged by the Brewers in two early starts giving up 9 runs and 16 hits in seven innings. Ryan Braun and Lorenzo Cain in particular have crushed Flaherty with a combined average of .492 over 23 at bats this season.  Flaherty has been great at home this season in two starts with a 0.82 ERA in two starts.  The Brewers will have Adrian Houser on the mound making his first start of the season. Since this is Houser’s first career start he will most likely dominate for the first 4 innings or so until the Cardinals unleash the second time through.

Game 2

Zach Davies who is what you would call the opposite of a Cardinal Killer, in particular Matt Carpenter has owned Davies to a .455BA in 22 career plate appearances.  Davies will most likely be opposed by Daniel Ponce De Leon taking the spot of the injured Michael Wacha.  Ponce De Leon has only faced the Brewers in relief where he pitched in relief successfully striking out two on 14 pitches. Ponce De Leon is going have a big night. This is soley based on the fact I believe the Cardinals will jump out early and give him the confidence to dominate.

Game 3

There was a time where Jouhlys Chacin would have dreaded a potential matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals, owning an 0-7 mark in nine career starts up until last June.  Since then Chacin has won his last three starts against the Redbirds including a great opening day start where his struck out seven.  Chacin will face off against Adam Wainwright whose been the definition of up and down during the start of the season.  Waino will have to have his curve working against the powerful Milwaukee lineup.  If not his 89 MPH (being gracious) fastball will be put on a tee for the power bats of Milwaukee.

Brewers coming off of 4 game sweep in LA

You always want to kick a team while they are down.  The Brewers are coming off of an abysmal series in LA losing all four games to the 2018 National League Champs. Milwaukee has been dealing with a lot of injuries in the rotation which has caused them to force a few starts from guys they were not expecting including Chase Anderson and the game one starter Adrian Houser, injuries in their bullpen have also forced the hand of manager Craig Counsel putting guys in positions that they will not be successful.

Why the Cardinals have to win this series.

It is time for the Cardinals to show that they are the class of the NL Central. In game one, the Cardinals have their presumed “ace” on the mound in Jack Flaherty which should set the stage for the rest of the series. The key to victory is very simple, don’t pitch to Christian Yelich, take a advantage of the weakend Brewers starting pitching and take advantage of your home field.  The Cardinals will not have any excuses if they are unable to win this series.

MLB Picks 4/20/19

I have been throwing out a lot of picks lately and haven’t held myself accountable so today I begin to truly cover my plays and see what my end of the season record may be. Let’s get this started on a winning track.

Chicago White Sox (Santana) at Detroit Tigers (Norris)

The Detroit Tigers as a team haven’t hit much all year. They have however been better at home with a .244 BA at home when compared to a .183 BA away from Comerica Park. Ervin Santana has not been stellar in his first two starts of the season giving up 10 earned runs over 8 innings and getting shelled by right handed hitters.

The Tigers have a healthy Nick Castellanos back in their lineup which will propel them to a victory at home.

Pick: Detroit Tigers -135

Boston Red Sox (Porcello) at Tamp Bay Rays (Morton)

Rick Porcello has been a ticking time bomb to start the season, a matchup the leagues best team has the potential for time to run out. Lefties in particular have hit Porcello to a tune of .460 batting average in more than enough of a sample size.

The Tamp Bay Rays will have an array of lefties in their lineup including Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi and the red hot Austin Meadows. Even if Boston was playing better this is not a matchup that benefits the the world champs.

Pick: Tamp Bay Rays -1.5 (+140)

Philadelphia Phillies (Nola) at Colorado Rockies (Senzatela)

No one expected the Rockies to have struggles on the offensive side of the ball but that has been the case early in 2019. The Rockies are bottom five in most offensive categories. With a slash line of .215/.274/.360 at the plate as a team a matchup with Aaron Nola seems like trouble for Colorado. However, their offense has come alive during their recent winning streak, scoring at least four runs in each of their last five games.

The Rockies will send Antonio Senzatela to the mound coming off of a great first start against San Diego going 6.2 innings while only giving up one run. Ryan McMahon has stepped up for the Rockies filling in for the injured Daniel Murphy. The Rockies as a home dog versus a usually sluggish start to the season for Nola should give great value in this situation.

Pick: Rockies +105

MLB DFS Lineup 4/19/19

P: Anibal Sanchez, Washington Nationals ($8,100)

Anibal Sanchez has a terrific matchup against the Miami Marlins.  This matchup is in Miami which is a pitchers paradise. The Marlins also feature one of the weakest lineups in baseball scoring just three runs in their last 4 games, while striking out an average of 9 times per game.

P: Jordan Lyles, Pittsburgh Pirates ($7,900)

Lyles is coming off one of his best games of the year striking out ten Cubs hitters over six innings on April 10th.  Lyles now gets a matchup with the San Fransisco Giants offense that ranks bottom three in runs per game and bottom ten in strikeouts per game. The Giants have seen Lyles as a team for over 100 at bats but only have one career home runs versus the Pirates righty.

C: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals ($3,700)

The Cardinals are a favorable potential stack tonight.  Guys like Goldschmidt, Ozuna, and Dejong should be on your radar but in this case I am going to bank on Molina.  Yadier has had a rare two day break after sitting out the last game of the Milwaukee series coinciding with the day off.  Molina has hitting Met’s starter Jason Vargas very well over his career going 5 for 11 off of the veteran lefty including an average exit velocity of 92.9. 

1B: Yuli Gurriel, Houston Astros ($4,200)

The Astros in total are a good stack tonight along with the Cardinals as they face off in Texas against Drew Smyly.  Yuli smashes lefties over the last two seasons, in 2019 Gurriel is hitting .368. Gurriel is a low cost option at a prime position tonight.

2B: Gleybor Torres, New York Yankees ($4,300)

Gleybor hits better at home and will be sitting in the middle of the lineup for the Yankees against a homer prone Royals starter.

3B: Alex Bregman, Houston Astros ($4,600)

Bregman will join in on my mini Astros stack, a .548 slugging percentage over the last three years versus lefties should put him in a great position to succeed.

SS: Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics ($4,200)

Semien has always been more known for his offense then defense, so far this season the offense has been showing.  Semien is also 4 for 7 in his career against Marcus Stroman. Good price for a good hitter.

OF: Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics ($4,700)

Khris Davis is going to hit a home run tonight.  That is all.  Have a great day.

OF: Tommy Pham, Tampa Bay Rays ($4,300)

It feels like the price for Tommy Pham is way to low here but that works for me.  Coming off a huge night with a homer and a stolen base.  When Pham gets going he can carry a slate.  Red Sox pitching has been giving up runs all year so Pham at just 4.3K is a great play.

OF: Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers ($3,900)

Castellanos has not had a torrid start to the season but coming off a game where he put up major points grab him before the price goes up.  Castellanos is 3 for 5 against White Sox starter Carlos Rodon and is a another pick from the bargain bin for this slate.

Russell Westbrook: Most overrated player in the NBA

The Oklahoma City Thunder could very well come back and win their first round series with the Portland Trailblazers but after two games of the series its clear to anyone that is watching the best point guard on the floor is not Mr. Triple Double Russell Westbrook.  In fact, he may not even be the second-best guard on the floor with the way that CJ McCollum has been playing.  It’s time for the world to realize that Westbrook is not a franchise player he is a loser that knows how to fill a stat sheet. 

Westbrook entered the league as the #4 pick out of UCLA.  He was paired along-side the previous year’s #2 pick Kevin Durant, the soon to be Oklahoma City Thunder thought they had their dynamic duo that could lead them to a championship.  What they really had was two talented players that were destined for an eventual clash.  Durant and Westbrook were young enough and talented enough to get past their differences to carry them to the NBA Finals in 2011-12.  After they made their run the Thunder disintegrated into a split personality.  Westbrook did what he does, he took over despite what was best for the team.  He was unable to understand what was going to take them to the next level.  Westbrook inability to mesh with Kevin Durant has to be blamed on his own personality.  Durant was able to assimilate himself into the star studded Warriors with minimal clashing. 

With Durant gone Westbrook was signed long term to be the official face of the franchise and he has run with it.  There is no argument that he is a future hall of fame player that can do almost anything athletically on a basketball court.  When it comes time to make a big play do your really see Russell Westbrook making the big shots?  Do you see him closing out games in the biggest moments.  He has the personality of a great player and the ego of one but lacks that ability mentally to be “the guy”. 

As I watched game two last night I kept wondering where this all-time great player was, this franchise cornerstone that made it acceptable for Kevin Durant and James Harden to leave. Since Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder are 3-10 in the playoffs while its “star” has been anything but.  Russell Westbrook has shot just 38% from the field and 28% from 3 during those 13 games and last night a true leader showed what it takes mentally to be great.  The Blazers team would do anything for Damion Lillard, they play with him and for him.  The Thunder had the momentum early getting out to a nine point lead, but as the lead began to crumble Westbrook began to crumble along with it.  When his team needed him most he disappeared.  Westbrook final stat numbers are always going to be strong.  He will get some points, rebounds, assists but he lacks the traits that make a player the best.  Russell is now 30 years old, he convinced Paul George to stay in OKC, he has time to turn it around but right now he is a stat player rather than a winning player.  Russell has a way to make you believe his is one of the best in the game, that is a mirage hidden behind a stat line. 

Oh and his personality really sucks. 

MLB DFS Lineup 4/15/19

Pitcher: Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians ($10,400)

Any time you have an ace coming off of a bad start is a great option. Bauer will face off against a Seattle offense that came off a tough three game stretch against the Houston Astros.  Bauer will come out with something to prove against a heavily right handed lineup. 

Pitcher: Matt Shoemaker, Toronto Blue Jays ($8,000)

Shoemaker is hot right now, roll with him until he’s not.

C: Curt Casali, Cincinnati Reds ($3,200)

Curt Casali wil be leading off against the returning Clayton Kershaw.  Normally you would always avoid Kershaw but in this case you can get a cheap catcher in a lead-off spot.  Casali had a .989 OPS in 2018 against left handed pitching.  At the price Casali is a bargain option that will allow you to play a pitcher like Treovr Bauer.

1B: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox ($4,300)

This is simple, Abreu is 3 for 3 against the Royals starter with a homer.  I like this game as a potential stack so you have to go with the White Sox best power bat.

2B: Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals ($4,600)

Merrifield has the power and speed that can always bring high upside against a struggling starter  Ervin Santana.

SS: Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies ($4,200)

Story versus a lefty is a strong option any day of the week.  His career numbers against Joey Lucchesi aren’t great in 10 career at bats but he brings a lot to the table for another great cost.

3B: Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins ($2,900)

Anderson has two straight games of 20 plus points.  He is currently at 2.9k which is another bargain for a guy that brings power upside to a lineup that is not great, sometimes the best bargains can bring the best upside.

OF: Randall Grichuck, Toronto Blue Jays ($4,300)

Righties crushed Martin Perez in 2018 to a clip of .966 OPS. Grichuk Is a great option for lineups especially against lefties.  I want exposure to the Blue Jays, I will start with Randall.

OF: Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers ($4,300)

Joc Pederson loves swinging and he loves fastballs.  Going against Luis Castillo is a great matchup.

OF: Hunter Dozier, Kansas City Royals ($3,600)

Dozier is another player that will have a low cost but potential high reward. With over 8 fantasy points in each of his last 5 games and a favorable matchup with Ervin Santana he is a no brainer at just 3.6K.