Welcome back to another season with us at Fantasy Baseball Now. From now through Monday, September 23, we’ll have this Daily Intel post for you every single day by 11 a.m. Eastern.
With the influx of legalized gambling options in the United States, we’ve decided to tweak the presentation of this year’s daily newsletter. We will still be providing league-wide coverage, but instead of news blurbs for all 30 teams every day, we’ll have at least one blurb for every game played in the prior day, and if the off-day teams have an important news item, we’ll cover that too. There will be two new additions to the daily newsletter: first will be recommended lineups for DFS games, which, for the unfamiliar, are the basis of popular sites like DraftKings and FanDuel; second will be recommended bets for the next day’s games based on winner/loser choices and over/under run totals. As MLB builds out its partnership with MGM as its gaming partner, we hope this new layer of the newsletter helps you enjoy the games more as well.
Let’s start with yesterday’s games and the fantasy items that emerged.
News From Yesterday’s Slate
Baltimore Orioles – 2
New York Yankees – 7
- SP Masahiro Tanaka threw his curveball nine times yesterday, good for 11 percent of his overall arsenal on the day. That’s a big step up from the 3.9 percent he threw it last year, and the pitch earned him four called strikes, as well a soft fly out. It’s definitely something to watch for in his next few starts as he looks to even out his heavy splitter/slider usage.
New York Mets – 2
Washington Nationals – 0
- The target for stolen bases on SS Trea Turner this year is 75. On day one, against the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner who pitched six shutout innings, Turner got on base twice and stole three bases. This is the type of game that makes you realize Turner’s immense upside as the guy who could supplant Mike Trout as fantasy’s top player. He could go on a one-week hitless slump and still manage to steal five bags in that time.
- Mets closer RP Edwin Diaz put his shaky spring behind him to pitch a perfect ninth inning for his first save, needing just 14 pitches and throwing nine strikes.
Atlanta Braves – 4
Philadelphia Phillies – 10
- The Braves bullpen has all the makings of a disaster, which is not going to be good for a rotation dealing with injuries and relying currently on a heavy dose of rookie starters. After SP Julio Teheran allowed three runs in five innings, four Atlanta relievers combined to allow seven runs in three innings of work, including two homers.
- OF Bryce Harper hit third and struck out twice in his Phillies debut, also walking and scoring a run. C J.T. Realmuto hit fifth in his debut and also walked and scored a run in an otherwise hitless performance.
- SP Aaron Nola was throwing his fastball at 95 mph, a couple of ticks higher than last season. If that holds, he’s going to threaten for the Cy Young Award.
Los Angeles Angels – 0
Oakland A’s – 4
- OF Robbie Grossman led off and played left field for Oakland yesterday, and even though the A’s acquired 1B/DH Kendrys Morales earlier in the day, Grossman seems in line to at least get enough looks to be worth roster in AL-only leagues. He went 2-for-4 with a stolen base and a run scored.
- If you followed us last year, you know we love DH Khris Davis, and he hit an absolute bomb yesterday for his second home run of the year. He looks primed for another run at the home run crown.
- Angels SP Andrew Heaney will not be returning anytime soon after feeling discomfort in his elbow during a throwing session.
Arizona Diamondbacks – 5
Los Angeles Dodgers – 12
- OF Joc Pederson led off with a righty, SP Zack Greinke, on the mound, and proceeded to have an outstanding day, going 3-for-5 with two home runs, four RBI, and three runs scored.
- Newly-minted full-time 2B Kike Hernandez also hit two homers, driving in three, scoring three, and also walking. If Hernandez gets 500 at-bats, he’s going to have a top-12 season at second base.
San Francisco Giants – 0
San Diego Padres – 2
- SP Madison Bumgarner was a flash point in drafts all winter and spring, and he didn’t do all that much in spring training to put aside concerns. But he was lights out yesterday, generating 16 swinging strikes on 92 pitches and striking out nine in 7 2/3 innings of work. His cutter remains his best pitch, even if it isn’t the elite-level offering it was a few years ago before his injury issues. The Padres lineup is nowhere near the gimme it used to be, though, and we’re excited to see how MadBum follows this up when he faces the rival Dodgers on Tuesday night in LA.
- OF Hunter Renfroe was the odd man out of the San Diego lineup on day one, with OF Franmil Reyes starting in right field and batting cleanup.
St. Louis Cardinals – 4
Milwaukee Brewers – 5
- SP Miles Mikolas thrived with an elite slider last year, and the pitch worked well for him in most cases yesterday with seven called strikes, five swinging strikes, and just one ball put in play for a hit on the offering. Unfortunately, that hit was a home run by opposing SP Jhoulys Chacin, one of three homers Mikolas allowed on the day. The others came on his two-seam fastball, which just wasn’t working for him at all. Mikolas lives at 92-93 with both his fastballs, so a trend to watch is if he starts allowing louder contact on that pitch and leans more on his slider.
- Not only did RP Josh Hader get the first save chance with injuries in the Milwaukee bullpen, he worked two “perfect” innings and struck out four, needing only 21 pitches to do so. The quotes around perfect come because he needed a home-run saving catch from OF Lorenzo Cain to preserve the one-run lead the Crew had with two outs in the ninth and 1B/OF Jose Martinez up at the plate. Martinez smashed a ball to the right-center power alley that Cain pulled back from over the wall.
Cleveland Indians – 0
Minnesota Twins – 2
- It wasn’t RP Trevor May getting the call with two outs in the eighth inning and the Twins up 2-0, it was RP Taylor Rogers, who relieved SP Jose Berrios after a brilliant outing. Rogers went on to strike out three of the four batters he faced between the eighth and ninth inning to earn the save. New manager Rocco Baldelli was groomed in the Rays system both as a player and a coach, which means he understands the value of assigning pitchers to situations based on leverage and not specific inning roles. Rogers was tremendous last year with 75 Ks in 68 1/3 innings and a .95 WHIP, so he could easily be the guy to own in this bullpen.
Houston Astros – 5
Tampa Bay Rays – 1
- SP Blake Snell didn’t have it in his first start defending his Cy Young Award, allowing three home runs and five earned runs in six innings of work, including just his third career homer allowed to a lefty (OF Michael Brantley). The Astros are going to do this to a lot of star pitchers this year, and Snell didn’t allow much hard contact at all outside of the homers and a double by 1B/3B Yuli Gurriel, so don’t lose any faith or trust in Snell as he remains at home to take on Colorado next time out.
Pittsburgh Pirates – 3
Cincinnati Reds – 5
- If you’re relying on Reds RP Raisel Iglesias as a primary saves source, you’re going to need to start monitoring how new manager David Bell uses him after yesterday’s brutal outing. Iglesias was asked to bridge the eighth and ninth innings and couldn’t get the job done, walking two of the first three batters he faced in the ninth and leaving with 16 of his 34 pitches going for balls. He generated just one swinging strike.
- Pirates OF Starling Marte was a last-minute scratch with a migraine headache. With a day off today, he should be ready to go on Saturday afternoon.
Boston Red Sox – 4
Seattle Mariners – 12
- This is the disastrous start that SP Chris Sale owners were fearing after his inconsistent and uncertain spring. Sale’s fastball velocity was down throughout the entirety of the three-inning, six-hit, seven-run beating he took from the Mariners, and he only struck out four. Sale has to remain in your lineup for his next scheduled start at Oakland on Tuesday night, but if you own him, you have to watch that outing.
- Seattle OF Domingo Santana and SS Tim Beckham continued their hot starts from the Japan series, with Santana going 3-for-5 with a home run, a double, and four RBI, and Beckham going 3-for-5 with two homers off Sale in consecutive innings.
Detroit Tigers – 2
Toronto Blue Jays – 0
- An unexpected pitching duel broke out at Rogers Centre yesterday, with Detroit SP Jordan Zimmermann carrying a perfect game through 20 batters and losing it only on a soft infield single. Zimmermann’s four-seam fastball, which has been a dreadful pitch over the last four years, was better yesterday and could be a balancing point on his always elite slider as he seeks to regain some semblance of mixed league value.
- SP Marcus Stroman was the other side of the duel, as he carried the same velocity level as last year and displayed the wipe out slider that made him a reliable fantasy asset in 2016 and 2017. He’s someone to consider adding in FAAB this weekend.
- Toronto 3B Brandon Drury led off and will be in that role for the forseeable future, according to manager Charlie Montoyo.
Colorado Rockies – 6
Miami Marlins – 3
- OF Lewis Brinson led off for the Marlins and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. OF Garrett Cooper, who was a surprise winner of a starting job, hit cleanup and posted the same line as Brinson.
- 2B Ryan McMahon was the winner of the starting job at the keystone for the Rockies, and he hit seventh yesterday with a single, an RBI, and a run scored. SS Garrett Hampson, a very popular mid-round speed source in drafts this year, did not start or play.
Chicago White Sox – 3
Kansas City Royals – 5
- OF Eloy Jimenez hit fifth in his major league debut, behind 1B Yonder Alonso, and went 0-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.
- RP Wily Peralta started the ninth inning in a non-save situation with the Royals up five, and he was not good, allowing a single and a walk and only retiring one batter before beind pulled. Both those runners scored, creating a one-out save opportunity for RP Brad Boxberger, who converted. Still no clarity on this closer role yet, but Boxberger is the slight favorite.
Chicago Cubs – 12
Texas Rangers – 4
- 2B/OF Ian Happ was a surprise demotion at the end of spring training, but for a day, it looked valid, as all of OFs Albert Almora Jr. and Jason Heyward plus 2B/3B David Bote had multiple hits.
- Velocity looked another slight tick down from last year for SP Jon Lester, who delivered a quality start with six innings of two-run work in the Cubs win. His four-seam fastball averaged 89.7 mph after being at 91.7 and 91.9 the last two years, per Fangraphs. He gets the dangerous Atlanta lineup next on the road on either Wednesday or Thursday night.
Daily Fantasy Recommendations for Friday, March 29 (NOTE: We use DraftKings prices and format, which means two pitchers are required)
- High-priced option: Yadier Molina ($3,400)
- Low-priced option: Grayson Greiner ($2,900)
- First Base
- High-priced option: Daniel Murphy ($4,600)
- Low-priced option: Ji-Man Choi ($3,200)
- Second Base
- High-priced option: Wilmer Flores ($3,800)
- Low-priced option: Kike Hernandez ($3,700)
- Third Base
- High-priced option: Justin Turner ($4,200)
- Low-priced option: Brandon Drury ($2,900)
- High-priced option: Xander Bogaerts ($4,300)
- Low-priced option: Paul DeJong ($3,400)
- Outfielder (three required)
- High-priced option 1: Mookie Betts ($5,500)
- High-priced option 2: Hunter Renfroe ($4,400)
- Note: He may not start.
- High-priced option 3: Mitch Haniger ($4,400)
- Low-priced option 1: A.J. Pollock ($4,000)
- Low-priced option 2: Christin Stewart ($3,600)
- Low-priced option 3: Jose Martinez ($3,700)
- Note: He may not start.
- Pitcher (two required)
- High-priced option 1: German Marquez ($9,500)
- High-priced option 2: Gerrit Cole ($11,200)
- Low-priced option 1: Derek Holland ($6,000)
- Low-priced option 2: Matt Boyd ($6,600)
Today’s Best Bets
Note: Odds via OddsShark. Home team in CAPS.
- Our favorite favorite: DODGERS -165 over Arizona (Ross Stripling vs Robbie Ray)
- Our favorite underdog: Tigers +120 over TORONTO (Matt Boyd vs Matt Shoemaker)
- Our over/under play: UNDER 8.5 Angels/ATHLETICS