Editor’s Note: As part of our expanded fantasy coverage, this season Baseball America will dedicate a weekly column to daily fantasy baseball, a growing part of the fantasy landscape that offers a lot of flexibility to competitors. These stories will include general tips and strategy, as well as a list of players to target in your daily games each week. For the introductory column, Antonio D’Arcangelis reviews some of the basic rules to follow in composing your daily fantasy lineups, and a brief guide to some of the players he likes for Opening Day.
Don’t look now, but the offensively challenged Royals, Reds and Twins are starting to score a lot of runs. Behind the bats of Sal Perez, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas, the times are changing in Kansas City. Just about all of these guys are priced affordably for fantasy lineups, and as the team charges forth in late summer, you’ll want to stack some lineups with Royal Blue. The team is hitting a collective .281/.320/.430 so far this month, and they might be just getting started.
In Cincinnati, the power numbers of Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier have been a huge help in dealing with injuries to Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. Jay Bruce is starting to come alive, and role players such as Brayan Pena and Chris Heisey have given the Reds quality hitting. Over the past week, the Reds have scored 40 runs—the third-most in baseball over that seven-game span.
The Twins have hit .278/.356/.429 in the past six games, and now get back a healthy Joe Mauer. Keep any eye on this lineup, especially stalwarts Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe and the reliable Kurt Suzuki, as the summer rolls on.
Last Week’s Tuesday/Wednesday Starter Review
Clayton Kershaw, LAD (vs. LAA)—He hasn’t put together any ridiculous scoreless streaks in his past couple of outings, but Kershaw has been solid. He took a no-decision Tuesday against the Angels (7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO) and notched his 14th win of the season on Sunday in Milwaukee (8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO). Continue to work him into lineups when it’s feasible.
Alex Wood, ATL (@ SEA)—Wood took a loss on Tuesday (6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 SO) in a duel against Felix Hernandez, but rebounded with an outstanding performance at home against the Nationals on Sunday (7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 12 SO). I always look for Wood as a relatively cheap, upside-laden option in tournament play, and Sunday night it paid off.
Jesse Hahn, SD (@ MIN)—Hahn’s winning streak was snapped Tuesday after a two-out, three-run homer in the sixth inning by Kennys Vargas of the Twins. The 25-year-old is still 7-3 with 57 Ks and a 2.28 ERA in 10 starts (59.1 IP) this season.
Chris Sale, CWS (vs. TEX)—Sale is starting to look human. He was victimized by a two-run Adam Rosales homer in the second inning Wednesday, and while Rosales went deep again in the seventh, the big blow was the only one Texas needed, as Sale got just one run of support from the Sox. Sale is still averaging more than a strikeout per inning, so I’m still plugging him in at just about every opportunity—but the offense needs to pick it up and stake him to some early leads once in a while for him to reach his full fantasy potential.
Yordano Ventura, KAN (@ ARI)—Ventura struck out eight Diamondbacks Wednesday (6 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB) in his ninth win of the season. He’s looking stronger since a couple of poor outings in mid-July and makes a great upside play because of his lower price.
Jake Arrieta, CHC (@ COL)—Arrieta struggled to find his stuff in Coors Field on Wednesday, getting rocked for 13 hits and nine ER in five innings. Sometimes it pays to play the contrarian with talented starters in Coors Field, but the experiment failed miserably this time around.
|INJURED PLAYERS TO WATCH/AVOID|
|Paul Goldschmidt, ARI (hand, DL: out indefinitely)
Cody Ross, ARI (calf, DL: possible mid-August return)
Chris Owings, ARI (shoulder, DL: possible late-August return)
A.J. Pollock, ARI (hand, DL: possible mid-August return)
Andrelton Simmons, ATL (ankle, DTD)
J.J. Hardy, BAL (thumb, status uncertain)
Matt Wieters, BAL (elbow, DL: 2015)
Allen Craig, BOS (foot, DL: possible Aug. 17 return)
David Ross, BOS (foot, DL: possible Aug. 17 return)
Shane Victorino, BOS (back, DL: 2015 return)
Adam Eaton, CHW (ribs, DL: possible early-September return)
Avisail Garcia, CHW (shoulder, DL: possible late-August return)
Brandon Phillips, CIN (thumb, DL: possible late-August return)
Joey Votto, CIN (quad, DL: possible early-September return)
David Murphy, CLE (abdomen, DL: out indefinitely)
Nick Swisher, CLE (knee, DL: out indefinitely)
Michael Bourn, CLE (hamstring, DL: possible mid-August return)
Jason Giambi, CLE (knee, DL: possible August return)
Carlos Gonzalez, COL (knee, DL: out indefinitely)
Troy Tulowitzki, COL (hip, DL: out indefinitely)
Michael Cuddyer, COL (shoulder, DL: possible mid-August return)
Jesus Guzman, HOU (back, DL: out indefinitely)
George Springer, HOU (quad, DL: possible early-August return)
Alex Presley, HOU (ribs, DL: possible mid-August return)
Dexter Fowler, HOU (ribs, DL: possible mid-August return)
Eric Hosmer, KAN (hand, DL: possible early-September return)
Grant Green, LAA (back, DL: out indefinitely)
Hanley Ramirez, LAD (ribs, DL: possible Aug. 24 return)
Derek Dietrich, MIA (wrist, DL: out indefinitely)
Rafael Furcal, MIA (hamstring, DL: out indefinitely)
Jeff Bianchi, MIL (elbow, DL: possible early-August return)
Oswaldo Arcia, MIN (back, DTD)
Trevor Plouffe, MIN (foot, DTD)
Joe Mauer, MIN (ribs, DL: Aug. 11 return)
Brian McCann, NYY (head, DL; status uncertain)
Nick Punto, OAK (hamstring, DL: out indefinitely)
Craig Gentry, OAK (hand, DL: possible mid-August return)
Kyle Blanks, OAK (calf, DL: possible mid-July return)
John Mayberry, PHI (wrist, DL: possible early-August return)
Andrew McCutchen, PIT (ribs, DTD)
Neil Walker, PIT (back, DL: out indefinitely)
Clint Barmes, PIT (groin, DL: possible late-August return)
Everth Cabrera, SD (hamstring, status uncertain)
Carlos Quentin, SD (knee, DL: possible mid-August return)
Cameron Maybin, SD (suspended)
Michael Morse, SF (toe, DTD)
Brandon Belt, SF (concussion, DL: out indefinitely)
Marco Scutaro, SF (back, DL: possible late-August return)
Corey Hart, SEA (knee, DL: late August return)
Willie Bloomquist, SEA (knee, DL: out indefinitely)
Michael Saunders, SEA (ribs, DL: possible early-August return)
Yadier Molina, STL (thumb, DL: possible late-September return)
David DeJesus, TAM (hand, DL: possible mid-August return)
Ryan Hanigan, TAM (ribs, DL: Early August return)
Wil Myers, TAM (wrist, DL: late-August return)
Alex Rios, TEX (ankle, DTD)
Jake Smolinski, TEX (foot, DL: out indefinitely)
Prince Fielder, TEX (neck, DL: 2015)
Mitch Moreland, TEX (ankle, DL: 2015)
Kevin Kouzmanoff, TEX (back, DL: 2015)
Jurickson Profar, TEX (shoulder, DL: done for the season)
Adam Lind, TOR (foot, DL: possible Aug. 11 return)
Edwin Encarnacion, TOR (quad, DL: mid-August return)
Brett Lawrie, TOR (ribs, DL: possible September return)
Dan Johnson, TOR (hamstring, DL: August return)
Maicer Izturis, TOR (knee, DL: possible September return)
Steven Souza, WAS (shoulder, DL: out indefinitely)
Nate McLouth, WAS (shoulder, DL: mid-August return)
Ryan Zimmerman, WAS (hamstring, DL: out indefinitely)
This Week’s Tuesday/Wednesday Starter Recommendations
Chris Sale, CHW (@ SF)—I’m anxious to see what Sale is priced at on Tuesday, since he’s had some trouble getting wins. There’s still a lot of upside here, so look for a dominant performance up against Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants in AT&T Park.
Jon Lester, OAK (@ KAN)—Although the Royals are scoring more and just added Josh Willingham, Lester shouldn’t have too much trouble in Kansas City this week, and remains one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball. The Royals don’t strike out a lot, but I’m confident the dominant lefthander (who is 6-0 with a 1.21 ERA in his past 10 starts) can shut them down as he’s been quite filthy this season.
(day) Brett Oberholtzer, HOU—The enigmatic Oberholtzer is truly an up-and-down pitcher, but he’s registered quality starts in his past five—going 2-0 with a 2.91 ERA over that span. He’s worth a look in the early slate of games, though the Twins offense is getting better.
(night) Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA (vs. TOR)—Iwakuma is 10-6 on the season with a 2.86 ERA and 104 SO in 132.1 IP. He’s also pitched pretty well against the Blue Jays in his career, going 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA in four starts, so he’s an excellent option as Toronto isn’t quite the same offensive juggernaut on the road.
NOTE: Make sure you check the weather forecast and any changes in probable starters from the revised schedule. There’s not much worse than a zero from one of your starters—and it’s usually avoidable if you’re prudent about the risks you’re willing to take.
Hitters To Watch/Target This Week
Rangers hitters: The heart of the Rangers order is pretty difficuly to get through without yielding some runs, especially when they are at home in Globe Life Park in Arlington. Injuries have hurt this team, but Adrian Beltre, J.P. Arencibia and even Adam Rosales have been heating up and are capable of going deep multiple times in a game. Stay tuned to the status of Alex Rios (ankle, DTD) and keep an eye on Elvis Andrus and the dynamic Shin-Soo Choo, who’s also been showing some power as of late.
Astros hitters: Another lineup that’s pretty streaky is the young bunch of sluggers in Houston, with Chris Carter, Robbie Grossman, Marc Krauss, Jon Singleton and superstar Jose Altuve making plenty of hay. Even utility guys such as Marwin Gonzalez can make excellent lineup filler and help cut down team salary so you can afford a premium pitcher. At home against some bad pitching, this is a lot I use frequently.
Yankees hitters: With Brett Gardner turning into a legitimate power source, Carlos Beltran swinging a hot bat and Jacoby Ellsbury reminding us why he’s such an elite fantasy asset, there’s plenty of reason to be excited about the Yankees these days. I’ll be watching how Brian McCann (head) recovers and keeping a close eye on the adjustments that Martin Prado and Chase Headley continue to make as they adapt to pinstripes, but just about everybody in this lineup is worth a spot against the Orioles.
Other hitters to watch/target this week: Miguel Montero/Mark Trumbo, ARI; Jason Heyward/Freddie Freeman, ATL; Adam Jones/Caleb Joseph/Nelson Cruz/Jonathan Schoop, BAL; Dustin Pedroia/Yoenis Cespedes, BOS; Jay Bruce/Devin Mesoraco, CIN; Michael Brantley/Jason Kipnis, CLE; Mike Trout/Kole Calhoun, LAA; Ryan Braun/Carlos Gomez, MIL; Stephen Vogt/John Jaso/Brandon Moss, OAK; Gregory Polanco/Josh Harrison, PIT; Seth Smith/Tommy Medica, SD; Ben Zobrist/Matt Joyce/Desmond Jennings, TAM