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.
With last week’s crazy weather behind us, it’s nice to settle into a slate of games without worrying too much about postponements, cancellations and missed opportunities for quality starts against weaker opponents. Let’s get right to the recommendations for the next few days:
Last week’s Tuesday/Wednesday starter review
4/15: Stephen Strasburg, WAS (vs. MIA). While I was a bit concerned that Strasburg was facing the Marlins for the third time this season, I didn’t expect him to get beat up as badly as he did on Tuesday. The Nats ace gave up six runs over just four innings but rebounded Sunday with nine Ks and one walk facing Cards hitters. He’s 1-2 in five starts this season after the Tuesday loss and no-decision on Sunday.
4/16: Masahiro Tanaka, NYY (vs. CHC). Tuesday’s game was postponed until the following afternoon, and Tanaka threw a gem against the Cubs, tossing eight scoreless innings, striking out 10 (for the second straight game) and surrendering two hits and one walk. So far this season, Tanaka has been dominant, with a 14.0 K/BB, 0.77 WHIP and 1.78 xFIP.
4/16: Brandon McCarthy, ARI (vs. NYM). McCarthy allowed three runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings on Wednesday against the Mets. His woes are a footnote in the Diamondbacks’ struggles this season, and he’ll look to bounce back Tuesday in Wrigley Field against the Cubs. For now, I’m fading him in subsequent starts until he starts exhibiting better command and control.
Drew Smyly, DET. Smyly was supposed to pitch last Wednesday against the struggling Indians, but his first start of 2014 was pushed back until Friday, when he gave up four runs on six hits in three innings against the tougher Angels. He’s scheduled to pitch again on Wednesday against the White Sox, and he’s worth taking a flyer on because of his low salary on most daily sites.
This week’s Tuesday-Wednesday Pitcher Spotlight:
Johnny Cueto, CIN (@ PIT). Cueto blanked the Pirates with a three-hit shutout last Wednesday, whiffing a career-high 12 hitters and walking none. It’ll be nearly impossible to follow up that performance against the same lineup with similar numbers, but he seems to have Pittsburgh’s number. The current Bucs lineup, in its 162 ABs against him, have hit just one HR collectively.
Adam Wainwright, STL (@NYM). The Cards ace is off to another solid start this season, with a 3-1 record in four starts, 32 Ks to just nine walks, and a 1.80 ERA. Mets hitters Lucas Duda, David Wright and Daniel Murphy have decent track records against him, but Wainwright is worth targeting in just about every start.
Zack Greinke, LAD (vs. PHI). Greinke gives up a dinger here and there, but he’s pitched well going back to last season and hasn’t yielded more than two runs in 16 straight starts. There’s probably no better option in cash games and while the Phillies lineup is capable of some big outbursts, Greinke is missing bats—with 24 Ks in 17.1 innings in three starts this season.
Gio Gonzalez, WAS (vs. LAA). After a horrendous outing on April 13, Gonzalez settled down in his last start, striking out seven Cards batters in seven innings and notching his third win of the season. He’s had good and bad luck this season, but is maintaining a 3.0 SO/BB ratio and his fastball looks sharp. The Angels aren’t pushovers, but Mike Trout (0-for-9) has struggled against him in a small sample.
Hitters to watch this week:
Jason Kipnis, CLE. Kipnis is off to a slow start with the bat, but he’s drawing walks (.379 OBP) and the Indians lineup is poised for more production after a down week.
All Giants hitters. The Rockies pitching staff is doing surprisingly well at home this season, but I’m sensing the Giants will be heating up as they travel to Coors Field this week. They’ve also got a team full of undervalued hitters, and while it’s nice to deploy a mini-stack of Rockies, the Giants pitching staff is solid and most of the Rockies’ hitters cost top dollar right now.
All Rays hitters. The Twins head to the Trop this week, where the Rays bats looked pretty potent against the Yanks this past weekend. Guys such as Matt Joyce, Wil Myers and Evan Longoria can produce runs in bunches, and the Twins pitchers have a .277 BAA so far this season.
Yasiel Puig, LAD. The Phillies are going to run some lefties (including Cole Hamels in his 2014 debut) at Puig this week, and it’s worth considering the Cuban while he’s still at a relatively low price across the daily fantasy landscape.
Gerardo Parra, ARI. The Diamondbacks could easily turn things around this week against the Cubs, and Parra gets shuffled around a lineup that’s still very capable of big things. He’s cheap, he gets plenty of ABs, and he’s in line for a big week.
Miguel Cabrera, DET. This is likely the lowest you’ll see Cabrera priced at any point this season, because he’s yet to break out with big numbers. The White Sox pitching staff is hurting right now (as is their outfield), so it’s easy to imagine some monster lines from Cabrera at home.
Remember—before plugging in your lineups, check the weather for possible rainouts and delays. Use special caution with starting pitchers in games that could be delayed after the first couple innings, since most starters will not continue after longer delays, or not start if they’ve warmed up and then had to sit for an hour or so before game time.