This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
Happy Fourth of July everyone! Today is a day to enjoy all of the wonderful F's America has granted us, such as family, friends, food and, just as important, FanDuel! Last week was an absolute nightmare, as there was rain across the East Coast and three postponements. There were some beautiful stacking options that day that were ruined by Mother Nature, but thankfully, we shouldn't have any issues for this Saturday slate. With a marquee matchup between Zack Greinke and Matt Harvey, I'd assume more than half of lineups will be featuring one of these two aces. I'll offer some cheap bats, so you can use one of these pitchers and another cheaper pitching option to separate yourselves from the pack. With a marginally small late, I only have one pitching option and two outfielders unlike my usual two pitchers and three outfielders. Let's get to our July 4th FanDuel plays.
Alex Wood $8,400
The top two pitchers on the board are Matt Harvey ($10,500) and Zack Greinke ($11,200) and they square off in Los Angeles in what should be a low-scoring pitcher's duel. While they should both put up solid lines, we're going to zig while everyone zags and use Alex Wood against the woeful Phillies. There are many reasons why I really like this Alex Wood play. First off, the price of $8,400 is just too cheap. He is more than $2,000 cheaper then both of the aforementioned aces and has a better chance to win then either of these studs. Second, the matchup against the Phillies is just too easy. This Philadelphia offense is beyond bad, 28th in runs and OPS. Lastly, Wood is finally back to ace-like form and coming off his best start of the season. On Sunday, Wood struck out eight Pirates over 7.1 scoreless innings in a winning effort. And with the Braves a -190 favorite with a total of 7.5, Wood is a fantastic value.
Jonathan Lucroy $3,100
I love using players who are starting to get hot, and we're doing just that here with Lucroy. The Brewers catcher just returned from the DL a couple weeks ago and is just starting to get it going. Over the last four games, Lucroy has 11 hits and eight runs scored atop the Milwaukee lineup. The pitcher Lucroy faces Saturday is Josh Smith, the lowest-priced pitcher on the slate. Aside from his bad field-goal percentage, Josh Smith takes way too many three-pointers. Just joking, but this Smith guy is a Triple-A arm with a 5.63 ERA and has no place in a major-league rotation. Lucroy should abuse this matchup and produce in many facets. Expect a two-hit performance with a double and a run scored, at the least. With such few options at catcher on a short slate, Lucroy is a great play at a very fair price.
Ben Paulsen $2,500
Paulsen is definitely not a household name, but he's put up some olid numbers in the absence of Justin Morneau. First basemen are typically quite pricey and getting away with a $2,500 player can be immensely valuable. This Colorado-Arizona game should also be high scoring. Patrick Corbin takes the mound for Arizona and hasn't pitched in more than a year, coming off the dreaded Tommy John surgery. Paulsen has some solid numbers this season as well, posting a .285 average and .847 OPS. These are better numbers then most of the players in the $3,500 range, so we're really getting a bargain with Paulsen. We'll bank on a consistent hitter in the middle of the Rockies' order capitalizing on a rusty starter.
Dee Gordon $3,200
It's very rare to see a .350 hitter with elite speed priced at just $3,200, but we were fortunate to get that with Gordon. While the Marlins lineup has been diminished due to the loss of Giancarlo Stanton, Gordon still provides elite value through runs, hits and steals. Gordon is second in the majors in steals and first in hits. The Marlins face Clayton Richard, who's so unknown he wasn't even on FanDuel slate Friday night. Expect Gordon to get on base against the soft tossing right-hander, and if so, he'll surely swipe a few bags.
David Freese $2,200
Freese is far from the type of player I like to recommend, but he looks like the best value at third base. Throughout his career, he has had a lot of success against southpaws, and he faces one in Wandy Rodriguez on Saturday. I have always liked Wandy, but he's definitely not a pitcher to avoid. Although Freese hasn't had good numbers against lefties this season, he did last year and pretty much every other year of his career. In fact, he had a .386 OBP and .490 SLG against lefties last season. With a minimum price tag, we don't need a whole lot from Freese, and if he can just get some production, that will exceed his $2,200 price. He's a low-risk/high-upside play, and that's always a smart play in a GPP.
Starlin Castro $2,300
I always hate writing about shortstops, simply because it's such a bad position this season. That's one reason why I was surprised to see Castro priced so cheaply. The young shortstop has average numbers this season, but average at shortstop is good considering how weak the position has been. With an average in the .260 range and the ability to go yard, his value at shortstop is a lot greater then it would be anywhere else on the diamond. Castro squares off against Jarred Cosart, and Cosart is making his first start since coming off the DL. Castro led off in his last game, and if we can get that again here, he's guaranteed four at-bats. We're not expecting a whole lot here from Castro, but he should be able to surpass his $2,300 price considering the circumstances.
Gerardo Parra $2,700
I love using a player like Parra because he can provide fantasy production in every way possible. Parra has found himself a nice lineup spot as the leadoff hitter for the Brewers. As I said, the Brewers square off against the lowest-valued pitcher on the board, Josh Smith. Parra has been fantastic the last eight days as well, going 13-for-30 with seven runs scored and two dingers. Not only does he produce with the bat, Parra also has some speed and has the ability to steal a bag or two. His price is also friendly, as he can be paired with a couple of elite outfielders to make a formidable trio. If you look at the other players in his price range, Parra's value and upside outweighs them by leaps and bounds. With how much Smith has been struggling for the Reds, I anticipate the Brewers putting up a crooked number and Parra getting about five at-bats, which makes this a volume play, as well. All of these factors make Parra my favorite play to exceed his value for the Saturday slate.
Kelly Johnson $2,200
Kelly Johnson, really? Yeah, I'm as surprised as you are, but once you hear his career numbers off Kevin Correia, you'll be on board. Johnson is 10-for-30 with five home runs and 10 RBI for an unbelievable 1.261 OPS against Correia. Now, I have to say, I have never used Kelly Johnson is a DFS lineup, but I'm willing to take a chance here at relatively no risk. With a minimum price tag, even if he does flake out and do nothing, it won't kill you. When I first looked at the schedule, I wanted to stack against Kevin Correia and this was really the only player worth going with. So, just take the H2H numbers for what they are and take a chance with Kelly at a minimum price.