This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
After a successful first week in the RotoWire Football Championship contest, I'll look to carry that form into some of my Saturday baseball plays. My main focus is purely baseball as I am in the midst of multiple playoff matchups in my year-long leagues, and my research has been as expansive as ever.
For this Saturday slate, we have some fantastic pitchers on the mound like Clayton Kershaw, Cole Hamels and Sonny Gray. In fact, 10 pitchers are above $8,300, which is rare in a nine-game slate. I will avoid most of those pitchers and stack against the other eight pitchers priced at $6,500 or less.
Keep an eye on lineups and weather up to game time, because nothing is worse than starting a player who gets scratched, doesn't crack the lineup, or gets canceled because of weather. I made the mistake of starting a couple of Angels in Friday's game because the weather report didn't look too bad, but it ended up getting postponed. Never ever, put yourself in those situations, because it's hard enough to win when all of your players actually play.
Carlos Carrasco $9,400
It's a bit surprising to see Carrasco outside the top-five pitchers, especially one with just nine games. Carrasco is a no-hitter threat every time he toes the rubber, averaging 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Carrasco faces the visiting White Sox in a promising matchup for any pitcher, as Chicago ranks just outside the top 10 for strikeouts against right-handers. Cleveland is a sizable favorite (-163), giving Carrasco a good shot for a win. He's my GPP play of the day.
Garrett Richards $8,400
It's surprising to see how low Richards is priced, especially with the matchup. Richards is the eighth-ranked pitcher for Saturday, making him an incredible value at just $8,400. He is essentially the same price as Edinson Volquez and Carlos Rodon and is $600 cheaper than Taylor Jungmann. Something doesn't add up if you ask me, as Richards in a significantly better than any of those options. The matchup is also fantastic for Richards, as he faces the second-worst hitting team in the league against righties. The strikeout potential is high as well, as Carrasco has at least nine in three of his last nine starts. Richards has the potential for a shutout on any occasion, and with the Angels needing a big performance out of him for playoff push, he should show up with his A-game Saturday.
Salvador Perez $2,300 or Yan Gomes $2,200
I usually don't do this because I don't want to pull any punches, but I simply couldn't pick between these two. Both have platoon advantages against young pitchers who have shown blowup potential. Throughout their careers, both of these catchers have killed southpaws, which should be beneficial Saturday. Perez faces Matt Boyd and Gomes faces Carlos Rodon. Neither Gomes nor Perez has been spectacular this season, but both are nice values at a near minimum price. Catcher is tough to fill Saturday as Derek Norris is the highest priced while the best catcher, in my book, Evan Gattis, squares off against Sonny Gray. I like taking a risk here going for upside and saving my money on other positions. It's a matter of preference for you, but I expect one of these guys to go yard and that alone would obliterate their minimum price tags.
Mike Napoli $2,300
I seemingly write about Mike Napoli every time he faces a lefty, but it seems to work out more often than not. The Rangers are one of the hottest teams in baseball and can credit Napoli for some of their success. In his last 16 games entering Friday, Napoli was batting .333 with a .429 OBP with four homers and seven RBI. Most of that damage has come off left-handers and that has been a trend throughout his career. Over the last three years, Napoli has an OPS well over .900 against southpaws, which is the only thing keeping him in the lineup these days. He faces Vidal Nuno on Saturday, and while Nuno's been solid, he's due for some regression with a 4.41 FIP and 2.94 ERA. The icing on the cake is the price. Napoli is a fantastic bargain at a position where the best players are in the $5,000 range. Save $2,000-plus on Napoli and aim for one of the top-notch pitchers to build an optimal lineup.
Jedd Gyorko $2,700
Every player in the Colorado-San Diego series saw a major bump in price because of the Coors Field advantage, except for Jedd Gyorko. It's a bit shocking because Gyorko has been very good over the second half of the season and playing nearly every day. I wish he were eligible at shortstop considering he's played there for weeks now, but we'll settle here and take him here at second base. The power-hitting "second baseman" faces lefty Yohan Flande in a promising matchup at Coors. As a Rockies fan, I can tell you that Gyorko kills Colorado pitching and kills lefties. In his career, he has a .311 average and .923 OPS in 103 at-bats against Rockies pitchers and a .781 OPS against southpaws this year. In addition, Gyorko has played well lately, as he has a .275 average with nine homers and 33 RBI over his last 45 games coming into Friday. Everything is in line for Gyorko to have a nice series against the Rockies this weekend, and we'll bank on him getting the majority of his production Saturday.
Adrian Beltre $3,100
Let's continue our stack of Rangers with veteran Adrian Beltre. My goal here was to get the best Rangers righties in my lineup, and it just so happens that both are favorably priced. Beltre is as hot as anyone over the last week or so, going 15-for-31 with two homers, four doubles, five walks, nine RBI and eight runs in his last eight games. On Saturday, he gets a platoon advantage against lefty Vidal Nuno. As mentioned, Nuno is due to regress. He's been fairly lucky and his ERA should be closer to 4.50 rather than his 2.94. Also, Beltre's price is still reasonable. He is $1,700 cheaper than the top option, and $1,000 cheaper than the third-ranked third baseman. Beltre should be closer to $4,000 than $3,000 with the way he's hit lately. Take advantage of the cheap price.
Erick Aybar $2,300
Shortstop is yet another crapshoot for Saturday, so let's go with a modestly cheap Erick Aybar. He's not necessarily a great play, but the other otions all have red flags. Carlos Correa ($3,600) faces Sonny Gray, Jose Reyes ($4,000) costs way too much against a lefty and Corey Seager ($3,100) faces lefty Francisco Liriano. I would much rather use these guys, but not in these matchups. Let's throw a dart at the position and go as cheap as possible -- I don't expect any shortstop to finish with double-digit FanDuel points. Aybar will face either Mike Pelfrey or Kyle Gibson of the Twins, depending on which pitches the first half of the doubleheader. Neithers scare me one bit as the Angels could be in for a big night. Aybar is usually in a great spot in the Angels order and has the ability to steal and occasionally go deep. If he gets a steal, an RBI or an extra-base hit, Aybar will be a huge bargain at a near minimum price.
Kole Calhoun $3,100
Calhoun is my bargain of the day. It's amazing how cheap he is. The young outfielder has had a fantastic season for the Angels, hitting .263 with 23 home runs and 76 RBI in 143 games. The reason for the price drop is a recent six-game stretch in which he is 2-for-24. But the pitchers he faced during that slump include the likes of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker, Dallas Keuchel and Mike Fiers. The 12 games prior to that, Calhoun was 19-for-53 with four homers, nine RBI and 11 runs scored. Like most hitters, Calhoun thrives off bad pitching, and he should see just that on Saturday. Not only will he have the platoon advantage, Calhoun's incredibly cheap. Most top-notch outfielders cost in the $5,000 range, and Calhoun has the upside of any one of them in this particulate matchup. He ranks outside the top 25 in price for outfielders and is my bet of the night to exceed that criminally low value.
Jonny Gomes $2,300
Gomes is a forgotten player in fantasy circles, but he's always a good bet to perform well against left-handed pitching. The only time that Gomes starts is against southpaws, and he should be right in the heart of the order against lefty Matt Boyd. In 87 at-bats against lefties this season, Gomes has a .398 OBP and .847 OPS. Just to put those stats into perspective, that's comparable to the season numbers for guys like Buster Posey and Price Fielder. Obviously, Gomes is no Posey or Prince, but it just shows you how well he hits left-handers. Getting an outfielder at a near minimum price allows you to stack A-plus hitters or use an ace to solidify a nice lineup. Gomes is not the best option for Saturday, but he has a lot of upside at an incredibly cheap price and that's always worth a shot in DFS.