Here we are on the eighth Friday of the RotoWire/FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship, and... well, I didn't do as well last week as I did the week before. Hey, that's fine; sometimes you have that good-but-not-great week where some of your guys do well, but you don't get those lineup-wide contributions that really make the bacon. Hard to complain about the recommendations, though, right?
For you, dear RotoWire users, we've teamed up with Fanduel to run a $10, multi-entry contest exclusively for you every Friday from April 8 to July 15 — and all you have to do to money is finish in the top half of the standings, with a top-10 finish in any week earning you a ticket to the championship round, which takes place July 22. Click here to get in on the action!
Let's get a quick hit on last week, when RotoWire MLB editor Clay Link himself finished in first place, with credit to strong efforts from Aaron Nola (who I owned as well), Chris Herrmann, Josh Donaldson, Michael Conforto and Brandon Drury (another one of mine). That lifted him into 10th place overall in the standings! Meanwhile, if you took my bottom-dollar recommendation on Wisler, you were rewarded with 6.2 innings of one-run ball, seven strikeouts and a win – good for 50 fantasy points. Yasiel Puig also hit a homer, which has been a blessed rarity lately. Unfortunately, Danny Valencia didn't serve quite as well, and he's the only one of those three who made it into my lineup.
You can check out the full expert leaderboard here, but here's the current top 10:
1. Joel Bartilotta (joelbartilotta) — 963.30
2. James Anderson (realjranderson) — 920.00
3. Aaron Quinn (aaronq) — 896.60
4. Peter Merrill (black26) — 867.40
5. Ronny Mor (ronnymor2) — 864.40
6. Jake Letarski (rotojakeski) — 864.40
7. Josh Fathollahi (jashfath) — 862.90
8. Derek Van Riper (rotowiredvr) — 843.50
9. Eric Caturia (etcat30) — 832.70
10. Clay Link (linkdaddydollaz) — 830.20
Alright, let's get into this week.
SPJulio Urias, Los Angeles Dodgers @ New York Mets
FanDuel Price: $6,900
Using dirt-cheap pitching instead of known-quantity aces is kind of my "thing," I guess. The 19-year-old Urias naturally comes with built-in risk – this is his first MLB start, so he may not go much longer than five innings (especially because he hasn't thrown more than 81 pitches in any Triple-A outing this year), while the Mets have been hitting piles of homers. But he's also sitting on a 1.10 ERA and 44:8 K:BB in 41 innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City – that'll play. The Mets don't hit well at home, and I've seen them get shut down by rookies making their first MLB starts time and time again over the years. Even if he doesn't last that long, he should get enough strikeouts to be worth what he costs, and as usual with my recommendations, this user-friendly price lets you pack your lineup with name-brand hitters.
By the way, I just learned that it's pronounced "oo-ree-us" rather than "you-ree-us." #themoreyouknow
C Welington Castillo, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $2,900
Last week's $2,900 catcher recommendation had two singles, but nothing else on his stat line; I call that a partial success. Castillo's a little bit of an odd case because he's actually been a better hitter away from offense-friendly Arizona, but it's hard not to recognize the friendliness of his home park. Even harder to avoid is his track record this year against left-handed pitching – a .326/.380/.739 line with five of his homers in just 46 at-bats. Meanwhile, the Padres come to town with southpaw Christian Friedrich on the mound, and Friedrich owns a 2.04 WHIP (yes, WHIP) and 6:9 K:BB over his first two starts of the season.
1B Chris Carter, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds
FanDuel Price: $3,200
While we're playing lefty-righty, Carter presents an intriguing play at home against young Reds lefty John Lamb. Carter's done the vast majority of his damage in Milwaukee – 10 of his 13 homers – and despite small-sample results that may not totally reflect it, he's has also seen the ball much better against lefties (8:8 BB:K) than righties (7:56 BB:K). Once a top prospect for the Royals, Lamb has struggled mightily in his first four starts of 2016, posting just an 11:9 K:BB while allowing three homers and 12 earned runs in 20 innings. Yeah, Carter's hit a cooling spell, but he still bats in the middle of this Milwaukee lineup with the high-OBP likes of Ryan Braun and Jonathan Villar setting the table in front of him. Plus the strikeouts don't hurt you on FanDuel, which certainly helps in this case.
OF Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres
FanDuel Price: $2,100
Usually, when you dive to the bottom of the price list, you don't find a guy on an eight-game hitting streak. But that's exactly the case with Owings, who's got a bench-filler price despite his everyday role and .297 batting average on the season. He gets the same friendly lefty-righty matchup against the Padres' Friedrich, and if the ceiling isn't all that high, well, Owings does at least offer speed and a solid floor that lets you pay the freight for stars elsewhere in your lineup.
High Risk, High Reward
OF Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners vs. Minnesota Twins
FanDuel Price: $4,500
Cruz's game log is littered with crooked fantasy lines, and although his home numbers don't match up to his road stats, that certainly didn't stop him from racking up six hits and a homer over the Mariners' just-completed three-game set with Oakland. Other than having to hit in Seattle, Cruz fits the bill of what we're looking for in our lineups – one of the game's premier right-handed mashers, he has a super-friendly matchup against the sad-sack Twins and 27-year-old rookie lefty Pat Dean, a pitch-to-contact type. Oh, he's also hitting .325 with a .986 OPS in May. Not too shabby.
OF Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins @ Atlanta Braves
FanDuel Price: $4,200
Listen, I know Ozuna's been white-hot for nearly all of May, but before you put him in your lineup take a look down the list of the highest-priced players Friday. It's hard not to notice that, well, one of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn't belong. Ozuna may have put up great numbers in recent games, but his hyper-inflated .394 BABIP says he's more of a .270 hitter than the .333 he's delivered so far, and while I'm not betting on his eight-game hitting streak coming to an end, there's better value to be had than paying out the nose for a one-dimensional power hitter's hot streak. Maybe I'm asking for it and he'll sock two homers – he does have one along with a single and a double in five at-bats against Braves starter Williams Perez, who isn't impressing anyone – but hey, these are the risks we take in this business. If you don't buy my reasoning, put him in your lineup; that way, one of us is guaranteed to be happy.
Express all your happiness and/or rage concerning these picks on Twitter: @akfiorentino.