RotoWire Baseball Championship – 4th Qualifier

Welcome to the fourth qualifying round of the RotoWire/Fanduel Baseball Championship! Congratulations to cocktails, who won the third qualifier two weeks ago. It helps to have your pitcher throw seven scoreless innings while striking out 16, which is exactly what cocktails got from James Paxton in a 73-point performance. They also got a combined 78.3 points from a pair of Nationals, Matt Adams and Bryce Harper.

Congratulations also to bucfan14, who currently sits atop the overall leaderboard with a 57.7-point lead through three contests. For everyone else, there’s still more than enough time to catch up. The contest includes six qualifying rounds, and only your best three scores count for the final leaderboard. There are still three rounds remaining, so even if you’re just finding out about the contest today, you’re still very much in the running. The top 25 scores on the overall leaderboard will compete for $2,000 and RotoWire subscriptions in the Championship Round on June 27.

Meanwhile, the experts here at RotoWire are competing in our own parallel contest. To lend some extra credibility to this week’s post, I made sure to win last week’s contest, moving ahead of Lead Prospect Analyst James Anderson and taking a 16-point lead in the overall tournament. A strong performance from Nick Pivetta and a five-RBI game from an underpriced Carlos Santana led me to victory. I’m actually coming off a second-place finish and a first-place finish in back-to-back weeks. The only place to go from here is to finish in zeroth place, which I assume means I’ll forget to submit a lineup and end up with a DNP.

The full leaderboard for the experts’ contest can be found here, but here is the top 10 so far:

  1. Erik Halterman (ehalt) — 799.40
  2. James Anderson (realjranderson) — 783.40
  3. Shawn Cwalinski (cwalinski) — 768.30
  4. Brian Pelowski (brianp) — 767.60
  5. Joel Bartilotta (joelbartilotta) — 766.70
  6. Adam Wolf (rotosomething) — 736.70
  7. Clay Link (linkdaddydollaz) — 759.40
  8. D.J. Trainor (dj_trainor) — 759.30
  9. Kevin Payne (kevinccp) — 754.10
  10. Chris Smith (smithca28) — 750.40

Who should you put in your lineup for the fourth qualifying round? I’ll give some of my suggestions in a minute, but first, I have to recommend a few of our excellent tools here at RotoWire. Use the Lineup Optimizer as a good baseline to start to build your lineup and to help uncover players you weren’t considering using. Check the Daily Lineups page to find undervalued guys who happen to be batting higher in the order today. And finally, we’re deep in the heart of rainout season (known in some parts of the world as “Spring”), so be sure to check the Weather Report to know which games are at risk for delays or postponement. That report could be extra important today, as it’s a small, five-game slate, of which three games appear to be threatened by rain.

Top-shelf Studs

P Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox vs Oakland Athletics

FanDuel Price: $11,400

Three aces dominate Wednesday’s small, five-game slate. None have a particularly easy matchup or opposing pitcher, but Sale’s assignment against Trevor Cahill and the A’s is easier than the tasks facing Max Scherzer ($11,600 vs C.C. Sabathia and the Yankees) and Justin Verlander ($11,000 at Garrett Richards and the Angels). The Red Sox lefty is as dominant as any pitcher in baseball right now. Over his last two starts, he’s thrown 16 innings, allowing just four runs while striking out 27 batters. Scherzer and Verlander can of course also go deep into games while striking out nearly everyone, but if you’re going to pay the steep price for an ace, it’s best to bet on the ace who doesn’t have to face Aaron Judge or Mike Trout.

1B Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves vs Chicago Cubs

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FanDuel Price: $4,800

It’s hard not to like Freeman in SunTrust Park, one of the better parks for left-handed power in the league. It’s also hard not to like him going up against Tyler Chatwood, whose peripherals don’t come close to supporting the idea that he deserves his 3.35 ERA. Freeman is the only one of the seven most expensive hitters to receive the platoon advantage Wednesday, which makes him the best star to target. Be warned, though, that Freeman may end up walking three or four times and not doing much else. His 15.3 percent walk rate ranks 17th in the league among qualified hitters, while Chatwood’s 19.3 percent walk rate is far higher than any other pitcher who’s thrown at least 30 innings this season.

2B Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves vs Chicago Cubs

FanDuel Price: $4,600

Second base might be the deepest position on the slate, with three true studs in Albies, Javier Baez ($4,500) and Jose Altuve ($4,100). Albies is the most expensive, but he’s priced correctly as he is indeed the best option Wednesday. He’s in the best park situation of the three, as he’ll hit left-handed at SunTrust Park. He faces an easy pitching matchup in Tyler Chatwood (though Baez gets an even easier one in Brandon McCarthy). Most importantly, he’ll be the only one of the trio to get the platoon advantage. If you’re going expensive at second base, pay up for the guy who’s tied for the league lead in homers, and consider stacking him with teammate Freddie Freeman.

Mid-price Options

P Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers at Miami Marlins

FanDuel Price: $9,500

Buehler has a very high price for someone with such a short track record, but it’s hard to say he doesn’t deserve it. He has the fourth-highest cost on the slate, but he comes in at nearly $2,000 cheaper than Chris Sale. You’re losing something if you pick Buehler over the aces, for sure, as he’s far less likely to go deep enough to get double-digit strikeouts. While he’s yet to throw more than six innings in a start, he’s also yet to allow more than two runs and is striking out well over a batter per inning. Even without considering his talent, it’s hard to find a weaker opponent than the Marlins and hard to find a more pitcher-friendly park than Marlins Park.

OF Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs at Atlanta Braves

FanDuel: $4,100

Loading up on lefties at SunTrust Park is the theme of the day, and Schwarber should definitely be one of those to target. The 25-year-old is having the best season of his career so far, hitting .250/.373/.491 with seven homers. He faces a weak right-hander in Brandon McCarthy, who’s given up 14 runs on 23 hits over his last two starts. The Cubs should score early and often Wednesday, and Schwarber should be right in the middle of all of it. The only concern here is that McCarthy gets knocked out too early and the Braves bring in lefties to match up against the young slugger.

Bargains

P Trevor Cahill, Oakland Athletics at Boston Red Sox

FanDuel Price: $7,200

I had originally recommended Caleb Smith in this space, but he’s since had his start pushed back to Thursday. There are reasons why I didn’t originally recommend Cahill, as he’s facing an excellent Red Sox lineup and is making his first start since coming off the disabled list with an elbow impingement. Still, he’s been legitimately excellent this season, recording a 2.25 ERA through four starts, striking out 33.7 percent of batters while walking just 6.5 percent. Those are ace numbers, yet he’ll cost just $7,200. Cahill could certainly blow up in your face and tank your whole lineup, but he’s worth the risk at such a low price. If his hot start continues, there’s a very good chance that Wednesday’s winning lineup has Cahill surrounded by star hitters.

OF Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves

FanDuel Price: $2,600

Zobrist is hitting .290/.365/.387 on the year, and it’s hard to call it a fluke, as he put up similar numbers in nine straight seasons before a single down year in 2017. He’s regularly been the Cubs’ leadoff hitter lately. He’s playing in the most hitter-friendly park (at least for lefties) on the slate. Oh, and he’s facing easily the weakest opposing pitcher of the day. Why does he only cost $2,600? I’m not sure, but I’m not complaining. If he’s in the Cubs’ lineup, he’ll be in mine. There isn’t a better player on the slate who costs less than $3,000.

OF Derek Dietrich, Miami Marlins vs Los Angeles Dodgers

FanDuel Price: $2,100

Dietrich isn’t a particularly good hitter. He’s facing a talented young pitcher in Walker Buehler. He’s playing at pitcher-friendly Marlins Park. Those are all very good reasons for Dietrich to cost just $2,100. At that price point, though, Dietrich is likely to be the only hitter with a track record of being at least competent to start and get the platoon advantage. It’s not a particularly exciting package, but this short slate means there aren’t many options to get a good bargain, so anyone who is very cheap and has at least one or two things going for him is someone worth considering, especially if you’re trying to fit one of the aces into your lineup.

Expensive Landmines

OF Aaron Judge/Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees at Washington Nationals

FanDuel Price: $5,000/$4,800

Both sluggers are always fun to have in a DFS lineup, as they each have the chance to win you a contest all on their own. This Wednesday is not the ideal day to pick them, though, as they come in as the third and fifth most expensive hitters on the slate despite facing Max Scherzer. There’s little sense in choosing a strikeout-prone hitter against the league’s strikeout king. If you pick one of these guys and they win you the competition, congratulations, but there are certainly more efficient ways to spend your budget than on these two in this particular game. If you’re going to pay a top-shelf price for a hitter, go for one of the ones squaring off against Trevor Cahill (Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez) or Brandon McCarthy (Kris Bryant).