With three weeks in the books, the 2015 baseball season is really starting to heat up and get interesting. Don't look now, but today starts with the Rays, Astros, and Mets leading their respective divisions, while preseason darlings like the Mariners, Indians, and Nationals are struggling. In fact, the Nationals enter the week in last place, and averaging 3.42 runs per game, already 7 games out of first place.
Yes, April can be a bit tough, and the unpredictability of it all always presents a challenge in trying to predict outcomes. However, all it takes is a little research and a bit of luck to give yourself a chance to make some money on FanDuel. As we do every day, here is a team to consider for today's schedule.
Monday features two different formats, as there is an Early Only slate that covers the East Coast games, locking at the unusual time of 6:10 ET. But, we are covering the full schedule for today, which includes 14 games, and everybody except the Angels and A's. So, let's go ahead and try to make some cash.
Monday, April 27
Locks: 6:10ET (Blue Jays @ Red Sox)
The weekend saw its part of rain and postponements, so it is clear that we are not completely out of the woods when it comes to bad weather. For today, there are two clear threats of getting at least some delays. The early start in Boston carries a moderate rain probability from start to finish, while the contest in Texas' ballpark may start rainy and dwindle gradually.
Elsewhere, there shouldn't be any problem regarding rain. However, when you take a look at the full forecast for the day, many stadiums are bound to feature windy conditions that work in favor of the pitchers. Especially in Cleveland, St. Louis, Chicago, and San Diego, the wind is predicted to blow in around game time, so take it into consideration.
Biggest Money Line Favorites
Today features a couple of Cy Youngs in their prime, as well as Tim Lincecum, along with a few other power pitchers in favorable matchups. This is why it is not surprising to see more than a few heavy favorites in Vegas. Cleveland is -155 to beat the Royals, Baltimore is at -150 over the White Sox, which is the same number for the Red Sox over the Blue Jays. A step below, the Cardinals and Tigers are -145 favorites, with Detroit being a heavy road overdog.
The over/under totals are all over the place today, from 6.5 up to 9, so we can at least expect an average scoring day to start the week.
Pitcher – James Shields ($8,100)
Out of the 28 pitchers available today, there are 9 with at least 10 PPG so far, and six in total who cost at least $8,000, so we can see that there are plenty of quality options to consider. A few of them are coming off rough outings (David Price, Doug Fister), while others are still a bit hard to trust (Ubaldo Jimenez, Yovani Gallardo). We have the quality option of Corey Kluber, but the Indians have a terrible defense, and the Royals are the team that strikes out the fewest in the league. In the end, I like two options above them all.
James Shields has always been a strong April pitcher, with a .742 winning percentage for his career, and a 2-0 start this season. His 2.95 ERA for the month is the best in his ledger, and he has begun 2015 with 29 strikeouts in 25 innings. He faces the Astros, who even as they are coming off an impressive sweep of the A's, still lead the league in strikeout rate, and now head to Petco Park to face the wind and Shields, while also losing their DH. To top it all off, Shields owns a career 1.74 ERA against Houston.
John Lackey was masterful in his only start at home this year, and now gets to face the Phillies, who are averaging 2.58 runs per game. He could be a great value option, even without as many K's.
Others to Consider: Lackey ($7,400), Fister ($8,300)
Catcher – Caleb Joseph ($2,700)
In what is turning into almost a daily tradition, any game featuring the Red Sox has the potential of being a nice stacking option. However, with the rainy conditions expected today, we can take a step back and check other games. The Orioles get to face Hector Noesi (5.34 career ERA vs Baltimore), the Rays-Yankees tilt could have its share of runs, the Brewers face the erratic Jason Marquis, the Rangers get Taijuan Walker, and the Dbacks face Kyle Kendrick. So yeah, there are more than a few quality bundle options.
Among them, Baltimore may just be my favorite, as they are coming off an impressive dismantling of the Red Sox, and lead MLB in scoring. In 9 games at home this season, they have scored 63 runs, only once dropping below 5. Joseph is the 4th-best catcher in FanDuel among those with at least 10 games, and has always fared better at Camden Yards.
Others to Consider: Brian McCann ($2,800)
First Base – Mark Teixeira ($4,000)
While it may be lost beneath Alex Rodriguez's renaissance, Teixeira is enjoying an unexpected boom at the plate, with 8 homers so far. He gets to face a righty today, which works right in Tex's favor, as he has already hit 6 dingers batting from the left side, with 5 of them coming at home. Vintage Teixeira should get another good chance for today.
Others to Consider: Miguel Cabrera ($4,100), Chris Davis ($3,300)
Second Base – Jimmy Paredes ($3,000)
This weekend, Paredes averaged over 9 points per game and was part of a ton of winning teams. He is cheap, bats from both sides, and is taking advantage of Baltimore's injuries to play at multiple positions. His track record suggests that this may not last long, but we can take advantage for now.
Others to Consider: Aaron Hill ($2,200), Stephen Drew ($2,300)
Third Base – Manny Machado ($3,300)
Last week, we trusted Machado and he hit two homers versus the Blue Jays. Now it's time to give him a shot again, as Manny has always tended to prefer hitting at home, while he also owns a reverse platoon split and hits better against righties. Third base is a deep position for today, so it all comes to down to personal preference. For example, Longoria enters today with a streak of 8 straight plate appearances reaching base, including 7 hits.
Others to Consider: Alex Rodriguez ($3,200), Evan Longoria ($3,200)
Shortstop – Adeiny Hechavarria ($3,100)
Much like Paredes, Hechavarria has been on a tear lately, and enters today tied with Jed Lowrie as the best FanDuel shortstop. In the last week, he never went below 2.25 points in a game, and included a monster 10-point effort against the Phillies. At this price, it may be wise to ride the hot hand, though you can also choose more traditional options.
Others to Consider: Troy Tulowitzki ($4,300), Alexei Ramirez ($2,700)
Outfield – Adam Jones ($4,000), Steve Souza ($3,600), Ryan Braun ($3,100)
The game plan for today is simple: go for power. And this is why we are filling the outfield with three big bats that can take advantage of their favorable matchups. Adam Jones is 6-for-10 in his career versus Hector Noesi, and enters today as the third-best outfielder in FanDuel. As we already stacked a nice number of Orioles, it makes sense to also go for their top hitter.
Braun is an interesting gamble, as his season has been mostly a disappointment. However, he started to show some signs of life during the last week, and asked his manager for a needed off-day on Sunday. The former MVP has dismantled Jason Marquis to the tune of 8 hits in 13 at-bats, which bodes well for today considering that he has also loved hitting in Cincinnati, with 14 homers and a .867 OPS in 54 career games at Great American Ballpark.
Finally, Souza remains a personal favorite of mine, as he is still kinda cheap and hitting second for the Rays. His potential of power and speed (4 HR, 4 SB) has played out well for Tampa, and today he gets his first taste of the friendly conditions of Yankee Stadium.
Others to Consider: Giancarlo Stanton ($4,800), JD Martinez ($3,400), Khris Davis ($2,200)