Heading down the stretch and 60% of Major League teams still are in playoff contention. The storylines from last week look much the same this week. The Los Angeles Dodgers are still the best team in baseball and continue to win despite big injuries, especially in the rotation. The New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals have relatively strong leads on their divisions, however, the defending champion, Atlanta Braves are fast approaching.
In the American League, the Houston Astros look World Series bound, and have little to no competition in one of the weakest divisions in the league. The Cleveland Guardians have the slimmest division lead in baseball. Luckily for Cleveland, they are a better overall team than Minnesota and Tony La Russa still manages the White Sox, so Chicago is not winning the AL Central. And what exactly is going on with the New York Yankees? I am not sure anyone truly knows, but the attempts to upgrade the lineup at the trade deadline had the opposite impact. Dealing Jordan Montgomery for injured Harrison Bader was a questionable move at best. More on this later. I understand the Yankees’ futility in center field, but sheesh. Frankie Sinatra would retire more batters than Frankie Montas has. The Yankees will get to bottom of that and are still the best team in the east. There is plenty of time to get right before the playoffs.
The wild card races will be fun to watch. If I am a division leader, I am not jumping out of my shoes to face some of these teams. The Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, and Philadelphia Phillies all offer top-tier rosters that can play with anyone.
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Jordan Montgomery, SP: DK: $8,300 / FD: $9,200 – No one doubted Montgomery’s stuff or his ability to perform. The big lefty is now in a big boy stadium with a superior defense behind him, and it shows. Since becoming a Cardinal, Montgomery is 3-0 with a 0.54 ERA and a WHIP of 0.90. He is a must-start until he proves otherwise.
Noah Syndergaard, SP: DK: $7,800 / FD: $8,500 – Syndergaard, another big arm who moved at the deadline, will face the Cincinnati Reds tonight at home. The Phillies hanging on to a small lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the last NL Wild Card spot need a win. This matchup lines up well to do just that. Syndergaard has allowed a good chunk of hits, but not earned runs, which is what it is about. He has maintained his strikeout rate while lowering his walks/9.
Will Smith, C: DK: $5,000 / FD: $3,600 – There are not a ton of choices on a mild Monday slate, and for that reason, Will is one of my go-to options at catcher. For starters, he is in a lineup where he will always have a chance at getting on base and being driven in or diving someone in. Wilson Contreras and J.T. Realmuto will eat up more of your salary cap, and be rostered more than Smith. While Smith does not hit Brewers starter, Eric Lauer well, it is a risk worth taking. Will is hitting .339 in August.
Albert Pujols, 1B: DK: $2,000 / FD: $2,600 – A Tale of Two Cardinals. How do you not start Paul Goldschmidt? I do not know. The only thing I know is Albert Pujols is equally as hot, playing in Chicago and unless Skipper, Oli Marmol has good reason to, Al will start against left-hander, Drew Smyly. It has been well publicized, but in case you have been under a rock, Albert’s chase to 700 home runs has seen a scary uptick. Post All Star break the machine is: 22 for 49, with 7 dingers and 17 RBI, while striking out six times, and walking three times. Now in the event he does not start, you start Goldy. Duh. With no Flex or DH spot, this is one of life’s tough decisions.
Jeff McNeil, 2B: DK: $4,400 / FD: $2,700 – The hottest place on Earth is Death Valley. The second hottest place on Earth is wherever Jeff McNeil is. In his last fifteen games played, McNeil is hitting a whopping .426. This includes driving in more batters than he has strikeouts. His usual lower portion of the lineup placement is perfect for the Mets, as he resets the order and adds a second leadoff type hitter in the lower half. The Subway Series figures to be fun, with tremendous pressure on the Yankees to figure it out, they will somehow have to do that tonight against Max Scherzer. Meanwhile, McNeil can sit back and rake. He sits at 9th on DK and 19th on FD in salary. This is the sweet spot of the bat for DFS. Pun intended.
Nolan Arenado, 3B: DK: $5,500 / FD: $4,000 – Another guy you cannot afford to sit. Arenado is a .429 hitter against Cub starter, Drew Smyly. He is hitting .333 his last 15 games. Arenado’s 2022 OPS is higher than his career OPS, which is saying something for a guy who played in Colorado most of his career. He also has the benefit of hitting behind Paul Goldschmidt. His RBI chances are plentiful, and he rarely misses those opportunities. The Cards are scorching, and few compete like Nolan Arenado.
Kevin Newman, SS: DK: $3,200 / FD: $3,000 – This could be a tasty little nugget for someone. Hopefully for me, and all of you should you move forward with Mr. Newman. He is getting his opportunity, and making the most of it, Newman is hitting a robust .407 in his last seven games. Tonight, the Pirates draw starter, Jake Odorizzi. One of the more hittable Atlanta Braves hurlers. Newman is a low-cost, high upside, “ride the hot hand” deal.
Nick Castellanos, OF: DK: $4,400 / FD: $3,000 – There’s a drive into deep left, and that’ll be an eleven-game hitting streak. You cannot keep a good man down. Castellanos has endured a lot from the Philadelphia faithful. The fans are coming around, as is he. This is great news for the Phillies as Bryce Harper gets closer to a return. Just outside the top 20 in cost, for outfielders, this is a bargain. Nick is batting over .300 in his last thirty games and .355 in his last seven starts.
Michael Harris II, OF: DK: $4,400 / FD: $3,400 – We love this kid. Harris has one at-bat against Pirates starter, Roansy Contreras – of course, it was a hit. All bias aside this is a good matchup for Harris. He has struggled the last week or so, but this is just what he needs to get moving again. Harris hits thirty points higher against right-handed pitching, Despite the recent struggles, Harris’ splits are intriguing, hitting the exact same pre and post All Star Break at .283, and even with a tough eight games, is still hitting .294 in August. Excellent value here.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
It looks to be dry and uneventful in most places where baseball will be played, which is great news.
Doing Lines In Vegas