Everything you’ll need to stay above the payline in tonight’s MLB Cash Games!
For the time being, we will post our MLB Content Schedule here at the top of the article. It’ll be updated with links when each article is posted, so check back throughout the day!
Today’s Coaching Sessions
All sessions take place in the MLB chat room.
- Bullpen Coach (Phil Backert) – 9am ET
- Pitching Coach (DraftCheat) – 12pm ET
- Hitting Coach (Vlad Sedler) – 11am ET
- Cash Game Breakdown – You’re reading it!
- Bullpen Coach – Everything you need to know about each team’s bullpen.
- Hitting Coach – A deep dive into the top hitters (& fades) on today’s slate.
- Pitching Coach – An in-depth breakdown of today’s starting pitchers.
- Cheat Sheet – A snapshot of the top plays at each position & salary level.
- GPP Breakdown – We use game theory & advanced stats to uncover tonight’s low-owned studs.
- MLB NOW Livestream – A daily video show breaking down tonight’s entire slate.
- MLB Summary – A summary of what we discussed in today’s Coaching Sessions & on the livestream.
- Ownership Projections
- Fantasy Baseball Elite Podcasts (Mans/Flowers/DraftCheat/Vlad)
- MLB Chat Room
- Daily Projections & Optimizer
- Splits Hub
- Umpire Factors
Friday, April 5th
Kudos to Schuster for an inspiring early slate writeup and lineup yesterday. It honestly made me sick to see the names Niko Goodrum, Brett Gardner and Stephen Piscotty. But they went nuclear and wound up putting us and quite a bit of subs in the money.
If you are an early slate warrior, you can stop reading here. I have nothing for these early games. I played ball on Wednesday and broke down those early slate plays but for those who are new to me, Elite Fantasy, and/or the Cash Game Breakdown, let me fill you in on a little secret:
I. Smash. Fridays.
It’s been a good six years now since I started noticing that a lot of my big GPP hits and qualifier wins were coming on Friday nights. I really don’t know exactly why this is, was, or how it keeps happening, but I’ll just accept this fate and move on. The #WeSmashFriday movement is growing larger and larger every year and I’m glad to have you aboard in 2019.
We don’t have stud pitchers necessarily on this slate, but we certainly do have a couple of my favorite arms from the preseason going tonight against less than stellar competition. If you sub over on Fantasy Guru then you will also see that five of the six worst bullpens (according to the BURR Report) are also on this slate.
It’s also a great slate for the mini-stack approach. While there are a few teams you will notice I am definitely in on, there aren’t any great full-blown stacks according to my model. This will allow us to both diversify our no-fat lineup building while also maximizing the upside that comes with a great stack.
Alright, no reason to keep you waiting any longer. Let’s get to the meat of the #WeSmashFriday sandwich and today’s Cash Game Breakdown!
For more info and updated forecast, please check out our MLB Weather Center.
Minnesota Twins at Philadelphia Phillies –There will be light rain in Philly before the game with some pop-up storms possible all the way up until game time. It doesn’t appear to be any real threat but something to monitor when breaking down this ballgame.
Boston Red Sox at Arizona Diamondbacks –Just a reminder that the roof of Chase Field will likely be open tonight and when that happens the effects of the humidor are marginalized. Thus, we will see the ball carrying a bit more whenever the roof of Chase Field is open.
Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers –Miller Park roof almost definitely closed tonight also which creates a much better environment for hitters.
1) Houston Astros: -165
2) Cleveland Indians: -155
3) Atlanta Braves: -150
4) Philadelphia Phillies: -150
5) Boston Red Sox: -130
Highest Run Expectancy
1) Atlanta Braves: 4.66
2) Boston Red Sox: 4.63
3) Houston Astros: 4.57
4) Los Angeles Angels: 4.44
5) Philadelphia Phillies: 4.41
Lowest Run Expectancy
1) Toronto Blue Jays: 3.05
2) Oakland A’s: 3.43
3) Minnesota Twins: 3.59
4) Cincinnati Reds: 3.79
5) Miami Marlins: 3.84
Today's Pitchers Grid
1)Joe Musgrove, RHP, Pirates ($7800/$7600) –I’m quite surprised that Musgrove grades out as the best pitcher on the board this evening. Now I believe in Musgrove’s skillset and all, he’s got a six-pitch repertoire that each presents a challenge for a hitter. He can throw his arsenal at various speeds and angles too which allows him to define the intended results. Remember, this was a prospect that the Pirates required in the trading away of Gerrit Cole a year ago. While I am slightly concerned about his lower velocity (92-93 MPH) in spring and the fact that he’s coming off abdominal surgery last October, the good outweighs those concerns. Musgrove has been treated with kid gloves all spring as the Pirates limited his exposure in spring training then pushed back his start over the weekend due to a rainout last Saturday. He did pitch two scoreless innings last Sunday against these Reds. Cincinnati is striking out the 8thmost in MLB so far this season at 29.4%, own the third lowest batting average at .167, fourth lowest wOBA at .234, third lowest wRC+ with 39 and have scored the least runs of any team in MLB with 11. The arm talent, the pricetag and the matchup are just so great that Musgrove has claim to the best cash game pitcher going tonight.
2) Rick Porcello, RHP, Red Sox ($7900/$9100) – This is the part of the writeup where I mention that it sometimes sucks being the guy who has to writeup cash games and Rick Porcello is that reason. There is nothing great about Porcello. He’s just your standard six inning guy that won’t walk anybody, will limit hard contact, will give up a couple of runs but keep the damage reasonable guy. On DK there are better options given his price but he’s sadly in play big time on FD where the QS & win are much more impactful. The Diamondbacks lineup is trash and there isn’t a single bat in the lineup that should scare you. Sometimes it just pays to take the sensible approach and not let upside get in the way of building a lineup that has the best chance of finishing in the top 50%.
3) Nick Pivetta, RHP, Phillies ($9100/$7700) – When I first looked at this slate, Pivetta wasn’t just my top pitcher, he was a lock button guy in my lineup. But, that is why I trust the model because there are blemishes all over Pivetta which need our attention. He got roughed up by the Braves in his first start this season going just 4.2 innings and allowing nine baserunners. He also didn’t get many groundball as 12 out of 22 batters faced hit the ball in the air. What I do like about Pivetta is his arm talent. He has an electric fastball that was registering 98 & 99 MPH this spring along with outstanding horizontal movement of his curveball and slider. He’s go swing and miss offerings galore as evidenced by his 10.3 K/9 and 12.0% swinging strike rate in 2018. The Twins losing the DH for this game is a nice downgrade for them too. The FD price is steep and there are safer options but his DK salary is impossible to ignore.
4) Shane Bieber, RHP, Indians ($8900/$9300) – I am really surprised at just how highly priced Bieber is for his first start of the season. The Blue Jays strikeout a lot and own the sixth worst batting average in MLB so far .202. The Jays were second worst in baseball against the slider last season and this year ranked seventh worst. Bieber throws about 25% sliders and had the 16thmost whiffs on the pitch in 2018.
5) Trent Thornton, RHP, Blue Jays ($7400/$6200) – Thornton isn’t a big-time prospect being essentially a two-pitch pitcher with little velocity. But he has good movement on his four seam fastball and his curve his above average horizontal movement. Thornton had 16 strikeouts in 15 spring training innings then struck out 8 Tigers in just five innings in his first start. We’ve established that the Indians lineup just isn’t what it used to be. Cleveland has struck out the most of any team in baseball 33.5%, own the worst batting average in MLB at .160, rank dead last in team wOBA with .214 and have hit just 2 HR and scored just 12 runs all season. Thornton is the least expensive pitcher on DK and in play to be our #2 arm in cash over there tonight.
(2018 Data) (Click here for more park factors!)
1) Citizen’s Bank Ballpark –19.0% above average in total HR’s, 28.9% above average in HR’s to RHH.
2) Miller Park (when dome closed as its expected to be) – 14.7% above average in runs, 22.2% above average in HR’s.
3) Angel Stadium – 17.6% above average for HR’s to LHH, 8.7% above average for runs scored to LHH.
Things To Target (Against)
1) Pablo Lopez – 1.23 HR/9, 15.7% HR/FB% in 2018, .372 wOBA, .316 BAA against Braves lineup.
2) Frankie Montas – .285 BAA,46.1% hard contact rate in 2018, .361 xwOBA, .317 xBA, .409 wOBA, .375 BAA against Astros lineup.
3) Kevin Gausman – .263 BAA, 1.29 HR/9, 13.7% HR/FB% in 2018, .383 xwOBA, .320 xBA, .463 wOBA, .389 BAA against Marlins lineup.
4) Jose Quintana – 9.2 BB%, 1.29 HR/9, 33.1% hard contact rate in 2018.
Click here for our Stolen Base Target Tool. I strongly recommend checking it out to find a value play or to properly assess how likely a player on tonight’s slate is to steal.
The hottest hitters at each position (last 7 games).
|10||Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||TOR||161||698||48||123||111||4||12.3||15.80||0.290||0.313||0.311||0.401||0.601||0.419||166|
|13||Ronald Acuna Jr.||ATL||82||360||24||72||52||17||13.6||23.60||0.313||0.311||0.283||0.394||0.596||0.412||157|
|16||Frank Schwindel||- - -||64||259||14||44||43||2||6.2||15.80||0.264||0.348||0.326||0.371||0.591||0.403||152|
|17||Fernando Tatis Jr.||SDP||130||546||42||99||97||25||11.4||28.00||0.328||0.324||0.282||0.364||0.611||0.403||156|
|22||Kyle Schwarber||- - -||113||471||32||76||71||1||13.6||27.00||0.288||0.306||0.266||0.374||0.554||0.392||145|
Batter v Pitcher
For more, visit our BvP Matchup Page!
C – Jonathan Lucroy
1B – Jesus Aguilar
2B – Starlin Castro, Jose Altuve
3B – Mike Moustakas
SS – Jean Segura, Marcus Semien, Carlos Correa
OF – Ender Inciarte, Curtis Granderson, Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich
Overall Hitter Rankings
1) Brian McCann, Braves
2) JT Realmuto, Phillies
3) Wilson Contreras, Cubs
4) Jonathan Lucroy, Angels
5) Jorge Alfaro, Marlins
McCann has been quietly raking and getting on base every way he can. Contreras is making a ton of hard contact (45.5%) lately and owns a 234 wRC+ over the last week. Lucroy and Alfaro are punt options but Alfaro has a ridiculous 88.9% hard contact rate over his last five games.
1) Freddie Freeman, Braves
2) Rhys Hoskins, Phillies
3) Mitch Moreland, Red Sox
4) Jesus Aguilar, Brewers
5) Justin Bour, Angels
Freeman and Hoskins are in tremendous spots at home and facing pitchers that give up a lot of flyballs and hard contact. Moreland has been a staple in my cash game lineups lately against RHP mostly cause he is so underpriced. The Diamondbacks only have one lefty in their bullpen also so he should see more AB’s this series. Aguilar is starting to come around and has amazing history against Quintana. Bour isn’t a cash player but is in a great spot and has been staying in the game late even against LHP. I think he goes yard against Lance Lynn here tonight.
1) Starlin Castro, Marlins
2) Adam Frazier, Pirates
3) Ozzie Albies, Braves
4) Ben Zobrist, Cubs
Castro gets the top spot at 2B tonight. He’s been crushing the baseball right now hitting a cool .333 batting average, with a .408 wOBA and 54.6% hard contact rate over his last seven games. Frazier’s FD price has gotten steep but he’s a tremendous value over on DK tonight. Albies has been on base 15 out of his last 27 times at the plate with 3 XBH and 2 SB in that span.
1) Alex Bregman, Astros
2) Maikel Franco, Phillies
3) Asdrubal Cabrera, Rangers
4) Eugenio Suarez, Reds
5) Jung-ho Kang, Pirates
Bregman is best at position most nights but has a .368 wOBA over his last six games. Maikel Franco is as locked in as he’s ever been. He’s making 36.4% hard contact, walking 33.3% of the time while only striking out 5.6% over his last five games. Asdrubal Cabrera has been so low-key crushing it’s ridiculous. Asdrubal owns a .364 average, .498 wOBA and 56.3% hard contact rate over the last week.
1) Dansby Swanson, Braves
2) Jean Segura, Phillies
3) Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
4) Elvis Andrus, Rangers
5) Carlos Correa, Astros
Swanson is on fire averaging 15 FD points per game over his last six games and is still crazy cheap. Segura and Bogaerts are in premium lineup positions with a ton of run producers all around them. The Rangers/Angels game could be a low-key smash spot as both starting pitchers are well below average and these are two of the worst bullpens in MLB right now.
1) Bryce Harper, Phillies
2) Andrew McCutchen, Phillies
3) Ryan Braun, Brewers
4) Stephen Piscotty, A’s
5) David Peralta, Diamondbacks
6) Mookie Betts, Red Sox
7) Staling Marte, Pirates
8) Curtis Granderson, Marlins
9) Randal Grichuk, Blue Jays
10) Eddie Rosario, Twins
Harper and the Phillies are coming home after a very emotional road trip to DC. Cutch and Harper are sandwiched outside of Jean Segura in the lineup and make for one of if not the best stack of the evening. Ryan Braun has destroyed Jose Quintana over his career and he is coming up with clutch hits for the Brewers the last few days. David Peralta is on a major hot streak and always plays better at home. He’s the only Diamondbacks player I would consider here tonight. Keep an eye on Twins OF Eddie Rosario. After a very emotional game winning run the other day, he looks inspired and gets a significant ballpark upgrade here tonight.