This is the final week of Period 1, the first of five. The top three finishers in the Period win a Golden Ticket to the August 26th final. Tout Daily is sponsored by RTSports.com, where you can play daily fantasy baseball for money or for free.
Check out the Leaderboard here. Mayo and Walton are clearly in the lead, with Rob Leibowitz and Todd Zola a step back and a step ahead of the pack. But there is a group of many, two steps behind, a big week from any of whom could upset the standings in a moment.
We asked the Touts who their top hitting and pitching picks are tonight. Here’s what we heard. (And check out the week by week results, and follow live, at RTSports.com.)
Scott Swanay picks Sean Manaea ($5800 vs. Houston) tonight. Sure, it’s his MLB debut, but if you’re in 20th place heading into the last week of a 4-week contest, and you need to move up to at least third to grab a golden ticket, you’ve got to swing for the fences (if one can use that metaphor when talking about a pitcher). As for the hitter, Marlon Byrd ($4000 at Philadelphia) will be a homecoming for him (although he could say that about playing in almost 1/3 of the MLB parks). The opposing pitcher, Adam Morgan, didn’t fool many hitters in 15 major league starts last year, and Scott expects that to hold true tonight in his first MLB start of 2016.
Phil Hertz likes Michael Conforto ($4900 vs. San Francisco) tonight against Jake Peavey, and Adam Conley ($5700 at Milwaukee).
David Gonos goes with Mashiro Tanaka ($8000 at Boston) and Robinson Cano ($5300 vs. Kansas City).
Jake Ciely picks Sean Manaea ($5800 vs. Houston) and Michael Conforto ($4900 vs. San Francisco).
Brian Walton says Pittsburgh’s Juan Nicasio ($4500 vs. Cincinnati) was one of the most popular spring training sleeper picks, meaning he was quickly no longer a sleeper. Once the regular season began, he has alternated good and bad starts. The right-hander’s Thursday outing was rained out, giving him an extra day of rest and a shot at the Cincinnati Reds Friday evening. With two pitchers in RTSports, Nicasio’s $4500 salary is too cheap to pass up. Brian watched all four games of Arizona’s most recent series and really liked the way Welington Castillo ($4000 vs. Colorado) is swinging the bat. He is 11 for his last 31 (.355) with four home runs and nine RBI. Having taken Thursday off, the catcher should be well-rested in his Friday start at home against Tyler Chatwood of Colorado.
Tim Heaney writes that Mike Fiers ($6700 @ Oakland) is a fly-ball pitcher in cavernous O.co Coliseum, plus the home team has the league’s worst team OPS at home (.582), which equals a heck of a value. Derek Dietrich ($3900 @ Milwaukee) should step into the lineup at least against RHPs with Dee Gordon suspended. Can’t think of a better opening for that than slugging in the launching pad of Miller Park, against that skunky pitching staff, this time Zach Davies.
Lawr Michaels says D-Ped ($4800 vs Yankees) is hot. Oh, Dustin Pedroia, and he likes Sean Manaea ($5800 vs. Houston) tonight.
Ray Murphy lines up Drew Smyly ($7400 vs. Toronto), a lefty against the Jays, which would have been madness a year ago. But this isn’t 2015. This year’s Jays have mustered just a .662 OPS vs. southpaws; Jose Quintana dominated the Jays in the Rogers Centre the other night. Smyly is Quintana’s equal (at least), and has the benefit of facing the Jays in his own dome, which will help keep the Jays in the park. And as long as you’re defying conventions, consider pairing Smyly with his mound opponent, Aaron Sanchez ($6100 at Tampa Bay), and buck the conventional wisdom about starting two SP from the same game. At hitter, Murphy say Melvin Upton ($3300 at LA Dodgers) should be batting cleanup tonight against the struggling Alex Wood. Upton doesn’t have much of a platoon split for his career, but Wood has been shaky and Upton has looked resurgent in the early going. A reasonable 76 percent contact rate is key to his resurgence. Once he puts the ball in play, his power/speed profile gives him a lot of ways to score points.
Steve Moyer likes Corey Kluber ($9300 @ Philadelphia) because Inside Edge says he makes it two fine outings in a row, and Jimmy Rollins ($3400 at Baltimore), because the bargain shortstop allows for frivolous spending elsewhere. Rollins has been hot the past week and faces “Stinky” Mike Wright tonight.
Jeff Boggis says his top starting pitcher is Drew Smyly ($7400 vs. Toronto). If we throw out his first start of the year, in 22 innings pitched Smyly is 1-1 with 28 strikeouts, an ERA below 2.00, and a WHIP around 0.60. Boggis’s top starting hitter is Gregory Polanco ($5100 vs. Cincinnati). He owns a seven-game hitting streak and is showing very good plate discipline this season. He has increased his batting average up to .329 on the season.
Mike Gianella’s Top Hitter is Manny Machado ($6,400 vs. White Sox), who isn’t running this year, but otherwise looks like he hasn’t missed a beat from last year’s breakout season. Mike’s Top Pitcher is Steven Matz ($7300 vs. San Francisco), who appears to have recovered from his awful first start and looks like a solid matchup against the Giants at Citi Field. I like the idea of going against a team on the first day of an East Coast/West Coast road trips.
Jeff Erickson says: Just got a lineup in. Hitter is Francisco Lindor ($4800 @ Philadelpha), almost always use him against a mediocre or worse lefty, which Adam Morgan qualifies as. Pitcher was tough – ended up using Aaron Sanchez ($6100 at Tampa) and Juan Nicasio ($4500 vs. Cincinnati) to make everything fit.
Rotoman likes Justin Bour ($4800 @ Milwaukee) against a weak Kyle Davies, and paired the two premiering pitchers, Michael Fulmer ($5800 @ Minnesota) and Sean Manaea ($5800 vs. Houston), looking for some explosive unfamiliarity on the part of Twins and Astros hitters, and a lot of points in order to climb up from twelfth to the top three in Tout Daily.