Week 4 of RealTime's weekly "Beat the Experts" faces a challenge bigger than outsmarting me and 199 other DFS players (no entry fee with a $2 payout if you can beat my score), for Mother Nature is threatening contests in Texas and St. Louis with the possibility of some aftermath of the series of storms that have clobbered the midwest and south the past few days.
The Cardinals game gives an interesting match-up, with Stephen Strasburg looking for his fourth win while his team faces Mike Leake and his 0-2, 5.64 record with just one quality start--which he lost--of four tries. However, I am going to split the difference with my starting pitching, taking the high-priced Corey Kluber ($9300) pitching against the Phils, with a .291 OBP and 190 team whiffs (eighth worst in the Majors).
But, my crapashoot is taking Oaklands Sean Manaea ($5700), making his Major League debut against the Astros, in Oakland. I did see Manaea pitch both at the Fall League, and this year during spring training, and though the top prospect did have some control issues the first couple of batters each time, once the right-hander worked into a groove, he took over, striking out four of five batters in a row.
Add in that Manaea is debuting in pitcher friendly Oakland, facing the team that leads the world in strikeouts, and thinking that the Astros book on the rookie Athletic hurler might be a short one, the gamble seems like a fun one. Note too, that after Kluber and Strasburg, the talent pool on the hill is at best erratic (I would like to give Hector Santiago a shot, but not necessarily as a lefty pitching in Texas) and Manaea is the man.
This means I did have some money for my position spots, and the two hitters I really like this week are Dustin Pedroia ($4800) with 14 hits over the past week and Brandon Belt ($5800) who both seems to be coming into his own (and is facing the Mets Stephen Matz) but who also has been deadly on Friday nights over the past couple of seasons. (Note that Belt is a lefty, as is Matz, and in the past, the first sacker has often sat when the team is facing Southpaws. However, we are following an off-day for the Giants, meaning Buster Posey should be fresh to catch, and Belt has been hitting more than well thus far (.303-3-16) and I am guessing he will start. But, do check before first pitch this afternoon just to make sure.
If you are struggling to make DFS baseball work for you, try Todd's fantastic new Daily Rankings which break down his best picks and can be tweaked to match the contest your are playing. Mastersball's new feature is for free through May 7, so check it out.
And, don't forget, you can hit me up @lawrmichaels.