First off, a quick introduction, though if you don't know what FanDuel is, well, you're missing out. FanDuel is a site that offers daily fantasy sports games. Participants are given a chance every day to select new players, fill out a lineup and, most importantly, win some cash. If you choose poorly Monday you can come back Tuesday and try again. Easy as that. Click here to enter a $5 FanDuel contest that offers a $10,000 prize today!
As for what we're going to be doing in this space: The goal here will be to direct your attention toward some players who you might not otherwise consider. If you're here and reading this, then you already know that Mike Trout is really good. But when filling out a roster you can't just pick out stars. You'll blow your cap that way and get stuck praying to the baseball gods that a guy like Wilmer Flores actually gets a few hits. No, if you want to win, you have to take advantage of certain matchups -- and in order to do that you have to know where to look. That's what we're here for. Below are three players to target and three to avoid for July 3-5.
3 players to target
Clayton Kershaw, P, Dodgers: He's going to cost you an arm and a leg, and possibly more ($12,300 is the exact price), but if there ever was a time to break the bank on a single pitcher this is it. First, let's focus on the left-handed throwing Kershaw. Ignore the "high" 3.20 ERA and that 5-6 record. The three-time Cy Young winner is striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings and walking just 2.1. He's got a FIP of 2.59.
Now let's focus on the main reason you should do whatever it takes to get Kershaw in your lineup: He's facing the hapless, punchless, hopeless lineup of the New York Mets, a group coming off a series against the Cubs in which they scored just one run in three games (one of which went 11 innings). The Mets are also whiffing in 23.8 percent of their at-bats against southpaws this season, which is tied for the fourth highest number in MLB.
Joe Mauer, 1B, Twins: A must-play this weekend. For one, Mauer is currently going for just $2,600. But why should you want to slot a first baseman batting .266/.335/.371 into your lineup? It's all about the matchups. On Friday Mauer will be facing Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie and his 5.68 ERA. Left-handed hitters, like Mauer, are hitting .339/.397/.563 off Guthrie this season. Oh, and Mauer is hitting .346/.500/.692 in 26 career at-bats against Guthrie. On Saturday, Mauer will face right-hander Joe Blanton, against whom he is hitting .407/.467/.593 in 27 career at-bats. Danny Duffy and his 5.44 ERA takes the hill for Kansas City on Sunday.
David Peralta, OF, Diamondbacks: This weekend the left-handed batting Peralta gets to take on the weak Rockies rotation and three of the worst starting pitchers in baseball. On Friday he'll face Kyle Kendrick and his 6.07 (!) ERA. On Saturday he'll face David Hale and his 5.95 (!) ERA. Jorge De La Rosa and his 4.59 ERA will take the hill on Sunday. Kendrick and Hale are right handers. This season Peralta is hitting .277/.348/.480 in 173 at-bats against right-handers with seven home runs. These games will be in Arizona and not Colorado, but the combination of those splits and ERAs should render that moot.
3 players to avoid
Buster Posey, C, Giants: He homered on Thursday, but Posey was also forced to undergo a concussion test on Wednesday after taking a foul ball off the mask (he passed). This weekend he'll square off against the hot Washington Nationals pitching staff, a group of hurlers he's struggled against in his career. Posey will get Gio Gonzalez on Friday, Stephen Strasburg on Saturday and Jordan Zimmermann on Sunday. Zimmermann's been solid all year and Gonzalez and Strasburg have begun to turn their seasons around. Posey is a stud, but not one worth betting on this weekend.
CC Sabathia, P, Yankees: Sabathia has struggled all season (3-8, 5.59 ERA), but some might be tempted to take a flyer on him Sunday when he faces the weak-hitting Rays. Don't do it. Sabathia in his career has faced current Rays hitters 220 times. In those at-bats he's surrendered 14 home runs and has been victimized to the tune of a .991 OPS. Stay away, no matter how cheap he is.
Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers: The logic here is pretty simple. Puig is facing Noah Syndergaard on Friday, Matt Harvey on Saturday and Steven Matz on Sunday. All three have profiles that Puig often struggles against in hitting. There are all those reports floating around about how his teammates don't like him. Normally we ignore off-the-field stuff here, but having to deal with all that could be the sort of thing that does in fact turn into a harmful distraction.
Everything mentioned above about Kershaw, well, much of that also applies to Dodgers hurler Zack Greinke, who will be taking the hill Saturday. ... If you would rather not spend all your cash on Kershaw on Friday and want to go with a cheap starter, Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler ($6,800) is your guy. In his last two starts he has thrown 14 innings, whiffed 10 batters, walked only two and surrendered just three earned runs. On the season the little-known Koehler has a 3.66 ERA. Friday night he'll face the Cubs, who have struck out in 24.7 percent of their at-bats against right-handers. ... Nelson Cruz is going for just $3,200 right now. He's a perfect high-reward outfielder to take a flyer on.