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Fantasy Baseball Picks: Top DraftKings MLB DFS Lineup Strategy for Cubs vs. Cardinals Showdown on May 23

Pearce Dietrich gives his top lineup advice for Sunday’s fantasy baseball Showdown contest on DraftKings between the Cubs and Cardinals, which starts at 7:08 p.m. ET.

Pittsburgh Pirates v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The battle for the NL Central will be decided by the offenses Sunday night. Adam Wainwright will be lucky if he’s still on the Cardinals roster next month, and Zach Davies’ spot in the rotation is anything but certain. St. Louis’ offense is slowly coming around, and Chicago’s bats are at full steam. Expect a lot of runs in this one.

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $60K Sunday Night Showdown [$20K to 1st] (CHC vs STL)

Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Captain’s Picks

Nolan Arenado ($16,200 CP) - He homered last Sunday (May 16), and he gets a very easy matchup this week. Zach Davies ($14,400 CP; $9,600) doesn’t get ahead of hitters (55% first pitch strike rate), doesn’t get hitters to chase (28%) or swing and miss (eight percent). His only saving grace is he is a ground-ball pitcher (30% fly-ball rate), but that 30% is hit hard and can turn into home runs (1.5 HR/9 to RHB since the start of the 2020 season). If anyone can elevate the ball against Davies, it will be Arenado (20-degree launch angle this season). Against right-handed pitching, Arenado has a .369 wOBA, .248 ISO and 136 wRC+. Who needs Coors Field?

Kris Bryant ($15,900 CP) - The Cubs bats have woken up. In April, the Cubs had a middle of the road 93 wRC+, but they rank seventh with a 117 wRC+ in May. Both of those numbers are buoyed by Bryant’s exorbitant stats. The Cubs might have started off slowly, but Bryant has been hitting all season. He has made it clear last year was just a slump. Bryant has a .432 wOBA, .308 ISO, 175 wRC+ and 18 barrels. Meanwhile, Adam Wainwright’s season is falling apart in slow motion. Against right-handed hitters, the Cardinals right-handed starter is allowing a .385 wOBA, .287 ISO and 2.7 HR/9. On Sunday night, it should all come crashing down.

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Value Plays

Ian Happ ($7,400) - The Cubs have turned their season around and are in second place in the NL Central. Happ is one of the best representations of this turnaround. In April, Happ had a .237 wOBA. This month, Happ has a .580 wOBA. Over the last week, he has the seventh-highest wOBA in baseball (.584), and his ISO isn’t that bad either (.556). This is one of the hottest hitters in baseball versus an aging pitcher and the worst bullpen in baseball (5.10 xFIP).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dylan Carlson is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Cubs.

Dylan Carlson ($6,400) - There is a reason for the discount. Carlson — who was scratched before Saturday’s game due to back tightness — does not have any power (.132 ISO). But he gets on base (.353 wOBA) and he scores runs (26). Davies should struggle with the top of the Cardinals lineup. Carlson isn’t going to score the most point in DFS lineups, but he pairs well with the Cards’ big boppers. Carlson is one the best fastball hitters in baseball, and Davies has one of the worst fastballs in baseball. The average velocity on his fastball is 87.7 mph, and it has a pitch value of -1.77.


Adam Wainwright ($15,600 CP; $10,400) - He’s escaped a couple games this season, and he’s imploded several times. The underlying stats indicate more meltdowns are on the way. Wainwright does not get batters to chase pitches (30% O-Swing%), he doesn’t get ahead (58% F-Strike%) and he does not get batters to swing and miss (9% SwStr%). He’s been able to survive some of his outings by throwing an above average curveball 33% of the time, but that won’t work vs. the Cubs because they are the fifth-best team against curveballs. The other way Wainwright wiggles out of jams is by earning called strikes (21.6%). He leads the league in that category, but that’s a tight rope to walk. When Wainwright doesn’t get the calls in the black, he gets blown up.

The Outcome

The Cubs bats have been better than the Cardinals this season, and they will have to be on Sunday night with Davies on the mound. Both starting pitchers will let their teams down, but the difference will be the bullpens. It’s not pretty, but the Cubs relievers will do just enough right, and the Cardinals relief pitchers will do just enough wrong.

Final Score: Cubs 6, Cardinals 4

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $60K Sunday Night Showdown [$20K to 1st] (CHC vs STL)

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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