FanDuel MLB 3-Man Challenge Helper: Thursday 8/1/19

J.D. Martinez offers nearly unparalleled power against southpaws. Who else should you target on Thursday's 3-Man Challenge slate?

Sometimes, you just don't have time to track the weather, check the splits, and wait for the batting order to be posted to build a full nine-man FanDuel MLB roster. It happens. But that no longer means you can't build some lineups, thanks to FanDuel's MLB 3-Man Challenge game style.

The premise is simple: build a three-player roster for a $7 salary cap, and only hits and RBI count toward netting FanDuel points. One player is your MVP, and his points are multiplied by 1.5, and you just need to roster players from at least two different teams. That more or less covers it, but you should familiarize yourself with the basic strategy for the new game style to help you in tonight's marquee 3-Man Challenge contest.

That being said, which options stand out at each price range for today's 3-Man Challenge slate?

$3 Tier

Freddie Freeman - I expected to see (and would be happy to play) Freeman at $4 tonight, so getting him at $3 is a no-brainer. He's got a .399 wOBA and .255 ISO on the year, and those numbers jump to .417 and .267, respectively, on a 51.8% hard-hit rate against right-handed pitching. Righty Anthony DeSclafani is terrible against left-handed bats, getting mangled for a .385 wOBA and 48.0% hard-hits and 50.7% fly-balls this season.

J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts - These two can both be tough to ignore when the Boston Red Sox are against a southpaw, and today is no exception. Unproven youngster Brendan McKay will take the mound for the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Sox are implied for a slate-high 5.50 runs against the lefty. Martinez and Betts are both having down years compared to 2018, but they're more than capable of smacking around lefties. Since joining the Sox, Martinez has a 45.2% hard-hit rate and 39.9% fly-ball rate in the split, crushing a .459 wOBA and .350 ISO. Dating back to the start of last season (155 plate appearances) Betts shows a .315 wOBA and .275 ISO on 42.4% hard-hits and 47.8% fly-balls in the split.

$2 Tier

Tommy Pham - The other side of that Boston-Tampa matchup offers plenty of fantasy goodness, as well. Andrew Cashner will take the mound for the Sox, and Tampa is third on the slate with a 5.00-run implied total. Cashner's sporting a 4.95 SIERA on the year (across 20 games), and while that's some improvement from his last two seasons (5.52 and 5.33 SIERAs), it's still an ugly mark. Pham has no trouble in same-sided matchups, with a career .360 wOBA and .203 ISO in the split, and our models project him for the highest fantasy score among today's $2 hitters.

Carlos Correa - Correa is tied for our highest home run projection on the slate, and in a format that emphasizes power production, that should immediately catch your eye at $2. Correa doesn't get the platoon advantage today, but he's producing in a way we've never really seen from him this season, flexing a .367 wOBA to go with a career-high .261 ISO -- topping even his strong .235 clip from the 2017 season. His 34.8% fly-ball rate is one percentage point shy of his career-high mark, and his 46.5% hard-hit rate is a career-best by seven percentage points. Cleveland Indians righty Danny Salazar will be making his first big league start since the 2017 playoffs, and a long injury layoff makes him a prime pitcher to pick on until he proves he can return to the effective level he pitched at pre-injury.

Yulieski Gurriel - Yuli doesn't give you the platoon advantage, either, but he'll likely be available at lower ownership than Correa will be, and he does have our second-highest home run projection and is just $2. In that same matchup with Salazar, Gurriel brings a .354 wOBA and .225 ISO on 39.8% hard-hits and 39.0% fly-balls. He's actually putting up slightly better numbers in same-sided matchups, as well, with a .361 wOBA and .225 ISO on a 41.0% hard-hit rate in the split this season.

$1 Tier

Kevin Kiermaier and Nathaniel Lowe - Back to the Rays (and more importantly back to picking on Cashner), Cashner has a particularly awful 5.28 xFIP against left-handed bats since 2017. Lowe is more unproven than Kiermaier is, but Lowe is mashing 43.3% hard-hits and 43.3% fly-balls against righties so far in his young MLB career, and he's turned in a .367 wOBA and .216 ISO in the majors (115 plate appearances) to follow a .405 wOBA and .228 ISO in Triple-A (296 plate appearances) in 2019. Kiermaier's numbers are less impressive, but he still owns a serviceable .326 wOBA and .191 ISO against righties over his career, and this season he's tagged them for 37.1% hard-hits.

Yasiel Puig - Puig is an interesting contrarian play if you want to roll with two chalky $3 hitters tonight, because his upside is huge. He is part of a 3-way tie (with Correa and Xander Bogaerts) for our highest home run projection on the slate, but he also draws a nightmare matchup with Gerrit Cole. There's no under-playing how deadly this matchup can be, and a complete dud is Puig's most likely outcome. This is a guy who has a .364 wOBA and .254 ISO on 38.0% hard-hits and 38.7% fly-balls against righties since 2017, though, so the upside is absolutely there. If there's any weakness in Cole's game this season, it's his batted-ball profile, which includes a 35.3% hard-hit rate and 37.1% fly-ball rate. Those are certainly not terrible marks, but they do leave the door open a crack for Puig to show off his power.

Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.