Million Dollar Musings: Tuesday, August 13th
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Tuesday, August 13th
Happy Tuesday! Wow, things sure do change overnight. We had a pitcher-less slate of nonsense last night, but they are really making up for tonight. On Monday, there was not one single starter above a 25% strikeout rate. Tonight, we have 13 of them. I’ll do my best to break down these pitchers for you, but this is a slate where there are a lot of correct answers to the question. Well, I guess that depends on what the question is. Only Allan knows.
Tuesday Night Pitching
A MESS OF GREATNESS
Gerrit Cole at White Sox (this game removed from slate on DK/FD)
Clayton Kershaw at Marlins (no longer starting tonight)
Lance Lynn at Blue Jays
Matt Boyd vs Mariners
Chris Sale at Indians
Mike Clevinger vs Red Sox
Madison Bumgarner vs A’s
Domingo German vs Orioles
Jack Flaherty at Royals
Zack Wheeler at Braves
Brendan McKay at Padres
UPDATE – Speaking of things changing in a hurry….Since this morning, the Astros-White Sox game 2 has been removed from the DK slate, and Clayton Kershaw has been pushed back until tomorrow, with Dustin May now getting the start. This ends up not changing too much up top, as Kershaw was close to unplayable anyway, and Cole was very expensive, but it does bring May into the mix at SP2. I’m going to leave all the original analysis in here, so if you see Cole and Kershaw listed, just know that has changed. I’ll have Dustin May added in shortly in the mid-tier.
Well, where do you want to start? I guess let me start here. I think you have to play an ace in cash games tonight, and I think you have to play an ace in tournaments tonight. The reasoning here is that the more stud pitchers there are, the lower the chance that they all fail. When we have one or two aces, you can always hope that they both have bad outings, and the way to win is cheaper pitching that outperforms them in points per dollar. But when we have this many stars, they are not all going to have bad nights, and a couple of them are very likely to have outings that you just can’t beat with cheapies.
But where it gets interesting is trying to define who counts as an ace tonight. Are these all aces? Do we need to pay all the way up to the Cole, Kershaw, Sale types, or do we get just as much upside from the still expensive but more reasonable salaries of guys like Flaherty, Bumgarner and McKay?
LET’S CALL IT SIX ACES
What makes this immediately trickier than I want it to be is the fact that Cole is facing the White Sox and Kershaw is facing the Marlins. The White Sox are an extreme strikeout team, in addition to the possibility that they have an even worse than usual lineup in the second half of a doubleheader. The Marlins are not as extreme a strikeout opponent against lefties, but they are still just a bunch of ground ball hitters in a bad home ballpark. While Kershaw has increased his strikeouts dramatically in the second half, he is still just not on Cole’s level in that department, and it’s still not his game. Cole has double digit strikeouts in seven of his last 12 starts, while Kershaw has only hit that mark once all season. On FD, Cole is not available, but I see Kershaw as overpriced for the slate at more than $1,000 ahead of the next closest pitcher. On the two pitcher sites, Cole is deservedly expensive, and there is no way I am going to call him a must play in cash games or any format, but if you can spend up at pitcher, it’s not particularly close which one I want. It’s Cole, then a gap, then everybody else.
So, stop #1 is Cole, and skipping Kershaw. (I’m not skipping Kershaw- he’s awesome, but in comparison to Cole and this slate, I don’t like his salary tonight). This brings us to a group of Chris Sale, Matt Boyd, Mike Clevinger and Lance Lynn. Clevinger, Sale and Boyd are all over 30% strikeouts for the season and Lynn has joined them in the over 30% K club over the past two months. When looking at salaries and matchups, I think it’s a little bit of goofy overthinking to play the pitcher against the Red Sox out of all these options. Mike Clevinger is good enough to put up a big start any day, but I’m just not on board with him being more expensive than Sale and Boyd tonight. We’ll get to Boyd and Sale in a minute, but let’s take a deeper look at Lance Lynn.
For the full season, the 27.7% K rate of Lynn falls a bit behind the aces, and makes him look overpriced in comparison to the slate. But he has been incredible and consistent for the past several months and his numbers over the summer are right in line with all these aces. Over his last 15 starts, we’re looking at a 31.9% K rate with just 5% walks and a 2.87 ERA / 3.21 SIERA. He is also piling up innings at an impressive rate with at least seven full innings in eight of his last 10 starts. He has 8+ strikeouts in nine of his last 12 and his strikeout rate for the year is all the way up at 35% against right-handed batters. Toronto only has two good left-handed bats, and even they come with some strikeouts. Overall, we’re looking at an extreme 26% K rate from tonight’s projected Blue Jays lineup, putting his matchup well ahead of the likes of Kershaw, Clevinger and Sale. I’m hoping that the name value of these other aces as well as the salaries leave him a little overlooked, and I would call him my favorite tournament pitcher on this whole slate. I would even be fine with him as an SP1 in cash games on two-pitcher sites if you can’t afford Cole.
OK, so Chris Sale and Matt Boyd are underpriced for their talent level on DK/FDRFT. Boyd is also cheap on Yahoo, while on FD, the salaries are more condensed and less of a factor. When Chris Sale is on his game, he is matchup proof, as we saw when he struck out 13 Angels in eight scoreless innings last week. Other than his opponent Clevinger, Sale looks to have the toughest matchup of any of these top aces, with the Indians having five righties with a 15% or lower strikeout rate. Meanwhile, Matt Boyd has virtually identical strikeout and walks numbers but faces a far easier opponent with the high strikeout Mariners who have a serious lack of right-handed power. Boyd had his worst start of the season last week, but every pitcher has to have their worst start sometime. If you want to use that as a reason to avoid him tonight, I understand, but that will not be the case for me. With Sale and Boyd, I see two lefties with strikeout rates consistently above 30% and low walks to go with them. Boyd has the higher upside matchup against a team that is not well suited to attack his one weakness, and he is my choice in all formats tonight. Both Sale and Boyd are in my tournament plans, while Boyd is in my cash game plans as well.
FIVE MORE ALMOST ACES
Domingo German vs Orioles – 25.8% K, 5.5% BB
Jack Flaherty at Royals – 28.6% K, 7.8% BB
Madison Bumgarner vs A’s – 23.5% K, 5.0% BB
Zack Wheeler at Braves – 25.5% K, 6.0% BB
Brendan McKay at Padres – 26.4% K, 2.4% BB
UPDATE – Adding Dustin May in here as well. Will add more analysis on him later.
Any one of these pitchers would have been the ace of the slate last night, but tonight, they are just tier two. I am trying to make as many cuts as possible tonight, and with the salaries being what they are, Domingo German is going to be one of those cuts. He’s a clear level below the aces in strikeouts and innings, so for me, there’s just not enough savings here.
Both Zack Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner are great real life pitchers who become DFS useful on certain slates in the right matchups. You can make the case that any home start is the right matchup for Bumgarner, but the strikeouts are just so low to begin with, and have been falling even further recently. For me to drop to a pitcher below 24% strikeouts on this loaded of a slate, I would need more savings then he offers, so it’s a pass for me. Zack Wheeler has been great against weak opponents, and I trust his skill set enough to expect him to remain good even in Atlanta, but his strikeout ceiling is not high enough to warrant the matchup risk.
German, Bumgarner and Wheeler are all very good pitchers, and yes they are playable, I’m just trying to narrow this pool, and that is how it gets done for me. Within this pricing tier, both Jack Flaherty and Brendan McKay have more strikeout ability and better matchups than Bumgarner and Wheeler with a lower price tag than German.
Jack Flaherty has a strikeout rate at 33.3% since the beginning of July and has pitched seven full innings in four of his last six starts. He is an average pitcher against lefties and a dominant pitcher against righties, not much different from Lance Lynn. The lefties that the Royals can send up against him just aren’t that threatening, and the bottom five batters in their lineup are all below a .150 ISO, .310 wOBA and four of them are below a 6% walk rate. Flaherty’s 34% K rate to righties gives him the edge against the three dangerous bats in the KC lineup, and while his consistency isn’t quite there compared to the aces, he looks underpriced to me on FD/DK/FDRFT. I will consider him as a cash game SP2 on DK/FDRFT and on FD, he’s a top tournament play for sure, and even with cash game potential if the $10k tag proves too much.
Brendan McKay is a step below Flaherty, mostly due to the unknown with his innings. He has made just six starts, and he’s only completed six innings once. His control has been elite and his strikeouts well above average and while the Padres aren’t as extreme a strikeout team against lefties, it’s still an average strikeout matchup. I don’t see a need to go here in cash games when we can get Flaherty for just a few dollars more, but he is the next tournament option for some savings that I’m looking at.
With Dustin May added to the mix, this becomes an even more interesting group. On FD, May is so cheap that he’s in play in all formats. I do want to caution against over-exuberance here as May is just two starts into his career with a 21% strikeout rate and 53% hard hits allowed, but you can’t ask for a better matchup than going into Miami, especially when factoring in May’s heavy ground ball lean in the minors. Miami not only has a high 26% K rate in this projected lineup, but also only one batter below a 45% ground ball rate and a crazy low .124 ISO and .297 wOBA. I am board with May in cash games on all sites at this salary, I will just be a little cautious of going too far overboard in tournaments, as he doesn’t have as much realistic upside as the aces.
EVERYTHING ELSE COUNTS AS CHEAP NONSENSE
The top of the pitching pool is so strong tonight, that even the mid-tier looks like nonsense in comparison. But some of these mid-tier options are certainly better than traditional nonsense, and the true cheap nonsense will be necessary for certain lineup builds. Some of these options are different by site, but this is the pool that I’m looking at:
Griffin Canning vs Pirates – 25.4% K, 7.7% BB
Max Fried vs Mets – 23.7% K, 6.8% BB
Eric Lauer vs Rays – 18.8% K, 6.6% BB
Trevor Williams at Angels – 18.1% K, 5.6% BB
Thomas Pannone vs Rangers – 22.0% K, 9.3% BB
Yusei Kikuchi at Tigers – 16.9% K, 7.6% BB
Martin Perez at Brewers – 19.9% K, 9.0% BB
Chase Anderson vs Twins – 22.4% K, 7.9% BB
On FanDuel, Griffin Canning is the only pitcher here that is on my radar personally. Flaherty and McKay are at low enough salaries that I can get most of the offense I want with one of them. But if Canning is healthy after missing two weeks, then his salary looks like a bit of a discount. The big problem is that a young pitcher missing two weeks with elbow inflammation is a red flag for me, and I would be nervous that his pitch count would be monitored here even if he pitches well. He also faces a low strikeout Pirates team that makes me even more set on paying up to at least McKay on FD tonight.
UPDATE – Now that we have Dustin May in the mix at just $5,800, he is the clear, and only viable cheap option on FD.
On DK/FDRFT, Max Fried is the first pitcher who looks cheap and good enough to come into the SP2 discussion. His 10-K outing against Minnesota last week has to be viewed as an outlier, but he is a pitcher with slightly above average strikeouts, low walks and ground balls over 53% to both sides of the plate. There’s really no clear weakness anywhere in his skill set and it will generally come down to BABIP for him. The innings are not high enough to give him a huge ceiling, usually settling in between 5-6 IP, but he’s priced accordingly. The Mets have been playing well and are a close to average matchup against a lefty based on full season numbers. There are only three low strikeout bats in the lineup and only two righties with the fly ball lean to be a huge threat. My goal is to pay up for two pitchers in cash games tonight, but I would be willing to settle on Fried as the cash game SP2 if you need the savings.
Eric Lauer is just about the same salary as Fried, and he’s a lower strikeout pitcher without the ground ball lean. There are a few more strikeouts in the Tampa lineup, but I’m not on board with Lauer ahead of Fried; I would put him as the direct pivot in this tier to get some different tournament lineups.
Trevor Williams is a very similar pitcher to Lauer with his decent real life skills, but far enough below average strikeouts that against a team with as much power as the Angels, I have essentially no interest here.
After we get past Fried, Lauer, maybe Williams and an ‘if-healthy’ Canning, I’m down to just worrying about salary for the sake of salary.
Chase Anderson has been a very steady pitcher, but this is a guy who throws five innings and is rarely good for more than 4-5 strikeouts, plus he’s at home against the extreme power of the Twins. I much prefer the Minnesota bats here. On the other side of this game, I feel similarly about Martin Perez. Do I really want a low strikeout pitcher in Milwaukee on this slate? I do not.
Before I consider a pitcher like Anderson or Williams, I would just be looking to punt all the way down to something like Yusei Kikuchi or Thomas Pannone. Kikuchi had an outlier start with eight strikeouts last week against the Padres, but it would be a mistake to start fishing for a repeat. What we can hope is that he still lands on the upper end of his strikeout range against Detroit and that his average batted ball profile is just decent enough to get some BABIP help from a team lacks power. There is no reason to like Kikuchi other than the salary, but he is on my multi entry radar for that reason.
Thomas Pannone was unsurprisingly grilled in his last start against the Yankees, but this is a far better matchup for the lefty. Since the main purpose of this article is to do some research that you don’t have time to do on your own, let’s talk a little more about sandwiches. If you recall last week, I pointed out the utter disappointment that the website panini dot com is not a grilled sandwich site. But, it somewhat redeemed itself this morning, when I googled ‘who invented panini’. I didn’t so much find out who invented the panini, but I did discover that Antonio Panini established Panini the office supply/software company. It is always my greatest hope that any food item was created by someone with the last name matching that food item. While that doesn’t turn out to be the case here, I did manage to get myself a good hearty belly laugh at imagining Antonio Panini going to his local Panera restaurant and ordering a panini. Cause you know, they ask your name with your order. OK, one Toasted Tuscan Panini. And what is your name? Mr. Panini. Yes sir, I know what you want, but what is your name? Panini. Fine, just go stand over there.
But I digress, let’s get back to Thomas Pannone. Yankees grilling aside, I really don’t think this is a terrible pitcher. Not great by any stretch, but he has been above a 26% K rate at Triple-A the past two seasons, and a 22% K rate in 58 major league innings is quite acceptable at this salary. The Rangers’ best hitters are lefties, and this is a very high strikeout lineup against left-handed pitching, with their projected lineup all the way up at a 25.3% K rate. I may be too enamored with his last name, but this is far and away my favorite cheap nonsense pitcher on this slate, and the first place I’ll look for those necessary savings on expensive offense lineups.
Pitching Cliff Notes
With this loaded of a pitching slate, there is no perfect way to break it down. I’m making some cuts to my pool tonight, but every single one of at least the top 11 pitchers tonight has very real upside. You can land on a different decision than me as to where you draw your lines. Personally, this is how I have things separated:
FD Cash – Matt Boyd / Chris Sale / Lance Lynn – $10,300 – $10,500 OR Jack Flaherty / Brendan McKay $8,900 / $8,000. My lean is Boyd and then Flaherty, but you could just as easily like the other names in these groups. Dustin May is also going to be an FD cash option at his goofy low salary.
FD GPP – The tournament pool here is exactly the same as the cash game pool. The trio of Boyd/Sale/Lynn is filled with upside, and Flaherty/McKay have more upside than the others in their price range. Dustin May should be popular, and I’ll play him, but am also thrilled that it helps lower ownership on these other pitchers.
DK/FDRFT Cash – I would so much love to play Gerrit Cole tonight, but I would rather make sure I get two top pitchers, even if that means I miss out on him. The potential pairing is Cole with Max Fried, but I would prefer a Matt Boyd / Jack Flaherty combo. As on FD, if you prefer Sale or Lynn to Boyd, have at it, that makes plenty of sense. If you really want to be able to jam in more bats, it would be acceptable to still use Fried as an SP2, but starting with Boyd/Sale or even Flaherty. Dustin May is now added to the cash game mix, and I would use him ahead of Fried or McKay. A Flaherty/May pairing is viable if you want to save some salary here.
DK/FDRFT GPP – There is a little more reason to try some cheap nonsense here, where the Thomas Pannone or maybe Yusei Kikuchi savings are extreme. Fried is in the tournament pool as well, and you could spread out to guys like Lauer, Williams and Anderson in that lower mid-tier if you want, although that is not in my plans. I would also point out that Cole is likely to be lower owned than he should be due to that salary and nobody touches his raw points upside.
Yahoo Cash – Boyd is the clear value here, and where I would start in cash games. Cole is goofily priced, and I would rather start with Sale if trying double aces, otherwise, down to Flaherty or McKay.
Yahoo GPP – It’s the same tournament pool as on DK/FDRFT, except the savings to Pannone and Kikuchi are not nearly as useful here, so I would avoid them. Eric Lauer comes down to their price level here, so if needing to go that cheap, I’d lean his way first.
Tuesday Night Bats
With all these good pitchers on the mound, there is a lot less offense to focus on. Even the Coors Field game has a much lower total than usual with two pretty good pitchers, and the next obvious team, the Yankees faces the best the Orioles have to offer. In my initial look at this slate, I am not seeing this as a stacking night, but I know that is what the people want, and what the people will do, so I will tell the people what they want to hear. Don’t mess with the people.
UPDATE – The slate has been tossed around a bit again. First it was with the Dodgers swapping pitchers, now it is the Rockies scratching Jon Gray, to be replaced by Jeff Hoffman. This is a huge boost to the Arizona offense that now becomes a top offense on the slate and a more key piece in cash games lineups.
Unlike last night where it was easy to fit in some high priced bats, it’s going to be a far tougher path to follow tonight. With either side, you’re mostly rooting for an early trip to the bullpen as both starters have the ability to limit big innings with their strikeout ability. For Jon Gray, his splits are not extreme, but he’s still a better pitcher against righties, with very close to average skills across the board to lefties. The salaries on Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar keep them out of the cash game discussion for me, but sure, play them in some tournament lineups, and they are the top two bats on this team tonight. If you want to get here in cash games, David Peralta or Jake Lamb are the way to do it. Peralta would be my first choice with his stronger plate skills and better lineup spot. You can stack the Diamondbacks because they are in Coors Field, but officially, I don’t love it.
UPDATE – So, with Jeff Hoffman now pitching instead of Jon Gray, my interest flips to Arizona bats first. I still can’t call it a priority to get to the salaries of Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar, but I’ll start with Jake Lamb and David Peralta in cash games, and move the stack up to the top of my list. I will point out that Jeff Hoffman is not necessarily terrible. His strikeout rate increased to 25% at Triple-A this season, and in the few appearances he’s made with Colorado, his strikeouts were up to lefties, but based on his track record, I am nowhere near trusting him in Coors Field.
We’re only 41 innings into Zac Gallen ‘s career, but he looks as good as advertised with a 29.2% K rate and a 2.40 ERA. But there are a couple red flags here, most notably his 12.5% walk rate, which is mostly against righties, along with hard hit fly balls to those righties. He also throws a curveball as one of his main pitches, which could be an issue here. It’s still a small sample size, but the splits are huge with a 34.5% K rate to lefties and just 23.8% to righties. Along with the batted balls also favoring righties, if you have one cash game spend available, I would use it on either Nolan Arenado or Trevor Story ahead of Charlie Blackmon. I’ll take the contact of Arenado first and Story next, and because we’ve seen those walks from Gallen, I am strongly on the Colorado side for a stack here.
NY Yankees vs John Means – If you haven’t read the Core Stacks article today, go give that a look to see if Andy is going to be willing to go against the family tonight. While Means is one of the only decent starters the Orioles have, he’s still a low strikeout lefty against the Yankees. He’s done a good job limiting hard contact, but with just 17.3% strikeouts to righties and a high fly ball lean, I’m definitely hunting for some power here. We’ve also seen him struggle to pitch deep into games recently, and if the Yankees can get into the middle of this Baltimore bullpen, then it’s easy to see why this can be considered the top stack of the night. The Yankees can open the lineup with five straight batters above a 40% hard hit rate and .235 ISO against lefties. On DK/Yahoo, Gary Sanchez is my top choice here, with such a huge edge at his position. Even in cash games, I may be trying to spread out and be willing to spend at catcher. Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres are other strong plays, with Torres coming at a nice discount. Let’s talk about our friend Aaron Judge and his $4,400 price tag on DK. Judge has gone eight days without a HR (oh the humanity) and has only three homers since the All-Star Break. So, is he cold, is he broken, or is he hurt? Everyone has their own way of evaluating these things and different lengths of time they are willing to go through slumps. Personally, I do not care one iota about surface stats or results over a small sample size. I care about how a guy is hitting the ball. So let’s look at that. Let’s break down Judge’s numbers since the All-Star Break, which is about one month, and the span of time that he has only managed those three home runs. I don’t know what you might expect to see if you consider him to be cold, but what we have here is a 57% hard hit rate with 24.7% line drives and a 28.8% K rate with 18% walks. That strikeout rate is lower than his career number, the walks are higher, and the hard hits and line drives are higher. That is not a cold batter in my opinion- not even a little. If you want to break it down further, to just the last two weeks, we have a 39% hard hit rate with 26% line drives, 28% K and 20% walks. Cold? I say no. Again, you do not have to agree with me, and you do not have to play Aaron Judge, but I’m still way on board at this DK/FDRFT salary.
St. Louis Cardinals at Glenn Sparkman
Sparkman has had a few good starts here and there, including that bizarre complete game shutout, but this is one of the lowest strikeout pitchers in the league, and on top of that, he has no particular skill in any area of controlling batted balls. He’s just a guy that can throw strikes, and that’s it. He has struck out just 11.8% of right-handed batters and 15% of lefties, while allowing more fly balls and hard hits to lefties, but still average to righties. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to get excited about Matt Carpenter, but we get it tonight! He’s been hitting the ball hard since coming off the IL, and because he missed so much time, he’s cheap. I would still put Paul Goldschmidt, Marcell Ozuna and Paul DeJong on top of the list here but along with Carpenter, that’s four batters in the middle of the lineup with hard hit rates above 43% against righties. If Dexter Fowler leads off, I’d want to get him in any Cardinals stacks as well. They also get Yadier Molina back off the IL, and while he’s not really a target, it’s helps the overall lineup. Goldschmidt, Fowler and Carpenter are on the cash game list, Ozuna and DeJong on the tournament list as individual power bats, and the whole mess of them are a strong stack.
LA Dodgers at Jordan Yamamoto
I love it when DFS players overreact to ballpark factors. They absolutely matter, especially in cash games, but it can get way overblown when a team with as much power as the Dodgers go to a park like Miami. Marlins Park reduces left-handed power by 15-20%. I don’t know if you’ve even seen Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy or Joc Pederson hit home runs, but these are not lazy fly ball hitters who squeak them over a short porch. Yamamoto has allowed a 56% hard hit rate to left-handed batters this season, 56%! Pederson, Muncy and Bellinger have hard hit rates of 45%, 44% and 52% against righties with ISO’s of .285, .268 and .353. Sure, there are some fly balls that may land on the warning track here that would homers elsewhere, but if the projected ownership lands where I expect it to, I’m all over these guys in tournaments. We’ve also got high walks from Yamamoto and a terrible Miami bullpen, putting the Dodgers as one of my top stacks on the slate.
Alex Wood has made three starts off the IL, with just 11 strikeouts in 14 innings and a scary 57% hard hit rate to righties. He’ll probably get that sorted out quickly, but even in 2018, he allowed 41% hard hits to righties with just average ground balls and 21% strikeouts. If I was certain this was a full strength Alex Wood, I would only be looking at Anthony Rendon (.307 ISO, .440 wOBA) as a high end tournament option, but until we see him look better, I’ll also have interest in Trea Turner (.350 wOBA), Brian Dozier (.215 ISO, .389 wOBA), Howie Kendrick (.207 ISO, .399 wOBA) and whichever of Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki gets the start as a catcher option. Rendon is the only thing I’m excited about here, but Kendrick and Dozier are cheap and may be useful as fill in pieces, even if not stacking the Nationals.
Joe Ross has not allowed a run in his last two starts and whoop-dee-doo for him. He has also walked seven batters with eight strikeouts in those 11 innings and had very fortunate BABIP. For the season, in a still limited sample size, he has a terrible 15% K rate with 17.5% BB to lefties, resulting in a .424 wOBA against. Eugenio Suarez and Aristides Aquino have plenty of power to overcome his decent skills to righties, but the lefties are the standouts here, and Jesse Winker (.229 ISO, .375 wOBA) and Josh VanMeter (.216 ISO, .384 wOBA) are both cash game options for me. They have huge on base upside with Ross’ poor control, but they also both have home run power with hard hits rates over 43%.
We have two good teams in a hitters ballpark against two lefty starters with below average strikeouts and no ability to limit fly balls or hard hits to righties. Neither of these pitchers are terrible, and it’s far from a must play or stack on either side, but I am going to be looking here early and often for right-handed power.
Jose Quintana has a 20.5% K rate with 38% hard hits and 36% fly balls to righties- that is completely average stuff. J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura are fine options within a stack, but I would start with the fly balls of Rhys Hoskins or the immense 56% hard hits and 42% line drives from Scott Kingery against lefties. That 42% line drive rate is not sustainable over a long stretch, but it shows how well he’s hit lefties this season.
On the other side, we’ve got 20.1% K with 43% fly balls and 39% hard hits from Vargas. Again, not horrendous, but the trio of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Nick Castellanos have the clear edge here. All three are above a .300 ISO and 40% hard hits against lefties and can be played together or on their own tonight.
Anderson is a reverse splits power pitcher, and with Nelson Cruz on the IL, most of the Twins power is left-handed, so this is a less than ideal set up, but I still have a ton of interest in a team with this much lefty power going into Milwaukee. While more of Anderson’s power is allowed to righties, he still allows fly balls with just average strikeouts to lefties. I would say that the righty power of Miguel Sano is the highest upside play here, but he comes with tons of strikeout risk against righties, so I don’t want to be overexposed. Meanwhile, the lefty trio of Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco not only hit the ball hard and in the air, but all three are strong contact bats as well. Between Anderson’s splits and a good Brewers bullpen with a rested Josh Hader, I am only using these Twins sparingly as one offs in tournaments tonight.
Martin Perez has a slight ground ball lean to righties and doesn’t get hit too hard, so we need fly balls and hard hits to want to play against him. Keston Hiura is still at a very small sample size against lefties, but he is the standout in those categories with a 45% fly ball rate and 48% hard hits, but with high strikeouts weighing down his surface numbers. Yasmani Grandal and Lorenzo Cain are line drive hitters, while Ryan Braun leans too heavily to ground balls for me to love him here. You can make a case to play Christian Yelich and Mike Moustakas based on ownership, but they won’t be on the primary list.
Overall, this is a game where I’d expect a couple home runs just because of how good these lineups are, but nothing jumps off the page as a must play.
That’s all that stands out to me on this slate, but because the high end teams are not nearly as obvious or can’t miss as usual, there is more of a case to spread out in tournaments. Here’s a glance at some of the leftovers I’m considering:
Texas Righties at Thomas Pannone – You could even play a lefty here and wait for the bullpen, but with Pannone being more prone to hard hits from righties, Danny Santana (.275 ISO) and Hunter Pence (.316 ISO) are the first two I’d look at.
Mariners at Tigers Righties – Matt Boyd is always a risk to allow right-handed power. The strikeout risk is extreme, but you could throw a dart at Domingo Santana or Tom Murphy. The Tigers righties get the 16.2% K of Yusei Kikuchi and a bad Seattle bullpen, so I could make a case for some cheap Tigers righties. In particular, a minimum salary Ronny Rodriguez on FD, Brandon Dixon or Travis Demeritte.
First Basemen In Atlanta – Pete Alonso and Freddie Freeman are both elite hitters in a game that will probably go mostly overlooked. Zack Wheeler is tough on righties, but will allow hard hit fly balls to lefties, while Max Fried and his ground balls are not too much for the 52% HH, 41% FB and .407 ISO of Alonso.
Pirates at Angels Power – Trevor Williams and Griffin Canning are both OK, but not without their issues. Canning has allowed fly balls and hard hits to both sides of the plate and is also coming back from an elbow issue, further clouding his outlook. I’ll go to the hard hits of Josh Bell, Bryan Reynolds and Starling Marte in the middle of the lineup. Trevor Williams has struck out just 13.7% of left-handed batters putting Kole Calhoun and Shohei Ohtani on the board. He is also just an average strikeout pitcher to righties and I’m guessing this will be a night with fairly low ownership on Mike Trout given all the pitching we have to pay up for.
Righty Power In San Diego – I don’t really want to pick on Brendan McKay at this point, but sure, Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis and Hunter Renfroe are viable. The Tampa side is more interesting with Eric Lauer striking out 21.8% of righties but allowing 37% fly balls and 43% hard hits. Travis d’Arnaud (43% HH), Jesus Aguilar (37% HH) and Avisail Garcia (46% HH) are my first looks here.
Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images
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