Questions & Answers: Friday, August 16th
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Friday, August 16th
Hello Grinders. I’m covering for Cheese today on this massive 15-game slate as he’s traveling to a live final, so we have a lot of work ahead of us (we’re rooting for you, Dave). Let’s dive right in!
Question 1: How Do We Handle The Coors Game?
The first thing I try to do on every slate is scan it at a high level and see what we’re working with. Today is a Coors Field day, but it’s not an ordinary one. For starters, it features a one pretty good pitcher (Jon Gray) and one, uh, pitcher named Sandy Alcantara. Secondly, it features a Marlins team that ranks 6th in K% against right-handed pitching, as well as dead-last in team ISO and wRC+. This is just a bad offense. Meanwhile, Jon Gray continues to impress this season at home. At home, he has a 3.88 ERA while allowing batters to hit .270 off him. He’s also struck out 64 batters over 67.1 innings. In away games, he has a 4.22 ERA while batters are hitting .258 off him and he’s struck out 79 batters over 74.2 innings. Ignoring the ERA, it’s definitely the case that he hasn’t been as effective in Coors compared to other stadiums, but considering his home ballpark factors, I would say he’s held his own quite well this season in Colorado. This is not to say the Marlins are a bad stack today (we’ll touch on that later), but if you give the league’s worst offense a park boost, how much should we really expect it to help them? We typically try to jam in Coors Field bats in our cash game lineups, but I don’t think we need to do that with the Marlins. I do think Lewis Brinson at $2,200 on DraftKings is super cheap and potentially a cash game play at that price tag. Yuck, I can’t believe I just wrote that.
The Rockies are the more interesting side of this game, and I’m sure ownership will reflect that. The surface numbers for Sandy Alcantara have been decent (4.44 ERA, 1.06 HR/9 ratio, 34.9% hard hit rate), but his xFIP is 5.56 and he’s sporting a dangerously high walk rate (11.1%) with a very low strikeout rate (16.8%). The Rockies are a completely different team in home games. They lead the Majors in ISO when at home (which is no surprise) and rank just 23rd in K%, but in away games, they have the 2nd highest K% and rank just 26th in ISO. I want no part of Alcantara here, and the Rockies have plenty of appeal.
This is all to say that this isn’t your typical Coors game in that it doesn’t feel like we need to jam in as much exposure as we can. Our interest will likely be one-sided in the Rockies offense, and I don’t even hate some GPP exposure to Jon Gray if you can tolerate the risk. Because this is not a typical Coors game, it means that we can also start exploring some of the higher end bats and pitching options because at first glance, Coors exposure isn’t an absolute must. Let’s now look at those pitching options.
Question 2: What Are We Doing At Pitching?
Pitching is absolutely loaded at the upper tier. I personally see nine arms that I’d consider as potential aces on this slate. I don’t even know where to begin with these nine, so let me rank them by their strikeout rates and see how things fall:
Justin Verlander vs A’s – 34.5 K%, 5.4 BB%, 1.60 HR/9, 40.9% Hard Hits
Lucas Giolito vs Angels – 31.0 K%, 8.7 BB%, 1.05 HR/9, 31.5% Hard Hits
Charlie Morton vs Tigers – 30.5 K%, 7.1 BB%, 0.72 HR/9, 33.2% Hard Hits
Luis Castillo vs Cardinals – 29.5 K%, 10.5 BB%, 0.94 HR/9, 36.0% Hard Hits
Patrick Corbin vs Brewers – 28.6 K%, 7.5 BB%, 1.04 HR/9, 37.3% Hard Hits
Chris Paddack vs Phillies – 26.0 K%, 5.7 BB%, 1.47 HR/9, 42.9% Hard Hits
Jake Odorizzi vs Rangers – 25.3 K%, 8.8 BB%, 1.12 HR/9, 43.3% Hard Hits
Mike Minor vs Twins – 25.2 K%, 8.1 BB%, 1.16 HR/9, 36.0% Hard Hits
Noah Syndergaard vs Royals – 23.7 K%, 6.6 BB%, 0.91 HR/9, 28.3% Hard Hits
A few things stand out to me instantly. One is Justin Verlander stands out with the highest K% and lowest BB% of this group. Even though he also has the highest HR/9 ratio, it arguably doesn’t even matter to him as he’s just whiffing batters to make up for those lost points. The second thing that stands out to me is that Noah Syndergaard’s 23.7 K% is a lot lower than everyone else’s K% in this tier. While 23.7% isn’t awful, I would argue he belongs in his own tier just below this group. The last thing I’ll mention is that with so many high strikeout pitchers available, it seems likely we’ll want to target our SP1 from someone in this group as it’s unlikely all of them will fail.
Let’s next start factoring in their opponent. I’ll rank them based on the strikeout rate of their opponent, with the pitcher’s handedness accounted for:
Tigers vs Righties (Morton) – 26.1 K% (3rd), 75 wRC+ (29th)
Rangers vs Righties (Odorizzi) – 25.6 K% (5th), 92 wRC+ (17th)
Brewers vs Lefties (Corbin) – 23.3 K% (14th), 91 wRC+ (22nd)
Cardinals vs Righties (Castillo) – 23.1 K% (11th), 87 wRC+ (24th)
Phillies vs Righties (Paddack) – 22.8 K% (14th), 90 wRC+ (22nd)
Royals vs Righties (Syndergaard) – 22.0 K% (20th), 87 wRC+ (25th)
A’s vs Righties (Verlander) – 21.8 K% (21st), 97 wRC+ (14th)
Twins vs Lefties (Minor) – 19.6 K% (27th), 125 wRC+ (2nd)
Angels vs Righties (Giolito) – 19.3 K% (28th), 107 wRC+ (6th)
Charlie Morton gets the prime matchup of this group, facing a Tigers offense that has the 3rd highest strikeout rate in the Majors against right-handed pitching while also ranking in the bottom-two in terms of team wRC+. He’s followed by Jake Odorizzi against the Rangers, Patrick Corbin against a Brewers team that’s somewhat average against left-handed pitching and Luis Castillo against a below-average Cardinals offense. It’s interesting to note that Verlander doesn’t have the best matchup here, while Mike Minor and Lucas Giolito face the Twins and Angels, both of whom don’t strikeout much and who rate as top-six offenses in terms of wRC+.
To summarize this tier after looking at the numbers and matchups, I think it’s more fair to group these nine pitchers into two tiers:
I personally hate the matchups enough for Giolito against the Angels and Minor against the Twins that I plan to be underweight on them. You can definitely throw darts on them in GPPs and hope they surprise us, but I don’t see a reason to touch them in cash games. I feel the same way with Noah Syndergaard. He can definitely have success against the Royals with some easy innings, but the Royals aren’t a high strikeout team and I see no reason to prioritize the pitcher with the lowest K% of this group. Sure, he’s GPP viable and probably “safe,” but you’re really using him for his floor as opposed to his ceiling. I’m putting Chris Paddack into this 1B tier as well because his matchup with the Phillies is a pretty neutral one (in terms of strikeouts) but more importantly, the Padres have not been giving him a long leash. In his last four starts, his pitch counts have been 88 > 93 > 77 > 86. While he’s not on a strict pitch count, the Padres’ focus on limiting his workload is enough for me to knock him down a notch in my rankings.
As for the other five in Tier 1A – Charlie Morton is my preferred option for cash games. The matchup against the Tigers and the discount we get by dropping down from Justin Verlander is slight, but I’m viewing him as my SP1 in cash. I have no problem if you want to pay up and use Verlander in cash games, but I don’t think it’s a necessity with Morton in a better spot and at a cheaper price point. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Verlander for GPPs and I will have my fair share of Verlander today. I especially love Luis Castillo in GPPs. Castillo has gone at least six innings in seven of his last eight starts, and has struck out at least eight batters in half those outings. I don’t love the hitter’s ballpark, but his recent form and the possible low-ish ownership we’ll get on him makes him a fine tournament pivot off Verlander and Morton. I’m also viewing Patrick Corbin as a solid GPP option, but below Castillo for me. I don’t love picking on the Brewers but I do think there’s some sneaky strikeout upside here against a Brewers team that has several of its top hitters as left-handers. I’m also fine with Jake Odorizzi in GPPs given the solid matchup against a strikeout-prone Rangers team, but he’s going into Arlington and facing the Rangers in Nick Lachey weather (98 degrees), so his ballpark conditions aren’t the greatest.
Question 3: Are There Any Other Pitchers We Can Consider?
There’s a solid group of pitchers in the tier below we just analyzed. Let me first just say I’m crossing off Aaron Brooks against the Red Sox, Sandy Alcantara against the Rockies in Coors, Daniel Norris against a Rays team that has made some roster improvements against left-handed pitching and Tanner Roark against the Astros right off the bat. Roark is probably the best real-life and DFS option of this group, but I have no desire to use a pitcher with an average 22.7 K% against an Astros team that leads the Majors in team wRC+ against right-handed pitching and is 4th in team ISO.
Let’s see if any of these other pitchers are viable SP2 options or maybe even SP1 GPP options if you want to get kinky:
Mike Soroka vs Dodgers – Soroka continues to have an amazing season and quietly put up ace-like numbers. This is sort of a weird matchup where I don’t want to play Soroka, but I also don’t really want to pick on him either with Dodger bats. Soroka has a low 20.0 K%, but he gets by with elite control, tons of ground balls (54.5% ground ball rate) and limiting home runs (0.49 HR/9 ratio). The matchup against the Dodgers and their power is enough to take me off Soroka and I don’t see myself using much of him on this slate, but it also wouldn’t shock me if he posted another solid game. I don’t know if he wins you a GPP, but I also don’t think he kills your lineup.
Jeff Samardzija vs Diamondbacks – Samardzija has actually been in really good form lately, allowing more than two earned runs just once over his last eight starts. Despite the recent hot streak, I still see some red flags. For one, he still sports a low 20.8 K% and while his ERA is 3.55, his xFIP is 4.84. Additionally, he’s allowing a career-high 41.5% hard hit rate, which is a huge concern for me. Lastly, he’s showing wide splits against lefties where they have a .326 wOBA against him (compared to a .250 wOBA by righties), and he’s going to be facing potentially up to six good lefties in this Diamondbacks lineup. While I get the recent form is in Shark’s favor, this is a pass for me and this price point.
Kyle Hendricks vs Pirates – On a smaller slate I could see myself taking shots on Hendricks, but I just don’t see myself doing it here. The Pirates have the second lowest K% against right-handed pitching, and Hendricks himself isn’t a big strikeout pitcher. He makes a living off easy innings and I could see that being the case here, but he’s priced in an awkward spot where I’d rather just go higher up and get an ace or pay down for someone in a better strikeout matchup.
Jon Gray vs Marlins – I had already touched on Gray in Question #1 so I won’t go into too much more detail, but I just wanted to reiterate I’m on board the Jon Gray GPP train today as an SP2. I assume most people would rather play someone like Vincent Velasquez in a better matchup and better ballpark at a cheaper price point or perhaps Rick Porcello against the Orioles. There is definite blowup risk just given this game is in Coors, so this is more of an ownership and matchup play.
Patrick Sandoval vs White Sox – Sandoval has been a mixed bag through two starts, fanning 12 batters over 9.2 innings but also walking six batters. Walks were an issue for him in the minors where he held a 11.6 BB% in Triple-A, but the strikeouts are real. He now gets to face a White Sox team that ranks 9th in K% against lefties and who are just 25th in team ISO, but strangely also have a team wRC+ of 101. In other words they strikeout a lot and lack power, but still can put up some runs. I’m not touching Sandoval in cash games with his control issues, but I am more than fine taking shots on him in GPPs as an SP2 given the matchup and his K-upside. I especially like his $30 price tag on Yahoo.
Adam Wainwright vs Reds – I can see the headline now in the St. Louis Gazette: “Savvy veteran helps Cardinals beat Reds.” Wainwright continues to do enough to get by and help his team win, and because of that we have to keep considering him in DFS because he’s not getting blown up and continues to post decent fantasy scores. Use whatever cliche term you want: grit, moxie, poise – it all works with Wainwright. The appeal with Wainwright is that he’s still averaging nearly a strikeout per inning, but his 41.9% hard hit rate and splits against lefties are scary in this ballpark. If you’re into box score hunting, I’ll also point out that the Reds tagged Wainwright for seven runs over 3.1 innings just last month. I’m not interested in Wainwright, but it’s because I just see some more interesting (and cheaper) options in better matchups.
Masahiro Tanaka vs Indians – Tanaka is coming off one of his best performances this season, tossing eight innings of shutout ball against the Blue Jays. Still, Tanaka has taken a step back this season, seeing his strikeout rate plunge from 25.0 K% last season to 19.7% this season. He’s still good at limiting walks, but the low strikeouts combined with the matchup against an Indians offense that rates as slightly above-average has me passing on Tanaka. I’m not chasing that performance against the Blue Jays.
Vincent Velasquez vs Padres – My guess is VV gains some traction on this slate, and I can see the appeal. He has a solid 25.5 K% and gets a juicy matchup against a Padres team that has the 2nd highest strikeout rate in the Majors against right-handed pitching. There is massive strikeout potential for here for Velasquez. The problem with Velasquez is 1) he’s been homer-prone, allowing 10 homers in his last eight starts and sporting a 2.15 HR/9 ratio 2) he has a 46.1% hard hit rate and 3) he doesn’t have a long leash, as he’s only gone past six innings once all season. I am keeping Velasquez in my GPP player pool as I think he’s a strong SP2 candidate, and I can even see him being viable in cash games if you can tolerate some risk because of the plus-matchup. He’s an especially attractive option on Yahoo at $33.
Kenta Maeda vs Braves – We’re getting a discount on Maeda given the tough matchup against the Braves and his poor recent form, but he dominated the Diamondbacks in his last outing by generating 15 swinging strikes and he finished with seven scoreless innings. I tend not to pick on the Braves, but given his strikeout upside, I can see Maeda being interesting as a SP2 for tournaments. I’d realistically have to get 15-20 lineups deep before considering him as this was his first good game in nearly a month, so he’s a deep GPP play at best that I unlikely will have much exposure to.
Rick Porcello vs Orioles – My guess is Porcello gets some ownership because we’ve been conditioned to pick on the Orioles, but I personally can’t get myself to play Porcello in this spot. While the Orioles do rank 12th in K% against right-handed pitching and rank well below-average in most offensive categories, Porcello himself has struggled this season. If the season ended today, his 1.69 HR/9 ratio would be a career high and his 18.0 K% would be his lowest figure since the 2014 season. He’s now allowed a homer in eight straight games, and has allowed 13 homers over his last 39.2 innings. Again, I get the appeal and I can even see some projection systems spitting him out as a recommended play, but this is a no-go for me.
Jacob Waguespack vs Mariners – If you had told 19-year Allan that in 15 years he would be looking up baseball stats on some guy named Jacob Waguespack on a Thursday night, I wouldn’t have believed you and I also would’ve questioned why I was even bothering with a college degree if that was my destiny. But here we are. Swaggy P had posted back-to-back good outings before running into trouble in his last start against the Yankees. The Big Wag wasn’t a big strikeout artist in the minors so I’m not expecting big strikeout outings, but the Mariners come with added strikeouts as they rank 5th in K% against righties. The matchup is good enough where I do have interest in Waguespack today as a punt.
Wade LeBlanc vs Blue Jays – I get the matchup on paper is good (the Blue Jays rank 9th in K% against lefties), but LeBlanc has a terrible 1.93 HR/9 ratio and a low 17.1 K%. He’s been viable on shorter slates but I just see better options on this slate have have less blowup risk than LeBlanc.
Aaron Civale vs Yankees – He’s only made three starts, but Aaron Civale has not look fazed by the competition. Through 18 innings, he’s already fanned 18 batters and allowed just two earned runs. Coming off a gem against the Twins in Minnesota, he now gets his biggest test against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium. Civale was regarded as a good prospect but he was never expected to be this good. Even looking at his minor league numbers, the strikeouts didn’t start coming until Triple-A earlier this season, so I really don’t know if his 27.3 K% is sustainable. The Yankees are essentially a top-three team in terms of ISO and wRC+ against right-handed pitching. While Civale has been on a roll lately and you can make the case he’s GPP-viable because of it, I’ll be underweight on Civale today as the matchup is a bit too scary for me and I’m not 100% convinced he’s this good of a Major Leaguer.
Adrian Houser vs Nationals – When Adrian Houser is not throwing up on the field, he’s busy striking out a bunch of batters. Houser was dominant in his last start against the Rangers, striking out 10 in just six innings. Houser now has a 25.6 K% on the season and more importantly, he was stretched out to 96 pitches in that outing. I think we need to still keep that outing with the perspective the Rangers own the 4th highest K% this season, so that matchup likely boosted his strikeouts. Still, it was an impressive outing and one we should take note of. On paper this is not a good matchup for Houser considering he has awful splits against lefties and the Nationals will likely throw a bunch of them at him. The Nationals rank just 23rd in K% against righties, although they also rank below-average in terms of power. Houser is in this weird no-man’s land where there are other pitchers on this slate who are probably worse real-life pitchers than Houser, but who have better matchups (ex: Jacob Waguespack vs Mariners, or Patrick Sandoval vs White Sox). Do you want to side with the recent success of Houser, or side with the worse pitcher in a better matchup? I’ll likely keep Houser in my GPP player pool, but I realistically won’t be much over the field on him as I don’t see myself prioritizing him.
To summarize these pitchers – I don’t have much interest in Mike Soroka, Jeff Samardzija, Kyle Hendricks, Adam Wainwright, Masahiro Tanaka, Kenta Maeda, Rick Porcello, Wade LeBlanc or Aaron Civale or Adrian Houser. Of that list I would most likely take shots on Rick Porcello and Adrian Houser, but I don’t love their spots. Vince Velasquez, Patrick Sandoval, Jon Gray and Jacob Waguespack are the four I do have interest in. Velasquez is a borderline cash game option for your SP2 spot against the Padres depending on the site, but given his home run issues I prefer him in GPPs. Gray has a matchup in Coors but I am willing to use him in GPPs and pick on the Marlins. Sandoval is a GPP-only play for me but I love the strikeout upside and matchup; I don’t love his control issues. Waguespack doesn’t have strikeout stuff, but the matchup against the Mariners is good enough where I at least have some interest if I’m looking for a cheaper option.
Question 4: Is There Anything We Can YOLO With?
Three names jumped out at me at the YOLO end. Let’s briefly look at each one:
Joe Musgrove vs Cubs – I’m a fan of Musgrove and have used him plenty this DFS season, but this just feels like the wrong matchup. The problem is that his price tag oozes with appeal and this is a solid pitcher’s ballpark that works in his favor. He’s also faced them twice this season and finished with respectable scores of 14.15 and 22.65 DraftKings points / 21 and 41 FanDuel points. The Cubs do rank among the top third of the league in K% against righties, but they also have a team wRC+ of 104 and the 5th highest team ISO. I don’t really want to play Musgrove, but there aren’t a ton of good options in the low tier. At his price point, I do see him as a viable SP2.
Mike Montgomery vs Mets – Montgomery came out of nowhere and struck out 12 batters in his last outing against the Tigers. It was quite a shock coming from a guy with a low 19.1 K%. Even before that outing, he had fanned seven batters in just five innings against the Red Sox. So what the heck is going on here? Nothing in Montgomery’s track record suggests he’s this big strikeout pitcher unless something has changed. The Mets have actually been one of the better teams this season against left-handed pitching, and I’m just not sold Montgomery is a new creation. I’m going to assume his last outing was more fluky and because of the matchup against the woeful Tigers. I am passing on Montgomery.
Mike Leake vs Giants – Mike Leake gets the benefit of facing a Giants offense that ranks among the bottom-six in power. Here’s the bad news – he has a 1.89 HR/9 ratio and also allowing a career-high 40% hard hit rate. Maybe he can get by with some easy innings against this powerless Giants team. Here’s the good news – his price tag on DraftKings is pretty enticing ($6,000). He’s not in play for me on Yahoo at $34 where Jacob Waguespack is $29, Patrick Sandoval is $30 and Vincent Velasquez is $33, but my goodness, $6,000 is so tempting. I feel like I’m supposed to tell you that at $6,000, Leake is your SP2 in cash games because of the matchup against a below-average Giants offense. I get it, I really do, but I just don’t think I can get myself to do it or recommend it. If you want to go down the Leake deathtrain, I won’t blame you, but it’s personally not a route I’m going to take.
Wow, that was a lot to sort through. Let me sort out my thoughts here on pitching:
On FanDuel cash, I think the SP1 discussion revolves around Charlie Morton or Justin Verlander. I lean Morton, but I know he’s expensive. On FanDuel GPP, I can see some of the cheaper studs being options. Chris Paddack and Vince Velasquez face each other but have enough strikeout upside to be interesting, but they don’t have a long leash so you’re really banking on strikeout efficiency. Jon Gray and Jake Odorizzi are also options I’d consider. If you wanted to go up high and take a low-owned Luis Castillo for GPPs, I’m all on board with that.
On DraftKings/FantasyDraft/Yahoo cash, I still prefer Charlie Morton as my SP1. Again, I have no problem if you want to pay up a little more and get to Verlander in cash. For your SP2, that’s going to be a tough call. I personally like Joe Musgrove or Vincent Velasquez. I think this slate is conducive to a more high/low approach at pitcher, as opposed to two mid-tier options. Let me just say I fully expect Mike Leake to gain traction as an SP2 given the matchup against the Giants and his price point. I understand it and perhaps that’s even the “right” process play, but it’s just not something I’m doing. If a Morton/Leake pairing gets you the bats you love, then go for it, but I prefer more a Morton/Musgrove or Morton/Velasquez pairing if possible. On Yahoo specifically, I lean Velasquez at $33 as my SP2 since he’s cheaper than Musgrove.
On DraftKings/FantasyDraft/Yahoo GPPs, things open up quite a bit. That’s where I would start hammering some of the higher priced pitchers who may go a bit overlooked because of Morton/Verlander soaking up the ownership and attention. I like Luis Castillo and Patrick Corbin at the high end, while I will have shares of Jon Gray and a wild Patrick Sandoval in the mid-tier. I may even dabble a bit with Jacob Waguespack.
Question 5: What Stacks Are We Interested In?
1. Red Sox vs Aaron Brooks – One reason the Rockies may not get as much ownership as we’d expect is because I’m also thinking the Red Sox soak up a ton of ownership against Aaron Brooks and this WOAT Orioles bullpen. Brooks has an awful 2.36 HR/9 ratio and allowing close to a 40.0% hard hit rate. He’s given up seven homers in his last three starts, including a four-homer game against the Astros most recently. The appeal here is that even after Brooks is done, the Red Sox get to feast on an Orioles bullpen that owns a 6.04 ERA, worst in the Majors. Brooks has been splits neutral, in the sense that he’s been brutally bad to all handedness. Lefties, righties, players with three hands, you name it. Lefties have a .370 wOBA against him compared to a .362 wOBA by righties. I’m prioritizing the power of Rafael Devers, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez. This is also a fantastic matchup for Mitch Moreland if he starts, with Moreland owning a massive .307 ISO this season against righties. Because of how deep this Red Sox lineup is, you can certainly get creative and stack the bottom half of this order as well to get exposure to Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley. The Red Sox are the top stack for me on this slate, but I also expect them to be popular. I’ll likely run multiple stacks to get exposure to all players.
2. Rockies vs Sandy Alcantara – Alcantara has done a decent job limiting home runs this season, but anytime you put a low-strikeout, high-walk pitcher into Coors, your eyes should light up. Alcantara has been pretty splits neutral this season, allowing a .325 wOBA to lefties and a .328 wOBA to righties. Given this, I’m just going to focus on the Rockies bats who have mashed right-handed pitching the most this season. This puts Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado at the top of the list, and I like them in that order. Yonder Alonso would be a solid salary saver in all formats if he was able to crack the lineup, but it’s likely we see Daniel Murphy start here and bat cleanup. He’s only $3,000 on FanDuel and $4,100 on DraftKings, making him an easy way to get exposure to the team with the highest implied team total on the slate without breaking the bank. He’s someone I’m viewing as a Core Play. Ryan McMahon and Raimel Tapia are also options to round out our stacks. This is a spot where I will be looking at projected ownership as I don’t want to chase a chalky Rockies stack. At the very least we should have players like Murphy, Story, Blackmon and Arenado on our cash game radar.
3. Marlins vs Jon Gray – I have already gushed about my love for Jon Gray, but that doesn’t mean we should just ignore the Marlins and their enormous park upgrade. I’m personally going to be on the Gray side of this game, but the Marlins stack still deserves some consideration, especially if the industry as a whole is thinking similarly. You can definitely stack the Marlins here, and I don’t hate it as a hedge stack if you’re playing Gray. My biggest problem with the Marlins is that they are extremely right-handed heavy, and Gray has better splits against right-handed batters than left-handers. This season, righties have just a .314 wOBA against Gray compared to a .345 wOBA by lefties. Isan Diaz is the main lefty in this lineup and would be a priority for me. I don’t even mind Diaz in cash games, but I don’t consider him a necessity given he’s facing a good pitcher. Brian Anderson and Garrett Cooper would be next on my list in a stack, and it’s worth noting Anderson has hit righties better than lefties this season so perhaps the righty-on-righty matchup isn’t so bad for him. After these three, you’re really just throwing darts as nobody projects well against right-handed pitching. I’d probably just roll with Jon Berti if leading off, potentially Lewis Brinson at a dirt cheap price tag of $2,200 on DraftKings, or one of Jorge Alfaro / Bryan Holaday to fill my catcher spot. It feels weird to consider the Marlins stack, but this is purely because of the ballpark boost and price tags, not because anything in their numbers suggest they should crush here.
4. Padres vs Vince Velasquez – While I do consider Velasquez an interesting SP2 today, the fact is he’s still dealing with home run issues and the Padres get a big park boost getting out of Petco. Velasquez has oddly shown some reverse-splits this season, giving up a .352 wOBA to righties and 13 of his 20 homers this season have been by right-handed batters. This wasn’t the case last season where he was much worse against lefties, so it is a bit confusing. If the right-handed splits are true, the Padres possess plenty of right-handed power that can take Velasquez deep. The loss of Fernando Tatis does hurt this overall lineup, but they still have the power of Hunter Renfroe (.269 ISO), Eric Hosmer (.190 ISO), Manuel Margot (.181 ISO), Manny Machado (.172 ISO) and Francisco Mejia (.172 ISO). The Padres are probably better as a mini-stack or one-offs where you’re hunting for homers, but I’m not opposed to the full-on stack here if you think Velasquez’s home-run issues continue.
Update – I’m downgrading the Reds stack with no Jesse Winker and no Joey Votto. I’m warming to the Twins stack instead and just chasing their power upside
5. Reds vs Adam Wainwright – Let me preface that I hate trying to pick on Adam Wainwright, but he’s regressed this season against lefties and is allowing them to have a .362 wOBA against him this season. Given the good hitter’s ballpark and the Reds having a ton of lefties, I’m at least interested in the stack here. Jesse Winker and Josh VanMeter both have ISOs over .200+ against righties this season, while Joey Votto would also be a fine target if he’s back in the lineup after being a late scratch on Thursday (for what it’s worth, he’s 17-for-51 lifetime against Wainwright with 6 doubles and 3 homers for a .333 average and 1.051 OPS). The addition of Freddy Galvis gives the Reds another lefty bat, and even Tucker Barnhart is a lefty at the bottom of the order who can help keep turning over the lineup. In a stack, I’d go straight to the power of Eugenio Suarez and MVP candidate Aristides Aquino, who both have been mashing right-handed pitching despite being righties.
6. Yankees vs Aaron Civale – Even though Civale has been amazing through three starts, this is still the Yankees we’re talking about in Yankee stadium. Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius continue to be cheap, and while Judge hasn’t had great results lately, I’m committed to playing him at this price point moving forward. I’m targeting the power for Judge, Didi, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres and MVP superstar Giovanny Urshela. It’ll be interesting to see where ownership on the Yankees falls because I’m thinking people may be hesitant to target Civale after his hot start, but I have no problems targeting a rookie with an elite offense.
7. Nationals vs Adrian Houser – Juan Soto, Matt Adams and Asdrubal Cabrera are my primary targets here, but I would be fully on board with a Nats stack if they get extremely left-handed. While I do think Houser is an interesting SP2 GPP option given his cheap price tag, he’s shown huge struggles against lefties and that’s one reason why I’m more interested in the Nats bats than Houser. The Nationals have three solid ones in Soto, Adams and Cabrera, and I love them as a mini stack at the very least. This season, Houser is allowing a .986 OPS to lefties compared to a .586 OPS. Soto has been on fire as of late and has a .272 ISO against right-handed pitching. Adams quietly has a .262 ISO and Cabrera is a switch-hitter but better against right-handed pitching (11 of his 12 homers this season have been against righties). I don’t mind including Adam Eaton or Gerardo Parra in a stack since they are lefties, and you’d have to incude Anthony Rendon, who leads the team with a .280 ISO against right-handers. Prioritize the lefties here, but don’t forget RenDong.
Here are a few one-offs or mini-stacks I’m also looking at:
1. Anthony Santander / Trey Mancini vs Rick Porcello – I honestly debated including the Orioles in the stack section above, and I don’t hate it if you can tolerate shoveling money into a furnace. Rick Porcello continues to deal with home run issues of his own, allowing homers in eight straight games. Porcello’s splits against lefties are slightly worse, so I don’t hate the lefties like Anthony Santander, Chance Sisco, Jonathan Villar, or even the YOLO option of Stevie Wilkerson if you’re desperate. Santander is my favorite of that group as he owns a .227 ISO against right-handed pitching. I’d also have no problem with the power of Trey Mancini or Renato Nunez. Mancini leads the team with a .256 ISO against right-handed pitching, and Porcello has allowed 14 of his 25 homers to righties this season. Nunez is someone I’d absolutely plug into an Orioles stack, but I wouldn’t use him as a one-off. Overall, I do think the lefties are the play here, with Mancini somewhat interesting given his power upside.
2. Francisco Lindor / Carlos Santana / Jason Kipnis vs Masahiro Tanaka – Tanaka continues to show wide splits where he struggles more against lefties. On the season, lefties have a .849 OPS against him compared to a .670 OPS by righties. All three of Lindor, Santana and Kipnis own massive ISOs against right-handed pitching, and would be my priorities in a mini-stack. I will point out that Yasiel Puig is actually the Indians player with the highest ISO against right-handed pitching this season at .281. I don’t love the righty-on-righty matchup given Tanaka has been better against that handedness, but I’d definitely include Puig in any Indians full stack if you went that route. Otherwise I’m mainly looking at the lefties.
3. Ryan Braun / Manny Pina vs Patrick Corbin – Let me preface this by saying I’m not trying to pick on Patrick Corbin, but this is a good hitter’s park and both Braun and Pina are cheap while holding the platoon advantage. Pina leads the team with a 162 wRC+ against lefties with a .309 ISO, while Braun has a .242 ISO against lefties. I’m not going out of my way to jam the Brewers in today, and I’m not even in love with the stack, but I don’t mind Braun as a GPP one-off or Pina as a punt catcher.
4. Randal Grichuk / Teoscar Hernandez vs Wade LeBlanc – I can see the case for the Blue Jays stack against LeBlanc, but I’m not in love with the bottom half of this order (even though Brandon Drury and Danny Jansen will have the random troll games). I’m more focused on the middle of this order, specifically Randal Grichuk and Teoscar Hernandez. Hernandez has a .231 ISO against lefties and has shown good power once again this season. Grichuk has a .194 ISO against lefties and should be an affordable clean-up bat we can target. I love the duo here for their power upside against a pitcher who struggles with keeping the ball in the park.
5. Travis d’Arnaud vs Daniel Norris – If we get d’Arnaud against a lefty, sign me up. 9 of d’Arnaud’s 13 homers have been against lefties this season, where he owns a .852 OPS against left-handers. Norris has allowed 18 of his 23 homers to righties and has a .350 wOBA to both sides of the plate. This is a match made in heaven for Travis.
6. Amed Rosario / Pete Alonso vs Mike Montgomery – The Mets have a surprisingly high implied team total at 5.6 runs, meaning Vegas is expecting the bad Mike Montgomery to show up. As mentioned above, the Mets hit lefties pretty well, led by Pete Alonso and Amed Rosario. I’d expect Rosario to lead off, and he’s a fine target given his .250 ISO against lefties and fair price tag. Alonso is more expensive but he has a massive .393 ISO against lefties. There is huge power upside here, and these two are the first targets I’d look to on the Mets.
7. Yordan Alvarez vs Tanner Roark – It feels like maybe the Astros will go a bit overlooked on this slate being in a late west coast game and on the road in a spacious ballpark. Still, we can target this elite offense, and my main target would be Alvarez. Tanner Roark is allowing lefties to hit .301 against him compared to .238 by righties. The Astros don’t have many lefties other than Alvarez, Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick, so I’m more focused on Alvarez as a one-off in GPPs if you aren’t stacking up the Astros.
8. David Peralta vs Jeff Samardzija – Shark has been good enough lately where the full Diamondbacks stack is a little scary to go with, but at the very least we should look to the lefties here as Samardzija has a huge lefty split issue. This puts David Peralta at a cheap-ish price tag on my radar. If you want to stack up the lefties and hope Samardzija regresses, then stack up the Dyson / Marte / Escobar / Peralta / Lamb group and hope the lefties can get to him. Chase Field hasn’t played like a hitter’s park this season and that’s why I’m a bit skeptical of the stack or more likely looking at the one-off power of someone like Peralta.
9. C.J. Cron / Miguel Sano vs Mike Minor – I think the Twins stack could be sneaky in GPPs given the elite hitting conditions, but I also don’t love trying to pick on Minor. C.J. Cron against a lefty at his cheap price tag is appealing, and Miguel Sano at only $3,300 on FanDuel seems like he’s underpriced. Again, the issue here is that Minor has been fantastic this season to both sides of the plate so it’s not the best spot at first glance, but the Twins have so much power and they can easily get to the Rangers bullpen later in the game too.
Favorite Chalky Stacks – 1) Red Sox 2) Rockies 3) Yankees 4) Astros (if it feels like nobody will stack them)
Favorite Contrarian Stacks – 1) Nationals Lefties + Rendon 2)
Reds Lefties + Suarez/Aquino Twins (prefer Twins now with the Reds lineup not having Winker and Votto) 3) Padres Righties 4) Marlins
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