We don’t have a confirmed starter for the Angels and therefore no sportsbook lines, but Jose Suarez is expected to make his first start and appearance of the season. This would be good news for the Astros, as they have punished LHP (115 wRC+), demolished visiting pitchers (125 wRC+ at home) and been on fire (146 wRC+ last seven days). Suarez made just two starts and pitched just 2.1 innings for the Angels last year. He threw 81 innings in his rookie year in 2019. He has just a 9.0 K-BB%, 36.3 GB% and 7.6% Barrels/BBE. In 110 AAA innings (2018-19), he barely generated a double digit K-BB%. Most simply, there’s no strikeout upside towards rostering Suarez here. Five of nine projected Astros are below a 15 K% vs LHP since 2019. Expected to face seven from the RH side is another issue for Suarez, as RHBs have a .443 wOBA (.393 xwOBA) against him in the majors. No surprise that Alex Bregman (196 wRC+, .337 ISO vs LHP since 2019) and Jose Altuve (142 wRC+, .ISO) are your top bats. Altuve actually leads the projected lineup with a 96.1 mph EV on fly balls and line drives this year and could even have some stolen base value if Suzuki is behind the plate. Should the early departure of Suarez be a concern, a heavily worked Angels’ bullpen has a 5.84 ERA and 4.60 FIP over the last 30 days with some of their top arms potentially unavailable tonight.
Luis Garcia owns today’s second highest strikeout rate (28%, 14.3 SwStr%). If you’re looking for a reason to go underweight on him though, he’s pitched five innings against the Angels over two separate appearances, striking out only one of 25 batters with three walks and two HRs. He’s managed contact well with just an 86.9 mph EV, but with just a 35 GB%, he’s allowed 11.7% Barrels/BBE (four HRs). The 3.28 ERA is a product of a .214 BABIP and 84.8 LOB%. His SIERA (3.75) and xERA (3.84) are the most optimistic estimators with the remainders around four and a half. The Angels also have a 115 wRC+ vs RHP and don’t strike out a ton, though five in the projected lineup have at least a 24 K% vs RHP since 2019. Unlike the Astros, this offense is a three man band. Jared Walsh (149 wRC+, .276 ISO vs RHP since 2019), Mike Trout (195 wRC+, .388 ISO) and Shohei Ohtani (125 wRC+, .250 ISO) are your desired bats with David Fletcher (97 wRC+) and Justin Upton (91 wRC+, .182 ISO) reasonable stacking options.
The Pelicans will likely have the same roster available for their game against the Memphis Grizzlies as they did yesterday. Adams was listed as doubtful with a toe injury, while Zion and Ingram will miss the game again with their respective injuries. We’ve seen this the last few days for the Pelicans; Willy Hernangomez and Jaxson Hayes will split the center minutes, while Naji Marshall and James Johnson will start at the forward positions. Johnson was one of the most popular value plays, and should continue to be as he’ll have to play big minutes one again. Hernangomez got the start yesterday, but Hayes played more minutes off the bench, so both players will be viable. Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe should both run the offense and be the top producers, as they’ll soak up far more usage with no Zion and Ingram.
Martin Perez and Jorge Lopez have a similar strikeout rates (21.4% to 21.7%), but that’s where the similarities end. Perez (8.4 BB%, 39.5 GB% 87.2 mph EV) might be much worse than the numbers suggest, despite just 4.6% Barrels/BBE. Consider that he’s faced the Tigers, Rangers and Mariners over his last three starts and the Rays in his first start of the season. These are the most strikeout prone lineups in the American League. Yet he still has a 4.40 ERA with just one HR allowed. Estimators are mostly in line with his results, but again, he’s had a dream schedule except for matchups with the Twins and White Sox. The Orioles would seem to continue that run of futile offenses, but they actually have a team 110 wRC+ vs LHP with a 14.1 HR/FB this year. Four batters in the projected lineup exceed a 100 wRC+ and .190 ISO vs LHP since 2019. Two of them, Trey Mancini (136 wRC+, .257 ISO) and Austin Hays (114 wRC+, .222 ISO) exceed a 125 wRC+ over the last 30 days overall too. The Orioles are expected to stack the lineup with RHBs against Perez because batters from that side have a .341 wOBA against him since 2019. At 4.19 implied runs, Baltimore is right in the middle of the board tonight. Hays could be a great DK value at just $3.8K.
The story of Lopez’s career, and it hasn’t changed this year, is that he misses enough bats to have some value (10.8 SwStr% this year) if he could just find a way to keep the ball in the park. Last year, seven of his 12 Barrels (9.2%) left the yard (17.5 HR/FB). This year, already, seven of seven Barrels (9.1%) have left the yard (28 HR/FB), which does seem a bit unfortunate, especially considering the nearly four mph reduction in exit velocity (92.8 to 89). If we buy into the actual HR rate, his FIP is 6.14. If we include the contact profile, which is a bit kinder, he has 4.93 xERA. If we normalize the HR rate, he has a 4.41 SIERA and 4.37 xFIP, which may be asking for a little too much. The Orioles appear to be doing the right thing by getting him out of their after two trips through the order on average. Even at a low cost ($6.5K on either site), he may be a tough roster against the Red Sox (115 wRC+, 14.2 HR/FB vs RHP) in this environment. Lopez will bring a .393 wOBA (.391 xwOBA) against LHBs since 2019 against a lineup that’s projected to be well balanced tonight. Rafael Devers (149 wRC+, .288 ISO vs RHP since 2019, 177 wRC+ last 30 days overall) is your top bat in the second best offense tonight (top implied run line if Coors is rained out). Marwin Gonzalez (85 wRC+, .134 ISO) may be the top value if in the leadoff spot at a low price.
Mitch Keller achieved his best results (5.2 IP – 2 H – 0 R – 2 BB – 5 K – 21 BF against the Padres) in a game that saw his velocity drop a mile per hour last time out. It makes you wonder if it was intended because he threw a season high 69.9% fastballs with a season low 4.8% sliders. That doesn’t sound like the kind of process that would improve your results in 2021 and, in fact, he generated just a 2.4 SwStr% in that start. Control issues seem to come and go, as he’s failed to strike out more than he’s walked in half of his starts, but walked a total of three combined in his remaining three. With just 33.8% of his contact on the ground and a 92.8 mph EV, batters have somehow generated just five Barrels (6.8%) against him. While his 6.29 ERA is above all estimators, a 4.58 FIP that seem a bit surreal is the best of them.
The Reds have a 109 wRC+ and 16.7 HR/FB vs RHP, but just a 62 wRC+ and 9.5 HR/FB on the road. This Votto-less projected lineup still has six batters above a 100 wRC+ with a .180 ISO or higher vs RHP since 2019, though only two (Nick Castellanos & Jesse Winker) are above a 100 wRC+ over the last 30 days overall. The lineup is projected to be balanced and batters from either side of the plate are above a .340 wOBA against Keller since 2019, but Statcast drives LHBs down to a .331 wOBA and RHBs to a .269 xwOBA. The Reds have a 4.14 implied run line that sits in the middle of the board today and with the park suppressing RH power, we want to focus on LHBs like Winker (147 wRC+, .269 ISO vs RHP since 2019). Mike Moustakas (112 wRC+, .264 ISO) is cheaper, but has just a 39 wRC+ over the last month. Keller is not a cash game play and carries the second lowest projection of the day among pitchers who have a start this year. However, for GPP players, we can go over-weight based on inconsistency because he also currently holds the third highest ceiling according to PlateIQ projections. Embrace the volatility.
Tyler Mahle has allowed five HRs, three of them in his last start against the Cubs, two in his first, both at home. Understandable. On the road, in a much more power friendly park in Pittsburgh, we should be able to experience the upside from Mahle (32.8%) without a lot of the risk. Our caveat is that the 12.2 SwStr% suggests he may not be able to sustain that strikeout rate above 30%. His 9.9% Barrels/BBE still projects a 2.93 xERA, his best estimator and third best on the board today. Only his FIP is more than one-third of a run above his 3.23 ERA though.
The Pirates have just an 88 wRC+ (8.6 HR/FB) vs RHP with a 5.3 HR/FB at home and are now without Colin Moran as well as Ke’Bryan Hayes. Among batters projected to be in the lineup tonight, only three are above an 89 wRC+ vs RHP since 2019 and Bryan Reynolds tops the group with a .183 ISO vs RHP over that span. Over the last 30 days overall, half the lineup is below a 70 wRC+. Mahle is one of two pitchers exceeding $9K on DraftKings, but comes in just below that on FanDuel. No pitcher is averaging six innings per start and just two above five, so we may have to temper expectations on Quality Start points tonight, but despite averaging just 21 batters per game, Mahle could be efficient enough to get there tonight. From the opposite end, the Pirates have the lowest implied run line of the four games currently posted (3.36), but their bats are cheap, should you somehow need that tonight. Only Bryan Reynolds (120 wRC+ vs RHP since 2019) reaches either $4K on DK or $3K on FD tonight. A Cincinnati bullpen with a 5.91 ERA and 5.02 xFIP over the last 30 days and a defense at -8 runs prevented this year (Statcast) might be some motivation towards Pittsburgh bats as well.
THT is officially available to play off the bench after missing two games with a calf injury. With Matthews starting, THT is a risky play now that he’s off the bench, but he’s still playable due to how shorthanded the Lakers are.
Hield was officially available to play and will start against the Thunder. He’ll have to play heavy minutes for a shorthanded team, and along with Delon Wright and Marvin Bagley will be a top option for the team.
Matthews will get the start for the Lakers. With no Kuzma, Matthews will join, but won’t produce well per minute. Caruso should be the top value still for the Lakers, while Matthews may be viable as a value but has a low ceiling.
Hield is expected to play, but is a game-time decision against the OKC Thunder. If Hield should play, he’ll likely play heavy minutes as the Kings are still without Fox, Haliburton, and Barnes. If he ends up not being able to play, it’ll likely be heavy minutes for Terrence Davis, with more minutes for Kyle Guy and Justin James.
Maledon and Poku were both upgraded from questionable to available, and will play against the Sacramento Kings. Both players will start, as the Thunder will be without Lu Dort and Ty Jerome once again. Poku should be a good play as his salary has gone down across the industry and will have increased responsibility with no Dort.
Caruso was upgraded from questionable to available, and will play through his foot injury against the Phoenix Suns. Coach Vogel mentioned that THT would be a game-time decision, as the calf injury that caused him to miss the last two games. With Caruso starting, he’ll be incredibly valuable as he’ll be thrust into heavy minutes and will have to facilitate the offense with no Lebron James, Kyle Kuzma, and Dennis Schroder. Caruso will be a top play, along with Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond.
After multiple beat reporters mentioning different things, Grant was officially ruled out against the Chicago Bulls. Sekou Doumbouya will get the start in his place, as the Pistons will be down to nine healthy bodies. Expect more shots for Killian Hayes, Frank Jackson, Isaiah Stewart, and Sekou Doumbouya, as well as Sirvyidis off the bench.
As expected, Kuzma was downgraded from doubtful with back tightness to out, and will miss the Lakers game against the Phoenix Suns. With no Kuzma, Lebron, and Schroder, the Lakers will be struggling to find offensive playmakers as they try to stave off the play-in game. Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker are both questionable; we are currently projecting them to start in place of Kuzma and Schroder. If they sit, it might be as many minutes as Ben McLemore and Wes Matthews can handle. Anthony Davis will be the clear top option for the Lakers, while Andre Drummond, Caruso, and THT should all be viable value pieces (assuming they all play).
As expected, THJ gets the start in place of Kleber, as the Mavs roll with the starters that they’ve had the last few games. WCS gets the start at center; the Mavs have flip flopped between Powell and WCS, and they’ll likely split the minutes again.
Theis was downgraded from questionable with a hip injury to out, and will miss the Bulls game against the Detroit Pistons. Coach Donovan mentioned that Theis hit his hip during the Bulls last game, and couldn’t go through shootaround. Thad Young should move into the starting lineup, with Lauri Markkanen another option. Both of them will have elevated minutes, while Patrick Williams may get a few more, and Denzel Valentine should re-enter the rotation to help fill out frontcourt minutes. Nobody sees major boosts up with Theis off the floor, but Vucevic should get a few more minutes and rebounds as well, and he and Zach LaVine will be the top options for the team as they both should soak up usage for the team.