Matt Shoemaker seems like an odd choice to start the first game against the Rays and may, in fact, be a decoy to force Tampa Bay, a platoon heavy team, into setting a more balanced lineup with the threat of a LHP entering in the early innings. The Rays have countered with just five LHBs today and have no switch-hitters. Shoemaker’s thrown just 54 pitches since August 21st and hasn’t exceeded 75 since August 9th. His 22.6 K% is worst on the board, as are his 10.8% Barrels/BBE, 5.08 xERA, 4.71 ERA, 4.35 SIERA and 5.95 FIP. Shoemaker has had home run issues on and off throughout his career, but at least finds himself in the most negative run environment on the board. While batters from either side of the plate are below a .300 wOBA against Shoemaker since last season, each are within four points of a .340 xwOBA. Randy Arozarena (125 wRC+, .230 ISO vs RHP) could be an interesting right-handed bat for just $3K on FanDuel, should he find himself in tonight’s lineup. He has a lineup leading 176 wRC+ over the last 30 days and has barreled 14% of his contact this year.
Gerrit Cole has had some contact issues this season (14 HRs, 16 Barrels, 9.1% Barrels/BBE, 90.9 mph EV) and also just a 23.9 K% through his first three starts for the Yankees, but has been peaking at the right time. Cole has struck out at least seven in each of his last nine starts and completed seven innings in three straight with just one HR and three Barrels over that span. At $10.9K, Cole is the second most expensive pitcher on the board, just $300 less than Bieber on FanDuel, but with a much superior matchup. The Indians had just an 87 wRC+ vs RHP, which is, by far, the lowest split on the board today. Their 12.2 HR/FB vs RHP is third lowest, while their 23.8 K% sits in the middle of the board. Facing an offense that lacks power really benefits Cole in this spot, diminishing his greatest flaw. The Indians don’t have a single batter in the projected lineup above a 116 wRC+ vs RHP since 2019 and only five above a 96 wRC+. While Jose Ramirez has a 222 wRC+ over the last month, seven batters in the projected lineup are below a 90 wRC+.
Lucas Giolito has the second best strikeout rate on this board (33.7%) and the top SwStr rate (17.3%), just 0.1 points ahead of Maeda and 0.2 points ahead of Bieber. Giolito’s 74.6 Z-Swing% is best on the board by more than five points. As far as contact management goes, Giolito has an 87 mph EV (third best on the board) with the lowest rate of Barrels/BBE (5.6%). If we’re talking clear upside, Giolito competes with the best of them, including all of the top talent on today’s board and he’s just the fourth highest priced pitcher on FanDuel ($9.2K). The drawback would be that his control goes through periods of inconsistency. He walked 13 of his first 93 batters faced, then just five of his next 122 and finally 10 of his last 73. The A’s have an 11 BB% vs RHP, though that’s just the fourth highest split on the board. Their 12.7 HR/FB vs RHP is the third worst split today. The A’s still have five batters in the projected lineup above a 120 wRC+ and .200 ISO vs RHP since last season, but nobody else above a .150 ISO. LHBs have a .250 wOBA against Giolito since 2019 with RHBs 41 points higher. This reverse split is confirmed by his Statcast numbers. While Lucas can have the occasional blowup game, he certainly has the potential to be the top pitching value on the board today.
Zack Greinke’s 21.2 K-BB% is his best mark since his 2017 21.2 K-BB%, his second year with the Diamondbacks. But the run prevention (4.03 ERA) was much more like his first year in Arizona (4.37 ERA). In fact, he didn’t exceed six innings or allow fewer than three runs in any of his last seven starts, though a ridiculous .361 BABIP and 62.5% strand rate are mostly responsible, as his K-BB is up to 23% over this span. While Greinke did allow 12 Barrels (10.5% of contact) during this run, an 87.8 mph EV is around average. A four-seamer, which he threw 45.2% of the time in August and September, simply got mauled over the last month of the season (.523 wOBA, 92.2 mph EV). Greinke’s 10.6 SwStr% is lowest on the board. While batters from either side of the plate are below a .300 wOBA and xwOBA against Greinke since last year, he has a reverse split by both numbers (41 and 23 points). This could play in favor of the Twins and Nelson Cruz (145 wRC+, 272 ISO vs RHP since 2019) tonight. If you’re looking for hitting value, however, Luis Arraez may be your man. He’s in the leadoff spot and has a 133 wRC+ vs RHP since last season along with a lineup leading 183 wRC+ over the last 30 days. You’re not going to get much power, but Arraez costs just $2.3K on FanDuel.
Spencer Turnbull has just a 7.7 K-BB% with a 91.4 mph EV. A 50.4 GB% has held his Barrels/BBE to 7.0%, but even then, just two of his 10 Barrels have left the yard, resulting in a 3.83 ERA and 3.59 FIP with all remaining estimators at least half a run higher. The Royals have just a 91 wRC+ and 16.5 K-BB% vs RHP, but with the wind blowing out to left tonight, conditions are favorable for right-handed power. The hottest hitter in baseball over the last 30 days is Salvador Perez (287 wRC+), who now has a 188 wRC+ and .306 ISO vs RHP this season. The cost has risen to $3.7K on FanDuel tonight, but Perez has homered three times in the past two games. While Turnbull doesn’t have much of a split, batters from either side of the plate are above a .310 wOBA and xwOBA against him in his career.
Dylan Cease has ceased to pitch competently in 2020. Over his last five starts, he’s walked 20 with just 17 strikeouts, yet still has just a 4.09 ERA over that span (.220 BABIP, 9.5 HR/FB). He’s allowed just two HRs and Barrels during this run with a 49.2 GB%, but 89.8 mph EV. The 78.9 LOB% doesn’t hurt the results either. His numbers are a mess everywhere except for the scoreboard right now and it’s going to be tough for the White Sox to trust him this post-season. The Cubs haven’t been hitting anything recently though (31 wRC+, 3.4 HR/FB last 30 days), so maybe the magic continues tonight. Just three batters in the projected lineup are above a 100 wRC+ over the last 30 days. One of those guys though, is Ian Happ, who also has a 140 wRC+ and .313 ISO vs RHP since 2019. He costs just $3K on FanDuel. Considering the fact that LHBs have a .387 wOBA (.367 xwOBA) against Cease since he arrived in the majors, Happ could be one of the top values on the board tonight.
Yu Darvish has allowed 10 runs (nine earned) over his last 19 innings, but has still struck out at least seven in eight straight starts, walking more than two just once this year. That gives him a board topping 27.6 K-BB% that even a 27.7 LD% can’t spoil. While a 2.23 FIP matches his 2.22 ERA, additional estimators range as high as a 3.37 DRA, which is still quite impressive. It may account quality of strength of opposing offenses, while also pitching in favorable Wrigley weather a few times. His first four starts were against the Brewers, Royals and Pirates, but he hasn’t faced a non-playoff contender since then. The White Sox have a dangerous offense (107 wRC+, 18.3 HR/FB vs RHP), but this spot is not without upside (White Sox 18.9 K-BB% vs RHP, 31.9 K% last seven days). Only four batters in the projected lineup are above a 99 wRC+ over the last 30 days. Another positive are Darvish’s splits. The White Sox are predominantly a right-handed lineup and batters from that side have just a .260 wOBA against Darvish since 2019. Darvish is the most expensive pitcher on FanDuel at $11.2K. He’s $400 more than Carlos Carrasco, who looks great in a fantastic matchup against the Pirates, but Darvish has the higher strikeout rate by 3.6 points in a more dangerous matchup (which could lower his ownership rate), but one with just as much upside.
The 30 year-old Chris Mazza has thrown just 25 of his 41.1 major league innings this season with just an 8.8 K-BB% and 32.5 LD%, but his 85.7 mph EV is best on the board. He’s allowed just two Barrels and as many HRs with a .373 BABIP and 65.5 LOB%. Very strangely, his contact profile inclusive 6.02 xERA is well above his 5.40 ERA, which exceeds all other estimators by a quarter of a run or more. One assumption we can make is that quality left-handed pitching doesn’t often float around the minor leagues until they’re 30. He’ll attempt to hold an Atlanta offense with a 129 wRC+ and 18.6 HR/FB vs RHP in check tonight. He probably won’t be able to do so. In his short career, batters from either side of the plate have at least a .350 wOBA and xwOBA against Mazza (RHBs .383/.413). The potential NL MVP costs $4.4K on FanDuel tonight, but may just be the top bat on the board. Freddie Freeman has a 171 wRC+ and .303 ISO vs RHP since 2019 and a 206 wRC+ over the last 30 days. He’s up to a 92.5 mph EV on the season with 14.1% Barrels/BBE.