Masahiro Tanaka has struck out 22.3% of batters on a 14.0 SwStr% and 23.9% over five September starts. A 3.56 ERA is about half a run below estimators that sit around four because six of his 25 runs have been unearned. Tanaka still has issues with HRs (16.4 HR/FB, 9.1% Barrels/BBE), but also only had a 4.03 xERA, which includes his contact profile. He will be taking on an offense with an 87 wRC+, 23.8 K% and 12.2 HR/FB vs RHP. The Indians also have just a 10.6 HR/FB at home this year. Five of nine batters in the projected lineup are below a .180 ISO vs RHP since last season and six of nine are below a 90 wRC+ over the last 30 days, which really helps with the wind expected to be blowing out to right field tonight. Greatly reduce the threat of power and Tanaka’s outlook strongly improves. With his workload increasing to at least 91 pitches in each of his last four starts, Tanaka could be one of the better pitching values on a board with a lot of quality pitching, but few heavy workload candidates. He costs a reasonable $8.1K on FanDuel.
Many of the usually potent Houston bats have struggled this season, but George Springer isn’t one of them. He finished the season with a 184 wRC+ over it’s last 30 days and easily tops this Astros’ lineup with a 159 wRC+ and .309 ISO vs RHP since 2019. He’s Barreled 12.4% of his contact in 2020, which also leads this lineup. While Jose Berrios certainly has the ability to come up big in a big spot for the Twins, he’s been inconsistent. He allowed three to five runs in six of his 12 starts, but one or none in five of them. In the end, his 4.00 ERA doesn’t stretch even half a run from any of his estimators, though none are actually below four. RHBs have a .301 wOBA and .306 xwOBA against him since 2019. With the wind blowing out strongly in Minnesota today, Springer should be considered one of the top overall bats on the board. He’s the most expensive bat in the Houston lineup, but still below $4K on FanDuel.
Jose Urquidy made just five starts, facing 116 batters. He’s struck out 17. Twelve of those 17 were Rangers. He struck out just five of 63 non-Rangers. This, along with a 35.6 GB% and 89.8 mph EV are concerns, but there’s not much we can tell from such a small sample size. Urquidy impressed with a 19.8 K-BB% in 41 major league innings in 2019. He actually has a large reverse split though, which doesn’t necessarily help him here. RHBs have a career .338 wOBA and .359 xwOBA against him with LHBs at .281 and .270. Even without Josh Donaldson, the Minnesota lineup is loaded with just one batter below a 109 wRC+ vs RHP since last season (30 PA min.). Miguel Sano bats fifth in the order today and may have some value at just $3K on FanDuel. Despite some recent struggles (55 wRC+ last 30 days), Sano still leads the lineup with a .310 ISO vs RHP since last season, which is particularly important with strong winds blowing out to right center in Minnesota today. When Sano hits the ball it goes. His 95.2 mph EV is second in baseball this year, while his 22.9% Barrels/BBE leads all hitters.
The Cubs finished the season with just a 98 wRC+ vs RHP and while they had a 17.5 HR/FB against them, they had just an 80 wRC+ and 13.2 HR/FB at home. It seems the wind was blowing in every time there was a game at Wrigley this year. Today, however, it seems to blasting out to right. Sandy Alcantara posted a career high 22.7 K% this season and a 49.1 GB% should help him under these conditions, but LHBs have a .330 wOBA (.344 xwOBA) against Alcantara since 2019, while RHBs have been held below .300. Ian Happ has been the breakout bat for the Cubs this year. In fact, his 139 wRC+ and .308 ISO against RHP going back to last season are both tops in the projected lineup, yet Happ still costs less than $3K on FanDuel.
Trevor Bauer reached double digit strikeouts in three of his last four starts, including 12 last time out on three days rest. His 36 K% is second best on this board, but with a 12.9 SwStr% that sits in the middle of it. In fact, over the last month, his strikeout rate has decreased to 32.9% with a 12.3 SwStr%. Bauer has the second best ERA on the board at 1.74, but the top SIERA (2.94), DRA (2.89) and xERA (2.18), the last mark, which includes contact profile, by more than half a run. While neither the .215 BABIP, nor 90.9 LOB% should be thought to be sustainable, the BABIP profile is tremendous (17.8 LD%, 14.7 IFFB%). The lower than expected SwStr% is really the only drawback in his entire 2020 profile. The biggest problem here is that the Braves tied the Dodgers with a 126 wRC+ against RHP and no other offense was better. They combined this with an 18.0 HR/FB vs RHP and 18.1 HR/FB at home this year. The good news is that they’ll throw a predominantly RH lineup at Bauer and batters from that side have just a .271 wOBA (.274 xwOBA) against since 2019. Only one batter in the lineup for Atlanta is below a 100 wRC+ over the last 30 days, while five are above 150 though. This is a tough spot for the potential NL Cy Young winner, but they’re just about all tough spots in the post-season. Bauer has the highest price tag on FanDuel at $11.2K, but only Kyle Hendricks averaged more batters faced per start on this board and Bauer has the strikeout rate advantage by 15.7 points.
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.