Detroit Tigers bats nice pivot off of Coors field facing the struggling Hisashi Iwakuma
Most will target the Coors Field game for their hitter exposure today and will look to the Cardinals offense against Matt Latos if they choose to pivot off of that game. This makes the Tigers offense facing a susceptible Hisashi Iwakuma a particularly attractive option today for the afternoon slate. Iwakuma has just a 10.8% K rate this season with a walk rate topping that number at 12.1%. He's always been particularly vulnerable to giving up power to right-handed bats making the likes of Justin Upton, Nick Castellanos and Ian Kinsler strong options, with Victor Martinez, Tyler Collins, and Alex Avila all worthy as one off's or as part of a Tigers team stack. Justin Verlander is a solid option at SP but faces a tough Mariners offense in a game that has some weather concerns. He's a risk, but worthy of GPP consideration, while Nelson Cruz and Taylor Motter are secondary options from the Mariners lineup.
Joey Gallo, Kennys Vargas have best long ball chances via RotoGrinders HR Predictor
Three batters are projected to have a projected HR rate higher than 7% according to the RotoGrinders HR Predictor. Joey Gallo is in a lefty on lefty situation, but the pitcher he is facing does allow a lot of hard contact. Gallo doesn't often make contact, but when he does, he makes sure the ball knows who it was that punished it. He has a .237 ISO vs LHP in limited major league opportunities and hits in a great park. The number two man on the list is Kennys Vargas, who gets to hit in the same park. Cole Hamels is just a shell of his former self at this point in the season and Vargas has a career 180 wRC+, .240 ISO vs LHP. Austin Hedges is third on the list, another surprise. He was originally scheduled to face Taijuan Walker, but projections can only go up against Zach Godley. He has a .271 ISO vs RHP since last season. Fourth place on the list is where we see our first expected name with Nelson Cruz carrying a 6.84% projected HR rate.
Outfield bats rule the wRC+ leaderboard over the last week among projected starters
Outfielders rule the week's hottest hitters list on tonight's slate. Giancarlo Stanton is the hottest bat on the slate (373 wRC+, 37.5 Hard%, 4 HRs over the last week). He's in a boom or bust spot against a sometimes dominant arm, who also occasionally has control (14.5 BB% this season) and long ball (13.3 career HR/FB) issues in Vince Velasquez. He's followed by Bryce Harper (319 wRC+, 38.9 Hard%, 3 HRs) and Nelson Cruz (317 wRC+, 38.9 Hard%, 2 HRs) as the only other projected starters on the slate with a wRC+ above 300 over the last week. Both are in nice spots with the former in Coors and the latter facing a lefty tonight. With a couple of high priced pitchers already off the board, players should be able to afford all three in their OF tonight. Outfielders claim the fourth (Justin Upton 293 wRC+, 53.9 Hard%, 2 HRs), fifth (Charlie Blackmon 277 wRC+, 54.2 Hard%, 4 HRs) and sixth (David Peralta 272 wRC+, 41.2 Hard%, 1 HR) spots on the wRC+ leaderboard over the last week too. Only Upton can be considered in a poor spot tonight, facing James Paxton, who has better career numbers against RHBs than LHBs.
Despite the two highest implied run lines, there are alternatives to Coors bats tonight
The night slate has already been thrown into chaos, down two top pitchers in Syndergaard and Martinez, and though Coors houses the two highest implied run lines tonight (Col 5.82 - Was 5.68) players must consider how to handle a ground baller (Chatwood 56.6 GB% last two calendar years) and weak contact generator (Roark 25.3 Hard% last two calendar years). While this isn't a recommendation to fade Coors bats, it does look at a few alternatives for those who choose to do so. Outfield appears to offer the top alternatives. Nelson Cruz faces a mediocre lefty (185 wRC+, .331 ISO since 2015), which immediately makes him a strong candidate in any park, where as Detroit is fairly neutral. Michael Conforto (133 wRC+, .249 ISO vs RHP career) will hopefully remain in the leadoff spot. Julio Teheran is walking more batters and striking out fewer and has struggled against LHBs for a long time (.360 wOBA since 2015). Mike Trout (179 wRC+, .260 ISO vs LHP since 2015) faces an up and coming southpaw, but one who has struggled with hard contact occasionally (RHBs 32.7 Hard%, 17 HRs since Manaea's call-up). Chris Davis (140 wRC+, .304 ISO vs RHP since 2015) faces a pitcher who has been torched by LHBs (.486 wOBA) since returning from Tommy John surgery after the Tampa Bay bullpen was worn out last night. Seth Smith (121 wRC+, .194 ISO ISO vs RHP since 2015) is a cheaper bat that should be atop that same lineup. Miguel Sano (131 wRC+, .256 ISO vs LHP career), Kennys Vargas (180 wRC+, .240 ISO vs LHP career) and Brian Dozier (121 wRC+, .251 ISO vs LHP since 2015) face a southpaw who has forgotten how to miss bats (Hamels 7.9 SwStr%) in Texas.
Jordan Zimmermann has a 2.3% K-BB% versus LHB through three starts
Jordan Zimmermann has essentially extended his porous 2016 season into the start of the 2017 campaign, giving at least five earned runs in two of his three starts. The struggles of Zimmermann have gotten to the point that it brings into question whether he is still even an average Major League starting pitcher. His numbers certainly don't back up that sentiment, as he posted just a 14.7% strikeout rate last season and has dropped it to 13.7% through three starts while his walk rate has ballooned to 9.6%. This is not a good combination, especially if Zimmermann is unable to get the walks back in check. However, he allows so much contact, most of it hard thus far (43.6% HH%), that it's difficult to envision him shutting down this Seattle Mariners lineup even sans Kyle Seager. As expected, Zimmermann does do a much better job of limiting hard contact to right-handed batters, but lefties have been pummeling him this season to the tune of a 51.4% hard hit rate. This should obviously normalize a bit over time, but Robinson Cano (155 wRC+, .394 wOBA, .265 ISO vs RHP since 2016) still finds himself in an excellent matchup Tuesday night. Unfortunately, with Seager out of the lineup, there are no other lefties in the Mariners that particularly stand out, though Mitch Haniger (201 wRC+, .442 wOBA, .246 ISO vs RHP), Nelson Cruz (135 wRC+, .365 wOBA, .224 ISO vs RHP since 2016), and Taylor Motter are all intriguing tournament options as part of a stack or even as contrarian one-offs.
Cruz launches three-run homer, drives in five
Monster showing from Cruz in this one. He started off his RBI binge in modest enough fashion, driving home a run via a bases-loaded walk in the third inning. He opted to forego the modesty a few innings later, slugging a three-run home run in the seventh to boost the Mariners to a 9-1 advantage. Just for good measure, he tacked on an RBI double in the ninth. The veteran slugger has yet to go on a power tear, but that could be coming soon. Cruz has picked up hits in eight of his last 10 games, with all three of his home runs coming in that space. He has crushed at least 40 in each of the last three seasons.
Sean Manaea and Nelson Cruz both among top projected players and values tonight
Nelson Cruz not only projects as one of the top three hitters on DraftKings (10.42), along with Paul Goldschmidt (10.89) and Mike Trout (10.4), but also projects as one of the top three values for just $4.2K (2.48 Pt/$/K). Those three are joined by Anthony Rizzo on FanDuel, as the only hitters projected for more than 13 points. Despite liking Cruz, the RotoGrinders Player Projections also see Sean Manaea as a top six pitcher and top five value on either site. While good players rarely advocate using a batter against your own pitcher, exposure to both sides of this matchup should be considered, but not necessarily in the same lineup. On DraftKings, Trevor Cahill rates as potentially the top value (3 Pt/$/K on a $5.6K cost). He's ridden a breaking ball to an impressive 16.9 SwStr% through two starts.
RotoGrinders HR Predictor projects James McCann (6.53%) fourth most likely to go yard tonight
Trey Mancini and his small sample size against LHP (214 wRC+, .467) is vaulted to the head of the RotoGrinders HR Predictor tonight (8.89%). Perhaps expectations need to be lessened a bit with an unexpected venture into the seventh spot in the lineup. Eric Thames (7.24%) has a similar caveat, but his numbers just can't be ignored (262 wRC+, .524 ISO vs RHP). Nelson Cruz (6.97%) is the first full sample size batter to show up (6.97%). Sean Manaea has shown elite bat missing skills, but RHBs have a 33.9 Hard% against him. The most interesting name might be fourth because it's an extremely affordable Catcher. James McCann (6.53%) costs less than $3K on either site. He has a 130 wRC+, .292 ISO vs LHP since last year and Hector Santiago, who has a 37.5 Hard% against RHBs since 2015 and has allowed a 91.2 mph aEV this season, one of the higher marks in the league.
Eric Thames now has a 262 wRC+ and .524 ISO vs RHP.
Eric Thames has put up a 262 wRC+ and .524 ISO against RHP this year. He has a 354 wRC+ and 48 Hard% overall in the last week of baseball and gets to face Adam Wainwright on the downside (LHBs .367 wOBA since 2015) at an affordable $3.8K still on DraftKings. While several 1B option grade out well today, it's going to be very difficult to fade this sensation today. Trey Mancini should be back in the lineup at home against Drew Pomeranz (RHBs .296 wOBA since 2015). He's pummeled LHP for a 214 wRC+ and .467 ISO in his short career so far. Among those with larger sample sizes, Nelson Cruz has a 185 wRC+ (.333 ISO vs LHP). He's not in a great park in Oakland and Sean Manaea (RHBs .315 wOBA) has shown some elite bat missing skills, but RHBs have hit the ball hard (33.9%) against him. Paul Goldschmidt still hammers lefties (174 wRC+, .227 ISO since 2015) and is always in a great spot at home, but it's a ground ball hitter (30.1 FB% vs LHP) vs a ground ball pitcher (48.6 GB% vs RHBs since 2015). Mike Trout (171 wRC+, .269 ISO vs RHP since 2015) in a nice spot against Mat Latos at home and Bryce Harper (167 wRC+, .284 ISO vs RHP since 2015) now facing Matt Harvey in New York, round out our list of top bats vs the handedness of the pitcher they are facing tonight.
Felix Hernandez top SP option of afternoon games
Felix Hernandez and the Mariners host Edinson Volquez and the Marlins later this afternoon and Hernandez is arguably the top SP option of the four game slate as his velocity has been trending upwards and he's started to show signs of the Felix of old. Volquez can be safely faded as there are four clearly better options and he's facing a tough Mariners lineup. The Marlins lineup, outside of Giancarlo Stanton (who is too pricey for this match up), can be faded as well. Volquez allows a .335+ wOBA to both sides of the plate and the top five of the Mariners order (Dyson, Haniger, Cano, Cruz, and Seager) are all elitish options that can be utilized as part of a team stack or on their own.