Will Jered Weaver's luck finally run out tonight at Chase Field?
The magician known as Jered Weaver has somehow continued to string together quality starts despite allowing an astronomical 2.74 HR/9 through his first four outings. He's set to take the mound on the road against a powerful Arizona Diamondbacks lineup that is littered with power and speed from both sides of the plate up and down the lineup. Despite a solid ERA to this point in the season, the dreaded regression monster is bound to catch up to Weaver and his .182 BABIP and 91.6% LOB% through four starts. At this stage of his career, Weaver is nothing more than a low strikeout pitcher (13.4% K% in 2016) that allows a ton of flyballs (48.2% FB% in 2016) which, in turn, leads to well above average home run rates (1.87 HR/9 in 2016). The Diamondbacks are the clear top offense to target on tonight's microscopic 4-game slate, evidenced by their 6.2 runs implied team total. This should lead to some massive ownership and begs the question whether they are worth a fade in tournaments in hopes Weaver is able to keep the magic going for at least one more start. Ownership concerns aside, there are several hitters from this Arizona squad that are elite options for all formats, headlined by Jake Lamb (132 wRC+, .379 wOBA, .281 ISO vs RHP since 2016), Paul Goldschmidt (129 wRC+, .375 wOBA, .193 ISO vs RHP since 2016), and A.J. Pollock (111 wRC+, .348 wOBA vs RHP since 2016). They are closely followed by teammates David Peralta (108 wRC+, .345 wOBA, .183 ISO vs RHP since 2016) and Chris Herrmann (.199 ISO vs RHP since 2016) if in need of a salary-saving option at the catcher position.
Dylan Bundy, Texas bats project as top values via RotoGrinders Player Projections
Coors bats reign supreme atop the RotoGrinders Player Projections in terms of raw point projections. Paul Goldschmidt (141 wRC+, .217 ISO vs RHP since 2015) and Mike Trout (179 wRC+, .260 ISO vs LHP since 2015) are the first two non-Coors bats you'll find. Both have interesting matchups tonight against two of the the top three SwStr rates on the board (both above 14%) tonight, though both Cahill and Manaea will occasionally allow a lot of hard contact. More troubling for Goldy is that he has just a 32.7 FB% against RHPs while Cahill has kept RHBs on the ground around 60% of the time. On FanDuel, Rangers RHBs appear the top values with DeShields ($2.2K batting leadoff), Rua ($2.1K) and Napoli (129 wRC+, .224 ISO vs LHP since 2015) all projecting well against Hector Santiago (.323 wOBA, 37.1 Hard% vs LHBs since 2015) in Texas tonight. On the pitching side, Dylan Bundy now projects as a top two overall pitcher and value on either site after losing Martinez and Syndergaard from the slate.
Wacha and Kershaw projected to be most popular pitchers tonight.
Coors once again rules in popularity among Projected Ownership leaders tonight, but there are so many strong First Base options that players can pivot to potentially low owned options like Joey Votto or Paul Goldschmidt in favorable parks against opposite handed pitchers. Yasmany Tomas is a lefty-masher (144 wRC+, .259 ISO career) projected for less than 10% ownership on either site. Michael Wacha is surprisingly projected to be just as popular as Kershaw tonight, while Scott Feldman has struck out batters at a league average rate and is facing a highly strikeout prone Milwaukee offense (27.2 K% vs RHP) at around 1% projected ownership rates tonight. Premium subscribers can find ownership projections for all players on our Projected Ownership page.
Lots of strong 1B & OF bats on a 14 games slate, even outside of Coors
Most of your premier matchup bats are going to be coming out of Colorado tonight as German Marquez had great difficulty with batters from either side of the plate in his short 20 inning major league debut last season (RHBs .397, LHBs .391) with a below average strikeout rate and Joe Ross has always struggled with LHBs (.355 wOBA, 35.5 Hard%, 36.7 GB%). Harper (167 wRC+, .285 ISO vs RHP since 2015), Turner (138 wRC+, .228 ISO vs RHP career), Zimmerman (307 wRC+, 47.4 Hard% last seven days), Murphy (142 wRC+, .227 ISO vs RHP since 2015) and Eaton (126 wRC+, .171 ISO vs RHP since 2017) should all be highly coveted for good reason from the visitor side, while Blackmon (122 wRC+, .229 ISO vs RHP since 2015) and Gonzalez (128 wRC+, .258 ISO vs RHP since 2015) check all the boxes for the home team. Some of the strongest looking bats elsewhere though, appear at First Base. Eric Thames hit two more last night, both off a lefty, but he also has a .203 wRC+, .415 ISO with a 51.3 Hard% against RHP and though Feldman is more of a neutral arm against LHBs (.317 wOBA since 2015), he has the benefit of a great home environment for LH power hitters and is still under-priced on DraftKings ($4.2K). His counterpart, Joey Votto (166 wRC+, .245 ISO, 41.7 Hard% vs RHP since 2015), is in a similarly strong spot against a pitcher who has floundered in his sophomore year (Zach Davies 6.3 K-BB%, 35.7 Hard% overall this season). Arizona also hosts a pair of potential pivots on each side in Goldschmidt (171 wRC+, .226 ISO vs LHP since 2015) and Tomas (144 wRC+, .259 ISO vs LHP career) for the Diamondbacks and Renfroe (155 wRC+, .242 ISO vs LHP career) and Myers (125 wRC+, .183 ISO vs LHP since 2015). Though Corbin has struggled against opposite handed bats (.355 wOBA, 35.1 Hard% vs RHBs since 2015), Clayton Richard (.349 wOBA vs RHBs since 2015), has at least shied away from hard contact in the air vs RHBs (29.4 Hard%, 59.8 GB%).
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.
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.
Diamondbacks RH power the best side to target in matchup with Clayton Richard
Clayton Richard is set to already make his fourth start of the season tonight against the Arizona Diamondbacks after experiencing mixed results over his first three outings. Richard is fairly dominant versus left-handed batters, as he induced an astronomical 80.4% groundball rate while allowing hard contact just 16.1% of the time. This removes Jake Lamb from consideration entirely and is the only left-handed bat in the Diamondbacks lineup this evening. Right-handers are more in play though given Richard's low 11.5% strikeout rate and high 11.0% walk rate. Any time a pitcher is walking nearly as many hitters as he strikes out, a stack can never be entirely ruled out, especially on an abbreviated slate. However, righties with power upside like Paul Goldschmidt (163 wRC+, .426 wOBA, .201 ISO vs LHP in 2016/17) and Yasmany Tomas (177 wRC+, .446 wOBA, .317 ISO vs LHP in 2016/17) may be the more optimal route to take in tournaments opposed to a full stack.
Nelson Cruz crushes LHP (184 wRC, .331 ISO vs LHP) and Martin Perez in particular (2 HR, 103.2 mph aEV)
Nelson Cruz has a 184 wRC+ vs LHP since 2015 (.331 ISO) and faces the very punishable Martin Perez (.339 wOBA vs RHBs since 2015) tonight, against whom he's homered twice with a 103.2 mph aEV on nine Statcast recorded batted balls in his career. That tops all batters against the pitcher handedness they'll be facing tonight. Mike Trout (178 wRC+, .261 ISO vs LHP) vs Danny Duffy (.331 wOBA vs RHBs) and Paul Goldschmidt (177 wRC+, .231 ISO vs LHP) vs Clatyon Kershaw (.226 wOBA vs RHBs) come in next, while Josh Donaldson (161 wRC+, .281 ISO vs LHP) vs Wade Miley (.343 wOBA vs RHBs) and Corey Seager (159 wRC+, .227 ISO vs RHP) vs Zack Greinke (.274 ISO vs RHBs) round out the top five among projected starters tonight. While Donaldson is struggling with injury and it's inadvisable to ever attack Kershaw, Trout and Seager are more interesting tonight. Players may be reluctant to use a high priced Trout against a high strikeout arm in Duffy, but he certainly had his issues against RHBs, allowing 26 HRs to them last year. Seager is likely facing a reduced version of Greinke, who bounced back in his second start, but is still throwing with reduced velocity and allowing more than 40% hard contact through two starts.
Arizona bats set up as nice contrarian targets on the road in SF
We haven't seen Matt Cain finish a season with an ERA under 4.00 since 2012, and those days aren't returning to the right-hander at this point in his career. Cain has been brutally bad over the past two seasons despite pitching in one of the more pitcher-friendly environments in the league, and wasn't able to climb above 88-89 MPH in his first start of the season, so seeing him get a quick hook from the SF rotation after a handful of bad starts wouldn't be surprising. Even in his spacious home park in 2016, Cain still allowed a .368 wOBA and 10 HRs in 58.2 IP (to R and L handed bats combined). While we'd love to get the D'Backs bats in Chase Field, the fact that they're on the road tonight should keep their ownership percentages way down in tournaments, and it also helps that several sites have priced them down a bit (DraftKings specifically, where David Peralta is arguably the top value play on the main slate). In 148 PAs against Cain, the D'Backs as a team have racked up a .397 wOBA, and some of that data dates back to when Cain was actually a viable major league starter. Cain doesn't excel against hitters from either side of the plate, so the entire D'Backs lineup is in play here. but we're going to want to stick to bats in the top five or six of the order. Pollock, Peralta, Goldschmidt, Lamb and Tomas are all in play here assuming they're in the lineup. Keep up with the RotoGrinders Starting Lineups page and Alerts App to be notified when the lineup becomes official.
Pollock, Peralta, Goldschmidt, Lamb all elite targets on Thursday night
Facing off with Jeff Samardzija in hitter-friendly Chase Field, the D'Backs heart of the order makes for an intriguing target in all game formats. Samardzija allowed 17 of his 24 HRs on the road last season and was worse in basically every facet of pitching will away from San Francisco, which isn't terribly surprising considering that it's a park that favors pitching. His HR rate rises even higher when facing LHs on the road (1.58 HR/9), which plays perfectly into the hands of both David Peralta and Jake Lamb, who are underpriced on both major sites this evening. Lamb finished 2016 with a .390 wOBA, 47.7 hard% and elite .310 ISO at home against RHP last season, and with him coming in considerably cheaper than Josh Donaldson, he's a viable target in any format. We can't forget about the two RH bats towards the top of the order - Goldschmidt and Pollock. Goldy is the unquestioned top option at 1B, while Pollock is neck and neck with George Springer as the top overall OF play.