Happy last day of school (for my kids)! Both FanDuel and DraftKings feature 8 game main slates starting at 7:07. There is some fun daytime baseball, but this article will just focus on the main slate. As of this writing, there is no precipitation in the forecast. We have a quartet of pricy aces on the bump today in Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom, Clayton Kershaw, and Zack Wheeler. We’ll take a look at which is our favorite of the bunch, figure out who we like as a cheaper SP2, and then we’ll tackle the bats on today’s slate. Let’s take a look at the Implied Run Totals for each game, and then we’ll dive into the slate!
While figuring out who your ace is going to be might be a tough decision, the Implied Run Total Chart screams who the chalk hitters are going to be. With an implied run total of 5.5, the Astros are the clear favorites. The only other teams in the ballpark are the Yankees at 4.9, the Indians at 4.8, and the Braves at 4.8. Let’s get into our starting pitchers.
In the introduction, I mentioned four aces that are relatively priced up that could all be in consideration today as your SP1. The two that really stand out at the top are Jacob deGrom ($11,000 DK, $12,200 FD) and Gerrit Cole ($10,500 DK, $11,000 FD). The third horse in this race is Clayton Kershaw ($10,000 DK, $10,200 FD), while I view Zack Wheeler ($9,600 DK, $10,800 FD) as more of a GPP play against the Dodgers. Here’s a breakdown of the matchups for deGrom, Cole, and Kershaw:
Once we throw it down on paper, the deGrom vs Cole debate is over pretty quickly, with deGrom winning the battle. One other piece of info to throw into deGrom’s matchup is that Kris Bryant, the Cubs’ best hitter, was hit on the hand by a pitch on Tuesday night, so there’s a chance we see him out of the lineup tonight. If that’s the case, deGrom is the hands-down choice for our SP1 in cash games. For me, if you wanted to pivot down, the move is actually to Kershaw and not to Cole. Because of the difficult matchup, I’m treating Cole as a GPP only play.
One other pitcher falls in the midrange, and that’s Aaron Civale ($8,900 DK, $9,000 FD). Civale has been excellent this year, going at least six innings in 11 of his 13 starts. He also draws a really nice matchup against a Baltimore team that has a 27% strikeout rate against righties over their last 30 days. During that time, they rank 25th in wRC+. We have a good pitcher in a good matchup, so what’s the problem? For me, it just comes down to roster construction. Not to jump too far ahead, but the Astros bats stand out above the rest, and if I’m also trying to fit in deGrom, can I get to the Astros while also using Civale? I’m not sure.
When we’re looking at our cheaper pitchers, there are two guys that really stand out—Zack Greinke ($7,400 DK, $8,400 FD) and Anthony DeSclafani ($7,000 DK, $7,700 FD). Both pitchers have matchups against teams with implied totals of 3.6 runs or below. Here’s how the offenses play out:
If we zoom in a little further, both of these teams are in the bottom three of the league in wRC+ against right-handed pitching over the last 30 days. The Diamondbacks have been particularly awful, posting a .102 isolated slugging during that time. When we break it all the way down, Tony Disco is my favorite cheap starting pitcher today.
One cheaper pitcher that I didn’t mention is Ian Anderson ($7,500 DK, $8,000 FD). He faces the Red Sox, who have an implied total of 3.8 runs, but over their last 30 days, the Red Sox are second in the league in isolated slugging against right-handed pitchers. While you could throw Anderson in the GPP category, I really don’t think you HAVE to have exposure to him when you have Greinke and DeSclafani on the slate at similar prices and better matchups.
As I mentioned earlier, there are only four teams with an implied run total of 4.8 or above – Astros, Yankees, Indians, and Braves. These are the teams that I want to stick to for my main stacks. Let’s break down the matchups and see if any of them stand out more than the others:
I know I sound like a broken record, but the Astros are the team to stack today. The problem is fitting them in with deGrom. Jordan Lyles is on the mound for the Rangers, and it’s been a trio of bad things this year. He’s allowed a lot of fly balls, a lot of homers, and he’s issued way too many free passes. Michael Brantley ($3,900 DK, $3,000 FD) remains too cheap, and he’ll be the chalkiest option on today’s slate. I would love to roll out a full five-man stack, but Jose Altuve ($5,600 DK, $4,000 FD), Alex Bregman ($5,800 DK, $3,500 FD), Yordan Alvarez ($4,700 DK, $3,700 FD), Yuli Gurriel ($4,900 DK, $3,100 FD), and Carlos Correa ($4,800 DK, $3,500 FD) are all priced up.
If I’m looking to the Braves, I want to stick to the top half of the lineup as the bottom half is not great. That leaves us with Ronald Acuña ($5,900 DK, $4,500 FD), Freddie Freeman ($5,100 DK, $4,200 FD), Ozzie Albies ($4,300 DK, $3,100 FD), and Austin Riley ($4,900 DK, $2,800 FD). If you’re desperate to make a five-man Braves stack, I could see going to Dansby Swanson ($4,000 DK, $2,600 FD), as he’s warmed up slightly over the last two weeks. While I don’t think I’m going to stack the Braves in cash games, I could see playing Albies as I love his pricetag.
The Yankees are in a similar spot as the Braves but do offer some value that I like at the bottom of the lineup. They face Ross Stripling, who has had a bad case of “homeritis” since leaving the Dodgers. Over his last 97 innings thrown, he’s allowed 22 homers – not ideal for facing the Bronx Bombers. Of course, I like the big boppers in Aaron Judge ($5,700 DK, $4,100 FD) and Giancarlo Stanton ($5,500 DK, $3,900 FD), but being able to play Rougned Odor ($3,100 DK, $2,400 FD) and Brett Gardner ($2,600 DK, $2,100 FD) in a good matchup is the value we need to fit in the high priced ace and top bats.
Finally, the Indians. While I see the 4.8 implied run total, I’m just not inspired by the Cleveland lineup. Jose Ramirez ($6,000 DK, $4,300 FD) is always a contender for the top play on a slate, but he’s surrounded by meh bats. I have to say, I am at least intrigued by Harold Ramirez ($2,900 DK, $2,500 FD), who’s projected to bat cleanup. If you need a cheap bat or two, I don’t mind a couple of the Indians bats, but I’m not making them a priority today.
Finally, here are some of the best value hitters not mentioned in the stacks that I noticed when combing through the lineups:
Good luck today!
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