Thursday brings us a really weird, sort-of split slate with not a ton of overlap between the two sites. And the night slate is awful with just three games on DraftKings and four on FanDuel, where they’ve opted to include the Field of Dreams game in Iowa. Because of that, I’m going to key in on the DraftKings eight-game slate that kicks off at 12:10 EST. Note that the Mets/Nationals game that is included in this set is part of a scheduled doubleheader.
Today’s Pitching Options
Brandon Woodruff leads the way. Not only does his 30.1% K rate top the slate (excluding Tanner Houck’s 34.3% in just 25.2 IP) but he gets to square off against a dilapidated Cubs lineup. The Brewers are the biggest favorite on the board (-225). He’s also provided stability in terms of pitch count, going over 100 in each of his last five starts. Although, I feel like we are all kind of waiting for the Brewers to pull back on their starter’s innings. Regardless, manager Craig Counsell certainly let Corbin Burnes fly last night, as Burnes threw eight innings and 99 pitches. I heard he was pretty good in those eight innings, too.
Facing the Tigers at Detroit a couple of starts ago, John Means was productive, recording a 32.3% CSW across six innings. Now the scene shifts to Camden Yards, a favorable venue for power and good hitting weather to boot, with temperatures in the low 90s, so there is perhaps some added risk. Still, Means has the upside we’re looking for, especially considering the Tigers will strike out a bit (26% team K rate, fourth highest).
Chris Bassitt doesn’t get the credit he deserves on most days. That might happen again today as there should probably be more traffic attached to Woodruff at a near-identical salary. But I do think that’s the right call considering just how awful the Cubs lineup is right now.
Marcus Stroman is probably overperforming a touch, based on a 4.56 xERA and .282 wOBA allowed as opposed to a .326 xwOBA, making his $9,900 salary not the greatest of bargains. But context is in his favor, considering he’s a big home favorite (-180) against a Nationals lineup that we’ve been targeting since the trade deadline. This will be a 7 inning game, so the complete game bonus could be in play for Stroman, if he pitches efficiently.
If you plan on rostering Marco Gonzales, don’t open his Statcast page, as it may cause nightmares. I foolishly chose to pick on Gonzales his last time out at Yankee Stadium and he, of course, pitched a gem. Although, it seemed like a fluke, as he rode the benefit of a favorable strike zone with a bunch of called strikes with his sinker. Today he gets the Rangers, a team we’ve been streaming against all year, and at a reasonable salary, he probably gains some traction today as a cheap SP 2.
Tanner Houck is being called up today to start against the Rays. He should be on your radar, maybe not for today, but at least moving forward. It’s a specious sample size of just 25.2 IP, but he’s shown off an impressive K rate of 34.3%, led by a nasty slider that has returned a 42.4% whiff rate. The Rays are a tough lineup, especially against righties, so he’s not a priority today and is coming off of just 74 pitches in his last start against the Jays. Still, I’ll be interested to see how he does, as he could turn into an option that we consider in the near future.
Bats and Stacks
- BAL (5.8) vs. Matt Manning (RHP) 5.2% K-BB, .349 xwOBA, 1.55 WHIP, 5.31 xERA: Manning hasn’t given us much reason to shy away through his first nine starts and has just an 11.9% K rate. That could change down the line of course but right now he just looks like a young pitcher who is struggling and worth targeting, especially here on the road at Camden Yards where the Orioles have heightened power upside. Thus far, Manning has been a little more vulnerable to righties (.382 xwOBA allowed) as opposed to lefties (.310 xwOBA). There’s some potential value with the likes of Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, and DJ Stewart.
- MIL (5.5) at Kyle Hendricks (RHP) 12.5% K-BB, .329 xwOBA, 1.29 WHIP, 4.65 xERA: The Professor’s K rate is at a career-low 17.6% this year, not that his past success is tied to strikeouts, but his ability to mitigate contact has also deteriorated as his .329 xwOBA allowed is also a career-high. Hendricks has been more vulnerable to LHB (.358 xwOBA). There should be a helpful wind blowing out at Wrigley Field once again. The Brewers are all priced up for this spot, but Kolten Wong is a decent value at leadoff ($4,100).
- BOS (5.6) vs Drew Rasmussen (RHP) 18.1% K-BB, .300 xwOBA, 1.38 WHIP, 3.80 xERA: Rasmussen has pitched well in relief this year and he’ll be asked to make just his third start of the year, so we can’t expect much length here. He’s more or less an extended opener and I do think that probably means Boston bats won’t be rostered too heavily today. But that’s just a guess; maybe last night’s massacre buoys Boston’s roster percentages today. Rasmussen has pitched well with a K rate of over 29% to both righties and lefties so on paper this doesn’t look like a smash spot, but Boston does carry an implied total of over five and a half runs. Rafael Devers is always an ideal spend against a questionable righty, while J.D. Martinez carries a reasonable $4,700 salary.
- LAD (5.4) at Ranger Suárez (LHP) 16.3% K-BB, .250 xwOBA, 0.85 WHIP, 2.61 xERA: Similar to Rasmussen, Suárez, who has been very effective out of the pen this year, gets the nominal start and probably goes around sixty pitches or so leaving Joe Girardi to try and mix and match as best he can. You know the drill with the Dodgers. Even without Mookie Betts and Justin Turner this is a loaded lineup. Contrary to popular belief, Cody Bellinger may not be cooked just yet. Kidding aside, if he’s in there he’s not a must going against the lefty today (to start at least) but I would keep a very close tab on his $4,400 salary moving forward as this will probably go up from here with his bat starting to come around.
- SEA (5.0) vs. Mike Foltynewicz (RHP) 9.8% K-BB, .356 xwOBA, 1.32 WHIP, 5.56 xERA: He leads qualified starters in home runs allowed. Against lefties this year, he’s allowed a .397 xwOBA as opposed to a more modest .322 against righties. So, Kyle Seager and Abraham Toro make sense while Jarred Kelenic is on the board as a potential punt.
- NYM (5.0) vs Erick Fedde (RHP) 11% K-BB, .335 xwOBA, 1.41 WHIP, 4.84 xERA: I usually try to avoid the double-header games but this is a weird slate and the prices here for the Mets stand out against an average-at-best pitcher like Fedde. Pete Alonso ($4,100), Dominic Smith ($3,100), Michael Conforto ($2,900), and Brandon Nimmo ($3,500) all are priced at playable salaries. Conforto looks like a decent bet for some positive regression considering his .305 wOBA and .358 xwOBA.
- STL (4.8) at JT Brubaker (RHP) 17.2% K-BB, .329 xwOBA, 1.22 WHIP, 4.65 xERA: “Coffee Cakes” might just be my favorite pitcher nickname. He hasn’t been bad overall by any means and we’re not excited about stacking the Cardinals offense. Still, there are two bats I’m interested in. Paul Goldschmidt’s (.377 xwOBA) salary has fallen a little after being well into the $5,000 range and Tyler O’Neill continues to be very cheap ($3,600) relative to his upside. He strikes out a ton, but when he makes contact, it’s of the booming variety evidence (.399 xwOBA), making him a fantastic tournament target.
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