At long last, we finally get a decent Thursday night slate with nine games on the board. Tonight’s top offense is Boston, as they host the Twins and John Gant in Fenway. Meanwhile, the pitching mid-tier features quite a few potential options to choose from.
The Top Tier
Max Scherzer has made four starts since the big trade to L.A. and he has, of course, continued to terrorize opposing hitters during that span with a 2.11 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Overall, he’s limited opposing hitters to just a .276 xwOBA and has accumulated a 34.4% K rate, which is tied for first among qualified starters with Corbin Burnes. It’s not the best matchup against the Padres (.318 team wOBA, 12th), but it’s very peculiar to see Scherzer and Chris Sale priced so closely on DraftKings; between the two the choice has to be Scherzer by default given that Sale went just 71 pitches in his last time out and this will be just his third start back from Tommy John surgery. Sale is a fade for me at his salary, I just suspect that there will be some ups and downs early on in his return along with a pitch count that caps his ceiling.
Since the calendar flipped to July, Jameson Taillon has a sparkling 2.01 ERA through nine starts. However, the strikeouts really haven’t been there lately; over his last three starts, he’s managed just 13 K’s, which is not great. There is a decent enough floor with Taillon, but at his price range, I’m leaning more towards Zac Gallen on DraftKings, as he carries more strikeout upside at a little lower of a cost. Gallen was very impressive in his last start at Coors Field, getting nine K’s through seven scoreless innings (31.3% CSW).
Elieser Hernandez made six starts (25.2 IP) last season and impressed with a 27.4% K-BB, but injuries have cost him a chance to build on that this year. His last time out, just his second start since the beginning of June, he struggled some, allowing four runs, but he did get six strikeouts and backed it up with a 30.9% CSW. There is upside but it comes with a very questionable pitch count (68 and 82 in his two starts back off the IL).
As much as I want to ignore Patrick Corbin, he does get the Marlins. Did you happen to see the line Erick Fedde put up against them two nights ago? Corbin did impress his last time out against the Brewers, going six and a third with seven strikeouts, backed by a 32.6% CSW. Most importantly, his fastball velocity was averaging 94 mph, an encouraging development.
Yusei Kikuchi is an excellent option for tournaments in that he brings strikeout upside along with the sort of volatility that should keep him at a relatively low roster %. He got roughed up his last time out against the Astros but gets a bounce-back opportunity at home as a strong favorite (-168) against the Royals (.300 team wOBA, 26th).
Carlos Carrasco is someone to keep an eye on as he gets more innings under his belt because he could certainly emerge as an option in September. His secondary pitches weren’t there in his last start and they haven’t been too sharp overall so far in his return. So, given the rust he’s shown and that we’re looking at probably somewhere around 80 pitches, Carrasco is a fade, especially against a productive Giants lineup (.328 wOBA, sixth).
Bats and Stacks
- BOS (6.4) vs John Gant (RHP) 3.5% K-BB, .351, 1.52 WHIP, 5.43 xERA: I suppose you have to give Gant some credit for having an ERA under 4.00 in spite of a K-BB% approaching zero. The top half of the Boston lineup should draw a ton of attention in all formats. Kyle Schwarber (.399 xwOBA this year), Rafael Devers (.387 xwOBA), and Alex Verdugo (.346 xwOBA) will all have the platoon advantage, Verdugo being a strong value on DraftKings at $3,500. Gant hasn’t shown much of a split this year (.363 xwOBA vs LHB/ .341 vs RHB) so the righties in Hunter Renfroe (.361 xwOBA), Xander Bogaerts (.353 xwOBA), and J.D. Martinez (.373 xwOBA) round out the options.
- SEA (4.8) vs Brad Keller (RHP) 9.6% K-BB, .375 xwOBA, 1.65 WHIP, 5.73 xERA: Keller has been victimized by both lefties and righties, while also allowing a 10.8% barrel rate. Mitch Haniger (.345 xwOBA) is probably the best overall hitter here. Abraham Toro (.323 xwOBA), Ty France (.343 xwOBA), and Kyle Seager (.326 xwOBA) are the other more notable options here in terms of power upside, with Toro being the best value of the group on DraftKings ($3,800). Jarred Kelenic has not distinguished himself so far in his first year, but if you want to gamble on one of baseball’s biggest prospects, he’s just $2,300 on DraftKings.
- CLE (5.5) vs Jordan Lyles (RHP) 10.8% K-BB, .359 xwOBA, 1.46 WHIP, 5.73 xERA: Not a great lineup to take advantage of with a good matchup in Lyles. Franmil Reyes (.339 xwOBA) and José Ramírez (.377 xwOBA) are, of course, far and away the top options. Ramírez seems like a potential swerve from Devers in tournaments at just about the same salary on Draftkings as I think most rosters will want to side with the Red Sox offense. Bradley Zimmer is a potential punt play for tournaments, a former top prospect who was derailed by injuries, Zimmer has shown the sort of power/stolen base upside worth chasing at just $2,300 on DraftKings.
- STL (5.1) at Mitch Keller (RHP) 9.8% K-BB, .357 xwOBA, 1.82 WHIP, 5.65 xERA: The Cardinals haven’t been a great offense this year, so it’s tough to get excited about their exploitable matchup with Mitch Keller. Keller has been torched by lefties this year, allowing a .414 wOBA (.378 xwOBA) to them, along with just a 14.8% K rate. Not much in the way of lefties here outside of Dylan Carlson (.326 xwOBA) and Tommy Edman (.320 xwOBA) as the leadoff man. Keller has been a little better against RHB, with a 26% K rate and a .337 xwOBA allowed, still, this is a pitcher with an ugly 1.82 WHIP, putting Paul Goldschmidt (.381 xwOBA) firmly on the radar in tournaments as easily the best overall hitter here.
- NYY (4.6) at James Kaprielian 14.8% K-BB, .313 xwOBA, 1.17 WHIP, 4.20 xERA: Kaprielian, the Yankees’ first-round pick back in 2015 out of UCLA, has pitched really well overall, so this is just a spot to look for in tournaments. He has shown wide splits, evidenced by his .354 xwOBA allowed to lefties, so I have some interest in the southpaws here in Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, both of whom are priced affordably on DraftKings. Rizzo seems especially miscast at $3,400.
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