Thursday brings a short six-game slate headlined by what looks like another slugfest in Minnesota.
Top SP: Trevor Rogers MIA ($9,000 DK, $10,100 FD) vs COL
Max Scherzer leads the way with a 30.9% K-BB% and 32.1% CSW through 12 starts. He gets the Giants who have been an above-average offense this year producing a .322 wOBA good for eighth overall. And they’ve struck out at a 25.7% rate as a team, seventh-highest. The Nationals are, as you’d anticipate, strong home favorites (-161) this evening. There is some potential rain in the forecast tonight in D.C. though so keep an eye out for the weather if you’re choosing Scherzer.
Instead, though, we’ll go with the biggest favorite on the board (-211) in the Marlins’ Trevor Rogers (20.9% K-BB%, 30.6% CSW 2021) who gets a date with the road Rockies. The lefty Rogers has shown some impressive swing and miss ability this season with a K rate just under 30%. He has yet to throw 100 pitches this year, so while he doesn’t have the same pitch count upside as Scherzer does, he does get a friendlier matchup with the aforementioned Rockies whose road wOBA is .254 on the year dead last by an appreciable margin. And the main appeal is the discount in salary on DraftKings at $9,000 as opposed to $11,400 for Scherzer. On FanDuel, though, the salary gap between the two is far less significant at $10,100 for Rogers as opposed to $11,000 for Scherzer. There it probably makes more sense to pay a few extra dollars to secure Scherzer.
Honorable Mentions: Max Scherzer, WAS ($11,400 DK, $11,000 FD) vs SF.
Value SP: Frankie Montas, OAK ($8,100 DK, $7,400 FD) vs KC
I’d usually have at least some interest in Eduardo Rodríguez (20.5% K-BB%, 28% CSW 2021) considering his strikeout ability, but this is a brutal matchup against the Astros, who have already mauled him once this year. Chi Chi González gets a matchup against the Marlins that we’ve pursued at times this year, but it seems like we’re asking for disappointment considering his 12.3% K rate on the year. Anthony DeSclafani has shown basically league-average strikeout ability this year (21.4% K rate) with just three games of over five strikeouts, two of which being the road Rockies. He’s also been held under 90 pitches in eight of his starts, so the floor isn’t great either. Still, considering his salary of $6,300 on DraftKings I think you can at least consider DeScalafani as a cheap SP2 as it might be one of those nights where he gives you just enough to make everything else work.
That more or less leaves us with Frankie Montas, who is probably a bit overpriced considering his underlying numbers, 16.5% K-BB%, 26.5% CSW, 1.41 WHIP. .330 xwOBA, and 4.40 xERA. Still, by virtue of being a large home favorite (-152) on a slate bereft of clear options, he fits as one of the few choices with a reasonable floor. The Royals’ team wOBA of .302 ranks just 22nd on the season.
We’ve seen Mike Minor (17.9% K-BB%, 28.2% CSW 2021) show both strikeout and pitch count upside this year, making him an interesting tournament option as a road dog in the same game. He shouldn’t be too popular, especially considering that he costs more than the aforementioned Montas on DraftKings.
Honorable Mention: Anthony DeSclafani, SF ($6,300 DK, $7,000 FD) at WAS; Mike Minor, KC ($8,400 DK, $8,200 FD) at OAK.
OF Giancarlo Stanton, NYY ($4,700 DK, $3,600 FD) at MIN
Offensively, the Yankees have been a disappointment, with just a .306 wOBA on the year as a team good for 18th overall. Tonight, they’ll get to see their old friend J.A. Happ who hasn’t shown much ability to miss bats so far with just a 7.3% swinging K rate. Going back to 2019, Happ is seventh among starters (minimum 100 IP) with 50 home runs allowed across his 257 IP. And this year he’s allowed a .348 xwOBA and 11.5% barrel rate. I suspect that we’ll be seeing a ton of Yankees tonight across all formats. It feels like a chase after last night’s monster performance, but this legitimately sets up well for Giancarlo Stanton who has a .415 career wOBA against lefties and is coming in at a discount relative to teammate Aaron Judge who has an eerily similar .414 split against southpaws.
Honorable Mentions: Aaron Judge, OF ($5,600 DK, $4,300 FD) at MIN; Gleyber Torres, 2B/SS ($4,300 DK, $3,400 FD) at MIN; Xander Bogaerts, SS ($5,500 DK, $3,600 FD) vs HOU.
OF Teoscar Hernández, TOR ($4,400 DK, $3,000 FD) at CWS
Dallas Keuchel has a pretty wide split allowing a .322 wOBA to RHB as opposed to .266 against lefties going back to 2019. And unfortunately for him, he’ll see quite a few of them tonight in the Blue Jays lineup. Teoscar Hernández is more of a tournament option on most nights but given that he’s going against Keuchel and his 12% K rate he might carry less bust risk than he otherwise normally would. Keuchel has also allowed a .382 xwOBA this year in addition to an inflated 1.29 WHIP which should pique our interest in Blue Jays hitters. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. goes without saying at this point, but don’t forget about the cleanup hitter Hernández who carries tremendous power upside (.351 wOBA and .368 xwOBA this season) at a very affordable salary on both sites.
Honorable Mentions: Vladimir Guerrero Jr, 1B/3B ($5,400 DK, $4,400 FD) at CWS; Bo Bichette, SS ($4,400 DK, $3,500 FD) at CWS; Nelson Cruz, OF ($5,000 DK, $3,400 FD) vs NYY.
Value Batter: OF Alex Kirilloff, MIN ($3,800 DK, $2,400 FD) vs NYY
Michael King is making just his third start and tenth appearance of the year so we don’t have an appreciable sample. So far, though, he’s put up a modest 20.8% K rate and 8.8% swinging K rate while allowing a .356 xwOBA so based on what we’ve seen we shouldn’t hesitate in targeting some Twins. One of the more impressive hitting prospects in baseball Alex Kirilloff, meanwhile, has put up just a .301 wOBA in limited action, but a .384 xwOBA could portend to some better results ahead. He’ll have the platoon advantage against the righty King. Another Twin prospect of repute is Trevor Larnach, who is billed with plus power. And he hit third last night, if he’s there again he’ll be tough to ignore at just $2,200 on DraftKings. Small sample size caveat aside, the early returns on his batted balls validate his scouting report with a 116 MPH max EV and .375 xwOBA.
It is a left-on-left matchup, but Yordan Álvarez just looks too cheap at $3,700 on DraftKings. Interestingly enough, Rodriguez has actually allowed a higher wOBA to lefties at .333 for his career as opposed to just .305 against RHB. No doubt a product of his impressive changeup.
Chi-Chi González has allowed a .345 wOBA for his career to lefties so there could be some potential value in Corey Dickerson at just $2,400 on FanDuel. The likely leadoff hitter Jazz Chisholm is affordable there too at $3,400 as opposed to $5,000 DraftKings.
Miguel Andújar has come alive of late to give the Yankees’ bleak bottom of the order a much-needed jolt. He’s a cheap way to get a piece of the likely ensuing slugfest in Minnesota.
Honorable Mentions: Trevor Larnach, OF ($2,200 DK, $2,400 FD) vs NYY; Yordan Álvarez, OF ($3,700 DK, $3,000 FD) at BOS; Corey Dickerson, OF ($2,400 FD) vs COL; Miguel Andújar, OF ($2,600 DK, $2,700 FD) at MIN; Jazz Chisholm, SS ($3,400 FD) vs COL; Andrew Vaughn, 1B/OF ($3,300 DK, $2,200 FD) vs TOR.
Top Stack: MIN vs NYY (RHP King)
As mentioned, the stage is set for the Yankees offense yet again. Temperatures will be in the mid-90s and it’s hard to imagine Happ providing much resistance. If you go here in tournaments the key, as always, will be finding ways to be unique which might mean targeting players like Gary Sánchez, Miguel Andújar, or Clint Frazier in the bottom of the order. Armed with 80-grade power via FanGraphs recent call-up, hard-hittin’ Chris Gittens, is a fun boom/bust play if he cracks the lineup. D.J. LeMahieu, who has done next to nothing all season, might be a little lower owned tonight, relatively speaking at least, because of that slow start.
Instead, let’s focus on the other side of this game. As we talked about earlier, King definitely looks like a pitcher we can target and the Twins are certainly a powerful lineup that can stack up runs. Going past the value plays of Larnach and Kirilloff, the top play is Nelson Cruz (.362 wOBA this season/ .370 xwOBA this season). As Jeremy Siegel details here, while Cruz hasn’t been quite as prolific this year, we should not be surprised in the least bit to see a resurgence coming. He’s also been dealing with some nagging injuries which might explain the downtick a little too. Josh Donaldson (.338/.379) still has plenty of power and is reasonably priced on both sites. Ryan Jeffers (.270/.279) is an interesting punt play at catcher who has shown off some appreciable power in the minor leagues. And you know the drill with Miguel Sanó (.308/.297), he’s an excellent tournament play when facing a pitcher with questionable strikeout ability.
The game at Fenway Park is also an incredibly interesting game to consider for tournaments as two of baseball’s best offenses square off again. While Zack Greinke was nearly flawless in his last outing against Toronto I do think that at this stage he’s someone who could be vulnerable to elite offenses, the Red Sox would certainly qualify and they will likely be underrepresented in tournaments, something to consider if you’re multi entering. On the other side, the Astros feature one of baseball’s best lineups and they’ve already gotten to Rodríguez once this year.
Honorable Mentions: TOR at CWS (Keuchel); NYY at MIN (Happ); HOU/BOS (Rodríguez/Greinke).
Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)