Thursday brings us another short, six-game slate led by the game at Coors Field featuring a powerful Reds lineup along with a struggling Luis Castillo.
Top SP: Jameson Taillon NYY ($7,700 DK, $7,700 FD) at TB
In terms of overall K rate so far this year, Trevor Rogers (21.7% K-BB%, 30.6% CSW 2020-21) leads the slate at a scintillating 33.1%. He gets a matchup against the Diamondbacks who have been a tough team in terms of K rate at just 22.4% (6th lowest). Another thing to keep in mind with Rogers is that he’s been held to under 90 pitches in three of his last five starts.
Cristian Javier (18.3% K-BB, 27.3% CSW 2020-21) gets the benefit of being the biggest favorite on the board (-185). And he also gets a plenty decent matchup too at home against the Rangers whose team K rate of 26.5% is 8th highest.
What stands out for Jameson Taillon (23.7% K-BB%, 29.7% CSW 2021) is that we’re getting a decent discount relative to the top two options on DraftKings. The Rays are also an excellent matchup in terms of strikeouts as their current K rate sits at 27.4%, the third-highest. Taillon has done an excellent job so far this year in limiting free passes too with a walk rate of just 5.1%. The Yankees had Taillon on a pretty tight leash to start the season and understandably so since he’s returning from such a long layoff. Though, in his last start against the Nationals, he got his pitch count up to 99 while pitching into the seventh inning. Taillon’s 28.8% K rate on the year would be, by far, a career-high while his high watermark in pitch count his last time out would seemingly presage a future bump in salary. Tonight looks like an excellent buying opportunity.
Value SP: Logan Gilbert, SEA ($4,000 DK) vs CLE
What a day for Mariners fans! Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert are getting the call-up for tonight’s game against Cleveland. Gilbert is one of Seattle’s big-ticket prospects as he was their first-round pick back in 2018 (14th overall). He’s shown plus command and plenty of swing and miss ability (28.7% K rate in Double-A in 2019) as a prospect and a recent bump in velocity is another reason to be ambitious on his outlook. For our purposes, it’s, simply put, hard to overlook a $4,000 salary on DraftKings with any modicum of upside to which Gilbert appears to have plenty. The visiting Cleveland, meanwhile, are just about middle of the pack in terms of K rate, while their team wOBA of .292 ranks third from the bottom. Rookie pitchers and volatility go together well, Daniel Lynch, being the latest example on the ouch side of the spectrum. Regardless, the salary savings combined with the lack of options in tonight’s lower-tier make Gilbert a tempting target in his debut. Note that Gilbert isn’t available on FanDuel. Taillon is probably the only option I’d consider there below $8,000.
Well, we should probably mention Luis Castillo (18.1% K-BB%, 28.2% CSW 2020-21). He’s been off to a dreadful start but I do believe in the underlying skills, especially the ability to miss bats as he carried a 30.5% K rate last season, so he should eventually return to form. When does that happen though? Who knows. You’d figure a trip to Coors isn’t the remedy. His current swinging K rate of 9.7% would be by far a career-worst mark. Given his past track record and drop in salary, he’s definitely someone who is worth keeping a close eye on, but for now, it’s probably best to keep away until we see some positive signs.
Outside of Gilbert, the value tier is seemingly barren tonight so I’m going to cheat and also mention that Zach Plesac (20.4% K-BB, 28.6% CSW 2020-21) is definitely an option that is worth considering too. He gets a matchup against the Mariners and their 26.8% team K rate and second-worst team wOBA of .290. For as much as Gilbert makes sense as a value, the Indians are actually the favorites (-135) in this one on the road in Seattle.
Honorable Mention: Zach Plesac, CLE ($8,300 DK, $8,400 FD) at SEA.
OF Yordan Alvarez, HOU ($5,200 DK, $4,200 FD) vs TEX
Outside of the game in Coors, the Astros own today’s highest implied team total at right around five runs. They’ll see the righty Mike Foltynewicz, who, to his credit, has pitched reasonably well of late going into the sixth inning in three of his last four turns. Still, the underlying numbers are a little specious. Most notably an 8.5% swinging K rate and just about league-average K rate of 21.8%. He’s also already allowed eleven home runs on the year too. And considering Folty has allowed a .258 ISO to opposing LHB going back to 2019 (.216 against RHB), the Cuban slugger Yordan Alvarez (career .430 wOBA) makes a lot of sense as does his teammate Michael Brantley and his career .359 wOBA.
OF Jesse Winker, CIN ($5,300 DK, $4,500 FD) at COL
For his career, Chi-Chi Gonzalez owns a 5.25 ERA and 1.48 WHIP (188.2 IP). At risk of belaboring the point, he’s one of if not the most susceptible pitcher on the slate who will have the added disadvantage of pitching at Coors Field tonight. You know the drill. Target the Reds with aplomb. That begins with Jesse Winker who has once not too long ago one of the Red’s more promising hitting prospects. Going back to 2019 he’s slashing .285/.378/.529. It would appear he’s peaking now as he finds himself in a tightly contested early-season battle with the White Sox’s Yermin Mercedes for the best batting average in all of baseball. Winker checks all the boxes tonight holding the platoon advantage against the righty Gonzalez at Coors.
Value Batter: 2B/OF Nick Senzel, CIN ($3,700 DK, $3,000 FD) at COL
The injury to Joey Votto led to the Reds shifting their lineup around and Nick Senzel getting some starts at second-base. More importantly, he’s been hitting leadoff of late for the Reds. The results have been fairly modest for Senzel but his .357 xwOBA on the year is encouraging as is his excellent 12.5% K rate. Hitting leadoff at Coors it’s hard to overlook the value here on both sites.
And don’t forget Jarred Kelenic, one of baseball’s premier prospects, is making his debut tonight. Yes, I’m not terribly excited that it’s against Zach Plesac, but let’s be serious this is probably the last time we’ll get a chance to roster him at the absolute minimum. And, of course, he’s not available on FanDuel.
The Astros’ Kyle Tucker is priced affordably on both sites. As mentioned earlier tonight’s match-up against Foltynewicz is a decent one making a Tucker a solid value play in all formats.
Top Stack: CIN at COL (RHP Chi-Chi Gonzalez)
It’s going to be terribly chalky, but it’s hard not to like the Reds on tonight’s short slate. As mentioned earlier, both Senzel and Winker make sense as targets at the top of the order. Tyler Naquin is another Reds hitter who has been incredibly productive in the early going with a .375 xwOBA on the year. For his career, he owns a .280 batting average and .336 wOBA against righties. Mike Moustakas, has, of course, been productive against RHP for his career with a .201 ISO. Nick Castellanos is another clear spend up in all formats, so far this year he owns a .408 wOBA (.403 xwOBA). While Eugenio Suárez would be more of a boom/bust tournament play given his early-season struggles (35% K rate and .274 xwOBA).
As we mentioned earlier, Castillo has struggled this year, to say the least, so it only makes sense to target the Rockies here in this game as well.
If you’re looking to be different in tournaments, the Athletics are an interesting off-the-board stack at Fenway Park against Garrett Richards who can certainly be erratic at times. There’s excellent power upside in the top half of their order with the likes of Mark Canha, Ramón Laureano, Matt Olson, and Matt Chapman.
The Yankees should also be underrepresented in tournaments relative to their upside. Their lineup on paper, at least, would seem to be a mismatch for the lefty Rich Hill whose swinging K rate stands at just 9.0% this year.
Honorable Mentions: COL vs CIN (Castillo); OAK at BOS (Richards); HOU vs TEX (Foltynewicz); NYY at TB (Hill). GPP
Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)