Thursday brings us just four games to play with, but let’s see what we can come up with.
Top SP: Sandy Alcantara MIA ($9,300 DK, $9,300 FD) at PHI
Steven Matz leads tonight’s options with an 18.3% K-BB% but he gets the unenviable task of trying to contain a Red Sox offense that is 5th in team wOBA at .331. Sandy Alcantara isn’t far behind with a 16.6% K-BB% and, unlike Matz, it’s backed by an excellent 14.4% swinging K rate that leads the other six probable starters on the board (Dodgers’ starter is TBD as of this writing). He gets the Phillies, who’ve struggled with strikeouts, whiffing at a 27.1% clip, which ranks behind just the Tigers and Rays. Looking past his recent dud outing against the Dodgers, Alcantara’s indicators are impressive across the board, including a .275 xwOBA and 2.93 xERA, so he could be in line for a great start. And, the Phillies have been marred by injury, so their lineup lacks the full punch it normally provides. In addition to Didi Gregorius, who is on the IL, the Phillies could also be missing J.T. Realmuto, who is on the mend with a bone bruise in his hand.
Honorable Mentions: Steven Matz, TOR ($9,000 DK, $9,000 FD) vs BOS.
Value SP: Drew Smyly, ATL ($8,400 DK, $7,300 FD) vs PIT
Welcome to the horrors of a four-game slate. Drew Smyly (19.8% K-BB%, 31.2% CSW 2020-21) has exceeded four strikeouts in just one start this year, his most recent one against the Brewers. And, he’s carrying a 5.23 ERA and 1.36 WHIP into tonight’s contest, so it’s difficult to have much confidence. But he gets the nod by virtue of being the biggest favorite on the board (-187) and facing a toothless Pirates offense that has managed just a .288 team wOBA, tied with the Tigers for 2nd-worst. You could also consider Vince Velasquez (16.7% K-BB%, 26.8% CSW 2020-21) at home against the Marlins and their 26.9% team K rate.
Honorable Mention: Vince Velasquez, PHI ($7,500 DK, $7,900 FD) vs MIA.
1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR ($6,000 DK, $4,500 FD) vs BOS
Evidently, Vegas isn’t buying Nick Pivetta’s 3.16 ERA and 1.17 WHIP to start the season, pegging the Blue Jays for an implied total pushing five and a half runs. There could be some regression coming for Pivetta, considering he’s been walking batters at a 12.8% rate this season And we are still talking about a pitcher who has a career 5.19 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in just under 450 IP. So, Vladimir Guerrero Jr./strong> makes sense as the top target here. He’s been walking more than he’s striking out and the power is enormous, evidenced by a 98 mph average EV on flyballs and line drives, which is 6th among qualified hitters.
1B/2B Max Muncy, LAD ($4,900 DK, $3,900 FD) vs ARI
We should have no reservations in targeting the Dodgers tonight, as they square off against Merrill Kelly. Kelly’s indicators aren’t terribly promising, including a .362 xwOBA, 9.1% K-BB%, and 5.33 xERA. Max Muncy and his career .365 wOBA vs RHP makes a lot of sense hitting second.
Value Batter: 3B Austin Riley, ATL ($3,500 DK, $3,000 FD) vs PIT
We’re going to want a part of Atlanta’s offense tonight, as they have an implied total of just under five runs. They’ll see Pirates’ RHP Will Crowe, who has just a 7.9% K-BB% through his four starts. And, he managed a 6.17 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, and 6% K-BB% across 54 innings in Triple-A. Austin Riley (.350 xwOBA this year) gives us a value bat with power upside.
Top Stack: TOR vs BOS (Pivetta)
This is one of those cases where on a full slate the Jays might stick out less, but with just four games to pick from tonight, expect to see a ton of traffic here. It makes sense, as there’s a ton of power in the Blue Jays’ lineup and they’re facing a pitcher who, in spite of his strong start, has shown to be vulnerable throughout his career. And, it’s in a park that’s conducive for home runs. Guerrero is the top play as mentioned, but Bo Bichette (.365 career wOBA) is a clear play as well. Marcus Semien (.327 career wOBA) just looks a little overpriced, considering how high his salary has gotten, so I’d probably reserve him more for tournaments. Teoscar Hernández (career .340 wOBA) makes sense here hitting cleanup. Lourdes Gurriel Jr./strong> (.334 career wOBA) looks like a great and likely very popular value play tonight in the OF. For tournaments, if you aren’t playing Guerrero, which should definitely be a contrarian approach, Rowdy Tellez (career .317 wOBA) is an interesting punt 1B option who carries power upside at the bottom of the order. Danny Jansen (career .281 wOBA) looks like the way to punt at catcher tonight at the bottom of the order.
Honorable Mentions: ATL vs PIT (Crowe); BOS at TOR (Matz).
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