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We’ll be talking about the eight-game early slate for Labor Day.
Top Play SP: Jake Odorizzi, MIN ($10,500) at DET
My favorite cash-game play provides a bonus in his upside along with his safety. Jake Odorizzi has been excellent in his past six starts, going 34 innings, striking out 37, while putting up a 2.65 ERA. Odorizzi faces the Tigers, who have put up a 73 wRC+ against right-handed pitching since the All-Star break while striking out at a 28.8% clip.
For my second option as my SP1, I’m taking a pass on guys such as Noah Syndergaard and Mike Soroka to go to a pitcher with a lower strikeout rate, Kyle Hendricks. While Hendricks only strikes out 20.6% of the batters he’s faced, he does an excellent job limiting damage. Hendricks faces the Mariners, who have an 85 wRC+ against righties in the second half.
Honorable mention: Hendricks, CHC ($8,900) vs. SEA.
Value SP: Adam Wainwright, STL ($7,600) vs. SF
The values on this slate are pretty limited, but Adam Wainwright easily stands out as the best option. Wainwright has been significantly better at home, putting up a 2.67 ERA versus a 6.54 ERA on the road. Wainwright faces the Giants, who have heated up as the season stretches on, putting up a 96 wRC+ against right-handed pitching since the All-Star break. However, over the past two weeks, the Giants have struggled, putting up a 63 wRC+ against righties while striking out at a 28.3% rate.
Top Play: OF Nick Castellanos, CHC ($4,300) vs. SEA
I say this a little tongue-in-cheek because Nick Castellanos is anti-analytics, but Castellanos is better against lefties than righties (duh). For the year, Castellanos has put up a .326 ISO and .461 wOBA against southpaws versus a .210 ISO and .337 wOBA against righties.
Thankfully for him, he faces a lefty today in Justus Sheffield. Sheffield has struggled in his major league appearances this year, allowing 10 runs over 11.1 innings pitched with the Mariners.
There’s some value to be had in the Cubs’ bats today, as everyone other than Anthony Rizzo ($4,800) is priced below $4,300.
Top Play: 1B Freddie Freeman, ATL ($5,300) vs. TOR
Jacob Waguespack gets the unlucky situation of having to face the Braves for the second start in a row. The previous start, on Aug. 28, did not go swimmingly as he allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits in just three innings. For the year, Waguespack now has a 3.93 ERA with a 4.87 SIERA. Also, Ben Palmer just put out an excellent Going Deep piece on Waguespack here.
I’ll look to Freddie Freeman in this spot. Freeman has already put up career highs in homers, runs, and RBI, and we still have a month to play. Freeman has been crushing the ball of late, smashing 13 bombs over his past 29 games.
Value: OF Phillip Ervin, CIN ($3,600) vs. PHI
Filed under the category of “players signed because they needed a warm body” is Drew Smyly, who the Phillies signed on July 21 after Smyly was cut from two teams over the course of 23 days. Smyly has struggled all year, allowing a 6.95 ERA, which is not helped by his 46% hard-hit rate.
Ervin is the cheap option of that group, but he has really packed a punch against lefties this year. In 62 plate appearances against southpaws, Ervin has a .339 ISO and .498 wOBA while striking out just 14.5% of the time.
Top Stack: Twins at Tigers (RHP Jordan Zimmermann)
At this point in the season, I feel like I’ve picked on Jordan Zimmermann so much that I’m his bully. But it’s made me money, so let’s keep it up. Since the All-Star break, Zimmermann has allowed a 6.18 ERA over eight starts, allowing 27 runs to score.
Because Zimmermann has struggled more against left-handed batters than right-handed batters, my main stack will focus on Twins lefties. For the season, Zimmermann has allowed a 41.5% hard-hit rate, which has led to a .209 ISO and .385 wOBA.
Keep an eye on the lineup, as Max Kepler ($5,300) left Sunday’s game with leg tightness. If Kepler is out of the lineup, we can start our stack with Jorge Polanco ($4,800), Eddie Rosario ($4,600), and Luis Arraez ($4,000). Nelson Cruz ($5,700) has crushed Zimmermann (5-6 with a double and a home run), albeit in a small sample. If we add Cruz to our stack, we can get some savings by also locking in Jake Cave ($4,100). Good luck today!
Honorable mentions: Cubs vs. Mariners (LHP Sheffield); Reds vs. Phillies (LHP Smyly).
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is RMoss1983) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games on which I offer advice. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings, and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any nonpublic information.