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It’s a nice and full 12-game main slate tonight, with a marquee matchup of Jacob deGrom vs. Max Scherzer on the docket. But while that’ll be a great game to watch, it may be wise to turn elsewhere for DFS purposes. Let’s dive in.
Top Play SP: Mike Clevinger, CLE ($12,200) vs. CHW
You may not ever want to pay up, but sometimes you just have to. And tonight’s a good spot to do so for Mike Clevinger, who’s facing the White Sox at home and is averaging 33 points over his last three starts. The Pale Hose have not fared well against right-handed pitching this year, posting a 26.4% K-rate, .293 wOBA and .688 OPS against righties that are all the third-worst in baseball. And those numbers aren’t likely to improve tonight, as Clevinger will bring a pitch-mix to the table that should give them fits, just as it did in his first start of the season, when he one-hit the White Sox over seven innings with 12 strikeouts.
Clevenger works mainly with a nasty slider and a premium fastball, as well as a changeup and curveball. How premium is the fastball? It averages 96 MPH and has a 1.99 xFIP against it that is second in baseball (only to Josh Hader) among pitchers who have a 50% or greater fastball usage. It also carries a 40.7% K-rate against it that is fourth-best, behind only three of the best relievers in baseball and Gerrit Cole. And how do the White Sox do against heaters? A team -29.5 pVAL is the fourth-worst in baseball so far in 2019. And their -14.9 pVAL against sliders might be more in the middle of the pack, but Clevinger’s slidepiece certainly is not, with a 45.5% K-rate that’s the third-highest among starters who use sliders 20% or more, as well as a 1.56 xFIP that’s the lowest in the MLB. The matchup is premium, but Clevinger’s hefty price tag my also keep his ownership in check, particularly with Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom sitting cheaper. With reasonable down-price options, both on the pitching and hitting side, tonight’s a good night to open up the wallet and pay out the nose.
Value SP: Mike Montgomery, KCR ($4,300) vs. DET
Now here’s a juicy one on paper—as resurgent left-hander Mike Montgomery faces the Detroit Tigers, AKA the worst team in baseball, who are 12-38 since the All-Star break and who have lost eight of their last nine games. Detroit not only has a 27.3% K-rate versus left-handers since August 1—that’s the second-worst in baseball—but also recently got a taste of the new Royals version of Montgomery, getting dominated in an August 10 matchup against him. Montgomery picked up the win in that start, scattering just four hits over seven shutout innings while walking none and striking out 12. Oh, and let’s not forget about the 41.4 points that he scored on Draft Kings. In his five starts in August, Montgomery may have not wowed anyone with his 2-3 record, but he did have a 2.45 ERA and 25.7% K-rate and averaged almost six innings a start.
It might not be inventive or exciting, but I just can’t resist a less-than-$5,000 Mike Trout, even if he’s slumping over his last 40 plate-appearances, only slashing .233/.425/.333 with one home run, one steal and a 112 wRC+. These are hilarious numbers for anyone’s “slump,” but it’s a slump for Trout, which means it’s only a matter of time before he starts doing Mike Trout things again. Getting the price discount, I’m okay with betting on that time being tonight with Trout facing Oakland right-hander Mike Fiers, against whom Trout is 9-for-32 lifetime with three home runs and a 1.252 OPS
Missing the first third of the season with a toe injury, Angels outfielder Justin Upton is in the middle of one his worst seasons, slashing .211/.307/.402 with an 89 wRC+. But even hurt and struggling, Upton still has some pop left in his bat, hitting 10 home runs in his 228 plate appearances, including one on Sunday, when he hit a 432-foot bomb off of Boston reliever Matt Barnes. Owner of a modest three-game hit-streak and priced around the level of Danny Jansen and Charlie Culberson, Upton can provide some salary relief for those who wish to spend on the aces.
Lineup Stack: Cubs vs. Mariners (RHP Felix Hernandez
Unfortunately, it looks like the only thing left that Seattle pitcher Felix Hernandez is the king of are gas cans. Hernandez’s two starts since returning from the injured list have been serviceable, with a 4.22 ERA in 10 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts. But he also gave up three home runs in those two starts and has a 6.02 ERA over his 10 starts on the year.
With the homer-prone Hernandez on the mound—who doesn’t really discriminate on handedness—you’ll have good choices at a variety of price options, from which to choose. Jason Heyward ($3,600) batting leadoff could work, or even Victor Caratini ($4,300), who has multiple hits in four of the last eight games. But the sweetest thing about this prime matchup with the former King Felix is that all of the Cubs big bats aren’t priced as such. Anthony Rizzo ($4,800) and Javier Baez ($4,400) are the most expensive, but Baez will likely hit the bench again with a sprained thumb. The choicest cuts may be at the $4,300-level, with Kris Bryant, Nicholas Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber all being priced there, even as they are all projected to be among the top scorers on the slate. Schwarber has three home runs in his past seven games, while Castellanos has three in his past six.
Honorable Mentions: Red Sox vs. Twins (Dobnak); Astros at Brewers (Lyles); Braves vs. Blue Jays (Font+Bullpen).
Graphic by Justin Paradis (@FreshMeatComm on Twitter).