Wednesday night’s 10-game slate features plenty of pricey studs (Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Matt Carpenter, Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna) with juicy matchups, but there’s also enough bargains to field a potent lineup without paying more than $8,500 for a single hitter. Today’s recommendations will focus on mid-tier (in terms of price) options to clear cap space for a rolling hurler with an inflated price.
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Top SP: Zack Wheeler ($21,200) at Baltimore Orioles
I initially scoffed at Zack Wheeler‘s hefty $21,200 cost and prepared to promote two cheap starters. After tinkering with the hitting pool, I’m comfortable paying market value for a red-hot pitcher facing a feeble opponent. Over his past eight starts Wheeler has twirled a 2.22 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 53.2 innings. He has worked at least six innings in all but one of them while yielding exactly one walk in each of his last four turns. While the Mets have led Jacob deGrom to just seven wins during a Cy Young Award campaign, the same team has helped Wheeler win each of his last five starts. Why fret paying an ace price for a burgeoning ace?
Honorable Mention: Gerrit Cole ($23,700) vs. COL
Value SP: Kevin Gausman ($16,800) vs. Miami Marlins
There’s no place like anywhere but Baltimore. In his second start with the Braves, Kevin Gausman stymied the Brewers to one run over eight frames while stockpiling eight strikeouts and no walks. His 4.27 ERA is nothing to write home about (unless your family really likes baseball), but he has submitted personal bests in his ground-ball (47.0 %) and swinging-strike (11.1 %) rates. He’ll reap the rewards of moving from the AL to NL East by facing the Marlins, who possess baseball’s third-worst wOBA (.293) against righties as of Tuesday night. While former teammate Dylan Bundy ($13,100) is also an intriguing value, Gausman should be a chalk pick in Wednesday’s cash contests.
Honorable Mentions: Hyun-Jin Ryu ($14,700) vs. SF; Marco Estrada ($14,100) at KC; Dylan Bundy ($13,100) vs. NYM
IF Scooter Gennett ($8,200) vs. Cleveland Indians (RHP Shane Bieber)
I was going to shill for Joey Votto, but the former MVP hasn’t gone deep since July 9. Besides, Scooter Gennett is actually $100 cheaper despite his .373 wOBA against righties. He has cooled down considerably after the All-Star break (.222/.284/.333), but finally cranked out August’s first homer on Monday. Shane Bieber hardly seems like a pitcher to pick on. Many, in fact, will likely play Cleveland’s neophyte for $16,300 instead. While I’m also a fan, he has relinquished a .299/.361/.530 slash line to opposing righties. Look for Gennett to [Insert Justin Bieber reference that makes sense here. There’s no way I’m looking any up.]
Honorable Mentions: Alex Bregman ($9,200) vs. COL (Tyler Anderson); Justin Upton ($8,800) at SD (Robbie Erlin); Justin Smoak ($8,600) at KC (Burch Smith)
IF/OF Rhys Hoskins ($8,000) vs. Boston Red Sox (RHP Nathan Eovaldi)
Rhys Hoskins hit his 23rd homer last night, and 21 have come against righties. Nathan Eovaldi has coughed up 12 gopher balls in 13 starts. Boston’s pre-deadline acquisition could easily shut out the Phillies, but Hoskins’s high upside merits a close look at $8,000.
Honorable Mentions: Yonder Alonso ($8,100) at CIN (Robert Stephenson); Jose Martinez ($8,100) vs. WAS (Jeremy Hellickson)
Value: IF/OF Whit Merrifield ($7,200) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Marco Estrada)
Is this a test? No, it’s probably simply a matter of FantasyDraft’s pricing algorithm placing a heavy emphasis on Whit Merrifield‘s splits. He’s a superstar against southpaws (.398 wOBA) but middling against fellow righties (.320 wOBA). His opponent’s splits tell a different story. Marco Estrada has conversely surrendered a .509 slugging percentage and .350 wOBA to fellow righties. Taking a simpler approach, a locked-in leadoff hitter batting .299 with 25 steals costs $7,200 against a fly-ball machine with a 4.84 ERA.
Honorable Mentions: Curtis Granderson ($7,200) at KC (Smith); Evan Longoria ($7,200) at LAD (Ryu); Kendrys Morales ($6,800) at KC (Smith)
Lineup Stack: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants (LHP Derek Holland)
Back in college, I attended some event that a college student would only attend under the promise of pizza. This guy passing by stopped in his tracks, grabbed an entire pie and walked off with little effort to conceal his amateurish heist. He even whistled in an ironic way one does to convey the opposite of sneakiness. This was at least five years ago, and I’ll never forget his unearned bold confidence for as long as I live. This is how I feel seeing Manny Machado available for $8,100 against Derek Holland, a lefty who has allowed all 16 of his homers to opposing righties this season. Look, I don’t want to condone stealing, but nobody’s guarding the pizza.
Would it be greedy to take multiple pies? Perhaps, but Justin Turner costs just $8,000 despite batting .400/.488/.714 in August. The slumping Matt Kemp still sports a .366 wOBA against southpaws. He’s on the market for $7,700. Brian Dozier returned from a health scare to lead off on Tuesday night, so consider the lefty-masher as well for $8,300 if he gets another starting nod. Either Chris Taylor and/or Enrique Hernandez also makes a fine value at $7,300 if in the lineup. FantasyDraft is usefully a stickler for pricing players properly, so expect tons of contestants to whistle conspicuously while loading lineups with Dodgers.
Honorable Mention: Blue Jays at Royals (Smith)