Every current playoff club besides Cleveland—assigned an afternoon tee time—graces Thursday’s loaded eight-game slate. Just about all of them are facing a vulnerable starter, so I’m fading the slumping Justin Verlander ($23,300) to save room for big bats. This strategy, of course, will also require some cheaper hitters to balance the budget.
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Top SP: Rich Hill ($17,700) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
When Rich Hill‘s on, he’s on. Since returning from his season’s second DL stint on June 18, the 38-year-old southpaw has crafted a 2.59 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 73 innings. He’s an ace when healthy, but a disastrous start has still soiled his overall numbers enough to keep his price deflated. Although Arizona fields a slightly above-average offense against lefties (101 wRC+), the hot starter is far cheaper than the evening’s other premier choices.
Honorable Mentions: J.A. Happ ($19,600) vs. DET; Rick Porcello ($19,000) at CHW
Value SP: German Marquez ($15,900) at San Diego Padres
This one is too easy. German Marquez has notched a 2.89 ERA and 29.0 % strikeout rate in seven second-half starts. He has filed a quality start in each of his last six turns, going at least seven innings and allowing two or fewer runs in five of them. Boasting a 2.89 ERA away from Coors Field, he will travel to Petco Park to face the Padres, who possess MLB’s worst wOBA against righties. He’s surprisingly cheap, so join the rest of the crowd making the obvious choice in cash contests.
Honorable Mentions: Joe Musgrove ($14,100) at STL; John Gant ($13,700) vs. PIT
OF Giancarlo Stanton ($9,500) vs. Detroit Tigers (LHP Francisco Liriano)
Giancarlo Stanton has ignited his extra power gear with eight doubles and homers apiece in August. He has demolished lefties all year (.333/.403/.667) and gets a weak one in Francisco Liriano, who has ceded a .380 wOBA to righties. He is also cursed with the worst FIP (5.66) of any starter with at least 100 innings pitched. This is another no-brainer selection. A full Yankees stack is costly, but Miguel Andujar ($9,200), Gleyber Torres ($8,900), Aaron Hicks ($8,700), and Luke Voit ($7,800) all merit consideration as well.
Honorable Mentions: Nolan Arenado ($9,900) at SD (Eric Lauer); Justin Turner ($9,100) vs. ARI (Robbie Ray)
IF Freddie Freeman ($8,100) vs. Chicago Cubs (LHP Mike Montgomery)
Freddie Freeman facing a lefty would be a problem if he wasn’t flaunting a .316/.389/.561 slash line against them. Mike Montgomery hasn’t made a major league start in three weeks, so the star first baseman could luck out and see a couple of plate appearances against right-handed relievers. Ignoring him at this price feels a bit like Mr. Burns pulling Darryl Strawberry for Homer Simpson to play the percentages.
Honorable Mentions: Nicholas Castellanos ($8,300) at NYY (Happ); Brian Dozier ($8,100) vs. ARI (Ray); Robinson Cano ($8,000) at OAK (Frankie Montas)
Value: IF/OF Chad Pinder ($6,500) and/or Mark Canha ($6,400) vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Wade LeBlanc)
This one requires close attention to Oakland’s lineup card. There’s not necessarily room for Chad Pinder and Mark Canha against lefty Wade LeBlanc because of Ramon Laureano‘s emergence in center field. Only Pinder played against Dallas Keuchel yesterday, but both started against Stephen Gonsalves last Saturday at Matt Olson‘s expense. Canha is batting .291/.345/.606 with 11 home runs versus southpaws, so it’s hard to imagine the A’s sitting him in consecutive days when presented the platoon advantage. Although not as dominant, Pinder (.285/.367/.447) still warrants a start at his low price.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Kemp ($7,600) vs. ARI (Ray); Corey Dickerson ($7,300) at STL (Gant); Luis Urias ($6,600) vs. COL (Marquez)
Lineup Stack: Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels (LHP Andrew Heaney)
There are far worse pitchers to exploit than Andrew Heaney, but none carry a 6.67 August ERA into a bout against the Astros, baseball’s toughest lineup for an opposing southpaw. Limited to 55 innings over the past two seasons, the 26-year-old has seemingly hit a wall. His struggles continued when Houston staked him to five runs on Friday. Alex Bregman ($10,300), Jose Altuve ($9,400), and George Springer ($9,400) also boast exemplary track records against lefties, but it’s possible to build a stack even without the explosive trio.
- Tyler White ($8,900): He’s costly following Wednesday afternoon’s walk-off homer, his fifth blast in the past 11 games. That’s because he’s a .311/.393/.639 hitter with a career .383 wOBA against southpaws.
- Carlos Correa ($8,400): Go back to March and tell someone that White will cost more than Correa on August 30’s DFS slate. The shortstop is batting a mundane .249/.330/.432, but still wields a .368 wOBA against lefties. Take the discount.
- Marwin Gonzalez ($8,200): Entering August with six long balls, the utility man is batting .330/.390/.659 with eight homers (one off Heaney) this month.
- Yuli Gurriel ($7,300): Gurriel is batting .321/.367/.464 versus southpaws and has kicked a power funk with four doubles, a triple, and two homers over his last 13 games.
Honorable Mentions: Yankees vs. Tigers (Liriano); Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks (Ray)