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The Dark Knight of Cincinnati is summoned by Pittsburgh to thwart its Pirate problem. Will he prevail?
Must Play SP: Chris Sale, BOS ($25,800) @ DET
When trying to predict the best matchup for a pitcher on a given day, there’s a checklist I go through before making a recommendation. Has the opposing offense been hot in the last five to seven days? What ballpark are they playing in? Does the opposing offense struggle against LHP/RHP? How has the pitcher performed in his last two to three outings?
For Sale, there’s no need to go through all that to determine whether or not he’ll be a good play. He’s both matchup proof and ballpark proof. In his final three starts prior to the All-Star break, Sale allowed one earned run and struck out 35 batters. Pitcher List #1 Max Scherzer is also starting today, but Sale has been the best pitcher in baseball on his most recent run.
Honorable Mention: Alex Wood ($17,100)
Value SP: Matt Harvey, CIN ($13,700) vs. PIT
Harvey has not had a six game stint this strong since May 30, 2016 – June 28, 2016, when he posted a 2.27 ERA, 2.o2 BB/9 and 7.07 K/9. Over his last six, Harvey’s line for the same three statistics is 2.38/1.85/6.62. In both of these sample sizes, Harvey’s effectiveness can be attributed to his fastball and his slider, which had/have pVALs of 3.1 and 4.2 respectively. Nick has been skeptical on Harvey’s secondaries sticking for the long run, but he should provide solid value for today’s game.
Honorable Mention: Jake Odorizzi ($11,900)
IF: Matt Carpenter, STL ($8,700) @ CHC (Jose Quintana)
Will Carpenter homer today? I would’ve thought he was homered out before yesterday’s games, but he proved my intuition wrong. Given his recent tear, the price tag is a bit surprising. Maybe it’s because L vs. LHP matchups tend to be bad for the hitter, but Carp is slashing .269/.394/.667 against lefties this year, so slot the hottest man on the planet into your lineup.
Honorable Mentions: Brian Dozier ($9,300), Jesus Aguilar ($9,500)
OF: Mookie Betts, BOS ($11,300) @ DET (Blaine Hardy)
Mookie is 30 percentage points better against left handed pitching than he is against right handed pitching this season. Granted, he’s still 90 percent above average against right handed pitching, but he’s just that much better against lefties. Even if you think this season is too small of a sample size, he’s ten percentage points better against lefties for his career. As a starter, Hardy has a 4.08 FIP and 4.73 xFIP this year, so he’s been a bit lucky to date. Last time he faced the Red Sox, he allowed five earned runs on eight hits.
Honorable Mention: Juan Soto ($8,400), Michael Brantley ($9,400)
Value Hitter: Marcell Ozuna, STL ($6,800) @ CHC (Jose Quintana)
Ozuna has had a rough July thus far, but his struggles seem to be stemming from putting the ball on the ground too much, as his hard hit rate for July is actually two percentage points higher than his season-long mark of 46.4%. In Quintana, Ozuna faces a lefty, against whom he’s had more success than against righties during his career, and a pitcher who’s been allowing more low drives and high drives (the batted balls xstats.org has determined to be the two most valuable) than league average by seven percentage points.
Honorable Mentions: Tim Beckham ($5,700), Robinson Chirinos ($6.700)
Stack: Cleveland Indians @ Texas Rangers (Yovani Gallardo)
This ain’t no Lamborghini Gallardo. Cleveland’s come to Dallas and kicked it like Tae-bo, twenty five runs in just two games. Today, Lindor, Ramirez, Brantley and co. will all be telling Gallardo the same thing: “Yo, look back and watch me smack that.”
Honorable Mention: Boston Red Sox @ Detroit Tigers