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This evening’s slate features zero true aces, which is somewhat remarkable considering the sheer number of evening games.
Top SP: Nick Kingham, PIT ($17,600) vs NYM
Like I said, zero aces. Kingham’s skill set and strikeout upside are enticing in this barren desert of starting pitching and his favorable matchup against what has to be the most unmotivated team in the majors right now. The Mets are dealing with bad news (like losing Yoenis for the season) and weird news (hand foot and mouth disease) and are batting Jose Bautista in the cleanup spot, so they’re nothing to be afraid of for our purposes. This game will be in Pittsburgh, so the venue is quite favorable — PNC Park routinely ranks in the bottom 10 for runs and home runs by most of the sites that run park factor data. There’s a chance for rain tonight, so keep an eye on the forecast. At the time of this writing, it appears that the rain should hold off until after the game (or at least until after Kingham hits the showers).
Honorable Mention: Sonny Gray, NYY ($16,100) v KC
Value SP: Brian Johnson, BOS ($13,600) vs MIN
With the lack of aces at the top, you’d think there’d be some strength at the bottom, right? Well, you’d be wrong. There are a lot of very uninteresting pitchers taking the mound tonight, so to get the points we need to make the money we’ll need to look almost entirely at matchups. Johnson, who doesn’t really rack up Ks and hasn’t pitched more than 6 innings in any of his 5 starts, is fortunate enough to draw the Twins, who have swung their way to a 23.5% strikeout rate and 85 wRC+ against lefties this season. Many of the Twins best bats are southpaws, which mitigates some of the risks in that lineup. If you like the human element of the game, it has been announced that this will be Johnson’s last turn in the rotation, so maybe he’ll have a little extra juice for this outing. A win should be in play as well, just because it’s the BoSox and opposing starter Kyle Gibson will likely struggle to slow down their ferocious offense.
Honorable Mention: Tommy Milone, WAS ($8,000) @ MIA
IF Greg Bird, NYY ($8,100) v KC (RHP Jakob Junis)
Jakob Junis has given up 5 or more runs in 4 of his last 6 outings due to his inability to keep the ball in the yard — each of those 4 disasters featured multiple home runs allowed. Bird has caught fire after a dismal start to the season with 3 dingers and 12 RBI over his last 11 outings. The Bird is a classic lefty power bat who pulls the ball, so he’s in an ideal environment tonight with a pitcher who is vulnerable to the long ball and a short porch in left field.
Honorable Mention: Gleyber Torres, NYY ($8,400) v KC (RHP Jakob Junis)
IF/OF Matt Olson, OAK ($8,000) v TEX (RHP Bartolo Colon)
He bats in the middle of the order for one of the hottest teams, he’s a lefty against a righty, he hits for power, he’s facing one of baseball’s most predictable starting pitchers (spoiler: there will be many fastballs), and he’s in the most home run friendly ballpark of 2018. What’s not to like?
Honorable Mention: OF Khris Davis, OAK($10,400) v TEX (RHP Bartolo Colon)
OF Kevin Kiermaier, TB ($8,100) @ BAL (RHP Alex Cobb)
Kiermaier hasn’t been what we expected this season apart from being injured, but he’ll be leading off tonight against the miserable Alex Cobb, who has given up 3 or more runs in 15 of his 18 starts this season, including 5 of his 6 starts at home. There’s a pretty good chance that many, MANY runs will be scored in Baltimore tonight, and the southpaw at the top of the lineup is as good a bet as any to reap the benefits.
Honorable Mention: OF Carlos Gomez, TB ($8,200) @ BAL (RHP Alex Cobb)
Top Stack: Rays @ Orioles (RHP Alex Cobb)
I picked on Alex Cobb earlier, but you can’t understate how awful he has been in black and orange. On 11 different occasions, Cobb has given up more earned runs than strikeouts. That takes a unique combination of skills to accomplish, particularly when you’re being allowed to pitch more than 5 innings on your average day. When stacking, you’re trying to predict a disaster outing from an SP, and Cobb is a threat to implode every single outing. He’s giving up massive damage to both righties and lefties, so in addition to Kevin Kiermaier and Carlos Gomez who were mentioned above, Matt Duffy ($8,300), Jake Bauers ($9,200), C.J. Cron ($9,100) and even Ji-Man Choi ($7,200) are worthy of consideration. I would probably just check the lineup once it’s posted and go with anyone in the top 6 spots.
Honorable Mention: Athletics @ Rangers (RHP Bartolo Colon)
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