Last week, I learned a valuable lessons about the dangers of hot taking. I went out on a limb by picking a Padres stack against Madison Bumgarner, and it failed spectacularly. While I’m now more more inclined to use the San Francisco southpaw in Wednesday night’s 11-game FantasyDraft slate, cheaper alternatives caught my eye.
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Does Kyle Gibson have your attention yet? The 30-year-old righty has registered 2.32 ERA in his last six starts, bolstering his 2018 mark to 3.25. That comes with a 3.91 FIP, but also a 23.3 K%, 11.0 % swinging-strike rate, and 47.9% ground-ball rate. Regression can wait until after he encounters the White Sox, who have struck out in a quarter of their plate appearances to righties as of Tuesday night.
Value SP: Ivan Nova ($13,700) at New York Mets
Happy Nola day! Wait, that says Nova? Oh, well that’s significantly less appealing. What the heck, let’s roll with Ivan anyway. Take away their trip to Coors, and the Mets have mustered 50 runs in 19 Junes games. Their offense especially features little bite if Brandon Nimmo misses his third straight start due to a finger injury. Nova, meanwhile, has permitted three runs in his last three starts. The veteran righty has notched a .208 wOBA with 19 strikeouts in 19.2 June innings after tossing eight shutout frames against Arizona. An atrocious May highlighted Nova’s downside, but a command pitcher with a 3.98 ERA and 49.4 % ground-ball rate should be able to exploit a reeling lineup that inexcusably continues to start Jose Reyes. Yet the opposing Zack Wheeler, who faces a slumping Pirates lineup after compiling 15 strikeouts in his last two turns, is also an intriguing value at $12,800.
Honorable Mention: Zack Wheeler ($12,800) vs. PIT
Choosing Gibson and Nova leaves plenty of dough to spend on offense, so spare no expense for Paul Goldschmidt. The law of averages has spent all of June profusely apologizing for the star’s woeful May (.144/.252/.278), as he’s batting .380/.477/.804 with 10 homers in 22 sizzling games. The purveyor of a career .434 wOBA versus lefties will tee off against Wei-Yen Chen, who has ceded eight homers and a .398 wOBA to righties in 2018. This is a clear high-end chalk play, so it’s surprising that Goldschmidt merely ties Aaron Judge as the pool’s fifth-most expensive hitter behind other studs with tougher matchups.
Nicholas Castellanos’s OPS dropped from .899 to .917 from June 5 to 15. He has since gone 11-for-33 with five walks and four homers. The outfielder has repaired his OPS to .858 by tallying two hits (one a double) in each of his last three contests. Chris Bassitt made his season debut with seven strong innings against the feeble Royals, but he has since capitulated 13 hits and 11 runs (six earned) in two starts against the Angels and White Sox. Don’t let a 29-year-old spot starter stand in the way of playing a burgeoning star brandishing MLB’s fifth-highest hard-hit % for $8,200.
Honestly, you don’t necessarily need to dig this deep for any hitter. But let’s say you’re trotting out Bumgarner and want to flank Goldschmidt with a top-heavy lineup. Danny Valencia, a career .310/.370/.492 hitter against lefties, is too good to pass up at this price. After taking ace James Paxton deep last night, he’ll face a far friendlier southpaw in Wade LeBlanc, who came crashing down to earth with 11 hits and six runs relinquished last Friday. His .346 xwOBA forebodes further regression, but his 3.26 ERA spared Valencia from the typical salary spike accompanying a left-handed opponent. Even without considering his lengthy track record of crushing southpaws, $6,300 is still awfully cheap for a .287/.354/.467 hitter.
There’s enough offensive firepower dispersed throughout the slate that I’m not compelled to stack any team in a cash contest. Yet whether you’re seeking some affordable studs or low-end bargains, the Athletics have you covered. Only Masahiro Tanaka and Ian Kennedy have dispensed more home runs since the start of 2017 than Mike Fiers, who has given up 16 long balls in 14 starts this season. Lefties (.346 wOBA) and righties (.351 wOBA) have both enjoyed success against the 33-year-old in 2018, so nobody is beyond consideration. Having last recorded an extra-base hit since June 14, Khris Davis comes at a $8,800 discount despite his .367 wOBA versus fellow righties. His teammates, meanwhile, are on fire. Matt Olson costs just $8,000 despite going yard eight times this month. After touching them all on Sunday and Monday, Jed Lowrie ($8,600) has produced four homers and three doubles in his last 11 games. Stephen Piscotty ($7,500) is batting .311/.395/.554 in June with more homers (four) than the previous two months combined. And don’t forget about Dustin Fowler ($7,600) and Matt Joyce ($6,500), who should both start with the platoon advantage.
Honorable Mentions: Mariners at Orioles (Cobb); Rangers vs. Padres (Richard); Orioles vs. SEA (LeBlanc)