A rarity given MLB’s scheduling quirks, all 30 teams will play on Tuesday night. DFS managers can take plenty of paths toward constructing a winning lineup, the smoothest revolving around one of the evening’s two aces.
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Top SP: Gerrit Cole ($24,600) vs. San Francisco Giants
There’s enough pitching value to shun both top aces, but Chris Sale and Gerrit Cole will duel for the evening’s top billing. The main distinction between both AL Cy Young candidates? One-thousand dollars. There’s no sale on Sale, who costs $25,600 against a sneakily solid Rays lineup. For $1,000 less, Cole faces a Giants lineup with a 24.7 % strikeout rate, MLB’s fifth-highest clip as of Monday night. He didn’t validate last Tuesday’s recommendation (5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) against the Angels, but it’s a testament to his dominant season that his worst start wasn’t all that bad. He still has a sweet 1.75 ERA, 1.95 FIP, and 34.7 K-BB% that ties Max Scherzer atop the leaderboard. Look for a strong bounce-back outing.
Honorable Mention: Chris Sale ($25,600) at TB
Value SP: Caleb Smith ($13,000) at New York Mets
The Mets are missing Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier, and Juan Lagares, leaving them devoid of consequential right-handed bats. As of Monday night, they held baseball’s worst wOBA against lefties (.268) with a 26.7 strikeout % and 69 wRC+ that’s far from nice. That’s great news for southpaw Caleb Smith, who has submitted the same strikeout % (31.5) as James Paxton. While he has issued too many walks (12.7%) and hard hits (38.6%), this is a tremendous matchup made better by a minuscule $13,000 price tag.
Remember when Jesus Aguilar was a platoon player boxed out of any playing time? Now he’s Milwaukee’s No. 3 hitter and most dangerous bat, boasting a .321/.382/.585 slash line in 123 plate appearances. Previously limited to reps against lefties, he has smacked six of his seven homers off righties while Eric Thames and Ryan Braun watch from the DL. A juicy home bout awaits against Matt Koch, the purveyor of a 45.5 % hard-hit rate, 5.8 swinging-strike % and .424 xwOBA. The righty has relinquished a .529 career slugging percentage against same-handed hitters, so a platoon edge isn’t needed to utilize Aguilar.
Don’t get blinded by an old-fashioned “change of scenery” narrative. Matt Harvey is still a mess. Following an impressive four-inning Reds debut, he yielded seven hits and three runs in as many frames against the Giants, moving his ERA to 6.17. Brandon Belt marked the fifth lefty to take him deep, so the former Mets ace is now on the hook for a .625 slugging percentage against them in 2018. (It was .599 last year.) I nearly wrote up Gregory Polanco, but Corey Dickerson is $700 cheaper at $7,800 despite hitting a superior .307/.343/.494. The Pittsburgh outfielder has drastically diminished his strikeout % without sacrificing significant power, and he certainly can’t complain about taking a field trip from PNC Park to Great American Ball Park.
Welcome back, Matt Carpenter. The infielder has suddenly snapped out of an ice-cold funk by batting 13-for-24 with seven doubles and a homer over his last six games. To those monitoring his xwOBA (.408) and hard-hit rate (44.7%), the revival is hardly a surprise. Having reclaimed his valuable No. 2 spot in the batting order, he should stay hot against Jason Hammel, who enters Thursday’s Missouri matchup with a 6.28 ERA and 44.3 % hard-hit rate. He has allowed 10 hits in two of his past three starts and nine runs in the other, so the resurgent Carpenter represents a tremendous bargain at $6,500.
Lineup Stack: Houston Astros vs. San Francisco Giants (LHP Andrew Suarez)
There are worse pitchers to target than Andrew Suarez, who saunters into Tuesday with 28 strikeouts and five walks over his first five career MLB starts. He’s also a 25-year-old rookie who has served up six homers and a .424 wOBA to the righties. He’ll leave AT&T Park’s cozy confines to face the Astros under AL rules, and FantasyDraft appears a tad too confident in a fringe prospect taming the defending champions. To any readers celebrating a birthday, your present is Carlos Correa for $8,400. Even for an extra $600, George Springer is well worth the investment because of his career .399 wOBA versus southpaws. Although yet to unlock his superstar ceiling, Alex Bregman is batting .273/.368/.500 in 18 May games with a career .291/.368/.496 slash line against lefties. That makes him another easy choice for just $7,500. Still stuck at two homers in 211 plate appearances, Jose Altuve ($9,600) is nevertheless the most expensive option. It’s thus reasonable to contain the stack to his three teammates, but the second baseman has scattered nine hits (three doubles) over his last six games. Trust the two years of elite power over two mundane months.
Honorable Mentions: Orioles at White Sox (Shields); Nationals vs. Padres (Lauer)