Runs will be plentiful on Thursday night. Seven of the dozen probable starters enter the evening brandishing an xwOBA of .340 or higher. The clear top option, Clayton Kershaw’s $23,200 salary will compromise efforts to exploit his vulnerable peers.
That dubious stat doesn’t include Steven Matz and Sandy Alcantara, originally scheduled to start before rain derailed Wednesday’s scheduled doubleheader. The slate could lose its two best (and only) value options depending on how the Mets, Marlins, and FantasyDraft process a second attempt at playing two. It looks like the second game, likely still featuring those same hurlers, will count.
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Top SP: Eduardo Rodriguez ($18,000) vs. Toronto Blue Jays
This space didn’t go to Kershaw because 1) He’s expensive and 2) Nobody needs to be told about Kershaw. It’s probably best to pay the premium for him in 50/50 and double-up contests. There’s a steep drop off after the ace, but Eduardo Rodriguez is a strong option in his own right. Before getting tattooed by an Astros lineup that feasts on southpaws, he recorded a dozen strikeouts in his return from the DL against the White Sox. The Blue Jays are neither not as good as Houston or as bad as Chicago. They did, however, just get blanked by David Price last night. Rodriguez’s 26.1 K% justifies the risks associated with his lower floor, and he doesn’t cost too much considering the troubling alternatives.
Honorable Mention: Clayton Kershaw ($23,300) at STL
Value SP: Steven Matz ($16,200) vs. Miami Marlins
Matz is an easy pick if he’s still starting the night game. He has tossed a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts while submitting 31 strikeouts and five walks in 24 innings. The Marlins entered Wednesday night wielding a .289 wOBA against lefties, and this will mark their third bout in 24 hours.
Honorable Mention: Sandy Alcantara ($14,800) at NYM
IF/OF Whit Merrifield ($9,200) vs. Minnesota Twins (LHP Steven Gonsalves)
There’s bad, and there’s Stephen Gonsalves. The lefty has forfeited 24 hits, 13 walks, and 19 runs (16 earned) in 12.1 frames to open his big league career. Opponents are hitting .414/.528/.621 against Kansas City’s neophyte. Taking this horrendous start into account, Whit Merrifield is undervalued at $9,200. As if he even needed a splits advantage, he has upped his career slash line against southpaws to .375 with a .362/.406/.540 slash line this season. Minnesota’s bullpen has mustered a 4.63 ERA, so it’s hardly disaster if the leadoff hitter only gets to see Gonsalves twice. He’s, unfortunately, the ransacked team’s only active hitter with a wRC+ above 100 versus lefties, and Adalberto Mondesi’s price skyrocketed to $9,000 because of the matchup. That makes a stack difficult, but Jorge Bonifacio is playable for just $6,500.
Justin Upton has produced three hits (both singles) in six games since returning from a concussion. That must be why he costs just $7,400 despite batting .270/.365/.501 against righties this season. Mike Leake has conversely struggled against same-handed opponents (.275/.318/.482, 16 home runs), and the outfielder has earned a .450 wOBA in their 33 encounters. Shohei Ohtani ($8,000) and Andrelton Simmons ($7,400) are priced well enough to form an affordable stack. Those who fade Kershaw should try to fit Mike Trout ($10,400) into their lineups.
Kyle Seager is dirt cheap for a reason: He’s been unfathomably awful this season. No qualified third baseman harnesses a worse wOBA, and he’s still trying to clear the Mendoza Line against righties. How’s that for an endorsement? He also popped his 21st homer last night after doubling on Tuesday, so maybe a long-overdue hot streak awaits. Although the Angels nearly collaborated for a no-hitter when bullpening on Tuesday, the unit still collectively sport a 4.34 FIP, 12.9 K-BB%, and 37.4% hard-hit rate as of Wednesday.
Lineup Stack: Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals (LHP Austin Gomber)
It will be difficult to afford the Dodgers’s hitter if you instead prioritize their ace. Yet their righties are available for great rates because lefty Austin Gomber has limited them to a .291 wOBA early his career. He also possesses a 12.2 % walk rate and .267 BABIP against them, so it’s a small-sample blip to exploit:
- Manny Machado ($9,000): I’d have to consider playing Machado for $9,000 against a borderline All-Star. Gomber has generated a 2.93 ERA, but a 4.73 SIERA and .357 xwOBA should arouse plenty of suspicions.
- Justin Turner ($8,700): Turner is batting .344/.453/.563 against lefties and .374/.466/.683 since the All-Star break. At least play him if not interested in a full stack.
- Brian Dozier ($7,400): I’m going to keep covering my eyes to his 2018 downfall and hope the guy with a career .366 wOBA against lefties shows up.
Honorable Mentions: A’s at Orioles (Bundy); Twins at Royals (Fillmyer)