There’s baseball happening all day today, but for the purposes of this particular article, we’re elitist. We only care about the nine games happening past 7:00 p.m. ET. Apologies to the Mets, the Braves and the Mariners. No apologies to the Royals, though. You know what you did.
Let’s break down some studs and some values.
Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox, $10,000 - McClanahan is the most expensive pitcher on tonight’s slate, yet he’s still arguably too cheap at just $10K. We’re simply discussing an asset that is in the midst of an almost unprecedented run. Dating back to May 11 — a stretch of 11 starts for the left-hander — McClanahan has registered a 1.13 ERA, a 2.18 FIP and a 35.6% strikeout rate across 72.0 innings of work. This run of success includes holding opponents to a modest .206 wOBA, only allowing more than a single earned run in one of the 11 appearances and, crucially, never striking out fewer than seven opposing hitters in an outing. McClanahan’s been a model of consistency. I don’t care that Boston has a dangerous lineup.
Jon Gray, Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics, $7,700 - Since June 1, there are four qualified pitchers in the American League who are averaging over 10.0 strikeouts per nine: McClanahan, Dylan Cease, Gerrit Cole and Jon Gray. In fact, in Gray’s past eight starts, the veteran has maintained a 2.96 ERA and a 29.5% strikeout rate. Those are fantastic numbers. Numbers you’d think would make you a $9K option on most slates. I guess not. In any case, Gray will be super popular on Wednesday due to his opponent: The lowly Athletics. Even with its extra innings outburst on Tuesday, Oakland comes into this contest sitting dead-last in both OPS (.589) and wOBA (.261) against RHPs for 2022 as a whole.
Corey Seager, Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics, $5,100 - It’s only been 50 plate appearances, but Seager’s really turned it on so far in July, hitting .349 with a .419 ISO and a 223 wRC+. Heck, the shortstop has now his a home run in five consecutive games. I’d call it normalization after some early season struggles, as Seager comes into Wednesday sitting in the 95th percentile or better in both expected wOBA (.408) and expected slugging (.605). The matchup is good, too. Paul Blackburn ($6,100) has conceded a .392 wOBA to LHBs across his past eight outings.
Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies, $4,400 - While Cronenworth has struggled to hit in San Diego this season, his numbers on the road are exemplary. In his 213 plate appearances within the split, Cronenworth is slashing .296/.371/.478 with a 136 wRC+. This isn’t just any old road game, either. This is Coors Field. Between the altitude and the fact that Chad Kuhl ($5,800) has surrendered a .351 wOBA to opposing LHBs, Cronenworth’s in a real nice spot.
Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles at Chicago Cubs, $3,600 - Like the aforementioned Seager, Mountcastle’s advanced stats are more pretty than his surface ones. The first baseman comes into this slate sitting in the 96th percentile in expected batting average (.310) and the 95th percentile in barrel rate (15.7%). In layman’s terms, he’s been absolutely crushing the baseball. I’d expect those trends to continue this evening in a matchup with the left-handed Justin Steele ($9,200). Since the start of last season, Mountcastle owns a .243 ISO and a 121 wRC+ against southpaws.
Editor’s Note: Yankees OF/SS Marwin Gonzalez is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Reds.
Marwin Gonzalez, New York Yankees vs. Cincinnati Reds , $2,400 - With the injury to Aaron Hicks ($3,000) in Tuesday’s loss, I have a feeling Gonzalez will find his way into the Yankees’ lineup this evening. I mean, I’d put him in there if I were Aaron Boone. The veteran switch-hitter has been at his best against LHPs in 2022, slashing .300/.364/.475 with a 141 wRC+ in his 45 plate appearances within the split. Also noteworthy? Mike Minor ($6,400) is surrendering 2.84 home runs per nine through seven starts. Yikes.
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees vs. Cincinnati Reds, $6,300 - You can’t pay up for Judge every night, but this seems like one of the times to splurge. Not only does Judge lead the league in virtually every single statistical category, but as mentioned above, Minor’s having an awful season. The left-hander is giving up a putrid 3.28 home runs per nine to opposing RHBs, which has translated into righties owning a massive .660 slugging percentage off the veteran. Minor’s cooked and Judge should be the beneficiary on Wednesday.
Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Guardians, $5,200 - It’s been gradual, but Robert is starting to look dangerous again for the White Sox. Since June 28, Robert is slashing .293/.339/.534 with a .241 ISO and a 148 wRC+ in 62 plate appearances. He’s also managed multiple hits in four of his last eight contests. Considering that Aaron Civale ($5,400) has allowed opposing RHBs to hit .303 with a .374 wOBA in 2022, I’d say Robert has a good chance to keep the good times rolling on Wednesday.
Franmil Reyes, Cleveland Guardians vs. Chicago White Sox, $3,400 - Look, Franmil is obviously a high-ceiling, low-floor asset. You know what you’re getting when you put him into a lineup. Still, if you’re going hunting for a cheap home run, you could do worse on Wednesday. In his past eight starts, Lucas Giolito ($7,900) has allowed RHBs to slash .324/.406/.667 with a .450 wOBA. If you’re wondering, that’s mostly due to 3.00 long balls per nine within the split.
Nomar Mazara, San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies, $2,100 - Do I think Mazara is actually a good hitter? Definitely not. However, despite the long track record we have, the veteran has been decent as a member of the Padres, hitting .316 with a 130 wRC+ across his first 32 games. It’s been a hot enough start that Mazara’s found himself hitting in the middle of San Diego’s order against RHPs, even batting in the three-spot this past Monday. At this price, at Coors Field, that’s all you need to be viable.
TEAMS TO STACK
Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics - With as much attention as the Yankees and the Padres will get, I think a pivot to the Rangers as your primary stack could be beneficial. Paul Blackburn has struggled of late, pitching to a 5.19 ERA over his past eight starts. Specifically, he’s had his issues with LHBs, and Texas is loaded with options from that side of the plate. Seager, Nathaniel Lowe ($3,400), Kole Calhoun ($3,300) and Josh Smith ($2,900) are all in advantageous situations.
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