Things are starting to get real in the world of baseball, ladies and gentlemen. Heck, the World Series schedule was announced yesterday. If that isn’t a signal that these next six weeks are chalked full of meaningful games, I don’t know what does.
Specific to tonight, we’ve got 13 very meaningful games on DraftKings’ featured slate. Let’s dive into some studs and some values.
Robbie Ray, Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels, $9,500 - I’m not even really sure how to describe the Angels anymore. The team’s ninth inning performance in Monday’s loss was comical, yet it probably wasn’t even the low-point for their season. It’s that bad in Anaheim. Things don’t project to get any better on Tuesday, as Los Angeles is set to square off with a red-hot Robbie Ray. The reigning AL Cy Young winner has been masterful across his last 11 starts — particularly if you ignore a pair of clunkers against the Astros — pitching to a 2.77 ERA and a 30.4% strikeout rate. I expect him to dominate an Angels lineup that’s posted the third-lowest wRC+ against left-handed pitching in 2022 (82).
Justin Steele, Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals, $6,200 - I’m curious to see how Steele’s ownership shakes out. He’s obviously undervalued and in a great matchup; yet tonight’s slate is stacked at the top with high-upside pitching options. Will people want to trek this far down the pricing list? They should. Steele’s been fantastic all season for Chicago, managing a 3.28 FIP over his 21 starts. Plus, in the lefty’s last eight outings, he’s averaged an eye-popping 11.2 strikeouts per nine. Simply put, that’s the type of ceiling you don’t normally see this close to $6K. Going up against a feckless Nationals’ roster, I like Steele to show out in a big way.
Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Colorado Rockies, $6,100 - Here’s the reason Goldschmidt is the favorite in the NL MVP race: He’s absolutely destroyed left-handed pitching in 2022. In fact, in 99 plate appearances within the split, Goldschmidt is hitting .432 with a .383 ISO and a 269 wRC+. Those aren’t even video game numbers. They’re beyond that. Considering Kyle Freeland ($5,600) has struggled to a 5.94 ERA across his last six appearances, look for Goldschmidt to keep crushing southpaws on Tuesday evening.
Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers, $4,800 - I’m not sure if I can definitively say that 2021 was better than 2022 — the last three years have sort of all just blended together — but last season did have a lot more opportunities to stack against Kohei Arihara ($5,400), who will finally be making his first start of this season on Tuesday night. Arihara was terrible in his 10 big league starts, pitching to an ugly 8.21 xERA and surrendering 19 opponent barrels in just 40.2 innings. Arihara also gave up a .652 slugging percentage to RHBs, which is where Murphy comes into the picture. Oakland’s backstop has registered a 153 wRC+ since July 1. Let’s just say he’s been seeing the ball well as of late.
Luis Arraez, Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals, $3,800 - We’re reaching the end of Zack Greinke ($5,300) as an MLB pitcher, and the last few weeks haven’t always been pretty. To wit, since the beginning of July, opponents are hitting .310 off the future Hall of Fame enshrinee, as Greinke’s pitched to an inflated 1.54 WHIP. In that same span, LHBs are slashing .377/.400/.491. Yikes. That should mean good things for Arraez, who comes into tonight’s contest batting .353 with a 157 wRC+ off of right-handed pitching in 2022.
Terrin Vavra, Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays, $2,600 - Vavra seems cemented into the five-spot in the Orioles’ lineup when the team is facing a right-handed opponent. It makes sense, as the rookie is hitting .310 with a 126 wRC+ within the split in a limited sample, while Vavra also compiled a .403 wOBA this season at Triple-A. The man can hit. He’s left-handed, too, which is the way to attack Alek Manoah ($9,200). In fact, despite a sterling 2.56 ERA, Manoah’s pitched to a 4.73 xFIP against LHBs.
Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Colorado Rockies, $4,900 - Even with how underwhelming O’Neill’s 2022 campaign has been as a whole, he’s still managed to hit lefties pretty well. In 60 plate appearances within the split, the Canadian is slashing .283/.350/.434 with a 124 wRC+. O’Neill has also hit second in St. Louis’ lineup the last two times the team has faced a southpaw, which dramatically raises his DFS ceiling.
Editor’s Note: Cubs OF Ian Happ is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Nationals.
Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals, $4,300 - I guess the Nationals could only push Patrick Corbin ($5,800) and his next start so far back. It’s been 10 days since the veteran left-hander took the mound, and it isn’t difficult to figure out why Washington might’ve been a little gun-shy. Corbin’s conceded 26 earned runs in his last 15.2 innings of work, with opposing RHBs averaging 4.4 home runs per nine within that stretch. Woof. Happ, who has hit .333 as a right-hander in 2022, should have a field day.
Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels, $3,900 - Haniger’s looked extremely good since returning from a lengthy IL stint, picking up a hit in all nine games he’s appeared. That translates to a 195 wRC+ in a 39 plate appearance sample. Tonight, Haniger and the Mariners face the left-handed Jose Suarez ($7,000). In 229 PAs last season, Haniger slashed .286/.349/.571 with a .921 OPS against southpaws. Needless to say, I think the veteran outfielder is underpriced.
Cal Stevenson, Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers, $2,000 - I can not emphasis this enough, but Stevenson only has value on tonight’s slate if he’s hitting leadoff. Even I’m not crazy enough to recommend using the Athletics’ eight-hole hitter, though Arihara’s 2021 statistics are almost that bad. Stevenson draws an opposite-hand matchup this evening, and though I usually wouldn’t love a DFS asset with a walk rate this high, the 25-year-old possesses the speed to do some damage on the base paths. At the bare minimum, you could do a whole lot worse.
TEAMS TO STACK
Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals - Could Corbin be somewhat better with extra rest? Maybe. I guess anything is possible. Plus, “better” isn’t exactly a high bar for the lefty. In Corbin’s last six starts, opposing RHBs have combined to slash .413/.472/.713 with a .504 wOBA. He’s literally throwing batting practice out there. Happ, Willson Contreras ($5,700) and Patrick Wisdom ($5,300) are all high upside plays on this slate, while I’d also keep an eye on Franmil Reyes ($2,800) and Nick Madrigal ($2,500), with the latter likely to be hitting leadoff on Tuesday.
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