I know. I know. Football starts tomorrow. Heck, there’s a pretty good chance that if you’re reading this, you have your final fantasy draft of the season starting in a couple hours. You don’t have time to worry about who Javier Assad ($6,100), Cole Ragans ($5,800) and Cory Abbott ($5,600) are. I hear you and I see you, reader.
I’m going to do the worrying for you. Here’s some studs and values for tonight’s six-game slate.
Yu Darvish, San Diego Padres vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, $10,000 - All three pitchers priced above $10K have their flaws, but I believe Darvish possesses the most raw upside of the trio. After starting the season slowly in the strikeout department, Darvish has looked much more like himself in his last 12 appearances, managing and elite 29.8% strikeout rate across 80.1 innings of work. Not surprisingly, that’s translated into a very solid 3.18 FIP. Darvish has also been at his best pitching at Petco Park in 2022, where he sports a 2.29 ERA and has held opponents to a meager .229 wOBA. Combine that with his reserve-split dominance of left-handed hitters, and Darvish should be able to handle a young D-Backs lineup.
Javier Assad, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, $6,100 - This is not a deep slate when it comes to pitching, so you’ll have to overlook some red flags when it comes to Assad. The rookie’s 0.90 ERA is primarily the result of a completely unstable strand rate, while Assad’s registered the same number of walks (6) as strikeouts (6) through his first 10.0 innings of action. Still, Assad’s stuff is good and he’s shown an ability to miss bats in the strike zone. I think better times are on the horizon. Also, the Reds just straight up can not hit RHPs. For the season as a whole, Cincinnati owns an 84 wRC+ within the split, but that includes positive contributions from Tyler Stephenson, Tyler Naquin and Brandon Drury. What’s left of the roster has been even worse.
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers, $5,900 - It’s nice to know there are things you can bank on. Things you can rely on. For instance, Altuve’s ability to absolutely smash southpaw pitchers. This season, in 136 plate appearances within the split, the All-Star has mustered a .358 ISO to go along with a 207 wRC+. Yeah. Altuve is basically Aaron Judge when he’s facing a lefty, which if nothing else, allows me an opportunity to show this photo again.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles, $5,500 - At a certain point, you just have to ride the wave. Bichette has been a man possessed in this series against the Orioles, sitting with 10 hits, four home runs and nine RBI in his first 15 plate appearances. For the season, Bichette is now slashing .365/.377/.750 with six long balls against Baltimore. That’s pretty good. With Tyler Wells ($5,500) likely limited coming off the IL and the Orioles’ bullpen exhausted, there’s really no reason for Bichette to cool off on Wednesday, either.
Nico Hoerner, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, $3,500 - There’s a couple things to know about Hoerner. First and foremost, he’s been excellent against LHPs in 2022, managing a 123 wRC+ within the split in his 120 plate appearances. Second, he can contribute as a DFS asset in a number of ways, as he’s swiped eight bases since the All-Star break — the eighth-most in that span of time. Then there’s Mike Minor ($6,800), who’s allowing 2.34 home runs per nine to opposing RHBs this season. Yikes.
Brendan Donovan, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals, $2,800 - Donovan will likely be hitting second in the Cardinals’ lineup tonight, in a prime matchup against Cory Abbott. The 26-year-old has struggled when moving from the bullpen to the Nationals’ rotation, as Abbott’s surrendered 2.41 home runs per nine and a .500 opponent slugging percentage in his four starts. He’s also had most of his issues with LHBs, which only increases Donovan’s value.
George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles, $5,700 - It’s sort of unclear what’s happening tonight in Baltimore. Dean Kremer was scratched, and it was announced that Wells would be starting tonight’s game, despite only throwing 31 pitches in his most recent rehab start. That’s compounded by the fact that the Orioles’ relievers have been worked to the bone the past two days, with Game 2 of Monday’s doubleheader just a straight bullpen affair. So as much as Springer’s viability is about him being good — he owns a 131 wRC+ this season — the Jays might simply benefit from circumstance this evening. Keep an eye.
Joey Meneses, Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals, $4,600 - For as good as Jordan Montgomery ($9,200) has been in a Cardinals’ uniform, he’s still left-handed, and Meneses has manhandled southpaws in his brief time in the majors. In fact, in 48 plate appearances within the split, the rookie is hitting .432 with eight extra-base hits. That’s translated into a .318 ISO and a 240 wRC+. It’s a small sample, but one that’s hard to ignore.
Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, $3,800 - Happ’s an above-average hitter from both side of the plate, but in 2022, he’s clearly been at his best as an RHB. In 118 plate appearances against southpaws, Happ has registered a .327 average and a 138 wRC+. So, with Minor conceding a massive .404 wOBA to opposing right-handed hitters this season, Happ should be in a position to thrive.
Lars Nootbar, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals, $3,500 - Since the beginning of July, Nootbar has a .304 ISO and a 172 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. It’s primarily the reason that he’s batting leadoff for a stacked Cardinals team. Tonight he’ll draw another RHP in the form of Abbott, a man who has given up a .510 slugging percentage to LHBs in 2022. Between the matchup, the price tag and Nootbar’s lineup spot, he’s an obvious target on Wednesday.
TEAMS TO STACK
Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds - This doesn’t have to be overly complex. The Cubs’ bats are dirt cheap and Mike Minor has been awful in 2022. End of story. Happ, Hoerner, Seiya Suzuki ($4,000) and Franmil Reyes ($2,600) are all viable, while Chicago could also receive a huge boost if Willson Contreras ($5,000; ankle) is available. In 116 plate appearances against lefties this season, Contreras has produced a .323 ISO.
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