We’ve made it to the final week of the MLB regular season and — as usual — the pitching options aren’t all that impressive for a late September evening of baseball. Heck, I truly never thought I’d see the day where Zach Davies ($9,900) was the most expensive starter on an 11-game featured slate.
In any event, let’s break it all down position-by-position.
Framber Valdez, HOU at SEA, $9,700 - Valdez has had a few disappointing outings over the past couple of weeks, but his ceiling still remains incredibly high. Among qualified pitchers, the 26-year-old’s 3.02 xFIP is the ninth-lowest mark in all of baseball, while Valdez’s 26.1% strikeout rate has helped him exceed 20.0 DKFP in seven of his last nine appearances. There’s also the matter of matchup. Though Seattle is a desperate team playing for its postseason life, the Mariners come into Tuesday with an MLB-low .274 wOBA against LHPs. Seems like the perfect spot for Valdez to thrive.
Brady Singer, KC vs. STL, $6,900 - After back-to-back starts with 30-plus DKFP, I get the impression that Singer is going to be a popular play on a slate that lacks strong pitching options. Still, the rookie has been nearly perfect as of late, surrendering just three hits and no earned runs over his past 14.0 innings of work. Singer is far from a finished product — he basically has a two-pitch repertoire — but his slider has become more effective as the year’s dragged along. In fact, while the offering had only a 14.6% whiff rate in his first six outings of 2020, that figure has increased to 19.6% since Aug. 29. Against a Cardinals squad that definitely prefers drawing left-handed opponents, Singer is viable.
Other Options: Kyle Freeland ($7,200), Keegan Akin ($6,300)
Sal Perez, KC vs. STL, $4,700 - Perez hasn’t skipped a beat since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2020, as the veteran catcher comes into tonight’s slate with a .278 ISO and a 170 wRC+ in his 131 plate appearances. Specifically, Perez has taken advantage of his opportunities against LHPs, slashing .346/.370/.808, which means he should be looking forward to seeing Austin Gomber ($5,600) on Tuesday. You also know Perez is going to be aggressive in the box, as evidenced by a massive 59.1% swing rate.
Other Options: Mitch Garver ($4,300), Willson Contreras ($4,200)
Chance Sisco, BAL at BOS, $3,300 - Nick Pivetta is set to make his Red Sox debut this evening, which is great news for any player who happens to be wearing a Baltimore Orioles uniform. The right-hander has been scuffling since all the way back in 2018, a span of time where Pivetta has conceded a whopping 1.83 home runs per nine to left-handed opponents. Heck, Pivetta gave up four extra-base hits to the 11 LHBs he saw while pitching out of Philadelphia’s bullpen earlier this season. Sisco could be a really nice value.
Other Option: Jorge Alfaro ($3,400)
Cody Bellinger, LAD vs. OAK, $5,600 - It total, it’s been an underwhelming campaign for the reigning National League MVP, but Bellinger is currently riding a six-game hitting streak coming into tonight’s action. That bodes well for his fantasy prospects in a tantalizing matchup with Frankie Montas ($8,500). The 27-year-old simply hasn’t been able to consistently retire lefties in 2020, as Montas has allowed the 97 he’s faced to slash .349/.433/.639. In contrast, RHBs are slugging a microscopic .276 off of Oakland’s starter.
Other Options: Max Muncy ($5,300), Matt Olson ($5,100)
Bobby Dalbec, BOS vs. BAL, $3,800 - While there’s so, so much swing-and-miss in Dalbec’s profile, the rookie does provide a massive amount of upside at this price. The 25-year-old has managed seven home runs and eight barrels in his first 61 major league at-bats, culminating in an eye-popping .377 ISO. On top of that, Dalbec posted an OPS of well above .900 against LHPs in the minors last season and, on Sunday, he hit clean up for the first time in his career. There’s a lot to like here.
Other Option: Ryan Mountcastle ($3,700)
Tommy La Stella, OAK at LAD, $5,200 - I don’t think you really need to drop a ton of salary at the top-end of the second base on this slate, but, if you have the means, La Stella isn’t in a terrible spot. The Athletics’ leadoff man — who is hitting .324 with a 140 wRC+ since Sept. 5 — draws Dustin May ($9,300), an RHP that has had his issues with lefties at the MLB level. In fact, while May’s maintained a 0.76 WHIP against right-handed opponents, that mark jumps to 1.54 versus LHBs for his career.
Other Option: Brandon Lowe ($5,800)
Donovan Solano, SF vs. COL, $3,900 - I keep thinking that Solano’s numbers will fall off at a certain point, but the 32-year-old just keeps hitting. To wit, so far in September, Solano is batting .367 with a .403 wOBA and a 158 wRC+. Tonight he draws an opposite-hand matchup in Freeland and, more than likely, he’ll do so batting from the top-third of the Giants’ lineup. It’s hard to ask for more from an asset priced below $4K.
Other Option: Wilmer Flores ($3,400)
Josh Donaldson, MIN vs. DET, $4,100 - Donaldson might be one of the most undervalued assets on this slate. We know the former American League MVP possesses upside, but it’s not like we have to go back to 2015 to see the proof. Since Donaldson returned from the IL on Sept. 2, the 34-year-old has taken 65 plate appearances. In that sample, he’s managed a 1.012 OPS and a 170 wRC+. Considering he also draws the left-handed Tarik Skubal ($6,800) and a Tigers’ bullpen that’s pitched to a 6.55 ERA in the month, Donaldson’s salary should be a lot closer to $5K.
Other Options: Manny Machado ($5,700), Alex Bregman ($4,800)
Ke’Bryan Hayes, PIT vs. CHC, $3,600 - All Hayes has done since coming to the big leagues is hit. The rookie comes into tonight’s matchup with Jose Quintana ($7,100) with a 160 wRC+ and a 94.1 mph average exit velocity — a figure that’s actually the fifth-highest in baseball among players with at least 25 batted ball events. He’s likely due for a little regression at some point, but it’s an enticing DFS profile when you add in that’s Hayes has also cemented himself in the two-spot of the Pirates’ lineup.
Other Option: Nate Lowe ($3,800)
Corey Seager, LAD vs. OAK, $5,500 - As mentioned above, Montas has had his problems with left-handed batters in 2020. That’s a huge red flag when facing the Dodgers, as the team is essentially a never-ending parade of potent LHBs. Seager, in particular, comes into Tuesday’s slate leading the league in expected slugging percentage (.706) and sitting in the 99th percentile in expected batting average and expected wOBA. Good luck handling him, Frankie.
Other Options: Trevor Story ($5,600), Miguel Rojas ($4,500)
Nick Ahmed, ARI vs. TEX, $3,800 - Generally speaking, you’d want to be using Ahmed in a matchup against a left-handed starter, but the presence of Jordan Lyles ($6,500) supersedes that usual rule. The RHP has been unbelievably awful in 2020, with his 6.10 xFIP the second-worst mark of the 97 pitchers who have thrown at least 40.0 innings. Plus, to Ahmed’s credit, he’s been pretty hot in September, slashing .311/.373/.459 in his 67 plate appearances in the month.
Kole Calhoun, ARI vs. TEX, $4,500 - We can focus solely on the fact that Calhoun’s hit six home runs in his past six games, but in all honesty, the veteran has been mashing right-handed pitching all season long. Among the 208 players with at least 100 plate appearances within the split in 2020, Calhoun’s .428 expected wOBA is the 11th-highest. His .333 ISO against righties is also the seventh-highest qualified figure in all of baseball. With the struggling Lyles on the mound for Texas, I have no issues going back to the LHB.
Other Options: Nelson Cruz ($5,400), George Springer ($4,700)
Pavin Smith, ARI vs. TEX, $2,900 - Smith is someone that’s you’re definitely going to need to keep an eye on as lock rolls around. The rookie hit second in the Diamondbacks’ batting order in Sunday’s loss to Houston and, if he were to do that against Lyles, he would obviously have a nice amount of value. However, his viability is 100% tied to that high-leverage lineup positioning; even with the pedigree of being a former first-round pick.
Other Options: Tommy Pham ($3,700), Corey Dickerson ($3,700)
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