It’s the final Friday of the MLB regular season and the first day of October. I know that Autumn technically began on Sept. 22 in the Northern Hemisphere, but goodness if it doesn’t actually feel like it starts today. To commemorate the occasion, we’ve got a massive 14-game slate that gets going at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you’ll need to know.
Ranger Suarez, Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins, $8,800 - It’s impossible to not be impressed with what Suarez has accomplished so far in 2021. After beginning the season as a lock-down reliever, Suarez made the transition to the rotation and simply continued pitching at an elite level. The left-hander has made 11 starts, managing a 1.69 ERA and a 2.44 FIP. He’s also registered a respectable 24.0% strikeout rate in those 11 outings, but the true key to his success is a 58.7% ground ball rate that’s translated into a sterling 0.15 opponent home runs per nine. I wouldn’t expect any of this to change going up against the lowly Marlins, who sport the NL’s lowest OPS (.655) versus LHPs and the league’s highest strikeout rate (27.6%) within the split. Maybe Suarez will throw a second straight Maddux just for fun. That’d be cool.
Eli Morgan, Cleveland Guardians at Texas Rangers, $7,300 - If you had asked me in June who I’d be suggesting at pitcher in the final week of the season, without a doubt I’d have said Suarez and Eli Morgan. No question about it. Look, if I’m being honest, Morgan’s viability is about his price and his matchup well before it’s about his own personal achievements, though the rookie has allowed just a single earned run across his past two starts. Morgan’s also pitched to a decent 3.96 ERA since the beginning of August, but again, this is much more about the Rangers. Over the past two weeks, this hapless Texas squad ranks dead-last in baseball in ISO (.106), while the team’s 81 wRC+ within that same span isn’t anything to get excited about, either. Morgan doesn’t have a huge amount of ceiling in the DFS world, yet if there was an opponent that could help him reach that upside, it would be the Rangers.
Mike Zunino, Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees, $4,400 - It’s anyone’s guess how Kevin Cash will deploy his regulars this weekend in New York, but if Zunino’s in Tampa’s lineup on Friday, he’s a lock for your DFS lineups, too. Simply put, the man crushes left-handed pitcher like few in baseball can. In 123 plate appearances within the split, Zunino is slashing .343/.423/.870 with a 244 wRC+. Those numbers don’t even seem real.
Pedro Severino, Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays, $3,100 - Severino’s just been a different hitter when getting the opportunity to face an LHP in 2021, as the catcher’s .824 OPS within the split dwarfs his .611 mark versus right-handers. The lefty in question on Friday is Steven Matz ($8,700), who has been a little shaky in his past three outings, surrendering a .374 wOBA to RHBs within that span. Severino could easily take advantage of those struggles.
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Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles, $6,100 - Guerrero had been mired in a lengthy slump before producing a ringing double in Thursday’s loss to the Yankees that was a literal inch away from being his 47th home run of the season. That’s a pretty good indication that Vladdy is starting to feel good again in the batter’s box, and it’s hard to think of a better matchup for the All-Star than Thomas Eshelman ($5,300). The RHP has been used sparingly by the Orioles in 2021, but the 71 RHBs Eshelman has faced this season have combined to register a .354 average with a .600 slugging percentage. Guerrero should do some serious damage.
Pete Alonso, New York Mets at Atlanta Braves, $4,000 - After hitting a pair of long balls in Thursday’s win over the Marlins, I’m more than willing to go back to the well with Alonso, who should easily be $1,000 more expensive than his actually is on this slate. It’s especially nice that this game is taking place in Atlanta, as Alonso has really thrived when playing away from Citi Field in 2021. To wit, the slugger has a .333 ISO and a 156 wRC+ when batting on the road. With Huascar Ynoa ($8,600) struggling across his past three outings, I see no reason why Alonso can’t have another big performance.
Trea Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Milwaukee Brewers, $5,600 - This has very little to do with Eric Lauer ($8,700), who appears to be another success story from Milwaukee’s pitching factory. No, this is simply about Lauer’s handedness, as Turner has destroyed left-handed pitching for the entirety of 2021. In his 162 plate appearances within the split, Turner is slashing .385/.432/.655 with a .270 ISO and a 186 wRC+. The infielder also leads the NL in steals (32), so he can provide DKFP in more ways than most assets.
Javier Baez, New York Mets at Atlanta Braves, $4,100 - While the Mets certainly have had nothing to play for in recent days, Baez is playing for a new contract, and he’s definitely been helping his agent’s cause. In fact, in September, Baez slashed .361/.441/.577 with a 179 wRC+. He’s been red-hot and this is a pretty large discount for an asset that generally you’d be paying more than $5K for.
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets, $5,200 - There’s a chance that Riley and a few of the Braves regulars sit out this contest after the team clinched the NL East last night, yet if the young third baseman is in the lineup, he’s in a very enticing spot. Tylor Megill ($8,900) is taking the mound for the Mets, and following a nice start to his career, things have taken a severe downward turn. In Megill’s past six outings, he’s pitched to a robust 7.45 FIP, surrendering a ghastly 3.8 opponent home runs per nine. Knowing all this, Riley, who owns a .966 OPS since the beginning of July, might be begging to play this evening.
Santiago Espinal, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles, $2,300 - When in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to use a bat from the lineup with an implied team total of nearly seven runs. It’s easy to lose track of someone like Espinal, as he definitely gets lost on a roster like Toronto’s, but let’s not gloss over the fact that the rookie is hitting .327 with a 125 wRC+ going back to the beginning of June. I’m not sure if there’s something in the water in Lake Ontario, yet almost every man wearing a Jays jersey can produce at the plate.
Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees, $5,300 - Franco’s streak of safely reaching base ended on Thursday, but he’ll have an opportunity to start a new streak against Nestor Cortes ($8,900) this evening. The rookie has punished almost every left-handed pitcher he’s seen in 2021, putting together a .356/.422/.622 slash line with a 187 wRC+ in 102 plate appearances. Cortes has been good, however his 4.52 xFIP as a starter suggests he’s due for some regression.
J.P. Crawford, Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels, $4,100 - As you would expect from the leadoff hitter of a streaking team, Crawford was hot throughout the month of September, hitting .315 with a 138 wRC+ in his 123 plate appearances. I’d anticipate that success continuing this evening against an Angels pitching staff that continues to be underwhelming. Jose Suarez ($6,200) will start the contest and he’s equipped with some extreme reserve-splits. In fact, Suarez has conceded a whopping .405 wOBA to the LHBs he’s faced in 2021.
George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles, $4,900 - I mentioned above that Eshelman has had his issues with RHBs in 2021. Well, so has Conner Greene ($5,000), who is expected to open this game for the Orioles. In fact, in September, right-handed hitters managed a .350 average off of the reliever. Springer, one the league’s best right-handed bats, should be able to take advantage of these matchups, as he’s been heating up across the past week. To wit, Springer comes into Friday with nine hits and four extra-base hits in his past five contests.
Joc Pederson, Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets, $3,700 - If we do see some of Atlanta’s stars take a break this evening, that could mean players like Pederson and Eddie Rosario ($3,400) will be asked to hit higher in the team’s lineup. Given their status as left-handed bats, that could be very good news for prospective owners. Megill has been awful in his last six starts, and LHBs are specifically to blame. In fact, within that span, the RHP has surrendered an .864 slugging percentage and a .538 wOBA to lefties. Woof.
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