After yesterday’s contest between the White Sox and the Tigers was rained out — creating the need for a doubleheader this evening — we’re now down to just four “regular” games on tonight’s MLB schedule. Essentially, we’ve got ourselves a turbo slate with a really, really big prize pool. Doesn’t sound like too awful a situation to me.
So, peel yourself away from reading NFL Mock Drafts for 15 seconds, and let’s go position-by-position to break down everything you’ll need to know to put together a few lineups.
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Trevor Bauer, Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers, $11,300 - Well, Bauer’s the lone pitcher priced above $8K, so he’s really the only person who even fits the “stud” criteria on Thursday. Here’s the way I see it: The right-hander’s ownership is probably going to be around 70%. Can you fade him? Certainly. However, Bauer’s pitched at least six innings in each of his five starts this season and he’s scored at least 27.0 DKFP in four of those outings. He’s got a 2.15 expected ERA and an eye-popping 37.8% strikeout rate, and he’s facing a Brewers team possesses the league’s highest swinging strike and called strike rate (30.9%). His floor is simply too high to fade on a slate like this. A lineup without the reigning NL Cy Young winner is like tying one arm behind your back for a fist fight.
Kyle Gibson, Texas Rangers vs. Boston Red Sox, $7,000 - This seems a little insane, but to be fair, I doubt I was going to try and stack against Gibson this evening. That alone makes him a viable pitching option on a slate this size. Since allowing five earned runs in a third of an inning back on Opening Day, Gibson’s been phenomenal. He’s pitched to a 0.67 ERA and a 2.12 FIP across his last 27.0 frames, limiting opponents to a microscopic .258 slugging percentage. In fact, thanks to a 53.3% ground ball rate within that stretch, Gibson’s really been able to manipulate opponent launch angle, keeping the barrels and home runs out of the box score. The Red Sox are a daunting matchup, yet, at the end of the day, this is a truly weird slate.
Editor’s Note: Diamondbacks C Carson Kelly is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Rockies.
Carson Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies , $4,700 - Injuries are a major theme right now in Arizona, which has lead to some drastic lineup decisions. One of those choices was putting Kelly in the leadoff spot for yesterday’s contest against the Padres. Granted, that was with a left-handed pitcher on the mound, but with the current state of the Diamondbacks’ roster, I could see Kelly hitting in the top-third of the order once again versus Antonio Senzatela ($6,000) . For his career, the backstop has done most of his damage when facing a southpaw, but so far in 2021, Kelly owns a .408 ISO and a 221 wRC+. Seems like he’s just hitting everybody.
Jose Trevino, Texas Rangers vs. Boston Red Sox, $3,300 - For as much as Trevino’s bat has slowed down the past two weeks, he’s still hit sixth the last two times the Rangers have faced an LHP. It makes a little sense, too. For his career, in 104 plate appearances within the split, Trevino is hitting .303 with a 108 wRC+. Obviously, this isn’t a high-ceiling play, but Trevino might be able to get on base a few times against Martin Perez ($5,700).
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs, $5,300 - Aside from striking out against Anthony Rizzo ($4,000) in last night’s contest, Freeman was in total control, racking up four hits, three RBI and 31.0 DKFP. His bat’s been coming around the last couple of weeks and he should be in a nice spot against Adbert Alzolay ($7,200) on Thursday. For his career, Alzolay’s had serious issues with LHBs. While the right-hander has held righties to a paltry .237 wOBA, lefties have compiled a mark of .352, thanks primarily to a lowered strikeout rate and an elevated GB/FB ratio.
Pavin Smith, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies, $3,900 - It’s been a little under the radar, but Smith is having himself quite the start to 2021. Maybe it hasn’t been entirely reflected in the rookie’s surface stats through 78 plate appearances, but Smith’s .374 expected wOBA is much higher than his actual mark, a product of a 52.5% hard hit rate that puts him in the 90th percentile in all of baseball. Eventually, he’s going the reap the rewards of that type of consistent contact, why not tonight against an opponent that has historically struggled with LHBs?
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Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks, $5,100 - There’s a few things to consider with McMahon this evening, who currently sports a .309 ISO against right-handed pitching. First and foremost, Luke Weaver ($7,700) has had his woes with LHBs in the past, surrendering 2.63 home runs per nine within the split as recently as 2020. On top of that, Weaver’s pitch mix is incredibly basic, as the RHP is essentially throws his fastball two-thirds of the time and compliments the offering with a changeup. When you hear about the “Coors Effect” on the road, that’s not the arsenal we’ve been taught to fear.
Nico Hoerner, Chicago Cubs at Atlanta Braves, $3,000 - Sadly, it appears that the “Nico Hoerner: Leadoff Hitter” experiment is over after two games, yet the rookie remains viable in any slot in the order thanks to his extremely modest price. It’s a small sample, but Hoerner has a 1.25 BB/K ratio and a 172 wRC+ since being recalled from the Cubs’ alternate site last week. He might be able to do some damage in what is essentially a bullpen game from the Braves.
Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers, $5,000 - This is not an enviable position for Eric Lauer ($6,700), who is set to make his first start of the season against a Dodgers team that leads the National League in wOBA (.332). Turner, in particular, has been a monster through his first 102 plate appearances of the season, slashing .337/.422/.628 with a 184 wRC+. Now, he’ll get to face a lefty — a split in which he’s always thrived — that’s only thrown 11.0 innings at the major league level the past two seasons. Sounds enticing.
Editor’s Note: Diamondbacks 1B/3B Asdrubal Cabrera is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Rockies.
Asdrubal Cabrera, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies, $3,600 - The Braves and the Diamondbacks are the only two teams on this evening’s slate that have an implied total of at least five runs. You can thank Senzatela and his robust 89.7% zone contact rate for Arizona’s inclusion. Anyway, the key difference between the two lineups is affordability. While’s you’ll have to break the bank for Atlanta’s best bats, assets like Cabrera — who’s been hitting third for the D-Backs — are less than $4K. The veteran hasn’t had an amazing April, but he has had better numbers against RHPs than LHPs.
Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers, $4,800 - If it feels like you’re getting Seager at a discount tonight, it’s because you are. This marks the first slate this season where the shortstop has been priced below $5K, which makes sense given Seager’s massive DFS ceiling. Don’t be scared off by the matchup with a left-handed starter, either. Going back to the beginning of 2020, Seager owns a .236 ISO and a 123 wRC+ in left-on-left plate appearances. He’ll hold his own against Lauer, then likely get a few cracks at a right-hander reliever later in the game.
Nick Ahmed, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies, $2,900 - To say shortstop is a shallow player pool this evening would be a massive understatement. If you’re not playing either Xander Bogaerts ($5,500) or the aforementioned Seager, you’re very likely staring a goose egg in the face; but I’ll briefly make the case for Ahmed as a punt play. Arizona has a decent chance at putting up a few crooked numbers on Thursday and Ahmed has six hits — three doubles — in his past four games. Believe me, you could do worse.
Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers, $5,400 - Here’s a stat that might confound some people: Betts hasn’t hit a home run off of a left-handed pitcher since joining the Dodgers. Do we have a little “Green Monster Curse” on our hands? In any case, Lauer has a career 4.78 xFIP as a starter and he doesn’t possess the raw stuff to present a problem for Betts, who will likely see five plate appearances in tonight’s game. Maybe the LHP drought ends in Milwaukee.
AJ Pollock, Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers, $3,100 - Pollock was able to return from a two-game absence on Wednesday, which should clear him for tonight’s festivities. Going back to the beginning of 2019, the veteran outfielder is slashing .320/.364/.586 with a .388 wOBA against left-handed pitching. He’ll likely hit in the middle of Los Angeles’ order. Basically, you don’t need to think too hard about this one. Pollock’s too cheap and he deserves a serious look.
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