Alright. Let’s all take a deep breath. In and out. You feeling calm? That’s good. Because you’re going to need a level head to sort through tonight’s featured MLB slate. Technically speaking, there are six games past 7:05 p.m. ET to build your lineups from, yet there are a few asterisks you should be aware of. First, due to a delayed game on Wednesday, this evening’s contest between the Reds and the Nationals is now just seven innings. Second, with heavy rain expected in Chicago, it’s very unlikely the White Sox or the Orioles get an opportunity to play.
With all that out of the way, let’s go position-by-position and try and fill out some lineups.
Chris Bassitt, Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angeles, $8,300 - While I’d love to play Dylan Cease ($9,200), when the dust settles, Bassitt will probably end up as my No. 1 pitching option above $8K on Thursday. The right-hander has been better than you’d think over the past month, possessing a 2.40 FIP, a 0.99 WHIP and a 29.8% strikeout rate over his past seven starts. It’s a span of time that’s also seen Bassitt earn at least 21.0 DKFP on six occasions, which is a nice barometer of just how consistent he’s been. Also, while the Angels’ offense has been decent without Mike Trout (calf), they’ve struck out in 26.8% of their plate appearances the past two weeks — a top 10 mark in baseball. There’s some serious upside with Bassitt this evening.
Alex Wood, San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers, $6,900 - I just don’t understand this price point. Last Friday, in a matchup with these very same Dodgers, Wood was priced at $10K on a slate that wasn’t nearly as devoid of high-end pitching options as tonight’s. The left-hander proceeded to pitch six innings, strike out seven opponents and allow a pair of earned runs. Wood would finish with 17.5 DKFP — not an amazing output, but certainly commendable. For the season as a whole, Wood owns a 2.85 xFIP. He’s registered a 13.1% swinging strike rate and he’s induced a 59.6% ground ball rate. In short, he’s been really, really good. How does any of that equate to a $3,000 drop in salary? In any case, take advantage of the savings, especially with the Dodgers struggling to a .140 ISO versus LHPs so far in 2021.
Editor’s Note: Giants C Buster Posey is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Dodgers.
Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers, $4,300 - The Dodgers are going with a bullpen game this evening, which is rough news considering the current state of said bullpen. Unlike last season, where such a thing would mean the possibility of multiple innings from both Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, injuries have left relievers like Phil Bickford ($4,000) and Edwin Uceta ($4,000) in line to carry the load. With so much uncertainty, Posey provides a safe floor. He’s going to hit in the top-third of the Giants’ lineup and his 183 wRC+ suggests he’ll hit well.
Tom Murphy, Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers, $3,300 - To be blunt, Murphy is just a substantially better hitter when given the opportunity to face a left-handed pitcher. In fact, for his career, the backstop owns an .832 OPS and a .253 ISO in his 257 plate appearances within the split. Rangers starter Kolby Allard ($4,000) isn’t fully stretched out, so Murphy might only get a single at-bat in his preferred handedness matchup; but the prospect of facing some of Texas’ mid-inning relievers is a nice consolation prize.
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Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels, $4,900 - I wouldn’t necessarily go hunting matchups against Shohei Ohtani ($7,700) under normal circumstances, but there are a couple things to note here on a small slate like this. First, while RHBs have just a .200 wOBA against the right-hander so far in 2021, lefties have hit all three home runs Ohtani’s surrendered, which has led to a .330 wOBA within the split. Also, in his most recent start against Cleveland, Ohtani’s fastball velocity was sitting at an average of just 91.3 mph, an average well down from where it usually rests. If Ohtani isn’t 100% once again, Olson certainly has the power to jump on a mistake.
Nate Lowe, Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners, $3,500 - In his last outing, Chris Flexen ($6,200) allowed eight earned runs in just 1.2 innings and it sort of felt like a long time coming. The former KBO standout simply isn’t getting any swing and misses in the MLB, with Flexen’s zone contact rate sitting at an enticing 88.3%. Flexen’s also given up a .513 slugging percentage to LHBs in 2021, which is where Lowe comes in. The first baseman has a .212 ISO and a 134 wRC+ against RHPs, and he’s primarily hitting third in Texas’ lineup. Not bad for someone priced at less than $4K.
Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels, $4,100 - As mentioned above, if you’re going to attack Ohtani, it’s best to do so with left-handed bats. All of Lowrie’s power in 2021 has come as an LHB — all four of his home runs have been hit off of right-handed pitching — and he continues to find himself batting in the middle of the A’s lineup. At this price, the veteran checks more than enough boxes.
Ty France, Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers, $2,900 - In a fashion similar to the aforementioned Murphy, France has been at his best when facing southpaw pitching in 2021, as he’s managed a 121 wRC+ in his 40 plate appearances within the split. To be fair, France has also been ice-cold in the month of May, but things have been looking up since he returned from the IL on Monday. In the three games he’s played, he’s collected four total hits.
Eduardo Escobar, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. St. Louis Cardinals, $5,100 - In a somewhat surprising twist, it’s the Diamondbacks who possess the highest implied team total on tonight’s slate (at least when you discount the White Sox). Most of that is likely due to the presence of Carlos Martinez ($6,800), as the veteran has struggled to a 5.42 xERA and an 89.0% zone contact rate so far this season. The numbers suggest you’d rather use Escobar against a left-handed opponent, but on a slate this small, the man hitting third in Arizona’s batting order is definitely viable in this matchup.
Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers, $3,700 - The Dodgers haven’t officially announced a starter for tonight’s game as of this writing, but I suspect there’s a decent chance that David Price ($7,000) is used as the opener. In fact, Price is one of three lefties currently in Los Angeles’ bullpen, which increases the odds that Longoria sees at least one plate appearance within his preferred split this evening. I mean, the man has a 263 wRC+ against LHPs in 2021. Even if he just gets one, he may be worth this depressed price.
Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks, $4,800 - Edman hit a pair of home runs in yesterday’s 4-0 win over Chicago, but considering those were his first two long balls in over a month, I doubt we see that kind of power again this evening. However, that doesn’t mean Edman doesn’t have value. The infielder provides volume with his status as the Cardinals’ leadoff man, and his ability switch-hit will be key against Matt Peacock ($4,000). The RHP has allowed left-handed batters to compile a .359 wOBA in his 22.0 innings of work so far this season.
Josh Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. St. Louis Cardinals, $3,800 - There’s a lot to like about Rojas on Thursday’s slate, starting with the fact that the 26-year-old hit leadoff on Wednesday for the first time since early April. If that happens again against Martinez, the sky is the limit for Rojas, as he’s in his preferred handedness split and he’s slashing .369/.407/.571 with a 165 wRC+ so far in May. In all honesty, Rojas is simply one of the best assets you can buy tonight.
Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. St. Louis Cardinals, $4,800 - Marte’s numbers haven’t jumped off the page since returning from an extended stay on the IL, but for the season, the switch-hitter has a .229 ISO and a 149 wRC+. That, in addition to Arizona’s implied team total, is more than enough to make Marte viable in his matchup with the scuffling Martinez.
Adolis Garcia, Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners, $3,600 - I mean, we sort of have to keep going back to the well with Garcia, right? For anyone living under a rock, the 28-year-old has now hit five home runs in his past five games, giving him 16 for the season — a figure which ties him for the league lead with Vladimir Guerrero. As mentioned above, Flexen isn’t anyone to fear, and the RHP’s low strikeout rate negates Garcia’s biggest flaw. Considering the outfielder owns a 187 wRC+ in May, I’m just having a hard time believing he’s still this inexpensive.
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