April showers bring May flowers. We’re all familiar with this legally-binding nursery rhyme, right? Well, it saddens me to inform you all that we’ve been bamboozled. Possibly even hoodwinked. There’s a lot of rain in the forecast for Tuesday’s 12-game featured MLB slate, and you’ll have to keep a close eye on places like New York, Philadelphia and St. Louis as we get closer to first pitch.
With that asterisk out of the way, let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you’ll need to know to set a few lineups.
Nick Pivetta, Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers, $7,900 - Everyone already knows that Jacob deGrom ($11,100) and Trevor Bauer ($10,700) are viable options at the top-end, so let’s dive into the always nerve-wracking Pivetta. Trust me when I say that it takes a special type of matchup for me to even consider the right-hander, but I believe that’s what we have in the Tigers. Yes, Pivetta’s 16.3% walk rate is terrifying; however, Detroit doesn’t appear to be the team to exploit the veteran’s wildness, as the Tigers rank first in chase rate (35.5%) and swing rate (50.3%). Basically, there’s a good reason the team possesses the league’s highest strikeout rate (30.9%) and it’s second-lowest walk rate (7.1%). Take a swig of whiskey, put Pivetta in a few lineups and don’t watch the game. Trust me, it’s best that way.
Johan Oviedo, St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets, $6,600 - We don’t have much of a sample when it comes to the 23-year-old, but here’s what we do know. In 9.2 innings of work in 2021, Oviedo has struck out 11 opponents and maintained an eye-popping 17.9% swinging strike rate. I don’t mean to sound lazy, but at a price point below $7K, that’s enough for me to be interested. It also helps matters that the Mets offense is a little underwhelming at the moment. New York currently owns just a .123 ISO against right-handed pitching — the third-lowest mark in baseball — and, of course, there’s the deGrom run support narrative, too. Obviously there’s some risk in investing heavily in Oviedo, yet I think the RHP is worth a look.
Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $4,500 - While Murphy is technically hitting just .133 against left-handed pitchers like Anthony Kay ($6,100) in 2021, the underlying numbers are much more flattering. In fact, all four of the catcher’s hits within the split have been for extra-bases, putting his ISO against LHPs at an impressive .333. Murphy has also hit third in Oakland’s lineup the past two times its faced a lefty, and I would suspect that trend continues on Tuesday.
Editor’s Note: Padres RP Ryan Weathers will not start tonight’s game vs. the Pirates. SP Dinelson Lamet will start in his place.
Jacob Stallings, Pittsburgh Pirates at San Diego Padres , $3,200 - If you’re looking for a possible punt play at the position, Stallings provides a decent amount of upside for a marginal price. The backstop has done well against left-handed pitching throughout his career, slashing .292/.370/.504 with a .212 ISO over 127 plate appearances. Plus, due to Pittsburgh’s lack of, well, talent, there’s a decent chance Stallings is batting in the top-half of the team’s lineup this evening.
Carlos Santana, Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Baseball Team, $5,200 - Santana has thrived as a right-handed batter so far in 2021, posting a 181 wRC+ in his first 33 plate appearances within the split. He’ll draw another left-hander this evening in the form of Sam Hentges ($5,800), a man not only making his first start of the season, but one making his first-career start above Double-A. Santana should be able to take advantage of the matchup and, if Hentges isn’t able to work deep into the game, the switch-hitting first baseman will always have the platoon split working in his favor against Cleveland’s bullpen.
Editor’s Note: Twins 1B/OF Alex Kirilloff is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Rangers.
Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins vs. Texas Rangers , $3,200 - In actuality, I’m not really a fan of stacking against Kyle Gibson ($7,200) , as the veteran has surrendered just three earned runs across his past 33.0 innings of work. However, this is simply too cheap a price to ignore Kirilloff. The rookie comes into Tuesday’s slate with six extra-base hits and 12 RBI in his past four games, while an expected wOBA of .493 in 44 plate appearances is absurd. Again, Gibson’s been amazing, but Kirilloff’s salary is a gift.
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Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Baseball Team, $5,200 - If you’re wondering why the Royals’ bats are so expensive on Tuesday, the answer is two-fold. First, Kansas City owns the second-highest implied team total on the slate. Second, no one trusts the aforementioned Hentges. The lefty has only faced 25 batters at the MLB level, but the results have not been inspiring. Of the 19 batted ball events Hentges has induced, 15.8% have been barrels, while 52.9% of them have had an exit velocity above 95.0 mph. The young pitcher’s zone contact rate is also 100.0% in the limited sample. Yikes.
Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, $3,900 - The power numbers have been slightly underwhelming for Cronenworth in 2021, yet he draws a fantastic matchup with Mitch Keller ($6,700) on Tuesday’s slate. For his career, Keller has faced 205 left-handed batters and the numbers he’s posted within the split are ugly. LHBs have combined to slash .318/.412/.526 against the right-hander with 1.49 home runs per nine. Cronenworth probably can’t wait to step into the batter’s box.
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals, $4,100 - Riley has been red-hot for the Braves as of late, posting a 1.223 OPS across his past 10 games. That level of success, combined with an injury to Travis d’Arnaud (thumb), has me thinking that Riley could be moved up in the batting order for tonight’s contest, possibly as high as fifth. If that’s the case, he’s in a great spot against Joe Ross ($6,900), who has surrendered seven opponent barrels in his last two starts. Ross has also allowed 2.31 home runs per nine to RHBs this season.
Hunter Dozier, Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Baseball Team, $3,300 - There’s virtually zero floor when rostering an asset like Dozier, but as mentioned above, he’ll draw a very enticing opposite-hand matchup this evening. Dozier’s bat also appears to be heating up, as the 29-year-old has four hits — including a pair of home runs — his his past two starts. Ideally, you’ll want to stack the top-third of the Royals’ lineup against Hentges; however, the cheaper version of Dozier, Jorge Soler ($3,400) and Michael Taylor ($2,800) is appealing for it’s own reasons.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays at Oakland Athletics, $5,500 - Despite three-straight decent outings, it seems like Cole Irvin ($7,400) is due for some serious regression. While the lefty has pitched to a 3.67 ERA across his first 27.0 innings of 2021, Irvin’s expected ERA of 5.45 tells a less appealing story. Look for the soft-tossing LHP to have his issues with a Toronto lineup stacked top-to-bottom with right-handed power bats, particularly Bichette. The former second-round pick is hitting .340 with a 160 wRC+ against southpaws for his career.
Freddy Galvis, Baltimore Orioles at Seattle Mariners, $3,300 - Galvis has shown a surprising amount of power as a right-handed hitter so far in 2021, coming into tonight’s matchup with Justin Dunn ($7,700) owning a .268 ISO and a 124 wRC+ within the split. Dunn, meanwhile, has had his issues with LHBs throughout his brief career, allowing the 162 he’s faced to compile a .368 wOBA. I wouldn’t be expecting a huge performance for Galvis, yet this does seem like the type of game that could be sneaky high-scoring.
Trent Grisham, San Diego Padres vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, $5,300 - We already discussed Keller’s struggles with LHBs, so let’s just focus on Grisham here. The outfielder is having an incredible start to his season, as he comes into Tuesday batting .309 with a 146 wRC+ and seven stolen bases. Grisham can pretty much do it all on a baseball field — especially if the field is Petco Park. Since joining the Padres in 2020, Grisham has loved facing RHPs in his home ball park, as he owns a .925 OPS and a .398 wOBA within the split. Not bad at all.
Lourdes Gurriel, Toronto Blue Jays at Oakland Athletics, $3,600 - After a horrifyingly slow start to the season, Gurriel is starting to heat up. In his last 29 plate appearances, the outfielder is sporting a .405 wOBA and a 165 wRC+. Not surprisingly, this turn-around has coincided with the Jays facing more LHPs — a split where Gurriel has always thrived. In fact, for his career, Gurriel is a .300 hitter with a .266 ISO versus lefties.
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