This is what we like to call a stacked pitching slate, my fantasy baseball playing friends. Even with the threat of rain washing away yet another Max Scherzer ($11,500) start, there’s plenty of high-end options on the mound to choose from, with the likes of Jacob deGrom ($11,300), Brandon Woodruff ($10,400) and Lucas Giolito ($10,100) pacing the field from a salary perspective.
Who should you be spending that hard-earned virtual money on? Let’s break it all down position-by-position.
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets vs. San Diego Padres, $11,300 - I’m not exactly splitting the atom when I tell you that deGrom is the best pitching option on tonight’s slate, but it is interesting to note how much the Padres’ offense has struggled as of late. Despite a glowing reputation, San Diego has mustered a modest 79 wRC+ across the past two weeks — the third-worst mark in baseball within that span of time. That includes a contest last Saturday where deGrom tossed seven scoreless innings and struck out 11 while only throwing 85 pitches. That’s a mind-bending level of efficiency and it’s scary to think what the RHP might do now that he’s seemingly worked himself back to a 100-pitch limit.
Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati Reds vs. Colorado Rockies, $7,900 - It’s crazy to call Great American Ball Park the superior “pitcher’s park” in this matchup, but the Rockies just can’t string a few hits together outside of Coors Field. To wit, Colorado ranks dead-last in baseball in ISO (.092), wOBA (.253) and wRC+ (58) when playing away from the altitude, a combination of stats that would make almost anyone opposing them viable. Fortunately, Mahle also has a few credentials of his own. For the season as a whole, the right-hander possesses a 3.22 xERA and a 28.2% strikeout rate. In specifically this past three outings, Mahle has held opponents to a .179 wOBA while posting a 1.59 FIP. In short, he’s quite good and he’s underpriced in this spot.
Sal Perez, Kansas City Royals at Oakland Athletics, $5,100 - It’s only been nine games, but Perez is tearing the cover off the ball to begin June. The veteran has a .371 ISO in the month, the result of hitting four home runs in just 36 plate appearances. Anyway, the good times should continue tonight against Cole Irvin ($6,600), who has been rocked in three of his past four starts. Irvin’s also left-handed, which is great news for Perez, as he’s slashed .286/.328/.587 with a 146 wRC+ within the split in 2021.
Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds vs. Colorado Rockies, $3,900 - Stephenson is another backstop that has thrived so far this season when getting the opportunity to face an LHP. In fact, the rookie owns a .294 ISO and a .391 wOBA within the split and he’s more than likely going to hit in the middle of the Reds’ order this evening against Kyle Freeland ($5,500). The lefty has a 6.26 xFIP through three starts. It hasn’t been great.
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Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays, $4,900 - There’s a lot to like about this matchup for Mancini. First and foremost, the veteran has demolished all left-handed pitching so far in 2021, as evidenced by a 1.029 OPS and a 178 wRC+ within the split. Also, if you’re into this sort of thing, Mancini has specifically demolished Ryan Yarbrough ($7,700) throughout his career, coming into Friday with a pair of home runs and a .530 expected wOBA against the soft-tossing lefty in 17 plate appearances. Any way you slice it, Mancini is a premium asset.
Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays, $3,300 - I wrote about this earlier in the week, but it bears repeating: Mountcastle is far too cheap with how he’s been hitting lately. Dating back to May 22, the rookie is slashing .346/.382/.750 with a .404 ISO and a 208 wRC+. Yes, you read that correctly. He’s posted an ISO of over .400 in his last 55 plate appearances. With Mountcastle also sporting a .385 wOBA against LHPs for the season, he’s truly one of the best value plays on this massive slate.
Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Texas Rangers, $5,500 - Despite Muncy carrying some pretty hefty reverse-splits into tonight’s contest versus the Rangers, I believe he’s one of the better plays on this slate. That viability comes down to the presence of Mike Foltynewicz ($5,900), who has just been completely unable to handle left-handed batters so far in 2021. Honestly, the numbers are staggering. Foltynewicz has seen 119 LHBs this season and he’s allowed those men to slash a combined .318/.378/.617. Mookie Betts ($5,300) might want to try switch-hitting this evening. He’d probably be pretty good at it.
Mike Brosseau, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles, $3,400 - Brosseau has been terrible so far this season, but he’s still generally hitting fifth for the Rays when the team is scheduled to face a left-handed starter. Brosseau also still has good career numbers within the split, coming into Friday with a .239 ISO and a 128 wRC+ versus southpaws. Between Keegan Akin ($5,000) and an underwhelming Orioles’ bullpen, Brosseau should be able to reach value on tonight’s slate.
Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $5,600 - The Red Sox are one of a handful of teams that have an implied total of over five runs on Friday, and you’d have to assume that Devers is a big part of the appeal. The infielder has destroyed right-handed pitching so far this season, possessing a .348 ISO and a .400 wOBA within the split. It’s not like Ross Stripling ($6,500) has been all that effective, either. In fact, the RHP is in the just the 15th percentile when it comes to barrel rate, the 20th percentile in expected slugging percentage and the 25th percentile in average exit velocity. That’s pretty bleak.
Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners at Cleveland Baseball Team, $3,500 - Seager has been at his best away from T-Mobile Park in 2021, as he’s registered a .280 ISO and a 139 wRC+ on the road. That’s the first piece of good news. The second is that Aaron Civale ($8,400) has struggled across his last five starts and, for the season as a whole, has struggled with left-handed hitters. In fact, Civale has conceded a whopping 2.08 home runs per nine within the split. Seager should be in line to do some damage.
Editor’s Note: Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts (undisclosed) has been scratched from tonight’s game vs. the Blue Jays.
Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $5,400 - I mentioned Stripling’s general issues when breaking down Devers’ value this evening, but I neglected to mention one thing. Stripling has specifically had trouble retiring right-handed bats so far this season, with RHBs combining for a .330 average and a .404 wOBA off of the veteran pitcher. Well, Bogaerts is one of the game’s best righties and, as always, he’s crushing opponents when getting the opportunity to play at home. To wit, the shortstop has a 162 wRC+ at Fenway in 2021.
Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Texas Rangers, $3,600 - It’s been an up and down campaign for Lux, but the infielder is at his best when getting the chance to face an RHP. Lux comes into Friday with all five of his home runs this season having come off a righty, with his .749 OPS within the split sitting nearly 300 points higher than his mark in left-on-left plate appearances. Considering Foltynewicz’s struggles with LHBs, Lux is a cost-effective addition to any Dodgers stack this evening.
Nick Castellanos, Cincinnati Reds vs. Colorado Rockies, $4,800 - If DraftKings is going to keep pricing Castellanos below $5K in matchups with left-handed starters, I’m going to keep having massive amounts of exposure to the veteran outfielder. In general, Castellanos has just been one of the best hitters in baseball this season, as he ranks third among all qualified players in wOBA (.441) and wRC+ (180). However, those numbers get even better against southpaws, as Castellanos is batting .409 with a 1.162 OPS within the split. He’s a steal at this price tag.
Editor’s Note: Twins SP Bailey Ober will start in place of SP Matt Shoemaker in tonight’s game vs. the Astros.
Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins, $3,700 - Honestly, I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to stack the entire Houston outfield this evening. Matt Shoemaker ($5,200) has been terrible dating back to the beginning of May, pitching to a robust 8.42 ERA across that span of seven outings. It’s lefties that have specifically given Shoemaker fits, as LHBs have combined to compile a .405 wOBA off of the veteran in 2021. That means Tucker, Yordan Alvarez ($4,200) and Michael Brantley ($3,800) are all great plays on Friday.
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