TGIF, am I right? It is the end of the work week and all 30 teams will take the field this evening for a massive 15-game MLB slate on DraftKings. Should you be spending up at pitcher or should you be focusing on a couple expensive bats?
Let’s go position-by-position and break it all down.
Editor’s Note: Orioles SP Bruce Zimmermann (biceps) has been placed on the 10-day injured list. SP Thomas Eshelman will start in his place tonight vs. the Blue Jays.
Robbie Ray, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles, $9,400 - I’m not thrilled to be paying this much for a left-handed pitcher against the Orioles, but Ray’s recent performances against the White Sox and the Red Sox have won me over. In three starts and 18.1 innings so far in June, the veteran has looked nearly un-hittable, with Ray pitching to a 1.91 FIP and striking out an eye-popping 43.8% of opponents within that span of time. As we’ve seen more and more “big name” pitchers get worse or injured the past couple of weeks, Ray’s only become better. That has to mean something, and it doesn’t hurt that Ray’s win expectancy is quite high, as the Jays are massive road favorites on the DraftKings Sportsbook this evening.
Zach Davies, Chicago Cubs vs. Miami Marlins, $7,300 - I know. It’s never a good feeling to be going into a slate with the idea that Davies is viable, but the right-hander has actually pitched really well across his past five starts. In that span, Davies has allowed one earned run or fewer four times, as he’s maintained a 1.67 ERA and a 2.91 FIP over 27.0 innings. Meanwhile, the Marlins just can’t hit. The team is somehow slashing a paltry .196/.282/.245 with a .049 ISO in the past week of action. Heck, in a three-game series with the Cardinals, Miami scored a total of three runs, culminating in a heartbreaking 1-0 loss on Wednesday afternoon. I don’t believe that Davies is great, yet he’s trending well and this is about as tantalizing a matchup as a pitcher can draw.
Yan Gomes, Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets, $4,900 - Gomes has been hitting more towards the middle of the Nationals’ order recently, even batting as high as fifth in Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over the Pirates. Still, the main draw with the veteran backstop is his continued ability to crush left-handed pitching. Gomes sports a .250 ISO and a 165 wRC+ in his 44 plate appearances within the split in 2021, so Joey Lucchesi ($7,000) would be wise to pitch carefully when the 33-year-old is in the box.
Riley Adams, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles, $2,400 - Nothing too complex here. While Adams has not fared especially well at the major league level, he possesses a ton of raw power and he’ll draw an opposite-hand matchup with Bruce Zimmermann ($6,900) this evening. The lefty owns a 6.00 xERA so far in 2021 and has surrendered 1.90 home runs per nine to RHBs. That’s pretty much the reason the Jays have the slate’s highest non-Coors implied team total.
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Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels vs. Detroit Tigers, $5,800 - It’s Ohtani that currently leads all qualified hitters in both barrel rate per plate appearance (14.0%) and barrel rate per batted ball event (23.2%). How insane is that for someone who also threw six effective innings just last night? Anyway, contact shouldn’t be an issue on Friday against Jose Urena ($5,400), as the veteran has struck out just 7.8% of the 141 LHBs he’s faced so far this season. If Ohtani finishes this contest with four BBEs, odds are one of them will have been squared up.
Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Baseball Team at Pittsburgh Pirates, $3,800 - Bradley has continued to tear the cover off the baseball since his return to the majors, as the 25-year-old has posted an .813 slugging percentage and a 231 wRC+ in his 35 plate appearances with Cleveland this season. I’d doubt that the good times comes to end on Friday, as Bradley and his teammates will face the struggling Chad Kuhl ($5,900), who has conceded a whopping .393 wOBA to the left-handed hitters he’s faced through seven starts.
Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins at Texas Rangers, $4,900 - Polanco has been heating up at the dish since mid-May, but it’s really all come together so far in June. In 62 plate appearances in the month, the infielder is slashing .328/.355/.603 with a .276 ISO and a 158 wRC+. Also, because he’s a switch-hitter, Polanco will get the pleasure of facing Mike Foltynewicz ($5,700) as a lefty this evening. That’s great news for prospective owners, as the RHP has surrendered an insane .688 slugging percentage to opposing LHBs in 2021.
Luis Arraez, Minnesota Twins at Texas Rangers, $2,700 - Let’s double-dip with the Twins at second, as Arraez’s outfield eligibility means you can have both assets in the same build. The 24-year-old has only played in two games since being activated from the IL, but Arraez was immediately back in the leadoff spot against a right-handed opponent on Tuesday. Also make sure to keep an eye on Alex Kirilloff ($4,000) and Trevor Larnach ($3,300), as all lefties are incredibly viable when Foltynewicz is on the mound.
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Baseball Team at Pittsburgh Pirates, $5,500 - Ramirez is red-hot coming into tonight’s matchup with the Pirates. Not only does the All-Star have a home run in each of his past two games, but he’s also slashing .322/.375/.610 with a 160 wRC+ dating back to May 31. Ramirez can carry an entire team when he’s hitting like this, and with Cleveland’s implied team total hovering around five runs on Friday, don’t be shocked if a big performance is on the horizon.
Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners vs. Tampa Bay Rays, $3,600 - I’m not exactly in love with Seager’s value, but third base is pretty top-heavy on this slate. To Seager’s credit, he provides a solid amount of upside at his price, thanks primarily to his resurgent power numbers. To wit, Seager has clubbed 13 home runs so far this season and possesses a well-above average .230 ISO against right-handed pitching. The presence of Michael Wacha ($6,200) also assists the veteran’s viability, as Tampa’s starter has pitched to an ugly 6.85 xERA in 2021.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles, $5,800 - It’s never a bad idea to use Bichette against a southpaw, especially when said lefty is struggling as much as Zimmermann has to begin 2021. I mean, the LHP comes into tonight’s matchup owning bottom-five percentile marks in expected ERA, expected slugging percentage and expected wOBA — that’s pretty rough. For his part, Bichette has a .250 ISO and a .404 wOBA when facing left-handers so far this season. He’s also been hitting quite well the past two weeks, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies, $3,800 - Crawford has cooled at the plate the past week — though one of his two hits is a home run — however, for the season as a whole, the veteran’s numbers against RHPs are incredible. In 159 plate appearances within the split, Crawford is slashing .292/.390/.577 with a 163 wRC+. That by itself should signal that the infielder is too cheap this evening, let alone the fact that he’ll draw a matchup with Vince Velasquez ($7,400), someone who has long struggled with LHBs.
Nick Castellanos, Cincinnati Reds at San Diego Padres, $4,500 - Generally, I’m using Castellanos against left-handed pitching, but Chris Paddack ($8,300) has been getting destroyed by RHBs so far this season to the tune of a .566 slugging percentage and 2.55 home runs per nine. Those splits would make any right-handed hitter look appealing, let alone the guy who currently sits second in the National League in wOBA (.428). As always, Castellanos is too cheap on this slate.
Lourdes Gurriel, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles, $3,600 - Barring something unforeseen — I doubt George Springer ($4,400; quadriceps) is ready to be activated from his rehab assignment — Gurriel will likely hit fifth this evening for the Jays in a contest where the team is projected to score roughly six runs. Even with his immense struggles so far in 2021, there’s value in that. It also helps that Gurriel has a career .252 ISO against left-handed pitching. Maybe the presence of Zimmermann can break him out of his funk.
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