Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you’ll need to know to set your lineups.
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Lance McCullers, Houston Astros vs. Chicago White Sox ($8,800) – This is one of the weakest pitching slates of the season. Only one pitcher costs more than $9,500, and he’s not really a viable option given his 5.2 opponent implied team total.
McCullers feels like the safest option. His opponent implied team total of 3.9 runs is tied for the second-lowest mark on the slate, and he’s also a sizable -142 favorite. His matchup vs. the White Sox isn’t ideal, but the White Sox have been much more mediocre against right-handed pitchers this season. They rank just 11th in wRC+ in that split, so this matchup isn’t as scary as it seems on paper.
Other Options – Hyun-Jin Ryu ($8,900), Nathan Eovaldi ($8,300)
Kenta Maeda, Minnesota Twins @ Texas Rangers ($6,300) – It feels weird to see Maeda priced down this low, especially on a slate so devoid of pitching talent. That said, his numbers this season are pretty scary. He owns a 5.01 ERA through his first 10 starts, but there are reasons to think he can improve moving forward. He’s been a bit unlucky this season in terms of BABIP and home runs, so his 3.96 xFIP is more than a full run better than his traditional ERA.
The Rangers are a great spot for Maeda to get right. They rank just 22nd in wRC+ vs. right-handers this season, and they also own the sixth-highest strikeout rate in those matchups.
Other Options – Patrick Corbin ($7,600), J.T. Brubaker ($7,400), Bryse Wilson ($6,900)
Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs vs. Miami Marlins ($4,300) – Contreras is having a subpar season against right-handers, but he’s proven he can succeed in those matchups in the past. He posted a 127 wRC+ vs. right-handers in 2020, so I’m not expecting him to struggle in those matchups all season. Zach Thompson ($6,600) has gotten off to a decent start with the Marlins – he owns a 2.25 ERA through his first eight MLB innings – but he pitched to an ERA of at least 5.50 in two years at Triple-A.
Other Options – Gary Sanchez ($5,200), Sean Murphy ($4,000)
Christian Vazquez, Boston Red Sox @ Kansas City Royals ($3,500) – The Red Sox are currently implied for 5.1 runs vs. left-hander Mike Minor ($9,500), and they have plenty of batters who can do damage against southpaws. Vazquez has had a slow start in those matchups this season, but he’s had plenty of success against southpaws throughout his career. They’re a strong stack target on today’s slate.
Other Options – Jacob Stallings ($3,400), Reese McGuire ($2,200)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays @ Baltimore Orioles ($6,300) – The Blue Jays are expensive on today’s slate, but it’s hard to envision a scenario where they don’t light up Matt Harvey ($5,500) like a Christmas tree. Harvey managed to survive through his first few starts this season, but he’s been rocked recently. His ERA is all the way up to 7.76 for the year, and he’s allowed at least five earned runs in six of his past seven outings.
The Blue Jays are currently implied for a slate-high 5.8 runs, and Guerrero should be at the heart of their offense. He has blossomed into one of the most feared hitters in baseball in his third MLB season, posting a 196 wRC+ through his first 69 games of 2021.
Other Options – Pete Alonso ($5,400), Anthony Rizzo ($5,100)
Rowdy Tellez, Toronto Blue Jays @ Baltimore Orioles ($3,000) – This article is going to be chock-full of Blue Jays, so I apologize in advance if that offends you. Guerrero is their best hitter, but Tellez is a fine pivot at first base if you need to save some salary. He’ll be on the positive side of his splits vs. Harvey, who has pitched to a 5.87 xFIP when facing left-handed batters.
Other Options – Yuli Gurriel ($4,400), Jesus Aguilar ($3,800)
D.J. LeMahieu, New York Yankees vs. Oakland Athletics ($4,700) – The Yankees are another potential stack target. They’re currently implied for 5.2 runs vs. Sean Manaea ($10,100), and their offense has slowly started to heat up. They rank third in wRC+ vs. southpaws over the past 14 days, and LeMahieu has historically crushed in those matchups. His numbers are down in 2021, but he posted a 197 wRC+ vs. southpaws in 2020.
Other Options – Jose Altuve ($5,500), Marcus Semien ($5,300)
Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cleveland Indians ($4,200) – No one really jumps off the page at second base from a value perspective, but Frazier could be a bit underpriced at the top of the Pirates’ offense. Their offense has exploded in this series vs. Cleveland, scoring 17 runs over the past two games. Frazier will be in a lefty-lefty matchup vs. Sam Hentges ($5,700), but he’s the rare left-handed batter who can find success in those matchups. He’s actually been slightly better against southpaws than traditional pitchers this season, posting a 143 wRC+ in that split.
Other Options – Luis Arraez ($3,000), Sergio Alcantara ($2,500)
Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cleveland Indians ($4,500) – Two Pirates in one article? Why not! Hayes has already established himself as a bonafide stud at just 24 years old. He’s posted a 135 wRC+ this season after breaking onto the scene with a dominant 195 wRC+ in 2020. Left-handed pitchers have basically been unable to get him out, and he owns a ridiculous 237 wRC+ in those matchups at the major-league level. I will gladly pay $4,500 for him in this matchup.
Other Options – Kris Bryant ($5,700), Matt Chapman ($4,800)
Cavan Biggio, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles ($4,400) – Biggio’s star has diminished a bit, but he’s still been quite good against right-handed pitching. He owns a 111 wRC+ in those matchups this season, and all six of his home runs have come against traditional pitchers. He’s expected to bat fifth against Harvey, which is more than enough to be viable on Sunday.
Other Options – Jonathan Villar ($4,000), Santiago Espinal ($2,600)
Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees vs. Oakland Athletics ($4,200) – Torres hasn’t become the stud hitter that everyone thought he was going to be, but he’s still pretty good. His numbers have improved after a slow start to the season, and he’s expected to be in the middle of the Yankees’ lineup on Sunday. Manaea has been weak against right-handed batters this season – he owns a 4.44 xFIP in those matchups – so Torres can find success in this matchup.
Other Options – Bo Bichette ($5,900), Xander Bogaerts ($5,100)
Jazz Chisholm, Miami Marlins @ Chicago Cubs ($3,800) – Like Hayes, Chisholm is another premier prospect who has found almost instant success at the big-league level. His numbers are down in June after a torrid start to the year, but he has an exploitable matchup Sunday vs. Alec Mills ($7,000). Chisholm has posted a 123 wRC+ against right-handers this season, while Mills has surrendered a dreadful .427 wOBA to left-handed batters.
Other Options – Jorge Polanco ($4,600)
Joc Pederson, Chicago Cubs vs. Miami Marlins ($5,100) – Pederson is starting to do Pederson things as a member of the Cubs. He’s always been someone who hit for tremendous power against right-handed pitchers, but he had just four homers in those matchups through the end of May. He’s already launched seven homers in those matchups during June, and he has plenty of time to add to that total. Overall, his ISO is up to .275 against traditional pitchers for the season, and he should be in the leadoff spot Sunday vs. Thompson. I like his chances for another bomb.
Other Options – Aaron Judge ($5,300), J.D. Martinez ($4,900)
Randal Grichuk, Toronto Blue Jays @ Baltimore Orioles ($4,100) – I think you can realistically make a case for every member of the Blue Jays lineup on Sunday. That’s how good this matchup vs. Harvey is. Grichuk certainly fits the bill as their projected cleanup hitter, especially at just $4,100. Grichuk normally fares better against left-handed pitchers, but Harvey has surrendered a .416 wOBA against right-handed batters this season.
Other Options – Ian Happ ($4,000), Kike Hernández ($3,600), Chas McCormick ($3,000)
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