If you thought you were going to be glued to Twitter this evening because of just the NBA Draft, think again. While tonight’s featured MLB slate may only be five games, it’s going to be anything but easy, as we’re expecting rain in Pittsburgh, Boston and Detroit. So, you know the drill. Let’s all become faux doppler radar experts this afternoon.
For everything else, let’s go position-by-position and break it all down.
Frankie Montas, Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels, $9,000 - If weather is the biggest storyline on Thursday, pitch limits are a close second. Between Freddy Peralta ($10,000) and Casey Mize ($6,900), two of the top six arms on this slate have huge question marks about their durability. That’s not ideal. Thankfully, Montas has been striking out everyone lately, which makes him an easy top-end target. The right-hander has posted a 37.0% strikeout rate across his past three outings, a span of 18.2 innings where he’s also maintained a 2.89 ERA and a 2.30 FIP. It’s not the largest sample in the world, but it’s not the first time Montas has flashed this type of promise, either. With the Angels now down Mike Trout and Jared Walsh (intercostal), look for Montas to keep thriving this evening.
Chad Kuhl, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Milwaukee Brewers, $6,400 - It’s flown a little under the radar — as do most of the Pirates’ accomplishments — but Kuhl has been pitching exceedingly well since the middle of June. In his past six starts, the RHP has registered a 2.48 ERA and a 23.6% strikeout rate, which has translated to Kuhl averaging 17.3 DKFP per game. That might not seem like all that tantalizing a figure, but at a price point just over $6K on a slate this small, you’ll take it in a heartbeat. The setting of tonight’s contest if also crucial, as Kuhl’s 2.36 ERA when pitching at the spacious PNC Park is three full runs better than his current mark on the road.
Eric Haase, Detroit Tigers vs. Baltimore Orioles, $4,900 - Fresh off of scoring 17 runs on Wednesday, the Tigers once again find their offense in a fantastic spot. Alexander Wells ($5,200) will take the mound for the Orioles, a rookie left-hander who is sporting an ugly 7.30 xERA through the first 10.1 innings of his MLB career. That’ll be music to the ears of Haase, who has destroyed almost every southpaw he’s seen so far in 2021. To wit, the 28-year-old is slashing .319/.355/.722 with a .403 ISO and a 187 wRC+ within the split.
Omar Narvaez, Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates, $3,700 - For those of you with less faith in the aforementioned Kuhl, Narvaez is far too inexpensive on tonight’s slate. The All-Star has been hitting third in the Brewers’ lineup since Christian Yelich (health protocols) went back on the IL, which makes sense considering Narvaez is slashing .311/.394/.481 with a 136 wRC+ against right-handed pitching this season. That’s quite combination of traits to find below $4K.
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Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels, $5,800 - After being moved to the bullpen, Dylan Bundy ($6,200) will make his first start in a month this evening against the Athletics. If you’re wondering why the right-hander was demoted in the first place, look no further than the fact that Bundy possesses a 6.78 ERA as a starter this season. He’s also surrendered 2.08 home runs per nine in those 14 prior outings. Olson, who owns a .410 ISO since the All-Star break, should be able to do some serious damage on Thursday.
Rowdy Tellez, Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates, $2,600 - If you think you’ve had a good week, just know it hasn’t been as good as Tellez’s. The hefty left-handed bat has been on fire for the Brewers going back to July 23, as Tellez is 9-for-19 (.474) in his past 22 plate appearances with three home runs and eight RBI. He’s super cheap, he’ll draw another opposite-hand matchup this evening and, most importantly, he’s been batting fifth the past few days.
Enrique Hernandez, Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $5,000 - This is a massive salary jump for Hernandez, who has generally been available for less than $4K all season long. Still, the numbers against LHPs sort of speak for themselves. Hernandez owns a .270 ISO and a 135 wRC+ in his 144 plate appearances within the split so far in 2021. Combine that with his status as the Red Sox’s leadoff man — and the slate’s second-highest implied team total — and this price tag suddenly doesn’t look so bad.
Adam Frazier, San Diego Padres vs. Colorado Rockies, $3,400 - The Padres are actually tied with the Red Sox when it comes to their implied team total, so why not also take a look at San Diego’s leadoff hitter? Frazier has hit atop the Padres’ order in both games he’s played with a team, including a contest versus a left-hander on Wednesday. This shouldn’t really come as a shock to anyone, as Frazier’s OPS (.821), wOBA (.355) and wRC+ (123) against LHPs is nearly identical to his numbers when facing a righty so far in 2021.
Manny Machado, San Diego Padres vs. Colorado Rockies, $5,100 - Machado hasn’t put up the type of numbers we’re used to seeing against left-handed pitching in 2021, but that doesn’t mean for a second that Kyle Freeland ($6,100) can relax with the veteran infielder. Since the beginning of June, Machado is slashing .325/.385/.609 with a .407 wOBA and a 158 wRC+. He’s been red-hot for two full months now and I have my doubts that Freeland, equipped with a 5.35 FIP, is going to be able to slow Machado down.
Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies at San Diego Padres, $3,500 - I know, I know. You don’t use Rockies’ assets away from Coors Field. Well, a slate this tiny does sometimes call for you to break some rules. McMahon’s also hit pretty well the past two weeks, maintaining a .311 average and a 124 wRC+ going back to the All-Star break. Still, the big factor here is Joe Musgrove ($8,200). The right-hander just hasn’t looked right since the substance crackdown, pitching to a 6.29 ERA across his past five appearances. Musgrove has also allowed opposing LHBs to combine for a .413 wOBA within that span, which brings us back to McMahon’s surprising viability this evening.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox, $5,700 - While Eduardo Rodriguez ($8,800) has been pitching much better as of late, I’m still inclined to utilize Bichette in a matchup against a left-handed pitcher. The All-Star is slashing .351/.408/.543 with a 160 wRC+ in his 103 plate appearances within the split so far in 2021. Bichette also sports a 1.239 OPS in the nine games he’s played at Fenway Park this season, so in his last scheduled contest in Boston, you figure he’ll want to say goodbye with a bang.
Zack Short, Detroit Tigers vs. Baltimore Orioles, $3,500 - If you’re thinking about paying down at shortstop on this slate, I personally wouldn’t be so inclined. However, if you must, you could do worse than Short. Though the rookie is hitting well below the Mendoza Line, he batted sixth the last time the Tigers faced a left-handed opponent and his .207 ISO does imply some power and DFS upside. Shockingly, Detroit also owns the highest implied team total on tonight’s slate, so stack the Tigers to your heart’s content.
Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers, $4,900 - Mullins just keeps hitting. The outfielder comes into tonight’s matchup with Mize batting .320 with a .399 wOBA so far this season against RHPs. That’s incredibly good. Plus, while Detroit’s former first-overall pick has been better when pitching at home in 2021, a majority of his issues have stemmed from facing left-handed opponents. To wit, Mize has conceded a whopping 2.28 home runs per nine to LHBs. Mullins — along with a value option like DJ Stewart ($2,600) — should be licking their chops.
Hunter Renfroe, Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $3,700 - A former Padres draft pick, Renfroe has seen a lot of Hyun Jin Ryu ($8,600). The results haven’t been great throughout his career, but that doesn’t change the fact that Renfroe generally mashes left-handed pitching. In fact, the veteran owns an .841 OPS and a 130 wRC+ within the split so far in 2021. With Rafael Devers ($5,900) set to get the day off on Thursday, look for Renfroe to also be hitting clean-up for Boston.
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