Though it might not appear at first glance like Tuesday’s 14-game featured MLB slate is all that top-heavy in the pitching department — Corbin Burnes ($10,600) is the lone arm priced above $10K — there’s a sneaky amount of depth on the schedule. That’s especially true if both Yu Darvish ($9,400) and Julio Urias ($9,200) do in fact make their return from the IL.
So, how do you decide which starters are for you this evening? I’ve got you covered. Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you’ll need to know.
Editor’s Note: Padres RP Pierce Johnson will start tonight’s game vs. the Dodgers.
Jack Flaherty, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Detroit Tigers, $9,600 - Flaherty has looked incredible since making his long-awaited return from the IL, allowing just two earned runs across 12.0 innings of work. The right-hander has also posted a 2.88 xFIP and a 31.0% strikeout rate within this recent span, really driving home the sense that Flaherty is all the way back from his injury woes. However, this isn’t just about the Cardinals’ ace. The Tigers’ offense has stagnated since a productive June and July, as the team’s 26.6% strikeout rate in August is the highest mark in the American League. Unsurprisingly, that lack of contact has translated into an uninspiring 83 wRC+. Flaherty should roll on Tuesday.
Madison Bumgarner, Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates, $7,100 - Speaking of pitchers who have made a triumphant return from the IL, Bumgarner has been almost unhittable going back to July 16 — his first start following a lengthy shoulder issue. In that seven-outing stretch, the veteran has registered a sterling 1.93 ERA to go along with an opponent wOBA of just .259. In general, it’s worth noting that Bumgarner’s velocity is up considerably in 2021 from where it was in 2020, with the 32-year-old averaging 86.2 mph on his cutter compared to a cringe-worthy 83.5 mph. It hasn’t translated into too many strikeouts, but it’s obvious we’re dealing with a changed man. With the Pirates owning an MLB-worst 58 wRC+ in August, I’d expect the good times to continue for Bumgarner.
Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres, $4,900 - If Darvish does pitch on Tuesday, count me among those not ready to trust the former All-Star quite yet. The RHP’s most recent six starts have been a nightmare, particularly when it comes to dealing with right-handed opponents. To wit, RHBs have slashed .322/.359/.712 with a .441 wOBA off of Darvish since July 8. Smith and his second half wRC+ of 159 should be able to do some damage.
Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates, $3,600 - Look, am I crazy enough to believe that Varsho is going to hit a home run in every game he plays? Not quite. However, I’m not exactly expecting his bat to cool off in a matchup with JT Brubaker ($6,700). Varsho has now homered in three-straight contests following a long ball on Monday. In 91 second half plate appearances, the 25-year-old has a 1.168 OPS. Meanwhile, Brubaker has surrendered 3.5 opponent home runs per nine going back to the start of July. That’s exceedingly bad.
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Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles, $6,400 - If there’s one flaw in Ohtani’s game, it’s his 30.5% strikeout rate. It’s almost too mind-bending to think about what his numbers could be with a higher contact rate, as a league-best 24.4% of Ohtani’s batted ball events are barrels. Anyway, he’s going to be able to put the ball in play on Tuesday. Spenser Watkins ($5,300) is starting for the Orioles and he’s only been able to strikeout 10.2% of the LHBs he’s seen his past five games. Good luck, Spenser.
Josh Bell, Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins, $4,000 - It has not been a good start to Jesus Luzardo’s ($6,400) career in Miami. In his four starts since being traded to the Marlins, the lefty has seen opponents slash .309/.443/.588 with a .432 wOBA. That means the Nationals’ bats are a little more enticing than usual on Tuesday, including the switch-hitting Bell. So far in 2021, Bell owns an .811 OPS and a .265 ISO when batting right-handed. Not bad at all.
Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves vs. New York Yankees, $5,700 - August hasn’t been the best month for Albies, but the switch-hitter is still slashing .313/.347/.582 with a 142 wRC+ against left-handed pitching for the season as a whole. Also, while Andrew Heaney ($7,500) did pitch well his last time out against the Red Sox, he’s sporting a 7.72 FIP as a member of the Yankees. Nine home runs in four starts will do that to a guy.
Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Detroit Tigers, $3,600 - Alright. Get ready for some small sample magic. Casey Mize ($6,300) has struggled with LHBs all year long, but especially so in August. In three starts in the month, the rookie has faced 23 lefties. Those 23 plate appearances have resulted in four home runs and a .602 wOBA. Edman isn’t exactly known for his power, but he is a switch-hitter who will likely be atop the Cardinals’ lineup on Tuesday. That’s more than enough to be viable at this price.
Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres, $4,800 - For whatever reason, Turner has thrived when hitting away from Dodger Stadium in 2021, posting a .939 OPS and a .404 wOBA in his 245 plate appearances on the road. Still, I’d be lying if I said his viability was about location splits. Mainly, this is another elite right-handed bat to throw at the aforementioned Darvish, who could be pretty rusty on Tuesday evening.
J.D. Davis, New York Mets vs. San Francisco Giants, $3,200 - Davis basically checks every possible box on this slate. He’s cheap. He’s red-hot at the plate. He’s in an opposite-hand matchup. He’s likely going to be batting clean-up. Honestly, what more could you ask for? Davis owns a 134 wRC+ so far in August, while Sammy Long ($6,600) is set to make an emergency appearance and possesses a 5.82 ERA as a starter. There’s so much value to be had here.
Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox vs. Minnesota Twins, $5,600 - The Red Sox have one of this slate’s highest implied team totals and you don’t have to look far to figure out why. Griffin Jax ($6,100) will be taking the mound for the Twins on Tuesday, and though his name is awesome, his FIP is a far less appealing 5.92 so far this season. Jax has specifically struggled with RHBs, too, as righties have slugged .557 off of the rookie. Enter Bogaerts, who is right-handed, and also happens to own a 160 wRC+ when hitting at Fenway Park in 2021.
Amed Rosario, Cleveland Guardians vs. Texas Rangers, $4,000 - Though Rosario doesn’t possess elite power, he’s managed to make himself a truly tantalizing DFS asset when facing a southpaw opponent. In fact, in 160 plate appearances within the split so far in 2021, Rosario is slashing .336/.381/.523 with a 146 wRC+. Add in his cemented role as Cleveland’s no. 2 hitter, and there’s a lot to like about the middle infielder on Tuesday.
Editor’s Note: Diamondbacks OF Ketel Marte is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Pirates.
Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates, $4,700 - Marte has had two modes so far in 2021: He’s either hitting or he’s injured. Well, unless something weird happens in the next few hours, the former will be the case on Tuesday night. Marte has a 151 wRC+ in his 227 plate appearances — the 12th-highest mark in baseball among players with at least 200 PAs. He’s incredibly good and he should be able to take advantage of Brubaker, who is sporting an ugly 8.84 ERA going back to the beginning of July.
David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates, $3,100 - Well, by this point, you’ve probably picked up on the pattern. I don’t think JT Brubaker is going to pitch well on Tuesday. So, while Peralta’s production has been way down in 2021, he’s viable due to his overwhelmingly positive matchup. ...his overwhelmingly positive matchup and his microscopic price point as middle-of-the-order bat.
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