Somehow today is the last day of August. I’m not quite sure how it happened. There was a lot of baseball and a lot of DFS lineups, but it’s all sort of a blur. So, even though I don’t really trust the calendar right now, it’s probably time to say we’ve reached the home stretch of the 2021 season.
Let’s finish out the month strong and break down Tuesday’s 14-game slate position-by-position.
Charlie Morton, Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers, $8,900 - Let’s get things going with a bit of a variance play. For as good as Morton’s been the past few months, there are so many great pitchers on this slate with slam dunk matchups that I think he’ll go a little under appreciated on Tuesday with a star-studded Dodgers lineup staring him down. That’s fine by me, because Los Angeles really hasn’t been hitting lately. In fact, across the past two weeks, the Dodgers are batting a putrid .208 with an 81 wRC+. They’ve also struck out in 25.4% of their plate appearances within that span — the fifth-highest mark in baseball. Meanwhile, Morton’s in possession of a 2.14 xFIP and a 34.2% strikeout rate in August. He’s rolling right now and I’m willing to back him even in a less than ideal spot.
Blake Snell, San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks, $7,700 - Here’s another reason why Morton is a solid play in GPPs: Everyone and their mother is going to be using Snell as their SP2. It’s a difficult move to argue with. Snell has looked like the Cy Young version of himself in his past five outings, pitching to a 2.12 ERA and a 2.96 FIP. He’s also posted a whopping 37.9% strikeout rate and a 15.0% swinging strike rate within this span of time. Those aren’t normally numbers you find with an asset priced below $8K. Adding to the appeal is the fact that Arizona might be Snell’s perfect matchup. Not only are the Diamondbacks light on MLB talent, but they lead the National League in left-on-left plate appearances. Snell, a lefty, has held LHBs to just a .226 wOBA so far in 2021.
Sal Perez, Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Guardians, $5,400 - You sort of have to keep riding Perez, right? The All-Star catcher comes into tonight’s matchup with Zach Plesac ($8,500) having hit a home run in each of his past five games. That gives him a total of 12 so far in August, a month where Perez has mustered a 1.022 OPS and a 166 wRC+. In short, he’s on fire and I can’t really say the same for Plesac, as Cleveland’s RHP has surrendered 2.3 opponent home runs per nine dating back to May 18.
Yan Gomes, Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers, $3,900 - I’m actually not really looking to stack against Tarik Skubal ($7,400) this evening, as he’s been pitching incredibly the past month, but utilizing Gomes on an island isn’t the worst idea. In general, it’s simply a good idea to use the veteran when he’s facing a left-handed opponent. For the season, Gomes is slashing .326/.326/.609 with a 148 wRC+ within the split. Skubal, for all his positives, has also been known to concede a few long balls.
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Jonathan Schoop, Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics, $5,300 - We’ve probably reached the point where I don’t have to explain that Schoop has crushed left-handed pitching this season, but the veteran is hitting .352 with a 166 wRC+ in his 161 plate appearances within the split. Cole Irvin ($6,500) isn’t your average LHP, either. While his surface numbers remain decent, Irvin is in possession of a 5.64 xFIP across his past seven starts, as he’s completely lost the ability to strike out anyone. Heck, specific to his past three appearances, Irving has combined for three strikeouts total. I’ll pick on a contact rate like that all week long.
Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays, $3,900 - Mountcastle has gone through waves of success in 2021 and we’re certainly at a high point as August comes to and end. In the month, the rookie is slashing .364/.405/.803 with eight home runs and a 217 wRC+. For the season as a whole, Mountcastle has also registered an .888 OPS versus left-handed pitchers. Hyun-Jin Ryu ($8,600) isn’t usually someone I’m looking to stack against, but the former All-Star hasn’t looked like himself lately, with a 7.84 ERA in his last four outings. Mountcastle could have the upper hand at Rogers Centre.
Editor’s Note: Red Sox RP Brad Peacock will start tonight’s game vs. the Rays.
Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox, $5,200 - It seems like Garrett Richards ($6,700) is going to get his first start in some time on Tuesday, which is likely great news for the Rays. Richards has looked better pitching out of the bullpen for the Sox, but as a starter in 2021, the veteran owns a 5.15 FIP and has surrendered a .372 wOBA to opponents. As for Lowe, it hasn’t really mattered who he’s facing since the beginning of July. In his last 203 plate appearances, Lowe has managed a .997 OPS and a massive .343 ISO. He is the definition of locked in right now.
DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels, $3,900 - As per usual, the Yankees have one of the slate’s highest implied team totals this evening, which puts their leadoff hitter into an enticing situation. While it has been an underwhelming season for the LeMahieu, you could easily say the same for Jaime Barria ($6,400), who will be tasked with pitching against New York on Tuesday night. The RHP has posted an ugly 6.14 xERA across his 34.0 innings of work, while he’s struck out a mere 12.6% of the opponents he’s seen in 2021. The Yankees are going to put up some crooked numbers, and I’d assume LeMahieu gets in on the fun.
Alex Bregman, Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners, $5,100 - Bregman, who has five hits in his first four games back from the IL, has always hit left-handed pitching exceedingly well. To wit, the infielder has a career .326 average within the split with an eye-popping 170 wRC+. If he’s healthy, you roll him out there versus a southpaw, and by all accounts, he’s healthy. It also helps his viability that Yusei Kikuchi ($8,300) is on the mound for Seattle. Kikuchi has struggled over his last nine starts, giving up 2.3 home runs per nine and allowing opponents to combine for a .405 wOBA.
Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, $4,200 - To get the best out of Moncada in 2021, you need two things: For him to be facing a right-handed pitcher and for him to be hitting at home. In fact, in his 187 plate appearances under those conditions, Moncada is slashing .287/.401/.471 with a .381 wOBA. Considering Bryse Wilson ($6,100) has also surrendered 1.9 home runs per nine to LHBs so far this season, I’d have to say this is one of the best spots Chicago’s third baseman has been in all year.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles, $5,300 - With eight hits and just two strikeouts in his past five games, it seems safe to say that Bichette is no longer slumping. That’s great news for perspective owners, as the Jays’ shortstop draws an amazing matchup with Keegan Akin ($5,500) on Tuesday. In 12 starts in 2021, Akin has pitched to an inflated 7.86 ERA, as he’s allowed opponents to combine for a .403 wOBA. He’s also left-handed. Bichette is hitting .314 with a 136 wRC+ versus southpaws.
Freddy Galvis, Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals, $3,300 - There’s a very real chance that this game gets postponed due to weather concerns, but if we get the all clear, Galvis could be one of the better value options on the slate. The Nationals are starting Patrick Corbin ($7,100), who has allowed RHBs to slash .303/.345/.667 with a .418 wOBA across his past eight outings. Meanwhile, Galvis has an .830 OPS against LHPs so far in 2021.
Teoscar Hernandez, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles, $4,600 - This might come as a surprise to some, but among qualified hitters in the American League, no one has hit left-handed pitching in 2021 like Hernandez. The sliver slugger winner comes into Tuesday owning the AL’s top marks in both wOBA (.458) and wRC+ (193) within the split, which makes him an exceedingly high-ceiling DFS asset in a matchup with the aforementioned Akin.
Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays, $2,900 - I think we’re going to see a lot of runs on both sides of this matchup. Hays is always hitting in the top-third of the Orioles’ batting order when the team is facing an LHP and it doesn’t take too much digging to figure out why. In 156 plate appearances within the split so far this season, Hays is slashing .301/.340/.552 with a .252 ISO and a 141 wRC+. He’s simply too cheap on Tuesday night.
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