This is a weird night in baseball. There’s only three games on the diamond past 6:00 p.m. ET and, because of the presence of teams like Tampa Bay, Texas and Philadelphia, the pitching options are laughably bad. Still, that makes this slate pretty unique. I mean, who doesn’t love a challenge, right?
Let’s go position-by-position and break this thing down.
Editor’s Note: Phillies RP Cam Bedrosian will start tonight’s game vs. the Cubs.
Editor’s Note: Astros SP Framber Valdez (hand) has been scratched from tonight’s game vs. the Rangers. SP Luis Garcia will start.
Framber Valdez, Houston Astros at Texas Rangers , $10,200 - You need to use two pitchers on tonight’s slate and there are only three I’d confidently say will be given the opportunity to throw at least five innings. Therefore, floor becomes shockingly relevant, even in GPP settings. Well, Valdez fits the “high-floor” archetype pretty comfortably. The 27-year-old comes into Thursday with a 3.26 ERA, a 3.72 xERA and a 22.0% strikeout rate. Nothing overly impressive, but solid across the board. Really, you could make the case that Valdez’s matchup supplies more upside than the man himself. Texas has registered the league’s lowest wOBA (.284) and wRC+ (79) against left-handed pitching in 2021.
Tyler Alexander, Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays, $6,900 - Again, volume is the goal with this pick. It’s truly the only reason I’m interesting in rostering a pitcher with a 4.66 xERA in his battle with the league’s highest-scoring offense on the road. Actually, I might be selling Alexander a little short in that assessment. Over the 27-year-old’s past seven appearances, Alexander has produced a 2.79 ERA and has held opponents to a .276 OBP and a .290 wOBA. Like the aforementioned Valdez, Alexander doesn’t possess massive strikeout upside on his own, yet Tampa does sport the American League’s highest strikeout rate against left-handed pitching for the season as a whole (25.7%). If the southpaw can survive five innings and pick up even 15.0 DKFP, I’ll consider it a win.
Mike Zunino, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Detroit Tigers, $4,300 - On a slate this small, there’s going to be some overlap. Deal with it. While Alexander has been pitching well lately, Zunino has been crushing left-handed pitching since April. In 118 plate appearances within the split, the backstop is slashing .346/.424/.894 with a .504 wOBA and a 231 wRC+. Those are video game numbers. Heck, Zunino took Robbie Ray deep on Wednesday, I doubt he’ll have an issue with Detroit’s pitching staff.
Martin Maldonado, Houston Astros at Texas Rangers, $2,900 - Honestly, with Maldonado having caught the Astros’ past two games, there’s a chance that it’s Garrett Stubbs ($2,000) behind the plate this evening. That would be even better. The only reason either are viable in DFS is because Houston owns the slate’s highest implied team total, so give me the guy priced at the absolute minimum.
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Jonathan Schoop, Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays, $4,300 - While the right-handed Louis Head ($7,000) will open tonight’s contest for the Rays, the left-handed Dietrich Enns ($6,200) is expected to pitch the bulk of the innings against the Tigers. In 172 plate appearances versus LHPs in 2021, Schoop is slashing .342/.395/.561 with a 158 wRC+. If he can muster two PAs off of Enns, I’d expect him to bring back value.
Frank Schwindel, Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia Phillies, $3,700 - Schwindel just continues to produce. The journeyman comes into tonight’s game with the Phillies having registered multi-hit performances in six of his last 10 starts, as he’s now batting .337 with a 170 wRC+ for the season. Is his expected wOBA nearly 90 points lower than his actual mark of .426? Yes. However, at this price, I’m willing to overlook a few details. The fact Schwindel will be facing Adonis Medina ($5,400) doesn’t hurt, either. The 24-year-old was just called up from Triple-A, where he posted a 5.05 ERA across 17 starts.
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros at Texas Rangers, $5,100 - Couple things to think about here. First, Altuve has been red-hot in September, slashing .347/.429/.592 with a 183 wRC+ through his opening 56 plate appearances of the month. Second, for his career, Altuve has some pretty balanced splits, with an OPS above .800 against both RHPs and LHPs. Well, considering Texas is going to be using both Glenn Otto ($7,700) and Kolby Allard ($4,900) this evening, that’s a trait that just might come in handy.
Nick Solak, Texas Rangers vs. Houston Astros, $3,300 - In the 22 games Solak has played since his recall on Aug. 21, he’s hitting .301 with a 116 wRC+. For the season as a whole, Solak has also tended to benefit from the presence of left-handed opponents, as his 108 wRC+ within the split dwarfs his 77 wRC+ against RHPs in 2021. Valdez is a pretty good lefty, but he’s a lefty all the same.
Alex Bregman, Houston Astros at Texas Rangers, $4,500 - So, if you haven’t been paying attention, Bregman’s looked unstoppable at the plate since returning from the IL in late August. In 17 games, the third baseman is slashing .377/.435/.578 with a 180 wRC+. Bregman also has a career .998 OPS against left-handed pitching, so I’m sure he’ll be rather pleased with the aforementioned Allard makes his way in from the bullpen.
Charlie Culberson, Texas Rangers vs. Houston Astros, $3,300 - In 131 plate appearances against left-handed pitching in 2021, Culberson is slashing .350/.383/.524 with a 150 wRC+. That, ladies and gentleman, is a certified platoon bat. Unfortunately, Culberson is usually relegated to the bottom of the Rangers’ lineup, but he still carries value on a slate this small.
Carlos Correa, Houston Astros at Texas Rangers, $4,800 - There’s only two active shortstops priced above $4K on tonight’s slate and one of them, Freddy Galvis ($4,000), isn’t even an everyday player for the Phillies. So, Correa is your guy if you have the funds. Like many of his teammates, Correa doesn’t really suffer from lopsided splits — he has a wRC+ above 130 against both RHPs and LHPs in 2021 — so he should be a strong play with Texas piggybacking starters this evening.
Didi Gregorius, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Chicago Cubs, $3,500 - Gregorius is having a nightmarish 2021 campaign, but he’ll likely be hitting in the middle of the Phillies’ lineup on Thursday against Kyle Hendricks ($8,900). That alone is enough to make him viable. Hendricks has struggled mightily over his past six outings, pitching to an 8.16 ERA and a 6.20 FIP. He’s also allowed opponents to slash .305/.379/.547 with a .393 wOBA within that span. Hendricks is on the ropes and Gregorius should be able to take advantage.
Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros at Texas Rangers, $4,900 - While Bryce Harper ($5,700) is justifiably the most expensive outfielder on tonight’s slate, I wanted to give some love to Tucker, who I think will be slightly less popular than the likely NL MVP. Oddly enough, going back to the beginning of May, it’s these two men that are tied atop the wRC+ leaderboard among qualified players with a mark of 169. That’s how good Tucker has been since a slow start in April relegated him as back page news. Tucker has also managed an OPS of over .850 against both lefties and righties in 2021, so he’s matchup proof heading into Thursday’s tilt with Texas.
Rafael Ortega, Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia Phillies, $3,900 - Ortega will be leading off for the Cubs this evening against the rookie Medina. In 2021, Ortega is hitting .325 with a 145 wRC+ versus right-handed opponents. Considering Medina’s lack of success at Triple-A and his overall lack of experience, I’ll give Ortega the upper-hand in this matchup.
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