Thanks to the quirk of three games starting between 6:00 p.m. ET and 7:00 p.m. ET, tonight’s featured MLB slate is a little bit smaller than we’re used to seeing on a Tuesday. However, while we might be down to 11 games, it appears most of the night’s questionable weather is Cleveland and Cincinnati, so the quirk may end up saving some headaches in the long run.
Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything else you’ll need to know to set a few lineup this evening.
Kevin Gausman, San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres, $10,100 - While it would appear on the surface that Gausman is having a bit of a rough stretch so far in September, the underlying numbers tell a much different story. Despite a 4.70 ERA across 23.0 innings of work, Gausman has registered a sterling 2.00 xFIP in the month, thanks mostly to a 33.3% strikeout rate and a 10.7 K/BB ratio. It just so happens that the few batted ball events he’s conceded have led to an unsustainable .379 opponent BABIP. I’d look for his fortune to change this evening in a matchup with the floundering Padres. San Diego ranks dead-last in both ISO (.095) and wRC+ (69) the past two weeks, so Gausman should be able to cruise.
Drew Rasmussen, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $6,800 - Honestly, there’s a decent chance that the optimal build for tonight features two pitchers priced above $8K, because there’s nothing but table scraps below that mark in the salary list. It’s not even that these pitchers have bad matchups, so much as it’s September pitch counts and openers making any sort of ceiling difficult to envision. Still, it’s actually Rasmussen’s floor that makes him somewhat viable on Tuesday, even against a red-hot Blue Jays lineup. The right-hander has now started eight games for the Rays, pitching to a 1.97 ERA and holding opponents to a microscopic .215 wOBA. It’s doubtful he’ll end up pitching more than two trips through the order, but on a slate this devoid of depth, that’s enough.
Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies, $5,400 - You’d be hard-pressed to find someone more locked in at the plate than Smith, who’s slashing .296/.415/.638 with a 176 wRC+ dating back to the All-Star break. So, while Antonio Senzatela ($7,500) has actually been quite solid in 2021, I’d have to say Smith’s extremely viable playing in the altitude on Tuesday.
Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs vs. Minnesota Twins, $3,900 - Though Contreras has been slumping since the beginning of August, tonight’s matchup with Griffin Jax ($6,400) is too juicy to ignore at this price tag. Jax has simply been unable to keep opposing RHBs in the ballpark so far this season, as the rookie’s surrendered 2.68 home runs per nine within the split. The Cubs may not be the prettiest lineup on paper, but they can certainly hit some long balls.
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Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves at Arizona Diamondbacks, $5,400 - Freeman’s exploits have flown a little under the radar in 2021, as a rough start to the season pretty much buried any chance the veteran had at back-to-back MVP awards. Still, there have been few hitters in baseball more productive since the beginning of July. Within that span, Freeman is batting .341 with a 153 wRC+ and a .406 wOBA. Look for the good times to continue this evening in a matchup with Luke Weaver ($7,800), who has allowed opposing LHBs register 2.14 home runs per nine so far this season.
J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Baltimore Orioles, $4,100 - To say the Phillies getting blanked by the Orioles on Monday is a low-point of their season might be an understatement. However, today is a new day, and Philadelphia is one of a handful of clubs with an implied team total of at least five runs. Realmuto has struggled with nagging injuries all season long and that’s hampered his production, but this is too cheap a price tag for the All-Star backstop in a matchup with Baltimore’s flawed pitching staff.
Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins at Chicago Cubs, $5,000 - Polanco, who has posted a 151 wRC+ since the beginning of July, is pretty much viable in any situation. The 28-year-old is a switch-hitter with an OPS of at least .825 as both an RHB and an LHB, so he’s not really someone where you need to dig too deep into his splits. That is, his handedness splits. Where things get really interesting is on the road, where Polanco owns an eye-popping .295 ISO and a .391 wOBA for the season. He’ll get the opportunity to hit in Chicago this evening, squaring off with Alec Mills ($6,200). In 2021, Mills has surrendered a massive .389 wOBA to the 215 left-handed batters he’s faced. That’s bad.
Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, $4,000 - I will use Rodgers in DFS against any left-handed pitcher on the planet, so I’m not scared away by the presence of Julio Urias ($9,900). This season, in 92 plate appearances within the split, Rodgers is slashing .322/.359/.678 with a .356 ISO and a .432 wOBA. Add in the Coors Field location of this particular matchup, and you’ve got yourself a tantalizing value asset.
Editor’s Note: Astros 3B Alex Bregman is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Angels.
Alex Bregman, Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels , $4,200 - It’s really tough to wrap my head around this price tag. Not only has Bregman come off the IL swinging a hot stick — he’s posted a 149 wRC+ since his return on Aug. 25 — but, as always, he’s crushed left-handed pitching in 2021, sporting a .327 average and a .908 OPS. Maybe the power numbers haven’t been elite this season, yet in a matchup with Packy Naughton ($5,300) , I’d suggest that Bregman’s about $1,000 too cheap.
Charlie Culberson, Texas Rangers at New York Yankees, $3,000 - There’s no need to get too complex with a value play at third base. Simply put, Culberson has crushed left-handed pitching all season long and he’s too inexpensive on Tuesday’s slate. The veteran is slashing .350/.382/.651 with a 155 wRC+ in his 134 plate appearances within the split. That’s some really, really good production from an unexpected source.
Carlos Correa, Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels, $4,500 - Correa is in a very similar spot to the aforementioned Bregman. The Astros come into Tuesday with one of the highest non-Coors implied team totals on this slate, yet Correa’s price point is more than digestible. In fact, it’s almost a value. The former top prospect has been red-hot in September, slashing .333/.365/.580 with a 157 wRC+ in 74 plate appearances. The fact his salary isn’t above $5K is mystifying.
Willy Adames, Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals, $3,800 - Like Correa, a lot of Adames’ viability comes down to salary. We’re just in a territory that we don’t normally see with the shortstop, as Adames was priced well above $5K a week before going on the IL in early September. It’s also not like Jake Woodford ($5,600) is a pitcher to fear. In fact, the rookie is sporting a 4.98 xERA and a 5.00 xFIP for the season. Adames should be able to do some damage.
Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Baltimore Orioles, $6,000 - Everyone knows Harper has been crushing every baseball in sight the past two months, but to see the statistics laid out in front of you is still breathtaking. Since July 20, Harper is slashing .349/.484/.755 with a 214 wRC+. Again, that’s not a small sample. That’s 250 plate appearances. Harper also has a 1.393 OPS against specifically right-handed pitching within that same span, so the combination of Conner Greene ($4,000) and Chris Ellis ($7,200) shouldn’t scare him in the least.
Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Baltimore Orioles, $3,600 - Herrera has been leading off for the Phillies as of late, and while that might seem like a questionable choice, the outfielder has been hitting well since the beginning of August. To wit, against RHPs within that span, Herrera is slashing .309/.368/.512 with a .203 ISO and a 134 wRC+. If Philadelphia gets back on track this evening, there’s a good chance Herrera was in the middle of the action.
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