If Wednesday was a slate that was defined by the amount of quality pitching options available, tonight’s nine-game featured slate might be the exact opposite. Yes, likely American League Cy Young winner Robbie Ray ($10,000) is scheduled to take the mound for Toronto, but aside from him, the top end of the pricing list is filled with flawed assets.
So, who should you be building your lineups around? Let’s go position-by-position and break it all down.
Lance McCullers, Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays, $9,600 - This is an odd slate. Of the top six pitchers on the pricing list, Ray and McCullers are the only ones without some type of pitch count concern, essentially leaving the duo as the only viable assets in the group. Also, given how similarly daunting each’s matchup is, I think we can assume that Ray will be the more popular of the pair, as he’s easily had the more impressive campaign. So, with that in mind, let’s pivot slightly with McCullers this evening. It’s not like he’s been lacking for good outings as of late. In fact, dating back to Aug. 31, McCullers has registered a 2.48 ERA and a 3.20 FIP, all while holding opponents to a .194 average and a .291 slugging percentage. Ray might possess more raw upside, but in tournaments, I think McCullers is the play.
Rich Hill, New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins, $7,000 - Speaking of GPP options, Hill is in a very enticing matchup this evening, yet he still might go overlooked, as he’s the exact same price as Nick Pivetta ($7,000) going up against the Orioles. Honestly, I hope that’s exactly what happens. Hill has quietly been pitching some amazing baseball the past few weeks, sporting a 2.84 ERA, a 2.47 FIP and a 27.8% strikeout rate across his past six outings. He’ll also be squaring off with a Marlins team that currently possesses the NL’s lowest OPS (.654) and wOBA (.284) against left-handed pitchers. In fact, coming into Thursday’s slate, Miami has the entire league’s highest strikeout rate versus southpaws at 27.6%. You couldn’t ask for a better spot for the 41-year-old.
Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, $4,700 - Despite having pitched for the Diamondbacks for two seasons, Madison Bumgarner ($6,300) has never had to face his former teammate. Depending on what the Giants’ lineup looks like on Thursday, that could change. Unfortunately for Bumgarner, he’s not exactly entering this reunion in great form, pitching to a 6.17 ERA and a 6.42 FIP over his last six starts. Meanwhile, Posey’s crushed left-handed pitchers all season long, registering a .365 average and a 175 wRC+ in his 116 plate appearances within the split.
Carson Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants, $3,300 - Kelly’s struggled at the plate since breaking his wrist back on June 19, but his numbers against left-handed pitchers in 2021 are still pretty impressive. In 132 plate appearances within the split, Kelly’s managed to slash .309/.409/.609 with a .300 ISO and a 164 wRC+. At this price, I’ll take my chances with the backstop, even if he isn’t quite 100%.
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Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres, $5,400 - Muncy’s been flirting with the Mendoza line since the beginning of August, yet the slugger still has 14 home runs to his name within that span of time. Muncy also sports a .409 expected wOBA in 2021 — the seventh-highest qualified mark in all of baseball. Long story short, he’s very good at hitting. Vince Velasquez ($7,200) can not make the same claim about pitching, at least so far this season. Velasquez comes into Thursday with a 5.56 FIP and he’s allowed opposing LHBs to compile a massive .392 wOBA.
Pete Alonso, New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins, $3,900 - Despite a .290 ISO and a 135 wRC+ in the month of September, Alonso’s price tag has been falling precipitously as of late. In fact, on Thursday, for just the third time in 2021, Alonso will be less than $4K on a DraftKings slate. I don’t understand why that is. It certainly isn’t due to a difficult matchup, as Edward Cabrera ($5,600) has done nothing but struggle since coming to the majors. The rookie owns a 9.17 xERA and has surrendered 1.93 opponent home runs per nine through his first six starts.
Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants, $4,600 - I don’t have many rules in my life, but one of them is definitely to play Marte against a left-handed opponent if he’s healthy. Heck, if he’s less that $5K, maybe try and play him twice. In 114 plate appearances versus LHPs, Marte is slashing .390/.439/.743 with a 206 wRC+. While Scott Kazmir ($6,200) is a great story, he also owns a 7.16 xERA in his four appearances for the Giants in 2021. He’s just not that good and Marte should take advantage.
Jose Iglesias, Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles, $3,300 - It’s hard to get too excited to utilize an asset that’s going to be batting ninth; however, Iglesias has been fantastic since joining the Red Sox, hitting .358 with a 156 wRC+ as a member of Boston. He’s also just batting .301 against left-handed pitching for the season as a whole, which is a nice trait to be carrying into a matchup with Alexander Wells ($5,200).
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Guardians at Kansas City Royals, $5,800 - After slumping throughout the month of July, Ramirez has been his usual self since the beginning of August. To wit, in his last 234 plate appearances, the All-Star has managed a .948 OPS to go along with a 152 wRC+. He’s also stolen a whopping 15 bases within this same span, because of course he has. He’s Jose Ramirez. The veteran should have the upper hand in his matchup tonight with Angel Zerpa ($4,000), a 22-year-old rookie who has pitched exactly 1.1 innings above Double-A. Good luck, kid.
Jonathan Villar, New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins, $3,100 - As mentioned above, Cabrera has not had a lot of success pitching in the MLB, and nowhere is that more apparent than in his splits against left-handed hitters. The rookie has faced 59 LHBs in 2021 and those opponents have combined to slash .283/.441/.609 with a .442 wOBA. Villar, along with any other left-handed bat in the Mets’ lineup, should have a field day.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees, $5,600 - There are few hitters in baseball as streaky as Bichette, who hit a pair of home runs in Wednesday’s 6-5 victory over the Yankees. There are also few hitters in baseball who are as complete a fantasy asset, as yesterday’s performance vaulted Bichette into his own statistical category. The All-Star is now the only player in the league with 100-plus RBI, 20-plus stolen bases and a batting average above .290. He can do it all, and his matchup on Thursday is pretty nice. Corey Kluber ($8,200) has conceded a .359 wOBA to RHBs in 2021, as all eight home runs he’s surrendered have been to right-handers.
Editor’s Note: Cleveland SS Amed Rosario is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Royals.
Amed Rosario, Cleveland Guardians vs. Kansas City Royals, $4,200 - I like to play Rosario against pretty much any southpaw, so the fact I can use him in a matchup with the inexperienced Zerpa is fantastic news. Rosario has been amazing within the split in 2021, slashing .314/.358/.486 with a 131 wRC+ in 187 plate appearances. He’ll also be hitting in the top-third of Cleveland’s lineup, so five PAs is a very real possibility.
George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees, $5,000 - Springer was mired in a long slump following his return from a knee issue; however, that dark period seems to have passed for the former All-Star. In his last four games, Springer has racked up seven hits, including two doubles and two home runs. He’s also playing the outfield again for the Blue Jays, a good indication that he’s much healthier than he was even three weeks ago. I’d look for Springer and the rest of this RHB-heavy Toronto lineup to do some damage against Kluber, who has a 5.35 FIP versus right-handed hitters in 2021.
Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins, $3,200 - Nimmo’s just too cheap. Even if he didn’t have an incredible matchup this evening — which he does — we’re talking about New York’s leadoff man being this close to $3K. That’s wild, especially considering that Nimmo’s been a beast when hitting at Citi Field in 2021. To wit, the outfielder has an .886 OPS and a 154 wRC+ within the split.
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