Look, even baseball knows you’re not going to be watching baseball tonight, as the Schedule Gods have bestowed upon us one of the smaller slates of the season. It’s a slate that could get even smaller, too, with rain expected in both Philadelphia and New York. Make sure to keep an eye on that and an earlier than usual lock time.
For everything else, let’s go position-by-position.
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Marcus Stroman, New York Mets at Miami Marlins, $9,400 - I think we all know the deal with Stroman at this point in his career. The former first-round pick won’t ever floor you with his strikeout numbers, yet he’s able to consistently outperform his peripheral statistics thanks to his ability to induce soft contact. He’s stable. He’s safe. However, in a vacuum, he just might be able to rack up some strikeouts this evening against the Marlins. Not only does Miami own the league’s second-highest chase rate (35.7%) and its third-highest strikeout rate (25.3%) across the past two weeks; but Stroman’s managed to register 30 strikeouts of his own in his last 29.1 innings of work. That might not seem all that amazing, however, when combined with the Marlins’ contact issues, I think it might produce a perfect storm for DFS.
Ranger Suarez, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Colorado Rockies, $7,400 - This is a fantastic spot for Suarez, who has managed to make a seamless transition from the bullpen to the rotation. In his seven starts in 2021, the lefty has pitched to a 1.71 ERA and a 2.79 FIP, striking out a respectable 23.1% of opponents and limiting teams to an underwhelming .256 wOBA. Again, it’s gone about as well as anyone in the Phillies’ organization could have hoped. Now, he’ll draw the hapless Rockies, playing in their first game on the road after a lengthy homestand. Can you say Coors Effect? Colorado ranks dead-last in baseball in OPS (.620), wOBA (.273) and wRC+ (68) when playing on the road so far this season. Simply put, they can’t hit away from the altitude and Suarez should take advantage.
Sal Perez, Kansas City Royals at Baltimore Orioles, $6,100 - While it is a little absurd to pay this much for a catcher, Perez very well might be worth the surplus salary. In reality, the veteran has been mashing the ball going back to the beginning of 2020, but isolating his numbers since the All-Star break is somehow even more impressive. In that 206 plate appearance sample, Perez has produced a whopping .359 ISO and 157 wRC+, as he’s been able to go yard 21 times. Add in some sterling splits against LHPs, and it’s difficult not to like Perez in his matchup with John Means ($7,100) this evening.
Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees, $3,800 - You’re never dealing with the largest sample sizes when discussing Kirk, but it’s important to understand that the stocky backstop comes into Thursday with a career 135 wRC+. In 2021, Kirk’s sporting an impressive .381 expected wOBA for the season as a whole, while he’s also managed to slash .303/.360/.517 in his 100 plate appearances since being activated off the IL. The kid can just hit. There’s nothing more to it.
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Pete Alonso, New York Mets at Miami Marlins, $4,800 - There are few players on this slate as red-hot as Alonso, who comes into tonight’s matchup with Jesus Luzardo ($6,700) slashing .349/.406/.698 with a 191 wRC+ over his past 22 games. Alonso has also hit left-handed pitching well all season long, sporting a .357 ISO and a 153 wRC+ within the split. Yes, Luzardo has looked better in his last two outings, yet he’s still rocking a 7.00 ERA for 2021 as a whole. I think Alonso’s in for a huge night.
Anthony Rizzo, New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $4,100 - I’d much rather find the extra $700 for the aforementioned Alonso, but Rizzo could also end up as a useful asset on tonight’s small slate. Really, his value is mostly derived from Jose Berrios ($9,200) tending to struggle against LHBs. While RHBs have only been able to muster a paltry .237 wOBA against the former All-Star, lefties have combined for a .349 mark so far in 2021.
Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals, $5,400 - Generally, you’d want to be using Albies against a left-handed opponent; but with the infielder having posted a 174 wRC+ through the first eight days of September, I think we’re safe to go against his platoon advantage this one time. It also helps that the Braves have by far this slate’s highest implied run total, as the team will be squaring off with the struggling Erick Fedde ($6,500). The right-hander has pitched to a 6.63 ERA and a 1.72 WHIP since the beginning of July. Not great.
Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies at Philadelphia Phillies, $3,900 - If you’re playing one Rockies hitter this evening — and that’s all I’d recommend — it has to be Rodgers. The former third-overall pick is one of very few Colorado players that’s actually hit better outside of Coors Field so far this season, posting a 122 wRC+ on the road. Heck, in Rodgers’ 39 plate appearances against southpaws away from home in 2021, he’s hitting .351 with a .512 wOBA. Small sample noise notwithstanding, that’s a pretty jaw-dropping stat line.
Editor’s Note: Mets 2B Jonathan Villar is not in tonight's lineup vs the Marlins.
Jonathan Villar, New York Mets at Miami Marlins, $4,400 - This is good value for the switch-hitting Villar, who is slashing .311/.378/.533 with a 149 wRC+ since the beginning of August. Villar’s power surge is particularly of interest this evening, as Luzardo has surrendered an insane 2.01 home runs per nine to opposing RHBs so far in 2021.
J.D. Davis, New York Mets at Miami Marlins, $2,200 - It’s unclear how the Mets are going to deploy their lineup, but if Davis is in it, he’s almost a must-play. The veteran has posted a 137 wRC+ in his 190 plate appearances so far this season, yet the presence of Villar, Francisco Lindor ($4,700) and Javier Baez ($4,700) has eaten away at his playing time. Still, this is the cheapest Davis has been all season and, just last Saturday, he hit clean-up for New York against a left-handed starter. Keep an eye open.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees, $5,200 - Are people going to be stacking the Blue Jays tonight? Aside from the rain concerns, I’m generally curious. Nestor Cortes ($8,000) has been pitching well enough that the average fan might be starting to fear him, when in truth, the lefty owns a massive 5.02 xFIP over his last six outings. Regression is coming, and I expect a Toronto team that leads baseball in wOBA the past two weeks (.363) will have something to do with said regression. As for Bichette specifically, he owns a 149 wRC+ against LHPs in 2021.
Adalberto Mondesi, Kansas City Royals at Baltimore Orioles, $4,500 - Brendan Rodgers also has shortstop eligibility if you really need to save some money, but Mondesi is a high-ceiling option in the mid-tier. It’s only a 59 plate appearance sample, yet Mondesi’s been able to rack up the counting stats, registering five home runs and seven stolen bases in his injury-shortened campaign. Sure, contact rate remains a major concern, yet it’s not like Means is a Cy Young candidate. In fact, the lefty has allowed opposing RHBs to compile a .614 slugging percentage over his last five starts. Yuck.
Teoscar Hernandez, Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees, $4,500 - Among all qualified hitters, Hernandez comes into Thursday with the second-best wRC+ (193) and the third-best wOBA (.457) against left-handed pitchers. With Cortes due for some normalization and the always hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium playing host to this evening’s proceedings, I’d argue Hernandez is about $500 too cheap on this particular slate.
Lourdes Gurriel, Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees, $3,500 - If we are stacking Blue Jays, I’d highly recommend adding Gurriel to a few lineups. He’s flown a little under the radar on a star-studded roster, but the Cuban-born outfielder has been on fire since the beginning of August, slashing .330/.393/.580 with a 161 wRC+ in 112 plate appearances. For his career, he’s also mashed left-handed pitching, so there’s a lot of reasons to be bullish on his output tonight.
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