At the risk of being hyperbolic, Tuesday’s 12-game featured slate might have the deepest crop of starting pitchers I can ever remember seeing. There’s former first-round picks and Cy Young winners scattered across the pricing list, and if that wasn’t enough, an IL quirk has Wade Miley ($4,000) bringing up the rear at the bare minimum. He posted a 3.37 ERA over 163.0 innings last season. How’s that for value?
Let’s dive in.
Justin Verlander, Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins, $10,400 - Though I could easily see myself also getting some exposure to Jesus Luzardo ($9,100) in a fantastic matchup, Verlander enters Tuesday’s slate in an envious situation. Not only are the Twins currently without the services of big ticket free agent signing Carlos Correa (finger), but Byron Buxton ($6,200; hip) might be unavailable, as well. That would leave Minnesota severely undermanned for a meeting with sure fire Hall of Fame pitcher. Verlander’s looked good so far in 2022, too. While the strikeout rate and swinging strike rate are slightly lower than usual, the RHP has maintained a 1.93 ERA and a 2.91 xERA over his first five outings. Basically, at 39, Verlander is still dealing.
Mike Clevinger, San Diego Padres vs. Chicago Cubs, $6,900 - I already mentioned how viable Miley is in this contest, yet Clevinger might possess more raw upside. Not only is the 31-year-old fully stretched out after throwing 95 pitches last Wednesday, but the Cubs are really scuffling at the plate as of late. In fact, across the past two weeks, Chicago has paired the league’s lowest wRC+ (53) with its second-highest strikeout rate (28.5%). When hunting for a matchup, it’s hard to beat that combination. I also wouldn’t be too worried about Clevinger’s inability to induce swing and misses in his first start of the season, as the Guardians sport the league’s lowest swinging strike rate (8.6%). The Cubs won’t be as successful generating contact.
DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $4,900 - Here’s all you really need to know about LeMahieu for Tuesday: He’s a career .319 hitter of left-handed pitching with an .836 OPS. That’s a sample of over 1,500 plate appearances, too. Specifically in 2022, the veteran is slashing .429/.484/.607 with a 231 wRC+ within the split. LeMahieu is back to batting leadoff for the Yankees and I’d assume the Bombers have a little more success off of Yusei Kikuchi ($6,600) seeing him for the second time in less than a week. New York should put up crooked numbers, and LeMahieu should be in the middle of it all.
Pete Alonso, New York Mets at Washington Nationals, $4,800 - Okay. There’s a lot to cover here. First and foremost, while Alonso hasn’t hit lefties well overall in 2022, he’s hitting everyone well so far in May. To wit, in his first 34 plate appearances of the month, Alonso is rocking a .344 average to go with a .246 ISO. Alonso also managed 16 home runs off of left-handed pitching in just 169 at-bats in 2021, so I think it’s safe to say his “struggles” within the split are simply small sample nonsense. Speaking of small samples, in 32 career at-bats against Patrick Corbin ($5,700), the first baseman has four long balls and a 1.198 OPS.
Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies at Seattle Mariners, $3,800 - Bohm has shaken off the sophomore slump in 2022, posting a very impressive .418 xwOBA over his first 89 plate appearances of the season. However, Bohm has clearly been at his most dangerous against southpaw opponents, managing an eye-popping .478 xwOBA and .269 ISO within the split. Robbie Ray ($8,300) isn’t exactly an average LHP, yet he’s feeling the effects of a fastball velocity drop, as Ray’s strikeout rate is just 20.3% through six starts. He’s just not the same pitcher he was with the Blue Jays.
Harold Ramirez, Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angels, $3,300 - It would appear that the Rays have worked their weird platoon magic once again. So far this season, in 23 plate appearances against LHPs, Ramirez possesses a 170 wRC+ and a .417 xwOBA. It’s also worth noting that the last time the Rays faced a lefty, Kevin Cash hit Ramirez third in the lineup. With Reid Detmers ($7,100) surrendering 1.72 home runs per nine to RHBs — not to mention the rookie’s career 6.22 ERA — Ramirez should be able to outperform his modest price tag.
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $5,900 - Judge is extremely pricy on Tuesday’s slate, yet it’s difficult to argue with the algorithm. Judge has been destroying left-handed pitching like few others the past couple of years and 2022 has been no exception. In 33 plate appearances within the split, the All-Star owns a .483 ISO and a 223 wRC+. Judge also sports a .990 OPS when hitting at Yankee Stadium this season. Kikuchi should tread very carefully in this spot.
Joc Pederson, San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies, $4,600 - I can’t think of a more perfect matchup for Pederson than Antonio Senzatela ($5,000). The 30-year-old’s lone issue in 2022 has been the strikeout, as Pederson’s currently sitting 98th percentile in xwOBA, barrel rate and average exit velocity. In fact, Pederson’s xwOBA on his batted ball events is an insane .568 — which basically means he’s doing damage almost every time he makes contact. Well, Senzatela’s faced 58 LHBs this season and struck out just two. I’d say it’s a good bet that Pederson has a couple BBEs on Tuesday evening.
Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angels, $3,900 - After a nightmarish start to the season, Arozarena is finally showing signs of life since the calendar turned to May. In 40 plate appearances in the month, the outfielder is slashing .316/.350/.533 with a 173 wRC+. He also hit his first home run of 2022 on Monday night. Unfortunately, that long ball came in a contest where Arozarena had been dropped to the seven-spot in the Rays’ order, yet the 27-year-old has hit clean-up the past two times Tampa’s faced an LHP. If that trend continues tonight, Arozarena’s viable.
Mark Canha, New York Mets at Washington Nationals, $2,700 - Canha’s an asset to keep an eye on as lineups begin to roll in. The veteran has been hitting well this season in New York, coming into Tuesday’s slate with a .311 average and a 127 wRC+. That must have been enough to get the interest of Buck Showalter, because when the Mets squared off with a left-handed starter on Sunday, Canha jumped up to the two-spot in the batting order. If that happens again against Corbin — who’s posted a 7.16 ERA in 2022 — this price tag will prove to be way too inexpensive.
TEAMS TO STACK
Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angeles - The Rays have the highest implied team total on this 12-game slate and it’s not exceedingly difficult to figure out why that is. Detmers has struggled to a 5.32 ERA through 22.0 innings of work, as the left-hander has been unable to consistently generate swings and misses. Heavy contact is a dangerous recipe versus this Rays lineup, especially if Arozarena’s bat is coming alive. Tampa comes into Tuesday with a 130 wRC+ when facing a lefty — the fourth-best mark in baseball — with Wander Franco ($5,400), Mike Zunino ($3,700) and Manuel Margot ($3,200) all putting up big numbers within the split.
San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies - Speaking of generating contact, I’m stacking against Senzatela, who has registered a measly seven strikeouts in his 24.0 innings of work in 2022. That doesn’t even seem possible in this era of baseball, but I digress. Senzatela comes into this evening’s tilt in possession of a ghastly 6.44 xERA, while his .413 xwOBA is the third-worst mark of any pitcher that’s faced at least 100 batters. Pederson, Brandon Crawford ($4,600), Wilmer Flores ($4,100) and Brandon Belt ($4,300; neck), if healthy, are all great options.
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