We’ve only got a five-game featured slate past 7:00 p.m. ET, but it is stuffed to the brim with offensive potential. Not to take anything away from the men scheduled to pitch this evening, but the Yankees, Red Sox, Astros, Phillies, Braves, Angels and White Sox are among the most dangerous lineups in the sport. Heck, even a “bad” team like the Guardians currently possesses the lowest strikeout rate in the majors. Not exactly an ideal matchup.
So, where should you turn at starting pitcher? Let’s break it all down.
Ranger Suarez, Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves, $7,900 - Suarez’s overall numbers are a little inflated after his last outing against the Dodgers, but the left-hander has actually been quite good in his past three trips to the mound. Across 16.0 innings of work, Suarez has maintained a 2.81 FIP and struck out 26.9% of the opponents he’s faced — very similar figures to his breakout campaign in 2021. The Braves have several talented bats in their organization, yet they also lead baseball with a 28.8% strikeout rate over the past two weeks. That should provide Suarez with enough upside to be considered on this slate.
JP Sears, New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles, $5,500 - Triple-A numbers only mean so much, but Sears has been virtually untouchable in the minors in 2022. To wit, the left-hander has thrown 21.2 innings with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, giving up just a pair of earned runs and striking out 30 opponents. That’s certainly enough to get my attention, particularly at a price tag this affordable. His matchup doesn’t hurt, either. The Orioles enter Wednesday with the league’s lowest wOBA against LHPs (.271) and a 26.6% strikeout rate within the split. Sears should be able to take advantage.
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers, $5,600 - Ohtani got off to a slow start at the plate this season, but his stats have looked good dating back to Apr. 27. In the 25 games since — a span of 107 plate appearances — Ohtani is sporting a .237 ISO and a 148 wRC+. In recent days, he’s also regained his usual leadoff spot in the Angels’ lineup. With a matchup against Glenn Otto ($6,700) on the horizon, Ohtani should continue to do damage. Otto owns a 6.81 xERA for the season and, specifically in May, he’s allowed opponents to combine for a juicy .399 wOBA.
Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox, $5,400 - Anderson crushing left-handed pitching isn’t a new trend. For his career, the shortstop is actually hitting .329 within the split in exactly 800 plate appearances. Still, even knowing that, his numbers in 2022 are breathtaking. Anderson comes into tonight’s matchup with Rich Hill ($7,100) slashing .519/.519/.815 against southpaws. It’s a small sample, but as we covered, it’s really not. Overall, Anderson also possesses a 195 wRC+ in the month of May, so any way you slice it, he’s in a perfect spot.
Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox, $3,900 - It’s anyone’s guess where Vaughn ends up in Tony La Russa’s lineup card on any given day, but the last time the White Sox faced an LHP, the sophomore was sitting in the No. 2 spot. That’s probably where he should be again this evening. At least, that’s what the stats suggest. Vaughn is slashing .348/.400/.522 in his limited plate appearances against lefties in 2022 and, for his career as a whole, he’s registered a 158 wRC+ within the split. You want this guy getting as many cracks at Hill as possible.
Jonah Heim, Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels, $3,700 - While Reid Detmers ($8,400) now has a no-hitter to his name, he’s still a pitcher with a career 5.29 FIP that’s surrendered 1.63 opponent home runs per nine across his 12 big league starts. He’s far from a finished product. Meanwhile, Heim has punished left-handed pitching in 2022, slashing .429/.571/.810 in his 28 plate appearances within the split. Heim also owns a 140 wRC+ against southpaws for his entire career. I’d take a chance on the backstop, especially with his price down over $1,000 from where it sat just last week.
Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves, $6,000 - After a three-hit performance on Tuesday — which included his 10th home run of the season — I think it’s safe to say Harper will be able to overcome his elbow issue at the plate. In fact, for 2022 as a whole, Harper has managed a 164 wRC+ and a .315 ISO. He’s a beast. He’s also left-handed. That’s been the issue for Charlie Morton ($9,000), as he’s surrendered a .396 wOBA to LHBs across his eight starts.
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros vs. Cleveland Guardians, $5,200 - As a right-handed pitcher, you have to generate swing and misses to survive against Alvarez. For the season, the LHB has posted a massive .455 xwOBA. He’s also registered a .411 ISO specifically when facing RHPs. That’s the result of hard contact and barrels. Well, Cal Quantrill ($7,400) isn’t exactly known as a strikeout pitcher. He’s struck out just 15.1% of the batters he’s seen in 2022. That’s going to be an issue.
AJ Pollock, Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox, $3,200 - Between IL stints and underwhelming numbers at the plate, it hasn’t been an amazing season for Pollock. However, what little success the veteran has had has been with a left-handed pitcher on the mound. Pollock has mustered a .304 ISO and a 138 wRC+ versus southpaws in 2022, and while Hill’s been perfectly fine this month, he’s had his trouble retiring right-handed bats.
Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles, $3,000 - Hicks’ value is almost entirely tied to the health of DJ LeMahieu ($5,300; wrist). If LeMahieu is active, I want no part of an asset that is hitting .216 with a microscopic .036 ISO. However, if LeMahieu sits once again, there’s a good chance Hicks is back in the leadoff spot. It’s not like Hicks’ stats get any more palatable in such a situation, but I’m a sucker for a guy hitting atop a lineup with a price tag of just $3K.
TEAMS TO STACK
Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox - There were 19 runs scored in yesterday’s game between these two teams. Only three were from the White Sox, but you get my point. There’s a high probability for runs in this contest and, as always, Chicago was built to punish left-handed pitchers. The White Sox own the American League’s highest batting average within the split (.264) and that’s translated into a .761 OPS and a 126 wRC+ that trail only the Cardinals among all MLB squads. Not having Luis Robert is unfortunate, but Jose Abreu ($4,300), Yasmani Grandal ($4,100), Vaughn and Pollock are all underpriced.
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