At this point, I think we can all agree that Nestor Cortes ($10,300) has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. I think we can also agree that few starters can match the win expectancy of simply donning the pinstripes in 2022. Still, with all that said, I remain surprised every single time he’s the most expensive option on a slate. It’s June. You would assume I’d be used to it by now, right?
Anyway, while I sort through my biases, let’s dive into tonight’s 10-game slate and break down some studs and values.
Nathan Eovaldi, Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels, $8,800 - Speaking of win expectancy, Eovaldi will face the Angels on Wednesday, losers of 13 consecutive games. Yikes. It’s been ugly for Los Angeles’ offense across that stretch, as the team owns the second-worst wOBA (.270) and second-highest strikeout rate (24.9%) over the past two weeks. The Angels have also lost Taylor Ward (hamstring) and Anthony Rendon (wrist) to the IL within this stretch, while Mike Trout ($5,600; groin) might soon be on his way to joining them. It’s bleak and I’d look for Eovaldi to take advantage. The RHP has collected 30-plus DKFP in each of his last three starts, a span where he’s posted a 30.9% strikeout rate. It’s a mystery why he’s priced below $9K.
Ian Anderson, Atlanta Braves vs. Oakland Athletics, $6,400 - It’s hard to say that Anderson is deserving of more respect by the algorithm, as he’s struggled throughout 2022. However, based on matchup alone, he’s viable on tonight’s slate. The Athletics have been a gift for right-handed pitchers all season long, posting league-worst marks in OPS (.575) and wOBA (.258) within the split. Also, while Anderson’s strikeout rate has been a concern in Atlanta, the 24-year-old has been recently showing signs of life, averaging 10.2 strikeouts per nine dating back to May 22. He’s surrendered 13 earned runs in that same span, but again, this is mostly about his opposition.
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves vs. Oakland Athletics, $5,700 - Alright. Let’s try this again. Riley had a seemingly juicy matchup against a lefty on Tuesday, but then proceeded to strike out in his first four plate appearances of the game. Still, process over results, right? Despite the poor showing, Riley is batting .323 with a 199 wRC+ against LHPs for the season and he’ll get another chance to face one on Wednesday, as Jared Koenig ($5,000) will make his MLB debut. I’m thinking Riley makes a little more contact this time around.
Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers at Cleveland Guardians, $4,700 - You’d be hard pressed to find a hotter hitter at the moment than Semien, who is finally living up to his huge contract. In 32 plate appearances in June, the veteran has registered a .484 ISO and a .515 wOBA, thanks primarily to five home runs. Three of those came during yesterday’s doubleheader, as Semien finished the day with seven total hits. That’s not guaranteed to carry over, however I like his chances with the left-handed Konnor Pilkington ($6,700) on the mound. As a team, Texas has a 117 wRC+ versus southpaws, so the run-scoring chances should be plentiful.
Jonah Heim, Texas Rangers at Cleveland Guardians, $3,400 - As I was saying, the Rangers hit lefties exceedingly well. Heim has maybe been the best of the bunch in 2022. In 42 plate appearances within the split, the backstop is slashing .324/.452/.647 with a 218 wRC+. Considering Pilkington’s struggle with walks and barrels — not to mention his inexperience at the MLB level — I believe Texas is in store for some crooked numbers this evening.
Matt Carpenter, New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins, $3,400 - As the Yankees have regained some regulars, Carpenter’s fallen out of the lineup, but I think he’ll get the call this evening. I mean, why not? In his 13 plate appearances against RHPs since joining New York, the veteran has an .818 ISO thanks to three long balls. That’s an unstable level of production, but that stats are what the stats are. If he’s available, I like his matchup against the right-handed Chris Archer ($7,300), who hasn’t had an xERA below 5.00 since 2018.
Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves vs. Oakland Athletics, $6,200 - Acuna is red-hot at the moment. A quick trip to Colorado obviously helps, but the outfielder has managed three home runs in his past two games, and four multi-hit performances in his last five games. Finally, it would appear that all the leg injuries that have plagued him throughout the season are behind us. Acuna has specifically been at his most dangerous in 2022 against left-handed opponents, as he comes into Wednesday’s slate with a massive .488 xwOBA within the split. Jared Koenig, welcome to the show.
Mike Yastrzemski, San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies, $4,600 - Yastremski was quietly one of the best hitters in the National League during May, finishing the month with a .986 OPS and a 176 wRC+. It hasn’t been quite as easy in June, but a matchup with Antonio Senzatela ($5,400) should be enough to change that. Senzatela has been downright awful in 2022, posting a 6.41 ERA in his past six appearances. The 67 LHBs he’s faced in those same starts? They’ve combined to slash .367/.433/.517. Even outside of Coors, you simply can not trust Senzatela to perform.
Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs at Baltimore Orioles, $3,700 - Generally speaking, you want to use Happ when the Cubs are facing a lefty. However, he’s been so good lately, I’m willing to go against my own rule. In his first 31 plate appearances of June, the switch-hitter has produced an eye-popping 198 wRC+ and he’s currently riding an eight-game hit streak. Add in Jordan Lyles ($6,000), who has surrendered a .391 wOBA to opposing LHBs in 2022, and you’ve got yourself a solid value asset below $4K.
Luis Gonzalez, San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies, $3,200 - Gonzalez’s season has been interesting. He’s not much of a prospect and his .354 wOBA is 70 points higher than his .284 xwOBA. Still, at the end of the day, we’re talking about another left-handed bat to throw at Senzatela. Also, it’s hard to argue with Gonzalez’s raw production. In 103 plate appearances against RHPs, the 26-year-old is slashing .355/.398/.495 with a 152 wRC+. Not bad for someone priced just above $3K.
TEAMS TO STACK
San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies - It’s weird to stack against the Rockies away from Colorado, but I can’t give up an opportunity to exploit Senzatela. The man has made eight starts this season and owns a putrid 7.25 xERA. He’s got an 8.5% strikeout rate and a 91.9% zone contact rate. It’s all just so gross. Senzatela also struggles specifically with left-handed bats and the Giants have a never-ending supply. Beyond Yastrzemski and Gonzalez, San Francisco can toss out Joc Pederson ($5,600), Tommy La Stella ($4,900) and Brandon Crawford ($4,200). There’s a bat for every need in your budget.
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