I have five words for you today: JASON VARGAS IN COORS FIELD. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as locking him in as the sites have prepared for heavy ownership and priced him at 5k or more. We also have Verlander and Sale in amazing matchups, so we’re REALLY going to have to make some decisions. At the very least, make sure you have at least one full stack of Rockies in GPP. Follow me on twitter @jac3600, and I’ll see our subs tonight in chat!
Justin Verlander, HOU ($11,500)
Gerrit Cole was underwhelming against the Rays last night, but don’t let that deter you from Verlander tonight. He’s been absolutely unreal this season with a 2.48 FIP and a 31.7% K rate. He’s at home, he’s a -260 favorite, and the IRTA is a minuscule 2.7 runs. The Rays are middle of the pack in wRC+ and K rate but they’re near the bottom in ISO and hard hit rate, and there are no hitter on their team that are even remotely imposing. You’l have to fade the Coors bats to get him which is tough against Jason Vargas, but right now it’s tough to not pay up for SP.
Other options – Chris Sale, Mike Clevinger
Luke Weaver, STL ($6500)
There are two ways to build in cash tonight. Take the safety of one of the top pitchers and sacrifice Coors, or go ALL the way down so you can absolutely load up on bats. There is no middle ground. Right now I’d prefer the expensive pitcher route, but there is certainly merit for going this way. Weaver isn’t safe with his 3.18 BB/9 and 4.52 ERA, but his FIP actually suggests he’s better (3.69) and he’s facing the Phillies who rank 20th in wRC+ against RHP with the highest K rate against them. He’s not favored, and the 4.4 IRTA isn’t great, but if you want Arenado and company, this is the route.
Other options – Vince Velasquez, Cole Hamels, Jameson Taillon, Dereck Rodriguez, Sal Romano, Felix Pena
Ian Desmond, COL ($3800)
The top plays are going to be Rockies at just about every position. Jason Vargas brings his 7.29 ERA and 2.04 HR/9 allowed to Coors Field, and the Rockies are sitting there with a 6.4 IRT (which I actually expect to rise). Desmond is slowly rounding into form and he’s been hitting fifth lately for the Rox. Desmond has a .340 wOBA and .197 ISO against LHP since the beginning of last year.
Other options – Freddie Freeman, Edwin Encarnacion, Eric Thames, Carlos Santana, Matt Adams, Gary Sanchez
Justin Smoak, TOR ($2900)
Smoak’s slump has really plummeted his price tag, and he’s a great cash play if you decide to pay up for Verlander/Sale. Mike Soroka has shown serious promise as a pitcher so far, but he’s getting a league downgrade pitching in Toronto, and Smoak has a .243 ISO against RHP since the beginning of 2016. You are taking on the “slump” risk here, but Smoak is too talented to be this cheap.
Other options – Greg Bird, Dominic Smith, Matt Olson, Neil Walker, Tyler Austin
Catcher values – Tom Murphy, Chris Iannetta, Devin Mesoraco, Tucker Barnhart, Kurt Suzuki
D.J. LeMahieu, COL ($4100)
LeMahieu lacks the power upside of his teammates, but he’s such a stable floor for cash and he almost always gets five plate appearances even when he’s at home. I mentioned Jason Vargas’ struggles, but keep in mind the Mets bullpen is also ranked last in xFIP in the month of June. There is no wrong answer to which Colorado bats you want.
Other options – Jose Altuve, Ozzie Albies, Gleyber Torres, Asdrubal Cabrera
Whit Merrifield, KC ($3100)
Cole Hamels has shaken off whatever K struggles he had last year, and he’s pitched more like what we’re accustomed to. However, he’s still allowing 1.90 HR/9 this season and it’s expected to be in the 90s in Kansas City. Merrifield is a high event player who had a combined 53 homers and steals a year ago and is at 19 thus far this year. He’s not priced accordingly and is the play if you pay up at SP.
Other options – Yoan Moncada, Ben Zobrist, Joe Panik
Nolan Arenado, COL ($5000)
There is no question who the top overall hitter is tonight. Arenado has a .448 wOBA and .318 ISO against LHP over the last two years, and Jason Vargas has allowed 1.88 HR/9 to RHB in that span. The question is whether or not you prioritize him or a safe pitcher. If you pay up, Arenado’s price tag just doesn’t seem possible as a Verlander/Arenado lineup only leaves you with $2,643 per hitter. This is, however, as comfortable as I’ve felt all year predicting a home run from a batter, so if you go cheap at SP make sure Arenado is a priority bat.
Other options – Jose Ramirez, Kris Bryant, Eugenio Suarez, Todd Frazier, Matt Carpenter, Anthony Rendon
Jeimer Candelario, DET ($3200)
If you’re forced to go cheaper due to an expensive SP, Candelario seems like a good option. The Tigers are getting a huge park boost going to Cincinnati, and Sal Romano has a 5.35 FIP while allowing 1.60 HR/9. The switch-hitting Candelario will also maintain the platoon edge against a lousy Reds bullpen that is still without their best pitcher in Raisel Iglesias.
Other options – Adrian Beltre, Kyle Seager, Luis Valbuena, Chad Pinder
Trevor Story, COL ($4800)
Yada yada yada. Story has obliterated left-handed pitching in his career for a .412 wOBA and .316 ISO, and Jason Vargas’ career 15.9% K rate minimizes Story’s one big downside. You could make the argument he has the most upside on this slate, even over Arenado, but he’s priced appropriately and not a realistic cash option unless you dip way down at SP.
Other options – Francisco Lindor, Manny Machado, Trea Turner, Chris Taylor
Marcus Semien, OAK ($3100)
Semien against a lefty is always the viable “drop-down” play. The park factor is brutal, but Semien has a .204 ISO against LHP since the beginning of 2016 and he homered the last time he faced one. Eric Lauer has allowed 1.60 HR/9 this year while walking almost five batters per nine innings and posting a 6.20/5.23/4.91 pitching slash.
Other options – Elvis Andrus, Amed Rosario, Addison Russell
Giancarlo Stanton, NYY ($4400)
No, we can’t have a Rockie top EVERY position (although Blackmon comes close even in a L/L matchup). Stanton edges out the competition due to his Herculean splits against LHP (.441 wOBA, .384 ISO over the last two years). He’ll be in Yankee Stadium where it’s hot, and his hard hit rate is skyrocketing over the last ten games. Marco Gonzales has pitched well this year, but he’s allowed 1.57 HR/9 to RHB since the beginning of last year and could be in for a world of hurt tonight against the Yanks.
Other options – Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Charlie Blackmon, Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, George Springer, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Tommy Pham, Shin Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara
Jay Bruce, NYM ($3100)
We’ll have to keep an eye on Bruce’s lineup spot (or if he’s even in there at all since he was scratched yesterday). He’s been hitting so poorly that he dropped to seventh in recent games but his price tag seemed to avoid the Coors bump at only $3100. He’s majorly regressed this year but has still posted a .252 ISO against RHP since the beginning of 2016. The Mets do have a comfortable IRT at 5.1 runs.
Other options – Nick Castellanos, Joey Gallo, Delino DeShields, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, Mark Trumbo, Adam Duvall, Curtis Granderson, Austin Meadown, Corey Dickerson, Brandon Guyer, Rajai Davis, Albert Almora, Daniel Palka