Tonight is an incredibly challenging slate as we don’t have the viable cheaper options at SP in order to fit the big bats. In other words, you’re pretty much forced to spend up to at least David Price (more on this below) and work in the bats where you can. We only have seven games to tackle on the main slate, so ownership should be a little more condensed. Join me and the FTA+ crew in chat tonight, and follow me on twitter @jac3600!
Charlie Morton, HOU ($10,000)
Morton is the top play by default, but it really isn’t the greatest matchup for him as he generally does much better against lefties and Tampa is primarily right-handed. That aside, you can’t ignore Morton’s insane velocity increase this year which has led to an elite 30.6% K rate and a 3.12 xFIP. He’s a -250 favorite with a 3.1 IRTA (both slate extremes by a lot), and is a very strong bet for a QS. He’s likely my cash target as the only real “safe” option on the board.
Other options – Gio Gonzalez
David Price, BOS ($8600)
Price is as cheap as I’m willing to dip in cash games tonight. The Twins are 21st in wRC+ against LHP with a high K rate and have lost some of their HR upside with Miguel Sano demoted (of course, they’ve also lost some K% with that too). The IRTA for Price is a full run higher than it is for Morton, and Price is only a -145 favorite. If dropping to Price gets you that “one extra big bat” you want, I can sign off on it, but I’d prefer Morton who really isn’t a restrictive price either.
Other options – Jake Junis, Chad Kuhl, Jonathan Loaisiga, Austin Bibens-Dirkx
Eric Thames, MIL ($3800)
There are some strong hitting environments that have some high IRT’s accompanying them, and Pittsburgh isn’t one of them (the visiting Brewers only have a 4.4 IRT). That doesn’t stop Thames from being the top option at 1B as he’s blasted RHP for a .307 ISO since his return to the majors. Chad Kuhl is a wide splits pitcher that has allowed a .227 ISO to LHB in that span. Thames also has a 33% hard hit rate since coming off the DL.
Other options – Ian Desmond, Mitch Moreland, Gary Sanchez
Greg Bird, NYY ($3100)
Bird’s real value is tied to his lineup spot, because if he drops as low as seventh (a real possibility) he’s not really playable anymore. However, Bird is in his home park that is a lefty hitters’ paradise and he’s posted a .221 ISO against RHP over the past two years. He’s facing a declining Felix Hernandez who is allowing career highs in both hard hit rate and HR/FB%.
Other options – Wilmer Flores, Dominic Smith, Josh Bell
Catcher values – Salvador Perez, Devin Mesoraco, Tom Murphy
D.J. LeMahieu, COL ($4100)
If I spend up on a Rockie, it won’t be LeMahieu as he just doesn’t have that power upside of his teammates. However, he’s leading off for a team that has the highest IRT on the slate (5.9 runs) and the Mets bullpen is ranked last in xFIP over the last month. He’s a great GPP option both as a one-off and part of a Rockies stack.
Other options – Jose Altuve, Asdrubal Cabrera, Brian Dozier, Daniel Murphy
Whit Merrifield, KC ($3200)
Merrifield seems like a really sensible value on this slate leading off for the Royals. Austin Bibens-Dirkx is one of the worst pitchers on the slate and the Royals have an IRT of five runs despite being one of the worst overall offenses in the league. Bibens-Dirkx has actually outpitched his 6.55 ERA by quite a bit this season, but the hitting environment is terrific and Merrifield is already up to 20 combined homers and steals this year after posting 53 last season.
Other options – Dee Gordon, Josh Harrison, Jonathan Villar
Nolan Arenado, COL ($4800)
Arenado was the easiest homer call of the year last night and he didn’t disappoint. He doesn’t pack the same punch tonight that he did yesterday but he’s still the top play despite Seth Lugo’s success this season. Lugo has an unsustainable 84% strand rate and (more importantly) is backed by the worst bullpen in the league as of late. If you want Arenado in cash I don’t argue, but I think spending a little more on SP takes precedence. If you can fit both, go for it.
Other options – Todd Frazier, Travis Shaw, Mike Moustakas, Anthony Rendon
Hunter Dozier, KC ($2600)
If you want to punt the position, Dozier is an OK option simply because he has the same context against Austin Bibens-Dirkx who is backed by a Texas bullpen that is 25th in FIP. Dozier isn’t the greatest hitter but he’s cheap for someone who routinely hits fourth or fifth (solidified even more with Jorge Soler on the DL).
Other options – Kyle Seager, Adrian Beltre, David Freese
Trea Turner, WAS ($3900)
Trevor Story is going to take a backseat on this one due to Seth Lugo’s 27.3% K rate this year. Turner is under 4k which is too cheap given the context. The Nationals have an IRT of 5.3 runs against Andrew Cashner whose GB rate continues to plummet, and he’s allowed 1.62 HR/9 while walking over four batters per nine. Turner is a reverse splits hitter who has posted a .363 wOBA and .200 ISO against RHP over the past two years and has blazing speed.
Other options – Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, Manny Machado, Didi Gregorius, Elvis Andrus
Alcides Escobar, KC ($2300)
I don’t advise punting SS, but if you do, the Royals are the place to attack. Escobar is a terrible hitter but he has run scoring upside along with some speed. I can’t offer a more ringing endorsement than this, but he’s a means to getting a Morton/Arenado or Blackmon pairing if you’re dead set on that.
Other options – Amed Rosario, Jordy Mercer, Brock Holt
Charlie Blackmon, COL ($4400)
Blackmon tops the charts with the platoon edge in Coors Field, but he doesn’t blow away the field (Seth Lugo has been quite good this season). Still, Blackmon has a .403 wOBA and .287 ISO against RHP since the beginning of last year and still possesses massive event upside even though he seems to be running less. I have no problem making him your “one big spend” but there are others close to him.
Other options – Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, Juan Soto, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Carlos Gonzalez, George Springer, Christian Yelich, Shin Soo Choo
Alex Gordon, KC ($2600)
The Royals are my go-to team for cheap plays even though they’re not a great offense. With all the injuries, Gordon has been hitting in premier lineup spots (anywhere from second to fourth) despite having no power upside whatsoever (I’m not sure where the $72 million contract came from). He’s a viable punt to help you fit in some solid bats.
Other options – Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson, Austin Meadows, Joey Gallo, Ryan Braun, Gerardo Parra, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, Joey Rickard Kevin Kiermaier