This slate is absolutely loaded with pitching (I’m talking about the 4:05 slate which is where our focus will be today). All five options are viable in cash, and solid arguments can be made for each one of them over the others. I’m going to post initial rankings of them before the writeup, but keep in mind that lineups/weather shifts/other aspects could impact the way I go. I’ll be in chat today helping all our subs wade through the noise, and follow me on twitter @jac3600.
As of now (9:19 AM EST), my rankings for cash priority of the five studs are as follows:
Charlie Morton, HOU ($10,800)
Kluber is really the only pitcher not in a great spot, but he’s arguably the most skilled of the bunch, so this was a really tough choice to rank these guys. I’ve settled on Morton as the top pick for a few reasons. He’s tied for the lowest IRTA at 2.9 runs but is by far the largest favorite at -315, and he also has the most favorable umpire for pitchers in baseball. The White Sox have been owned in this series by the Astros studs (Verlander 9 Ks, McCullers 12 Ks), and they now have the second highest K rate against RHP. Morton is carrying an elite 31.5% this year and has 24 strikeouts in his last two starts. Throw in the fact that he offers a discount over Severino and Kluber, and I’m starting my lineups with him.
Other options – The four other guys listed above
Steven Matz, NYM ($7400)
90-95% of my lineups will have one of the five guys above, even in GPP, but if you want to fully stack the Indians (my favorite offense) or another group of high-priced players, Matz has some intrigue in GPPs. He’s been pitching well lately with four quality starts in his last six, and the Rays are not a scary offense (plus they’re losing the DH which means either CJ Cron or Jake Bauers). Matz’s 4.72 FIP is scary, but his 21.7% K rate keeps him squarely in play.
Other options – Carlos Martinez, Cole Hamels, JA Happ, Jameson Taillon, Anibal Sanchez
Edwin Encarnacion, CLE ($4000)
The Indians are going to be the featured offense today with a slate high IRT of 5.3 runs. Edwin is smashing the ball lately with a 40% hard hit rate over his last 15 games and is facing Edwin Jackson who has given up a .296 ISO to same-handed pitching over the last two years (yes, you read that right). I’d prefer to go cheaper with Edwin’s teammate (see below) which opens up the possibility of Lindor or Jose Ramirez getting in your lineup (more on them later), but Edwin is perfectly viable in all formats.
Other options – Freddie Freeman, Jesus Aguilar, Carlos Santana
Yonder Alonso, CLE ($2900)
Alonso bats one spot later in the order and is $1100 cheaper, making him the clear choice for me in cash. He’s also gotten very positive hard hit results lately (31% hard hit rate L15), and Edwin Jackson has had power struggles with lefties as well. You may be unable to fit in one of the big Cleveland bats with all the pitching, making Yonder a priority to get exposure to their offense.
Other options – Yuli Gurriel, Jose Martinez, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury
Catcher values – Wilson Ramos, Robinson Chirinos, Victor Martinez, James McCann
Jose Altuve, HOU ($4600)
Attacking James Shields and his 1.92 HR/9 over the past three years is a smart move in GPPs. The Astros have an IRT of 5.1 runs and the White Sox bullpen is ranked 25th in xFIP as well. Altuve has no place in cash games today, but has the power and speed upside to be in GPP-winning lineups, and is a cornerstone of Astros stacks.
Other options – Ozzie Albies
Rougned Odor, TEX ($3100)
I’ll stick with Odor as the top value even with the park downgrade in Detroit. Mike Fiers has allowed a ton of power in his career (.208 ISO to LHB since the beginning of last year), and even though Odor is a boom-or-bust type hitter, he’s been able to log a .198 ISO against RHP in that time frame. He’s a fine value as long as he continues to hit fifth.
Other options – Jason Kipnis, Jonathan Villar, Alen Hanson, Neil Walker
Jose Ramirez, CLE ($4900)
I hope to fit one of either Ramirez or Lindor into my cash lineups today, despite their high cost and the emphasis on expensive starting pitching. Ramirez has destroyed RHP for a .416 wOBA and .300 ISO since the beginning of last season while walking more than he’s struck out against them (wow). Edwin Jackson is not a pitcher to be feared on this slate, and I have Ramirez as the top overall hitter regardless of position.
Other options – Alex Bregman, Matt Carpenter, Travis Shaw, Nolan Arenado
Adrian Beltre, TEX ($3000)
If you’re choosing Lindor over Ramirez (which you might since SS is thinner than 3B), Beltre seems like the most logical value. He’ll hit cleanup on the road in Detroit, and Mike Fiers has allowed a .210 ISO to same-handed hitting since the start of last season. Beltre has been hitting righties much better of late, and he’s very cheap for his context.
Other options – Jeimer Candelario, Miguel Andujar, Matt Duffy, Colin Moran
Francisco Lindor, CLE ($5000)
Lindor doesn’t quite have the numbers Ramirez does and he’s $100 more, but his numbers are still fantastic and shortstop is very thin behind him (3B offers more value). Lindor has been killing the ball like the rest of his Cleveland teammates, and he has a .359 wOBA and .258 ISO against RHP since the beginning of last year. He also has a speed component that adds to his value.
Other options – Jean Segura
Elvis Andrus, TEX ($3300)
Just like third base, if you’re not paying for the Cleveland stud, you’d be best served to dip down to the Texas value. He’ll hit second on the road and the Rangers have an IRT of 4.6 runs against Detroit and his hard hit rate has finally picked up recently (21% last ten games)
Other options – Brandon Crawford, Brad Miller, Marwin Gonzalez, Willy Adames
Giancarlo Stanton, NYY ($4700)
The top play is Stanton against a lefty, but he won’t fit my cash builds today. Stanton is rocking a 32% hard hit the last 15 games, and he has a .472 wOBA and .420 ISO against LHP since the beginning of last year (yowza). J.A. Happ is a quality pitcher which means Stanton’s ownership may be down a little bit, making him an elite GPP option.
Other options – Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Michael Brantley, Eric Thames, Christian Yelich, Nick Castellanos, George Springer, Shin Soo Choo
Mikie Mahtook, DET ($2300)
If you want to have any chance at all of rostering a big Cleveland bat with your top SP, players like Mahtook are key values. He didn’t play yesterday but he had been leading off for Detroit the previous four games. It’s almost a certainty that he’ll be back in that spot against a lefty, and Mahtook has a .190 ISO against LHP since the beginning of last year. Cole Hamels is having a nice bounceback year, but he’s still allowed 1.76 HR/9 this season.
Other options – Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, Tommy Pham, Marcell Ozuna, Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton, Austin Meadows, Starling Marte, Josh Reddick, Kevin Kiermaier, Carlos Gomez, Dustin Fowler