Only six games on the main slate for this Thursday night, but there’s plenty of diversity in pitching and offense that we should have a fun time. Verlander vs Paxton highlights the card, but we have Yankees, Red Sox, and Coors that all bring serious offensive firepower to the night. I’ll be back in chat helping our MLB subs cash out, and I’m sure there will be preseason NFL talk for the true degenerates. I’m also on twitter @jac3600.
Justin Verlander, HOU ($11,800)
If you’re paying up for pitching, Verlander is the answer despite the $1800 discount for Paxton in the same game. Mr. Kate Upton has been incredible lately with a 42% K rate in his last five starts with a 1.47 xFIP. Seattle is ranked fifth in wRC+ against RHP, but the skillset trumps this, and Verlander is a -165 favorite with a 3.1 IRTA. He’s worthy in all formats, but you’ll sacrifice big time bats.
Other options – James Paxton
J.A. Happ, NYY ($8400)
If you need more bats in tonight, I suggest Happ as the dropdown play. He was on the DL for an illness, not an injury, so there shouldn’t be any concerns over length. The Rangers have been hitting well lately, but rank 21st in wRC+ against LHP with the seventh highest K rate. In addition, most of their pop comes from the left side, and Happ has neutralized LHB for a .299 wOBA the last two seasons. He’s the largest favorite on the slate at -210.
Other options – Rick Porcello, Andrew Suarez, Ross Stripling, Tyler Anderson
Steve Pearce, BOS ($3500)
We’ll see some unusual names at the top on a shorter slate, but Pearce has been crushing the ball lately for a 46% HHR his last ten games. He’s got a .227 ISO against LHP since the beginning of last year and faces Ryan Borucki who has major regression coming (2.30 ERA, 4.28 xFIP). I can absolutely see it coming tonight against the top offense in baseball, and Borucki is backed by a lousy Blue Jays bullpen.
Other options – Justin Smoak, Jake Bauers
Greg Bird, NYY ($2700)
Bird seems tough to pass on tonight even though he likely won’t be hitting cleanup again. If he drops back down to sixth, that’s still fine for the context today, as the Yankees are tied for the highest IRT on the slate at 5.6 runs. Texas pitcher Ariel Jurado is one of the worst K pitchers I’ve ever experienced, with a 10.9% K rate this year, and pitching to contact in Yankee Stadium is not going to do him any favors. He’s also backed by a Rangers bullpen that has plummeted to 26th in xFIP.
Other options – Kendrys Morales, Ji-Man Choi, Josh Bell
Catcher values – Austin Barnes, Robinson Chirinos, Buster Posey
Brian Dozier, LAD ($4100)
Dozier has been priced up for Coors, but he’s still more than viable in all formats, particularly if he leads off again. Dozier will get immersed into the Coors experience tonight, and he has a .388 wOBA and .227 ISO against LHP since the beginning of last season.
Other options – Gleyber Torres, D.J. LeMahieu
Jonathan Villar, BAL ($2800)
Villar has entrenched himself as the leadoff hitter for the Orioles, and he’s fine for cash even in one of the worse hitting environments on the slate. Villar has massive speed upside, and his price hasn’t really moved on FD despite being productive since being acquired by Baltimore.
Other options – Devon Travis, Neil Walker, Joe Panik
Justin Turner, LAD ($3900)
Turner’s price rose $1300 in anticipation of his Coors series, but he’s still an amazing play tonight. The Dodgers are tied for the highest IRT on the slate at 5.6 runs and Turner has absolutely hammered LHP since the beginning of last year for a .451 wOBA and .270 ISO. The Dodgers are a fearsome lineup since their acquisitions, and they should be aggressively targeted this evening.
Other options – Nolan Arenado, Miguel Andujar
David Freese, PIT ($2300)
If you’re looking to spend at other positions, Freese is an adequate value. He is in the worst park for hitters (SF) and Andrew Suarez has been good this year, but Freese is very cheap for a cleanup road hitter and he’s posted a .233 ISO against LHP over the past three seasons. He makes Verlander easy, or possibly two top OFs if you’re still going cheap at SP.
Other options – Adrian Beltre, Rafael Devers, Eduardo Nunez
Manny Machado, LAD ($4800)
Machado is a tough fit at his elevated price tag, but he’s worth it. He’s got a 31% HHR over his last ten games and has a .240 ISO against LHP since the beginning of last season. He’s likely more in my GPP plans than cash, but if you wanted to make him a big spend you’ll get no argument from me.
Other options – Chris Taylor (cheaper alternative if he leads off), Trevor Story, Didi Gregorius, Xander Bogaerts
Giancarlo Stanton, NYY ($4700)
My word, this is hard. Do we call Stanton the top play? Or the Red Sox duo facing a bad lefty? Or Blackmon in Coors who is a lot CHEAPER than the aforementioned guys? This group is part of the reason I’m willing to fade Verlander in cash, since I want to attack the top tier for two of these hitters. I have to side with Stanton as the top option at a slight discount to the Red Sox guys. His Achilles’ heel is strikeouts, and Ariel Jurado just isn’t capable of that. Stanton hit a grand slam yesterday, and he’s crushing the ball for a 37% HHR the last ten games.
Other options – Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, Aaron Hicks, Matt Kemp, Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, Starling Marte
Brett Gardner, NYY ($3400)
It’s tough to wade through the massive amount of upside above to find some value plays, but Gardner is always viable at his middling price tag as long as he’s leading off. He has speed upside, and a respectable .177 ISO at home against RHP the last three seasons.
Other options – Andrew McCutchen, Austin Slater, David Dahl, Teoscar Hernandez, Curtis Granderson, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, Shin Soo Choo, Jackie Bradley, Josh Reddick, Jake Marisnick