By: John Heffelfinger
Felix Hernandez – King Felix has been awesome as usual this year, and tonight I expect the usual dominant performance out of him. On the year he has 71 K’s in 70 IP with a 1.91 ERA and 8 Wins which is Cy Young worthy. At Safeco this year, Felix has only allowed 8 ER and has allowed 5 HR, so if he isn’t allowing the long ball, he isn’t allowing runs. He also has a BA against of .165 at home which means roughly 1/6 batters is getting a hit off of him at home and only walks a batter roughly 1 out of every 5 innings (15 BB’s in 70 IP). Then you take into account that he regularly pitches deep into games. In his past 10 starts, he has pitched at least 7 innings 5 times, and has two complete games. This is huge because at his enormous price tonight you’re going to need either a ton of strikeouts, or him to pitch deep into the game, and the latter has been the norm, and the strikeouts come pretty often as well. Tonight he faces the Yankees, who have some power in their lineup (63 HR this year), but otherwise aren’t really elite. Against righties they have a split of .250 AVG/.311 OBP/.417 SLG, and on the road their numbers dip in all three of those categories as well. They are 18th in K’s this year (376) so while they aren’t the Cubs or Astros, they can definitely be struck out. Finally the over under for this game is at 6 runs which is as low as it will go basically, so Vegas doesn’t have a lot of confidence in the Yankees offense either. Felix is one my favorite pitchers in the majors, and I am willing to pay up the dough for him especially when he is on the hot streak he is.
Jaime Garcia – Jaime has only made two starts this year so far, but he has been rather solid than both, and today he has a phenomenal matchup against the Brewers. Let’s start with the Brewers who have been pretty dreadful in every aspect of the game so far this year. They have some solid batters in Gomez, Braun, Lind, even Segura and Aramis have shown to be decent in the recent past. Nothing is going their way this year and have posted some pretty bad splits against left handed pitching (.195 AVG/.253 OBP/.371 SLG). Their numbers on the road also leave a lot to be desired (.226 AVG/.280 OBP/.353 SLG), which are all lower than their numbers at home. Then we have Jaime Garcia who isn’t an elite pitcher, but has been pretty solid in the past and is off to a solid start this year. He has 8 K’s in 13 IP with a 3.76 ERA which is about what I expect to put up on most nights. The Brewers have struck out 423 times which is the 4th most in the MLB which makes me think Jaime’s strikeouts will be inflated tonight especially pitching at home. Vegas has this game at 7 runs which is the 2nd lowest on the night, and has the Cardinals at -144 to win, so with Jaime being one of the cheaper pitchers tonight, I really like him tonight.
Evan Gattis – I am not personally a huge Evan Gattis fan, but with all of the other great catchers having really tough pitching matchups, I like Gattis the most tonight. He is going against Ubaldo Jimenez tonight, who started out strong this year, but has had his ERA steadily rise over his past few starts (3.14 now). Now Gattis is not one to get on base (.281 OBP against righties), but he can stroke the long ball quite well for a catcher (8 HR in 115 AB against righties). His numbers are across the board higher against righties which is why I like him tonight. Jimenez has only allowed 2 HR in 115 AB’s against right handed hitters which does scare me a bit. He has been a bit wild in the past, and with Gattis not walking a whole lot (only 8 walks this year) this may not be the prime matchup. The silver lining though is for Gattis, all it takes is one pitch and he has shown he can hit value. 11 HR is a lot for a catcher, and while expensive, he can definitely put a lot of points up on the board
Yasmani Grandal – There will be other Dodgers popping up on this last as well with the great matchup, and Yasmani just happens to be one of them. He is very affordable as a catcher right now, and playing at Coors with Kyle Kendrick pitching is going to inflate his value quite a bit. Against righties so far this year, he is batting at a line of (.286 AVG/.405 OBP/.505 SLG) with 5 HR in 95 AB. For a catcher, that is a pretty good pace, and again Coors Field rises slugging by 20% if I remember correctly. He did just come back from injury a couple days ago, but I am confident that he is going to get back in a rhythm and return to form. Lefties have hit Kyle Kendrick at a .268 AVG/.364 OBP/.509 SLG with 5 HR in 112 AB’s. Then you take a look at Kendrick’s numbers at Coors and it has been a struggle. In 18.1 IP, he has allowed 16 ER, a .282 BA against and 6 HR. He is allowing a HR roughly 1 out of every 3 innings at home, and with Grandal’s power against righties, this is a great match. I like Grandal a ton today and will be putting him in a lot of my lineups.
Adrian Gonzalez – Gonzalez may only have 1 HR in his last 10 games and be expensive, but today he is one of my top plays with the great matchup in Colorado. Against right handed pitching this season, he has a line of .326 AVG/.415 OBP/.601 SLG with 9 HR in 138 AB’s. I would also ignore his home vs. away splits tonight because Coors is even more of a hitter’s park than when Adrian plays at home. I listed above, Mr. Kendrick’ stats at home and against left handed hitting, and it’s not pretty. Adrian is a great hitter who is in a bit of a slump right now. He still has 10 HR on the season and a .601 SLG against right handed pitching is still great. With Kendrick give up a HR once every three innings at home, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him hit one tonight and easily hit his value even at a high price.
Freddie Freeman – I don’t really like the Braves offense overall, and I had David Ortiz in this spot until I saw the game was suspended, but Freeman is the bright spot in that lineup. He is goings against Archie Bradley tonight who is one of the cheapest pitchers on the slate and someone I don’t have a ton of confidence in. Against righties this year, Freeman has a line of .297 AVG/.374 OBP/.507 SLG with 6 HR in 138 AB. To me that is the only downfall with Freeman is that he doesn’t have a ton of power and the guys around him make me a bit nervous, but against Bradley I think he may be alright. Righties are actually hitting much better against Bradley with lefties only having a .161 AVG/.325 OBP/.194 SLG against him. While I wish that number was a little better, Freeman has shown the ability to hit righties of any kind at a good clip, and a small sample from Archie Bradley won’t scare me away.
Kolten Wong – I really like Wong tonight, and if you’re going with Jaime Garcia you are going to need the Cardinals to score some runs. He has finally cooled down a bit after the nice hot streak he was on, but I still like his matchup today, and think he has a great game. He is going against the righty Mike Fiers, and against right handed pitching this year he has a line of .316 AVG/.375 OBP/.500 SLG with 5 HR in 136 AB. Like I say in a lot of my articles, I like guys who hit at the top of the lineup because more AB’s means more opportunities for points. The top of the Cardinals lineup is solid with Wong, Carpenter, Holliday, and Peralta so if Wong can get on, I like his chances of scoring runs. He is going against Mike Fiers who does pitch better on the road (22.1 IP 7 ER), but still struggles against left handed hitting. He is giving up a line of .297 AVG/.366 OBP/.515 SLG to them with 4 HR in 101 AB’s. With Fier’s struggles this year, I could see Wong and some other Cardinals having solid games tonight.
Neil Walker – Walker has struggled against lefties this year, but not right handed pitching. He is hitting with a line of a .283 AVG/.341 OBP/.428 SLG which for his price is definitely good. He only has 3 HR in 152 AB’s against righties which is a little concerning as power is what he is really known for as a second basemen. His road numbers have been great this year as well though with a line of .283 AVG/.351 OBP/.424 SLG which are all significantly higher than his numbers at home. He is going against Ryan Vogelsong who has had his problems with left handed hitting. They have a .299 AVG/.379 OBP/.662 SLG, giving up 8 HR in 77 AB. That is an alarmingly high number at about 1 of every 12 batters is hitting a HR against him. Vogelsong has been really good at home this year (4 ER in 22 IP) so that is a concern, but overall I will take my chances with those really bad left handed splits.
Jhonny Peralta – As I stated with Mr. Wong, I really like the top of the Cardinals lineup tonight with Mr. Fiers pitching for the Brewers. I mentioned Fiers struggles against lefties, but he struggles against righties as well. Against right handed hitting he is allowing a line of .297 AVG/.344 OBP/.477 SLG with 3 HR allowed in 111 AB. Again, he does pitch better on the road, but he is still allowing guys on at an extremely high clip. He has a 2.79 ERA against STL this year but they have 16 hits in 9.2 innings which is a .372 AVG. To me that show’s he is dodging danger, and is getting pretty lucky. Then we get to Peralta, who against righties, has a line of .329 AVG/.387 OBP/.507 SLG which is I really like from the cleanup hole. He has 8 HR this year and for a shortstop that is almost elite. I expect the Cardinals to score some runs, and I like a Cardinals stack tonight.
Nick Ahmed – The last time that I picked Ahmed against a lefty it worked out great with a HR. Alex Wood may be a solid pitcher, but Ahmed has great stats against lefties for an affordable price. In 29 AB’s against lefties, he has a line of .379 AVG/.486 OBP/.586 SLG with 2 HR in 29 AB. These are pretty insane numbers for a guy not many have really heard about. Now the one think I will admit scares me a bit, is he is usually hitting low in the order (8th a lot), and that really limits the AB’s especially against the starter. The stats have shown though that he doesn’t need many at bats against lefties to be successful. Against righties this year Mr. Wood is allowing a .311 AVG/.377 OBP/.411 SLG which is pretty poor. The Diamondbacks as a whole have had a pretty solid offense this year, and with this great matchup, Ahmed will end up being one of the best shortstops tonight.
Kris Bryant – I might be nuts to fade Josh Donaldson today with him having 6 HR in his last 6 games but that is exactly what I’m going to do. Bryant has a much better pitching matchup, and I think we all know that Donaldson’s pace is not sustainable. Bryant is going against Jose Urena who is going to be one of the cheapest pitchers on the slate and someone I have little confidence in right now. Against righties this year, Bryant has a line of .290 AVG/.404 OBP/.492 SLG with 6 HR in 124 AB. His numbers are better at home this year but has put up respectable numbers on the road (.253 AVG/.345 OBP/.387 SLG). It’s a small sample size but righties have destroyed Urena this year so far. In 22 AB he has a line of .500 AVG/.522 OBP/.818 SLG against him, and again it’s a small sample size but that is eye opening to say the least. Bryant has been getting better and better at the pro level and today I like him to have a big game.
Justin Turner – This is the third Dodger on the list, and there will be one more after him. Turner looks to be more of a platoon guy hitting against righties with 79 AB against them vs. 20 against lefties. His numbers are also pretty telling with a split of .354 AVG/.427 OBP.633 SLG against righties with 5 HR in 79 AB. He is available at a pretty cheap price today with the matchup in Coors against Kyle Kendrick so he can definitely be a part of the Dodgers stack I will be rocking a lot today. He is usually batting around the 5th spot which isn’t bad with the guys hitting in front of him in line to have a good game as well. I don’t know if I would pick a 4 man Dodgers stack, but I like Turner in any 3 man stack you roll with them, or if you want to get risky 4 man stacks as well.
Joc Pederson – Joc Pederson has been a great surprise atop the Dodger’s lineup, and has helped that lineup become one of the best in the league. So far this year, Joc has had pretty good stats against right handed pitching, having a line of .252 AVG/.389 OBP/ .580 SLG with 12 HR in 131 AB’s. That is a great amount of HR’s for a leadoff guy, and at Coors with Kendrick pitching, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him hit a HR. With Kendrick allowing a HR every three innings at home, somebody is more than likely going to hit the HR tonight which is why I like the Dodgers stack overall, but with Joc having the most HR on the Dodgers
Kole Calhoun – I picked Alex Colome in his last start as a value play and he ended up doing okay, but he is still a pitcher that doesn’t give me a ton of confidence. While I don’t really like his OBP against righties (.315) I still like Calhoun as a player, and with guys like Trout and Pujols most likely hitting in front of him, he will have opportunities. He has a .279 AVG against righties and has 4 HR in 136 AB which isn’t ideal for the clean-up spot, but it shows they have some confidence in his power. I obviously would also like him to be able to walk a little bit more than he has as well. Then we get to Colome who hasn’t been great against lefties having a split of .299 AVG/.338 OBP/.507 SLG with 3 HR allowed in 57 AB. He seems to give up a lot of hits which Calhoun does pretty well with that .279 AVG against righties. Calhoun has dropped in price dramatically this year, and I would pick him before he starts to rebound and rise back up.
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