By: John Heffelfinger
Max Scherzer – He is likely due for a bad start one of these days, but I will keep rolling with him until it happens. Scherzer has steadily gone up in price with his dominance this year which means he will need a big game to reach his value. Felix was at a similar price last night and put up a dud, but I don’t see that being the case tonight. On the year Scherzer has 85 K’s in 71 IP with a 1.51 ERA 6 Wins (5 in a row), and a sub 1.00 WHIP which are all MVP type numbers. In his last 10 starts, he has only pitched less than 7 innings one time and he pitched 6.2 innings in that game. His last 6 starts have been especially dominant; striking out 10+ guys 4 times, getting 5 wins in those starts, and only walking 6 guys in those starts. He is pitching deep into games because he isn’t allowing many hits or walks this year (63 combined in 71 IP) and has really good command overall. The Blue Jays do have a good offense and guys like Archer and Cueto might have slightly better matchups, but the Blue Jays are far better against lefties than they are against righties, hit worse on the road then they do at home, and strikeout more than the Phillies and the Angels (389 K’s) (Archer is my clear #2 FWIW tonight). I’d say it’s safe to say that other than Donaldson, the other big bats in the lineup are having down years so far, and while they could strike at any time, I don’t see it happening against Scherzer. The Nationals are -200 to win this game which tied for the highest odds on this slate, and with Marco Estrada going for the Nats, I expect some run support for Scherzer
Mike Wright – To be honest I had never really heard of Mike Wright until his last start, but he has been spot on so far this year, and is an affordable option with a lot of good expensive hitters tonight. In 3 starts so far this year, Wright has a line of 19 IP 12 K’s 1.40 ERA and only 16 combined hits and walks. He has a very favorable matchup against the Astros who have struck out 474 times which is the 2nd most in the MLB. They also do not get a lot of hits (27th best .238 BA this year), and while they may have the 7th most walks in the MLB, Wright has only walked 1 guy for every 6.1 IP. Also, while they may be 17-12 at home, their numbers across the board are lower than on the road (.225 AVG/.298 OBP/.413 SLG). The Astros may be at -140 to win tonight, but the line is at 7.5 runs so they believe that McHugh and Wright will not be allowing a lot of runs. With a likely inflated K line, great stats this year, and a cheap price to afford the stud batters, I will put Wright in a couple GPP’s tonight and I think it will pay off.
Stephen Vogt – Alfredo Simon has been really good this year, but Stephen Vogt has been better compared to his positional peers. Vogt has arguably been the best catcher so far this year, and is still relatively affordable. Against righties this year, he has a line of .325 AVG/.412 OBP/.640 SLG with 10 HR in 114 AB. Those numbers are great for any position, but for catcher those are truly elite numbers. Vogt has also been crushing away from Oakland hitting 8 HR in 76 AB. That is a HR once in every 12 AB which again means he could easily make value with one swing of the bat. Like I said before, Simon has been good overall but lefties have been able to get to him this year. He has a line of .290 AVG/.336 OBP/.449 SLG allowed against lefties this year which are all at least 9% higher than against right handed hitters. That is in a 138 AB sample size which I believe is big enough to convince me that the 2.67 ERA might have a little luck on that side. The A’s may be struggling as a whole, but Vogt is really having a breakout year, and if you have the cash for him, he is a great pick tonight.
Yadier Molina – Yadier is known for his defensive prowess behind the plate, he is still a rather solid hitter overall and is super cheap right now. He has never been a power hitter, there is no doubt about that as he has 0 HR this year. What he can do is hit for a good average, and get on base at solid clip which is why I like him more for cash games, but if you need to save money for either GPP’s or cash games he is a great option. He is going up against the cheapest pitcher on the slate tonight in Tyler Cravy who has just been average in the minor leagues this year (4.04 ERA). Molina also hits righties pretty well with a line of .301 AVG/.333 OBP/.346 SLG. He has hit better on the road this year so far, but that doesn’t worry me too much as his AVG is still pretty solid at home (.271). Another reason I like him is because I like guys in front of him to get on which gives the ever wanted RBI opportunities and for a guy at that price, any RBI’s would be great. He is usually around the 6 or 7 hole so AB’s may be slightly limited, but I expect some hits out of the lineup tonight so hopefully he can have 4 good AB’s tonight.
Adrian Gonzalez – I picked him last night and he really came through for me, and I see no reason as to why he can’t do it again. He is hitting in Coors again tonight against another pitcher who really doesn’t do too much for me in David Hale. Hale is going to be sent down after the game tonight so the Rockies obviously don’t a ton of faith in him. I’m not going to post his splits against lefties because he only has one start, but Gonzalez has done well against righties all year long so far. He has a line of .340 AVG/.429 OBP/.624 SLG with 9 HR in 141 AB so far this year. I believe I mentioned this yesterday, but even though he has better numbers at home this year, you can discard those stats for this series with Coors and the Rockies poor pitching staff. The Dodgers as a team have the 2nd highest SLG% in the league, and as you saw last night it’s totally legit. Gonzalez did a lot of damage without hitting a HR or getting a bunch of RBI’s, so if he can do that tonight, he will have a monster game.
Freddie Freeman – I picked him yesterday as well and he was also brilliant again. He has 3 HR in his last 4 games, and for a 1B is still at a pretty good price point. He is going against Josh Collmenter who surprised me by pitching pretty well against the Cardinals in his last start. If he can do well again today I might change my line of thinking, but for now I will still keep rolling out guys against him. Against left handed hitting this year he has a line of .309 AVG/.317 OBP/.520 SLG against them which is actually better than it is against righties. What I take from those numbers above though, is he pitches for contact and doesn’t walk or pitch around guys. With a .308 AVG overall against this year, teams are getting hits at a really high rate so far and he has given up 9 HR so far. Then we have Freeman who hits righties really well on an offense which isn’t good overall. His line against righties is a .303 AVG/.377 OBP/.528 SLG with 7 HR in 142 AB. He has been quite hot lately, and should once again be a little cheaper than some of the huge hitting 1B tonight.
Jason Kipnis – As great as the Dodgers guys were last night, and likely will be tonight, there is no way I am not picking on Kipnis on almost all of my teams. Tonight, he is going against the righty Jeremy Guthrie who has struggled as of late and should set up a prime game for a few Indians. I’ve said these stats a few times now, but the sample size is getting larger, and they honestly keep getting better. Against right handed pitching Kipnis has a line of .403 AVG/.478 OBP/.597 SLG with 3 HR in 119 AB’s. I don’t know how you could not pick him even at his high price right now. He is getting on base close to 50% of the time and is going against Guthrie who has an ugly line of .359 AVG/.436 OBP/.660 SLG with 8 HR in 103 AB allowed against lefties. If you add the two of these stats together, fading Kipnis is a super bold choice and while it could pay off, I certainly don’t expect it to. It may be tough to get an Indians and Dodgers stack tonight with their prices, but if you can find a way do it. You could also just run a second lineup if need be as well.
Daniel Murphy – I don’t know why he always pops into my articles as I don’t love him as a player, but I guess I like him more than I think. He is going against Ian Kennedy who once again struggled in his last start. Murphy has been hitting righties at a great clip this year with a line of .309 AVG/.360 OBP/.474 SLG with 4 HR in 152 AB. Also while Petco may be a pitchers park, Murphy has been shredding on the road posting a line of .350 AVG/.391 OBP/.488 SLG which are all great numbers. Then there is Ian Kennedy who has allowed a line to lefties of .325 AVG/.385 OBP/.699 SLG and has allowed 23 ER in 21.1 IP at home this year. He has also allowed 12 HR on the year including 7 in 83 AB against lefties so as you can see I don’t have much confidence in him today. Murphy is pretty affordable, and could see him being low owned with a ton of people likely picking Kipnis. I think Kipnis is more likely to have the better game, but Murphy does have a great matchup and picking him will save you a nice chunk of cash.
Jhonny Peralta – Another guy who I thought was going to have a good night last night, but was pretty quiet overall with a single and a walk. As is the case with Molina, he is going against one of the cheapest pitchers on the slate tonight and hitting in cleanup hole again should be a prime spot. Against righties he has a great line of .329 AVG/.389 OBP/.503 SLG with 4 HR in 149 AB. While you may want a little more power out of the cleanup spot, he is still getting on base primarily a lot of hits at a high rate. I said it yesterday but I still really trust Wong, Carpenter, and Holliday getting on base for him and giving him ample opportunities for points. With the cheapest pitcher going against him, if you’re going to spend on a shortstop I believe Peralta is the one.
Ruben Tejada – This was extremely close between Tejada and Starlin Castro, but I will take the guy on a hot streak right now. He has 8 hits in his last 4 games, is pretty cheap, and has a great matchup against Ian Kennedy as well. Against righties this year, Tejada has a line of .304 AVG/.385 OBP/.435 SLG with 0 HR. While I obviously don’t expect him to hit a HR with 0 on the season, if there was ever a night to do it, it is against Kennedy. He’s given up 12 overall and 5 in 70 AB to righties so far this year. At a low price point though, a HR is not going to be needed to hit value. I expect him to score some runs out of the 2 hole tonight especially if Duda is in the lineup. Kennedy has been better against righties than lefties but is still allowing guys on base at 33% clip which is high. This is a position where money can be saved tonight, and Tejada can definitely be a part of some Mets stacks if you going that route.
Matt Carpenter – I wanted to go with Kris Bryant, but the numbers just weren’t there and Carpenter has a prime matchup a cheaper price point. As has been stated, he is going against the righty Cravy who is making his first career start tonight and is one of the cheapest pitchers on the slate tonight. Carpenter has really slowed down since the beginning of the year, but I still like his chances for a game tonight. The .333 AVG/.421 OBP/.581 SLG against righties makes him a good bet any night, but especially tonight. He bats in the 2 hole and hopefully Kolten Wong can get back on that hot streak he was on there for a while. It may seem boring having a lot of the guys from last night, but they just have to good of matchups to pass up, and a Cardinals stack is once again a great play tonight in my opinion
Evan Longoria – I could have gone Justin Turner here again, but Longoria against left handed pitching is just too much to pass up. As I have said when I have picked him in the past, I don’t trust the Rays offense as a whole but they do better against lefties (CJ Wilson tonight). Longoria’s line against lefties is .351 AVG/.468 OBP/.541 SLG with 2 HR in 37 AB. His power numbers are down this year there’s no doubt about that, but if he can get some help from his teammates he should have a good night tonight. Forsythe and Souza are decent hitters against left handed pitching as well so I hope that Longoria will get some pitches to see tonight. Wilson may shut down lefties, but he still gives up decent stats to righties (.250 AVG/.318 OBP/.341 SLG), so they have a chance to do something. There are some good 3B tonight, but at a little lower cost Longoria is always a great play against left handed pitching
Michael Brantley – His power may also be down this year, but he is a great left handed hitter and I expect a very nice game out of him. He is also going against Jeremy Guthrie tonight who I stated has had really bad numbers against left handed hitting and is very prone to giving up the long ball as well. Against right handed pitchers this year, Brantley has a line of .284 AVG/.375 OBP/.442 SLG against them which are solid other than the SLG%. Again that does not worry me though because he is going against a pitcher who gives up a ton of HR so for tonight at least that is not going to worry me. The Indians are one of my favorite stacks tonight and I think the combo of Brantley and Kipnis is going to do something really solid tonight and will have them on several lineups tonight
Andre Ethier – I didn’t have him on this list yesterday, but I did pick him and really came through for me. Ethier has become a bit more of a platoon guy , he still hits righties at a real good clip (.310 AVG/.412 OBP/.586 SLG). That is a great SLG% and with him playing in Coors tonight, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another HR tonight. He is also going against Mr. Hale tonight who is being demoted after the game, so while that might be a good thing trying to prove yourself, it to me shows a lack of confidence. The Dodgers have a great offense overall so I would expect the guys in front of him to get on base, and create the prized RBI opportunities. The Dodgers stack should do well once again tonight and hopefully Ethier is a big part of that
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