By: John Heffelfinger
Dallas Kuechel – Kuechel has been a stud all year long, and has put in a solid campaign for the cy young so far this year. Sure, he may only have 60 K’s in 81 IP, but he does everything else well. He has wins this year, only 74 combined hits and walks, and has a 1.76 ERA this season. He has had 11 starts this year with 81 IP so he is averaging over 7 innings per start which helps make up for his low strikeout total. Kuechel had a career high 11 K’s in his last start so hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling into this start. Then there is his matchup against the Orioles who have basically the same split against lefties and righties, but have a really poor line on the road this year (.234 AVG/.298 OBP/.362 SLG) and have only hit 20 HR vs. 37 on the road. The Orioles are also very prone to the strikeout, having the 10th most in the MLB with 410 and leading the league in chasing % at roughly 33. Adam Jones has been struggling with injuries all year and Chris Davis has kind of struggled so their lineup as a whole doesn’t scare me. The Astros are at -155 to win today’s game which the highest odds of the day. One last thing about Kuechel, he has been utterly dominant at home this year. He has given up 5 ER in 43 IP which is a 1.05 ERA. I think this shows that he is a real safe bet for a solid day, and here’s to hoping that he can keep up the double digit K starts.
Anthony DeSclafani – I admittedly don’t know a ton about DeSclafani, but his stats on the year look solid and he has a great matchup against the Phillies. The Phillies on the year so far, have struck out 374 times which is only 23rd in the MLB so they are pretty good in that regard. However, they have the 2nd worst BA this year at .237 and have a league worst 164 runs which is 18 behind the 2nd worst. They have been even worse against righties posting a line of .227 AVG/.274 OBP/.341 SLG. I mean I know DeSclafani might not strike a lot of guys out (41 in 58 IP), but the Phillies simply cannot score any runs. Now Harang has been real good for the Phillies post a roughly 2.00 ERA, but this is way below his career average and I like the top of the Reds lineup a lot. DeSclafani also has at least 5 K’s in 7 out of his last 10 starts which if he can do that is good for his price. He also has been much more dominant on the road only giving up 8 ER in 32 IP and allowing a .164 AVG against which is dominant. I don’t know if he has a super high ceiling, but he has a really high floor and should put solid numbers again tomorrow.
Stephen Vogt – Tomorrow I really only see two options for studs at the catcher position and they are Vogt and Gattis. I will go with the cheaper and more consistent option in Vogt who I seem to write about a lot yet keeps doing well on almost a daily basis. He is going against the right handed pitcher Shane Greene, and against righties this year, Vogt has a line of .314 AVG/.404 OBP/.619 SLG with 10 HR in 118 AB. This is the big thing for me as he only has 1 HR in 35 AB’s against lefties, which makes this a more optimal matchup for Vogt. Then there is Greene who has really struggled against lefties this year (.328 AVG/.376 OBP/.541 SLG line) and while he has been better at home I will take those splits for an individual player. I really like Vogt tomorrow and basically anyday, and with Greene’s struggles against lefties look forward to a big day.
Yasmani Grandal – Catcher is truly not a good position to pick from today as there are the top 3 guys, otherwise you are basically punting at a low priced catcher and none of them have outstanding matchups today. The Dodgers are finally out of Coors so they don’t have 4 must play guys, but I do like Grandal today. He is going against the righty Michael Wacha who is a really good pitcher, and does well against both sides of the plate; however lefties do hit him a bit better (.197 AVG/.288 OBP/.359 SLG with 4 of his 5 HR allowed against them). There is a slight concern with the Dodgers playing so late last night, but they usually save AJ Ellis for Kershaw so I’d be a bit surprised if he played today over Grandal. Then we get to why I like Grandal today. He has a line of .295 AVG/.414 OBP/.495 SLG with 5 HR in 105 AB. I will take those the numbers from a catcher any day of the week and he is usually somewhere in the middle of that Dodgers lineup. He does hit a little better and for some power on the road, but he is pretty affordable for putting up good numbers. If you’re going to go away from Vogt or Gattis; Grandal easily gets my vote for the 3rd best catcher today and I would take him over Gattis.
Lucas Duda – As it is every day, there are a ton of good first basemen to pick from and all of them could have big days. I personally like Duda the most because he comes at a little better price point and he has a prime matchup against the righty Jeremy Hellickson. Duda has actually been better against lefties this year which surprised me, but has posted a solid line against righties (.267 AVG/.375 OBP/.481 SLG with 5 HR in 135 AB). His home numbers have also been better than his road numbers, but playing in Arizona makes me overlook those splits as it is one of the best hitter’s parks in the MLB. Then we get to why I really love Duda today and that is the struggles of Mr. Hellickson. Against left handed hitting this year, Hellickson has allowed an insane line of .348 AVG/.417 OBP/.584 SLG with 3 HR in 89 AB’s. The Mets lineup has Granderson and Murphy that are also lefties and hit at the top of the lineup as well. Then you look at his home and road splits and they are also quite poor. He has a 6.58 ERA at home with 19 ER in 26 IP and allowing an opponent BA of .296 which makes any lefty on the Mets a great play. Duda might not get the hype of a Cabrera, Goldschmidt, Rizzo, but he has been posting good stats all year long and I don’t expect that to change today.
Mike Napoli – When you go with Mike Napoli you know what you’re going to get. He is a guy that can hit for some power, gets on base a fair amount, but isn’t going to rack up a ton of hits. He is going against the Twins lefty Tommy Milone who dominated in his minor league stint (47 K’s to 3 BBs) but has just been okay at the major league level this year. Righties are hitting him pretty well this year at a line of .279 AVG/.353 OBP/.459 SLG with 3 HR allowed in 61 AB. He has allowed 5 HR in 22.2 innings this year, so the numbers say the Sox should hit 1-2 homers today and Napoli could be that guy. Against lefties this year Napoli has a line of .208 AVG/.345 OBP/.521 SLG with 4 HR in 48 AB. As you can see, he isn’t going to hit for a high average, but he has power and can get on via the walk. Napoli also has 7 of his 9 HR at home in just 81 AB so his splits and against lefties and at home show he is more than capable of hitting a HR today. Well see if Tommy Milone can keep up what he was doing in the minors, but until he does, I will take a good hitter with a good matchup at a good hitter’s park.
Jason Kipnis – He is my 1A second basemen as he the value guy both mash in their perspective matchups. Kipnis destroys right handed pitching and today he is going against Chris Young who has really impressed so far this year. The sample size is getting bigger and Chris Young keeps going with 1.55 ERA, a sub 1.00 WHIP, 4 wins, and 30 K’s in 40 IP. Now they may not be good numbers, but lefties are hitting young better than righties at a line of .192 AVG/.264 OBP/.282 SLG. Now from 2012-2014 he had a line of .267 AVG/.342 OBP/.480 SLG against them which seems much more likely. While he could continue to dominate, I have a feeling he will start regressing a bit otherwise he could be in the Cy Young running late in the year. Then there is Kipnis stats against righties which speak for themselves (.387 AVG/.462 OBP/.573 SLG). Now his numbers at home are much better than on the road which concerns me a little for how much you are paying for him, those stats against righties make it really hard to turn away from him. With a lefty heavy lineup at the top, the Indians can hopefully be to get to Chris Young this year and it will start with Kipnis if they do.
Jose Altuve – It may seem a bit obvious and bland to go with such a high priced guy as a value play, but I think you’d be nuts not to go with one of these two guys. Altuve is the exact opposite of Kipnis as he crushes left handed pitching, but he does it at a very similar rate. He has a line of .391 AVG/.459 OBP/.500 SLG with 6 SB and hasn’t been caught stealing. Altuve has really become an awesome player for the Astros who are much improved. While I worry about the Astros getting him in if he gets on base with their low batting average, he can make up for it with his speed on the base paths. He also has 5 HR this year which is more than Kipnis has so he has that going for him as well. He is going against the lefty Wei-Yin Chen who has been solid with a 3.21 ERA and 48 K in 61 IP. Righties have hit him decently with a line of .259 AVG/.307 OBP/.476 SLG with 9 HR in 185 AB’s. That last stat is one that gives me confidence because if the Astros can hit some HR today, I think Altuve could be in line for a big game. I love Brian Dozier and there are some other good second basemen, but I think you have to go with Altuve or Kipnis even if they are expensive today.
Jhonny Peralta – I didn’t want to use him again today, but the other shortstops once again really do nothing for me today. Desmond, Andrus, Ahmed, and Rollins don’t do much for me as they haven’t been very good and none of them have matchups that I love for them. Peralta is going against the righty Carlos Frias who is one of the cheapest pitchers on the slate and has been basically average all year long so far. He has given up 42 hits in 35 IP with a 4.29 ERA which is roughly average in my opinion. Righties have struggled against Frias (.236 AVG/.292 OBP/.326 SLG) compared to lefties which makes me wish Peralta was left handed, but he actually hits right handed pitching better than left handed pitching. He has a line of .323 AVG/.382 OBP.490 SLG against righties and with Wong and Carpenter hitting ahead of him, they should be able to get on with Frias’s struggles against lefties. The Cardinals finally were able to get 7 runs yesterday, and hopefully they can continue off of that.
Starlin Castro – He may not have a huge sample size of at bats against left handed pitching so far this year, but he has produced in the small sample size. In 27 AB’s he has a line of .370 AVG/.414 OBP/.407 SLG which are all way up from his numbers against righties. He was once a highly touted prospect who has failed to live up to the hype a little bit, but with these numbers against lefties at a cheap price, I don’t see why he’s not worth taking a flyer on. He is going against Gio Gonzalez who has struggled a bit this year especially against right handed batters. They have a line of .304 AVG/.370 OBP/.466 SLG against him this year, and while he may pitch a little better at home, he is still allowing a batting average against of .280 which is pretty good. With righties Kris Bryant and Dexter Fowler ahead of him, and Rizzo who gets on base a lot, hopefully this will provide Starlin with some big opportunities because I feel with the lefty on righty matchup he can succeed.
Matt Carpenter – As I stated with Peralta, Frias really struggles with left handed batters, and I think that Carpenter could be in line for another good game today. Lefties are hitting with a line of .389 AVG/.431 OBP/.519 SLG this year against Frias, so while it might seem like I pick Carpenter a lot, this is just too good of a matchup to pass up on today. Then there is Carpenter’s splits against righties which aren’t too shabby in their own right (.338 AVG/.430 OBP/.579 SLG with 6 HR in 133 AB). Now while he might not be a HR machine like some other 3B out there, he makes up for it with an insanely high OBP. He is a Cardinal’s type player who isn’t always super flashy, but goes about his business and helps them win a ton of games. With both of those splits listed above, I don’t see how spending on him today is a bad thing, and I will likely be picking him in several lineups today.
Ruben Tejada – I swear the other day I just saw him at shortstop, but he’s now at 3B and is cheap with a great matchup as well. As I documented earlier, Hellickson hasn’t been very good this year, especially against lefties. Now while Hellickson does better against right handed batters (.231 AVG/.270 OBP/.410 OBP), but Tejada has been hitting righties at too good of a clip to overlook. He has a line of .345 AVG/.410 OBP/.473 SLG against them and has actually hit way better on the road which bodes well for him in Arizona. He may not have much power, but if he can get on base a few times today he will essentially hit his value, and everything else will just be the cherry on top
Hanley Ramirez – Hanley started off the year red hot, and then cooled off quite a bit. He only hit 2 of his 12 HR in May so he hasn’t been producing the long ball for over a month now, but his stats against lefties make me take the chance today. He has a line of .306 AVG/.404 OBP/.592 SLG with 4 HR in 49 AB. That HR rate is higher than it is against it is against righties so he does have that going for him. He somehow hits better away from Fenway which does concern me but it’s such a hitter’s park I can’t imagine that holding up all year long. If you look up at Napoli, you can see how Milone has struggled against right handed batters and with Hanley hitting in the clean-up spot he should have his opportunities. This series has been low scoring so I wouldn’t be surprised to see an offensive explosion from one or both of the teams today.
Josh Reddick – It seems as if Reddick has dropped in price and I don’t really see why that is with the good year he is having. He is going against the righty Shane Greene today who hasn’t been all that good this year. Against right handed pitching, Reddick has a great line of .359 AVG/.432 OBP/.626 SLG with 8 HR in 131 AB which is why I can’t see why he is as cheap as he is. The Oakland offense may not have a big wow factor on it, but they slowly do damage to pitchers by backing up hits with more hits and walks which can take a toll. Then there is Shane Greene again who struggles against left handed batters. He has a line of .328 AVG/.376 OBP/.541 SLG against them and while he may pitch better at home than on the road, I think the splits do more of the talking. A Reddick/Vogt combo is something that looks pretty attractive to me today and won’t break the bank either.
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