MLB DEEP DIVE – 8/14/17
Jose Quintana [LHP – CHC] and Zack Greinke [RHP – ARI] are the two highest priced pitchers on Monday’s slate, and neither of them are all that enticing. Quintana is a heavy favorite at home against a Reds team that owns a sub-4-run implied total, but he has struggled against right-handed hitters, of which Cincinnati has plenty. Here’s how I see it: there is no reason to roster Quintana on DraftKings or FantasyDraft, where his exorbitant price tag make it difficult to roster expensive bats on a night where they are in abundance. On FanDuel, however, Quintana is cheap enough to use without needing a stellar performance. Cincinnati owns a top-five ISO vs. LHP (.191), and there is some threat of rain at Wrigley Field, so I’ll likely be avoiding Quintana across the board.
Greinke is actually a more intriguing play than Quintana despite his suboptimal matchup with Houston. The Astros’ run totals in their last five games have been 2, 3, 2, 4, 1 against these starting pitchers: Andrew Cashner (7/2/4), Tyson Ross (5.2/3/2), Cole Hamels (7/0/5), Carlos Rodon (8/2/4) and Miguel Gonzalez (8/1/5). Even the best teams in baseball will go through cold spells, so if there was ever a time to target Greinke against the Astros it would be now. Furthermore, Houston has dropped nine of 12 games in August, and if you remove their one game with 16 runs against Cesar Valdez, they’d be averaging 3.09 runs per game on the month.
Greinke has been brilliant inside Chase Field this season (2.52 ERA, .250 wOBA, 31.7 K%, 3.01 xFIP), and the Astros own a paltry 4.1-run implied total inside this hitter-friendly venue. There’s a real path to success for Greinke, who isn’t egregiously priced on any specific site. It’s a risky spot for any pitcher, especially considering Houston does not strike out, but I would much prefer Greinke over Quintana regardless of price point.
Jerad Eickhoff [RHP – PHI] @ SDP – I generally don’t like rostering Eickhoff, but Monday’s slate doesn’t leave us with many alternatives. Eickhoff draws a nice matchup with the Padres, who rank 27th in wOBA vs. RHP (.305) with the third highest K-rate (25.3%) this season. Petco Park is one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in baseball, which should help Eickhoff and his 38.8-percent groundball rate, and he seems to own a pretty high floor in this matchup. Eickhoff’s best performance in 2017 came against San Diego, when he stymied them for zero runs and eight strikeouts across five strong frames.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eickhoff post another ~25 DKPT against the righty-heavy Padres, who will likely run a maximum of three left-handed bats in their lineup tonight. Eickhoff is holding right-handed hitters to a .293 wOBA and only 0.84 HR/9 this season, while striking them out at a respectable 22.4-percent clip. San Diego’s 4.2-run implied total is probably higher than it should be, but low enough to target a mid-range Eickhoff at Petco Park. As of now, Eickhoff will be in my cash lineup tonight.
Kevin Gausman [RHP – BAL] @ SEA – As we know, Kevin Gausman has been far more effective with Caleb Joseph, not Welington Castillo, behind the plate. Unfortunately, it appears as though Buck Showalter has still yet to identify this trend, as Castillo caught Gausman last game (4 ER in 5.1 IP), and Joseph started yesterday in a 9-3 loss to Oakland. Now, a catcher generally won’t start a day game that directly follows a night game, so I can understand why Castillo sat yesterday, but I don’t think we can confidently assume Joseph will remain behind the dish tonight.
This is pretty simple: if Joseph catches Gausman tonight, we’ll want to consider him across the board. If Castillo is catching, however, I’ll be full fading Gausman without hesitation. The Mariners aren’t a bad baseball team, they don’t strike out at a high clip, and although they haven’t looked great in recent days, I’d rather not risk Gausman unless Joseph is catching. Joseph has proven to be an elite pitch-framing backstop, but he clearly calls a much better game than Castillo, too. We’ve discussed these catcher splits at length before, so we won’t delve back into them now, but just pay attention to the Orioles lineup prior to lock.
Jake Junis [RHP – KC] @ OAK – You won’t have much luck targeting cheap pitchers tonight, and while Travis Wood [LHP – SDP] and Adam Conley [LHP – MIA] are both facing teams with the lowest implied run totals on Monday’s slate (PHI: 3.9, SFG: 3.9), they can’t exactly be relied upon to churn out respectable fantasy totals. Jake Junis’ most recent major-league start came in early August, where he tossed eight one-run innings with seven strikeouts and 31.6 DKPT against Seattle. He’ll be called up again to take the place of Trevor Cahill, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Junis post another strong performance against the K-heavy A’s.
Junis has been brilliant in Triple-A this year, striking out 30 percent of batters faced while walking them at a mere 5.2-percent clip. His flyball tendencies will be masked inside the pitcher-friendly O.Co, and a dirt cheap price point will keep us from needing a stellar performance in order to justify the play.
Armed with a passable four-seamer and an above average slider, Junis has what it takes to silence these Oakland hitters. The Athletics rank bottom-five against the slider this season, and strike out at a 25-percent clip vs. right-handed pitching. They’ve also lost Yonder Alonso to a trade, and are devoid of left-handed power throughout the lineup. Matt Joyce, Matt Olson, Jed Lowrie, Bruce Maxwell and Boog Powell aren’t exactly intimidating bats. I’ll likely roll the dice on Junis tonight, as he possesses solid upside and a reasonably high floor against the A’s. I’d urge you not to focus too much on Vegas run totals to decide pitching on this slate, as Travis Wood and Adam Conley could allow a combined two runs and still not hit double-digit fantasy points.
Charlie Blackmon [OF – L] vs. Teheran [RHP] – I won’t spend much time here; Blackmon boasts a .529 wOBA and .449 ISO vs. LHP at home, while making 48-percent hard contact with a 42-percent flyball rate this season. He’ll square off against a volatile righty in Julio Teheran, who has been tortured by opposite-handed hitters in lefty-friendly parks. We’ve picked on Teheran with left-handed bats at Suntrust Park all year long, so there’s absolutely no reason to alter that approach on Monday when he toes the rubber inside baseball’s most hitter-friendly venue.
Giancarlo Stanton [OF – R] vs. Blach [LHP] – If Eric Thames was tested three times for PED use early this season, then Stanton needs to be tested three times a day. Miami’s slugging outfielder has now homered in four straight games and nine times over his last 10 starts. Stanton is on pace to hit 53 long balls this season, and he’ll draw an opportunity to creep close to that total tonight against Ty Blach. Blach has been a thorn in the side of DFS players this year, but his overall splits against righties are far from impressive. Blach is surrendering a .332 wOBA to RHH, but it’s his 12-percent K-rate that should punish him on Monday.
Stanton is striking out at a 17-percent clip vs. southpaws, while mashing them for a .403 wOBA and .360 ISO in 2017. He’s making 40-percent hard contact with 41-percent fly balls, so Blach’s only hope of keeping Stanton in the yard will be to induce ground balls. I don’t see any reason to avoid Stanton on a night where he’ll face a below average lefty with a piss poor strikeout rate.
Freddie Freeman [1B/3B – L] @ Bettis [RHP] – Chad Bettis is your prototypical Rockies pitcher, whose high groundball rate allows him to pitch relatively effectively in Coors. He’s been a reverse-splits pitcher for his career, too, but that shouldn’t stop us from targeting Freeman. Simply put, Freeman is one of the best overall hitters in baseball. He tortures right-handed pitching regardless of skill level, so I’m not exactly concerned about Bettis being better against LHH inside Coors Field. I don’t see Freeman as a must play at his price point, but he’s obviously a top option across the industry on a night where the Braves own a 5.7-run implied total in Colorado.
HONORABLE MENTION: Aaron Judge [OF – R] vs. Montero [RHP]; Anthony Rizzo [1B – L] vs. Wojciechowski [RHP]; Jake Lamb [3B – L] vs. McHugh [RHP]; Michael Conforto [OF – L] @ Cessa [RHP]
Zack Cozart [SS – R] @ Quintana [LHP] – Cozart is close to being a “high-end” shortstop option tonight, but because we won’t have to worry about being frugal on a slate where top-shelf pitching is underwhelming, he should be tough to fit. Cozart’s last five games have been rather ridiculous, as he’s racked up four home runs and seven RBI in that span. That’s not why I’m considering him tonight, though (although it certainly doesn’t hurt), in an exploitable matchup against Jose Quintana.
The Cubs’ new southpaw is an above average pitcher, but he has struggled to limit right-handed power this season, with 19 of his 20 home runs allowed coming against opposite-handed bats. Quintana is actually coughing up a robust 1.65 HR/9 to RHH, while ceding 44-percent hard contact in the process. Wrigley Field should play as a neutral-to-slightly-hitter-friendly park tonight with winds blowing out to left-center field at 10 MPH, and Cozart, who’s smashing lefties to the tune of a .487/.356 wOBA/ISO, should earn ample opportunity to produce.
Didi Gregorius [SS – L] vs. Montero [RHP] – Gregorius would be my first alternative to Cozart if you aren’t looking to spend at the position. Gregorius went from being $4,800 on Saturday to $3,800 on Sunday and again today, so he’s finally priced reasonably enough to consider in a plus matchup with Montero. Yankee Stadium is an ideal location for someone like Gregorius, who makes a lot of soft contact but hits a lot of fly balls. He’s surprisingly been worse at home this year, but it’s hard to see that continuing through August. At a sub-$4K price point on DraftKings Gregorius should be viewed as a solid mid-range shortstop with a nice ceiling against Montero. The Yankees currently own the second highest implied run total (5.8) on Monday’s 10-game slate.
Justin Upton [OF – R] @ Perez [LHP] – Upton is truly one of the streakiest hitters in baseball, so it’s never a bad idea to jump aboard when he’s beginning to heat up. It’s also never a bad idea to pick on Martin Perez, who’s allowing a .389 wOBA to right-handed hitters at home this season. Perez is incapable of missing bats righty bats (12.5 K%), which doesn’t bode well for a pitcher who’s also ceding 38-percent hard contact this season.
Game-time temperatures will be 95 degrees in Arlington tonight, and the Tigers own at 5.6-run implied total against Perez. Upton, meanwhile, is mashing southpaws to the tune of a .443 wOBA and .306 ISO in 2017, making 43.3-percent hard contact with 41-percent fly balls. This is a perfect matchup at Globe Life Park, and Upton possesses legitimate double-dong upside on Monday night.
Nick Castellanos [3B – R] and Ian Kinsler [2B – R] are both very much in play against Perez, too. The two infielders are affordably priced across the industry, and are more than capable of hitting left-handed pitching. Castellanos, specifically, is sporting a .393/.353 wOBA/ISO vs. southpaws in 2017, while Kinsler owns an ISO north of .200 for his career.
Steven Souza [OF – R]/Corey Dickerson [OF – L]/Logan Morrison [1B – L] @ Tepesch [RHP] – While Tampa bats should be considered across the industry, they are most appealing on DraftKings and FantasyDraft, where almost all of them are negligibly priced. Souza has hit 25 home runs on the season, and all of them have come against right-handed pitching. He’s also been very good against the slider, a pitch that Tepesch is throwing more than 30 percent of the time to righties over his career. I’ll almost certainly be using Souza in my main lineups tonight, as he is priced in the basement on DraftKings.
Dickerson and Morrison are crushing right-handed pitching this season for plenty of power, fly balls and hard contact. At their discounted price points we can confidently deploy them as one-offs or as stack options against Tepesch. There is a lot of value to be had with this Rays team, including two hitters listed in the value section…
HONORABLE MENTION: Gerardo Parra [OF – L] vs. Teheran [RHP]; D.J. LeMahieu [2B – R] vs. Teheran [RHP]; Matt Adams [1B – L] @ Bettis [RHP]; Gary Sanchez [C – R] vs. Montero [RHP]; Adam Duvall [OF – R] @ Quintana [LHP]; Ender Inciarte [OF – L] @ Bettis [RHP]; Mikie Mahtook [OF – R] @ Perez [LHP]; Kyle Schwarber [OF – L] vs. Wojciechowski [RHP]; Marcell Ozuna [OF – R] vs. Blach [LHP]
Brad Miller [2B – L] and Lucas Duda [1B – L] are also in play with their depressed salaries putting them on the map. Tepesch has surrendered four home runs in only six innings pitched this season, and I don’t see him figuring things out tonight. Both Miller and Duda have been boom-or-bust hitters not only this season but for their careers, but the two of them boast enough power to take advantage of this matchup. Neither are top options at their respective positions, but they are still an extension of talent from the aforementioned Tampa Bay bats listed in the above section.
Miguel Cabrera [1B – R] @ Perez [LHP] – Cabrera has hardly been impressive against left-handed pitching this season, recording only one home run across 90 PA. His .366 wOBA is fine, though, and a matchup against Perez inside Globe Life Park could certainly remedy his troubles. I simply cannot ignore a $3,500 price tag for Cabrera on a night where he draws the platoon advantage against a weak southpaw in 95-degree temperatures. There are several high-end first basemen worth targeting tonight, but Cabrera, Morrison and Duda all offer ample power upside at discounted salaries.
John Hicks [C – R]/James McCann [C – R] @ Perez [LHP] – The catcher position generally doesn’t offer much talent, but there are a few backstops worth targeting heavily tonight. McCann and Hicks both boast ISO’s north of .350 vs. LHP in 2017, and both of them are very affordable across the board. Hicks is minimum salary on FanDuel ($2,000), while McCann is $2,500, so it shouldn’t matter which one of them draws the start on Monday. They are identically priced at $3,200 on DraftKings, too, so stay tuned for a lineup as we draw closer to lock.
HONORABLE MENTION: Buster Posey [C – R] @ Conley [LHP]; Ozzie Albies [2B – L/R] @ Bettis [RHP]; Asdrubal Cabrera [2B/SS – L/R] @ Cessa [RHP]; Maikel Franco [3B – R] @ Wood [LHP] [GPP]; Rougned Odor [2B – L] vs. Fulmer [RHP] [GPP]; Rhys Hoskins [1B – R] @ Wood [LHP] [GPP]