Another day, another small 4 game slate, albeit with a few solid pitchers instead of choosing between garbage and hot garbage fire. We also have a few nice spots to attack hitting, so it should be a fairly straight forward slate. I don’t have much more to say in terms of a general overview of the slate, but before I get to breaking down the picks, I want to point out that the Orioles are starting someone named Jimmy Yacabonis today (in an early game). I refuse to believe someone’s last name is Yacabonis because that is absolutely the last name that a soccer video game uses for a created player from Lithuania, and not an actual person who will be making his first start in the Majors today.
On to the picks…
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Aaron Nola, SP: $9,700 – The best combination of skills on this small slate belongs to Aaron Nola. He’s got a good, not great strikeout rate of 25.1%, a good, not great walk rate of 7.3% and an elite groundball rate of 52.3%. While the Nats aren’t an ideal lineup to face since they do have some lefty power, Nola won’t be facing a lineup full of lefties. Also, the Nationals are stealthily not a great offense vs righties with a 92 wRC+ and have been worse than the Rays.
Lance McCullers, SP: $10,400 – While you’d think McCullers has the strikeout upside, his strikeout rate is actually not that much higher than Nola with a 25.7% rate. Interestingly enough last year was only 25.8%. In exchange for the same strikeout rate, you get a higher walk rate (9.3%) with a similarly elite ground ball rate 53%. The Rays aren’t good and it’s and good pitchers park. I think McCullers is just as good a play as Nola, but given the price difference, I’d stick with Nola in cash games.
Los Angeles Angels – Brian Johnson is starting, but you’re probably not going to get a ton of at bats vs him (and if you are, it means something went very wrong for the Angels), but the top guys are still very much in play and are all very solid plays. Ian Kinsler, Mike Trout and Justin Upton are pretty much the only cash plays unless one of the cheapies bats at the top of the lineup. Everyone else I’m fine with a stack since it’s such a short slate.
Martin Maldonado, C/1B: $2,100 & Chris Young, OF: $2,800 – This is a GPP-specific recommendation since you’re hunting for a bomb with these 2. The ownership of the Angels (and the Red Sox) is likely to be massive today, and for good reason, as they’re the two best offenses of the slate. If you run a traditional stack of both teams, you’re going to end up with a very chalky lineup, especially given that it’s a four-game slate, and while it’s certainly theoretically possible to win a GPP with all chalk, it’s usually a good idea to try to find some way to get contrarian. A guy like Michael Hermosillo has good reason not to be popular (he’s likely batting 9th and he isn’t a particularly good hitter), but with Maldonado and Young, you have a decent enough chance of them going yard off of Brian Johnson and they have enough power that home runs vs righties aren’t Ozzie Smith vs righties level rare. And if you think that’s crazy – well, on Tuesday I saw lineups that had a 4-man Cardinals stack, when they were facing Kluber, in a game that started delayed and was a strong PPD risk, finish in the top 10 in GPPs. Heck, the lineup that finished in 5th in the big $9 GPP would have won it had Tommy Pham done anything alongside Wong and Carpenter. So yeah, to my GPP-playing readers out there, making your lineup have some contrarianness is a great way to win one, and using either Maldonado or Young in your 4-man Angels stack is a great way to do just that, unless they are in the top of the lineup.
Boston Red Sox – Jaime Barria is what he is, a strike throwing guy who won’t miss bats and just hopes the balls stay in the park. When they stay in the park he has a solid day and when they don’t, it can get ugly in a hurry. The Red Sox have some elite power hitters in Mookie Betts .450 wOBA and .326 ISO) and JD Martinez (.456 wOBA and .369 ISO) and since it’s a righty, Andrew Benintendi (.404 wOBA and .241 ISO) and Mitch Moreland (.406 wOBA and .288 ISO) are also pretty good plays. If you need the salary savings of Brock Holt (.330 wOBA and .356 OBP), he’s a perfectly fine play in cash. This is the top spot of the day, so I’d try to get as many guys from this game into your lineups as possible, but it might be tough to jam in Betts and JD with the pitchers around 10k.
Eric Thames, 1B: $4,000 & Travis Shaw, 3B: $3,500 – Anthony DeSclafani is another guy who throws the ball over the plate and hopes the balls that are hit stay in the park. Cincinnati is not an ideal place to do that, especially with these 2 power hitters. Eric Thames (.378 wOBA and .337 ISO) & Travis Shaw (.384 wOBA and .297 ISO) are the top 2 plays on the Brewers with Jesus Aguilar (.397 wOBA and .309 ISO) and Christian Yelich (.379 wOBA and .204 ISO) very nice secondary plays. I don’t love Ryan Braun vs righties, but he hits a ton of ground balls and getting to face an extreme fly baller makes him a much better play. When you combine that with his cheapness, he’s a very solid play and I don’t have a problem with playing him in cash.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
Boston may get rainy today, but from the looks of it, should get the game in. I will note that if this game gets ugly enough to the point where it’s at a PPD-risk, I fully plan on deregistering the slate as without this game, building a lineup would be mind-numbingly painful and unfun.
Doing Lines In Vegas
There isn’t really anything that really interests me (I guess the Phillies at -129 since Nola > Roark, but given the quality of the Nationals offense, that line seems fairly reasonable to me). Now, I’m sure astute readers out there will point out that I said earlier that the Nationals are a stealthily not a great offense against righties. That’s true. But even against righties they’re still a noticeable notch better than the Phillies offense, hence why -129 may actually be a good line by Vegas. So instead I’ll bend the assignment a bit and note the line I’m most interested in – Arizona at -146 against the Marlins. Greinke’s certainly not an elite pitcher but he’s still a pretty good one, and the Marlins offense is hot garbage fire. I also like taking the under of 7.5 since the Diamondbacks offense is lukewarm garbage fire (side note: How would fire be lukewarm? Hmmmm…whatever, just go with it) to go alongside the hot garbage fire in the other dugout