Welcome to my first Rotoworld baseball article of the season. I will be writing up my favorite cash and tournament plays for FanDuel and DraftKings every Tuesday.
Tonight we have a nine-game main slate, and we have to watch the weather carefully in the New York game. That said, after a few days with some sub-par pitching options, we have some high-end pitchers to choose from tonight. Let’s get into my top plays for the slate.
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Justin Verlander vs. Baltimore Orioles
I have Verlander ranked a little higher than Kershaw today, but I think they’re 1A and 1B on this slate. The Orioles are off to a slow start, and they feature a lot of right-handed hitters. Verlander had a .267 wOBA with a 1.11 WHIP against right-handed hitters. His strikeout rate against righties was 23.4%, and he had a 11.66% swinging strike rate. Since the start of last season, seven of the starters for the Orioles have over a 20% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching. Verlander is an elite option tonight, and he’s the guy I’m looking at in all formats.
J.A. Happ vs. Chicago White Sox
At first, I didn’t really like Happ tonight, and I still think he’s risky, but I like the upside here. If you’re paying down from the top options, you need a guy with upside, and that’s exactly what we’re getting with Happ. The White Sox starters have high ISOs against left-handed pitching, but they also have six guys with strikeout rates over 20% against lefties. Happ was able to limit the hard contact to right-handed hitters last season and finished the season with a .147 ISO against righties. He had a .323 wOBA against righties, but his xwOBA was much better at .297. There is risk involved here, but I’m willing to take a shot in tournaments.
Miguel Montero @ Atlanta Braves
If you’re playing on FanDuel, you don’t have to worry about catchers anymore, but on DraftKings we have a really good value play at catcher tonight. Matt Wieters went on the DL yesterday, so Montero should draw the start again tonight. He’s $2,100 on DraftKings tonight and has a great matchup. Julio Teheran had a .337 wOBA with a 35.7% hard contact rate against left-handed hitters last season. He struggled with home runs against lefties, finishing the season with a 1.55 HR/9 rate allowed. Montero didn’t post great numbers last season, but he’s much better against right-handed pitching than lefties, and at this price, he’s surely someone I’m targeting for cash games.
Freddie Freeman vs. Washington Nationals
Freeman continues to be one of the best hitters in baseball, and the only thing that concerns me is the lineup around him. In a very small sample size, A.J. Cole struggled with left-handed hitters last season, and in his brief career, that has been the biggest problem with him. In 50 career innings against lefties, he has a .379 wOBA with a 5.36 xFIP. His hard contact rate to lefties is 38.9% in that span, and his soft contact is only 15.4%. Since the start of last season, Freeman has a .422 wOBA with a .288 ISO against right-handed pitching. He also has a 162 wRC+ against righties in that span, and this ballpark favors left-handed power hitters.
Yangervis Solarte vs. Chicago White Sox
If you’re not paying up for Altuve at second, I think it’s a good slate to pay down instead. I don’t really love any of the mid-range options tonight, but I do like some of the cheaper options. Gonzalez threw his fastball over 50% of the time to left-handed hitters last season. He averaged 90-91mph on his fastball, and Solarte had a .318 xwOBA against fastballs in that range, but he had a .236 ISO against 2-seam fastballs. Gonzalez had a 5.74 xFIP against left-handed last season and had a .360 wOBA. He’s not a big strikeout pitcher and finished the season with a 14.8% strikeout rate against lefties. It’s not a lock and load play by any means, but there is some value here on this slate.
Alex Bregman vs. Baltimore Orioles
The Astros are a top stack on tonight’s slate, but I think Bregman is in play in all formats at his price. In 85 career innings, Wright has a .335 wOBA against right-handed hitters to go with a very low 17% strikeout rate. If you’re not able to create swinging strikes against the Astros, they will score a lot of runs against you. Bregman is much better against lefties, but he has a low strikeout rate since the start of last season. I love low strikeout guys against low strikeout pitchers. He has a solid floor in this matchup, and he’s a good pivot off some of the high priced third baseman.
Andrelton Simmons vs. Cleveland Indians
Shortstop is a weak position in general, and I feel like it’s even weaker on tonight’s slate. Simmons is off to a hot start this season and has at least one hit in all five games, including multiple hits in three of those games. He’s not a big power guy, but he presents a good enough matchup to consider for cash games tonight. Simmons is hitting .295 with a low 9.6% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching since the start of last season. Josh Tomlin allowed a .335 wOBA with a 34% hard contact rate to right-handed hitters last season.
Bryce Harper @ Atlanta Braves
It’s Mike Trout and Bryce Harper at the top of the list, and that’s not just a list for outfielders. Harper has an elite matchup against Teheran in this ballpark, and he’s crushed Teheran in his career. Julio Teheran had a .337 wOBA with a 35.7% hard contact rate against left-handed hitters last season, and like I said above, he struggles with the long ball. Harper has taken Teheran deep seven times in 37 at bats and has a 1.664 OPS against him. Teheran relies on his fastball a lot against left-handed hitters, and he averages 90-92mph on it. Harper had a .506 xwOBA with a .593 ISO against fastballs in that range from right-handed pitching last season. He's the top play on the slate for me, and I’m paying up for him in all formats.
Hunter Renfroe vs. Colorado Rockies
I’m a huge Renfroe fan, and I’m sure he’s going to make this article a lot this season. I’m not a fan of this ballpark, but I love this matchup for Renfroe. In 118.1 innings against righties last season, Freeland had a 5.06 xFIP with a 1.56 WHIP. He allowed a .345 wOBA with a 12.2% strikeout rate. Since the start of last season, Renfroe has a .373 ISO with a 177 wRC+ and a .440 wOBA against left-handed pitching. With the low strikeout rate against righties, the Padres are fully in play for me tonight, and Renfroe is by far my favorite option in this price range.