Baseball is back for real now. None of this wonky Thursday nonsense — we have a 13-game main slate on our hands.
For additional picks across all MLB games, find me on Twitter @Nick_Friar.
Charlie Morton, Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Angels ($8,800) – It wasn’t exactly a good look for the Angels when Shohei Ohtani ($9,000) got picked off by Clayton Keshaw in the All-Star Game, but it did seem like an appropriate encapsulation of their 2022. Started off well, then got too comfortable before accomplishing much.
That’s part of why the Halos posted a ridiculous 34.4% strikeout rate and .086 ISO against right-handed pitching in the first half of July. Morton had a rough showing in his last start before the break, but he still had over one K per inning. More importantly, he’d been rolling before that July 13 start, logging 25-plus DKFP five of six starts, three of which were 30-plus-DKFP showings.
Other Option - Corbin Burnes ($10,200)
Brad Keller, Kansas City Royals vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($6,500) – Have to give it to him, Keller has been pretty good this season. He doesn’t provide epic strikeout upside, but that’s obviously part of why he’s in this salary-saving range. Still, the right-hander brings legitimate 20-DKFP potential to this matchup. He’s logged 22.7-plus DKFP in three of his last five starts, going over 29 in two of those outings. Now, the Rays were doing fairly well against righties just before the break, but they still provide quite a bit of strikeout potential (24.8% strikeout rate) without presenting a huge power threat (.145 ISO).
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners ($5,200) – Altuve is absolutely smoking lefties. Over his last 51 plate appearances, he has an absurd 59.4% hard-contact rate to go with his 41.9% fly-ball rate and 25.8% line-drive rate. His .341 ISO against lefties during that span is a good number, but it could easily be higher with the contact he’s making. Perhaps he can boost that number Friday, which will provide Altuve with a matchup he thrives in.
Ty France, Seattle Mariners vs. Houston Astros ($4,500) – He hasn’t pulverized right-handed pitching this season, but Friday’s matchup is one France has thrived in. He’s 8-for-18 with a double and two home runs against Jose Urquidy ($8,000). Houston’s right-hander has been providing solid fantasy production of late, but his last start was the first time he didn’t give up a long ball since May — so that’s unlikely to happen again on Friday. Righties have a 46.6% fly-ball rate against Urquidy this season, which is why they have 13 homers against him in 17 outings.
Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Chicago Cubs ($3,900) – Although he has more home runs against righties, Philly’s third baseman is far superior against left-handed pitching. He’s hit seven more extra-base hits off of lefties despite having logged 132 more at-bats against righties. Bohm’s success can be directly tied to his quality of contact against lefties, having posted at 39.5% hard-contact rate, 26.3% line-drive rate and 35.5% fly-ball rate. Justin Steele ($7,100) has given up a healthy amount of liners to righties this season, presenting Bohm with an ideal matchup coming out of the break.
Adley Ruthschman, Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees ($3,900) – Although he’s been a bit underwhelming to start his MLB career, most of Ruthschman’s struggles have come against lefties, not righties. And most of his success against right-handers has come across his last 102 plate appearances. His 26.9% line-drive rate and 39.7% fly-ball rate has led to a .390 ISO during that span. Jameson Taillon ($8,300) struggles to keep the ball on the ground against lefties, giving the catcher a chance to pop off.
Other Options - Eric Hosmer ($2,700), Yuli Gurriel ($3,700)
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners ($5,700) – When he got activated on Thursday, I said out loud, “You’re back?” Clearly, Alvarez heard that, because he replied John Wick-style, going 2-for-4 with a home run, double and three RBIs in Game 2 of Houston’s doubleheader vs. the Yankees. But, we all know The Boogeyman isn’t allowed to rest.
Marco Gonzales ($6,100) doesn’t provide the ideal right-hander matchup you normally look for with Alvarez. Not a problem whatsoever. That should make him less popular of a play, and more importantly, he’s also crushing left-handed pitching. Across his last 51 plate appearances against lefties, Alvarez has a 34.5% hard-contact rate and 31% line-drive rate, which has led to a .286 ISO during that stretch.
Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles ($5,200) – I like Tyler Wells ($6,600), but I don’t like Tyler Wells in this spot. Stanton has already put the hurting on him a few times, hitting a home run and double in seven at-bats. Stanton can be streaky, but I like him coming off a rough day to face a pitcher who has a 48.3% fly-ball rate against right-handed hitters this season. Across his last 117 plate appearances against righties, Stanton has a 42.9% fly-ball rate and 38.6% hard-contact rate — which has manifested into 11 homers, two doubles and a .343 ISO.
Anthony Santander, Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees ($3,700) – Santander has only gotten to Taillon once in 10 at-bats, but that one instance was a home run, so it’s honestly enough for me. If you’ve gotten to this right-hander once, you can easily do it again. Lefty bats have a 24.8% line-drive rate and just a 34.4% ground-ball rate against Taillon. Santander hits more fly balls than anything, which works very well in this matchup.
Jordan Luplow, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Washington Nationals ($2,700) – Backing someone hitting .181 is always fun. But we all know by now average doesn’t tell the whole story. We’d rather sacrifice contact for power potential when looking at salary savers anyway, and Luplow provides just that going against Patrick Corbin ($5,900). Luplow has an absurd .371 ISO against left-handed pitching this season, which is the result of his 40.8% hard-contact rate and 53.1% fly-ball rate. In Corbin’s last six starts, righties have a .398 wOBA, six home runs, two doubles and a triple against him.
TEAM TO STACK
Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners – The Astros haven’t done much against lefties in July, but Gonzales isn’t just any lefty. Altuve, Alvarez, Kyle Tucker ($4,900) and Yuli Gurriel ($3,700) have seen him a good amount and experienced significant success. Even though starting lefty hitters against lefty pitchers isn’t generally ideal, Tucker is also hitting lefties well this year, like Alvarez. Jeremy Pena ($4,600) has also smoked Gonzales in his few chances. Martin Maldonado ($2,600) could even be a justifiable play if you’re looking to punt on catcher Friday, having gone 8-for-29 with two doubles against Gonzales.
Alex Bregman ($4,700) is the only significant Houston righty bat I’m apprehensive about here. But, I could understand getting limited exposure to him if you’re running multiple lineups.
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