Did you know Abner Doubleday didn’t actually invent baseball? Seriously. I was doing some deep research (Wikipedia) for a witty intro to today’s article, and I happened to come across that truth-bomb. I mean, apparently the man never ever brought up that he might have invented it while he was alive. That seems like something I might talk about!
Anyway, you’re not here for a history lesson. You’re here for me to predict the future. Here are some studs and values for tonight’s eight-game slate.
Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks at Kansas City Royals, $9,500 - Gallen is the best pitcher you probably haven’t been talking about in 2022. Through 23 starts, the right-hander has registered 2.78 ERA with a 3.27 FIP. He’s been even better when you specifically isolate his last six outings, where he’s maintained a sterling 0.92 ERA and limited opponents to a microscopic .177 wOBA. Not surprisingly, Gallen’s also limited opponent contract within this stretch, boasting a 30.7% strikeout rate. Considering the Royals’ modest 81 wRC+ since the beginning of August — and the injury to Vinnie Pasquantino (shoulder) — I don’t see Gallen having much of an issue on Wednesday evening.
Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs, $7,900 - It’s a little unclear why Mikolas is this inexpensive. While the veteran is by no means a strikeout pitcher, he has been good in 2022, sporting a 3.32 ERA and a 3.67 FIP in 157.1 innings of work — the third-most innings of any starter in baseball. Heck, after a 10-run blowup in Colorado back on August 9, Mikolas has gone at least eight frames in each of his last two starts, surrendering just six hits and three earned runs combined in that span. He might not possess the raw upside of some of the other arms on this slate, but between volume and a high win expectancy, Mikolas should be able to bring back value at this price point.
Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Milwaukee Brewers, $5,500 - Freeman’s been solid all season long, but he’s really started to flex his muscle since the beginning of July. In that span, the veteran first baseman is slashing .358/.420/.570 with a 174 wRC+. In his 147 plate appearances against RHPs since July 1, Freeman is hitting .409 with a .252 ISO and a 211 wRC+. Long story short, he’s pretty damn amazing in an opposite-hand matchup. The same can not be said about Adrian Houser ($5,800), who has allowed a .385 wOBA to the LHBs he’s faced in 2022.
Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds, $4,700 - The ideal spot to use Hoskins is against a left-handed opponent, but I’ll make an exception for T.J. Zeuch ($6,100). If a career 5.84 ERA and 6.41 FIP don’t tell you all you need to know, Zeuch has once again proven in 2022 he’s not a capable big league arm. In fact, if not for the Reds’ injury woes, I doubt even they’d be turning to Zeuch, who has conceded 17 hits and 12 earned runs in his two starts at the MLB level this season. Yikes. One of those hits was a Hoskins home run back on August 16, so he’s familiar with Zeuch’s stuff.
Kyle Farmer, Cincinnati Reds at Philadelphia Phillies, $3,700 - The Phillies are calling up Cristopher Sanchez ($5,500) to start tonight’s game, which gives a couple Reds’ bats a nice opportunity to hit against a relatively inexperienced LHP. Farmer’s name is at the the top of that list, as the infielder has managed a .216 ISO and a 151 wRC+ in his 129 plate appearances within the split this season. I’d keep an eye on Donovan Solano ($3,000), too.
Ji-Man Choi, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Angels, $2,700 - Choi is mired in an awful slump at the moment, yet he’s still managed a 116 wRC+ against right-handed pitching for the season as a whole. He’s also set to face Mike Mayers ($5,000), who has been completely unable to consistently retire left-handed bats all season long. To wit, Mayers has allowed the 61 LHBs he’s faced to slash .278/.361/.611 with 3.46 home runs per nine. If the presence of Mayers doesn’t get Choi going, I’m not sure what will.
Kyle Schwarber, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds, $6,000 - When Schwarber’s able to make contact, good things generally happen. In fact, his .510 expected wOBA on batted ball events is in the league’s 94th percentile. Well, with the contact-oriented Zeuch on the mound for the Reds this evening, I think we can expect some fireworks from Schwarber. Zeuch’s career strikeout rate is just 13.6% and, in 2022, he’s struck out just two of the 24 LHBs he’s faced. That’s a recipe for disaster.
George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox, $5,300 - He hasn’t been healthy for a lot of it, but Springer’s been red-hot since the All-Star break when available, slashing .400/.444/.540 in his 54 plate appearances. Also, after posting nine runs in a win on Tuesday, the Blue Jays own this slate’s second-highest implied team total, going up against the rookie Brayan Bello ($6,000), who has struggled to a 8.47 ERA in the majors. You’re going to want a piece of this lineup in your lineups.
Joey Gallo, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Milwaukee Brewers, $3,500 - Gallo is still striking out way more than the average player in Los Angeles, but he’s also managed to post a .645 slugging percentage and a 181 wRC+ since joining the Dodgers. That’s more like it. Maybe it’s the beard, maybe it’s the west coast vibes, but Gallo looks like himself again, and his left-handed bat should cause issues for the aforementioned Houser.
Alex Verdugo, Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $3,500 - Verdugo has been red-hot since the Midsummer Classic, slashing .327/.377/.451 with a 135 wRC+ in his last 122 plate appearances. Tonight he’ll have a chance to improve those numbers, as he goes up against the always turbulent Jose Berrios ($7,200). Berrios has had his issues with LHBs in 2022, allowing those within the split to compile a .292 average and a .380 wOBA. One of the lefties who has tagged him? Verdugo. In fact, the outfielder is 5-for-11 (.455) with a homer off Berrios for his career.
TEAMS TO STACK
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Milwaukee Brewers - This is just a perfect storm. Houser hasn’t made a start since late June. In the five outings he made prior to going on the IL, Houser surrendered a .432 average and a .750 slugging percentage to the LHBs he faced. They are his kryptonite. Well, the Dodgers are flush with talented left-handed hitters. Aside from Freeman and Gallo, there’s Max Muncy ($4,400), Gavin Lux ($3,900) and Cody Bellinger ($3,800). Take your pick.
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