If I’m being completely honest, these are my favorite types of MLB slates. Eight games. No weather concerns. A good mix of aces and gas cans on the mound. What more could you possibly want? It’s September, ladies and gentlemen. We’ve got to start savoring these things because they’ll be gone all winter long.
Let’s break down some studs and values.
Sonny Gray, Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals, $8,300 - Gray doesn’t generally work as deep into games as most “star” pitchers, which is why he usually finds himself outside that particular tier of pricing. Tonight, that’s our gain. The right-hander draws a fantastic matchup against the Royals, a team that comes into Wednesday ranking dead-last among all American League clubs in wOBA (.281) and wRC+ (78) in September. Conversely, Gray’s on fire. The veteran has maintained a 2.27 ERA across his past nine starts, striking out a more than respectable 26.7% of opponents within that span. There’s a lot to like here.
Dane Dunning, Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics, $7,000 - This might be one of those nights where you look to invest in a pair of pitchers above $8K. However, if you’re feeling a little dangerous — or just want to spend up on bats — Dunning is your guy. The 27-year-old has been underwhelming for most of 2022, yet he’s clearly been at his best when taking the mound in Texas, as Dunning sports a 3.35 ERA and a 3.73 xFIP in his 78.0 innings within the split. He’s also facing an Athletics lineup that simply hasn’t hit right-handed pitching all season long. Oakland’s .622 OPS and .276 wOBA against RHPs are the second-lowest marks in all of baseball.
Pete Alonso, New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs, $5,500 - There are few pitchers in the league as prone to surrendering home runs as Drew Smyly ($7,700). In fact, among arms with 300.0 innings thrown since the beginning of 2019, Smyly’s 1.87 HR/9 is the highest ratio of the group. Things haven’t been significantly better in 2022, either, as the lefty has conceded 1.58 home runs per nine to opposing RHBs. This is all music to the ears of Alonso, who sports a career .272 ISO. The Home Run Derby king has a chance to go deep tonight, which obviously makes him viable.
Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks, $5,000 - Muncy has been a completely different hitter since the All-Star break, slashing .256/.342/.518 with a 139 wRC+ in his 190 plate appearances within that span. Really, his only flaw has been a 28.9% strikeout rate, but that shouldn’t be an issue on Wednesday. Zach Davies ($7,400) is on the mound for the Diamondbacks and he’s struck out a microscopic 12.8% of the LHBs he’s seen this season. That should guarantee a couple batted ball events for Muncy, which is all I need to know.
Jorge Mateo, Baltimore Orioles at Washington Nationals, $3,600 - There’s multiple reasons to like Mateo on tonight’s slate. First and foremost, Patrick Corbin ($5,300) and his 6.66 xERA are set to oppose the Orioles. Mateo has been crushing left-handed pitching since the start of July, as the shortstop is slashing .260/.327/.500 with a 134 wRC+ in his last 55 plate appearances within the split. Another factor with Mateo is his speed. When gets on base against Corbin — and he will — Mateo’s a threat to steal, with 30 swipes under his belt already in 2022.
Josh Jung, Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics, $2,200 - Jung’s had a really interesting start to his MLB career. In 24 plate appearances, the rookie’s managed an impressive three barrelled balls. However, he’s also struck out 13 times. You take the good with the bad, right? Well, you do when it all distills into a 142 wRC+. Jung’s swing and miss issues shouldn’t be as big a problem tonight, as the Rangers will face JP Sears ($6,000). Sears has struck out just 15.2% of the RHBs he’s faced in 2022 and, overall, he owns a paltry 89.1% zone contact rate.
Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, $4,900 - Varsho’s been at his best against RHPs this season, hitting 23 of his 24 home runs within the split. In totality, Varsho owns a .245 ISO and a 123 wRC+ in his 413 plate appearances against righties. Those are some pretty tantalizing numbers with Michael Grove ($5,100) pitching for the Dodgers this evening. Grove’s a middling prospect, at best, who posted a 4.89 FIP in Triple-A. Look for Varsho and his teammates to take advantage of the matchup.
Anthony Santander, Baltimore Orioles at Washington Nationals, $4,800 - The switch-hitting Santander has been the Orioles’ best bat against left-handed pitching all season. In 155 plate appearance within the split, Santander has registered a .248 ISO and a 159 wRC+. He also has a 110 wRC+ as a lefty, which will come in handy when the Nationals’ underwhelming bullpen comes in to mop up the mess Corbin will surely leave.
Seth Brown, Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers, $3,200 - If you’re not rolling with Dunning tonight, you might as well use Brown. The 30-year-old is one of the few bats in Oakland’s lineup that has punished RHPs this season. In fact, since the beginning of June, Brown owns a .228 ISO and a 133 wRC+ within the split. That’s a lot of upside at this price point.
Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, $3,000 - We’re not dealing with a huuuuge sample size, but Carroll’s certainly looked the part of a top prospect when hitting against right-handed pitching. In his 32 plate appearances within the split, the 22-year-old is slashing .357/.438/.643 with a 198 wRC+. Regardless of sample, those numbers don’t usually cost $3K. Jump on this price.
TEAMS TO STACK
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers - There’s a lot to like here. Grove has struggled with left-handed bats in his three MLB appearances, surrendering a .476 OBP to the 21 he’s faced. Small sample, obviously, but it is what it is. Meanwhile, Arizona is flush with young LHBs — mostly cheap ones, too! Varsho, Carroll, Josh Rojas ($4,700), Ketel Marte ($4,100), Jake McCarthy ($3,600) and Alek Thomas ($2,900) are all reasonable options on tonight’s slate.
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