We’ve only got a six-game featured slate tonight on DraftKings, but many of those contests are of massive importance to the playoff picture in both the AL and NL. Toronto, Boston and Houston are all currently fighting for a Wild Card spot, while the Reds are also trying to stay alive in the hunt for their division crown.
The Mets and Yankees are playing, too. Their motivation? Unclear at this point.
Let’s dive into some studs and values.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers at Cleveland Guardians, $9,900 - Tonight marks Kershaw’s third start since being reinstated from the IL, so I’m assuming he’ll be able to toss at least 80 pitches. Given the other options at the top-end of this slate, that’s enough for me to buy into the former MVP. As per usual, Kershaw has been amazing when healthy in 2023, registering a 2.48 ERA and a 26.7% strikeout rate across 18 starts. He’s also left-handed. That’s pretty important when we’re discussing Cleveland. The Guardians sit dead-last in the AL in ISO (.123), wOBA (.281) and wRC+ (76) versus southpaws.
MacKenzie Gore, Washington Nationals at New York Yankees, $7,400 - Gore is on the heels of arguably his best start at the MLB level, holding the Red Sox to just a single hit across six-plus innings last Wednesday. Consistency has been an issue for the left-hander in his rookie campaign, yet there’s good reason to believe tonight’s outing will go nearly as well. First and foremost: The Yankees are hitting below the Mendoza line (.199) with a 74 wRC+ the past two weeks. New York also sports a massive 26.5% strikeout rate in that span. Considering Gore’s currently maintaining his own 27.0% strikeout rate, his upside is quite clear in this spot.
Sean Murphy, Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets, $5,500 - In general, the Braves have destroyed left-handed pitching this season. I mean, they’ve destroyed all pitching, but especially southpaws, to the tune of a league-leading 136 wRC+. Murphy has been a huge part of that success, hitting .323 with a .433 wOBA in his 77 plate appearances within the split. Jose Quintana ($7,100) has been perfectly capable since returning from the IL, yet this is not the night to have any faith in the veteran LHP.
CJ Abrams, Washington Nationals at New York Yankees, $5,000 - Abrams woke up on July 1 and decided he was just going to start mashing against RHPs. To wit, since the beginning of July, the shortstop is slashing .317/.366/.512 with a 135 wRC+ in his 135 plate appearances within the split. It’s why Abrams now finds himself batting leadoff for the Nationals when the team is opposed by the right-hander. Tonight, that’ll be Luis Severino ($5,400). Left-handed hitters have managed a .462 wOBA off Severino so far in 2023.
Brandon Belt, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles, $3,500 - Belt has been underpriced all season long, but it’s been particularly noticeable the past couple months, as he’s found his power stroke for the Blue Jays. Not only does the veteran have three home runs in his last two games, he’s posted a .303 ISO and a 163 wRC+ dating back to the All-Star break. With Dean Kremer ($6,700) allowing 2.18 home runs per nine to opposing LHBs, Belt’s easily one of the best dollar-for-dollar assets on this whole slate.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Angels, $3,300 - Encarnacion-Strand hasn’t hit LHPs all that well at the MLB level, but he was absolutely punishing lefties in the minors in 2023. The rookie managed 10 home runs in just 96 at-bats against southpaws at Triple-A, equating out to a massive .688 slugging percentage within the split. Meanwhile, Reid Detmers ($7,600) has a 7.99 ERA over his last seven starts. The young Reds should be able to do some damage.
Spencer Steer, Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Angels, $5,000 - Steer has cooled down slightly in the second half of the season, yet he’s always been at his best when facing a lefty. In 135 plate appearances within the split, Steer is slashing .306/.363/.579 with a 143 wRC+. While the aforementioned Detmers did spin a gem against the Rangers his last time out, he’s also allowed nine home runs in his last 32.2 innings of work. That’s not great.
Daulton Varsho, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles, $3,100 - After going all of July without a home run, Varsho appears to have re-found something at the plate in August. The outfielder is slashing .281/.349/.579 with a 152 wRC+ in the month, which has translated to the outfielder recently moving up to the six-spot in Toronto batting order. That should mean at least two plate appearances versus Kremer, who has had his issues wit LHBs all season long.
Everson Pereira, New York Yankees vs. Washington Nationals, $2,000 - As much as I like Gore on tonight’s slate, Pereira is interesting at the bare minimum price. The rookie was sensational with the bat at both Double-A and Triple-A prior to his call up — especially when in an opposite hand matchup. In fact, with Somerset, Pereira was hitting .422 with an .800 slugging percentage versus LHPs. You could do much worse with a punt play.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and customer (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.