Happy Shohei Ohtani ($11,300) Day, everyone! Now, I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t every day Shohei Ohtani Day? You are technically correct, but obviously there’s more to celebrate on the nights he’s both hitting and pitching. Plus, after he had to leave his last start with cramping in his right hand, I think we’re all that much more appreciative of what he’s doing this season — and how it might not go on forever. Don’t take Ohtani for granted and call your parents is what I’m trying to say.
After you’ve done that, let’s set a few lineups for tonight’s nine-game featured MLB slate.
Max Fried, Atlanta Braves at Pittsburgh Pirates, $9,400 - This has been a very high-scoring series, but in general, the Pirates have been an underwhelming offensive team in 2023. Pittsburgh owns the league’s fifth-highest strikeout rate over the past two weeks (26.2%) and while it technically hasn’t been awful versus LHPs, it’ll sorely miss Rodolfo Castro and Carlos Santana within the split going forward. Meanwhile, Fried was a monster in his first start coming off the IL, tossing six scoreless innings versus Chicago. For the season as a whole, Fried owns a sterling 1.69 ERA and a 1.98 xERA. He should easily overpower the Pirates.
Emerson Hancock, Seattle Mariners vs. San Diego Padres, $4,000 - Hancock will be making his MLB debut on Wednesday, but I wouldn’t say the RHP is inexperienced. Hancock was formerly the sixth-overall pick out of Georgia, and at 24-years-old, he’s pitched to a 4.09 FIP and a 26.0% strikeout rate in his second go-around at Double-A in 2023. For the sake of comparison, he’s a year older than Bryan Woo and he’s pitched about four-times as many innings for the Arkansas Travelers. I think he’ll be fine making the jump to the big leagues. The Padres aren’t an ideal matchup — they don’t strikeout and they own a 118 wRC+ the last 14 days — but a $4K price tag is too cheap to ignore. Get some exposure to the rookie.
Matt Olson, Atlanta Braves at Pittsburgh Pirates, $6,300 - Olson might put one into the Allegheny River tonight. The hulking first baseman currently leads the National League with 39 home runs. He’s also managed an eye-popping .366 ISO and 170 wRC+ specifically against RHPs. That’s awful news if your name happens to be Quinn Priester ($5,400). The rookie has struggled with LHBs in his short time at the MLB level in 2023, allowing those within the split to slash .333/.442/.667 with a .458 wOBA. Woof.
Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox vs. Kansas City Royals, $5,200 - I want to be clear: Jordan Lyles ($6,000) has been bad everywhere in 2023. However, his numbers are especially terrible when taking the mound away from the pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium. Lyles owns a ghastly 7.56 ERA on the road, while he’s allowed opposing LHBs to hit .361 with a .455 wOBA within the split. Well, left-handed batters don’t come much more imposing than Devers, who happens to be sporting a .992 OPS and a 163 wRC+ since the All-Star break. Not too shabby.
Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays at Cleveland Guardians, $3,200 - It has not been an amazing campaign for the reigning Silver Slugger winner, but Kirk has been showing signs of life since the All-Star break. In his last 61 plate appearances, the backstop is slashing .346/.443/.558 with a .212 ISO and a 181 wRC+. Considering his ISO for the first half of the season sat at just .070, you have to at least be a little encouraged. Look for Kirk to stay hot in an opposite-hand matchup against Logan Allen ($8,400).
Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox vs. New York Yankees, $3,100 - This has nothing to do with Moncada and everything to do with Luis Severino ($5,600), who has surrendered 32 earned runs in his past six outings. Severino has been unable to get out opposing LHBs this season, with those within the split carrying a .452 wOBA when facing the Yankees’ RHP. Moncada has been terrible going back to the beginning of 2022, yet he’s a switch-hitter with a pulse. At this point, at this price, he’s viable.
Masataka Yoshida, Boston Red Sox vs. Kansas City Royals, $4,800 - Yoshida’s production has slowed the past few weeks, yet it’s very difficult to look past the outfielder in this matchup with the struggling Lyles — especially with the game being at Fenway. Yoshida has been at his best in Boston, slashing .323/.382/.521 with a 139 wRC+. It also doesn’t hurt that the Red Sox own this slate’s highest implied team total by a massive margin.
Ryan O’Hearn, Baltimore Orioles vs. Houston Astros, $2,900 - O’Hearn has been one of this season’s biggest success stories. It’s only a 200 plate appearance sample, yet O’Hearn is slashing .314/.350/.492 against RHPs in 2023, primarily hitting out of the clean-up spot for the Orioles. On the other side, Cristian Javier ($8,100) has fallen apart in recent weeks, and LHBs are the big reason why. Javier’s slider is far less effective within the split and, in his last seven starts, lefties have combined for a .419 wOBA off the 26-year-old.
Oscar Colas, Chicago White Sox vs. New York Yankees, $2,100 - Has Colas been good? Not even close. Is Colas a top prospect who happens to be left-handed? Very much so. As with the aforementioned Moncada, this is a situation that’s all about matchup. Severino is hanging onto his spot in New York’s rotation by a thread. You’d be foolish not to stack a few White Sox bats into your lineup, especially if they’re going to be this cheap.
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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.