This is it. After an appetizer’s worth of baseball on Monday, we’ve now reached the meat of the final week of the MLB regular season. Six months of grinding and only six more slates to make a major impact. On Tuesday, we’ll have 13 games to sort through.
Who should you be eyeing for your lineup? Let’s go position-by-position and break it all down.
Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles, $9,400 - Call me Natalie Imbruglia, because I’m a little torn about Sale’s viability on tonight’s slate. On the one hand, he’s Chris Sale. Through his first seven starts of 2021, Sale’s pitched to a 2.57 ERA all while registering a 13.1% swinging strike rate and holding opponents to a 84.3 mph average exit velocity that would be the lowest among all starting pitchers had he the innings to qualify. On the other hand, Sale’s yet to throw 100 pitches or exceed 25.0 DKFP. Not exactly the type of ceiling we associate with the lefty. However, in what could be Sale’s final start of the regular season, in what’s a must-win game for the Red Sox, I’m looking for him to air it out. The fact that the Orioles possess a 28.1% strikeout rate across the past two weeks doesn’t hurt, either.
Packy Naughton, Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers, $5,300 - There are certainly assets with a higher floor than Naughton on this slate, but it’s always worth taking a look at a southpaw priced below $6K going up against the Rangers. Simply put, Texas can not hit left-handed pitching. In fact, the Rangers come into tonight’s slate ranking dead-last in all of baseball in both OPS (.650) and wOBA (.283) against LHPs. Sure, Naughton isn’t anything special in his own right, yet we saw a perfect example of how this scenario might play out last Thursday, when Zac Lowther pitched five scoreless innings against Texas and picked up 26.25 DKFP. Why can’t Naughton find a similar level of success in the same matchup?
Eric Haase, Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins, $4,500 - Haase’s numbers have fallen off in August and September, yet the backstop can still tout his splits against left-handed pitching. In his 124 plate appearances versus southpaws in 2021, Haase has managed a .308 ISO to go along with a 136 wRC+. Considering Charlie Barnes ($5,100) is currently in possession of a massive 93.2% zone contact rate and a 6.31 xERA, I’d wager Haase is in store for a big evening.
Yan Gomes, Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners, $3,700 - Speaking of catchers who rake against left-handed pitching, Gomes has had a fantastic season within the split, slashing .325/.339/.581 with a 145 wRC+ in his 121 plate appearances. He’ll get the opportunity to add to those numbers on Tuesday, as the Athletics square off with Tyler Anderson ($7,400), who is now pitching on short-rest after giving up nine earned runs across two innings on Saturday. That’s not ideal.
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Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds at Chicago White Sox, $5,400 - Because they play in the American League Central, the White Sox don’t have to care anymore. They wrapped up their division a week ago and they’ve honestly been on cruise control for a couple months. As such, Chicago is starting Reynaldo Lopez ($7,300) on Tuesday, a man who has surrendered a .667 slugging percentage and a .411 wOBA to LHBs over his past four outings. Votto and his sterling .406 expected wOBA should thrive in this matchup.
C.J. Cron, Colorado Rockies vs. Washington Nationals, $3,600 - I just don’t understand how Cron can be this cheap. The veteran has taken 76 plate appearances against LHPs at Coors Field so far in 2021, and in those opportunities Cron is slashing .379/.461/.833 with a .526 wOBA. I get that that’s not a massive sample size, but we’re talking about an asset that likes to hit lefties playing in the altitude. It all kind of lines up. Considering how poorly Patrick Corbin ($7,600) has thrown this season, Cron has as much upside as any player on this slate.
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays, $6,100 - Few players have been swinging as hot a bat as Altuve so far in September, as the All-Star is slashing .297/.379/.571 with a .401 wOBA and a 160 wRC+ in the month. I’d anticipate the good times continuing on Tuesday, as Altuve will draw a matchup with Michael Wacha ($6,600). Going back to the beginning of August, Wacha has allowed opposing RHBs to hit .360 with a .393 wOBA. Yikes.
Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies vs. Washington Nationals, $3,900 - Obviously, this play will come down to Rodgers’ availability, as the former first-round pick left Monday’s game after being hit by a pitch. However, if he’s in the lineup, Rodgers is an amazing option against the left-handed Corbin. In 101 plate appearances within the split, Rodgers is slashing .333/.366/.667 with a .333 ISO and a 158 wRC+. Meanwhile, Corbin’s surrendering an insane 2.42 opponent home runs per nine to RHBs in 2021.
Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles, $4,900 - Generally speaking, I wouldn’t advise using Devers against a left-handed opponent, but these are special circumstances. Bruce Zimmermann ($5,200) will be making his first MLB start since June on Tuesday, and he only threw 6.1 innings in his past two rehab outings. Zimmermann just isn’t fully stretched out, which means Devers and the Red Sox will likely see upwards of five innings of an Orioles’ bullpen that’s in possession of a league-worst 5.67 ERA. Devers is also rarely priced below $5K, so it’s crucial to jump on this opportunity.
DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays, $4,100 - It’s been a tough season for LeMahieu, but he’s still hitting atop one of the most dangerous lineups in all of baseball. It’s also been a tough season for Hyun-Jin Ryu ($8,000), who conceded a .420 opponent wOBA across his past five starts. I’d look for LeMahieu to take advantage of the struggling southpaw, especially considering the veteran owns a career .318 average within the split.
Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies vs. Washington Nationals, $4,600 - We might as well finish off the Rockies stack, especially when it’s this affordable. Story’s numbers are down across the board in 2021, but the shortstop has been much better against left-handed pitching in recent months. In fact, going back to the beginning of August, Story is slashing .341/.408/.705 with a 176 wRC+ in his 49 plate appearances versus southpaws. Add in the presence of Coors Field and Patrick Corbin, and you’ve got a situation to exploit in DFS.
Josh Harrison, Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners, $4,200 - Just count me among those who have little faith in Anderson being effective on two days rest. This is a nice spot for Harrison, who continues to bat leadoff for Oakland. Going back to the start of July, Harrison has 99 plate appearances against LHPs. In those opportunities, he’s slashing .319/.367/.440 with a 124 wRC+. The utility man has the chance to get on base a few times this evening.
Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox vs. Cincinnati Reds, $5,500 - His success has sort of fallen to the wayside due to Chicago being on autopilot the past few weeks, but more people should be talking about Robert. The young phenom returned from a lengthy IL stint back on Aug. 9, and since that time, he’s managed to slash .364/.398/.611 with a 175 wRC+ across 171 plate appearances. That’s MVP-level production if prorated over an entire season. Robert is that good and he should be able to do some serious damage off of Riley O’Brien ($5,000), who posted a modest 4.79 FIP in Triple-A in 2021.
Lane Thomas, Washington Nationals at Colorado Rockies, $4,100 - Couple things to think about with Thomas. First, he’s batting leadoff for the Nationals and he’s mustered a .917 OPS so far in September. Second, against LHPs for the season as a whole, Thomas is slashing .418/.529/.655 with a 211 wRC+, so Kyle Freeland ($5,700) should proceed with caution. Finally, this game is taking place in Colorado. Seems like a no brainer to me.
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