It’s early May in the baseball season. The balls are dead. The weather on the East Coast still stinks. The Yankees are maybe really, really good. That’s a lot of bad news to take in all at once, but I want to let you know I’m here for you. I also want to let you know who you should be putting into your lineups for tonight’s 11-game featured slate.
Let’s dive in.
Editor’s Note: Cubs SP Drew Smyly has been placed on the bereavement list. RP Scott Effross will start tonight’s game vs. the White Sox.
Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds, $8,900 - This is your classic “get right” spot for Woodruff, who has been pitching much better than his surface numbers suggest so far in 2022. While the RHP does sport a 5.30 ERA through four outings, a 2.66 FIP is a reflection of Woodruff’s 19 strikeouts and zero home runs allowed in 18.2 innings. Pair those figures with a sturdy track record, and I’m more than willing to give the All-Star the benefit of the doubt. There’s also his opponent to consider. The Reds are awful. Plain and simple. The team’s 77 wRC+ across the past two weeks is the second-worst mark among National League squads. Woodruff should feast.
Cristian Javier, Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners, $6,800 - This is far from an ideal matchup, as the Mariners come into Tuesday swinging red-hot bats. Still, I’ve always had a soft spot for Javier, who is a luxury as a “sixth” starter for the Astros. Dating back to the beginning of last season, the right-hander has worked primarily out of the bullpen, yet he’s also posted a 3.19 ERA and a 29.0% strikeout rate in his 10 opportunities to start. That includes holding opponents to a .177/.276/.344 slash line within the split. Michael Pineda ($5,800) and Ryan Yarbrough ($5,600) certainly draw easier lineups, but neither possesses the raw upside of Javier.
Carlos Correa, Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles, $4,800 - I just can’t buy into this hot stretch from Bruce Zimmermann ($6,100). While the surface numbers look great, Zimmermann remains a soft-tossing LHP, who allowing a huge .438 xwOBA on the batted ball events he’s induced so far this season. Regression is coming, likely in the form of Correa. The veteran owns a 140 wRC+ against lefties in 2022, and a 136 wRC+ within the split for his career as a whole. He’s also got 11 hits in his past five games.
Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies vs. Washington Nationals, $4,600 - There is absolutely nothing surprising about McMahon’s splits so far in 2022. Overall, he’s sporting a 122 wRC+ in 86 plate appearances heading into Tuesday’s slate. That jumps to a 153 wRC+ in the 63 PAs he’s taken against right-handed pitchers, and it jumps again to a 163 wRC+ in the 43 PAs he’s seen against RHPs specifically at Coors Field. Erick Fedde ($7,300) is the righty in question for the Nationals, and he’s struggled with left-handed batters this season, surrendering a .385 wOBA within the split.
Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs, $4,000 - This is about as cheap as I can remember seeing Abreu
against a left-handed opponent. It’s in no way warranted, either. Though the veteran is hitting just .219 across his first 83 plate appearances of 2022, a .396 xwOBA tells a much different story. He’s also carrying a massive 157 wRC+ against southpaws going back to the start of 2021. Drew Smyly ($8,600) should tread carefully in this matchup, especially considering he’s already conceded 2.30 home runs per nine to opposing RHBs through four starts.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Tuesday’s Pirates-Tigers game has been postponed due to inclement weather.
Spencer Torkelson, Detroit Tigers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates , $2,600 - When in doubt, bet against Bryse Wilson ($5,500) pitching well. Going back to the beginning of 2021, there’s been 186 pitchers to throw 80-plus innings. Wilson owns the sixth-lowest strikeout rate (14.4%) and the 10th-worst FIP (5.42) of the group. That’s not great, especially considering most of the men with worse figures are no longer pitching in the bigs in 2022. As for Torkelson, he possesses elite power and has posted a 123 wRC+ since Apr. 12. There’s a lot of upside here for less than $3K.
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners, $5,000 - Alvarez is a streaky hitter and we are currently in the midst of a hyper-dangerous stretch. Let’s set the scene. Going into Monday’s slate, Alvarez had posted a .333 ISO and a 194 wRC+ in his prior 54 plate appearances. He then proceeded to blast his seventh long ball of the season in a 3-0 victory over the Mariners. In an opposite-hand matchup against the contact-prone Chris Flexen ($6,400), I think I’ll take the side of the red-hot destroyer of baseballs.
Juan Soto, Washington Nationals at Colorado Rockies, $4,800 - Soto is always an interesting DFS asset. The outfielder is arguably the best real-life hitter in baseball at the moment, yet his innate ability to draw a walk doesn’t exactly translate to fantasy. That said, there’s no way he should be cheaper than $5K in a contest at Coors Field. German Marquez ($7,100) hasn’t looked great to begin 2022 and Soto is slashing .306/.469/.551 with a 193 wRC+ against RHPs this season. I’ll take my chances with his batted ball events on Tuesday, even if there’s a walk mixed in.
Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs, $3,800 - There’s a couple things you’ll have to keep an eye on here. First, Vaughn’s been dealing with a hand issue, so he might not be in the lineup. Second, there’s going to be a lot of rain in Chicago on Tuesday. However, once you get past that stuff, this is an amazing spot. Vaughn’s been recently batting second in the White Sox’s order and, for his career, he possesses a .406 xwOBA when facing a left-handed pitcher — one of the best marks in all of baseball in that span of time.
Chad Pinder, Oakland Athletics vs. Tampa Bay Rays, $2,000 - Last season, in 77.0 innings away from Tropicana Field, Yarbrough pitched to an ugly 5.49 ERA and surrendered 1.87 opponent home runs per nine. He was underwhelming to say the least, and now he’ll start his 2022 campaign on the road in Oakland. That’s not a super difficult task on paper, yet the A’s do have a couple of capable hitters. In particular, there’s Pinder. Since 2018, Pinder’s posted a 117 wRC+ against LHPs. He also hit leadoff the last time Oakland squared off with a lefty and he’s the bare minimum price. Need I say more?
TEAMS TO STACK
Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs - There have been 133 pitchers to throw 200-plus innings since the start of 2019. Of those, only one active pitcher has allowed over 2.00 opponent home runs per nine: Drew Smyly. Even without Eloy Jimenez (hamstring), the White Sox have a lineup designed in a lab to punish left-handed hurlers. Tim Anderson ($4,900) , Luis Robert ($4,600) , Yasmani Grandal ($4,300) and AJ Pollock ($3,900) join the aforementioned Abreu and Vaughn as fantastic plays.
Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners - It feels like the Astros are on the verge of busting out. Alvarez and Kyle Tucker ($4,400) are hotter than the Sun, Jose Altuve ($4,600) is off the IL and Jeremy Pena ($4,400) is providing some serious pop at the bottom of the lineup. You’ve also got the benefit of cheap veterans in Michael Brantley ($3,900) and Yuli Gurriel ($3,600). What’s not to like?
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