Another full slate Tuesday is upon us, and this one looks pretty clear from a weather perspective.
Pitching is solid, but not great, but there is enough depth to open up a few paths right from the start, and there are several games sitting with over/under totals at 9.5 -- Cubs/Brewers, Orioles/Red Sox, Indians/White Sox, Reds/Royals -- to have a lot of full stack and mini-stack combos to build around.
My expectation is that the Cubs, Brewers, Indians and Red Sox bats will be the most heavily used of that group, while the Reds, Royals and White Sox should be slightly less popular.
I’m also eyeing up the Twins as an overlooked group of bats against Blaine Hardy and the Tigers.
I’m making a concerted effort to indicate the type of contest I prefer to use players in -- cash (50/50) or tournaments (GPPs) -- which is generally an exercise in estimating ownership rates (or “finding the chalk”) and making sure to have enough variation around the highly-coveted top value plays to have a dangerous lineup.
A strong cash-game play isn’t necessarily a “bad” tournament play, but too many “chalky” players can create a limiting factor in big-field tournaments.
Your constructive feedback is appreciated, and always welcomed.
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Cash: Aaron Nola, PHI vs. COL ($9,500) -- As the Rockies continue to struggle against right-handed pitching (81 wRC+, 23.3% K%), they remain an easy team to seek out when they leave Coors Field. As park factors go, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia is among the most hitter-friendly environments in the game. With a career-best 2.35 ERA and 0.96 WHIP through 13 starts, Nola has also carried the highest swinging-strike rate of his career (11.5%), which points to a higher strikeout rate going forward (he’s at 8.5 K/9; 24.8% K% thus far) even if the ratios are bound to tick up slightly. The biggest moneyline favorite on the board as of Tuesday morning is Eduardo Rodriguez against Baltimore (-180), and at -150, Nola is tied with Mike Foltynewicz with the third-biggest moneyline on the slate.
Also consider: Miles Mikolas, STL vs. SD ($9,300), Mike Foltynewicz, ATL vs. NYM ($9,000), Lance McCullers, HOU at OAK ($8,700)
GPP: I believe a simple case can be made for any of the three cash options that are in play above. Here’s an abbreviated thought on each, along with one other I prefer to use in tournaments only.
Aaron Nola, PHI vs. COL ($9,500) -- With a few similarly-priced players with good home matchups, the ownership rate on Nola shouldn’t be outlandish, even if he’s the most heavily-used arm on the board.
Miles Mikolas, STL vs. SD ($9,300) -- Death, taxes, and a Padres lineup that whiffs a lot -- their 25.6% mark is the second-highest team split on the slate.
Mike Foltynewicz, ATL vs. NYM ($9,000) -- I wish I had Folty in as many season-long leagues this year as I did in 2017. Shame on me for not making him an endgame priority, I guess. The Mets are woeful against lefties, but they are at least decent against righties (103 wRC+, 21.7% K%). Walks are still a skills issue with him (4.0 BB/9) this season, but the win probability is relatively high and the strikeout potential is always there to make him capable of being a part of a tournament-winning lineup.
Eduardo Rodriguez, BOS at BAL ($8,500) -- I’m not strongly opposed to using Rodriguez in cash games, but he’s been credited with a quality start once in his last eight turns despite carrying a 3.71 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 11.1 K/9 during that span.
Lance McCullers, HOU at OAK ($8,700) -- I think there is a chance he’ll be the second most-owned of this bunch in tournaments behind Nola. With the other four options all being at home, I’m not going to worry about it if a McCullers fade materializes with my lineups on this particularly slate.
Eric Thames, MIL vs. CHC ($3,500) -- The Brewers continue a three-game set with the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night, and while Thames was in the on-deck circle for a brief moment as a late-inning pinch-hitting option, he was ultimately pulled back (he didn’t start the game with lefty Jose Quintana starting). Thames should be in the starting lineup Tuesday against wildly erratic righty Tyler Chatwood, in a game that features a 9.5 over/under. Thames was hitting .250/.351/.625 with seven homers through 22 games before tearing the UCL in his thumb, and the price is light enough to go right back to him for big power potential priced in the second-tier at the position Tuesday.
Other options to consider include: Joey Votto, CIN at KC ($4,300), Jose Martinez, STL vs. SD ($4,200) and Justin Bour, MIA vs. SF ($3,000)
Jedd Gyorko, STL vs. SD ($2,400) -- The Padres are beginning Tuesday’s game with lefty Matt Strahm, and considering that he pitched 2.1 innings his last time out (June 6), it’s difficult to see a scenario in which he goes more than four innings in this outing. Nevertheless, Gyorko’s extremely low price, paired with his continued ability to crush left-handed pitching, with a 173 wRC+ that ranks among the league’s elite since the start of last season. Even if he’s only matched up against Strahm for two of his plate appearances Tuesday, the price is low enough to make him an easy cash-game option, while those in tournaments may need to consider a fade.
Alternatives: Jose Miguel Fernandez, LAA at SEA ($2,300), Ben Zobrist, CHC at MIL ($2,900), Brian Dozier, MIN at DET ($4,100)
Miguel Sano, MIN vs. DET ($3,400) -- The Twins are matching up against Blaine Hardy and the Tigers, and the initial success of Hardy’s move into a starting role has been largely ignored. With a 3.66 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over 32 innings, Hardy has found success with a significantly altered pitch mix, which features an extremely high slider usage rate (35.1%; he’s never thrown it 20 percent of the time in any season) and the lowest walk rate of his career (2.3 BB/9, 6.2% BB%). Even at this price, Sano is generally a tournament-centric player thanks to his high strikeout rate, and it’s worth noting that breaking balls in particular have generated a 58.8% whiff rate from Sano in 2018. Despite high whiff rates in the past on breaking balls, Sano’s has demonstrated the usual plus-plus power we’ve come to expect from him, as he hit 10 of his 27 homers a year ago on breaking pitches. There are many options below with much safer floors than Sano in their respective matchups.
Alternatives: Travis Shaw, MIL vs. CHC ($3,800), Eugenio Suarez, CIN at KC ($3,700), Anthony Rendon, WAS at NYY ($3,600), Adrian Beltre, TEX at LAD ($3,200), Jake Lamb, ARI v. PIT ($3,100)
Carlos Correa, HOU at OAK ($2,700) -- As of Tuesday morning, Correa is day-to-day with a side injury, but he’s expected to return to the lineup against Daniel Mengden and the A’s (if he’s out, alternative plays are listed below). On a full 15-game slate, I’m not sure we’ll ever see a higher ownership rate on a player, so there are two ways to think about it in tournaments. Correa is either a free square, or he simply paves the way for any other shortstops you like to be available with significantly reduced ownerships in tournaments Tuesday.
Alternatives: Francisco Lindor, CLE at CHW ($4,900), Jurickson Profar, TEX at LAD ($3,600)
Rhys Hoskins, PHI vs. COL ($3,300) -- Hoskins homered in his first game back from the DL, finishing 2-for-7 with a homer and five RBI in the two games he played against the Brewers over the weekend before Monday’s off-day. Jon Gray outside of Coors is always an interesting matchup to consider -- both as an option as a pitcher, and as a potential player to use hitters against in the right situations. I’m erring on the side of buying into Hoskins’ talent at a very affordable price, and the general inconsistency we see from Gray being exploitable in a hitter-friendly environment on the road. Over the past two calendar years, Gray has a 4.44 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in his road starts, despite a 9.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, and 3.37 FIP.
Joc Pederson, LAD vs. TEX ($2,900) -- Pederson has swatted six homers over his last seven games, drawing plenty of attention and spiking his ownership rate along the way. He’s a better cash-game option than tournament consideration as a result, but the matchup against Bartolo Colon and eventually, a largely mediocre Texas bullpen, makes him appealing in this spot. By all accounts, Pederson is back to doing the same thing -- mostly smashing righties -- he did in 2015 and 2016 when he hit at least 25 homers in consecutive seasons.
Jesse Winker, CIN at KC ($2,900) -- The Reds are matched up against Ian Kennedy on Tuesday, and while a matchup in Cincinnati would be preferred, Kennedy’s struggle to keep the ball in the park is very well documented. Conditions in Kansas City are forecasted to be warm and humid, which favors hitters, and Winker is still very affordable despite a recent 10-game stretch where he’s hit .344/.432/.563 with a pair of homers. Winker’s hit tool has always praised ahead of his power, which paired with wrist injuries in the upper levels of the minors, largely explains the lack of home-run output prior to his surprising debut with the Reds last season, but he’s not being recommended here for any one particular reason. If he continues to hit sixth in the order Tuesday, Winker is only viable in tournaments as an easy way to open up salary elsewhere.
Pricey OF to Consider: Mike Trout, LAA at SEA ($5,100), Nelson Cruz, SEA vs. LAA ($4,100), Michael Brantley, CLE at CHW ($4,300)
Cheap/Mid-Range Alternatives: Gregory Polanco, PIT at ARI ($3,100), Jason Heyward, CHC at MIL ($2,800), Robbie Grossman, MIN at DET ($2,600)