The unofficial second half the MLB season is in full swing and we have an offensively-dominant, 12-game slate on our hands this evening. With a thin pitching crop we will look to capitalize on tonight’s top arms and find some bats to carry our lineup to the top. Let’s get to it!
P – Lance McCullers (SEA) – $11,500 vs. SEA
Despite a rocky start prior to the All-Star break, McCullers has been about as reliable as they have come this season on the mound as he brings a large 28% strikeout clip and a very large 63% groundball rate with him into tonight’s start against the Mariners. Those two figures have helped McCullers craft a 3.05 ERA, 2.73 FIP and a tiny 0.59 HR/9 clip on the season. Look for a bounce back effort from the Astros’ right-hander in his first start since the break this evening.
P – Jon Lester (CHC) – $9,800 vs. ATL
Lester has had some issues with right-handed hitting this season, however he has dominated left-handed bats which should account for half of the position players he will face in tonight’s Braves’ lineup. He has handled lefties to the tune of a 1.46 FIP, 34% strikeout rate and has yielded just one homer against a lefty in 27.1 innings this season, good for a 0.33 HR/9 rate. With scarce pitching on this slate let’s roll with the veteran southpaw tonight.
C – Jason Castro (MIN) – $2,800 vs. NYY
With a tight budget for position players tonight let’s begin this lineup with a low-cost, high-upside play in Castro. He will take on Yankees’ right-hander Bryan Mitchell tonight as he sports a solid .161 ISO and elevated 37.3% hard hit rate against righties this season. Castro has been bitten somewhat by a low .268 BABIP to righties after sporting a .329 figure in 2016. Should that number begin to normalize we could see his OPS of .672 trend towards his 2016 figure of .757 as we move forward.
1B – Anthony Rizzo (CHC) – $4,800 vs. ATL
If Jon Lester is to receive some run support in his win for a win on the ledger tonight there’s a good chance Anthony Rizzo will have something to do with it. Despite an extremely low BABIP of .242 against righties this season, Rizzo has still posted a .238 ISO, .860 OPS and a .363 wOBA against opposite-handed pitching. This figures become even more appetizing when we notice that Braves’ righty Julio Teheran sports a massive 9.44 FIP and 3.47 HR/9 clip against left-handed bats at home this season.
2B – Ben Zobrist (CHC) – $3,700 vs. ATL
We will pick on Teheran’s poor numbers to left-handed hitters this season again here with the veteran Zobrist. Zobrist hasn’t had a fantastic season, but he still sits with a solid .166 ISO, .745 OPS and a solid 34.7% hard contact rate. Like Rizzo, his BABIP against righties sits at a very low .248 figure on the season and there is a good chance his luck begins to turn around against one of the worst pitchers to left-handed hitters this season.
3B – Travis Shaw (MIL) – $4,500 vs. PIT
Shaw has been so good this season that his name has crept up in NL MVP discussions around the baseball circle. He enters play tonight sporting a .286 ISO, .963 OPS and a .399 wOBA against right-handed pitching this season which he will face tonight against the Pirates’ Chad Kuhl. Like Teheran, Kuhl has been poor to lefties this season with a 5.64 FIP and 1.66 HR/9 clip to lefties at home this season.
SS – J.T. Riddle (MIA) – $2,800 vs. PHI
Another cost-effective player we will utilize is Marlins’ shortstop J.T. Riddle. We will continue to pick on right-handed pitchers who have struggled against left-handed bats this season as Phillies’ right-hander Jerad Eickhoff sports a 5.32 FIP and a 1.52 HR/9 to left-handed hitters this season. While not offering huge power, Riddle goes have three homers and ten doubles against righties in limited action this season and will surely be a low owned player at this position tonight.
OF – Carlos Gonzalez (COL) – $3,000 vs. SD
CarGo is most definitely not having his best campaign this season, however a hitter of his caliber at this price at Coors Field is robbery. He is another player in this lineup that has been held back some by bad luck this season as evidenced by his .248 BABIP against righties. Gonzalez’s OPS goes from .539 on the road to .715 at home, which is a notable increase despite being below career norms. With a limited budget tonight I feel comfortable in the upside this pick provides.
OF – Seth Smith (BAL) – $3,600 vs. TEX
One last right-hander that we will pick on tonight is the Rangers’ Andrew Cashner. Cashner is due for some serious regression when it comes to left-handed bats as he owns a 5.15 FIP, 6.20 xFIP and a poor 4.12 K/9 mark on the season to left-handed bats. Enter Smith who plays strictly against righties and owns a solid .167 ISO and .748 OPS against right-handed bats this season. He certainly has plenty of value upside at his price this evening.
OF – Steve Pearce (TOR) – $3,500 vs. BOS
Last man up in this lineup is Blue Jays’ outfielder Steve Pearce. Pearce brings a lefty-mashing .244 ISO and .803 OPS into action tonight against Red Sox southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez. This is Rodriguez’s first start since spending several weeks on the disabled list so some rust from the youngster is definitely in play tonight. Pearce’s power against lefties is nothing new as he clobbered them to the tune of a .305 ISO and 1.032 OPS in 2016 so let’s capitalize on the cost-effective slugger tonight.