After a few days off on vacation, I am back today to tackle this 13-game Monday night MLB slate.
Let’s see if we can get into the cash and get our week started on the right note!
P – Charlie Morton (TB) – $10,100 vs. TOR
There are a couple of main targets for starting pitching on this slate: Chicago’s Lucas Giolito and Tampa Bay’s Charlie Morton. Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo is the slate’s top-priced pitcher, but he takes on an Angels team sporting the lowest strikeout rate in baseball, so to me, it’s either Giolito or Morton. Given Morton’s eye-popping consistency and strikeout rates this season, combined with this matchup, I will take the Rays’ 2019 ace as my top pitcher tonight. Entering this one tonight, Morton owns a 2.78 ERA, a number that is very much supported by his 2.83 FIP and 3.33 xFIP. He sports a big-time 10.92 K/9 on the season, and that number could get a boost as he takes on a Blue Jays club that sports a 24.3% strikeout rate versus right-handed pitching, the eighth-highest mark in all of baseball. Morton’s work at home as been very good this season. While his 2.77 home ERA is almost identical to his 2.78 road mark, he also owns a 2.41 FIP, 2.88 xFIP and a massive 12.55 K/9 at Tropicana Field this season. There’s not much reason to fade the big right-hander, especially with his win upside so big as the Rays are -255 to win this one on the moneyline tonight, as per BetOnline.
C/1B – Yasmani Grandal (MIL) – $3,000 vs. PIT
The Brewers and Pirates renew NL Central hostilities tonight and I think it’s possible the Brewers somewhat fly under the radar in this one with big run totals put on teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Cubs, just to name a few. The Brewers will take on Pirates right-hander Dario Agrazal who has posted nice results so far with a 3.65 ERA in seven big league starts this season. However, Agrazal also owns a massivbe 6.35 FIP and 6.20 xFIP on the season and a minuscule 4.38 K/9 rate to go along with a big 1.95 HR/9 rate, so there’s certainly some big regression coming for the young right-hander and the powerful Brewers have some big-time upside as a result. Enter the switch-hitting Grandal who enters this one sporting a .223 ISO, .836 OPS, .353 wOBA and 116 wRC+ on the season against right-handed pitching, numbers that are quite similar to his splits against lefties. Furthermore, Grandal has posted a big-time .292 ISO, .953 OPS, .389 wOBA and 140 wRC+ on the season against righties on the road despite his home park sporting some hitter-friendly confines. He hasn’t homered since July 6th, but Grandal’s numbers on the road against right-hander cannot be ignored. Finally, he has gone 1 for 3 with a homer in his brief history against Agrazal, so get this guy into your lineup tonight.
2B – David Bote (CHC) – $2,300 vs. OAK
After I completed my four-man Brewers stack and another mini-stack in this lineup, I had a second base and outfield spot to fill in and I have managed to find a mini-stack that I like that perfectly fit in with my remaining cost, beginning here with Bote against right-hander Chris Bassitt and the Oakland A’s. I don’t want to stretch this stack out too much as the A’s have a very good bullpen, but I think they’ll get to Bassitt. On the road this season, the right-handed Bassitt owns a 4.53 ERA as well as a 5.21 FIP, 4.85 xFIP and a big 1.84 HR/9 clip – numbers that are far worse than his figures at home. Enter Bote who sports a rock-solid .173 ISO, .795 OPS, .338 wOBA and 108 wRC+ on the season against right-handed pitching in part-time duty. The power numbers slip at home and the 85 wRC+ is still manageable, but Bote is coming off a two-hit night yesterday against the Brewers, his first multi-hit game in two weeks. He certainly has the pop to give us some real nice value as this price and a sprinkle of stolen base upside to boot with four steals on the season.
3B – Mike Moustakas (MIL) – $3,500 vs. PIT
Next man up in the Brewers stack is Moustakas who has feasted on both left and right-handed pitching this season, making him rather matchup-proof when the bullpen enters this game after Agrazal’s exit. A side note on Agrazal: despite holding left-handed hitters to a sub-.200 average in the big leagues this season, he posted an ERA north of 6.00 to lefties at Triple-A prior to his call up and has allowed two homers in just 7.1 innings against lefties at home this season, so I have absolutely no problem rostering four left-handed Brewers bats this season and especially since all four mash right-handed pitching, and on the road too. Moustakas enters this one tonight sporting a .255 ISO and .858 OPS on the season against right-handed pitching to go along with a .355 wOBA and 117 wRC+. On the road, the power very much remains with a .225 ISO and .817 OPS to go along with a .340 wOBA and 108 wRC+. Although n one have been of the extra-base variety, he’s clearly seeing the ball well with four consecutive multi-hit games and a five-game hitting streak entering this one tonight. Like Grandal, Moustakas is 1 for 3 with a homer against Agrazal, so he’s a must in this stack to be sure.
SS – Tim Anderson (CWS) – $2,900 vs. DET
The White Sox and Tigers renew their AL Central rivalry tonight as the Sox take on right-hander Spencer Turnbull in this one. Turnbull returns from the IL for this one tonight as he hasn’t made a big league start since back on July 17th. He’s actually had a real nice rookie season with a 3.65 ERA, but I think he could show some rust in this one and I also don’t think he will last too long, giving Anderson and the White Sox a long crack at a brutal Tigers bullpen. Anderson has long mashed lefties, but this season he’s sporting some excellent numbers against right-handed pitching. Entering this one tonight, Anderson sports a .195 ISO, .847 OPS, .354 wOBA and 123 wRC+ on the season against righties, much better than his numbers against lefties. The thing to keep in mind with Anderson is the fact he has some big-time stolen base upside with 15 steals on the season, 11 of which have come against right-handed pitching. He’s shown some power after missing more than a month’s worth of action as he’s doubled twice and homered over his last three games and rides a four-game hit streak into this one. The power/speed upside is very real with Anderson in this one tonight.
OF – Christian Yelich (MIL) – $4,600 vs. PIT
The lineup gets a big boost here with Yelich who is making a run at the NL MVP award for the second consecutive season. After exploding for 36 home runs last season and smashing his previous career-high of 21 in the process, Yelich has already set a new career-high this season with 37 long balls while he’s already set a career-high in stolen bases as well with 23 of those on the season, edging last year’s previous high of 22. In other words, Yelich is having a significantly better year this year than he did en route to MVP honors a season ago. He’s done big-time damage against both left and right-handed pitching, but the numbers are superior against righties as he owns a .394 ISO, 1.195 OPS,m .472 wOBA and 194 wRC+ on the season against right-handed pitching. The numbers remain elite on the road against righties as he owns a .306 ISO and 1.055 OPS to go along with a .423 wOBA and 162 wRC+ on the season against righties away from Miller Park. The power/speed upside is the best in baseball and he should be able to display both in this favorable road matchup tonight.
OF – Eloy Jimenez (CWS) – $2,900 vs. DET
Completing our White Sox mini-stack is Jimenez who has brought some notable power to the table after a less-than-stellar start to the 2019 season, his first in the bigs. The righty-swinging Jimenez sports some superior numbers against right-handed pitching as he owns a .237 ISO, .771 OPS, .319 wOBA and 99 wRC+ against righties this season compared to a 203 ISO, .716 OPS, .307 wOBA and 91 wRC+ on the season against southpaws. That being said, the biggest gap in his splits come on the road. Against lefties on the road, Jimenez has been brutal with a .114 ISO, .554 OPS, .247 wOBA and 51 wRC+. However, on the road against righties, Jimenez sports a big-time .288 ISO, .820 OPS, .337 wOBA and 111 wRC+. He hasn’t been great since the All-Star break, but he had a nice series against the Phillies over the weekend in which he doubled, homered, scored two runs and drove in three runs in the three-game set. The homer came in last night’s game, so I’ll look for Jimenez to build on that effort in this one tonight.
OF – Kyle Schwarber (CHC) – $3,200 vs. OAK
Completing our Cubs mini-stack is Schwarber who is once against mashing right-handed pitching here in 2019. Schwarber has some of the top raw power in baseball, and he’s displaying that again this season with 25 home runs, a solid number considering he doesn’t start against left-handed pitching. Of those 25 homers, 22 have come against a right-handed pitcher while 14 of his 16 doubles have come against a righty as well. The advanced numbers are excellent as he owns a big-time .278 ISO, .842 OPS, .345 wOBA and 113 wRC+ on the season against righties while those numbers trend up at home with a .281 ISO, .884 OPS, .361 wOBA and 123 wRC+ on the season against right-handers at Wrigley Field in Chicago. After mostly scuffling since the All-Star break, Schwarber broke out with two hits including a homer in last night’s game against the Brewers, scoring a pair of runs as well. He’s always a home run threat against right-handed pitching and that remains the case against Bassitt and his 1.84 HR/9 against left-handed hitters on the road this season.
UTIL – Eric Thames (MIL) – $2,500 vs. PIT
I think we are getting excellent value upside with Thames who is punishing right-handed pitching against a pitcher that is allowing 1.95 HR/9 on the season. Thames is used almost exclusively against right-handed pitching and almost never starts against a lefty, and for good reason. He has crushed right-handed pitching for a .259 ISO and .864 OPS on the season to go along with a .359 wOBA and 120 wRC+. While Miller Park in Milwaukee is very favorable to left-handed power bats, Thames actually sports better numbers against righties on the road with a .299 ISO, .901 OPS, .367 wOBA and a 125 wRC+ in such scenarios. On top of their upside against Agrazal who is due for some big-time regression moving forward, the Brewers also have some big-time upside against the Pirates bullpen. Entering play tonight, the Pirates ‘pen ranks 23rd with a 4.77 ERA and tied for 20th with a 1.41 HR/9 against as well. Thames gives us some real value here at this price and would give this lineup a big boost with some more home run power in this one.