Today very well may be the toughest slate I’ve seen this season. With just five games going this afternoon, we have Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto and Stephen Strasburg all taking the mound. Oh, I forgot to mention, we have a game at Coors Field as well. This is going to be VERY tough to fill out lineups today, and I think it brings some interesting ways to construct. Let’s take a look at who I like for today, and as always, you get me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.
Clayton Kershaw – LAD vs. ARI – $14,100 – Until Kershaw has a strech of starts where he gets whacked around; he’s essentially automatic at this point. Kershaw will face the Diamondbacks for the first time this season at Chase Field. This certainly could end up being somewhat of a tough start for Kershaw, as this Diamondbacks team is one of the best hitting clubs against lefties in the majors, and they don’t strikeout a ton. Coming into today, the Diamondbacks own a .352 wOBA against lefties, ranked second in the league, with an 18.7 K%. Then again, last time Kershaw faced a team with a low K%, the San Francisco Giants, who own an 18.7 K% against lefties, Kershaw struck out 13. Even with the perceived tough matchup on tap, fading Kershaw has almost become impossible at this point. Can you make a case for it? Of course, you can make a case for anything quite frankly, but just be prepared to be playing catch up if he does well.
Johnny Cueto – SFG vs. MIL – $12,800 – When it came down to the second pitcher I was going to pick on this slate, I had to choose between Johnny Cueto and Stephen Strasburg. Cueto ultimately won this (obviously) because I think his matchup is a bit safer, and he has the luxury of AT&T Park behind him. Going against a team that is number one in the league in strikeouts against righties doesn’t hurt either. The Brewers own a 26 K% against righties this season with a .313 wOBA and a .399 SLG. Cueto owns a 7.2 K/9 at home with this to go with his 2.05 ERA and an overall wOBA of .234 at AT&T Park. At the end of the day, Strasburg provides more upside than Cueto, but I think Cueto is the safer option against the Brewers.
Jimmy Nelson – MIL vs. SFG – $7,400 – It’s going to be almost impossible to fit two of three pitchers in your lineup today of Kershaw, Strasburg and Cueto, so you’ll most certainly need some value to fill it out. Unfortunately, the picking is slim in that department, so Jimmy Nelson emerges as my value play for today. He’s been pitching pretty decent this season, owning a 3.43 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP and a K/9 of 7.1. He has a bit of a tough matchup against the Giants today, but as I said with Cueto, AT&T Park behind him is a benefit. Against the Giants earlier this season, Nelson pitched 7.1 allowing two runs on five hits with a 3:1 K:BB ratio. It’s not the most exciting line, but it gets the job done, especially on a slate like this one. I don’t think Nelson is a slam dunk value play for today, I just think he’s the best of the bunch.
Carlos Gonzalez (OF) – COL vs. NYY – $5,400 – Here’s the other aspect of this slate; they stuck a Coors Field game in here as well. Now the big question is, do you fade Coors and go heavy on pitching, or do you fade the pitching and go heavy on Coors? Nonetheless, Carlos Gonzalez once again is one of the top targets with the Yankees sending another right-handed pitcher to the mound with Ivan Nova. At Coors this season against righties, Gonzalez owns a .484 wOBA with a .750 SLG with six of his 15 home runs. Nova continues to struggle on the road, allowing a .379 wOBA with a .560 SLG.
Matt Kemp (OF) – SDP vs. MIA – $4,900 – The best non Coors Field target has to be Matt Kemp going against Justin Nicolino. Kemp has been crushing left-handed pitching this season, owning a .446 wOBA with a .742 SLG with seven of his 15 home runs. Nicolino hasn’t had much success against righties, allowing a .355 wOBA with a .444 SLG. Kemp is near Coors Field pricing, but he’s in a prime matchup today.
Christian Yelich (OF) – MIA vs. SDP – $5,300 – Yelich is hitting every type of pitcher well, it doesn’t matter how you are. Today he faces off against left-handed pitcher Luis Perdomo, who has been switching from the rotation and the bullpen, getting crushed at both avenues. Yelich owns a .366 wOBA against lefties this season that jumps to .392 on the road. Again, he’s expensive so it’s going to be tough to fit him in, depending on your pitching choices.
Corey Seager (SS) – LAD vs. ARZ – $5,400 – The L vs. L matchup doesn’t seem to bother Seager in the early going of his career. Coming into today, Seager owns a .362 wOBA against lefties with a .266 ISO and a .547 SLG. Seager faces off with Patrick Corbin today, as Corbin has not found much success against lefties at Chase Field this season. Corbin comes into this game with a .432 wOBA against lefties with a .615 SLG.
DJ LeMahieu (2B) – COL vs. NYY – $4,600 – Another one of the “cheaper” Coors Field starter for today is LeMahieu. He’s been hitting extremely well at home against righties this season, owning a .426 wOBA with a .587 SLG. As I mentioned earlier, Nova has some extreme home/road splits, as his 6.57 on the road compared to his 2.65 ERA at home are a huge difference.
Bryce Harper (OF) – WAS vs. CHC – $4,600 – Harper has not been hitting well at all lately, averaging only 6.6 FPPG over his last ten games, but you’re getting a player with fantastic upside at just $4,600 today. He has a pretty tough matchup against Jason Hammel, but Hammel is weaker against lefties than he is right. On the season, Hammels owns a .331 wOBA when facing lefties this season. He doesn’t give up a lot of power, with only two home runs and a .380 SLG against lefties. But again, Harper always brings fantastic upside to the table, even with his wOBA against righties down to .388 for the season. For most guys, that’s a great season, we just expect much more for Bryce.
Aaron Hicks (OF) – NYY vs. COL – $3,900 – Hicks certainly isn’t someone I love this afternoon, but he should be drawing the start with Carlos Beltran having to sit after getting his knee drained. Grabbing someone who is starting at Coors Field that is just under $4K is certainly bringing some value to the table. As a switch hitter, Hicks owns a .293 wOBA against righties this season. Again, his numbers aren’t going to blow you away, but you’re going to have to save money somewhere and get a player starting (hopefully) in the highest projected run total of the day.
Justin Bour (1B) – MIA vs. SDP – $4,000 – The Marlins are going to be the popular stack for today, as you can get Bour, Giancarlo Stanton, J.T. Realmuto and Derek Dietrick all for $4,000. I like the upside with Bour here, as all of his home runs have come off right-handed pitching. With 10 on the season, Bour has five of them on the road while owning a .349 wOBA against righties in that situation. Miami is going to be very popular today, so be aware of that.
Buster Posey (CATCH) – SFG vs. MIL – $3,900 – Posey is scuffling at the plate a bit, but this is one of those perfect games to take a chance with him. Overall, Posey owns a .257 average with eight home runs, 29 RBIs, and averaging 7.4 FPPG. He faces off against Jimmy Nelson, who I don’t hate for today, but is allowing a .324 wOBA to righties on the year. Posey possesses plenty of upside and is someone I’d be willing to save some money with on this slate.
Ike Davis (1B) – NYY vs. COL – $2,800 – I don’t know for sure if Davis will be starting for the Yankees today, but he did just get signed to a major league deal and played yesterday, going 1-2 with a run scored. An obvious power threat, Davis will only run you for $2,800 this afternoon and will be vastly popular if he is indeed in the lineup. For what it’s worth, Davis has played 11 games at Coors Field and has a .433 batting average with two doubles, a home run and seven RBIs.