Wednesday’s seven-game Tiers slate in baseball has a lot of bad teams in action, including the Orioles, Blue Jays, Tigers and Royals. While that might not lead to a lot of exciting games, there is still plenty of fun to be had in the Tiers contest. Let’s dive in and discuss how the options in some of the tiers might perform.
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OF Christian Yelich, MIL at HOU
SS Adalberto Mondesi, KC vs. DET
3B Eduardo Escobar, ARI at PHI
1B Freddie Freeman, ATL vs. PIT
Yelich is a monster capable of putting up big numbers against any pitcher. However, his odds of a stellar stat line are certainly less favorable than normal since he’ll be facing Justin Verlander. The other hitters in this tier have much easier matchups, so this might be the one time to shy away from Yelich.
Daniel Norris will start for the Tigers and he’s had yet another disappointing campaign with a 4.87 FIP and a 1.45 WHIP. As appealing as Mondesi might seem based on this matchup, the lack of talent around him in the Royals’ lineup has limited his counting stats. With just three RBI and nine runs scored over his past 15 games, his lack of upside is a concern.
Escobar is on another heater for the Diamondbacks, hitting 22-for-63 (.349) with five home runs and three doubles over his past 15 games. Unlike Mondesi, he’s been extremely productive during that stretch with 17 RBI and 12 runs scored. Zach Eflin will start this game for the Phillies, and while his 2.88 ERA looks great, he has a 4.42 FIP and just an 18.9 percent strikeout rate, making Escobar an appealing option.
My favorite hitter in this tier is Freeman. The Braves have steamrolled the Pirates in this series, scoring 20 runs in the first two games. Freeman launched a home run in the first game, giving him five homers over his past 10 games. The inexperienced Mitch Keller will be making his second start of the season for the Pirates after the Reds torched him for six runs across four innings in his debut. Also working in Freeman’s favor is his 156 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers this season.
C Mitch Garver, MIN vs. SEA
OF Marcell Ozuna, STL at MIA
OF Ronald Acuña Jr., ATL vs. PIT
1B/OF Jay Bruce, PHI vs. ARI
1B/OF Trey Mancini, BAL vs. TOR
This tier is packed with excellent options. If you deploy Freeman in the first tier, adding Acuña to create a Braves stack might be a sound strategy. He’s swinging the bat well after hitting 16-for-53 (.327) with four home runs across his past 11 games.
With the Marlins dealing with a couple of injuries, they will be calling up Jordan Yamamoto to start against the Cardinals. This is a big jump for him considering he was pitching at Double-A, where he recorded a 4.16 FIP and a 23.7 percent strikeout rate. He has done a good job of limiting home runs in the minors and it will help his cause that this game is being played at pitcher-friendly Marlins Park. That could make rolling with Ozuna a little risky.
Garver has become a tremendous asset at the catcher spot for the Twins, posting a .376 ISO and a .451 wOBA. His .317 batting average is likely to regress based on his abnormally high .367 BABIP, but he still has the potential to be one of the better offensive catchers in baseball. Add in his robust 225 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers, and he’s extremely appealing for this matchup with the underwhelming Tommy Milone. If you want to go with a Twins stack, he’s a must in this tier.
Bruce has performed well since joining the Phillies, hitting 11-for-30 (.379) with five home runs across eight games. He won’t be facing the toughest of foes in Merrill Kelly, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him continue his recent run of success. With that being said, Mancini could be the best option in their tier. His matchup couldn’t get any batter since he’ll be facing Edwin Jackson, who has allowed 32 runs (26 earned) and eight home runs over 19 2/3 innings. There is a lack of talent around him in the lineup, but that hasn’t stopped Mancini from hitting 12-for-44 (.316) with three home runs, six RBI and nine runs scored over his past 10 games.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Derek Law will start in place of Edwin Jackson for the Blue Jays tonight. Law is expected to go 1-2 innings before Jackson enters, per Blue Jays play-by-play man Mike Wilner.
2B/3B Mike Moustakas, MIL at HOU
1B Edwin Encarnacion, SEA at MIN
1B C.J. Cron, MIN vs. SEA
OF Byron Buxton, MIN vs. SEA
OF Jorge Soler, KC vs. DET
1B Justin Smoak, TOR at BAL
2B/OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr., TOR at BAL
OF Jarrod Dyson, ARI at PHI
With so many options in this tier, let’s try to thin out the herd. Since Verlander will be on the mound for the Astros, I’ll pass on Moustakas. Encarnacion also doesn’t have a great matchup against Jose Berrios, who has allowed only a .291 wOBA against right-handed hitters. Dyson doesn’t carry the home run upside that several of the others in this tier do, so he might also be someone to pass on. Finally, even though Soler has launched 17 home runs, he has a .332 wOBA to go along with a 29.3% strikeout rate. He also has just a .288 wOBA against left-handed pitchers this season.
Cron and Buxton are both excellent options for those rolling with a Twins stack. Having a lefty on the mound is big considering they have a 205 wRC+ and a 174 wRC+ against them, respectively. Cron has more power, so he could be the more popular of the two. That might make Buxton a better choice if you’re trying to differentiate yourself a little in tournament play.
With the Twins’ hitters likely to be popular, taking a chance on Smoak or Gurriel in tournament play could be a wise strategy. They have a great matchup against David Hess, who has a 6.90 FIP and a 1.51 WHIP. Amazingly, he’s allowed 20 home runs over 61 innings. Smoak has the potential to do plenty of damage, but Gurriel is the more appealing option to me. He’s been a different player since being recalled from the minors, hitting 18-for-58 (.310) with five home runs and five doubles over 16 games.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mbarner51) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.