Houston Astros v New York Yankees

It’s a slate without the Yankees! This means we are going to have to make some tough decisions instead of simply rostering players from the team that homers every night. Neither rain nor wind looks to be factor this evening, so we can just focus on the best hitters in the best matchups.

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Tier 1

OF Christian Yelich, MIL vs. SEA
OF Mike Trout, LAA vs. CIN
1B Josh Bell, PIT at HOU
1B Pete Alonso, NVM at PHI

There is a lot of potential hardware in this tier. Mike Trout (-265) is the favorite to win the AL MVP, Christian Yelich (+160) is tied with Cody Bellinger as the NL MVP favorite and Pete Alonso is looking like the NL Rookie of the Year. The odd man out is Josh Bell, although he likely would be the most improved player if it was an award given out in baseball. This isn’t the reason I think Bell is the weakest play of the group, but he has a tough matchup against Framber Valdez. Valdez has a 3.61 ERA and allows a .309 wOBA to right-handed hitters. As a switch hitter, Bell has been better against righties than against lefties. He also has cooled off lately, scoring less than 10 DKFP in five of his past seven games.

As great as Yelich has been this season, I still think Trout is the best hitter in this group. The outstanding season for Bellinger and the end of last season for Yelich get talked up a lot, and Trout’s 187 wRC+ is in line with the production of the National League stars. Trout doesn’t get talked about as having an outstanding performance because this level of play is normal for him. He’s also on a bit of a hot streak. Trout has reached base in nine straight games and averaged 16 DKFP during his streak.

Tier 2

OF Yordan Alvarez, HOU vs. PIT
3B Anthony Rendon, WAS at MIA
2B/3B Mike Moustakas, MIL vs. SEA
OF Domingo Santana, SEA at MIL
1B/2B Howie Kendrick, WAS at MIA

There isn’t a player in baseball more fun to watch than Yordan Alvarez. He’s been in the big leagues for only 13 games and it’s fair to consider him one of the best power hitters in baseball. Surely he will cool off, but when he makes contact with a baseball, it’s going places. Alvarez already has seven homers and is averaging 13.8 DKFP. He’s reached base in all but one of his games with the Astros, and Houston faces an unheralded young pitcher in Dario Agrazal tonight. With the Astros’ lineup getting healthy, they are a team to target.

The Nationals are playing against the Marlins in Miami. They play in a strong pitcher’s park and have a talented youngster on the mound tonight. Zac Gallen is one of the best pitching prospects in the league and looked strong in his first big league start. Last week, he pitched five innings, striking out six hitters, while giving up one run. This makes both Rendon and Kendrick players to avoid.

Adrian Houser is opening for the Brewers in what will be a bullpen game. The most pitches Houser has in an outing this season is 43. Milwaukee has an above-average bullpen and is really strong at the back end if the game is close enough for Josh Hader to make an appearance. This makes Domingo Santana a low-priority play. Milwaukee can throw different looks at him and, in general, relief pitchers are more effective in their limited stints than starting pitchers are over the course of extended innings. I don’t often like to roster hitters when the opposing matchup is an opener to bullpen game.

Tier 5

OF Austin Riley, ATL at CHC
OF Ronald Acuna, ATL at CHC
OF Austin Meadows, TB at MIN
1B Anthony Rizzo, CHC vs. ATL
SS Javier Baez, CHC vs. ATL
1B Rhys Hoskins, PHI vs. NYM
OF Michael Conforto, NYM at PHI
3B Matt Chapman, OAK at STL

Tier 5 has a couple of young outfielders going up against Yu Darvish. These days, it’s hard to know which version of Darvish will show up, but it’s the bad one more often than not. In his last outing against Atlanta, he lasted four innings and gave up three runs. Between Riley and Acuna, I lean towards Acuna as the stronger play. He is the more highly regarded prospect and has homered in two of his past three games. Riley has cooled off after a strong start to his rookie season and hasn’t scored more than 5.0 DKFP in nearly a week.

My favorite play from this tier is Baez. He has a 180 wRC+ against left-handed pitching and a 145 wRC+ at Wrigley Field. Lefty matchup plus a home game usually means good things for Baez. He is facing Dallas Keuchel, who is making his second start of the season. He went unsigned in the offseason and didn’t look great in his first outing. He allowed three runs in five innings and it could take him a few starts to work off rust after missing half the season.

Another strong play is Hoskins. The Phillies have the highest implied run total of the night slate going up against Jason Vargas. He might have a 3.75 ERA, but regression is coming. Vargas has a 5.30 xFIP and finished last season with a 5.77 ERA. Given the 6.1 implied run total for the Phillies, all the signs point to the Vargas regression starting tonight. Hoskins has a 169 wRC+ against southpaws and figures to be involved in the output hitting in the middle of the lineup.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is gehrenberg) 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.