With the Yankees, Red Sox and Brewers among the teams in action Wednesday, there are plenty of big names to choose from for the 10-game Tiers contest. However, it’s not just the biggest names that carry significant upside. Let’s break down a few of the tiers and highlight the best matchups.
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OF Christian Yelich, MIL vs. MIA
OF Austin Meadows, TB at DET
SS Trevor Story, COL at CHC
OF Hunter Pence, TEX vs. BAL
This is a really interesting quartet of options. One to possibly shy away from right off the bat is Pence. While the Orioles have a terrible pitching staff, one of their best starters will be taking the mound in John Means. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his past five starts, which included a game against the Red Sox and a matchup versus the Rockies at Coors Field.
Story has a lot of upside, but he only has a career 97 wRC+ on the road compared to a 126 wRC+ at home. Also, Yu Darvish has been extremely wild, so Story could have the bat taken out of his hand in an at-bat or two, which would limit his ability to do significant damage.
Meadows is as hot as it gets right now, hitting 21-for-48 (.438) with three home runs and five doubles over his past 11 games. He has just a 15.1% strikeout rate during that stretch and is emerging as one of the better young outfielders in the league. He’ll be facing Spencer Turnbull, who is off to a strong start with a 2.84 ERA but also has allowed a .333 wOBA to left-handed hitters as opposed to a .268 wOBA versus righties.
This tier comes down to Meadows and Yelich for me. As hot as Meadows is, Yelich at home against Sandy Alcantara could be gold. He has an insane 285 wRC+ at home this season, and Alcantara continues to have a hard time limiting base runners, resulting in his 1.41 WHIP.
C Mitch Garver, MIN at CLE
SS Xander Bogaerts, BOS at KC
SS Jorge Polanco, MIN at CLE
1B Freddie Freeman, ATL at PIT
1B Pete Alonso, NYM vs. SF
OF Max Kepler, MIN at CLE
We have a lot of Twins in this tier for their matchup against Carlos Carrasco. While Carrasco has an ugly 4.98 ERA, he has been victimized by a .353 BABIP and his FIP is better at 4.07. He also has a 28.7% strikeout rate. As good as the Twins’ bats have been this season, this might be one of the times to avoid adding them to your entry.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Carrasco has been placed on the 10-day IL. Tyler Clippard will start a bullpen day for the Indians tonight.
Bogaerts is almost as hot as Meadows, hitting 19-for-48 (.396) with four home runs and five doubles over his past 11 games. He won’t be facing a good pitcher in Jakob Junis, who has an ugly 1.44 WHIP across his first 12 starts. Although he doesn’t have the platoon advantage, Bogaerts is a viable candidate here who might not be the most popular option.
As poorly as the Mets have played lately, Alonso has continued to shine. He’s provided what many had expected, recording a .350 ISO to go along with a 27.5% strikeout rate. The Giants will start Tyler Beede, who has done a good job of limiting home runs throughout his time in the minors. There is some risk with deploying Alonso based on his propensity to his strike out, but he can provide plenty of production with just one swing of the bat.
The most intriguing option in this tier for me is Freeman. He has a great matchup against Joe Musgrove, who has allowed 30 runs (27 earned) over 30 innings in his past six starts. Known for his ability to get on base at an extremely high rate, Freeman is also in a power groove right now after hitting eight home runs over his past 17 games. The Braves could put up a crooked number in this game with Freeman likely at the center of all of the production.
3B Miguel Sano, MIN at CLE
SS Adalberto Mondesi, KC vs. BOS
OF Mookie Betts, BOS at KC
SS Elvis Andrus, TEX vs. BAL
1B C.J. Cron, MIN at CLE
OF Byron Buxton, MIN at CLE
1B/2B Derek Dietrich, CIN at STL
1B/OF Eric Thames, MIL vs. MIA
Let’s quickly try to thin the herd. I want no part of Mondesi against Chris Sale. Andrus doesn’t have the type of power that several of the other players have in this tier, so he might not be a great choice, either. Sano has shown power since being recalled, but he has a 35.5% strikeout rate. Thames is also a little too reliant on hitting home runs for my liking, which could be a problem since Alcantara has allowed just 0.9 HR/9 for his career.
With even more Twins hitters to consider, we now have to examine Cron and Buxton. Cron has recorded a career-high .259 ISO and has even reduced his strikeout rate to 22.3%. However, he’s gone eight straight games without a homer and only has a .329 wOBA against right-handed pitchers. In the end, I’ll pass. Buxton is having a much-improved campaign, but he too has struggled with a .325 wOBA against righties.
The top option that jumps out within this tier is Dietrich against Dakota Hudson. Dietrich mashes right-handed pitching, recording a lofty 181 wRC+ against them this season. Hudson also has an extremely difficult time retiring lefties, allowing a .412 wOBA to them over the course of his career.
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