I’ll be digging into the MLB slate on Thursdays and will be bringing you some top plays to consider on FanDuel. We have another split day today with a four-game early slate followed by a small five-game main slate. I’ll be focusing on the main slate for today’s writeup, and while it’s a smaller slate, there are some quality pitchers with a few offenses sticking out as well.
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants, $11,200 – After making his first start off the DL against the Padres, Bumgarner will get another crack at them tonight. He looked to still be a little rusty in that start, but he encouragingly pitched seven innings and threw 102 pitches, so pitch count shouldn’t be a concern. We know that the Padres are the worst offense in baseball and that Bumgarner is a top ace when he’s right. I would expect him to be better in his second start, and Las Vegas has him installed as a massive -200 favorite with the Padres’ implied team total sitting at just 2.9 runs on the MLB odds board.
Brandon McCarthy, Los Angeles Dodgers, $7,300 – I do have concerns about his pitch count, as he’s only topped 90 pitches twice in his last ten starts. However, I want to grab some expensive bats like Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager in GPPs, and the price on McCarthy lets you squeeze in whatever bats you want. Freddie Freeman left yesterday’s game sick, so be sure to watch the Atlanta lineup, as it’s obviously a huge boost to McCarthy if Freeman sits. The Braves are getting a negative park shift and have the second lowest Vegas implied team total at just 3.3 runs. I love the Dodgers offense and McCarthy is a -215 favorite tonight, so the win should also be there, if his pitch count cooperates to let him get those five to six innings.
Jonathan Lucroy, Texas Rangers, $2,300 – There are two teams that I’m primarily focusing on tonight, and that’s the Rangers and Dodgers. The Rangers will draw Wade Miley, who continues to struggle with control and RHBs. He’s allowing 5.30 BB/9 this season, which provides the opportunity for big innings, and he has been tuned up by RHBs for a .385 wOBA and 1.6 HR/9. Lucroy has been disappointing this year, but the Rangers’ RHBs look like a solid complement to the expensive Bumgarner, as they are very affordable. While Lucroy hasn’t been good this year, he has hit LHPs over his career for a respectable .355 wOBA.
Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers, $2,900 – The Dodgers are tougher than the Rangers to fit alongside Bumgarner, but Grandal is the one cheap Dodger LHB, so I’ll be targeting him a lot today. He’ll draw Mike Foltynewicz, who has continued to struggle against LHBs this year. He’s allowing a .375 wOBA, 1.6 HR/9 and 32% hard-hit rate to LHBs this year along with just an 8% soft-contact rate. For his career, he’s allowed a .371 wOBA and 1.7 HR/9, so his struggles against lefties are nothing new; the Dodgers’ potent LHBs look to be in a great spot.
Also Consider – Gary Sanchez
Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers, $3,900 – Along with his teammate Corey Seager, Bellinger is my favorite option on the slate if price isn’t considered. As mentioned, Foltynewicz has not figured out LHBs at the MLB level, while Bellinger is crushing RHPs in his rookie year for a .418 wOBA and .385 ISO. At under $4,000, he also is too cheap.
Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers, $2,900 - If you can’t squeeze in Bellinger, Napoli is a cheap alternative at first base. He’s a boom or bust GPP option, as he’s not hitting for any average, but he does have 20 home runs this year, so the upside is there for GPPs. I’ve already mentioned I want to attack Miley’s control issues and struggles with RHB, and Napoli has a career .386 wOBA against LHP.
Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles, $3,200 – Second base is easily my least favorite position on this slate, as there’s nothing I really like. I’ll default to Schoop here because he’s now hitting in the top of the order against LHPs, and the Orioles do carry the top Vegas implied team total on the slate. Cole Hamels is not a pitcher I love to pick on, but his advanced numbers point to regression with a 4.90 xFIP (compared to a 3.05 ER), and he’s been lucky in the BABIP department with just a .218 allowed. Schoop meanwhile has posted a .389 wOBA and 38.6% hard-hit rate against LHPs this season.
Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers, $3,500 – Beltre is the only somewhat expensive Texas RHB, and even then $3,500 is very manageable. He also happens to be the best Texas RHB, so he’s someone I want to fit into my Texas stacks. Over his career, he’s hit LHP extremely well with a .378 wOBA and .218 ISO, and the matchup with Miley looks good on paper.
There’s no real affordable option at third base, so it’s a position where you’ll have to basically spend up. I like Beltre the most, but I think Manny Machado and Justin Turner are quality options as well, so those are the three I would focus on.
Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers, $4,000 – I love the idea of a four-man Dodgers LHB stack with Grandal, Bellinger, Seager and Pederson against Foltynewicz. They all carry multi-homer upside against a pitcher that struggles with LHBs. Seager has a 49% hard-hit rate and .372 wOBA against RHPs this year and is easily the top shortstop option if you can afford his price tag.
Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers, $3,000 – It’s not going to be sneaky to fire up Bumgarner at pitcher and then load up on Texas RHBs, but I do think it makes a ton of sense given the cheap price points and the Rangers’ high implied run total. Andrus is yet another affordable Texas RHB to throw at Miley. With his lack of power, he doesn’t profile as a high-upside GPP option, but he’s a rock solid cash game option with a career .285 batting average against LHPs.
Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers, $3,400 – Pederson has been disappointing this year, but he’s picked up the production over the last month, and in case you couldn’t tell…I like the Dodgers’ LHBs. He’s not a great cash game option, as he’s not a high average or high contact hitter, but he does carry big power upside with a career .238 ISO against RHPs.
Carlos Gomez, Texas Rangers, $2,900 – Gomez is probably my least favorite Texas RHB, as he’s mostly splits neutral, but the price at $2,900 is very manageable and he fits as the last part of a Texas stack for me.
Beyond Gomez and Pederson, the Baltimore RHBs are interesting. They’ve struggled as a team this year against LHPs, but they are currently projected with the top implied total on the day, and Cole Hamels’ advanced numbers point to some regression. Trey Mancini, Mark Trumbo and Adam Jones are all affordable and have power upside as one-offs or a mini-stack.