We’re trying a slightly different format for today’s bargains column. In the past, we focused on finding the best players under an arbitrary price point. Instead, let’s focus on hunting down the top dollar-for-dollar values at different price points. We’ll split into three groups: very cheap, mid-tier, and expensive. We’ll put a greater emphasis on the lower end of the price scale.
Please note, these player picks were organized early in the day. For MLB contests, always check lineups and weather closer to game time. Rain, wind, or unexpected managerial decisions could open up additional sources of value. Be sure to keep an eye on the MLB Headlines and Injuries desk.
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We’re looking at a deep 14-game Friday night slate.
DIRT CHEAP BARGAINS
Certain stacks are especially obvious this evening. The Blue Jays offense is one such. They’re opposite Covey. The White Sox righty has a history of home run issues. He’s tinkered with his repertoire this season, shifting from sliders to harder cutters as his primary secondary offering. There is a chance he’ll actually have a good outing. McKinney is interesting for the larger likelihood that Covey struggles. Nothing stands out about McKinney – he has just enough pop to be relevant, and he’ll probably bat sixth in a stack expected to produce crooked numbers. His best attribute is frequent, hard, pulled line drive contact.
Although I’m the first to say Wilkerson shouldn’t be starting for a major league club, that hasn’t stopped the Orioles from using him on a regular basis. He usually bats between sixth and eighth in the order. As with McKinney, we’re mainly interested in Wilkerson for network effects. Cahill has adjusted his arm slot and pitch usage. The results have been devastatingly elevated home run rates. Visiting Camden Yards is not going to help him to slay those home run dragons.
While Wilkerson is a target for his low price and potentially impactful teammates, Ruiz actually offers a little value on his own. He’s a ground ball hitter and – at least thus far in 2019 – Cahill is a fly ball pitcher. The combination gives Ruiz better expected launch angles tonight and a slightly elevated chance for a home run. He’s consistently hitting the ball hard and working counts. There may not be enough power here for a long-term major league starter, but he’ll do as a bargain target tonight.
Also Consider: Dereck Rodriguez, Wellington Castillo
MID-TIER MUST PLAYS
Although he’s priced on the high side of the mid-tier, La Stella is well worth the investment today. He’s coming off his third multi-homer game of 2019 and will likely bat leadoff against Straily. At this point, we have to start considering his power output to be more than some small sample fluke. More importantly, Straily and Camden Yards are a proven recipe for big flies. La Stella’s best trait is a high contact rate mixed with superb plate discipline. Even if he doesn’t go yard, he’ll have multiple ways to return value on his price tag.
HIGH PRICED VALUES
Zack Wheeler – SP – New York Mets (vs Marlins)
This one isn’t going to sneak by anybody. Wheeler has perhaps the easiest matchup possible – a pairing against the Marlins at pitcher friendly CitiField. The Miami offense ranks dead last in the league. They strike out in one-quarter of their plate appearances. Wheeler’s velocity is up a full mph. After showing improved command last season, he seems to have taken a step backward in that regard. Still, we can bank over a strikeout per inning, home run prevention, and perhaps one too many walks this evening. If not for Justin Verlander, this would be the chalk.