Good morning team! We’ve got a somewhat quiet 8-game slate tonight in the MLB compared to other nights (No Coors thank God), but the pitching is going to be somewhat tricky.
There are a number of players that I want to recommend using in a cash contest and it’s going to be hard to choose which one to roll with, and there are a handful of pitchers that I recommend attacking. In this breakdown, I am structuring it different from what I have done in the past. I am going to break down who I think is going to be the chalk play in cash games, the ideal pivot away from the chalk, and my favorite GPP play.
Let’s get to it!
The Chalk – Jon Lester | $11,000 | @ San Diego | -220 Favorite
This shouldn’t surprise anybody, but I’m going to break him down just in case some of you haven’t been watching baseball this season. Lester clocks in as the safest option (albeit the most expensive option) on the board tonight as he travels to San Diego to take on the Padres. Lester has had a couple of bumps in the road, but altogether has put together quite an impressive season from an advanced stats standpoint. He comes into this contest with a 24% K rate, .216 opponent batting average, .259 BABIP, 26.3% hard contact rate, and a career best 14.6 HR/FB%. These numbers are almost guaranteed to improve after his outing tonight. The Padres, who rank bottom five in the league in strikeouts against southpaws, are hitting 15/85 (.200) against Lester with a strikeout rate of 20%. The strikeout rate could obviously be a bit higher, but I see no reason why Lester wouldn’t flirt with double digits tonight.
While he hasn’t pitched in Petco in the last three seasons, the Park is notoriously impolite to batters. The below diagram will show you this. The yellow shows that these outcomes are no more than the average for MLB parks, and the red symbolizes below average. As you can see, there isn’t an ounce of green in this park.
While Petco hasn’t been as stingy to batters in 2016, it is still considered a park upgrade from Wrigley Field. Lester is currently the heaviest favorite on the slate at -220 and with his potent offense taking on Edwin “gas can” Jackson tonight, a win for Lester is as close to being a sure thing as you can get.
The Pivot – David Price | $10,000 | @ Tampa Bay | -137 Favorite
If you want to save an extra $1,000 and are looking for an ideal pivot, look no further than David Price. While I strongly, and I mean STRONGLY recommend rostering Lester and finding value, I won’t are with you toooo much if you roster Price. I can’t really say that he’s been very impressive this season, but he’s coming around. On the season, Price is posting a 9.07 K/9 with a 24% K rate to go along with a 31.3% Fly-ball rate and a 3.54 SIERA. Those are the rather impressive, David Price-esque stats. His .265 opponent batting average, .327 BABIP and 35.4% Hard contact rate are not. Luckily, he gets a rather watered-down offense tonight in his former employer, the Tampa Bay Rays.
Current Rays are batting .232 (23-99) against Price with a ridiculous 31 strikeouts. I feel like I say this every time I recommend a lefty against them, but remember, they traded away Steve Pearce and Brandon Guyer at the trade deadline, two players who were rather notorious for their success against lefties. While the Rays have a couple bats that are concerning, I don’t see Price having many issues tonight in a familiar environment. If you insist on saving the $1,000 from Lester, Price is your play.
GPP Gem – Jameson Taillon | $7,500 | vs Houston | -157 Favorite
While I would be recommending him in cash if Lester and other aces weren’t on the mound, Taillon is by far and away my favorite tournament play tonight. Yes, Houston just had an incredible offensive series in Baltimore where they knocked the ball around Camden like they were playing t-ball, but don’t expect that to last (especially because they’re one of the most inconsistent offenses in baseball). While Taillon has yet to face the Astros in his rookie campaign, he’s posted some impressive stats thus far. He comes into the contest boasting a 7.09 K% with a 19.8% K-rate (ideally could be higher, but expect Houston to inflate that a bit), a .249 opponent batting average and a .295 wOBA allowed at home.
The Astros are the sixth worst team in the MLB when it comes to striking out against right-handed pitchers and with Doug Fister on the other side of the matchup, expect Taillon to get ample run support tonight. Like I’ve said, I strongly recommend paying up for Lester in cash, as his floor and ceiling are way higher. But if you’re looking for a player with a high ceiling that also allows you to stack bats in a tournament, I would advise that you seriously consider Jameson Taillon tonight.
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