Man is the pitching on this slate ugly or what? The highest priced pitcher on the main slate tonight is Francisco Liriano at $8,000, followed by Wei-Yin Chen priced at $7,700. No pitcher has a stable floor, meaning every lineup tonight is going to have more of a GPP-esque feel to it and also meaning that we can load up on bats. Personally, I recommend biting the bullet and locking in Liriano as the “safest” option on the slate, as he still allows you to spend up rather nicely on bats.
Here are my preferred plays for tonight’s 10-game MLB slate:
Francisco Liriano ($8,000)
As I stated above, Liriano is the only pitcher in my sights tonight as the rest of the field is full of landmines. While he’s certainly not your ideal cash pitcher, Liriano has seen a bit of a revitalization since he joined the Blue Jays in the middle of last season. Before the trade, Liriano pitched in 21 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates en route to posting a 5.46 ERA and a brutal 1.75 K:BB ratio. Since the trade to the Blue Jays, Liriano has posted a 2.52 ERA with a 3.25 K:BB ratio in 49.1 innings with 52 strikeouts. He’s turning back the clock and his matchup tonight with the Rays should give him a chance to continue his impressive play. The Rays posted a 24% strikeout rate against left-handed pitchers last season and are now without lefty-killers Logan Forsythe (now with the Dodgers) and Brandon Guyer (sent to Indians in the middle of last season). On a slate with virtually no other cash options at the pitcher position, I’m 100% comfortable rostering Liriano.
Other options: As I said, I really hate every other option, but I don’t mind taking a risk with Zach Wheeler ($6,500) in a GPP
Gary Sanchez ($3,100)
I was in the middle of writing up JT Realmuto as a free square tonight when the Marlins released their lineup with AJ Ellis batting second and manning the catcher position. With Realmuto sitting tonight, I’m likely falling back onto Gary Sanchez, even with his disappointing play thus far. While Sanchez is only batting 1 for his first 14 on the season, he mashed right-handed pitching last season to the tune of a .351 ISO, .451 wOBA, and a 1.093 OPS. To the surprise of many, he was much better against right-handed pitching last season, owning a 22.3% K% as opposed to a 31,7% K% against LHP. His matchup tonight, Ubaldo Jimenez, is, um, bad. Last season, he surrendered a 1.56 WHIP, .318 BABIP, and a career-worst 30.9% hard-contact percentage. The game is in Baltimore, where Camden Yards is notoriously one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the league. I expect a nice game from the Sanchize tonight in hopes of getting his season going.
Other options: Willson Contreras ($3,000), Wellington Castillo ($2,700), Jarrod Saltalamacchia ($2,000)
Anthony Rizzo ($4,000)
As disappointing as Rizzo was in the Cubs’ first series with the Cardinals, he finds himself in a get-right spot against Jimmy Nelson and the Brewers this season. Rizzo holds a nice .400 wOBA, .268 ISO and 38.2% hard contact percentage against right-handed pitching and Nelson’s 36.6% hard contact percentage allowed to lefties last season only boosts Rizzo’s potential tonight. It also helps that Miller Park is one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league, in large part thanks to the closed roof, as Miller Park has an average of 1.16 HR per game (league average is 1). Speaking of Miller Park, over his last three seasons, Anthony Rizzo is batting 31-104 (.298) with 11 of those 31 hits being home runs. While spending $4,000 given his recent production is usually a tough pill to swallow, the pitching options on this slate make it much more reasonable.
Other options: Paul Goldschmidt ($4,500), Carlos Santana ($3,800), Chris Davis ($3,200), Eric Hosmer ($3,100), Jose Abreu ($3,100), Albert Pujols ($2,700)
Brian Dozier ($3,600)
I’m going to continue a theme throughout this article of red-hot bats (Realmuto, Dozier, Sano) and their poorly priced salaries. Brian Dozier, while only batting .231 through the Twins’ first three games, has already scored a run in each game and stolen three bases on the season thus far. He’s been operating as their leadoff hitter and has gotten the green light, so I expect him to shatter his career high of 21 steals this season. What’s most enticing about Dozier tonight is the matchup with left-hander Greg Holland. Last season, Dozier posted a .397 wOBA, .331 ISO, .613 SLUG and a .965 OPS against left-handed pitchers, and Holland is far from a premier lefty. Holland himself has allowed a 34.7% hard contact percentage to right-handed batters and has a good chance of getting knocked around tonight by a rather underrated Twins lineup. Dozier also has 5-AB upside in the leadoff spot in a favorable matchup, so spending $3,600 in this spot is an extremely wise decision.
Other options: Jose Altuve ($3,700), Rougned Odor ($3,300), Robinson Cano ($3,200), Ben Zobrist ($3,000), Javy Baez ($2,500)
Miguel Sano ($3,100)
Similar to my write-up on Brian Dozier, teammate Miguel Sano finds himself in a great spot tonight and will likely complete my two-piece mini-stack of the Twins. So far this season, Sano is batting .444 with one home run and 5 RBIs with 6 runs scored. He holds a career .260 ISO against left-handed pitching and Greg Holland has allowed 1.65 HR/9 to right-handed batters. For a player who has averaged 24.23 FDP through the first three games of the season, a $3,100 price tag is certainly one to take advantage of. I absolutely love a Dozier-Sano stack tonight.
Other options: Kris Bryant ($4,200), Manny Machado ($3,800), Todd Frazier ($3,200), Alex Bregman ($3,200), Chase Headley ($2,900)
Francisco Lindor ($3,700)
Fresh off of a monster game against the Rangers (3-4, two home runs, 5 RBIs, a walk and a steal), Lindor finds himself in yet another great spot tonight against the Diamondbacks. Last season he posted a .353 wOBA and 12.1 BB% against right-handed pitching and draws the brutal righty Shelby Miller tonight. Miller allowed a 39% hard contact percentage to left-handed batters last season while posting a miserable 6.33 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP. Chase Field was also a top-10 ballpark for left-handed hitters as there were 1.14 HR per game there last season. Lindor typically hits out of the 2-hole, almost guaranteeing him 5 at-bats in such a potent order against a terrible pitcher. I plan to have at least one Indian in my lineup, and it’ll probably by Lindor.
Other options: Carlos Correa ($3,900), Asdrubal Cabrera ($2,900), Tyler Saladiño ($2,800), Addison Russell ($2,700)
Kyle Schwarber ($3,400)
This write-up almost mirrors the Anthony Rizzo bit. Schwarber owns a .247 ISO and .417 wOBA over his career against right-handed pitching and draws an absolutely beautiful matchup with Jimmy Nelson. Since he’s the Cubs’ leadoff hitter, there’s a great chance that he’ll get 5 at-bats tonight. Through the first three games of the season, Schwarber is hitting .300 with one home run, 3 RBIs and a run scored after blasting a game-winning 3-run homer against the Cardinals last game. There’s no reason to pass him up at this price point in this matchup. He’s a cash-game lock.
Other options: Ryan Braun ($4,200), George Springer ($4,100), Mark Trumbo ($3,700), Yoenis Céspedes ($3,700), Billy Hamilton ($3,400), Jacoby Ellsbury ($3,200), Michael Brantley ($3,200), Nomar Mazara ($3,100), Carlos Gomez ($2,900), Brett Gardner ($2,900), Seth Smith ($2,600), Mitch Haniger ($2,000)