All of the madness and talk is swirling around the beginning of football season and understandably so, but the baseball season is still very much in full swing and actually just starting to heat up even more. Now that we’ve made it to September, the playoff picture is really beginning to take shape and it will be a wild final few weeks of regular season play. Many of you are still taking part in last-minute fantasy football drafts (I know because I am also). But why can’t we have our cake and eat it too? Let’s take a look at some players to target for tonight’s slate of games. Hopefully, this will help save you some time, allow you to set your lineups, and get back to your football research.
Mike Clevinger ($12,200 on DK and $12,000 on FD)
Clevinger mowed down the Chicago White Sox the last time he faced them in his first outing of the year. On April 1st, (no fooling) Clevinger went 7 innings, allowed only 1 hit, no runs, walked 3, and struck out 12. The White Sox active hitters are only 13-for-86 (.151 avg) career against Clevinger. According to Fangraphs, he has the highest projected strikeout total out of any pitcher going tonight with 9.88 projected strikeouts. Two more strikeouts than the second-highest projected total of 7.71 for Jacob deGrom. Clevinger is a fine play in all formats if you can afford him.
Mitch Keller ($7,200 on DK and $8,000 on FD)
Keller is a pitcher still trying to figure it out at the major league level. He’s a talented young right-hander that must be forgiven for his lack of consistency in the early stages of his career. He’s going to have his clunkers, but this is a good spot for him to flash some of his promise. The Miami Marlins are one of the most popular teams to target against and tonight will be no different. In seven games started, Keller has an excellent 11.78 K/9 rate. At 25.4% the Miami Marlins strikeout at the fifth-highest rate in the majors against right-handed pitching. Fading Keller in tournaments is certainly a viable strategy, but I’ll be firing him up in cash games.
2B/OF Whit Merrifield ($4,500 on DK and $3,600 on FD)
Merrifield is an absolute lock for me. Sometimes the Batter versus Pitcher stats can be ignored, and sometimes they can’t. This is a situation where they can’t. Merrifield gets a match-up against left-handed hurler Daniel Norris. Merrifield is 8-for-21 with 4 HRs, 5 RBIs, and 6 XBHs lifetime against the lefty. Merrifield has decent pop but has never hit more than 19 homers in a single-season. The fact that he’s hit four bombs against one particular pitcher, tells me that he sees the ball extremely well against him. I expect him to do some type of damage tonight, whether it be a home run or an extra-base hit. The other nice thing about Merrifield, he led the league in steals each of the last two seasons and has swiped 17 bags so far this season. The upside and the safety net are both there for Whit tonight.
2B/SS Gavin Lux ($3,500 on DK $2,000 on FD)
This is way too cheap for Lux. We’ve seen the immediate impact a lot of the Rookies have had at the big league level this season. Lux had a base-hit into center field on the very first pitch he saw yesterday for the first of his career. He also hit a double to the wall later on in the game. The top prospect in the Dodgers system should be in store for another solid night, going up against Rockies righty Chi Chi Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been getting destroyed to the tune of an 8.08 ERA and 1.82 WHIP.
We talked about Whit Merrifield already. Here are a couple of others with great Batter versus Pitcher stats.
9-for-28 (.321 avg.) with 4 HRs and 5 RBIs
Mike Trout vs Mike Fiers
9-for-27 (.333 avg.) with 3 HRs 9 RBIs 7 XBHs and 5 BBs.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chi Chi Gonzalez
As aforementioned, Chi Chi Gonzalez has been getting demolished. All you have to do is take one look at his game log and you’ll see a ton of crooked numbers. Most notably, a seven-spot his last time out as he was only able to last two-thirds of an inning. To those that might be thinking Coors Field has a lot to do with these struggles, this is a road game, he should fare better tonight. That might be true, but six of Gonzalez’ nine starts have come on the road where he has a 6.92 ERA in 26 innings pitched. He’s allowed at least one home run in each of his last seven outings and a 2.27 HR/9 rate on the season. His K-BB% is -0.6% which is the worst in MLB among pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched. The Dodgers should be able to tee off here.
Minnesota Twins vs Rick Porcello
I am not and never have been a Rick Porcello guy. Even when he won the Cy Young Award in 2016, I thought to myself, this isn’t going to last. And sure enough, the next season he led the league in losses, home runs allowed, and hits allowed. This season, however, Porcello is reaching new career highs or lows that is. Going into this season, Porcello had never finished a season with an ERA higher than 4.92. Porcello currently sits with an ERA of 5.42. The Twins have a ton of mashers in their order. Jorge Polanco specifically, is riding a seven-game hit streak and six-game multi-hit streak.
Chicago Cubs vs Felix Hernandez
I’ve been stacking the Cubs for the last few days and they haven’t exactly provided me with a ton of fantasy points. Eventually, they will though, right? King Felix isn’t exactly King Felix any more. He’s sitting with a 6.02 ERA and has two consecutive no-decisions while allowing three home runs in those two starts, since returning from the 60-day injured list. At the start of the game, the wind is expected to be howling out to right field upwards of 15 MPH. Good news for the left-handed hitters Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, and Anthony Rizzo.
Kansas City Royals vs Daniel Norris
Norris is allowing nearly 40% hard contact to right-handed hitters this season and has given up 19 HRs to them, compared to only 5 HRs to lefties. Granted, he’s faced a lot more righties than lefties this year, but the batting average against is also .35 points higher to righties .288/.253). Jorge Soler, Hunter Dozier, Whit Merrifield, and Alex Gordon are a combined 24-for-59 (.407 avg) with 7 HRs and 14 RBIs. Also, consider using Adalberto Mondesi. After returning from the IL Sunday, Mondesi went 4-for-5 with 3 SBs and 2 Rs.
Other Stacks: Oakland, St. Louis, and Houston.
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