In this article, I’m going to lay out the groundwork to build off in three to five entry max contests. When playing these types of contests, I find that I have the most success when I have a core, (generally one pitcher on FD and two on DK with a three-player stack and one to two one-off bats) that will find their way into 100% of my lineups. The idea of locking in a core is to limit, for lack of a better term, “randomness” across our lineups. By mixing and matching a few bats around our core across all lineups, we’re able to rule out some tough lineup decisions we may face while not getting completely overwhelmed with a large pool of players.
Below I’ve outlined the pitchers, stacks, and one-offs that I’m considering incorporating into my core for tonight.
Gerrit Cole (HOU)
Cole is right at the top of my list tonight against the Rockies, who outside of a Nolan Arenado flick-of-the-wrist opposite field home run against Justin Verlander last night were dominated to the tune of six innings and 11 strikeouts. Colorado ended up adding some on against the Astros bullpen which has been their Achilles heel all season long. However, the Rockies play on the road has been an issue all season, which is to be expected. Colorado has a 24 percent K rate, .161 ISO, and .299 wOBA on the road. To tack on to the Rockies’ inefficiencies on the road, Cole has been lights out pretty much all season, especially at home. Cole has a .248 wOBA against to go along with a 36 percent K rate, 12.56 K/9, and a 2.68 FIP. Cole faced Colorado in Coors Field on July 24th going 6.1 innings with nine K’s with five hits and two earned runs allowed. Expect a similar outing tonight, at least from Cole with a victory to go along with it.
Zack Wheeler (NYM)
Wheeler comes in red-hot over his last three starts and faces an Orioles team that have a team wOBA of .308, ISO of .170, and a strikeout rate of 24 percent against righties. Wheeler over his last three starts has gone seven, seven, and six innings respectively with 24 strikeouts, three walks, and two earned runs allowed. With a lineup now without Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop in it, Wheeler is a more than fine option on either site, especially on DK at $1,400 less than Cole.
Dylan Bundy (BAL)
As an SP2 play, it’s very hard to overlook Bundy facing Wheeler and the Mets at 6.5K on DK. While others may look to Felix Pena (6.6K) and Robbie Erlin (4.9K) as options, I trust Bundy more than either one of them. Bundy had a horrid stretch from July 6th through July 20th, had two very good starts after, and now is coming off of a start against the Red Sox in which the Sox just bull rushed him. Bundy has had a few horrid starts this season and has been beaten by the home run ball. The Mets HR/FB rate against righties is just 11.5 percent, 20th in the majors which should help Bundy bring down his high home run total on the season. Bundy’s 24 percent K rate is respectable against a team that strikes out a ton and his seven percent is very good. The Mets were impressive against Severino the other night, but they are not a good offensive team. Plain and simple. I expect Bundy to dominate them tonight.
Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, Ender Inciarte
I know what you people are wondering. How the hell can I not have Ronald Acuna in this core? Well, a couple of things here. First of all, you can’t play everyone at the top for the Braves because of their salaries. Second of all, this is about finding a core to build around because, believe it or not, based on salary again, you need to be able to afford eight hitters and a pitcher or in the case of DK two pitchers. With all of that being said, Jose Urena, the Marlins starter has had a hell of a time against the Braves and specifically against lefties all season but has done well against righties. He’s surrendered a .336 wOBA and a 45 percent hard-contact rate to lefties and as we know, Sun Trust Park is a park that caters to lefties. Freddie and Ender have good numbers against Urena and Albies is coming in off of a day off (which I love) and has multiple hits in four of his last five games. In good weather against the Marlins who are going to really fall off a cliff, in my mind sooner than late, the Braves should throw plenty of runs up on the board tonight.
Michael Brantley, Yonder Alonso, Jason Kipnis
I’ve been riding these guys for a few days now and with Cleveland facing horrific pitching in a good hitters park it just makes sense. Robert Stephenson gets the start for the Reds who, let’s be honest, have NO PITCHING to speak of. In a similar situation to the Braves, we won’t be able to get the top bats from the Tribe like Lindor and Ramirez so we’ll have to look to some of the guys that are priced well in a good spot to succeed. Brantley is the guy for me at the top. He’ll more than likely be hitting second in between Lindor and Ramirez and is as solid as they come day in and day out. Alonso and Kipnis have been hitting well in the four and six spots respectively. Alonso has a .341 wOBA and .213 ISO against righties this season. Brantley and Kipnis both have a 42 percent hard-hit rate over the last two weeks and over their last four games are a combined 15 for 33 with four doubles and a home run. Cleveland continues to take batting practice at the Great American Ballpark tonight.
Top One-off Bats
More often than not these are value/underpriced high upside bats. At times they’ll serve as salary relief allowing you to mix and match some exposure with higher-priced bats throughout our lineups.
Teoscar Hernandez (TOR)
Teoscar has been hitting the piss out of the ball in the middle of the Blue Jay order of late. Over his last ten games, he’s posted an average exit velocity of 97 miles-per-hour, a 55 percent hard-hit rate, and a 61 percent fly-ball rate. On the season, Hernandez has a .333 wOBA and .224 ISO against righties and tonight he gets a righty who’s pitched predominantly out of the bullpen for the Royals. Furthermore, Jorge Lopez can’t be expected to go deep into this outing which will give Hernandez plenty of opportunities against a very poor Royals bullpen.
Paul DeJong (STL)
DeJong has been red-hot over his last seven games with four doubles and four home runs. Over his last 12 games, he’s posted an average exit velocity of 95 miles-per-hour with a 63 percent fly-ball rate and a 50 percent hard-hit rate. DeJong was a reverse-splits guy last season and he’s backed that up to a degree this season. After starting off ice cold with the bat, DeJong still has a .344 wOBA, .216 ISO, 40 percent hard-hit rate, and a 17 percent HR/FB rate. I like the matchup for DeJong against Hellickson and I REALLY like the matchup for DeJong against the Nationals shitty bullpen.