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Easy Breezy: Chalk Stack
The Texas Rangers have found offensive success early this season, ranking 10th in the MLB in runs scored, 11th in home runs, 15th in team batting average, and 14th in OPS through 15 games. They found more success at home in 2018, as well, where they recorded a .256 average with a .438 slugging percentage and a .778 OPS. Texas averaged 5.3 runs and 3.2 extra-base hits per game at home last season. Tonight, the Rangers are -123 favorites in a game set at 10 runs, giving them the highest implied run total on the slate at 5.3 runs.
Texas gets an elite matchup against Matt Harvey, who owns an 0-1 record with a 10.05 ERA and a 1.95 WHIP through three starts. He also owns a 5.44 xFIP with a 5.32 SIERA, suggesting he’ll see positive regression, but continue to struggle. Harvey also hasn’t been the same since the 2015 season, and he has posted a 1.5 HR/9 with a 7.2 K/9 since then. Harvey has struggled against both left- and right-handed batters this season, and that was the case in 2018, as well. He allowed left-handed batters to hit for a .263 average with a .489 slugging percentage and a .341 wOBA last season. Righties also hit for a .279/.442/.326 line in 2018, as well. Harvey also allowed eight runs (two home runs) over only four innings in his only matchup against Texas. That game was played in Los Angeles’ pitcher friendly stadium, and they’ll be moving to a hitter friendly stadium tonight. Texas will likely feature the most ownership of any stack on this slate, and they are extremely safe with tremendous upside.
Important Odds: Vegas Stack
The Houston Astros have featured plenty of ups and downs through 16 games this season. They rank only 20th in the MLB in runs scored, 10th in home runs, first in team batting average, and fourth in OPS. They found plenty of road success in 2018, as well, posting a .262 average with a .446 slugging percentage and a .777 OPS. The Astros also averaged 5.2 runs and 3.5 extra-base hits away from home last season. They are currently -156 favorites in a game set at 8.5 runs, and they feature an implied run total of 4.8 runs on the slate tonight.
The Astros get a matchup against Marco Estrada, who I have been attacking early this season. He has struggled through four starts, recording an 0-1 record with a 4.87 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Estrada also owns a 7.32 xFIP and a 6.64 SIERA, suggesting he’ll see regression from already poor numbers. Estrada has also posted only a 4.4 K/9, while allowing a 2.2 HR/9. Furthermore, he has recorded a 65.2% fly ball rate through his four starts this season. Estrada was a reverse splits pitcher last season, allowing right-handed batters to hit for a .306 average with a .562 slugging percentage and a .389 wOBA. He also allowed left-handed batters to hit for a .231/.467/.322 line in 2018, though. The Astros are a team loaded with right-handed power hitters, and this is an ideal matchup for them. The only downfall is the ballpark factor, but they come with as much upside as any stack on this slate tonight.
Wildcard GPP: Low Owned Stack
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been one of the best offenses in the MLB through 18 games this season. They rank second in the league in runs scored, home runs, and team batting average, while also leading the MLB in OPS. Los Angeles struggled a bit at home, but they still hit for a .242 average with a .433 slugging percentage and a .754 OPS. They also averaged 4.5 runs and 3.3 extra-base hits per game in Los Angeles. The Dodgers are -181 favorites in a game set at 8.5 runs, and they own one of the highest implied run totals on the slate at 5.0 runs.
Tyler Mahle will be taking the mound for the Cincinnati Reds tonight. He has found tremendous success through two starts, posting a 0.82 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He owns a 3.58 xFIP and a 3.75 SIERA this season, as well, though, suggesting he’ll see regression as the season continues. Mahle also owns a 1.4 HR/9 with an 8.6 K/9 through 29 career starts. He has been at his worst against left-handed batters, allowing them to hit for a .302 average with a .563 slugging percentage and a .414 wOBA throughout his career. That has also been the case early this season. Los Angeles’ offense features a few elite power left-handed batters, and they come with strong home run potential tonight. They are the players that should be the main focal points of this stack tonight.
Bales’ Bombs: HR Predictor
Pederson gets an elite matchup against Tyler Mahle, and he brings 0.194 wOBA and 0.199 ISO differentials against right-handed pitching into this game. He has also recorded 48% hard-hit and 51% fly ball rates with a 95 mph exit velocity over the last 15 days. Pederson will get extra at-bats from leading off tonight, as well.
Bellinger is another Los Angeles Dodger that hits right-handed pitching well, as he enters this game with 0.113 wOBA and 0.16 ISO differentials against righties. He has posted 55% hard-hit and 32% fly ball rates with a 96 mph exit velocity over the last 15 days, as well. Bellinger also owns seven home runs at home this season.
Tellez owns a 42.9% home run rate on the season. He also enters this game with 41% hard-hit and fly ball rates and a 93 mph exit velocity over the last 15 days. Tellez gets a plus matchup against Kyle Gibson, and he owns 0.317 wOBA and 0.329 ISO differentials against right-handed pitching.
I attack Marco Estrada with home runs every slate, and I’m using Altuve to do that tonight. He owns seven home runs on the season, and he possesses 42% hard-hit and 40% fly ball rates with a 91 mph exit velocity over the last 15 days. Altuve has also been slightly more powerful against right-handed pitching.
Meadows has struggled against right-handed pitching in the past, but this is an elite matchup against Dylan Bundy. Meadows has also been on fire recently, posting 48% hard-hit and 37% fly ball rates with a 94 mph exit velocity over the last 15 days. He owns six home runs on the season, as well.
Hidden Gem: Value Pitcher
Margevicius has performed extremely well through three starts this season, recording a 1-1 record with a 1.69 ERA and a 0.63 WHIP. He does own a 3.95 xFIP and a 3.76 SIERA, as well, which is a bit concerning, although those are far from bad numbers for his price tag. Margevicius has also held his opponents to a 1.1 HR/9, while recording a 6.8 K/9. He posted a K/9 north of 9.0 in the minor leagues, though, and he could see an uptick in strikeout rate as he gains more MLB experience. Margevicius is a -107 favorite in a game set at 7.5 runs, giving his opponents an implied run total of only 3.8 runs tonight.
He gets an elite matchup against the Colorado Rockies, who lead the slate in strikeouts per at-bat, while also ranking in the bottom-six of the slate in team wOBA. He has limited innings in the MLB, but he has been slightly better against right-handed batters, holding them to a .128 average with a .308 slugging percentage and a .191 wOBA. He has also held lefties to a .235/.294/.280 line this season, as well. Margevicius will be playing in an extremely pitcher friendly stadium, and he gets a pitcher friendly umpire on this slate. The stars are aligning for him to find success once again, and it seems as if he’s going a bit overlooked tonight.
Hidden Gems: Value Hitters
Garcia has found plenty of success through 13 games this season. He’s hitting .314 with a .431 slugging percentage and a .795 OPS. He also owns four extra-base hits (one home run), four RBI, and one steal in those games. Garcia has posted 46% hard-hit and 33% fly ball rates with a 97 mph exit velocity over the last 15 days, as well. He has been a slightly more powerful option against right-handed pitching, as he brings a 0.04 ISO differential against righties into this game.
Garcia gets a great matchup against Dylan Bundy, who owns an 8.76 ERA and has allowed six home runs over only 12.1 innings this season. He has allowed right-handed batters to hit for a .303 average with an .818 slugging percentage and a .492 wOBA through three starts this season. Garcia is hitting sixth in a strong Tampa Bay Rays lineup, and he could find RBI opportunities tonight. He makes a strong option in all leagues for his current price tag.
Follow Justin Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)
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