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Easy Breezy: Chalk Stack
Once again, we have the Texas Rangers as our “Chalk Stack.” They have found some offensive success early this season, ranking ninth in the MLB in runs scored, 12th in home runs and OPS, and 15th in team batting average through 16 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 -133 favorites in a game set at 10.5 runs, giving them the highest implied run total on the slate at 5.7 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. Harvey will have an extra day of rest, as he was expected to start on Tuesday, but that likely won’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Important Odds: Vegas Stack
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays have found mixed results offensively early this season, ranking 13th in the MLB in runs scored, 18th in home runs, 10th in team batting average, and 16th in OPS thus far. The Rays were a slightly better offense at home last season, posting a .260 average with a .405 slugging percentage and a .746 OPS. Tampa Bay also averaged 4.6 runs and 2.7 extra-base hits per game at home in 2018. They are -247 favorites in a game set at 8.5 runs, and they feature an implied run total of 5.3 runs tonight.
The Rays get a great matchup against David Hess, who owns a 1-2 record with a 3.32 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP through four games (three starts). He could be in line for regression, though, as he also owns a 5.49 xFIP and a 5.04 SIERA. Hess has struggled with a 1.9 HR/9 with a 6.5 K/9 throughout his career, as well. Throughout his career, he has struggled against both left- and right-handed batters. He has allowed lefties to hit for a .247 average with a .502 slugging percentage and a .343 wOBA. Righties have also hit for a .254/.455/.335 line against Hess throughout his career. The only downfall of this stack is Tampa Bay playing in a pitcher friendly stadium, but they have found success at home before, and that could be the case once again tonight.
Bales’ Bombs: HR Predictor
Canha gets a plus matchup against Wade Miley, and he enters this game with 0.048 wOBA and 0.136 ISO differentials against left-handed pitching. He owns 36% hard-hit and 54% fly ball rates with a 93 mph exit velocity over the last 15 days. Canha is also hitting second in the Oakland A’s lineup, adding to his home run potential tonight.
Cabrera has caught fire recently, hitting three home runs in his last four games. He also owns 50% hard-hit and 46% fly ball rates with a 96 mph exit velocity over the last 15 days. Cabrera also gets a great matchup against Matt Harvey in a hitter friendly stadium, and he owns 0.079 wOBA and 0.133 ISO differentials against right-handed pitching.
Belt has quietly flashed power this season, hitting four home runs thus far. He has also been heating up recently, posting 46% hard-hit and 56% fly ball rates with a 93 mph exit velocity over the last 15 days. Belt also enters this game with 0.091 wOBA and 0.125 ISO differentials against right-handed pitching.
Hidden Gem: Value Pitcher
Odorizzi looked outstanding in his first start of the season, but he has tailed off a bit in his last two. Overall, he owns an 0-2 record with a 6.35 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. His 4.52 xFIP and 4.95 SIERA leaves quite a bit to be desired, but suggest positive regression. Throughout his career, Odorizzi owns a 1.2 HR/9 and a 8.4 K/9, but those have changed to 0.8 and 11.9 this season. In his only home matchup this season, he scored 31.7 DK points, and it’s difficult to fault him for struggling on the road against the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. Tonight, Odorizzi is a -158 favorite in a game set at 8.5 runs, and his opponents feature an implied run total of 3.8 runs.
He gets an elite matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays, who lead the slate in strikeouts per at-bat, while ranking as a below average offense in terms of team wOBA. Odorizzi has been a reverse splits pitcher throughout his career, holding left-handed batters to a .221 average with a .381 slugging percentage and a .289 wOBA. While he has moved around teams throughout his career, he has always been a better option at home, as well. Odorizzi certainly comes with risk, but this is a weak pitching slate, and he also comes with tremendous upside in this matchup.
Hidden Gems: Value Hitters
Choi is hitting .268 on the season, but he has lacked power. Between 2017-18, he posted a .522 slugging percentage and an .878 OPS, which is significantly higher than his .357 slugging percentage and .690 OPS this season. Those numbers are surely to increase, though, as he owns a 40% hard-hit rate with a 94 mph exit velocity over the last 15 days. Choi has also looked outstanding against right-handed pitching, posting 0.148 wOBA and 0.114 ISO differentials against righties.
He gets a plus matchup against David Hess, who will see regression as the season continues. Throughout his career, he has allowed left-handed batters to hit for a .247 average with a .502 slugging percentage and a .343 wOBA. Choi is hitting third in the Tampa Bay Rays lineup, and he comes with tremendous upside. I’m expecting more power from him once his fly ball rate increases a bit, and he can be considered in all leagues for his current price tag.
Follow Justin Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)