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Easy Breezy: Chalk Stack
The Houston Astros continue to feature an elite offense in the MLB. Through 42 games, they rank second in the league in runs scored and home runs, while also leading the league in team batting average and OPS. Houston has struggled at home at times in 2018, but they still posted a .248 average with a .403 slugging percentage and a .730 OPS in those games. They also averaged 4.6 runs and 2.7 extra-base hits per game at home in 2018, but they have found more success in Houston this season. The Astros are -206 favorites in a game set at 10.5 runs tonight, giving them the highest implied run total on the slate at 6.3 runs.
Houston gets a matchup against Ryan Carpenter, who has struggled in limited MLB innings throughout his career. Through seven career games (six starts), he owns a 1-3 record with a 7.90 ERA and a 1.72 WHIP. He also owns a 4.90 xFIP and a 4.88 SIERA in those games. Carpenter has also allowed a 33% fly ball rate to go along with a ridiculous 29.4% HR/FB rate. Furthermore, he has allowed a 39.4% hard hit rate, while holding his opponents to a low 11.5% soft hit rate. Carpenter’s strikeout rate also sits at only 13.2%, while he enters this game with an 8.9% swinging strike rate. He has struggled against everyone since joining the MLB. He has allowed right-handed batters to hit for a .356 average with a .655 slugging percentage and a .433 wOBA, while lefties hit for a .255/.677/.443 line in those games. The Astros feature an elite offense against left-handed pitching, and Carpenter’s inability to limit his opponents power and record strikeouts make them the safest stacking option on this slate.
Important Odds: Vegas Stack
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals have struggled at times offensively in 2019, ranking 18th in the MLB in runs scored and OPS, 20th in home runs, and 19th in team batting average. They featured a better offense at home last season, where they recorded a .257 average with a .402 slugging percentage and a .723 OPS. The Royals also averaged 4.1 runs and 3.0 extra-base hits per game in Kansas City in 2018. They get an elite matchup tonight, though, and Kansas City enters this game as a -136 favorite in a game set at 9.5 runs. They feature an implied run total of 5.2 runs.
The Royals get an elite matchup against Shelby Miller, who no longer looks like an MLB pitcher. Through seven starts, he owns a 1-2 record with a 7.48 ERA and a 1.92 WHIP. He has also struggled with a 6.78 xFIP and a 6.45 SIERA this season. Miller has also allowed his opponents to post 40% fly ball and 13.2% HR/FB rates in 2019. Furthermore, he has allowed a 46.3% hard hit rate, while recording only a 14.7% soft hit rate this season. As if that isn’t enough, Miller’s strikeout rate has dipped to 13.9%, while his swinging strike rate sits at only 6.6% in 2019. Throughout his career, he has struggled more against left-handed batters, allowing them to hit for a .268 average with a .435 slugging percentage and a .338 wOBA. Miller has also struggled more on the road throughout his career, where his opponents have posted a .258/.414/.328 line. The Royals could go a bit overlooked because of their lack of an elite offense on a nightly basis and the pitcher friendly stadium in Kansas City, but they come with tremendous upside in one of the best matchups on this slate.
Wildcard GPP: Low Owned Stack
The Oakland A’s have featured plenty of ups and downs throughout the 2019 season. They currently rank 16th in the MLB in runs scored, 13th in home runs, 21st in team batting average, and 20th in OPS. They found plenty of success away from home in 2018, as they finished the season with a .262 average, .464 slugging percentage, and .795 OPS over 81 road home. They also averaged 5.5 runs and 3.7 extra-base hits per game away from home in 2018. Tonight, they are -115 favorites in a game set at 9 runs, and they own an implied run total of 4.7 runs.
Mike Leake will be taking the mound for the Seattle Mariners tonight. He has struggled through eight starts, posting a 2-4 record with a 4.37 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. He has also managed a 4.68 xFIP and a 4.53 SIERA this season. Leake has stopped throwing his sinker as much this season, and his fly ball rate has increased to 37.5%, while his HR/FB has shot up to 18.3% in 2019. He has struggled with 42.9% hard hit and 13% soft hit rates this season, as well. Leake has never been a strikeout pitcher, and that has been the case this season, as he owns a 16.9% strikeout rate with an 8.0% swinging strike rate. Leake struggled against everyone last season, specifically right-handed batters. He allowed righties to hit for a .274 average with a .473 slugging percentage and a .334 wOBA. He also allowed lefties to hit for a .288/.415/.317 line in 2018. The A’s have quietly posted elite upside throughout the season, and that could be the case in a plus matchup again tonight.
Bales’ Bombs: HR Predictor
O’Hearn has been an elite option against right-handed pitching, as he enters this game with 0.216 wOBA and 0.191 ISO differentials against righties. He has also caught fire recently, as he owns 42% hard hit and 47% fly ball rates with a 95 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days.
Bregman is playing at another level recently, as he has posted 7 home runs in his last 10 games. He brings 56% hard hit and 54% fly ball rates with a 97 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days. He also posted a .315 average with a .567 slugging percentage and a .253 ISO against left-handed pitching in 2018.
Olson has only played in nine games this season, but he already owns two home runs. Since returning from injury, he has recorded 52% hard hit and 58% fly ball rates with a 97 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days. He also enters this game with 0.036 wOBA and 0.122 ISO differentials against right-handed pitching.
Rendon is hitting .348 with a .696 slugging percentage at home this season. He has posted 73% hard hit and 60% fly ball rates with a 99 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days. Rendon has been a better option against left-handed pitching, but he still posted a .316 average with a .526 slugging percentage and a .211 ISO against righties last season.
Desmond gets a tough matchup against Chris Sale, but he enters this game with 0.051 wOBA and 0.097 ISO differentials against left-handed pitching. He has also been playing at an extremely high level recently, recording 56% hard hit and 52% fly ball rates with a 96 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days.
Hidden Gem: Value Pitcher
Thornton has seen mixed results throughout his rookie season. Through eight starts, he owns an 0-4 record with a 5.06 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. He has been slightly better than those numbers suggest, though, as he owns a 4.25 xFIP and a 4.38 SIERA in those games. Thornton has also allowed 38.6% fly ball and 17.9% HR/FB rates in 2019. His opponents have recorded 40.8% hard hit and 20.4% soft hit rates against him this season. Thornton does own a 24.7% strikeout rate to go along with a 9.7% swinging strike rate throughout his rookie campaign. He’s a +111 underdog in a game set at 7.5 runs, but his opponents still only feature an implied run total of 4.0 runs.
Thornton gets an elite matchup against the San Francisco Giants, who rank second on the slate in strikeouts per at-bat, while also ranking in the bottom-five in team wOBA. Thornton has been at his best against right-handed batters, holding them to a .221 average with a .338 slugging percentage and a .284 wOBA. He’ll also be throwing in one of the most pitcher friendly stadiums in the MLB. Thornton certainly comes with risk, but this is an elite matchup and his price tag is far too low. He makes an outstanding tournament option on this larger slate.
Hidden Gems: Value Hitters
It’s nearly impossible to avoid Gonzalez at this point. He’s hitting .361 with a .528 slugging percentage and a .980 OPS over his last 10 games. He owns two home runs with six RBIs over that span, as well. He’s averaging a healthy 8.9 fantasy points per game over his last 10 games, while scoring double digit fantasy points in each of his last three contests. Gonzalez has also posted a 58% hard hit rate with a 95 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days.
He gets a plus matchup against Felix Pena, who has thrown relatively well this season. He enters this game with a 3.75 xFIP and a 3.48 SIERA through seven games (four starts). He has also allowed 36% fly ball and 18.8% HR/FB rates this season. Furthermore, Pena has struggled with 45.6% hard hit and 7.8% soft hit rates in 2019. Gonzalez is hitting sixth in the Minnesota Twins lineup, and he’s a safe option for his price tag. He can be considered in all leagues tonight, and he’ll make an extremely chalky play on this slate.
Follow Justin Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)