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Easy Breezy: Chalk Stack
The Houston Astros have featured the best offense in the MLB this season, leading the league in runs scored, team batting average, and OPS. They also rank second in the MLB in home runs. Houston was significantly better on the road in 2018, where they posted a .262 average with a .446 slugging percentage and a .777 OPS. They also averaged 5.2 runs and 3.9 extra-base hits per game in those contests. The Astros are -107 favorites in a game set at 10.5 runs, giving them the highest implied run total on the slate at 5.3 runs tonight.
Houston gets a plus matchup against Hector Velazquez, who has posted a 1-2 record with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP through 12 games (six starts). He has also posted a 5.02 xFIP and a 4.91 SIERA, suggesting he’ll see regression as he finds more innings. Velazquez has also allowed 38.7% fly ball and 10.3% HR/FB rates this season. He has held his opponents to a 32.9% hard hit rate to go along with a 26.3% soft hit rate, although those numbers are simply unsustainable, furthering the idea of regression. Velazquez’s strikeout rate sits at 19.6% this season, while he owns an 8.7% swinging strike rate. He has struggled against nearly everyone throughout his career, allowing left-handed batters to hit for a .258 average with a .444 slugging percentage and a .337 wOBA. He has also allowed righties to hit for a .281/.373/.312 line in his career. Furthermore, Velazquez owns a 4.36 ERA as a starter, but it drops to 2.34 as a reliever. He has allowed significantly more power to his opponents as a starter, as well. Houston is an offense that has the ability to find success against anyone, and they’ll benefit from playing in a hitter friendly stadium tonight.
Important Odds: Vegas Stack
Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels have found some offensive success this season, ranking 15th in the MLB in runs scored, 13th in home runs, sixth in team batting average, and 11th in OPS. They saw plenty of ups and downs at home last season, posting a .237 average with a .418 slugging percentage and a .731 OPS over 81 games. The Angels also averaged 4.4 runs and 3.0 extra-base hits per game in those contests. Los Angeles is currently a -174 favorite in a game set at 9 runs, and they feature an implied run total of 5.2 runs on the slate tonight.
The Angels get a plus matchup against Jakob Junis, who has struggled with a 3-4 record, 5.77 ERA, and 1.55 WHIP through nine starts. He has also struggled with a 4.64 xFIP and a 4.72 SIERA in those games. Junis has held his opponents to a 31.2% fly ball rate in 2019, although he has allowed a 16.7% HR/FB rate. He has given up a 40.6% hard hit rate, while recording only a 14.2% soft hit rate this season. Junis also enters this game with 18.8% strikeout and 9.8% swinging strike rates. He was slightly worse against left-handed batters in 2018, allowing them to record a .278 average with a .450 slugging percentage and a .339 wOBA. He also allowed righties to hit for a .251/.460/.324 line last season. The Angels feature a high upside offense that may go a bit overlooked on this slate. They make a strong tournament stack, although they could become chalky if their implied run total continues to rise.
Bales’ Bombs: HR Predictor
O’Hearn has been at his best against right-handed pitching, and he enters this game with 0.205 wOBA and 0.187 ISO differentials against righties. He has also been playing well recently, posting 46% hard hit and fly ball rates with a 95 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days.
Brantley enters this game with three home runs over his last nine games. He has also posted 46% hard hit and 53% fly ball rates with a 94 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days. He also brings 0.067 wOBA and 0.104 ISO differentials against right-handed pitching into this game.
Martinez has been at his best against left-handed pitching, but he still posted a .329 average with a .644 slugging percentage and a .315 ISO against righties in 2018. He has also been on fire recently, posting 51% hard hit and fly ball rates to go along with a 95 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days.
Hidden Gem: Value Pitcher
Martin only owns one start in the MLB, allowing two earned runs with nine strikeouts over 5.1 innings against the Texas Rangers. He has flashed tremendous upside in the minor leagues, as well. Most importantly, Martin has flashed elite strikeout potential, as his lowest strikeout rate was in the Double-A at 23.5%. He’s a -107 favorite in a game set at 10.5 runs, and his opponents feature an implied run total of 5.3 runs.
Corbin gets a tough matchup against the Boston Red Sox, who feature one of the lower strikeout rates on the slate to go along with the best team wOBA. Corbin’s sample size isn’t large enough to trust his splits, which is a bit of a concern. He’ll feature extremely low ownership because of his lack of a brand name, tough matchup in Boston, and Vegas line. With that being said, he’s a prospect that has shown flashes and he comes with tremendous upside. He should strictly be used in tournaments tonight.
Hidden Gems: Value Hitters
Gonzalez has been on fire recently, posting a .333 average with a .528 slugging percentage and a .970 OPS over his last 10 games. He also owns three extra-base hits (two home runs) and five RBIs over that span. Over the last 15 days, he owns 51% hard hit and 25% fly ball rates to go along with a 96 MPH exit velocity. Gonzalez has been at his best against left-handed pitching, as well, entering this game with 0.05 wOBA and 0.07 ISO differentials against lefties.
He gets a plus matchup against Wade LeBlanc, who has struggled with a 5.59 xFIP and a 5.11 SIERA this season. He has also allowed a 44.1% fly ball rate, although he has held his opponents to a 7.7% HR/FB rate in 2019. LeBlanc has also allowed a 37.3% hard hit rate to go along with an 8.5% soft hit rate this season. Gonzalez is expected to hit fifth in the Minnesota Twins lineup, and he has consistently been an elite salary relief option. That won’t change tonight.
Follow Justin Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)