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Easy Breezy: Chalk Stack
The Chicago Cubs feature one of the better offenses in the MLB this season. Through 65 games, they rank ninth in the league in runs scored, fifth in home runs, 13th in team batting average, and fourth in OPS. Chicago has been better on the road, where they have recorded a .260 average with a .474 slugging percentage and an .814 OPS through 30 road games. They are averaging 5.7 runs and 3.6 extra-base hits per game in those contests. The Cubs are currently -129 favorites in a game set at 12 runs, giving them the highest implied run total on the slate a 6.4 runs.
Chicago gets a matchup a Peter Lambert, who owns only one start in the MLB. He was far from a dominant pitcher in the minor leagues, though, recording a 26-29 record with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP through 97 starts in the MiLB. He also owns an xFIP north of 4.00 in those starts. Lambert hasn’t allowed a ton of home runs in the minors, but there’s very little reason to believe he’ll find success at the Major League level. Furthermore, he’s a player that has struggled with control, as he posted a career 7.5 K/9 to go along with a 2.1 BB/9 in the MiLB. Lambert drew his only MLB start against the Chicago Cubs, allowing only one earned run with nine strikeouts over seven innings. That game was on the road, though, and he’ll be playing in a more hitter friendly stadium tonight. Keep in mind, there’s very little reason to believe Lambert’s strikeout rate will be sustainable, along with his xFIP and SIERA in the MLB. This could be a game for regression, and Chicago will get to see him for the second time this season. They are the top stacking option on the slate tonight.
Important Odds: Vegas Stack
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are another strong offense, who rank 11th in the MLB in runs scored, seventh in home runs, 12th in team batting average, ninth in OPS through 64 games. Surprisingly, the Yankees have struggled at home this season, where they are hitting for a .248 average with a .426 slugging percentage and a .746 OPS through 33 games. They are averaging 4.6 runs and 2.7 extra-base hits per game in those contests, as well. They get an elite matchup tonight, though, and they are -208 favorites in a game set at 9 runs. New York features an implied run total of 5.3 runs tonight.
The Yankees get a great matchup against Jason Vargas tonight. Through 10 games (9 starts), he owns a 2-3 record with a 3.57 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. He is due for regression, as he also brings a 4.99 xFIP and a 5.05 SIERA into this game. Vargas has allowed a 38.3% fly ball rate this season, although he has held his opponents to a 9.8% HR/FB rate. He has also given up a 40.1% hard hit rate this season, while recording only a 16.8% soft hit rate in 2019. Vargas enters this game with 19.1% strikeout and 7.4% swinging strike rates. He has been at his worst against left-handed batters in 2019, allowing them to hit for a .255 average with a .447 slugging percentage and a .329 wOBA. He has also allowed his opponents to hit for a .278/.506/.361 line on the road this season. Vargas will be throwing in one of the more hitter friendly stadiums in the MLB, and the Yankees feature as much upside as any stack on this slate.
Wildcard GPP: Low Owned Stack
The Arizona Diamondbacks have found plenty of success through 67 games this season. They rank fourth in the MLB in runs scored, sixth in home runs, and seventh in team batting average and OPS. They have found tremendous success on the road this season, posting a .275 average with a .492 slugging percentage and an .825 OPS through 37 road games. The Diamondbacks are also averaging 6.0 runs and 4.1 extra-base hits per game away from home. They are +123 underdogs in a game set at 9 runs tonight, and they own an implied run total of only 4.2 runs on this slate.
Jake Arrieta will be taking the mound for the Philadelphia Phillies. He has seen mixed results through 13 starts, recording a 5-5 record with a 4.29 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. He also owns a 4.45 xFIP and a 4.76 SIERA in those games. Arrieta has held his opponents to a 28% fly ball rate, while allowing a 20.9% HR/FB rates in 2019. He has also given up a 38.4% hard hit rate to go along with only a 17.4% soft hit rate. Arrieta’s strikeout and swinging strike rates have dipped to 19% and 7.5% this season. He has struggled more against left-handed batters, allowing them to hit for a .301 average with a .556 slugging percentage and a .394 wOBA. In somewhat of limited innings, Arrieta has allowed a ridiculous 6.74 xFIP against left-handed batters in Philadelphia. This is an elite spot for the lefties in this lineup, and they could go overlooked because of a low Vegas total.
Hidden Gem: Value Pitcher
Thornton has seen his fair share of ups and downs through 13 starts in 2019, posting a 1-4 record with a 4.73 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. He owns a 4.43 xFIP and a 4.59 SIERA in those games, as well. He has given up 37.1% fly ball and 16.9% HR/FB rates this season. Thornton has only allowed a 37.9% hard hit rate, while recording a strong 21.5% soft hit rate, as well. He brings 24.8% strikeout and 10.6% swinging strike rates into this game. He’s a -114 favorite in a game set at 9 runs, and his opponents feature an implied run total of 4.4 runs tonight.
Thornton gets a matchup against the Baltimore Orioles, who lead the slate in strikeouts per at-bat. They also rank as a below average offense in team wOBA. Thornton has been significantly better against right-handed batters, holding them to a .215 average with a .331 slugging percentage and a .283 wOBA. He has also held his opponents to a .192/.308/.268 line on the road this season. He’s a solid option on this slate, but should strictly be considered in tournaments on this slate.
Hidden Gems: Value Hitters
I’m going back to the well with Gonzalez, who is far too cheap on this slate. He only owns a .133 average with a .267 slugging percentage and a .567 OPS over his last 10 games. He has recorded two extra-base hits (one home run) and four RBIs in those games. Gonzalez has recorded 45% hard hit and 36% fly ball rates with a 93 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days. He also brings 0.036 wOBA and 0.016 ISO differentials against right-handed pitching into this game.
He gets a plus matchup against Peter Lambert, who has been outlined above. Gonzalez has been hitting fifth in the Chicago Cubs lineup, giving him plenty of RBI opportunities in this game. He’s an option that should be used in cash games, and can be considered in tournaments for his current price tag.
Follow Justin Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)