Top Tier: Gerrit Cole (-176)/Masahiro Tanaka (-235)– We have a pair of guys at the top tonight separated by quite a bit of salary. Cole checks in at $12,000 on DratKings while Tanaka sits at $9,500, and this is without me including Patrick Corbin who is definitely in play but the amount of hard-hits he allows puts him narrowly behind Cole. Cole owns the highest strikeout rate on the slate at 34.7% and that remains consistent with a 32.3% rate over the last 30 days. The walks that plagued him around the All-Star break have come back down, and sit at under 5.0% over that 30 day sample size. His matchup with the A’s is boom or bust in my opinion, this is a critical series in terms of who will win the AL West and the A’s are arguably the hottest team in the league. They absolutely have to win at least two games of this series to have a chance to upset the Astros as the division champs, so Cole should be motivated to come out and shut them down. He also owns a 30.7% strikeout rate against the current A’s roster in 140 career plate appearances. His price tag makes it a bit difficult so it entirely comes down to your own roster construction on DK, $10,800 on FanDuel is much more reasonable.
As for the aforementioned Tanaka, he checks in as a monster -235 favorite against the strikeout-prone Chicago White Sox. The strikeouts have dipped a bit this season, but 25.7% over the last month will certainly get the job done against this White Sox offense. He remains elite at generating swings and misses, his 13.7% swinging-strike rate is even with Cole for third overall on the slate. Tanaka generated over 15.0% swinging-strikes in his last start against the Marlins despite striking out just 4 batters so I’m not concerned with that outing whatsoever. The reason this matchup is more boom or bust to me is that the one thing the White Sox can do is hit for power. We know that Tanaka’s achilles heel is allowing home runs, and the White Sox rank 9th overall in team ISO against right-handed pitching. I’ve actually won a good bit of money off of stacking the White Sox this season, because their offense is terrible but does contain a number of guys with serious pop. He does get a slight boost missing Jose Abreu as he is on the DL, but the matchup in particular worries me despite the massive K upside it possesses. Cole is infinitely safer for cash games, but that is priced in with the discount you receive from going down to Tanaka. It all depends on what you try to do with your batters on Monday evening.
Mid Tier: Jon Gray (-160)– I’ve dissected Jon Gray a ton in my writing recently citing just how good, yet unlucky, he has been this season and it has finally corrected itself recently. Owning a 3.35 SIERA, 27.1% strikeout rate and over 13.0% swinging-strikes, Gray profiles as an ace…but don’t tell Bud Black that! The matchup does get a knock down with Mike Trout back, but the Angels offense is still not good overall and Gray gets a solid park bump traveling out of Coors Field. I don’t think this is a cash game spot, specifically in this price tier but Gray should be under-owned and makes for a top tournament play on this mid-sized slate.
Low Tier: Sam Gaviglio (-134)– Nothing says a seven-game Monday slate like Sam Gaviglio! Gaviglio has actually been really reliable in certain spots this season as an SP2, and he profiles perfectly for this matchup with the Baltimore Orioles. Gaviglio is unbelievable against right-handed batters posting over 50.0% ground balls and 26.0% strikeouts compared to just 15.0% strikeouts against left-handed batters. Lucky for him, he should see only three lefties tonight, one of which is an extreme strikeout batter in Chris Davis. I don’t think we can say he has crazy high upside, but this is the best possible matchup for him and he is viable in all formats as your SP2.
UPDATE: I’m bumping up Corbin a bit. Will dissect on the live show.
Top Tier: Giancarlo Stanton- Carlos Rodon has actually been pretty solid for the White Sox as of late but his performance is backed by the highest SIERA on the slate over the last 30 days (4.76) and just 19.1% strikeouts. Someone with limited strikeout ability immediately puts Stanton into play, especially when factoring in his video game numbers against left-handed pitching. I’m not going to dive too deep, but we will just leave it at a monster .344 ISO and a 192 wRC+. If I’m spending up anywhere tonight, it’s so I can say Stanton like my Daddy (S/O Lil Wayne) after he homers.
Mid Tier: Justin Smoak- The whole world (not really) will be focused on Kendrys Morales tonight as he chases home run history, which to me makes Smoak a terrific leverage play. Smoak has equally strong numbers with a .244 ISO and a 134 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, and he profiles better for David Hess’ fly-ball tendencies with a 49.2% fly-ball rate.
Low Tier: Jose Bautista- You’ll soon read why I like Bautista and the Mets tonight, but to dig in a bit further he hasn’t been bad against left-handed pitching this season. Sure, he strikes out a lot (25.5%), but the corpse of Jon Lester doesn’t offer much strike out ability and his batted ball profile looks good with a 40.4% hard-hit rate against southpaws this season.
Tournament Stack of the Day
New York Mets- Finally, the stars are aligning. After running pure for a lot of the season, Jon Lester is set to get rocked tonight at home in Wrigley Field. What’s funny is, once again he has a good matchup against the Mets…I’ve never seen someone rack up quality matchups time in and time out like he has. The Mets aren’t a good team against left-handed pitching, but Jon Lester is no longer a good pitcher. He sports a 4.68 SIERA this season with just 18.9% strikeouts, yet casual fans will see his 3.64 as something good without noting it’s largely fueled by BABIP. It’s hot and humid in Chicago once again today, with winds blowing out. All-in-all, it’s some of the best hitting weather on the slate and I’ll be focused on both sides of the plate here. The issue is, what batters do we want from this horrid Mets team. I’ll have to wait until the lineup is released to fully make a decision, but for now I’m looking at Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Jose Bautista, Amed Rosario (speed aspect) and whichever Catcher is behind the dish.
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)