Easy Breezy: Chalk Stack
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are seemingly still finding their groove as a team, but their offense has been explosive thus far. Through 14 games, they are averaging 5.5 runs per game, while hitting .244 as a team with a .423 slugging percentage and a .755 OPS. All of these numbers rank in the top-10 of the MLB early this season. Today, New York is a -228 favorite in a game set at 8 runs, giving them the second highest implied run total on the slate at 4.9 runs.
The Yankees get a great matchup against Francisco Liriano, who has thrown surprisingly well this season. Through two starts, he has recorded a 1-1 record, 2.13 ERA, and 0.95 WHIP. Regression is likely, though, as he is far passed his prime. In 2017, Liriano allowed right-handed batters to hit for a .284 average, .486 slugging percentage, and .374 wOBA. He was far from elite against left-handed hitters, as well, but most of his struggles came against righties. That is important for the Yankees, who feature right-handed power hitters, including Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. Liriano has been able to contain the long ball throughout his career, though, so it will be interesting to see if the Yankees can utilize that today.
Important Odds: Vegas Stack
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals have quietly posted elite numbers while on the road this season. Through nine road games, they are hitting for a .273 team average with a .502 slugging percentage, and a .851 OPS. They are also averaging 5.9 runs and 2.2 home runs per game on the road this season. St. Louis has also been a significantly better offense against right-handed pitching, as they have been a more consistent and more powerful offense against righties last season. The Cardinals are currently -163 favorites in a game set at 9 runs, and they feature the highest implied run total on the slate at 5.1 runs.
St. Louis will face off against Homer Bailey, who has had ups and downs early this season. He features an 0-2 record, 3.24 ERA, and 1.14 WHIP through three starts. While these numbers are serviceable, he is another pitcher that is likely to suffer from regression. In 2017, he struggled against everyone, but was specifically bad against right-handed hitters. He allowed righties to hit for a .328 average with a .532 slugging percentage and a .394 wOBA. For good measure, he also allowed lefties to hit for a .275/.435/.356 line in the same categories. In other words, everyone can be stacked against Bailey, especially in this hitter friendly stadium.
Wildcard GPP: Low Owned Stack
The Pittsburgh Pirates are supposed to be in rebuild mode, which has caused fantasy players to avoid their offense early this season. That has been a mistake, though, as they rank in the top-five of the MLB in runs, triples, total bases, RBIs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. Overall, they are averaging 5.7 runs per game, while hitting for a .265 average, .451 slugging percentage, and .791 OPS. In this game, they are -140 favorites and it is set at 8.5 runs. They feature an implied run total of 4.7 runs today.
Pittsburgh gets a matchup against Jose Urena, who has struggled as the Marlins “ace” this season. Through three starts, he holds an 0-2 record, 5.06 ERA, and 1.31 WHIP. He flashed upside against the Boston Red Sox, but struggled mightily against the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs. Last season, he posted similar numbers against left- and right-handed batters, but he has struggled much more against lefties throughout his career. Overall, he is allowing lefties to hit for a .266 average, .464 slugging percentage, and .344 wOBA. He has also allowed more hits and home runs to lefties, even though they have seen less at-bats against him. Pittsburgh has a few dominant right-handed hitters throughout their lineup, and while they can be used, this stack should be emphasized around the left-handed bats.
Hidden Gem: Value Pitcher
Chacin has struggled in nearly every game this season, recording an 0-1 record, 6.59 ERA, and 1.90 WHIP through three games. He has been a groundball pitcher for the majority of his career, recording a 40%+ groundball rate in every season outside of his 2012 season with the Colorado Rockies. His ability to keep the ball on the ground has kept his HR/9 down, as well, as he features a low 0.9 HR/9, even though he spend six seasons throwing in Colorado. He is a sizable underdog in this game, but the projected total is set at only 7 runs, suggesting it will be low scoring for both teams.
The New York Mets have a high upside offense that somewhat relies heavily on the home run. Chacin is the type of pitcher that can neutralize the long ball, giving him a chance to shut down their offense. New York also has the highest strikeouts per at-bat of any team on the slate. While Chacin is not known as an elite level strikeout pitcher, he will see extra opportunities against this Mets team today. The Mets are utilizing a lineup with five right-handed batters, and Chacin held righties to a .213 average with a .318 slugging percentage and a .266 wOBA last season. He is an extremely risky option, but also comes with some upside in this matchup.
Hidden Gems: Value Hitters
Moreland continues to play well at home, recording a .357 average, .500 slugging percentage, and .938 OPS through four home games. He has yet to truly find his power this season, though, as he has failed to record any home runs. He has been a better hitter against right-handed pitching, though, recording 0.084 wOBA and 0.181 ISO differentials against righties last season. He is also hitting .256 with 86.4% of his home runs coming against right-handed pitching throughout his career.
Moreland gets a matchup against Dylan Bundy, who has looked outstanding early this season. He has struggled against right-handed hitters throughout his career, though, allowing them to hit for a .258 average with a .440 slugging percentage and a .325 wOBA. Moreland is also hitting fifth in one of the best offenses in the MLB. He should see opportunities for RBIs and runs, and it is only a matter of time before he finds his power. The matchup against Bundy is far from ideal, but Moreland could go overlooked because of that, making him a great option today.
Austin has looked solid through 10 games, averaging 8.8 fantasy points per game. He’s only hitting for a .265 average, but he also features a .500 slugging percentage and a .859 OPS. Last season, he also posted 0.127 wOBA and 0.06 ISO differentials against left-handed pitching. He has always been better against lefties, though, as he is hitting for a .347 average against left-handed pitchers throughout his career. He also has a 23.5% home runs rate against lefties.
I have already outlined Francisco Liriano above, so I won’t do that again. Austin is tentatively expected to his sixth in the Yankees lineup today. That is not elite, but it also could be worse. He should still see opportunities for runs and RBIs, which adds to his value. Austin is a player that should feature a higher price tag against left-handed pitching, but since that is not the case, we will look to take advantage of it.
By: Justin Bales (Twitter)