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Easy Breezy: Chalk Stack
The Houston Astros offense has found plenty of success early in the 2019 season. Through 35 games, they rank 10th in the MLB in runs scored, third in home runs, and first in team batting average and OPS. They featured a better offense on the road last season, but still hit .248 with a .403 slugging percentage and a .730 OPS through 81 home games. The Astros also averaged 4.6 runs and 2.7 extra-base hits per game at home in 2018. Tonight, they are -236 favorites in a game set at 9.5 runs, giving them the highest implied run total on the slate at 5.9 runs.
Houston gets a matchup against Danny Duffy, who has thrown well on a surface level this season. Through only two starts, he owns an 0-1 record with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. He could be in line for regression, though, as he also owns a 4.65 xFIP and a 5.10 SIERA. Duffy has only allowed a 29.5% fly ball rate this season, but that’s likely to see regression, as he owns a 41.5% career fly ball rate. His 10% HR/FB rate sits around his career average, though. Duffy’s strikeout rate is also down to only 15.6% in 2019, although his swinging strike rate sits at 11.3%. In other words, Duffy will start recording more strikeouts sooner rather than later, but he’ll also give up more fly balls. He struggled against everyone in 2018, specifically right-handed batters, who he allowed to hit for a .263 average with a .440 slugging percentage and a .344 wOBA. He also allowed lefties to hit for a .268/.366/.284 line in 2018, though. Houston is a team that owns elite right-handed batters, and they should find plenty of success in a plus matchup against Duffy, even in a pitcher friendly ballpark.
Important Odds: Vegas Stack
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants have struggled offensive this season, ranking only 26th in the MLB in runs scored, 27th in home runs, and 29th in team batting average and OPS. They surprisingly struggled away from home in 2018, where they posted a .235 average with a .363 slugging percentage and a .654 OPS. The Giants also averaged only 3.5 runs and 2.5 extra-base hits per game on the road last season. San Francisco is currently a +109 underdog in a game set at 10 runs, and they feature one of the higher implied run totals of the slate at 4.9 runs.
The Giants get a matchup against Antonio Senzatela, who enters this game with a 2-1 record, 4.03 ERA, and 1.43 WHIP through four starts. He also owns a 4.44 xFIP and a 4.86 SIERA this season. Senzatela has held his opponents to only a 21.1% fly ball rate in 2019, but he has also allowed a 20% HR/FB rate. Furthermore, his opponents have posted a 43.8% hard hit rate against him this season. Senzatela’s strikeout rate is down to only 13.7%, while his swinging strike rate has dropped to 6.8%. Through his short career, he has allowed right-handed batters to hit for a .271 average with a .460 slugging percentage and a .336 wOBA. He has also allowed his opponents to hit for a .276/.483/.346 line in Colorado. The Giants don’t feature an elite offense, but they’re likely going to go overlooked on this slate, even though they are in a prime position to find success.
Wildcard GPP: Low Owned Stack
The Minnesota Twins have looked outstanding offensively through 33 games this season. They currently rank 12th in the MLB in runs scored, fourth in home runs, 10th in team batting average, and third in OPS. The Twins struggled quite a bit on the road in 2018, recording a .239 average with a .383 slugging percentage and a .687 OPS. They also averaged 4.2 runs and 3.0 extra-base hits per game on the road last season. Their luck may have turned around this season, though, as Minnesota has been significantly better on the road. They are -150 favorites in a game set at 9 runs, and they own an implied run total of 5.0 runs tonight.
Aaron Sanchez will be taking the mound for the Toronto Blue Jays tonight. He has performed well with a 3-2 record, 3.09 ERA, and 1.49 WHIP through seven starts, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He also owns a 5.28 xFIP and a 5.53 SIERA, suggesting he’ll see major regression as he throws more innings. Sanchez has allowed his opponents to record a 31% fly ball rate against him, while holding them to only a 9.7% HR/FB. He also owns 18.8% and 8.0% swinging strike rates in 2019. Last season, Sanchez was at his worst against left-handed batters, allowing them to hit for a .288 average with a .470 slugging percentage and a .380 wOBA. He also struggled in Toronto, allowing his opponents to post a .269/.420/.347 line at home against him. The Twins feature one of the better offenses on this slate, but with multiple other offenses in better spots, they could go overlooked as a whole.
Bales’ Bombs: HR Predictor
Arenado was able to post an elite .420 average with an .898 slugging percentage and a .477 ISO against left-handed pitching at Coors Field last season. He also enters this game with 47% hard hit and 45% fly ball rates to go along with a 95 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days.
Shaw only owns a 31% hard hit rate and an 88 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days, but he also owns a 56% fly ball rate over that span. He’ll be playing in a hitter friendly stadium, and he brings 0.1 wOBA and 0.18 ISO differentials against right-handed pitching into this game.
Bryant has been at his best against left-handed pitching, as he has recorded 0.063 wOBA and 0.139 ISO differentials against lefties. He has also caught fire over the last 15 days, posting 58% hard hit and 50% fly ball rates with a 94 mph exit velocity. The only downfall to Bryant is the wind and temperature in Chicago.
Hoskins won’t be playing at home tonight, but he still owns 0.069 wOBA and 0.147 ISO differentials against right-handed pitching. He also bring 39% hard hit and 60% fly ball rates with a 93 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days into this game. Hoskins also owns three home runs over his last 10 games.
Bell has been playing at a high-level recently, posting four home runs over his last 10 games. He has also recorded 53% hard hit and 53% fly ball rates with a 96 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days. Furthermore, Bell owns 0.065 wOBA and 0.057 ISO differentials against right-handed pitching.
Hidden Gem: Value Pitcher
Quantrill has only thrown in one game this season, allowing two runs with three strikeouts over 5.2 innings. He owns an xFIP in the mid-4s throughout a brief Triple-A career, and it’s tough to believe it will get better in the MLB. His fly ball rate will likely sit in the mid-30% as he gains more innings, while his HR/FB rate could stay around 10%. He posted only a 13% strikeout rate in his first game in the Majors, but is due for positive regression, as he also posted an 11.5% swinging strike rate. He’s a +130 underdog in a game set at 7 runs, but his opponents feature an implied run total of only 3.8 runs tonight.
Quantrill gets a great matchup against the New York Mets, who rank third on the slate in strikeouts per at-bat. They feature an above average team wOBA, but that could be negated by the pitcher-friendly stadium and umpire. Obviously, Quantrill’s sample size in the Majors is far too small to use, but he has yet to allow a hit to a right-handed batter, while lefties are hitting over .350 against him. He certainly comes with terrible risk, but he also makes a strong tournament option because of his strikeout potential and plus matchup.
Hidden Gems: Value Hitters
Candelario has been performing well recently, posting a .256 average with a .385 slugging percentage and a .793 OPS over his last 10 games. He owns three extra-base hits (one home run) and three RBIs over that span. Furthermore, Candelario has scored fantasy points in each of those 10 games, while recording double-digit fantasy points in 5 of those games. As if that isn’t enough, he owns 42% hard hit and fly ball rates with a 92 MPH exit velocity over that span.
Candelario gets a plus matchup against Griffin Canning, who is another pitcher with only one start in the MLB. He got a bit unlucky in his first matchup, and he comes with elite strikeout potential. Canning posted a 25% HR/FB rate in his first game, as well, and while that is likely to see positive regression, it could be a concern. He also allowed his opponents to hit for a 45.5% hard hit rate. Candelario is expected to lead off for the Detroit Tigers, and this is more of a play based on his recent success rather than his matchup. He can be considered in all leagues.
Follow Justin Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)