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Easy Breezy: Chalk Stack
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have struggled with injuries throughout the 2019 season, but they have still found offensive success. Through 36 games, they rank 11th in the MLB in runs scored, seventh in home runs, 10th in team batting average, and eighth in OPS. They were an offense that was at its best at home, where they posted a .260 average with a .474 slugging percentage and an .819 OPS. New York also averaged 5.6 runs and 3.4 extra-base hits per game in home in 2018. Tonight, the Yankees are -162 favorites in a game set at 9.5 runs, giving them the highest implied run total on the slate at 5.4 runs.
New York gets a matchup against Mike Leake, who owns a 2-3 record with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP through seven starts. He has also struggled with a 4.67 xFIP and a 4.46 SIERA in 2019. He has allowed a 37.8% fly ball rate to go along with a 21.6% HR/FB rate, which is significantly higher than his career averages. Leake has also allowed his opponents to hit for a 44.9% hard hit rate, while recording only an 11.8% soft hit rate this season. Furthermore, his strikeout rate sits at only 18.3%, although his swinging strike rate is up a bit to 8.7%. In 2018, he was at his worst against right-handed batters, allowing them to hit for a .274 average with a .473 slugging percentage and a .334 wOBA. He also allowed lefties to hit for a .288/.415/.317 line, though. The Yankees feature a powerful lineup, and Leake’s HR/FB and hard hit rates could pose a problem in such a hitter friendly stadium. Home run potential is one of many reasons as to why New York will make a chalky option on this slate tonight.
Important Odds: Vegas Stack
The Houston Astros have featured one of the best offenses in the MLB through 37 games. They currently rank seventh in the league in runs scored and third in home runs, while also leading the MLB in team batting average and OPS. The Astros struggled a bit in Houston in 2018, but still recorded a .248 average with a .403 slugging percentage and a .730 OPS. They also averaged 4.6 runs and 2.6 extra-base hits per game at home last season. They are -161 favorites in a game set at 9 runs, and they feature an implied run total of 5.1 runs tonight.
The Astros get a matchup against Mike Minor, who has found plenty of success early this season. He has posted a 3-2 record with a 2.40 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP through seven starts. He could be in line for regression, though, as he also owns a 4.06 xFIP and a 3.91 SIERA this season. Minor has allowed a 41% fly ball rate in 2019, while holding his opponents to a 10% HR/FB rate, but these numbers are sustainable, as they are nearly identical to his career averages. He has also only allowed a 36.1% hard hit rate, which is more than respectable. Minor has also posted a 25.8% strikeout rate to go along with a 11.6% swinging strike rate in 2019. Minor struggled against left-handed batters last season, allowing them to hit for a .259 average with a .527 slugging percentage and a .334 wOBA. He allowed righties to hit for a .229/.425/.307 line in those games, as well. Houston is an offenses that has multiple elite right-handed bats, and Minor could struggle tonight. I’ll take a shot on regression in this situation.
Bales’ Bombs: HR Predictor
Escobar has caught fire recently, as he owns 50% hard hit and 55% fly ball rates to go along with a 96 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days. He owns four home runs over his last nine games, as well. He also enters this game with a 0.099 ISO differential against right-handed pitching.
Bell hit a home run out of the stadium and into the rivers yesterday. He now owns 4 home runs over his last 10 games. He has also posted 60% hard hit and 51% fly ball rates with a 98 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days. Furthermore, he owns 0.081 wOBA and 0.082 ISO differentials against right-handed pitching.
Walker hasn’t hit a home run in 10 consecutive game, but he owns 51% hard hit and 41% fly ball rates with a 95 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days. He has also been at his best against right-handed pitching, as he enters this game with 0.096 wOBA and 0.053 ISO differentials against righties.
Hidden Gem: Value Pitcher
Happ has struggled through seven starts this season, posting a 1-3 record with a 4.93 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. He has also struggled with a 5.03 xFIP and a 4.83 SIERA in 2019. Happ has also allowed a 42.3% fly ball rate, while struggling with a 17.3% HR/FB rate. With that being said, he has held his opponents to a 38.7% hard hit rate, while also recording a 21% soft hit rate. Happ’s strikeouts are down significantly to 16.8%, although his swinging strike rate is still up at 9.5%. He’s a -162 favorite in a game set at 0.5 runs tonight, and his opponents feature an implied run total of 4.2 runs.
Happ gets a tough matchup on paper against the Seattle Mariners, but they lead the slate in strikeouts per at-bat, while also ranking last on the slate in team wOBA against left-handed pitching. Happ was elite against left-handed batters last season, holding them to a .171 average with a .248 slugging percentage and a .222 wOBA. Seattle will either need to bench some of their dominant left-handed batters, or Happ should find ways to neutralize them. He certainly comes with risk playing in a pitcher friendly stadium, but he’s cheap and comes with quite a bit of upside, as well.
Hidden Gems: Value Hitters
Hernandez has found quite a bit of success recently, as he’s hitting .263 with a .500 slugging percentage and a .793 OPS over his last 10 games. He also owns four extra-base hits (two home runs) and five RBIs over that span. Furthermore, he has posted 47% hard hit nd 50% fly ball rates with a 96 MPH exit velocity over the last 15 days. In 2018, Hernandez posted a .313 average with a .545 slugging percentage and a .232 ISO at home against left-handed pitching. He has also been significantly better against lefties throughout his career, and that’s unlikely to change this season.
Hernandez gets a tough matchup against Patrick Corbin, who has thrown well with a 3.76 xFIP and a 3.66 SIERA this season. He has allowed a 40% fly ball rate with a 13% HR/FB rate, though. With that being said, he has held his opponents to a 34.5% hard hit rate in 2019. Corbin also brings a 27.8% strikeout rate with an 11.6% swinging strike rate into this game. He has struggled against right-handed batters throughout his career, allowing them to hit for a .263 average with a .428 slugging percentage and a .320 wOBA. Hernandez is expected to lead off, and this wouldn’t be a slate without underpriced Dodgers players, right?
Follow Justin Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)