Aaaaand we’re back to the no-frills format after an abbreviated Easter Sunday effort yesterday. I hope everyone has as great a week as I do—I’m on vacation! So good luck topping my week. But you can try.
The main slate on FanDuel offers nine games and begins at 7:07pm ET.
Elite Pitcher: Charlie Morton ($8,500) vs. Baltimore Orioles
Morton may not seem an ace, but on a day when most team are trotting out their fourth or fifth starters, he qualifies. He is a monumental -208 favorite, a by-product of the Astros getting to face the pale spectre of Chris Tillman at home. Right-handed hitters did fare better than lefties against Morton during last year’s breakout, but “better” is a relative term. Morton got right-handed hitters to ground out 56.1% of the time and limited the fly balls (26.8%) and hard contact (26.3%). The Orioles are coming in ice-cold, too, after being stymied by Jose Berrios and (gulp) Kyle Gibson. Yep, paying up for Morton will be a popular play today.
Mid-Range Pitcher: Mike Clevinger ($7,700) @ Los Angeles Angels
I’m going to tell you guys a secret, okay? Sans the top three hitters, this Angels lineup is putrid. Ian Kinsler’s injury means Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, and Justin Upton are the primary threats here—and obviously Trout can break any game open by his lonesome. However, Albert Pujols, Kole Calhoun, Andrelton Simmons, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, Martin Maldonado...those guys just aren’t cutting it. Simmons would be viable against a southpaw, but Clevinger is right-handed.
Clevinger had healthy K-rates against both handedness of hitter last year (25.8% to LHB and 28.3% to RHB) but walked too many (11.3% to lefties and 12.3% to righties). It’s encouraging that the best hitters for the Angels are right-handed, as Clevinger allowed a .179/.288/.282 slash and .259 wOBA to that handedness last year. Calhoun is the only quality MLB regular from the left side, and it’s pushing the proverbial envelope to call him “quality.” The Indians are slight favorites on the road (-116) against the uninspiring J.C. Ramirez. Clevinger is the definition of a risk/reward play. I love him in GPPs today.
Honorable mention: Taijuan Walker ($7,900) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Value Pitcher: LHP Brian Johnson ($5,700) @ Miami Marlins
Johnson is ticketed for relief duty once Boston’s rotation gets healthy. He is a fastball/curve guy who mixes in a slider on occasion. That’s an 87mph heater, FYI. Johnson owned the lefty bats he faced last year, with a 23.1% K-rate and a .154 BA. Right-handed hitters pounded him, though—a .300/.352/.530 slash and .369 wOBA. RHB had a 36.6% hard contact rate, too.
The good news is last year was a small sample size! Johnson did allow a lot of fly balls over that sample, but Marlins Park suppresses that danger today. For what it’s worth, Johnson posted a 1.72 ERA over his 15 2⁄3 innings during Spring Training. So he’s coming in hot.
I wrote up Reynaldo Lopez yesterday. Over 91.2 innings, he has allowed a single home run to right-handed hitters. Yesterday’s location at Kauffman Stadium was a much friendlier pitching environs, though—not to mention against a poorer team. Also, whereas the Royals could only boast of Mike Moustakas as a left-handed threat, the Blue Jays can trot out Justin Smoak, Yangervis Solarte, and Curtis Granderson. Those aren’t great bats, but they are quality MLB regulars. That’s a long way of saying I don’t have interest in Lopez today, but I wanted everyone to know my reasoning since I liked him yesterday.
Honorable mention: Chad Bettis ($6,300) @ San Diego Padres
Elite Stack: Houston Astros vs. Chris Tillman
I know it’s easy, okay? But Tillman was HORRIBLE in 2017, to both handedness of hitter. He walked lefty bats 19.2% of the time—a mark Clevinger sees only in his nightmares. Tillman has generally been a reverse splits guy (worse against RHB) and righties slashed .316/.363/.599 with a .400 wOBA last year. The kicker? Lefty bats slashed .329/.458/.543 with a .429 wOBA. Every Houston player 1-7 will be viable today, but Josh Reddick ($2,700) looks especially appealing if he bats second in the lineup.
Mid-Range Stack: Philadelphia Phillies @ Matt Harvey
Look, if Matt Harvey returns to ace-like form today, I’m just going to be on the wrong side of things. And I’ll be okay with that. He logged a 6.51 K/9 and an awful 2.04 HR/9 in 2017. Put differently, his 10.9% walk rate and 15.6% K-rate were the worst marks of his career. Lefty bats were his primary kryptonite (2.68 HR/9!) but righties (1.55 HR/9) touched him up, too. I know line drive rates aren’t too sticky even over the course of a full season, but Harvey allowed a whopping 29.8% line drive rate to lefties and LHB hit more fly balls and made more hard contact than RHB did.
All of this begs the question...from what side do the most dangerous Phillies hit from? If you guessed the left side, you’ve won some money (hopefully). Carlos Santana, Odubel Herrera, and Rhys Hoskins are core plays for me today, no matter what comes. And as sneaky as it gets, here is Maikel Franco’s BvP: 3 for 8 with two home runs. All aboard!
Value Stack: Chicago White Sox @ LHP Jaime Garcia
Garcia is a very adequate MLB pitcher, but he has never been a strikeout artist and his walk rate ballooned to 3.67 BB/9 last season. He does generally keep the ball on the ground and inside the yard, though. Right-handed hitters have the better split, as they make more hard contact and walk far more than lefties. Last year, Garcia’s 11.0% walk rate to right-handed hitters was atrocious. Righty bats slugged 14 home runs against him, compared to only four home runs for lefty bats. As Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez are switch hitters, the Sox will probably use eight guys who bat from the right side today. I’m interested in Yoan Moncada, Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu, Matt Davidson, Welington Castillo, and Tim Anderson.
That’s it for me today. Remember load up on those Phillies. And Clevinger is my main man today. Happy trails.