We find ourselves at the back of pitching rotations, so there are more question marks than sure things tonight. The main slate gets rolling a little earlier at 6:40 pm ET, giving us seven games to sift through.
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Let's check out the top options on tonight's main slate.
Alex Wood ($9,200): On a slate lacking elite pitching, Wood sticks out as one of our best choices. No pitcher has a strikeout rate over 28%, and pitch counts figure to be lower than usual across the board.
He produced rock-solid numbers in 2021, including a 3.60 SIERA, 26.0% strikeout rate, 6.7% walk rate, and 50.8% ground-ball rate. The lefty's ability to induce grounders has been a consistent strength over the years, helping him limit home runs. In his career, he's only given up 0.86 dingers per nine innings.
While his matchup is mediocre against the Padres, a team with an active roster that posted the seventh-lowest strikeout rate last year (21.2%), that shouldn't deter us on a night where we probably won't see particularly high strikeout numbers. Wood will also benefit from the confines of pitcher-friendly Oracle Park, and San Diego has one of the lowest implied totals tonight (3.67).
Huascar Ynoa ($8,600): Ynoa is another hurler facing a team that doesn't boost punchouts, as the Nationals' active roster actually put up the lowest strikeout rate last year (20.1%). But we're still talking about what should be a middle-of-the-road offense overall, and Ynoa demonstrated some promising skills last season.
In 2021, the right-hander put up similar numbers to Wood, recording a 3.62 SIERA, 26.9% strikeout rate, 6.7% walk rate, and 47.3% ground-ball rate. The only difference is that Ynoa's marks came across just 91 innings, and at just 23 years old, he's the less proven commodity.
Still, on this ace-less slate, Ynoa checks out as a top option.
Rogers may have managed a 3.28 ERA across six starts last season, but his peripheral metrics were abysmal, registering a 5.78 SIERA, 14.6% strikeout rate, and 9.3% walk rate. He was also a launching pad for home runs (1.77 per nine innings), and he posted a minuscule 29.7% ground-ball rate.
Right-handed sticks pummeled Rogers for a 6.74 xFIP, and the Braves sure aren't lacking in potent righties like Austin Riley ($4,000), Marcell Ozuna ($3,000), Adam Duvall ($2,900), and Dansby Swanson ($3,100), and we can also throw switch-hitter Ozzie Albies ($4,000) into the mix. The fact that we can roster many of these guys on the cheap only enhances this stack even further.
Of course, Rogers isn't the type of guy to scare us off the lefties -- particularly when that lefty is named Matt Olson ($3,800). Olson has a career .238 ISO in lefty-lefty spots and is coming off a banner 2021 campaign.
Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies ought to be a popular destination for our stacks all season, boasting a potent group of sluggers between Bryce Harper ($4,200), Nick Castellanos ($3,900), J.T. Realmuto ($3,600), Kyle Schwarber ($3,500), and Rhys Hoskins ($3,500). Oh, and it just so happens they play at dinger-friendly Citizens Bank Park, too.
Right-hander Taijuan Walker is pretty much a league-average starter, lacking overpowering stuff (22.3% strikeout rate in 2021) or a high ground-ball rate (41.9%).
That could get him into trouble against this formidable group, and that's particularly the case when facing lefties like Harper and Schwarber. Against batters with the platoon advantage, Walker allowed a 4.91 xFIP last season.
Many are excited to see what Stott can do after a strong spring training and encouraging minor league numbers. He spent most of last year in Double-A and produced a 130 wRC+ across 351 plate appearances.
Los Angeles Angels: The Angels and Rays are two other offenses in plum spots, and that's reflected by their implied totals hovering around five runs. Tampa Bay is very much in play against a low-strikeout righty like Paul Blackburn, though playing at Tropicana Field is never ideal for bats, and the Rays can sometimes get trigger-happy when it comes to pinch-hitting.
Hernandez has always demonstrated stark splits, and it's the lefty batters who will benefit here. Against left-handed sticks, the Marlins righty only managed an 18.5% strikeout rate and 5.48 xFIP in 2021, and those marks are consistent with his career averages of 19.3% and 5.56.
That vaults Shohei Ohtani ($4,100) to the top of our wish list, and Jared Walsh ($3,400) and Jose Rojas ($2,000) also jump out. Both Walsh and Rojas showed nice pop in 2021, as Walsh produced a .232 ISO over 585 plate appearances while Rojas reached a .190 ISO over 184 plate appearances.