FanDuel MLB Single-Game Helper: Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers
Technically, the MLB All-Star Break ends tonight, though that's true for only two teams. We don't get a full main slate until Friday, but we can play the single-game format tonight as the Houston Astros travel to Arlington to face the Texas Rangers.
For single-game slates, you have $35,000 to fill out a five-man lineup, and pitchers are not included. There are no positional requirements for hitters, but there are three utility spots, one All-Star slot, and an MVP position. The player you put in the MVP spot has his points multiplied by two while the All-Star position gets his points multiplied by 1.5. The three utility places are scored like normal.
The starting pitchers tonight are Framber Valdez and Lance Lynn. The over/under is set at 10.5 runs, with the Astros checking in as 1.5-run favorites. Our models project Houston to win 5.31-4.87. There should be plenty of offense at hitter-friendly Globe Life Park.
Let's get to it.
Joey Gallo ($9,500)
As a whole, the Rangers' offense is much less appealing when they're up against a lefty, which is the case tonight as they do battle with Framber Valdez. Against southpaws in 2019, Texas owns a .303 wOBA with a 28.6% strikeout rate, compared to a .336 wOBA and 24.8% strikeout rate versus righties.
With that said, Valdez isn't the most intimidating lefty, recording a 20.8% strikeout rate and 9.6% walk rate in 45 1/3 MLB frames this season, which he's split between the bullpen and rotation (18 appearances, 4 starts). He does, however, generate a ton of grounders, holding a 63.8% ground-ball rate across 82 1/3 career MLB innings.
Joey Gallo's insane power puts him in play on any single-game slate since one swing of the bat can have such a huge impact. Gallo has been excellent this year in lefty-lefty clashes, putting up a .476 wOBA, 48.7% hard-hit rate and 52.9% fly-ball rate in the split. At home this season, he's got a .478 wOBA and 55.9% hard-hit rate. Per FanDuel Sportsbook, he has the best odds (+165) of ripping a homer among all hitters in this game.
The only blemish here is that Gallo will likely be very popular. Given the one-day variance of baseball, you have to at least think about fading any hitter you anticipate being super popular on a single-game slate. On the flip side of that, if you fade Gallo and he goes deep, your lineups are in deep doo-doo. Decisions.
Yordan Alvarez ($9,000)
Lance Lynn deserves some respect. Dude has been legitimately good this year, carrying a 3.86 SIERA and 25.7% strikeout rate into this start. But the Astros are favored, and Lynn hasn't been nearly as good against lefties, putting Yordan Alvarez firmly in play.
Against righties this year, Lynn boasts a 3.14 xFIP and 32.7% strikeout rate. Versus lefties, however, he's got a 4.49 xFIP and 19.5% strikeout rate. Alvarez has mashed since getting the call, racking up a .460 wOBA, 55.8% hard-hit rate and 7 taters in 82 plate appearances. This comes after he obliterated Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .463 wOBA and 23 homers in 253 plate appearances earlier this season. FanDuel Sportsbook has Alvarez at +300 to go deep, the fourth-best odds on the slate.
Michael Brantley ($8,000)
Michael Brantley is another way to get left-handed exposure to the Astros' offense, and there's a good chance he and Alvarez will be slotted into back-to-back spots in the order, making them a sweet stack.
In his first year in Houston, Brantley has a career-best 40.7% hard-hit rate with a .376 wOBA. He's striking out just 9.8% of the time while walking in 7.9% of his plate appearances. He's pretty good at baseball. With the platoon advantage, Brantley's strikeout rate falls to 7.9%, and he's got a 42.0% hard-hit rate in the split. He's a money play today.
Josh Reddick ($6,000)
Let's hit up one more Houston lefty. Josh Reddick has long been a guy we turn to when he's up against a righty. He's got just a .312 wOBA in the split this season, but a .286 BABIP against righties is bogging down his output. His 35.5% hard-hit rate and 38.5% fly-ball rate in the split are serviceable numbers, and he's striking out just 11.4% of the time versus right-handers. Reddick should be in the lineup and is a cheap way to get a piece of an offense that's expected to plate quite a few runs tonight.
Danny Santana ($5,500) and Logan Forsythe ($4,000)
If they are in the lineup, Danny Santana and Logan Forsythe will hit from the right side of the plate tonight. It's not a lock both of them start. Shin-Soo Choo is dealing with an ankle injury, and if Choo sits, both could be in there. But at a minimum, one of them will likely start whether or not Choo plays, and the projected lineups have Santana hitting second.
The way to attack Valdez is with righties. He has been lights out against lefties in his brief career, limiting them to a .239 wOBA. Righties, though, have put up a .316 wOBA against him with a 12.1% walk rate and a 18.7% strikeout rate (compared to Valdez's 28.7% strikeout rate in lefty-lefty matchups).
Santana has been good in a utility role this season, registering a .350 wOBA with a 43.7% hard-hit rate, though he hasn't been as stout versus lefties, striking out 37.7% of the time in the split. Forsythe had a 41.4% hard-hit rate against southpaws a year ago, and he was red-hot in June, stinging the ball for a 58.6% hard-hit rate last month.