I Can Be Your Masahiro Baby

 

Masahiro Tanaka

Infield:

Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers, $9,600 – Yovani Gallardo may want to rub a lucky rabbit’s foot before this game because luck may be the only chance he has. He’ll square off against Adrian Gonzalez and the top ranked Dodgers offense against RHP…and they’ll get a designated hitter in this one. This season, Gallardo has done a nice job of keeping the ball on the ground more than usual and decreasing his home run rate to a five year low. The over/under in this game is 8.5 with the Dodgers listed as a -111 favorite. Only one game has a higher projected total so Vegas certainly thinks the Dodgers will be scoring some runs and that typically means Gonzalez will be right in the middle of it all. Gallardo has allowed a higher wOBA (.296) to lefties than righties (.273) this season as well as five of the seven homers he’s given up. Gallardo has yet to allow more than four ER in a game so far this season but he also has yet to face a top five team in wOBA against RHP. Something has to give in this one and I think Gallardo resorts back to his old ways and gives up at least one homer in this one. Gonzalez is a prime candidate as well as his teammate who I’ll mention in the outfield section.

Freddie Freeman, Braves, $10,200 – In previous articles, I eluded to the fact that Freddie Freeman is an elite hitter against fastballs according to FanGraphs pitch type linear weights. Opposing starter Rick Porcello is amidst a disappointing season and a developing trend is just how often he has been throwing his fastball. He is throwing his fastball 38.5 percent of the time which is about 10 percentage points higher than his career average of 28.7 percent. He hasn’t thrown his fastball at a rate over 28.5 percent since his rookie season (2009). If he keeps chucking them in there at the same rate, Freeman should surely be able to take advantage especially in a lefty friendly ballpark. Only four ballparks play better for left-handed batting average than Fenway Park. Freeman leads the Braves in wOBA versus RHP in 2015 by 45 percentage points so he’s their best best as it is. He’s more of a three hit threat than a threat to leave the ballpark but he’s a rock solid bet regardless.

Outfield:

Joc Pederson, Dodgers, $8,600 – Most of his highlights recently have come on the defensive side of the ball but Joc Pederson remains a legit weapon on offense as well. Pederson’s wOBA against RHP had been hovering around the league lead for a long stretch and has since understandably regressed. I use that term loosely because his wOBA still sits at .398 which would rank number one on most other teams. However the Dodgers have crushed righties so his number ranks fifth behind Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, Alex Guerrero and Adrian Gonzalez for the season. He does hit the ball hard, a team high 43.5 percent of the time against righties, yet somehow is only hitting .235 versus them. If he keeps hitting the ball hard at this rate against them, and he should again on Monday, that trend is bound to change. There’s a reason this over/under is 8.5 and I obviously think the Dodgers as a whole hold their own in this game.

Billy Burns, Athletics, $5,700 – Heading into Sunday, opposing players had attempted nine more stolen bases against Tyson Ross than any other pitcher. The 21 SB against were six more than second place Jon Lester who closed the gap after Billy Hamilton had his way with him. Basically Burns will never have a better opportunity than to steal a base in this game. His 11 SB are tied for 15th in baseball despite playing 10-12 games less than most of the names above him on the list. If he gets on base it should be open season, and considering Ross’ WHIP currently sits at 1.53, there’s a high probability he is on base at least once. The price makes him a solid, cheap investment.

Pitcher:

Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees, $20,600 – So much for a torn UCL? As a player who seemed bound to go under the knife for Tommy John surgery at any moment earlier in the season, Tanaka certainly hasn’t pitched like it. Since returning from a mild forearm strain, Tanaka has started twice and gone 14.0 IP with two earned runs. Two. That equates to a 1.29 ERA since his return and he pitched exactly 7.0 IP in both starts. Tanaka and the New York Yankees head to Miami on Monday for a meeting with Tom Koehler and the Marlins. Statistically they are a great matchup for Tanaka; they rank in the bottom ten of wOBA. wRC+, ISO, BB rate and OBP versus RHP. All is not gravy here as Tanaka has been on somewhat of a pitch count since his return. Despite the 7.0 IP in each June start, he has yet to eclipse 87 pitches. He is typically efficient, but if he is not, it could be a short afternoon. Even with all the upside of the matchup, he’s a better fit for cash games.

Francisco Liriano, Pirates, $19,400 – The White Sox are literally the absolute best possible matchup for an opposing LHP. The White Sox aren’t just bad, they literally rank dead last in wOBA, wRC+ and ISO and rank second to last in both BB rate and AVG against lefties. They don’t strike out at quite the same pathetic rate but still rank in the top eight. Liriano’s problem can be with control but the White Sox hardly walk so it shouldn’t even matter. His 10.5 K/9 would be his highest since 2006 where nearly half his appearances came as a reliever. He has the upside and floor to make him viable in all formats.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros, $18,600 – For whatever reason, Dallas Keuchel has loved pitching in hitter friendly Minute Maid Park this season. Keuchel is 5-0 at home in seven starts with a 1.29 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Troy Tulowitzki and the Colorado Rockies come to town with their reputation as a solid hitting squad. That’s not exactly a falsehood as they are tied for eighth in runs scored in baseball but their weakness certainly comes against lefties. No team strikes out more against LHP than the Colorado Rockies this season. They also rank in the bottom ten of wOBA, ISO, BB rate and the bottom three of wRC+. In other words, they have their issues scoring runs against lefties. Despite how well Chad Bettis has pitched so far, he is due for a regression at any moment (although his peripherals are admittedly career bests and somewhat impressive). Keuchel opened as a -193 favorite and is all but a lock to win this game.

My preference of the aces at their price point would be Liriano, Keuchel and Tanaka in that order.

Carlos Rodon, White Sox, $12,900 – With his offense not likely to score many runs for him as mentioned before, Carlos Rodon is a little bit of a risky proposition but comes with nice potential. Rodon’s K/9 sits at 8.9 through 40.2 IP in the bigs and he supports it with a 2.66 ERA. The glaring hole in his game is the 5.3 BB/9, which if he qualified, would be the highest walk rate of any SP in baseball. Although he is a big underdog, the over/under in this game is still just seven and he is a facing a team unlikely to take advantage of his weakness. Along with not being a productive offense against LHP, the Pirates BB rate ranks 25th. They also K the second most against LHP so if they aren’t walking and are swinging at pitches outside of the zone, this could be a very productive day for Rodon. He’s worth GPP consideration only but the double digit strikeout upside is certainly intriguing.

 

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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