H to the Rizzo

Today is a day where you can veer away from starting two top-priced pitchers. Check out my recommended plays to help you fill out your roster.

Infield:

Jose Abreu, White Sox, $9,900 – Despite the White Sox offensive struggles, Jose Abreu is business as usual. He leads the White Sox with a .375 wOBA, .220 ISO, .301 AVG and .522 SLG against RHP this season. Colby Lewis and his career 4.80 ERA and 1.38 WHIP head to hitter friendly U.S. Cellular Field in what I hope is the perfect matchup to get the White Sox bats going. Average fastball velocity for Lewis is a tick below 89 mph, which means he does not possess the ability to blow it by hitters. Abreu, one of the game’s best hitters, should be able to take advantage of the below average stuff. Lewis has struggled worse both this season and throughout his career against left-handers, so Adam LaRoche can be considered viable as well, but Abreu is the best hitter on the team. If this team finally can manage to put together a handful of runs, Abreu will no doubt be in the middle.

Anthony Rizzo/Kris Bryant, Cubs – Phil Hughes is almost always a great choice of opposing pitcher to start on, considering only four pitchers have allowed more HR than his 15 so far this season heading into Thursday night. On the season, his home ERA (4.85) is worse than on the road (4.74), though neither are very appealing. Two Cubs stand out above the rest to absolutely rip righties and both are equipped with elite power. Kris Bryant‘s ISO of .305 slighty edges Rizzo, but Rizzo’s wOBA of .399 slightly edges out Bryant. It’s difficult to decipher which one to rank above the other because they are both such incredible hitters, so I decided to just go with both. The Cubs stack could be a semi-contrarian stack on Friday and they certainly are facing the right pitcher for the home run potential. One of, if not both of, these guys are going deep.

Outfield:

Ryan Braun, Brewers, $9,400 – After an extremely disappointing 0-4 night on Thursday against a well below average starter in Jeremy Guthrie, I am going back to the Braun well. For his career, Braun’s platoon splits favor hitting lefties by a decent margin: 0.054 wOBA differential, 0.065 ISO differential and 0.037 AVG differential. To put it in perspective, he has a .431 career wOBA, .332 career AVG and .399 career OBP against LHP. By the way, he’ll be facing Jorge De La Rosa and his 4.91 ERA in the best hitter’s ballpark in baseball: Coors Field. There will never be a better atmosphere for him to succeed. Seriously.

Charlie Blackmon, Rockies, $8,700 – Speaking of guys with excellent matchups playing in Coors Field, Rockies lead-off hitter Charlie Blackmon certainly qualifies. Look, Coors Field is simply the riskiest fade in all of daily fantasy baseball. Fade means to completely ignore and/or intelligently decide to not use either a player or a team. According to FanGraphs’ park factors, Coors Field plays as approximately a 10 percent more favorable park for runs scored than any other park in baseball. It is head and shoulders above the others due to the altitude. In fact, so much so that they have started refridgerating baseballs before ballgames to limit the effects. Regardless, it’s the best and Blackmon has the best opportunity of any Rockie hitter to see five at-bats on Friday. Taylor Jungmann has pitched pretty well since arriving in the bigs, but this will be a much more difficult task than at home versus Washington or at Pittsburgh. Blackmon is tied for fourth on the team with a .374 wOBA this season against RHP, so he’s the safest bet on the team due to his spot in the order.

Pitcher:

Chris Sale, White Sox, $22,000 – The way Sale has been pitching the last month, there’s just no doubting he’s in consideration every single time he toes the mound. The Rangers make for an absolutely neutral matchup against LHP as they rank exactly 15th in wOBA against LHP. It’s not even really about the Rangers as the thought process for using Sale. He has struck out at least 10 batters in six of his last seven starts, and five in a row. During that seven start stretch, he has allowed more than two earned runs once and he allowed three in that “off” start. Certainly the White Sox offense does him no favors, but it doesn’t even matter because the strikeouts alone warrant starting him in cash games with confidence. If the bats get going against Colby Lewis (as mentioned in the Abreu blurb), then he’ll come with the upside to finish as the best starting pitcher of the night.

Sonny Gray, Athletics, $19,700 – Sonny Gray‘s last outing played favorably to all his splits as he was pitching on the road during the day. He has a better road ERA than home and better day ERA than night. Fact of the matter is his ERA sits at 1.60 on the season and he is facing the same team he just shut down on Jun. 14. In that game, he allowed one ER in 7.2 IP with nine strikeouts. The Angels still rank as a bottom 10 wOBA team vs RHP and only sport a .245/.307/.374 slash line. Gray hasn’t allowed more than two ER in a start since May 19 and more than three ER since April 17. The consistency is exactly what the doctor ordered in cash games.

Carlos Carrasco, Indians, $17,100 – Relying on the strikeout is the name of the game for Carlos Carrasco who heads into Friday sporting a 10.3 K/9. His season ERA looks mediocre (4.38) but his peripherals (FIP, xFIP) suggest he has just been unlucky thus far. According to his FIP, he has pitched closer to a 2.70 ERA than 4.38, but his BABIP sits at .342. That’s 38 percentage points higher than his career mark. What better way to try and turn his luck around than to face a team that doesn’t hit? The Rays rank in the bottom 10 in wOBA, ISO, AVG, OBP and hard hit percentage against RHP while striking out at the ninth highest percentage. Righties have given Carrasco slightly more troubles than lefties this season and the Rays lineup is awfully right-handed. Still, righty versus righty is the preferred matchup and I think Carrasco is the best value of any pitcher on the slate.

Lance McCullers, Astros, $15,600 – A rising price cuts into the appeal somewhat, but this is still a discounted pitcher with elite strikeout upside. Strikeout pitchers are always preferred to groundballers or flyballers because even on mediocre days their strikeouts limit their dud possibility. Unfortunately, he is young and manager A.J. Hinch could always be extra careful and pull him after the fifth inning like his last start. The four strikeouts in his last start were his least this season, but he went five shutout innings and the team won 13-0. He’ll head to Safeco Field, which is a well below average hitters park and just about a polar opposite to his hitters’ paradise home ballpark. With the improved ballpark atmosphere, he’ll also have the benefit of facing a Mariners team that strikes out fourth most of any team against RHP. Aside from Nelson Cruz, the offense is pretty much hit or miss and ranks bottom six in wOBA. Both the park and team are plus matchups so McCullers makes sense in all formats as a discount to the top studs.

 

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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