Upton Funk Gonna Give it to Ya

Justin Upton draws a juicy matchup against Eddie Butler and the Rockies so make sure to take a bite. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster.


Jose Abreu, White Sox, $8,400 – Despite the White Sox having been absolutely putrid versus LHP so far this season, the time (and price) is right to bet on the staple in the middle of their offense: Jose Abreu. In 2015, Abreu’s wOBA versus LHP only sits at .336 but his career mark (which only includes last season) is still holding above .420 (.421). Royals’ probable Danny Duffy has had a strange season but the bottom line is his ERA sits at 4.65 and his WHIP sits at 1.55. He has only allowed two ER in his last two starts but has also struck out one batter in that span (12.1 IP). All six homers Duffy has allowed this season have come to right-handed batters and he’s allowing a .355 wOBA overall to righties. In a limited sample size, Abreu has obviously seen the ball well against Duffy as he has registered five hits in 10 ABs. Combine all of these factors and Abreu makes for my top first basemen play of the day not named Paul Goldschmidt.

Brett Lawrie, Athletics, $6,800 – The splits favor Tommy Milone in this matchup. He pitches better on the road and during the day and this matchup meets both those requirements. When in Oakland, he used to enjoy pitching at the Coliseum as well. So why am I picking on him? Honestly I just do not think he is as good as he has shown so far. His career ERA is 3.85 while his 2015 ERA still stands at 2.84. There is some regression coming, and although the Athletics do not hit lefties well as a whole, they have a few hitters that can mash them. Josh Phegley leads the team in wOBA versus LHP this season (.385) with Brett Lawrie not far behind (.366). The reason I prefer Lawrie is because he leads the team by far in ISO (.247). This means a large majority of the contact he is making versus LHP is meaningful and/or for extra bases. Based on his 32.40 hard hit percentage, expect him to rope a pitch or two that nets him extra bases. He should be a cheap source of double digit fantasy points and also has a little stolen base upside (four on the season) that Phegley does not. Bad pun time: “No one is above the Law-rie.”


Ryan Braun, Brewers, $9,300 – It’s a little strange that the Brewers have fared so poorly against left-handers so far this season considering Ryan Braun is Major League Baseball’s active leader in wOBA against them. To put it simply, Jeff Locke is a junk-baller, meaning he relies mostly on his breaking pitches to retire hitters. For his career, Braun ranks above average at hitting every single breaking pitch besides a knuckle curveball which Locke has only developed recently according to FanGraphs. Even with the knuckle curve in his arsenal, Braun has hit him relatively hard in 23 career ABs: eight hits (.348 AVG), three doubles and one HR. Milwaukee opened as a -120 favorite in a projected eight run game according to Vegas so they’re expected around four runs. If/when they get there, Braun should be in the middle of it as he continues his career legacy of terrorizing southpaws.

Justin Upton, Padres, $8,100 – What goes up must come down…or in Eddie Butler’s case, what goes down gets called back up. For San Diego hitters, being granted this opportunity to hit off of Butler is a blessing. Not only does Butler not strike any hitters (4.80 K/9) but he walks too many (4.97 BB/9), allows plenty of HR (1.16 HR/9) and has actually pitched worse than his 4.80 ERA according to his peripherals (5.55 FIP, 5.10 xFIP). Looking at the Padres offense, no man hits RHP harder than Justin Upton. Although his platoon advantage lies with hitting lefties, Upton has still produced a .358 wOBA and 14 HR against righties this season. Upton strikes out a ton in general but more so against RHP (25.10 percent). Butler lacking the swing-and-miss stuff surely hurts him in a matchup against Upton, and therefore, advantage Upton.


Zack Greinke, Dodgers, $22,400 – An ERA below 1.50 only seems possible in video games yet halfway through a major league season Zack Greinke owns a 1.39 ERA. Once upon a time Bob Gibson had a season similar to this and then they changed the rules to try and limit his dominance. Speaking of dominance, Clayton Kershaw had his way with the Nationals on Saturday striking out 14 of them in eight IP. The Nationals strangely hit both sides of the plate rather similarly, and as evident by Saturday, they strike out at a high percentage. In fact, they strike out at a slightly higher percentage against RHP than LHP. It’s an average matchup for Greinke in a slightly below average hitters’ park but that is actually difficult to find among the aces on Sunday. Chris Sale, Max Scherzer and Chris Archer all pitch on Sunday with incredibly challenging opponents. I prefer Greinke to all three of them and am going to be putting my money on him continuing this historic streak.

Felix Hernandez, Mariners, $21,000 – Another ace who draws a less than favorable matchup is “King” Felix Hernandez but there are reasons to believe he’ll succeed anyways. In seven career starts, Hernandez owns a career 1.37 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 52.2 IP at the new Yankee Stadium. Daytime has been kind to the King as his ERA is almost half as high during the day (1.76) than it is at night (3.42). This is not a short term trend either as his career daytime ERA is 2.84 compared to 3.00 at night. The Yankees are tough but I expect Hernandez to be up to the challenge. You know the old sailor saying, “Red skies at night, sailors delight. Red skies at morn, sailors warn”? Well sailors do the opposite when Hernandez is pitching because he is a delight to roster when the sun is shining bright.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros, $20,000 – Finally an upper echelon starting pitcher with a promising matchup emerges so there doesn’t have to be a “but” anywhere in the tidbit. Dallas Keuchel is having an amazing season in which every single start has lasted at least six innings. Oh by the way he sports an 11-4 record, 2.23 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. The Rangers strike out at the seventh highest percentage against LHP but that isn’t really what Keuchel mainly relies on to retire hitters. He’d rather they make weak contact on the ground so he can retire them on less pitches. In accordance to that thought process, the Rangers’ line drive percentage ranks ninth worst in baseball versus lefties so they make a lot of weak contact. They also rank bottom ten in wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, AVG and OBP versus LHP. In other words, Keuchel probably has the least downside of any starting pitcher on the slate including all the studs in action. He’s the ideal cash game pitcher on Sunday with the upside necessary for tournaments.

Jonathon Niese, $13,800 – It pains me to recommend anyone in the lower tiers considering all the aces in action but saving money makes sense in tournaments if it means fitting in the appropriate bats. Jonathon Niese is my Walmart-priced pitcher of choice as he squares off against a Cardinals team that ranks 28th in wOBA versus LHP. A couple of items are worth noting if rostering Niese. For one, Matt Holliday missed an extended period and is now back in the lineup which certainly helps their cause. Second, the active Cardinals roster holds a career .370 AVG against Niese including Mark Reynolds’ 6-12 with two HR. I have watched Niese’s starts very closely recently and he has looked much better/closer to the Niese of old. After a 5.56 May ERA, Niese produced a 3.00 ERA in June and 1.84 ERA so far in July. He has allowed exactly one ER in three consecutive starts so he’s on a roll. Despite the batter versus pitcher (BvP) data, statistics show this is plus matchup for Niese so I am going to trust the numbers. The other cheap alternatives would be Tommy Milone, Jeff Locke or Danny Duffy.


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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