Hail to the Victor

The Tigers rank second in team wOBA against LHP and no player has enjoyed hitting them more this season than Victor Martinez. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster.

Infield:

Victor Martinez, Tigers, $7,500 – Putting it simply, the Tigers’ offense hasn’t missed a beat without Miguel Cabrera. They have scored the most runs in baseball over the last 30 days (129) by slightly edging out the Brewers (127). No other team has scored over 119 runs over that period. The Tigers as a whole hit lefties better, considering their team wOBA is 13 points higher against LHP than RHP (.343 versus .330). No one personifies lefty-killing on the roster better than Victor Martinez. Of all players with at least 20 AB versus LHP this season, only Nelson Cruz and Giancarlo Stanton have produced higher wOBAs than Martinez’s .474. He’s hitting .447 against them with a .500 OBP and .617 SLG, but the most impressive statistic may be that he’s only struck out twice in 47 AB (3.70 K percentage). Probable opposing starter J.A. Happ’s K/9 sits at 7.1, so the odds of him striking out Martinez are slim to none. Therefore, Martinez will be putting the ball in play and, judging by the season wOBA, that can only mean good things for those who roster him. The whole Tigers roster is in play as they look to victimize yet another helpless lefty.

John Jaso, Rays, $7,200 – When viewing the probable starting pitchers for tomorrow, the one that stands out as the prime candidate to take advantage of is David Buchanan. There’s just one small problem; the Rays rank as a bottom-five offense in terms of wOBA against RHP and do not have many hitters that hit them all that well. Because I want some exposure to hitters facing a 0-5 pitcher with a 7.58 ERA, John Jaso is the one likeliest to make the cut. Only Grady Sizemore holds a greater career wOBA versus RHP on the roster, but Jaso ranks above and beyond the best on the team this season (.487). Since FantasyDraft does not deduct fantasy points for a hitter making an out, the fact that Jaso has been leading off recently only helps his cause. He may earn an extra AB hitting first in the lineup, so I feel pretty confident in a solid major leaguer producing in 2-3 attempts against Buchanan and 4-5 attempts overall against the Phillies. Watch out for lineups though, as Jaso is a catcher and you never know when they are going to sit unexpectedly. If he doesn’t make the starting lineup, Logan Forsythe, Grady Sizemore and Evan Longoria would serve as the next best options. UPDATE: Jaso is out of the lineup as I feared he might be. Curt Casali hitting eighth could also warrant some tournament consideration.

Outfield:

Charlie Blackmon, Rockies, $9,900 – Ah Coors Field, how I’ve missed thee. Totally fading a game in Coors on any given night could come back to bite you, but that theory holds especially true in this game. Nick Martinez, he of the 5.1 career K/9, is being called up by the Rangers to pitch this game. In other words, a pitcher who relies on allowing contact to get hitters out will be pitching in Coors. Yeah, it’s as good as it sounds and many of the Rockies’ bats will be in play. However, the one who has become maybe the team’s most consistent producer is Charlie Blackmon, aka “Chuck Nazty.” Although nine of his 12 HRs have come on the road, he hits for an AVG almost 70 points higher at home (.321 at home). He even has stolen double the bases in Coors (16 at home versus eight on the road), so he clearly enjoys the friendly confines and thin air in Denver. Only Nolan Arenado’s .395 wOBA versus RHP ranks higher than Blackmon’s .390. Only Nick Hundley’s .324 AVG ranks higher than Blackmon’s .314 AVG versus RHP. Do you get it by now? Blackmon will be a staple in all my lineups Monday.

David Peralta, Diamondbacks, $8,700 – Everyone will be focusing on Coors Field, so underrated Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta may end up horribly under-owned. Mat Latos is amidst an up-and-down season, but one thing that has remained consistent is how well lefties have hit him. In 35.0 IP versus left-handed batters, Latos has allowed a .285 AVG, .336 wOBA and only struck out 27 batters (compared to 40 K in 40.1 IP versus right-handed hitters). Get this: Peralta has hit RHP so well this season that his ISO actually ranks higher than teammate Paul Goldschmidt’s. Goldschmidt has only been the best offensive player in baseball, yet Peralta is crushing right-handers at a similar rate. His .380 wOBA and .540 SLG both rank second on the team to Goldschmidt, and in this matchup Peralta will have the benefit of being left-handed (plus cheaper in salary). If deciding between Goldschmidt and Peralta from a value perspective, I actually would side with Peralta. It’s a great matchup and the game is being played in hitter-friendly Chase Field, where Peralta’s AVG sits 13 points higher. Start him.

Pitcher:

Matt Harvey, Mets, $21,600 – In terms of “big name value,” Matt Harvey is clearly the highest-profile pitcher on the slate. Looking at the collection of names available, it’s no wonder Harvey is the only pitcher priced over $20,000. Everything that was mentioned about Zack Greinke’s matchup against the Nationals in yesterday’s Today’s Plays article still holds true for Harvey, except now the opposing starter has K’d at least 11 of them in back-to-back games. The Nationals are still an average matchup, as they still strike out at a slightly higher rate against RHP and they will again be playing in Nationals Park, which plays as a below average hitters’ park. Bryce Harper has been quiet lately, aside from his homer off of Kenley Jansen the other night, which sort of scares me. Still, Harvey makes for a great cash game play by default because most will roster him.. Plus, he should have a solid strikeout floor against a team that has struck out 28 times in the past two games.

Andrew Heaney, Angels, $16,200 – Assuming the Angels decide not to switch around their rotation due to the Sunday Night Baseball cancellation, Andrew Heaney will take the mound against the Red Sox Monday evening. Do not be fooled by Boston’s middle-of-the-road offense overall, because they have struggled mightily against lefties. The Red Sox rank in the bottom six of wOBA, wRC+, AVG, OBP and hard hit percentage against LHP for the season. Heaney has pitched masterfully since his call up on June 24; he hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of his four starts. In fact, he’s only allowed more than one run once. He hasn’t kept many balls on the ground (41.3 percent ground ball rate), but as long as he’s playing at home with Mike Trout patrolling center field, that shouldn’t hurt him. The 94.1 percent strand rate is unsustainable, meaning that even though he has stranded almost all of the runners that have reached on base, that will not continue. But, there’s no reason to believe, in accordance with the matchup, that this is the start where the strings fall off. He’s my second-ranked value of the night behind the next starter to be mentioned and just ahead of Matt Harvey.

Gio Gonzalez, Nationals, $15,600 – Here is the guy I consider to be the pitching play of the night: Gio Gonzalez. Squaring off with Harvey limits win potential, but I’m willing to disregard that thought process in a matchup against the Mets. Over the past 30 days, the Mets have scored seven less runs than the second-worst team. During that span, they also rank last in AVG, OBP and wOBA. As a whole, the team hits LHP slightly better, but that isn’t saying much considering they still rank ninth-worst in baseball. The Mets also strike out at the fourth-highest rate against LHP, which is great news for Gonzalez, whose K rate has been down this season. The over/under in this game is seven and it’s essentially a pick’em (meaning the Vegas odds suggest the odds of winning this game are close to 50-50 for both teams). This will probably end up being a pitchers’ duel, and I think Harvey/Gonzalez post similar statistical lines. Due to the fact Gonzalez comes $6,000 cheaper, I find him to be the much better value. Plus, he allows you to pair him with Coors Field bats.

Alfredo Simon, Tigers, $10,800 – Feel like going with an elite hitting squad and absolutely need a pitcher punt? Look no further than Alfredo Simon, who is always a safer bet at home than on the road. If you just looked at Simon’s home numbers, you may actually think he’s a pretty decent pitcher: 52.0 IP with a 4-2 record, 3.12 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 44 K to just 13 BB. The inflated numbers emanate from a 6.08 ERA and 1.71 WHIP away from Comerica Park. He draws a matchup against a powerful Mariners team that doesn’t walk much, but also rank in the bottom ten of line drive percentage. Simon, like the aforementioned Nick Martinez, is a ground-baller and relies on contact. Combine the fact that the Mariners don’t hit many line drives with their bottom-nine wOBA and there is a case to be made for Simon’s prospects. He does possess the strikeout upside of the previous pitchers, but may be worth the shot with his team favored in a game with an over/under of nine.

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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