White Sox are the Right Sox

Considering their hitters have great past success against the knuckleball and Chris Sale will take the bump, the outlook for the White Sox is quite optimistic on Thursday. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster.

Infield:

Jose Abreu, White Sox, $9,900 – Who are these White Sox and what have you done with the old ones? Heading into Wednesday night, the White Sox had scored the second-most runs in baseball (63) over the past two weeks behind just the Yankees. On Tuesday night, the White Sox finally surpassed the Mets and found their way out of basement in terms of runs scored for the season. In other words, the White Sox had ranked last in runs scored for a long stretch and actually surpassed another team the other day enroute to currently ranking 29th. Whatever has gotten into them doesn’t seem likely to end on Thursday, because they square off against a knuckleballer in Fenway Park with an over/under of eight. The White Sox opened as -168 favorites on the road (mostly because their ace, Chris Sale, will start). However, the reason Jose Abreu stands out as a must-play is because he’s 4-9 against R.A. Dickey with three HRs. Oh, and by the way, he owns a career .381 wOBA against RHP. Both he and the offense are on fire, so don’t back down now.

Brian Dozier, Twins, $9,500 – The Twins’ bats as a whole have quieted recently against LHP, but the one hitter that continues to mash is none other than Brian Dozier. He leads all regulars in wOBA, ISO, OBP and SLG against LHP this season, and the Twins will take on J.A. Happ Thursday. In five July starts, Happ’s ERA sits at 5.95, and he hasn’t put together a month’s ERA below 4.28 since April. Happ’s career ERA of 4.24 suggests this is simply the norm. Stick Dozier in the leadoff spot against a below-average lefty and he’ll reward you plenty more times than not. He’s a very safe cash play, but the wOBA and ISO suggest he could leave the yard, so take notice in tournaments as well.

Outfield:

Starling Marte, Pirates, $9,200 – Sometimes when you wish upon a shooting Starling your dreams come true. Ok, terrible, corny Disney reference aside, the Pirates will match up with Reds left-hander David Holmberg in the series opener. This will be Holmberg’s season debut, and there’s very limited major league data on him. Last September, Holmberg made four starts and threw 24.2 innings overall. He allowed at least one homer in all of his final three starts and four total, despite a 1.82 ERA in the month. Looking at the career minor league numbers, I wouldn’t be expecting those types of stats moving forward. His career minor-league ERA sits at 3.68, and he’s produced 4.66 and 4.40 ERAs the last two seasons in Triple-A. If the road was rocky while facing minor league talent, it’s not going to get any easier against one of baseball’s best hitters against LHP. Over the past two seasons, there hasn’t been an easier park to hit it out of than Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. If you’re going to the game and sitting in the bleachers, you may want to bring a glove, because Starling Marte could deliver a souvenir.

Melky Cabrera, White Sox, $8,400 – Another noteworthy member of the White Sox lineup in terms of past success against the knuckleball is Melky Cabrera. Cabrera has left the building multiple times against Dickey (two HR) to complement a .333/.333/.778 slash line in 18 ABs. Prior to Wednesday’s 3-6 performance against Rick Porcello and the Red Sox, Cabrera already was the Sox’ hottest hitter: 21 for his last 52 with two HR and 13 RBI. Including Wednesday, he now has registered seven multi-hit games in a row. Yeah, the “Melk Man” is on schedule to deliver on Thursday. Want even more White Sox exposure? Alexei Ramirez is 5-13 with two HR in his career against Dickey. Hell, start ‘em all.

Pitcher:

Chris Sale, White Sox, $23,900 – Since the bats are going to likely be backing him up with an infinite amount of runs, Chris Sale becomes the play by default, right? Yes, and he happens to be sort of talented as a bonus (sarcasm). Only Clayton Kershaw has struck out more batters per inning, and in total, than Sale this season. Only Kershaw and Max Scherzer have averaged more fantasy-points-per-start than Sale’s 26.91, but both pitch in the National League without the designated hitter. If the season ended today, he would win the AL Cy Young Award for fun. The dominant lefty will face a Red Sox team that ranks in the bottom ten of wOBA, wRC+, AVG, OBP, hard-hit percentage and line-drive percentage. Even in Fenway Park, expect Sale to blow hitters away and emerge victorious. I pity the fool who doesn’t roster him.

Shelby Miller, Braves, $18,800 – As I am writing this, a line has yet to be released on the Braves/Phillies game, but it’s almost unnecessary. Shelby Miller and his 2.27 ERA will head to Philadelphia to face Aaron Harang and his 4-11 record, 4.08 ERA. The Phillies own baseball’s third-worst wOBA against RHP along with a bottom-ten rating in wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG, OBP and hard-hit percentage. The only negative I can find is that they only strike out at a rate of 18.60 percent versus RHP. You don’t roster Miller for his gigantic strikeout totals anyway (7.6 K/9 for both the season and his career), so really it’s not a statistic to fret. As long as Miller pitches deep into the game, and he has a great chance to do so against a bottom-tier offense, rostering him will be worthwhile. He’s probably a better cash option because he’s safe but doesn’t possess the strikeout upside that, say, the next pitcher to be mentioned does.

Jimmy Nelson, Brewers, $15,200 – “Cold” almost doesn’t adequately describe the Cubs’ offense over the past 30 days. Aside from the Kris Bryant walk off HR earlier in the week, the fireworks have been few and far between for the north-siders. It’s a shame, because there is an abundance of talent in the lineup, yet they have scored just the 22nd-most runs in the last month. This has aided their statistics in regressing, as they now rank in the bottom ten of wOBA, wRC+, AVG, OBP and line-drive percentage against RHP. Even more importantly for fantasy purposes, they strike out at 24.30 percent, which barely ranks second behind the Astros’ 24.70 percent. After a rocky June, Jimmy Nelson has settled down in July, posting a 2.08 ERA in 26.0 IP. In June, the strikeout-rate only sat at 6.08 K/9, but he has kicked that back up to 8.31 this month. Missing bats is a key attribute when facing the Cubs, so the recent uptick in Ks suggests he has a safe floor. If he can establish a rhythm early, he possesses the upside of an elite tournament play as well, because he can push double-digit strikeouts.

Phil Hughes, Twins, $13,600 – Phil Hughes’ splits this season are extreme. Pitching at home, he’s posted a 3.56 ERA, which is nearly a run lower than on the road (4.40). The daytime hasn’t been kind to Hughes (5.25 ERA), but he sports an ERA essentially half the amount (2.80). Luckily for Hughes, this game will be played both at home and at night… as well as against a team that ranks 11th in wOBA against RHP. The Mariners also rank in the bottom 10 of AVG and OBP and strike out at the sixth-highest percentage against RHP. Robinson Cano is not expected back in the lineup until the weekend, so one of their main threats will be avoided. If there ever was a time to deploy the strike-zone pounding 29-year old, this is the night.

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.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply