Vogt for Pedro

Starting a catcher is typically not ideal in the FantasyDraft format, but Stephen Vogt is one of the few exceptions on Saturday. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster.

Infield:

Adam Lind, Brewers, $8,700 – Jerome Williams, we meet again. Among all pitchers with at least 90 IP this season, Williams’ 24.7 percent line-drive rate allowed ranks 12th-worst in baseball. Therefore, the .337 opponents’ BABIP (eighth-worst in baseball) certainly isn’t an aberration. Furthermore, Williams’ 5.32 FIP (fielder independent pitching) tally ranks third-worst in baseball. Adam Lind feasts off of RHP. His .387 wOBA against RHP ranks highest among regulars on the team and his tally ranks 25 percentage points ahead of second-place Khris Davis. Most notably, his 41.80 percent hard-hit rate certainly matches up well against a pitcher who allows rockets. All the stars are aligned for a big game from the Brewers’ first basemen.

Stephen Vogt, Athletics, $7,200 – Athletics hitters are always happy to leave the Oakland Coliseum, because every single other American League (AL) ballpark is a positive park shift. Yes, Oakland ranks as the worst hitters’ park in the AL over the past few seasons, while Camden Yards has ranked as one of the most friendly to LHHs. Opposing starter Miguel Gonzalez sports a worse ERA at home this season (4.61) than on the road (4.32). His 4.87 FIP ranks eighth-worst in baseball… so only five spots behind the aforementioned WOAT Williams. Gonzalez sports a mediocre K-rate (6.94) and most hitters lift the ball against him. Stephen Vogt, having homered on Friday, will look to keep the momentum going into Saturday. Considering he leads all regulars with a .221 ISO against RHP, he should be able to make meaningful contact against a guy allowing 1.51 HR/9. In other words, he is a solid bet to make it back-to-back games with a dong.

Outfield:

Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, $10,800 – Not that this is uncommon territory for Coors Field, but Saturday’s game opened up with an over/under of 10.5 runs. Andrew Cashner is 4-12 with a 4.09 ERA and spends most of his time in pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. He has yet to pitch in Coors Field this season, but it typically isn’t overly kind to a pitcher’s ERA. Carlos Gonzalez’s .322 ISO ranks third among qualified hitters this season behind only Mark Teixeira and Bryce Harper. The part that stands out to me about the matchup is Gonzalez’s dominance against the fastball this season. According to FanGraphs’ pitch type linear weights, Gonzalez ranks by far as the team’s best hitter against the pitch, and Cashner always throws among the highest percentage of fastballs. I’d like this matchup in Petco, so the fact that it’s in hitter heaven means all systems are go on CarGo.

Yoenis Cespedes, Mets, $8,000 – Another player that homered on Friday night, aside from Vogt, was Yoenis Cespedes. Like Vogt, I’m going to try and ride the player swinging a hot bat into another excellent matchup. The strings are falling off Charlie Morton’s season that started so great (1.93 ERA in two May starts). Since then, the ERAs he has registered by month are as follows: 5.54, 5.04 and 3.75 in two August starts so far, including his last start of five IP, 13 baserunners and five ER. Cespedes ranks second on the team in wOBA against RHP, but first in both AVG and SLG. Facing a pitcher aiming to pitch to contact, betting on a player with a high AVG and 36.10 percent hard-hit rate is never a bad idea. The ballpark isn’t optimal, but still, that shouldn’t stop you from using a hitter in a top-tier matchup.

Pitcher:

Jake Arrieta, Cubs, $22,400 – While many outside of Chicago may not even realize this is occurring, the crosstown classic is in full effect. Tilt number two will feature Jake Arrieta squaring off against a White Sox offense ranked in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate, OBP, and hard-hit percentage, and that Ks a ton (20.60 percent ranks 10th in baseball). Arrieta will battle the negative league shift (the designated hitter will be in play) and an offense that has awoken of late (fourth-most runs the last 30 days). Still, he’s been absolutely lights out this season (2.38 ERA, 0.99 WHIP) and draws by far the best matchup of any upper echelon pitcher on the slate. The conversation for starting pitcher on this day needs to begin (and end) with Jake the Snake.

Gio Gonzalez, Nationals, $18,000 – Nationals/Giants opened with an over/under of 6.5, which is the lowest total of the day. San Francisco, the home team, opened as only a -105 favorite. This hasn’t been Gio Gonzalez’s most effective season as pro, but he has quietly turned around his awful start. After a 5.01 ERA in April and 4.54 ERA in May, Gonzalez has improved to a 3.57 ERA in June, 1.88 ERA in July and 1.38 ERA in two August starts. He has only walked two batters in the past two starts (13.0 IP), which could signify his control is improving as the season moves on… which is very common among SPs. The Giants rank as a neutral matchup for LHPs, but they rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, and most importantly, BB rate. If he isn’t going to be walking hitters, then he should prove to be rather effective.

John Lackey, Cardinals, $17,700 – Jaime Garcia only missed a complete game shutout by two outs on Friday, and the Marlins favor hitting LHP. John Lackey, a right-hander, should have no problem with this depleted offense either. The Marlins rank dead least in wOBA and wRC+ against RHP, while also ranking in the bottom 10 of ISO, BB rate, AVG, OBP, hard-hit percentage and line-drive percentage. You’d have to be wacky not to consider starting Lackey at home, where he owns a 1.89 ERA this season.

Jon Gray, Rockies, $10,400 – A pitcher that’s going to be off just about everyone’s radar is rookie Jon Gray, who’s pitching in Coors Field. Look, I would never argue there isn’t a distinct advantage to hitters in Coors Field. It’s a fact. With that being said, it’s still located on planet Earth and therefore will be the home to low scoring games every once in a while by default. The Padres’ offense went nuts on Friday against LHP Yohan Flande. Many of the Padres possess a platoon advantage against lefties, and it shows in their overall statistics. They rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG, OBP and line-drive percentage against RHP, while striking out at 21.70 percent (fifth-highest percentage). Gray owns a 2.70 ERA and 1.00 WHIP through two major league starts. To be fair, he allowed seven runners and three runs (two earned) in his first start, which came at Coors Field, while his second came on the road. Still, I think there is enough of a chance that this highly touted prospect comes up big that he’ll be worth the price tag and his low ownership rate in tournaments. It’s a contrarian play if you believe in game theory and could pay off huge, especially considering the bats you’ll be able to fit along with him.

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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