Almonte Python and the Holy Grail

Abraham Almonte has smoked the ball against RHP this season and is priced at the bare minimum. How can you pass on that? Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster.

Infield:

Mark Teixeira, Yankees, $9,200 – Despite Bryan Mitchell’s 30.1 IP limited career sample size, the Yankees opened Monday as -155 favorites at home. The Yankees’ .326 wOBA against RHP ranks top-eight in baseball and they rank in the top 10 of just about every offensive category against the handedness. Opposing starter Kyle Gibson likes to keep the ball on the ground, yet sports a HR/FB rate over 13 percent. That’s where stud first basemen Mark Teixiera enters the picture, as he leads the team in both HR (25) and hard-hit percentage (38.90) against RHP this season. Yankee Stadium is extremely favorable to LHHs in terms of AVG, OBP and SLG, so expect a nice day out of the switch hitter exploiting his platoon advantage.

Matt Carpenter, Cardinals, $9,200 – I doubt most people will look at Monday’s slate and think “Time to get hitters in against Chris Heston.” For the most part I agree, however Heston has understandably preferred pitching at AT&T Park… one of the best (if not the number one) pitchers’ parks. With that being said, his road ERA (4.45) is over two runs higher than at home (2.48). Heston’s overall numbers are respectable, but he has allowed the 29th-highest line drive percentage among qualified pitchers this season, and almost no one hits the ball harder against RHP than Carpenter. Of all hitters with at least 200 ABs against RHP this season, Carpenter’s 29.10 percent line drive rate ranks sixth. Only Randal Grichuk’s .387 wOBA ranks higher on the team against RHP among regulars, but Carpenter sports an impressive .387 OBP. I think Carpenter makes for both a cash and tournament option, considering his new found power this season (18 HR), and you may be the only one with him on your team in your 50/50.

Outfield:

Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, $10,400 – Here’s a classic case of targeting a player against his platoon advantage. While many are searching for players hitting in their strength, McCutchen may end up overlooked, especially at his price. Look, McCutchen’s career .373 wOBA against RHP certainly isn’t too shabby and neither is his .291/.379/.481 career slash line. Jeremy Hellickson, like the aforementioned Heston, has had his fair share of struggles on the road. Even better, Hellickson has allowed a career hard-hit percentage rate of 30.2 percent (which is awfully high). By comparison, only 26 qualified pitchers this season have allowed a hard-hit rate of 30.2 percent or greater. McCutchen’s career hard-hit rate against RHP: 37.30 percent. You can bet there will be some liners leaving his bat in this one. The Pirates are expected to win handedly (-180 favorites), so those liners should lead to run production.

Abraham Almonte, Indians, $3,900 – You didn’t think I was just going to recommend hitters priced at the top in this article did you? How about one at the bare minimum: Abraham Almonte. I have always been a fan of Almonte’s skills. When he opened the season on the Mariners’ roster in 2014, I thought he was due for 20/20 season and a staple for the leadoff spot. Well, 106 ABs and a .198 AVG later, he was sent down and eventually sent to San Diego. Now on the Indians, Almonte’s .343 wOBA would rank third on the team if he had enough ABs to qualify. Hitting RHP is clearly his platoon advantage, as he sports a .238 ISO and .254 AVG (.236 AVG overall, so he’s only hitting .217 against LHP with a .250 OBP). Matt Barnes will make his first start of the season in place of the injured Steven Wright. Barnes pitched miserably in his relief role earlier this season (5.64 ERA, 1.88 ERA in 22.1 IP), so that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in his prospects. The Indians are banged up, but I still would like to own hitters against Barnes, and Almonte comes at the best value by far.

Pitcher:

Sonny Gray, Athletics, $23,200 – Paying up for a pitcher as an underdog is never preferable, so therefore I’m reserving Sonny Gray for tournament play. His last time out he faced an Astros team that ranked in the top 10 of wOBA but struck out at a top-10 rate, so I liked the upside. However, the Orioles rank as a top-two wOBA team and strike out at a slightly lower rate than the Astros, so there should be slightly less upside in theory. Gray tossed in a complete game in his last one and then had a start skipped because of back spasms. He isn’t expected to face any pitch count limitations in this one, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the coaching staff won’t be a little cautious. Gray has preferred pitching on the road this season (1.64 away ERA versus 2.50 at home), but at this point he’s just a great pitcher. A great pitcher always has a shot to succeed in a matchup against a team that Ks a fair amount. Due to the possible downside against a solid offense, I just can’t roster him in cash (especially when I like a certain Anaheim starting pitcher).

Gerrit Cole, Pirates, $21,800 – As eluded to earlier in the article, Cole and the Pirates opened up as -180 favorites in a game with an over/under of seven. Opposing starting Jeremy Hellickson has not fared well overall, especially on the road. Therefore, most of the runs are expected to come off of Pirates’ bats. The Diamondbacks are a similar matchup to the Orioles in that they rank in the top 10 of wOBA as well as K-rate. They do not possess the same elite power as the Orioles and one of their top sluggers (David Peralta) has been dealing with lingering quad soreness. If he misses Monday, that takes even more pop (and one of their main staples against RHP) out of the lineup. With or without Peralta, I think Cole has a great shot at a win in this game, due to matchup alone. Considering the monster year he is having (14-6 record, 2.48 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 9.0 K/9), I think he is safer than the matchup would suggest. If paying up for one starter in cash games, I would prefer Cole over Cole Hamels returning from injury.

Andrew Heaney, Angels, $17,400 – Although the White Sox have climbed out of the basement against LHP, they still rank third-to-last in wOBA against the handedness for the season; only the Brewers and Rockies have fared worse. Touted prospect Andrew Heaney has been as good as advertised in his time in the majors this season: 5-1 record, 2.53 ERA and 1.04 ERA in 57.0 IP (nine starts). He made his last start in US Cellular Field against the White Sox and lasted 5.2 IP with two ER, but did not factor into the decision. Heaney will now get another chance against the Sox in a game at home… which actually is a negative park shift, and Heaney has preferred pitching on the road. Still, the matchup and price are too good to pass on despite the slight downgrade, as I think he possesses a safe floor that others on the slate do not.

Colin Rea, Padres, $9,600 – In Colin Rea’s first start, he allowed seven hits and one walk in five IP at home against the Reds. He allowed three ER but FIP, and xFIP suggest he pitched better than the ERA alone shows. He wasn’t overly effective in Triple-A this season (4.39 ERA, 4.64 FIP, 4.05 BB/9 and 6.75 K/9 in 26.2 IP), but dominated at Double-A (1.08 ERA, 2.36 FIP, 1.32 BB/9 and 7.20 K/9 in 75.0 IP). Honestly, due to the mixed results, I’m not exactly sure what to make of his skill set. What I do know is that he’ll be blessed with an opportunity to face a weak opponent (Braves rank 26th in wOBA versus RHP) in Petco Park on Monday, and he comes with a bare bones price. If you do not believe in Cole or Heaney’s matchup, this could prove to be the best alternative because you can fit all the hitters you want. Young pitchers typically have an advantage the first time the league sees them, so what the hell, it may be worth rolling the dice.

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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