Smoak on the Water, Fire in the Sky

By now, it’s a well known fact that the Blue Jays crush lefties, but Justin Smoak is consistently the cheapest of the bunch, yet ranks second on the team in wOBA. JUSTIN SMOAK IS NOT IN THE LINEUP TONIGHT SO PLEASE DO NOT USE HIM. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster.

Infield:

Ian Kinsler, Tigers, $8,800 – The Tigers’ active players as whole own a .342 career AVG against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Among those who have enjoyed success against the righty is Ian Kinsler. For his career, Kinsler is 6-16 with two HR and five RBI. Although wOBA doesn’t really matter against knucklers, Kinsler’s .346 tally ranks third on the team behind RHP behind Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez. All of the Tigers’ bats are in play, especially in hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, which is one of the few parks that actually ranks as an upgrade to Comerica Park.

Justin Smoak, Blue Jays, $5,600 – The Blue Jays have been passed by the Tigers as baseball’s top wOBA against LHP, but the Jays still rank 19 percentage points ahead of the third-place Yankees. Josh Donaldson is a man possessed this season overall, but especially against LHP, and he only rates one percentage point higher than Justin Smoak in wOBA against the handedness this season (.464 versus .463). To roster Donaldson, he’ll cost you a steep $11,100 price, while Smoak is almost exactly half the price. If looking to choose one in cash, there is no decision whatsoever. Smoak is simply the best overall value of any player on the slate against struggling lefty Matt Boyd and his 7.04 season ERA. UPDATE: Justin Smoak is not in the lineup. Chris Colabello becomes the preferred value in the lineup.

Outfield:

Nelson Cruz, Mariners, $10,800 – You’ve seen those commercials for the “can’t miss movie of the summer,” whatever it may be. I think Nelson Cruz versus John Danks is baseball’s version of a can’t miss matchup. RHHs are slashing .306/.360/.496 against Danks this season with 13 of the 18 HRs he’s allowed. Meanwhile, Cruz leads both the Diamondbacks and all of baseball (min. 70 ABs) in wOBA against LHP this season (.485). U.S. Cellular Field is a significant positive park shift from Cruz’s home park of Safeco Field. If he isn’t Vegas’ top bet for a bomb on Friday evening, then they’re doing something wrong.

Andre Ethier, Dodgers, $5,400 – Home/away splits for hitters aren’t something I look at much outside of Coors Field, but Andre Ethier is a curious case. On the road, it’s like he’s a totally different hitter: .251/.320/.389 slash line versus .336/.422/.587 at home. In fact, eight of his 12 HR have come at home in 32 less ABs. For his skills (.382 wOBA against RHP), this is a no-brainer, especially with the aces on the slate. With opposing starter Jason Hammel having allowed a 4.74 ERA in August, there’s nothing scary about the matchup. Andre should be a giant.

Pitcher:

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, $26,000 is a play every time out. He faces a team that strikes out more than any other in baseball against LHP. He’s quite obviously worth consideration.

Max Scherzer, Nationals, $24,400 – So, I wrote a tidbit on Scherzer the other day and then his start was pushed back, so this is a slightly edited version, but it all still applies… Hmm, let’s see here; one of the game’s best pitchers against one of the game’s worst offenses in a below-average hitters’ park. Does that sound like a matchup you’d want to exploit? Well if it does, then Max Scherzer is your man! He opened as a -250 favorite against a struggling Adam Conley in a game with an over/under of seven. The Marlins play as a favorable matchup to opposing pitchers in just about every category, including ranking dead last in wOBA and wRC+ against RHP. No pitcher has more upside than Scherzer on the slate, so using him isn’t a tough decision (despite plenty of other aces toeing the mound as well).

Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees, $19,800 – I am probably Masahiro Tanaka’s harshest critic, as I worry the UCL could fully tear at any point after he decided not to have Tommy John surgery last season. However, it’s hard to ignore the quality of the matchup against Williams Perez and the weak-hitting Braves in Turner Field. He’ll experience a positive league shift, meaning he’ll play by National League rules and get to face the pitcher instead of a designated hitter (DH). Tanaka’s ERA away from home this season: 2.85. The Yankees opened as -190 favorites against baseball’s second-worst wOBA and wRC+ offense against RHP. All in all, Tanaka makes for a perfect cash option alternative to Scherzer (or compliment, if you want to spend the money).

Francisco Liriano, Pirates, $19,200 – Further complicating the pitching conversation, Francisco Liriano rates as option 1C. The Rockies’ splits are downright hilarious. In 63 games at home, they have hit .299 as a team and scored 343 runs. On the road, they’ve hit just .235 and scored 219 runs in 62 games. Despite the Coors Field advantage, the Rockies rank dead last in wOBA and wRC+ against LHP this season and rank in the bottom 10 of both AVG and OBP. Liriano has cut down on the walks this season, which has aided his 1.17 WHIP (his best since 2006). Against very little resistance, Liriano should dominate.

Taylor Jungmann, Brewers, $16,800 – Need a contrarian options beyond the GOATs? Try Taylor Jungmann, even though his streak of 10 consecutive games of two or fewer earned runs was snapped in his last start. Beyond Joey Votto, the Reds possess zero other hitters with wOBAs .340 or greater against RHP. It’s no wonder their .309 team wOBA now ranks 22nd in the majors and that they also rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO and hard-hit percentage. I also like the fact that he’s pitching at home, where he sports a 1.75 ERA. He doesn’t have the upside of the aforementioned studs, but he does allow some salary relief (which could go a long way in roster construction).

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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