Rubby De La Rosa struggled mightily against left-handed bats last season, especially in terms of the long ball, so lock powerful lefty Kyle Schwarber into your lineups. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs, $10,000 (Late) – As a Cubs fan, I love uttering these words: stacking the Cubs on Thursday is the correct move. Only three qualified pitchers registered higher wOBA totals against LHHs last season than Rubby De La Rosa: Matt Wisler, Kyle Kendrick and Jeremy Guthire. That, quite frankly, is not a list anyone should want to be a part of. Anthony Rizzo, on the other hand, registered a .384 wOBA tally against RHP last season and hit 24 of his 31 HRs against them. According to ESPN, all of the Cubs will enjoy a positive ballpark shift heading from Wrigley Field to Chase Field, as Chase Field has ranked as a top three hitters’ park over the past two seasons. Considering De La Rosa struggles mightily with the HR ball (1.53 HR/9 last season), Rizzo is one of the best bets on the slate to destroy one…possibly into the pool in right field of Arizona’s home park.
Jason Kipnis, Indians, $9,300 (Turbo) – The Indians opened as -135 favorites in this game mostly due to the fact that they’ll square off against Joe Kelly. Although Kelly consistently registers an average velocity inside the top five of all pitchers, he cannot seem to find consistently at the major league level…especially in the American League. He consistently hit 96-97 mph last year yet only produced a strikeout rate of 7.37 per nine innings. If Kelly is going to pitch to contact, Jason Kipnis is going to rip him. Last season, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Bryce Harper were the only three players to register a higher AVG against RHP than Kipnis. Furthermore, of all pitchers who threw at least 100 IP last year, only six threw a greater percentage of fastballs. According to FanGraphs pitch type linear weights, Kipnis rated as above and beyond the best fastball hitter on the Indians squad. Basically this is an elite matchup for an All-Star caliber hitter so there should be no reason to disregard him from your turbo slate cash lineup.
Kyle Schwarber, Cubs, $8,800 (Late) – As noted in the Rizzo tidbit, Cubs lefties are firmly in play on the late slate. De La Rosa struggles with the HR ball and no Cubs lefty is a greater threat to hit the ball out than Kyle Schwarber. The issue with Schwarber compared to Rizzo is he hits further down in the order. Schwarber hit sixth in the Opening Day lineup against a RHP which puts him on the borderline threshold for cash viability. Obviously when the player is as talented as Schwarber (.407 wOBA versus RHP), he should make the cut. The impressive thing about Schwarber is he hit the ball hard 40.2-percent of the time against LHPs last season beyond the insane wOBA and .278 ISO tallies. Let’s review: the pitcher struggles when he gives up hard contact and very few players hit the ball harder than Schwarber. After failing to register a hit in his first game this season, he is a great bet for at least one hit of the extra base variety in this elite matchup.
Josh Reddick, Athletics, $8,100 (Turbo) – Last season, Mat Latos was absolutely shelled by LHHs as he allowed a .344 wOBA and .281/.333/.469 slash line against them. Now, he’ll move to the American League where things will not get any easier for him considering teams are able to bat a designated hitter (DH) as opposed to a pitcher. While the Oakland Coliseum is admittedly not very favorable towards LHHs, Josh Reddick’s skill set alone should be able to triumph against a starter who struggles against his handedness. In 2015, Reddick hit 16 of his 20 HRs against LHPs and hit 67 percentage points higher against them. Latos is one of the susceptible pitchers I want to take advantage of on this slate before the allure of a player with upside in a new situation fades. In my opinion, Latos just doesn’t have it anymore (or is at least significantly depreciated since his prime Reds days) so targeting lefties against him is nearly a must any time out. For that reason, Reddick is a rock solid bet at a reasonable price.
Danny Salazar, Indians, $18,800 (Turbo) – No matter which slate you’re playing today, the pitching options are ugly. When in doubt, lean towards the pitcher with the monstrous K potential, and that’s what I would recommend with Danny Salazar. Just yesterday, Carlos Carrasco struck out five hitters in five innings. In fact, he was throwing a nice game until he imploded in the sixth inning (back-to-back HR) and was pulled without registering an out. Admittedly, the Red Sox are a difficult matchup but they do rank in the bottom 10 of line drive rate. Basically the turbo slate is about choosing the least of all evils, and if I am going to take someone, I’d prefer he possess a 9.5 K/9. Pretty much every other pitcher, other than one, is in an awful spot so Salazar wins my recommendation by default.
John Lackey, Cubs, $16,200 (Late) – At least the late slate has one pitcher who stands out as John Lackey is easily my favorite play of the entire day. Sure Arizona scored 19 runs in a three game series against the Rockies to begin the year but John Lackey is much superior to any starting pitcher Colorado possesses on their roster. Also, the Diamondbacks ranked in the bottom six of wOBA against RHP last season and also ranked in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG and OBP. Oh by the way, they also struck out at the fourth highest rate against the handedness as well. David Peralta and Socrates Brito’s platoon splits favor RHP but almost everyone else on the roster fares better against lefties. Despite the fact the game will be played in an extremely favorable hitting environment, Lackey is still worth rolling out there in all formats against a less than formidable foe.
Alex Wood, Dodgers, $13,200 (Turbo) – Since none of the pitchers really stand out in the turbo slate, pairing an expensive Salazar with an inexpensive cohort to fit bats makes a ton of sense. Of all the bargain options, none draw more promising matchups than Alex Wood. This statistic does not matter but the Dodgers have thrown three straight shutouts to begin the year which is pretty darn impressive. However, those were all against the lowly Padres and they’ll now draw one of Vegas’ favorites to win (12-1) the World Series in the Giants. In this case, looks can be deceiving because while the Giants torch RHP, they didn’t exactly set the world on fire against LHP last season. They ranked in the bottom 10 of wOBA, ISO and BB rate against lefties in 2015 although they didn’t strike out much either. Wood struggled down the stretch last year as his K rate dropped, BB rate rose and his HR rate rose nearly 0.5 HRs/9. As mentioned in the Salazar tidbit, the alternatives are grim so you’re going to have to take a risk of some sort. Unfortunately Wood struggled in Spring Training this year, so that will not inspire confidence in him, although the silver lining lies in the fact he only walked four batters in 17.2 IP. He is probably best left for GPP only with Adam Conley as a cash play, but again, there are no sure things on this slate…so pick your poison.
*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, Apr. 6