Joe Panik possesses the Giants’ best combination of upside and value at his price tag in what should prove to be an elite matchup against Ross Stripling of the Dodgers. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals, $8,000 – On Friday, Matt Carpenter will face literally the worst pitcher against left-handed batters from last season. Yes, Matt Wisler allowed the highest wOBA against LHHS of any pitcher in the league. To demonstrate how pathetic he was, he allowed a slash line of .320/.416/.569 to lefties in 48.2 IP. On the other hand, Carpenter led the Cardinals in wOBA, produced a .240 ISO and sported a slash line of .292/.385/.541 against RHPs. Yeah, this is a match made in heaven as the matchup literally could not get any better for Carpenter. He is an absolute elite play and should be deployed in all format as he could be in for a monster game.
Joe Panik, Giants, $7,500 – According to scouting reports, opposing starter Ross Stripling only ever projected as a number four or five starter at best. Although he beat out Carlos Frias for the fifth starter spot, he struggled with the long ball this spring. While Joe Panik doesn’t hit many HRs (eight in 100 games last season), 87.5-percent of his HRs came against RHPs. Furthermore, one of Stripling’s strengths, and probably the reason he made the team, is due to his ability to miss bats. Unlike big boppers Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, Panik struck out at a rate below 19-percent last season…in fact, he struck out at a rate substantially below: 10.2-percent. On the team, only Buster Posey and Denard Span struck out at a lesser rate than Panik against righties. In my opinion, Panik is the best combination of potential production and value as compared to his teammates. However, this Giants team is a very enticing stack as they all possess solid wOBA tallies against RHP and Stripling never projected as a very good one. For cash game purposes, Panik is my top priority but I would have no qualms with using one or two of his compadres alongside him as well.
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays, $9,200 – After being postponed yesterday, Joe Kelly will instead have his start pushed back to Friday and he’ll toe the mound against the Blue Jays. What a rough draw for him, because instead of facing the Indians, he’ll instead square off against the best offensive team in baseball. Three Blue Jays produced .390-plus wOBAs and slugged .550-plus in 2015: Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. Of the three, none produced a higher ISO last season than Bautista as he blasted a team-high 35 HRs versus RHP. Only Donaldson registered a superior rating against fastballs according to FanGraphs pitch type linear weights, and while he is viable, we all know he specializes against LHP. If I could only afford one of them, which may be the case considering expensive pitchers are in play, Bautista connects all the dots as he’ll be facing a pitcher who relies on his fastball (ranked seventh in fastball percentage among all starters with at least 100 IP last season). To me, this feels like a situation where Bautista goes deep and comes through in a big way for his fantasy owners.
Nelson Cruz, Mariners, $9,200 – Speaking of guys with HR potential, Nelson Cruz versus a LHP certainly qualifies (as always). Probable starter Erik Surkamp has struggled with the long ball (at least 0.82 HR/9) at all levels since the end of 2013…he also owns a career ERA of 6.47 and a career WHIP of 1.72 at the big league level (57 IP). It’s not like Surkamp is a youngster either as he will turn 28 in July. In other words, the advantage goes to Cruz who led all of baseball in wOBA versus LHP in 2015. The only downside to the matchup is the fact that he’ll be playing at home in pitcher-friendly Safeco Field where he only hit 17 of his 44 HRs last season. It doesn’t matter because even if he doesn’t put one over the fence, he should smoke liners against this middling lefty (at best). Pairing him with Bautista gives your outfield all sorts of upside which is what you’ll need to potentially win the $10,000 Home Run contest on FantasyDraft.
Francisco Liriano, Pirates, $20,000 – Looking at last year’s numbers in terms of the Cincinnati Reds can be a bit deceiving. The team lost arguably their best hitter, Todd Frazier, to free agency as he signed with the Chicago White Sox. Last season the team ranked as a near neutral matchup for opposing lefties in terms of wOBA and they only struck out at a 19.3-percent rate against the handedness. Take away Frazier’s .377 and ridiculous .608 SLG and the Reds have only three remaining players on their roster who produced a wOBA of over .315 last season: Joey Votto (.436), Zack Cozart (.384) and Eugenio Suarez (.354). Aside from that trio, the rest of the roster is frankly garbage against lefties. As long as Liriano can limit the damage against those three, he should be in for a productive start. Other top-priced starter Chris Archer draws a truly dreadful matchup against the Orioles so Liriano becomes the pitcher to pay up for on the slate by default (at least for cash games).
Jaime Garcia, Cardinals, $18,300 – The best combination of price, consistency and upside on the entire slate at starting pitcher is none other than Jaime Garcia. He literally was my most rostered pitcher last season because he is so under-appreciated it is ridiculous. Even with that being said, if there ever was a spot to deploy Garcia, it would be in this matchup against the lowly Braves. In 2015, the Braves produced a wOBA 28 percentage points less against LHP than any other team. Yes, as a team they produced a measly .270 wOBA against LHP to go along with ranking dead lead in wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP and hard hit percentage against lefties. This Braves team simply does not put up a fight against lefties so there’s almost no need to go into Garcia’s underrated skill set. Do not overthink this one and just insert the Cardinals southpaw into your lineup and be done with it.
Yordano Ventura, Royals, $17,700 – Yordano Ventura is to baseball what a receiver reliant upon catching bombs is to football (sort of like a Martavis Bryant). This kid is incredibly talented but he is a volatile asset because he can be wild at times in terms of both control and temperament. Ventura has a tendency to lose his call which can cause him to get rattled and lose focus or go crazy and throw at opposing players. For that reason, he can either dominate or put up a total dud in any given start. Regardless, pitching at home against a pedestrian opponent should be a nice time to take advantage of the positive side of his volatility. The Twins ranked 26th in wOBA against RHP last season and struck out at the eighth highest percentage against the handedness. Considering Ventura’s specialty is his velocity and ability to K hitters, he should have a nice, stable floor even in the Twins do happen to get to him. He is a bit risky in cash but I have no qualms about using him in that spot on Friday evening. As for tournaments, all systems are go as he could easily drop one of the top raw totals among all SPs in this game if things break the right way for him.
*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, Apr. 7