Ryan Raburn, who is as elite as they come against left-handers, will square off against one in Coors Field on Saturday. Roster him. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals (Late) – Are you starting to notice a trend here? It feels like I have recommended Matt Carpenter every day since the season has started but he continues to draw incredibly favorable matchups. Although Julio Teheran is generally regarded as a solid pitcher, he struggled mightily against left-handed bats last season. Among all pitchers who threw at least 50 innings pitched (IP) to LHHs, Teheran’s .386 wOBA allowed ranked second worst behind only Rubby De La Rosa. If you expand the minimum to 30, he falls to fifth worst as Shane Greene, Matthew Wisler and Ivan Nova would then slide in ahead of him. In other words, he was absolutely putrid against LHHs. Carpenter will go from facing Wisler on Friday to squaring off against Teheran on Saturday, so this is a nice little streak of elite matchups for him. Considering he produced a wOBA of .394 against RHPs last season, I’m just going to keep inserting him into my lineup in these fantastic spots for him.
David Ortiz, Red Sox (Early) – Batter versus pitcher (BvP) data is not something I typically put much stock into unless there is either a substantial sample size or it is against a knuckleballer. David Ortiz and the Red Sox will square off against R.A. Dickey…a notorious knuckleball pitcher. For that reason, I am okay with looking at Ortiz’s prior statistics against him. In 34 career at-bats (ABs), Ortiz has hit three HRs and produced a .265/.342/.588 slash line. He fares well against all righties as-is as evident by his .413 wOBA against the handedness in 2015. Whether you judge who you are going to roster on BvP, the split statistics or both, Ortiz checks all the boxes and is therefore firmly in play in all formats.
J.D. Martinez, Tigers (Early) – This matchup is an easy comparison to the aforementioned upcoming battle between Carpenter and Teheran. Probable starter C.C. Sabathia has fallen off a cliff in terms of effectiveness, mostly due to a dip in velocity, over the past four or so seasons. In fact, he has fallen so far that he actually ranked 10th worst in wOBA allowed to RHHs last season (.370) among all pitchers who threw at least 30 IP to the handedness. J.D. Martinez, on the other hands, crushed lefties to the tune of a .385 wOBA and a .305/.348/.450 slash line. However, there are two aspects that stand out above all others for his matchup; the first being the fact that he led the team in ISO against the handedness and happens to be on the same ball club with a guy named Miguel Cabrera. The second, and most important tidbit in my opinion, is the fact that he struck out at a greater than 31-percent rate last season but will face a pitcher struggling to miss bats in his elder age. When Martinez does get a bat on the ball, it’s clear he makes substantial contact. If Sabathia isn’t going to miss his bat then he likely is going to crush one, and that’s what makes him one of my favorite plays of the day.
Ryan Raburn, Rockies (Late) – The time is here…it’s finally here. The newly signed Ryan Raburn, who homered earlier this week against a LHP, will finally get the opportunity to face one in the hitters’ haven of Coors Field. Quietly, Raburn is one of the best hitters in the game versus LHPs as only Nelson Cruz, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Mike Trout and Josh Donaldson produced superior wOBAs against southpaws last season. Now he’ll head to borderline unfair hitting atmosphere in Coors Field which consistently allows the most runs of any ballpark. Oh by the way, the opposing starter will be Drew Pomeranz who pitched three seasons in Coors Field. Though the sample sizes are limited, Pomeranz never allowed an ERA lower than 4.93 in any of those seasons. In other words, Raburn can and should be deployed in all formats as he is one of the best bets on the entire slate for a round-tripper.
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (Early) – Every single time Clayton Kershaw toes the mound, he is going to be worth considering on FantasyDraft. The flexible format allows for you to fit all of the best cheap hitters on any slate regardless of position which makes it a relatively easy task to spend up on starting pitching. For that reason, and because Kershaw is the absolute best pitcher in the game by far, I’ll probably recommend him every time out. The matchup against the Giants in this one is actually very favorable as well as they ranked eighth worst in wOBA versus LHP last season and also ranked in the bottom 10 of ISO and BB rate (not that Kershaw walks very many). His matchup is superior to the direct alternative, Chris Sale, so Kershaw is quite clearly the one to spend up on to me. Rostering two aces makes it more difficult to put together a group of hitters you have confidence in so I would stick to just the one. On this slate, Kershaw is the guy considering he’ll be pitching in baseball’s most favorable pitchers’ park from last season (AT&T Park).
Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks (Late) – Many will look at the matchup against the Cubs as being one to avoid. In a way, admittedly, it is because the Cubs ranked 11th in wOBA last season versus RHP and ranked in the top 10 of wRC+, OBP and hard hit percentage as well. Nevertheless, the team did just lose Kyle Schwarber for the season with a torn ACL, who ranked as above and beyond their best hitter against righties (at least last year)…which is saying a lot on a hitting team as good as theirs. Furthermore, and probably most applicable, the Cubs struck out at the second highest rate versus the handedness in 2015 and Greinke is obviously one of the best in that respect. If an opposing pitcher can keep the ball off of the barrel of the Cubs’ bats, there is actually a fair amount of upside to the matchup. While Greinke is a bit risky for cash, he is a superb tournament option with 10-plus K upside.
Carlos Martinez, Cardinals (Late) – The safest option among all starting pitchers on the late slate is none other than Carlos Martinez. While the best time to attack the Braves is with an opposing LHP, the Braves still ranked 10th worst in wOBA versus righties last season as well as bottom 10 in wRC+, ISO, BB rate and hard hit percentage. In a small sample size this season, the Braves have only produced a .266 wOBA tally overall, with a .275 total against RHP. By comparison, that would rank 40 percentage points below the mark they produced last season. The one downside to the matchup is the fact that the Braves are a difficult team to punch out as they ranked in the bottom 10 of K rate last season. Even if he does not strike out many, he should pitch deep into the ballgame against a weak opponent and therefore he projects as one of the safest options for cash games. With a little bit of volatility help, he could factor into the GPP conversation as well.
*Stats are accurate as of Friday, Apr. 8