Robinson Cano draws a date against MLB journeyman Colby Lewis so make sure you have shares of him in this phenomenal matchup. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Robinson Cano, Mariners, $8,400 (Late) – Colby Lewis played his first game in the major leagues in 2002 and has appeared in 10 MLB seasons since that time. Even though Lewis is certainly a tenured pitcher, that doesn’t necessarily mean he has had a particularly successful career; Lewis sports a career ERA of 4.81 with a 1.37 WHIP and 1.3 HR/9 rate. Cumulatively over the past two seasons, according to ESPN Park Factors, Safeco Field has rated as the best pitchers’ park in baseball…so why Robinson Cano? Well, last season Cano actually hit more HRs at home and produced an average 23 points higher at home versus on the road. Furthermore, Cano handily leads the Mainers in career wOBA versus RHP with a .377 career tally and a .317/.364/.522 slash line versus the handedness. Combine all of these factors and it certainly feels like Cano should cost substantially more than just $8,400.
John Jaso, Pirates, $6,600 (Early) – Admittedly, rostering John Jaso last year was a frustrating proposition because he was almost always pulled for a pinch hitter. Jaso started solely against RHPs and was taken out if the opposing team ever brought in a left-handed reliever to face him. This season, Jaso is being awarded the full-time duty at first base and has seen at least four plate appearances in four of his six games so far. Considering he leads off and sports a career .358 wOBA and .285/.365/.465 slash line against righties, he should be priced closer to $8,000. In a matchup with a projected over/under of 9.0 runs, Jaso is an excellent cash game option even against Justin Verlander.
Bryce Harper, Nationals, $9,600 (Late) – Bryce Haper and the Nationals faced this exact matchup on Wednesday, Apr. 6 and I wrote Harper in that matchup as well. Here was the argument made for him: “Of all pitchers who threw at least 40 innings against left-handed batters last season, Bud Norris’ .386 wOBA ranked ninth worst in all of baseball. That is bad news for Norris who will square off against 2015’s leader in wOBA versus RHP (.478). Oh and Harper also accompanied that ridiculous total with a .354 ISO! Expect a monster game from Harper in one of the best possible matchups he could ever ask for.” All of this is still applicable even though Harper managed just one hit in the prior meeting. In fact, that makes him a better play this time around as his ownership could be slightly down. Harper once again is the best bet on the entire slate for a dinger and absolutely needs to be in your cash lineup at the very least.
Odubel Herrera, Phillies, $6,300 (Early) – Surprisingly, the Phillies seem comfortable riding out Odubel Herrera in the three hole of their order against RHPs with Maikel Franco batting cleanup. It’s not to say that Herrera isn’t a solid hitter but he does not possess much power. That being said, I think some exposure is needed to the Phillies lineup since they will square off against Andrew Cashner. At the end of spring, Cashner got shelled by the Angels and opened up the season by allowing five runs in four innings to the Dodgers. A report surfaced on Sunday that could explain this phenomenon: the Rangers cut off ties with the Padres in trade talks because of “concerns about Cashner’s arm.” If there is an issue going on then this would certainly explain the ineffectiveness as of late. While it may be speculative, I want to take advantage of a pitcher not at 100-percent and Herrera is a nice, cheap way to do it. Last season, Herrera put together a .298/.356/.430 slash line against RHP, so he’s still a safe option even if he does not have much pop. In this matchup, I’ll take the shot on his inexpensive price tag in cash games to fit the big boppers because I expect him to get on base once or twice against a possibly ailing opponent.
Max Scherzer, Nationals, $25,500 (Late) – Even with Jon Lester in action on the slate, I think Max Scherzer is worth spending the additional $5,100 on for the safety. Only Clayton Kershaw struck out more batters overall in 2015 and only Kershaw and Chris Sale struck out more batters per nine innings. Even though the Braves were a difficult team to strike out, we are talking about one of the elites here who could be the exception to the rule. Also, though it is a limited sample size, the Braves have struck out at a whopping 24.7-percent against the handedness this season. Scherzer will also start against a Braves team that ranked bottom 10 in wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate and hard hit percentage to RHP last season. Again back to the limited sample size of this season, the Braves rank third to last in wOBA so far with a miserable .248 tally. This has all the makings of a beat-down and a start you will not want to miss out on despite the hefty price tag.
Sonny Gray, Athletics, $18,400 (Late) – Starting both Scherzer and Jon Lester would make it nearly impossible to roster a reliable assortment of hitters as well so Sonny Gray is the recommended complement to the Nationals ace. Not only did Oakland open at a -142 favorite at home against Nick Tropeano but the game’s over/under is only projected at 7.0 runs. The Angels were a formidable foe against RHP last season but rank dead last in wOBA against the handedness so far this year. Gray allowed a .208 AVG at home in 2015 versus .225 away from the Oakland Coliseum. Most of all, Gray is just a solid pitcher against an offense I consider to be weaker this season due to an aging Albert Pujols, a miserable Daniel Nava/Craig Gentry platoon in left and no Erick Aybar nor David Freese. In my opinion, this new look Angels offense just isn’t very impressive and, therefore, Gray should be a solid bet to throw a gem.
Aaron Nola, Phillies, $16,500 (Early) – Rostering Aaron Nola is never the most enticing option but he draws an excellent matchup against an offensively deficient Padres team. My hope is people are scared off from the Padres offense after scoring 13-plus runs in two of their last three games. However, those games were played in Coors Field where Vinny Castilla thrice hit 40-plus homers and Preston Wilson once drove in 144 runs. Now they’ll head back to reality where last season they ranked second to last in wOBA versus RHP…and that was with Justin Upton! Sans their best hitter from last season, they are not a very potent offense (to put it politely). Nola, coming off a 7.0 IP, one ER, eight K performance in Great American Ballpark, looks poised to continue to his hot start. Not only is he tournament viable but I actually believe he is cash playable because of the matchup.
*Stats are accurate as of Sunday, Apr. 10