In what should be an entertaining battle between two young stud pitchers, Chris Archer should be the one you choose to lead your DFS squads to victory on Thursday. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays, $9,900 (Late) – Of all pitchers who threw at least 100 IP last season, only Noah Syndergaard averaged a fastball speed greater than Nathan Eovaldi’s 96.7mph. Last week, I touched on Jose Bautista’s effectiveness against fastballs when the team squared off against Joe Kelly (who throws his over 70-percent of the time). Well, Bautista actually ranks as the second most effective hitter against fastballs by a wide margin behind Josh Donaldson…and Donaldson, not Bautista, took Kelly deep in that game. In this case, Eovaldi does not throw it nearly as often as Kelly but he does rely on it as his best pitch. Donaldson is known as a lefty killer but he still produced a .390 wOBA against RHP last season as well…a season that led to an AL MVP Award. Against a mediocre pitcher with no real out considering Donaldson’s effectiveness against fastballs, expect a monster performance from one of the MLB’s best.
Nolan Arenado, Rockies, $10,000 (Early) – Fading him in Coors Field is simply a bad idea most of the time. In 2015, Nolan Arenado slashed .316/.350/.610 at home versus .258/.296/.539 on the road. Sure he hit more HRs on the road (22) than at Coors Field (20), but he’s a much safer bet in the hitters’ paradise of Colorado. So far, Arenado has managed at least four fantasy points in each game at home (in five attempts) this season including a HR in two of the last three. On Thursday, the team will square off against Matt Cain who struggled to get anyone out last year. Though he allowed a ridiculous .404 wOBA to LHHs, he also allowed a very beatable .357 wOBA to RHHs. The Rockies as a team tore up RHP as they ranked only behind the Blue Jays in wOBA versus the handedness. If it wasn’t for the ridiculous year Carlos Gonzalez had, Arenado would have led most teams with a .388 wOBA and .611 SLG versus RHP. He clearly doesn’t mind the righty/righty matchup and he’ll face a mediocre one yet again at home. Since he homered against Jake Peavy last night, I have confidence he’ll fare pretty well against an aging Cain as well.
Hunter Pence, Giants, $10,200 (Early) – Sure Cain struggled last season and should be targeted against, but so should the Rockies’ starter Jorge De La Rosa. As to be expected with Colorado pitchers, De La Rosa possessed some of the most drastic home/away splits you’ll ever see: 5.40 ERA in Coors Field versus 3.26 ERA on the road. Throughout the course of Hunter Pence’s career, it hasn’t seemed to matter which handedness of pitcher he was facing; he hits them all. Overall, Pence has hit .284 against lefties for his career and .283 against righties. He does possess a .213 ISO against LHP compared to just .181 vs RHP. In other words, his upside might be greater against lefties. He will not ever face one in a better atmosphere than Coors Field so now is the time to take advantage. While he’ll likely be a popular pick on the slate, you won’t want to miss out.
Nomar Mazara, Rangers, $6,600 (Late) – The night slate features the Blue Jays and Yankees offenses in action to name a few so value is going to be necessary. Look no further than Rangers prospect Nomar Mazara who should continue to hit in the two spot against a RHP. The team will square off against Chris Tillman and the Orioles at home in the Ballpark in Arlington. According to RotoGrinders’ ball park factors, the Rangers’ home park ranks in the top eight of favorability for AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS and HR-percentage for LHHs. Across all minor league levels, Mazara has always enjoyed better success in the platoon split versus RHP. Tillman didn’t fare so well away from home last season as he allowed a .296/.364/.509 slash line on the road. For this mid-tier price, no additional research is even necessary. Just plug and play him.
Chris Archer, Rays, $22,000 (Early) – In a battle between two aces, my initial thought is most will lean towards Danny Salazar after the Rays have been dominated in two consecutive games. Both Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco have thrown gems on back-to-backs days versus a Rays team that struggled versus RHP last season. However, sometimes the talent outweighs the matchup and Chris Archer is on the verge of stardom. 2015 turned out to be a magical season for Archer as he struck out a whopping 252 batters in just 212 IP and complemented the monster K total with a 3.23 ERA. Cumulatively, this version of the Indians squad would have ranked 11th worst in wOBA versus RHP last year and struck out at a rate of 20.6-percent against the handedness. Oh by the way, they also ranked in the bottom 10 of AVG and OBP. All-in-all, they rate as an extremely favorable matchup, especially for an opposing strikeout pitcher. While the masses rely on history to repeat itself for the third straight day, roster Archer and bask in what likely ends in a double-digit strikeout performance.
Raisel Iglesias, Reds, $16,800 (Late) – Pitching on the night slate is an extremely difficult proposition so you’re going to have to take a risk no matter whom you roster. Raisel Iglesias is simply a pitcher whose talent I believe in so I’m willing to take a shot despite a nasty matchup on paper. The Cubs have scored at least four runs in four consecutive games and at least five in three consecutive games heading into Thursday’s tilt against the Reds. The good news is the wind was blowing in last night and likely will be again on Thursday night which should limit the HR upside of the Cubs. Most of all, Iglesias possesses the one skill that can be the Cubs’ kryptonite: the ability to strikeout hitters at a high rate. Only the current constitution of the Brewers struck out at a higher percentage than the Cubs’ current roster against RHP last season. Iglesias struck out 9.82 batters per nine innings last season and has already struck out 9.26 per nine in 11.2 IP this season. Furthermore, Iglesias doesn’t walk very many so that will take away an additional strength of this Cubs team that FanGraphs refers to as “maybe the most patient team ever.” It’s not sure thing by any stretch of the imagination but Iglesias possesses serious upside assuming many things go right for him. He’s a preferred GPP option but may need to be used in cash by default considering the alternatives.
Vincent Velasquez, Phillies, $14,400 (Early) – Simply put: the Padres stink. Without Justin Upton, they are virtually helpless on offense. Guys like Alexei Amarista, Melvin Upton, Adam Rosales and Brett Wallace keep finding their way into the lineup and relying on that group for offense is not a recipe for success. Jerad Eickhoff absolutely shut them down last night and hard-throwing youngster Vincent Velasquez is every bit as talented. Okay so Velasquez’s control is not quite as polished as Eickhoff’s but he has struck out 9.78 batters per nine in his short MLB career. The Phillies went out and traded a promising young reliever to get this kid which shows just how highly they think of him. All he did in his Phillies debut was throw six shutout innings with nine Ks. The kid is simply electric and his stuff should be more than enough to keep a bad offense quiet…at least enough to justify his price tag. While I wouldn’t expect a repeat of Eickhoff last night, there is still a plethora of upside.
*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, Apr. 13