Christian Yelich has hit safely in every game so far this season and will square off against a pitcher who struggles to retire left-handed batters. Use him. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs, $10,500 (Early) – In 126.0 IP in the majors, Christian Bergman has registered a 5.43 ERA and 1.50 WHIP including a 12.00 ERA and 2.33 WHIP through two appearances this season. Bergman has yet to start a game this season, but has appeared in two relief appearances, so he likely will be on some sort of pitch count. Essentially, the Cubs will draw a matchup with a well below average pitcher who won’t last very long until one of the Rockies’ middle-relievers fills in. The sun is expected to be shinning in Wrigley Field which means it could play as hitter friendly as any park not named “Coors.” Anthony Rizzo, who absolutely destroys RHP, is absolutely licking his chops at this matchup…and you should be too. No team has averaged more runs per game (7.11) so far this season than the Cubs so this game has all the makings of a big afternoon for the whole offense. There is no better team to stack during the early slate and there is not a single hitter in a better spot than Rizzo.
Manny Machado, Orioles, $9,300 (Late) – Strangely, Manny Machado possesses reverse splits as he favors hitting RHP as opposed to LHP, even though he is right-handed. On the surface, Colby Lewis’ 3.00 ERA so far this season could make him look like a formidable foe…he isn’t. Last season, Lewis allowed 26 HRs with each handedness hitting exactly 13 off of him. Vegas projects the Orioles to score 4.5 runs in this matchup versus a pitcher with a career 4.79 ERA and 1.30 HR/9 rate. Similarly to the Cubs, the entire Orioles offense is in a good spot as well but none of them are as talented as Machado. While Chris Davis led the team in wOBA versus RHP last season, he did so striking out at 32.5-percent and hitting for a .258 AVG. Machado, on the other hand, produced a .384 wOBA with a 15-percent K rate and .295/.367/.527 slash line. Oh by the way, he stole 14 bases off of righties compared to Davis’ one. All-in-all, Machado is just the best combination of safety and upside on an offense that should light up a mediocre pitcher (at best).
Nelson Cruz, Mariners, $10,000 (Early) – Among all qualified starting pitchers last year, C.C. Sabathia’s .370 wOBA allowed to RHHs ranked second worst behind only Chris Rusin’s .372. On the other hand, Nelson Cruz led all of baseball in wOBA against LHP with a ridiculous .459 tally and .315 ISO. Hell, he slashed .357/.435/.673 against them and hit the ball hard 46.5-percent of the time. Now he’ll take his talents to Yankee Stadium which ranks as baseball’s 10th most favorable hitters park, per RotoGrinders. If Rizzo is option 1A on the slate, Cruz is clearly option 1B, and fading either of them is a risky proposition.
Christian Yelich, Marlins, $8,100 (Late) – “Bud” Norris is appropriately named because he is a pal to all fantasy owners who roster left-handed bats against him. Norris did not pitch enough innings to meet the “qualified” classification, but he did allow the ninth worst wOBA to LHHs among all pitchers who threw at least 40 IP to the handedness. Christian Yelich seems firmly supplanted into the three hole of the lineup against RHP and he is a career .299 hitter versus righties. I don’t necessarily believe in hot streaks but it’s hard to disregard but Yelich has hit safely in all eight games this season and has produced five base hits in just his last two games. With nothing scary about this matchup, continue to deploy Yelich in cash games because he is literally getting it done every night.
Max Scherzer, Nationals, $25,500 (Late) – So far this season, the real Max Scherzer that we all know and love has yet to show up, but to be fair, he has faced the Braves twice. The reason I say this is because the Braves struck out at the fifth lowest percentage versus RHP last season. Opposing pitchers who face them will continue to possess limited upside because striking out double-digits is nearly impossible against them. The Phillies, on the other hand, are a different story. Only six teams struck out at a higher percentage versus RHP in 2015 than the Phillies and only two teams produced an inferior wOBA. Many of the hitters on the Phillies roster own platoon splits that favor hitting LHP…which leaves them susceptible to opposing right-handers. Scherzer is literally the best right-hander in the game so it’s time for him to get back to his elite ways in one of the best matchups he could ask for. He has not surpassed 22.75 fantasy points in two games this season but I think he should push 30 on Saturday evening.
Jake Arrieta, Cubs, $20,000 (Early) – The night slate features a handful of pitchers in interesting spots but the day slate isn’t nearly as loaded. Other than Matt Harvey’s strangely depreciated salary, the alternative aces (David Price and Felix Hernandez) draws matchups that do not interest me in cash games. Even though the Rockies ranked second in wOBA versus RHP last season, I’m willing to throw Jake Arrieta out there in my cash games for a multitude of reasons. Sure the Rockies are great in Coors Field but did you know they only hit .228 cumulatively away from home last season? Furthermore, they only produced an OBP of .277 and SLG of .375 away from the high altitude. Now, the team lost leadoff man and righty killer Charlie Blackmon for an indefinite period of time, which further hampers their lineup. Amidst winning the Cy Young Award, Arrieta only allowed a 1.97 ERA in Wrigley and a .184 opponents’ AVG. Good pitching will beat good offense any day and I’m not sure the Rockies even qualify as “good offense” away from home. Roster this beast in all formats with confidence.
Brandon Finnegan, Reds, $15,300 (Early) – Brandon Finnegan is a former top prospect with the Royals but he was moved to Cincinnati in the Johnny Cueto deal last season. He then went on to make the rotation this season and has made the most of his opportunity. In his first two starts, Finnegan has pitched 6-plus innings in each with exactly two earned runs (ER) each time out. Those two outings have led to 25.1 and 17.4 fantasy points respectively. If there’s one thing the Cardinals do well, it is crush opposing righties. If there is one thing they do not so well, it is hit against opposing lefties. Finnegan, a left-hander, will enjoy a positive park shift as he’ll head to Busch Stadium (a more pitcher-friendly stadium than Great American Ballpark). As long as Finnegan can continue to miss bats (14 Ks in 12.2 IP), he rates as the only starter in the early slate with any semblance of upside…and his could be massive. Take the discount for your SP2 and enjoy what should be a nice outing from this up-and-coming stud.
*Stats are accurate as of Friday, Apr. 15