Most of the Rockies prefer hitting against RHP so they’re in for a rude awakening against Jon Lester and the Cubs on Sunday afternoon. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks – Maybe Robbie Erlin is beginning to put it all together as a pitcher, but I lean more towards relying on his overall sample size as a mediocre pitcher, as opposed to two consecutive solid starts to begin this season. In 142.2 IP in the MLB, Erlin has produced a 4.35 ERA and has only struck out an average of 6.62 batters per nine innings. To be fair, he has maintained a respectable WHIP of 1.25. However, the .129 opponents’ AVG he has allowed in two starts is more than 130 percentage points below his career average of .260. Against Paul Goldschmidt, something has got to give. Only Ryan Braun has produced a career wOBA against LHP higher than Goldschmidt’s .434 tally but not a single active hitter owns a superior hard hit rate (47.7-percent) against the handedness. Considering Erlin only averages 88.8 mph on his fastball, he isn’t going to blow the ball by Goldschmidt. If he misses his location just once, Goldschmidt has proven time and time again he will smoke the ball. Get ahead of the inevitable Erlin regression and roster the player who will likely prove to be the metaphorical wall Erlin hits in this game.
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals – Probable starter Jon Moscot is admittedly a bit of a wildcard. The last time Moscot produced an extended sample at a single level during the course of a season was in AA during 2014. That year, Moscot produced a 3.13 ERA with a 3.68 FIP but only registered a 6.69 K/9 and walked 2.59 batters per nine innings. Since then, two things have remained constant: a low strikeout rate and a high walk rate. Those two statements alone are enough to deem Matt Carpenter a viable play considering he produced a .394 wOBA, 40.2-percent hard hit rate and 12.8-percent BB rate last season versus RHP. Since there are multiple ways he is able to reach base, and both outcomes are realistic possibilities each time out, Carpenter possesses an incredibly safe floor in this matchup.
Dexter Fowler, Cubs – Through 11 games, only the St. Louis Cardinals have scored more runs per game (6.64) than the Chicago Cubs (6.45). I already recommended the guy setting the table for the Cardinals but Dexter Fowler is also in a favorable spot in a similar role for the Cubs. In his career, opposing starter Tyler Chatwood has allowed opposing lefties to slash .289/.379/.419 en route to a .351 wOBA. Sure that sample size is skewed for Coors Field but the Cubs and Rockies have combined to score 15 runs in two games so far this series. Runs have not been difficult to come by in Wrigley Field, which also is a hitter-friendly atmosphere in its own right. Like Carpenter, one of Fowler’s specialties is reaching base as he managed a .351 OBP in the leadoff spot last year and converted that trend into 102 runs scored. Leadoff hitters are great for cash games because they are destined for the more at-bats on the team…aka more opportunities to produce. Simply put: Fowler is a rock solid cash option.
Nomar Mazara, Rangers – The Orioles/Rangers game on Sunday is projected a Coors Field-esque 9.5 runs with Texas listed as -120 favorites. Vegas projects this matchup of Mike Wright versus Derek Holland to end in a slugfest. In 44.2 IP last season, Wright allowed nine HRs, a 6.04 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. On the contrary, Nomar Mazara is making the most of his opportunity so far having produced a hit in nine of his first 23 ABs as a professional (.391 AVG). He is hitting second in a potent lineup so RBI and runs scored potential comes with the territory. Mazara’s price has been incredibly slow to rise and it has deemed him playable literally every single day since his call up. Sunday is no different because this matchup against a middling righty in a favorable scoring environment certainly warrants consideration at his bargain price. Until he reaches $8,000, he is a nightly play in his platoon advantage (facing RHP). UPDATE: This game has been postponed. Look to some of the Cardinals outfields (Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk) instead.
Jon Lester, Cubs – On a slate that features the likes of Masahiro Tanaka and Corey Kluber, Jon Lester still easily rates as my top option due to the elite matchup he draws. Last season, the Rockies hit .228 away from home cumulatively…they also hit .256 against LHP versus .269 against righties. This current construction of the Rockies roster would cumulatively have registered a wOBA that ranked second in the league against RHP but would have ranked sixth worst against LHP. Even though the Rockies’ reputation suggests they are a force to be reckoned with on offense (which they are), their weakness lies in their ability (or lack thereof) to hit left-handers. The additions of Ryan Raburn and Mark Reynolds certainly don’t hurt but Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, Gerardo Parra, Charlie Blackmon (on the disabled list) and Nick Hundley all possess career splits that favor hitting RHP. When away from home and facing a left-hander, there is nothing scary about the matchup with the Rockies. Therefore, Lester is easily my favorite pitcher on the entire slate and can be deployed in all formats.
Michael Wacha, Cardinals – Essentially this whole article has focused on last year’s stats because I do not believe 11 games is enough of a sample size to rely on for the most part. Honing in on the Reds’ struggles this season is an exception because they lost one of their best hitters (Todd Frazier) in the offseason. Without one of their staples from last year, a regression from the offense as a whole was expected. So far this year, the Reds .277 wOBA versus RHP ranks 23rd and their 65 wRC+ ranks second worst behind only the Padres. It’s becoming increasingly clear that this offense just is not very good and therefore opposing pitchers need to be targeted against them. Michael Wacha and the Cardinals head into this game as -180 favorites so theirs is a whole lot to like about him as a mid-tier option.
Matt Moore, Rays – I have really liked the way Matt Moore is throwing the ball since the offseason. Once the team’s top prospect, Moore has sort of fallen into the “post hype sleeper” category of fantasy baseball because he does not seem to get the respect he deserves. He pitched poorly at the end of last season because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery and just was not all the way back yet. Now, having had the entire offseason to reboot, Moore is throwing the ball arguably the best he ever has. Last year the White Sox absolutely struggled to hit lefties, so even with the addition of Todd Frazier, they still aren’t exactly a juggernaut versus the handedness. The best part of the matchup from Moore’s perspective is the fact that the White Sox only walked at a rate of 6.6-percent last season and his control can be his Achilles heel. If a team is unable or unwilling to allow Moore to beat himself, then he has the advantage. He is best left for tournaments but he has cash appeal as well in what should prove to be a fantastic matchup for him.
*Stats are accurate as of Friday, Apr. 15