Curtis Granderson and the Mets produced 11 runs against the Phillies last night so one can only imagine how they’ll fare against Jeremy Hellcikson. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Note: We are almost getting to the point where I am okay with using 2016 as a sample size. Until we reach 20-25 games, it is not a large enough sample and I will continue to rely on past statistics.
Manny Machado, Orioles, $9,600 – Only the Rangers are implied to score more runs on Wednesday than the Orioles but many of Baltimore’s hitters are in a great spot as well. They’ll square off against the blowup-prone R.A. Dickey and his hit or miss knuckleball. While the Orioles as a whole have only managed a career .204 AVG against Dickey, Manny Machado is the only player on the team who owns a .300-plus AVG against him. To review, batter versus pitcher (BvP) data is typically not very useful other than against knuckleballers because the pitch is so unique. Some can adjust to it while others never can and it is worth keeping track of the trend. Clearly, Machado has figured Dickey out and he also is one of those rare righties whose platoon splits favor hitting against RHP. The guy is simply one of the best hitters in the league and once again is in an incredibly favorable spot. Act accordingly.
Odubel Herrera, Phillies, $6,800 – The Phillies offense isn’t exactly a juggernaut but it would feel wrong to go an entire slate with Bartolo Colon scheduled to start and not recommend a hitter against him. A statistic that jumps off the page for Colon last year was the fact that he allowed a .285 AVG to opposing lefties. Herrera, a career .293 hitter, seems like the perfect hitter to take advantage. All Colon does at this point is chuck fastballs in there and Herrera rated as a well above average fastball hitter last season according to FanGraphs pitch type linear weights. Power potential is almost nonexistent for Herrera so he is the ideal fit for cash games. Even with that being said, the potential is there for a multiple hit game, with a 3-4 hit game as an outside possibility.
Starling Marte, Pirates, $8,400 – One rule I am carrying over from last season is to always consider Starling Marte against left-handers. Marte faded against the handedness down the stretch so his overall season numbers didn’t look great but he still sports a .373 career wOBA versus the handedness. By comparison, his output in the category is superior to the career numbers of such players as known lefty killers Victor Martinez, Derek Norris and Chris Young who every always uses against southpaws. He is simply on the verge of rating as a top-tier hitter against the handedness yet he is priced as a mid-tier option. Opposing starter Drew Pomeranz has allowed a career .336 wOBA to RHHs for his career so there is nothing scary about the matchup either. Playing in Petco Park limits his upside a bit but he’s a core cash play for me on the slate.
Curtis Granderson, Mets, $8,000 – All of a sudden the Mets offense is clicking on all cylinders. Facing an opposing pitcher (Vincent Velasquez) who was so dominant he was setting records in his first two starts, the Mets managed to score five-plus runs for the fifth consecutive game. In fact, they broke out in a huge way and scored a whopping 11 runs against the Phillies last night. It was only a matter of time for this offense since they ranked in the top 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, OBP, hard hit percentage and line drive percentage against RHP last season. No player produced a greater wOBA against the handedness last season than the team’s table-setter: Curtis Granderson. At the top of this potent lineup, his skill set provides serious upside because there is plenty of runs scored and stolen base potential as well. Now factor in a matchup against Jeremy Hellickson, who came back to Earth last start after two solid starts to begin the year, and you have the recipe for an elite play.
Madison Bumgarner, Giants, $22,200 – Madison Bumgarner’s home/away splits from 2015: a tale of two pitchers. Last year, he threw 120.2 IP at home and managed an impressive 1.94 ERA in the friendly confines of AT&T Park. Away from home was not nearly as kind to him as he allowed a 4.15 ERA in 97.2 IP. According to ESPN Park Factors, AT&T Park played as the absolute worst hitters’ park last season and has played as the sixth worst cumulatively over the past two years. In other words, it would make sense why a pitcher would prefer pitching in this environment as opposed to say Coors Field or Chase Field (which are two home parks in the division). While the Diamondbacks aren’t slackers against LHP, especially Paul Goldschmidt, they have struck out at 26.4-percent against the handedness this season. This isn’t a new trend considering the Diamondbacks also struck out at the 10th highest percentage last season (21.6-percent). Oh by the way, last season their second best lefty killer (A.J. Pollock) was healthy. Although Bumgarner has struggled so far this season, and this isn’t the easiest of matchups, the strikeouts should provide a safe floor. If a few things break correctly, Bumgarner has the potential for a monster performance, assisted by the massive ballpark. Therefore, he can and should be deployed in all formats.
Nathan Eovaldi, Yankees, $14,000 – Outside of Bumgarner, all the other expensive pitchers truly are in difficult spots. Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels and Chris Archer all are incredibly talented but there is serious downside to all of their matchups. Consequently, I am okay with spending down at SP2 even in cash games on Wednesday if only by default. In yesterday’s Today’s Plays article, I recommended Michael Pineda for all the same reasons I like Nathan Eovaldi tonight. One of the arguments I made verbatim was: “Only the White Sox, Angels and Padres have produced lower wOBA tallies than the Athletics’ .269 mark thus far. While they struck out at sub-20-percent rate, they rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, BB rate, AVG, OBP and line drive rate.” I also eluded to the fact that Pineda had pitched better than his numbers suggest and the same holds true for Eovaldi. Like Pineda, Eovaldi has faced two upper-echelon offenses (Astros and Blue Jays) and yet his xFIP still sits at .315. So far, he has been plagued by the home run and the Athletics are not a team that possesses much power. Typically Eovaldi’s erratic style is best left for GPPs but he is cash viable in this matchup in order to fit the big boppers on offense.
Ross Stripling, Dodgers, $12,800 – At an even cheaper salary, and pitching in the preferred league (the National League), Ross Stripling will toe the mound against the lowly Braves. Last year, the Braves ranked in the bottom 10 of wOBA versus RHP but, as a silver lining, they were at least a very difficult team to strike out (17.4-percent). To this point in 2016, they are still having difficulty hitting RHPs but they are striking out at a rate above league average as well. Essentially, you want to roster righties against them and Stripling has begun his major league career with back-to-back quality starts. We do not know much about Stripling yet but we do know FanGraphs has rated three of his four pitches as above average so far. If he is halfway decent, he should be able to keep a weak opponent at bay, so he is worth a shot as long as you have the guts.
*Stats are accurate as of Tuesday, Apr. 19