The Padres offense erupted last night but expect Gerrit Cole to quiet them back down on Thursday evening. 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.
Jose Altuve, Astros, $9,600 (Late) – The Astros will square off against right-handed starter A.J. Griffin so Jose Altuve will not be hitting in his favorable platoon split (against a lefty). Therefore, many may choose to go in a different direction especially with both the Blue Jays and Royals offenses in great spots. Let me be the one to tell you: don’t. Although there is an extremely limited sample size, Altuve has shown progression against RHP so far this season. After producing just a .319 wOBA against the handedness last year, his current tally sits .455 in 50 ABs this season including five HRs, six stolen bases (SBs) and a .320 AVG. To begin the season, Griffin has strung together two consecutive quality starts so he may not be a pitcher most look to target against. Digging deeper, those starts occurred in two of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in all of the American League (AL): Angel Stadium and Safeco Field. For the first time as a Ranger, he’ll have to pitch at home and will face the toughest offense he has drawn thus far. I expect this could turn into a bloodbath, and if it does, Altuve will be leading the charge. Lock and load him in all formats as he is legitimately playing like the best player in the whole AL.
Kendrys Morales, Royals, $7,800 (Late) – Hello Mike Pelfrey…we meet again. In two starts this season, Pelfrey has only allowed a combined three ERs in 9.2 IP but that is bound to come to a screeching halt. As I noted the last time he took the bump, Pelfrey owns a career ERA of 4.50 and career WHIP of 1.49 over a span of 11 MLB seasons (1247.0 IP). In other words, we have a large enough sample size to just assert that Pelfrey is a bum, pure and simple. Oh by the way, he has allowed opposing LHHs to produce a career .349 wOBA against him so legitimately all of the Royals lefties are in play. Last time I recommended a Royals hitter, I went with Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales was the lefty who managed the big day, so I’m hoping the same does not occur this time around. In 2015, Morales led the team in wOBA, ISO, SLG and hard hit percentage versus RHP so he is the guy I’m choosing to go out there and mash against a weak opponent. With numbers like his in an elite matchup such as this one, Morales can safely be rostered in all formats.
Adam Eaton, White Sox, $8,000 (Early) – Speaking of not so impressive starting pitchers, Jered Weaver’s skills have been steadily declining for some time now. Here is the trend in his statistics over the past five seasons:
2012: 2.81 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 3.75 FIP, 4.18 xFIP
2013: 3.27 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 3.82 FIP, 4.31 xFIP
2014: 3.59 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 4.19 FIP, 4.30 xFIP
2015: 4.64 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 4.81 FIP, 5.10 xFIP
2016 (this season): 4.35 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 6.07 FIP, 6.02 xFIP
Much of this deterioration of his statistics is due to the fact that his average fastball velocity has decreased from 90.1 mph in 2010 to 81.3 mph this season, per FanGraphs. In fact, his averaged fastball in 2012 sat at 88.0 mph so he has seen nearly a seven mph drop in just four seasons. He just doesn’t have much left so Adam Eaton should be able to take advantage out of the leadoff spot. Only Jose Abreu produced a superior wOBA against RHP last season on the team but Eaton’s .374 OBP reigned supreme. Considering Eaton steals bases as well, he should have a safe floor in this matchup against the aging veteran, so he is a prime option for cash games.
Chris Coghlan, Athletics, $6,000 (Late) – Rostering Chris Coghlan always inevitably accompanies some risk as he is always a candidate to be pinch hit for later in games. Due to his extreme platoon splits, he only ever starts against RHP and is almost always pulled when a lefty reliever enters the game. However, there is a bit of a saving grace for his value here as Danny Valencia injured himself sliding into home tomorrow. His absence at least creates a glimmer of hope that the team would allow Coghlan to face a lefty himself (although still doubtful). Anyways, value is going to be needed on this slate since many of the aces are in play, and Coghlan’s price is an excellent bargain. Opposing starter Luis Severino has struggled in his two starts this season and Coghlan will be enjoying an extreme positive ballpark shift with the game being played in Yankee Stadium. Coming off a season with a respectable .355 wOBA and .212 ISO against the handedness, Coghlan is too solid of a value to pass on hitting second against a middling right-hander.
Clayton Kershaw, $26,400 (Early) – In the early slate, the question you’ll have to ask yourself is: Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer or both? For me, the one I favor by a solid margin is Kershaw squaring off against an Atlanta team that has struggled to hit anyone, let alone left-handers, this season. So far, the Braves rank dead last in wOBA against LHP so this is literally a battle of the best versus the worst. Additionally, the Braves have struck out at a rate of 20.8-percent versus lefties this season whereas the Marlins (Scherzer’s opponent) has only struck out at a rate of 18.7-percent. Pairing both in cash would be ideal if serious value emerged on offense but otherwise you’ll want to just pick one. For me, Kershaw is not only the best pitching play on the early slate, but the best on the entire day.
Jake Arrieta, Cubs, $21,600 (Late) – While the early slate maybe features the two best strikeout pitchers in the entire league, the late slate is filled with aces as well…including the reigning National League (NL) Cy Young Award Winner (who won it over both Kershaw and Scherzer). This matchup is nothing more than neutral for multiple reasons including the Reds ranks 16th in wOBA and 20th in K rate against RHP in 2016. No, the arguments to be made for Arrieta are the fact that he’s simply awesome and the options on the late slate are rather limited. None of the mid-tier priced pitchers draw any sort of intriguing matchups so I’m going to rely on the high floor of the Cy Young Award winner and sleep like a baby.
Gerrit Cole, Pirates, $20,100 (Late) – If Arrieta is the guy to use by default, Gerrit Cole is the one to use because he is above and beyond the best play on the slate. While I recommend pairing the two in cash games, Cole’s matchup is much superior to the Cubs’ ace. The Pirates will square off against the lowly Padres, who did manage eight runs last night, but that came off a weak lefty. Now the Pirates will toss their right-handed ace against a team full of guys who own career platoon splits that strongly favor hitting LHP. In the friendly confines of Petco Park, Cole will even experience a large positive ballpark upgrade as well. All-in-all, it is very hard to find downside in this matchup, so don’t overthink this one. Use Cole and use him everywhere.
*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, Apr. 19