Adrian Gonzalez will head to Coors Field, face a RHP and his salary uptick was minimal in the process. Go ahead and use him in cash games at the very least. 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 – Through three starts, Chris Young has been nothing short of a gas can. Not only does his ERA sit at 7.90 with a .198 WHIP so far this season but his FIP (5.97) and xFIP (5.53) suggest the struggles are no fluke. At 36 years old, it wouldn’t exactly be shocking to learn a pitcher does not have much left and this could be the case for Young. His career 3.74 ERA and 1.22 WHIP seem to elude to at least a partial rebound in the future. Regardless, Manny Machado is an all-worldly hitter on the absolute top of his game right now and I wouldn’t expect a soft-tossing aging veteran to slow him down. With 13 games in the books, Machado is hitting a whopping .407 with a .530 wOBA overall including a .488 AVG and .630 wOBA against RHP! The guy is just on another planet right now and draws a favorable matchup so just start him and move on.
Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers, $8,800 – Alert: a game will occur in Coors Field once again on Friday. I repeat, players will enjoy the benefit of the ludicrous advantage the high altitude provides. The Dodgers and Adrian Gonzalez will square off against the Rockies top pitching prospect Jon Gray in his first start off of the disabled list. While there is a limited sample size (40.2 IP) for Gray in the majors, the sample is extensive for the 34 year old Gonzalez. In 4239 career ABs versus RHP, Gonzalez has slashed .298/.374/.527 with a .380 wOBA and 141 wRC+ (which is excellent). Now, put him against a young starting pitcher who will take time to find his groove and the outcome is an elite play. In Coors Field, this is way too cheap for Gonzalez who is one of the top threats on the slate for a bomb.
Steven Souza Jr., Rays, $7,800 – Targeting Coors Field is the top priority on the slate but a close second would be the Rays bats against C.C. Sabathia. Rays’ active hitters possess a .283/.359/.509 slash line against Sabathia in 173 total ABs. Last year, five hitters on the Yankees produce wOBAs against LHP of .324 or greater including with .370-plus tallies. Okay, so Souza was the outlier at .324 but he faded hard against the handedness after an excellent start. You might say he hit the proverbial rookie wall. In a limited sample this season, Souza is back to raking against southpaws as he is slashing .333/.667/1.000 in 12 ABs and producing a .427 wOBA. I expect Souza to take a big leap in his second season and likely eclipse the 20/20 plateau. Like most of the team, I believe favors the platoon split against lefties and hits in the middle of a solid lineup versus the handedness. All Rays are in play but Souza’s value is the one that stuck out most to me. Oh by the way, Evan Longoria is a career 24-64 (.375) off of Sabathia with six HRs so he is certainly intriguing as well.
Ryan Raburn, Rockies, $7,200 – Speaking of value, there isn’t much analysis needed here because this value is just incredible. Ryan Raburn owns a career .358 wOBA against LHP but he stepped his game up last year and ranked 12th among all hitters (min. 50 plate appearances) in wOBA versus the handedness (.423). By comparison, his tally barely edged out the likes of Bryce Harper, Jose Altuve and Ryan Braun…so yeah, he was an absolute monster. Now he’ll face a decent lefty (Scott Kazmir) in Coors Field of all places and only costs $7,200. You know what to do.
Felix Hernandez, Mariners, $21,000 – Let’s get one thing straight: I believe Felix Hernandez’s skills are amidst a steep decline. Hernandez’s average fastball velocity has dropped more than two mph from last season which already was a two mph decrease from his prime (2010). All-in-all, we are looking at a pitcher averaging 89.7 mph on his heater. Now through three starts, he does sport a 1.00 ERA but he is posting a 6.50 BB/9…which is nearly triple his career average. His current xFIP of 4.07 would rank significantly worse than his career average of 3.17 and his worst single season output of 3.83 (2008). Even with all of this being said, Hernandez still stands out as the top cash starting pitching on the slate. In my rotations article for RotoCurve this week, I touched on just how porous the Angels offense has been thus far. This table displays just how poorly they rank in important statistical categories:
Okay so the fact that they walk the most of any team is a little worrisome against Hernandez but his career numbers suggest the wildness is a mirage. Outside of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, there isn’t much to fear about this Angels offense whatsoever and Hernandez should be aided by a pitcher-friendly ballpark (Angel Stadium). Despite his flaws, Hernandez is still worthy of a roster spot. UPDATE: Felix Hernandez has been scratched with an illness and Hisashi Iwakuma will fill in for him. He is viable as well.
Jon Lester, Cubs, $19,200 – Maybe the Reds team will be out for revenge after being no-hit on Thursday evening but they’ll square off against another solid opponent. Revenge will be a difficult, uphill task as Vegas has tagged Jon Lester as a -195 favorite even on the road. The Reds are only projected to score 3.3 runs despite the fact that they rank fifth in wOBA against RHP so far this season and both their top two hitters strongly favor the platoon split against lefties. Home plate umpire Greg Gibson is known for a favorable zone so I suspect he’ll be helped out a little in that regard. The matchup isn’t perfect but Lester is a talented pitcher coming off a 10 K performance so he should at least be trustable for cash. He’s a fine SP2 for cash games if you want to spend up on both spots due to the lack of viable alternatives…at least expensive ones.
Matt Moore, Rays, $15,200 – If comfortable taking a bit of a risk, Matt Moore is a medium risk, very high reward play against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium. Last night, Rich Hill, also a lefty, struck out 10 Yankees amidst a solid outing that led to a win (and 30-plus fantasy point performance). So far this season, Moore is throwing like the ace scouts once believed he would become, and the major development is the honing of his control. Having walked 4.01 batters per nine innings over 428.1 IP so far in his career, needless to say the 1.47 mark this year is quite an improvement. After yesterday’s loss, the Yankees rank 17th in wOBA against LHP this season and rank second to last in ISO. Hill personified the upside a left-hander could potentially possess against this Yankees ball club to perfection. If Moore is able to come close to repeating the performance, he’ll prove to be one of the best pitching values on the slate. He’s probably best served for GPPs but I may resort to playing him in cash by default.
*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, Apr. 20