Do you have the guts to roster Jose Berrios in his first career start? Well you should. 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.
Adrian Beltre, Rangers, $9,000 – After allowing RHHs to slash .304/.363/.502 in 2015, C.C. Sabathia is at it again, allowing them to slash .333/.400/.426 so far in 2016. In other words, last season was no mirage and the aging pitcher’s skills are simply in decline. In 34 career ABs, Adrian Beltre’s batter versus pitcher history isn’t overly impressive against Sabathia, as he’s only registered eight hits (.235 AVG) including one HR. However, Sabathia used to be an ace and these days, well, he is not. On the other hand, the 37 year old Beltre has still got it; he led the Rangers in wOBA against LHP (.393) by nearly 60 percentage points last season. The Ballpark in Arlington isn’t going to do the pitcher any favors either, and the Rangers are implied to score 4.4 runs, so a big game should be expected from Beltre.
David Ortiz, Red Sox, $9,000 – Finally the Red Sox will return home (to an American League ballpark) so David Ortiz can crack the lineup once again. Early in the week, the Red Sox were in Atlanta and now the Braves will head to Fenway Park to finish out the series. Yesterday, Travis Shaw personified exactly why I like Ortiz on Wednesday. Facing a starting pitcher that struggles mightily against LHHs, Shaw hit a first inning HR and ended up driving in five. Since the beginning of last season, only eight pitchers (min. 40 IP versus the handedness) have allowed a .400-plus wOBA to LHHs…one of those was Matt Wisler who pitched last night (.404) and another one is Wednesday’s projected starter Bud Norris. Only three active hitters (min. 300 ABs) own a superior career wOBA versus RHPs than Ortiz’s .413 tally, so he quite obviously is the likeliest suspect to take advantage of the pitcher’s weakness. He is an excellent bet for a bomb and therefore can and should be used in all formats.
Andrew McCutchen Pirates, $9,600 – Coors Field Coors-ed last night. What does “Coors” mean as a verb? It means the ballpark allowed a ton of runs like it so often does. Hell, a player even homered not once, not twice, but thrice. Who was that man? None other than Andrew McCutchen. Assuming he still has anything left in the tank after all the rockets he was launching last evening, Wednesday’s starter Jon Gray owns some reverse career splits. Essentially, he is a RHP who fares worse against opposing RHHs than LHHs…which is unusual for a righty. Know of any RHHs that are hot? While it may feel to some like chasing last night’s fantasy points, McCutchen still is in the best hitting park in baseball. Do not overthink this and just insert him into your cash game lineup at the very least.
David Peralta, Diamondbacks, $7,500 – In order to fit all the aforementioned expensive hitters, a mid-tier hitter is going to be necessary. Luckily, there is a value pitcher who stands out as arguably the best play on the slate so there is no need to skimp on offense. David Peralta and the Diamondbacks will match up against a struggling Adam Wainwright. According to the St. Louis media, a lot is awry in the world of Wainwright. First and foremost, Wainwright is supposedly tipping pitches. Secondly, there is speculation he is not fully recovered from his ruptured Achilles last season. Even if neither of these are true, Wainwright currently sports some putrid numbers: 7.25 ERA, 4.91 FIP, 5.95 xFIP, 3.63 K/9, 4.03 BB/9 and by far a career worst 39.0 ground ball rate. All of these numbers are far worse than his career averages and it’s almost as if they’re describing a different pitcher. The Wainwright of old was a Cy Young Award winning ace. Clearly, something is up with him, and I’ve seen nothing to suggest it’s just all going to click in this start. Right now he ranks as a poor RHP and Peralta absolutely rips righties. Therefore, I’m going to start him with confidence even though Wainwright never used to be a name to target against. Oh how things have changed and the mighty have fallen.
Jake Arrieta, Cubs, $26,700 – Jake Arrieta heads into Wednesday priced at the exact same total as Clayton Kershaw last night. Apparently $26,700 is the going rate for elite pitchers these days. If there were no value hitting and/or pitching plays, it would be a difficult proposition to roster him. Thankfully an ultra-enticing cheap pitching play is viable on the slate so Arrieta becomes a no-brainer. So far this season, the Brewers rate absolutely neutral (15th) in terms of wOBA but they rank in bottom 10 of wRC+ and have struck out at a 25.2-percent rate. Give Arrieta a strikeout prone offense and he’ll make mincemeat out of them. Since the beginning of last season, only Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel own lower home ERAs than Arrieta’s 1.83 mark. He just owns Wrigley Field and is an elite play in both cash games and GPPs.
Gio Gonzalez, Nationals, $18,600 – No teams has struck out against LHP at a higher rate this season than Gio Gonzalez’s upcoming opponent: the Phillies. Gonzalez has reverted back to the dominant version of himself after a down year as he currently sports a 1.42 ERA and 9.47 K/9. The 8.66 batters he struck out per nine innings last year was his lowest total since 2010. In fact, his career average is 8.84 so it’s nice to see him back and eclipsing that total. Beyond just striking out, the Phillies rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, AVG, OBP, hard hit rate and line drive percentage versus Gonzalez. If Arrieta will not fit your budget and/or you do not trust the next pitcher, Gonzalez is a rock solid alternative.
Jose Berrios, Twins, $13,600 – Arguably the best pitching prospect in all of baseball was called up on Tuesday afternoon and will draw the start at home against the Indians on Wednesday. If you’re a sucker for upside then two-time Minor League Pitcher of the Year Jose Berrios is well worth rostering. Pitchers are always dangerous in their first few major league starts because there is little-to-no tape on them. Hitters are basically going in blind and guessing what repertoire a pitcher may possess. Berrios has struck out at least 8.68 batters per nine at every minor league level where he’s managed at least 50.0 IP. Last year, he struck out 175 batters in 166.1 IP between two levels. He has followed that up with 20 Ks in 17.0 IP and a 1.06 ERA thus far at Triple-A. It’s clear he’s ready and oozing with talent and will very soon be priced well above $13,600. If you have the guts to test the waters of the unknown, I think it’ll pay off in a big way. All aboard #TeamBerrios for me.
*Stats are accurate as of Tuesday, Apr. 26