Kenta Maeda has been spectacular in his young MLB career and there’s no reason not to expect the success to continue against a Marlins team that struggles to hit RHPs. 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.
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals, $8,700 (Late) – Opposing starter Rubby De La Rosa has a very difficult task ahead of him on Thursday evening. Not only does his 2016 ERA sit at nearly 5.80, the Cardinals rank first in wOBA against RHP so far this season. Last year, De La Rosa absolutely struggled versus LHHs as he allowed a .404 wOBA and .312/.382/.567 slash line to the handedness. This season, he hasn’t fared much better as he is yet again allowing a .375 wOBA to lefties. Unfortunately for De La Rosa, Matt Carpenter is one of the best hitters in the game against RHPs as he sports a career .394 wOBA and .292/.385/.541 slash line against the handedness. Unsurprisingly, this has led to past success for Carpenter in this exact matchup as he is 3-5 in his career off of De La Rosa with two doubles. Lastly, Chase Field plays as a top eight ballpark for LHHs in terms of the AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS and extra-base hit percentage categories, per RotoGrinders Park Factors. Combine all these factors and Carpenter is an absolute elite play in all formats.
Tommy La Stella, Cubs, $5,700 (Early) – Considering Manager Joe Maddon had inserted Tommy La Stella into Wednesday’s lineup for a game that was rained out, I’m going to assume he will leave him in for Thursday’s game. La Stella was penciled into the lineup in the six hole and he is absolutely worth playing at this price. The last time La Stella started, he racked up three hits, all of which were of the extra-base variety. Now Taylor Jungmann isn’t someone I actively seek to target opposing hitters against but La Stella had some underrated skills. In a limited sample last season, he slashed .286/.343/.429 against RHPs and sports a .448 wOBA so far this year. In a potent lineup where he possesses sneaky RBI and runs scored potential, take advantage of the fantastic value of the price tag if he cracks the lineup yet again. If not, target literally any other Cubs bat because they are just a well-oiled machine.
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, $9,900 (Early) – A familiar face will return to Coors Field on Thursday as former Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio will take the mound against the Rockies. Luckily for Carlos Gonzalez and company, Nicasio owns a career 5.23 ERA, 1.39 ERA and .271 opponents’ AVG in the pitchers’ nightmare that is Coors Field. Furthermore, Nicasio has allowed a career .362 wOBA and .278/.363/.477 slash line to opposing LHHs. Coincidentally, the Rockies career leader in wOBA against RHPs happens to be a lefty….you guessed it: Gonzalez. As long as “CarGo” remains healthy, he is an absolute monster as evident by his .303/.367/.566 career slash line against RHPs. Last night Coors Field showed once again why you cannot avoid it even if you want to. Despite the reasonably expensive price, fading Gonzalez is simply a terrible idea.
Jeremy Hazelbaker, Cardinals, $7,800 (Late) – Did I mention Rubby De La Rosa is awful against lefties? One hitter versus De La Rosa simply isn’t enough as De La Rosa is allowing 1.62 HR/9 so far this season after allowing 1.53 per nine last season. Let’s be clear; 1.62 home runs allowed per nine innings is outrageously high. Hell, De La Rosa hasn’t produced an ERA sub-4.43 ever in a single-season major league stint. He’s simply awful and Jeremy Hazelbaker is one of the most pleasant surprises in all of baseball this season. Coming out of virtually nowhere, Hazelbaker is hitting .321with five HRs and two stolen bases (SBs). In 46 ABs against righties this season, Hazelbaker has produced an incredible .424 wOBA and .394 ISO. Again, this whole Cardinals lineup is destined to erupt in this matchup, so you’ll want multiple pieces…Carpenter and Hazelbaker are options 1A and 1B but a case could be made for any of the hitters in the top six for cash games. UPDATE: Jeremy Hazelbaker is not in the lineup but Brandon Moss is, so make the easy substitution.
Jake Arrieta, Cubs, $26,400 (Early) – NOTE: Jake Arrieta’s start was rained out last night, and he was pushed back to Thursday, so this is going to be the exact same tidbit from yesterday. Jake Arrieta heads into Thursday priced at almost the exact same total as Clayton Kershaw Tuesday night. Apparently a price the mid $26,000s 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.
Kenta Maeda, Dodgers, $19,500 (Late) – If it wasn’t for Arrieta, Kenta Maeda would easily rate as the top overall pitching option on the day. I absolutely love this matchup for Maeda, whose ERA currently sits at a miniscule 0.36, against a Marlins team that has struggled to hit RHPs since the beginning of last season. So far this season, the Marlins rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, BB rate and hard hit percentage after ranking in the bottom 10 of all those categories last season. Even though they ranked in the bottom 10 of wOBA and line drive percentage as well, they only rank 11th worst in each of those categories thus far, so, baby steps. Regardless, they’re not a very good hitting team and Maeda is straight locked in to begin his major league career. In a matchup of David versus Goliath, expect Maeda to not only perform but to straight dominate.
Tanner Roark, Nationals, $15,200 (Early) – What the heck happened last time out? Tanner Roark transformed from a pitcher with a sub-5.00 K/9 in his first three starts to Nolan freaking Ryan. On Apr. 23 versus the Twins, Roark struck out a whopping 15 hitters after striking out nine combined in his first three starts. If somehow the light just clicked on for Roark, Thursday presents an excellent opportunity for a repeat because the Phillies actually have struck out at a nearly identical rate to the Twins versus RHP. The Phillies also just overall rate as a subpar offense against the handedness as they rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, BB rate and hard hit percentage. Consequently, it’s no surprise that the Nationals are favored, although -159 is a little bit eyebrow raising. Whenever you find a mid-tier pitcher favored this heavily, they automatically warrant consideration for cash games due to the value. If Roark can bring the nasty stuff once again, he would once again possess the upside for GPPs as well.
*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, Apr. 27