Albert Pujols possesses great career numbers versus probable starter Colby Lewis but most of all he’s just a great hitter versus an unexceptional pitching talent. 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.
Albert Pujols, Angels, $8,400 – Typically batter versus pitcher data doesn’t factor into my research by Albert Pujols’ is hard to overlook versus Colby Lewis. First of all, it makes sense that an excellent hitter would smoke a mediocre hitter so it’s not like the results are overly surprising. However, 9-26 (.346) with three HRs and a .731 SLG is eyebrow raising regardless of the player and the matchup. Futhermore, Pujols and the Angels will enjoy an extremely positive ballpark shift in their move from Angel Stadium (ranked 25th in hitters’ parks over the past two seasons) to Globe Life Park in Arlington (fifth most favorable hitters’ park over the past two years). Unsurprisingly, Mike Trout (.409) and Albert Pujols (.402) are above and beyond the two best career hitters against RHP on the Angels roster for their careers, so this matchup checks all the boxes. At just $8,400, Pujols is a fantastic play in all formats and one of the first names I’ll be clicking on in most lineups when I start building them.
Joey Votto, Reds, $6,800 – What the heck is up with this price? Okay so Cincinnati ranks 20th in the MLB in runs per game (3.86), and Joey Votto is off to a slow start, but he’s still Joey Votto. You know, the guy who owns a career .415 wOBA versus RHP including a .315/.432/.544 slash line. In my opinion, this is the absolute perfect time to take advantage of his early struggles because the price has now depreciated to ridiculous levels. So far this season, opposing pitcher Juan Nicasio has allowed a .379 wOBA to LHHs, which is only slightly above his .362 career tally. In other words, he is incredibly susceptible to the handedness and Votto should be able to take advantage. At the lowest price you’ll ever find Votto, take advantage before it is too late.
Christian Yelich, Marlins, $8,800 – All season long Christian Yelich has rated as a superb cash game play considering he has been on base every game thus far and is hitting a whopping .361. On Friday, he’ll draw a matchup against Zach Davis who has allowed at least four earned runs (ER) in each of his starts this season. He has only thrown 42.1 IP at the Major League level in his career but those have led to a 4.89 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 4.32 BB/9 and 1.53 K/BB ratio…none of which are any good. Yelich is pretty much a lock for a base hit for two so, despite the steep price, the safety is worth paying up for in cash games.
Matt Kemp, Padres, $8,700 – In caveman terms, “Matt Kemp like lefty.” If that wasn’t clear, Kemp thoroughly enjoys crushing baseballs off of opposing LHPs and that’s typically the final outcome when he faces one. So far in 2016, Kemp has producing a hefty .440 wOBA against LHP and probable Alex Wood has struggled (to put it nicely). Heading in to the game, Wood’s ERA currently sits at 6.00 and he has only struck out 5.14 batters per nine innings, which is substantially less than his 7.79 career total. Something is up with him and the time is now to take advantage…before he figures out the defect. For his career, Wood has fared worse against RHHs although he possesses reverse splits (.404 wOBA allowed to LHHs) so far this season. Despite this year’s numbers, the sample size is too small to worry about righty versus lefty, but rather the focus should be on this: he cannot get opposing hitters out. The hitter on the Padres who is most likely to do damage against a left-hander is Kemp so he makes almost too much sense. Even though the price is substantial even in an unfavorable ballpark, Kemp will be out for revenge against his-ex team.
Corey Kluber, Indians, $24,300 – One pitcher stands out above all others on this slate and that man is none other than Corey Kluber. Since the beginning of last season, Kluber has been plagued by one big inning time after time, but he righted the ship in his last start. In eight innings versus the Tigers, Kluber struck out 10, allowed two hits, zero walks and just one ER. Now he’ll look to build on that momentum against a Phillies team that ranks in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, BB rate and hard hit percentage versus RHPs. Maybe most importantly, they strike out at the 10th highest percentage versus righties. Kluber will enjoy a positive league shift moving from the American League to the National League because he will get to fact the pitcher instead of a designated hitter. His floor in this matchup is a quality start with seven or so strikeouts and I think the sky is the limit. Consequently, he can and should be deployed in all formats…with confidence.
Sean Manaea, Athletics, $15,200 – In my bi-weekly piece for RotoCurve, I touched on Sean Manaea’s skill set. Here is the low-down: he strikes out a ton of hitters (at least 10.07 K/9 at every minor league level he’s ever been at) but he also has struggled with control (3.16-plus BB/9 at both levels he has pitched at in an extended sample). His skill set translates perfectly to GPPs but he is too risky for cash games. The matchup further enhances the case for him as a tournament-only play because the Astros are the prime team to target against in the format. They possess a ton of power (.388 wOBA, .200 ISO versus LHPs) but strike out at 22-plus percent. Manaea’s first start is either going to be a complete gem or disastrous and that is the personification of an elite tournament play.
Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays, $14,100 – On Friday, there is no need to complement Kluber in cash games with an expensive second option because both Steven Matz ($15,200) and Aaron Sanchez are intriguing options. I give Sanchez the edge because his price is a bit cheaper and he has fared well in starts this where in which he has racked up the strikeouts. When he faced an Athletics team that only strikes out at 18.1-percent versus the handedness, he was lit up for six runs in 4.1 IP. Now, he’ll face the most strikeout prone team against RHP: the Rays. He had produced at least 17.90 fantasy points in each of his first two starts before the implosion so I’d expect him to get back to those successful ways. As per usual, the Blue Jays are favored (even against a formidable foe in Drew Smyly), so Sanchez possesses some win potential as well. He is great combination of value and a high floor in this matchup so do not fear inserting him into your lineup even though his last start resulted in negative fantasy points.
*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, Apr. 28