The man who launches moonshots, Byung-Ho Park, is a viable play in all formats on Sunday against a starting pitcher who pitches to contact. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Byung-Ho Park, Twins, $8,100 – Typically a player hitting .226 with a .290 OBP and a 30.4-percent K rate doesn’t enter the cash game conversation. However, Sunday is an exception for me concerning the incredibly powerful Byung-Ho Park. When Park gets a hold of one, he hits one a long way. According to ESPN stats and info, only Trevor Story (six), Mike Trout (five) and Mark Trumbo (four) have hit as many 425-plus foot HRs this season as Park. This matchup is unusually juicy because he’ll be facing a pitcher (Mike Pelfrey) with a career 5.09 K/9. In other words, he pitches to contact and rarely retires hitters via the strikeout. If he cannot exploit Park’s weakness, then he’ll be playing into Park’s strength. For that reason, I have no issue firing up Park everywhere on this slate and would not be shocked at all if he hit a bomb.
Kike Hernandez, Dodgers, $6,300 – A player who consistently and drastically gets underpriced is Kike Hernandez for the Dodgers. Not only does he lead off against left-handers but he ranks first among all active players (min. 100 ABs) in career wOBA versus the handedness. Think about that…arguably the most talented hitter against the handedness is hitting in the prime lineup spot and is only priced at $6,300! Sure opposing starter Drew Pomeranz has been on a roll to begin the season but the value is too great to even big fading Hernandez at this price tag.
Dexter Fowler, Cubs, $8,700 – Note: The Cubs were rained out yesterday so Fowler will draw the exact same matchup he was scheduled to on Saturday. This is a repeat tidbit because everything still applies. Gauging by the early radar, it appears the teams should have at least a three hour window to get this game in so the threat of postponement is low. For those keeping up with the MLB OBP leaders, Dexter Fowler has fallen behind Aledmys Diaz and Christian Yelich as his tally has dropped all the way to .473 (sarcasm). After surprisingly re-signing with the Cubs in the offseason, Fowler has been quite the pleasant surprise as he currently leads the MLB in wins above replacement (WAR) with 1.9. He has played the role of table-setter atop the Cubs lineup to near perfection as only the Cardinals (6.23) average more runs per game than the Cubs (6.19). Their offensively loaded squad will square off against Julio Teheran the Braves at 1:20 pm CST in Wrigley Field. Teheran, who was once knocking on the door of becoming an ace, has been held back for one reason and one reason alone: he struggles to retire LHHs. So far this year, Teheran has allowed a .407 wOBA to the handedness which is only slightly worse than the .386 tally he allowed last season. They are basically his kryptonite and the Cubs possess a few excellent ones but none of them possess a higher floor than Fowler. Roster Fowler for his safety, but there’s always a possibility he’ll rip one of the park and/or steal a base, which provides him with an intriguing ceiling as well.
Charlie Blackmon, Rockies, $7,600 – Although Coors Field is frustrating on many levels, there is one clear positive; when Rockies hitters leave, the masses basically forget that they even exist. Every single slate which includes the Rockies playing on the road inevitably ends with all their hitters immensely under-owned. On Sunday, the Rockies will remain in Chase Field, which has played as a top three hitters’ park over the past two seasons in its own right, per ESPN Park Factors. Probable starter Shelby Miller has started five games so far this season and has yet to produce one quality start. The Rockies as a whole are a great hitting team against RHPs as they currently rank ninth in wOBA and second in ISO against the handedness. After missing a few weeks with a turf toe issue, he returned to the lineup on Friday and promptly delivered two hits and a run scored. He is the team’s table-setter and he played that role to perfection last season en route to 17 HR, 58 RBI, 43 stolen bases (SBs) and a .287 AVG. Facing a pitcher who just doesn’t seem right, $7,600 is simply too sweet of a price tag to ignore.
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, $27,000 – Death, taxes and Clayton Kershaw being the first name mention on any slate his is pitching in are the surest things in life. Sure the Padres are a superior hitting team against LHPs than RHPs but they still are averaging just the 17th most runs per game (3.91) so far this season. Kershaw, on the other hand, is averaging 26.53 fantasy points per start and is the only $21,000-plus pitcher on the slate pitching in a matchup I feel confident about. With all the aforementioned hitting value available to roster, just inserting Kershaw into cash rosters and taking advantage of his safe floor is the preferred play.
Danny Salazar, Indians, $20,800 – While Chris Sale’s K potential is difficult to pass on, the Orioles do rank 11th in wOBA versus LHP and rank in the top 10 of wRC+ and ISO. On the other hand, Danny Salazar will be pitching in a National League ballpark against a mediocre AB. I love when an American League pitcher gets to face the pitcher instead of a designated hitter (DH) and his price doesn’t change much (if at all). Furthermore, the Phillies have struck out at the ninth highest rate versus RHPs thus far and Salazar’s bread and butter is his K potential (10.17 K/9 this season). Like Kershaw, the strikeouts should provide him with an extremely safe floor, but Salazar’s upside stretches well above his price tag. The Philles rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, BB rate and hard hit percentage so there’s an excellent chance Salazar throws a gem. At his price tag, he can and should be deployed in all formats and I may have 100-percent exposure.
Rich Hill, Athletics, $17,400 – Are you on board with this guy yet? If you have been slow to adapt, you have missed out on endless amounts of money in the process. Not only have I been writing about this guy all year but I have been rostering him and thoroughly enjoying watching him pitch. Both of his breaking pitches (curveball and slider) rank in the top three of movement and he throws his breaking ball more than any other pitcher. So while he only hits 92-93 mph max on the radar gun, it must look like 100 because you’re judging whether it’s going to break 12 inches or keep soaring straight at you. He draws a matchup against a notoriously strikeout-prone Astros team who rank sixth so far in wOBA and in the top 10 of wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG and OBP. Basically, they are a very difficult matchup for opposing lefties but they’re glaring flaw is swinging and missing. This is going to be a battle of strength versus strength because Hill’s K numbers are elite so far this season (37 Ks in 26.0 IP) but the Astros will crush him if he misses with location. For these reasons, Hill is an absolutely fantastic cash option, but is a bit risky for cash games. All-in-all I wouldn’t argue against you rostering him in any format because he easily could strike out double-digits and finish as one of the top scoring pitchers on the slate.
*Stats are accurate as of Saturday, Apr. 30