Michael Conforto is the perfect combination of skill set and matchup on Monday so do not leave this elite play out of your lineup. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals, $8,100 – Among qualified starting pitchers this season, Jeremy Hellickson’s .363 wOBA allowed to LHHs ranks 32nd worst, or just ahead of Matt Wisler and Jeff Samardzija. While “32nd worst” doesn’t sound too terrible, that would be the equivalent of approximately J.D. Martinez’s wOBA versus RHP last season. So Hellickson is allowing the baseball world (at least lefties) to fare like 2015 Martinez against him as a whole. Carpenter, on the other hand, led the Cardinals with a .394 wOBA against the handedness last year and his career tally against the handedness currently sits at .371. Though he has started out a bit cold to begin the year (.212/.338/.439 slash line) versus righties, it’s only a matter of time until he busts out and approaches his career norm. Facing a pitcher who struggles to retire opposing lefties sounds like the perfect time to me and his price is as affordable as you’ll ever find against a mediocre opponent. Play him based on the value alone although the skill set clearly provides a high ceiling as well.
Chris Carter, Brewers, $7,500 – Rostering Chris Carter feels like chasing fantasy points after he homered twice on Sunday but the draw on Monday is too favorable to pass on. Carter’s glaring career-long flaw has been his aptitude to strike out at an incredibly rate (33.3-percent). Probable starter Jered Weaver just doesn’t seem to even possess the capability to strike out hitters at anywhere near a league average rate any longer, as he only managed a 5.09 K/9 rate in 2015, which has deteriorated even further to 4.24 so far this year. The 1.54 HR/9 rate rank as the highest of his career if it were to continue after last year’s 1.36 HR/9 already set a career high (or low depending on how you look at it). Weaver isn’t missing bats and he is allowing homers so Carter looks like the prime candidate on the Brewers to take advantage. After scoring double-digit runs yesterday, the offense as a whole is hot, and multiple members can be rostered against this deteriorating veteran.
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays, $8,000 – Similar to the Brewers offense, the Blue Jays offense looks primed to explode on Monday as well. Unlike the Brewers, the Blue Jays’ offense now has a year-plus of data to suggest they are among the best offensive teams in baseball. Literally, the Blue Jays finished last season as the top team in wOBA against both RHP and LHP. A.J. Griffin has strung together four consecutive impressive outings to begin 2016 but both his career numbers and xFIP suggest the success is bound to come to a screeching hault at some point soon. Like Weaver, Griffin doesn’t miss too many bats, although his K/9 at least sits over 6.00 (6.12). If he isn’t going to miss the bats of this explosive offense, baseballs are going to be hit a long way. You’ll never find Jose Bautista cheaper than this in a matchup against someone other than an ace. This just feels like a pricing glitch especially considering Bautista leads the Blue Jays in wOBA versus RHP so far this season (.408). Don’t even mess around and both distinguishing between cash and GPP…Bautista is viable everywhere.
Michael Conforto, Mets, $7,500 – Welcome back to the big leagues, Mike Foltynewicz. If there was ever a lasting legacy he left behind, it was his ineptitude against opposing LHHs. In 49.2 IP versus lefties at the big league level, Foltynewicz has allowed a .323/.373/.597 slash line including a .411 wOBA. Take a moment to reread those numbers and let the enormity of them sink in. Now, factor in Michael Conforto is setting the world on fire currently, as his .365 AVG ranks fourth among qualified hitters, behind only Aledmys Diaz, Martin Prado and Daniel Murphy. In fact, his .467 wOBA overall ranks second behind only Diaz and his wOBA versus RHP alone is superior (.504) to Diaz’s ouput (.488). What we have here is the absolute best hitters versus the pitchers’ handedness squaring off against one of the worst pitchers against the batters’ handedness. All of the Mets lefties are in play and look primed for a big day, but none is more enticing to roster than Conforto and his mid-tier price tag despite his insane production to this point.
Johnny Cueto, Giants, $20,800 – Pitching is a difficult proposition on Monday night’s slate as only one starting pitcher stands out above all the others…and that man is not Johnny Cueto. However, Cueto and the Giants did open as -155 favorites against Brandon Finnegan and the Reds. Only Adam Wainwright and Dallas Keuchel (my favorite play on the slate but we’ll get to that) opened as larger favorites and Cueto’s matchup overall is incredibly favorable. The Reds have produced the third worst wOBA against RHP thus far and also rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG and OBP. To tell the whole story, the Reds do rank in both the top 10 of hard hit percentage and line drive rate and Cueto will be dealing with a negative ballpark shift. In other words, he’ll be moving from his pitcher-friendly home ballpark of AT&T Park (sixth worst hitters’ park over the past two seasons) to the Great American Ballpark which has played as the fourth most homer-prone park over the past two seasons, per ESPN Park Factors. All-in-all, the downside is nominal so he can be deployed as a reasonably safe cash play.
Dallas Keuchel, Astros, $19,200 – Last season, the DFS world actively avoided matchups with the Twins versus LHPs…and for good reason. They ranked in the top half of wOBA, ranked in the top 10 of ISO and struck out at a neutral rate. With Trevor Plouffe on the disabled list and Torii Hunter in retirement, the results haven’t been nearly as positive so far in 2016. The Twins rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG and hard hit percentage this year so they are looking far more beatable. Furthermore, Dallas Keuchel owns so of the most drastic career splits between home and road that you’ll ever see. In 373.1 IP at home, Keuchel sports a 2.87 ERA and .279 wOBA allowed compared to a 4.47 ERA and .331 wOBA allowed (330.1 IP) on the road. Drawing a plus matchup in his preferred split, Keuchel rates as above and beyond the best pitching play on the entire slate. Start him and start him everywhere.
James Shields, Padres, $15,200 – There’s no sugar-coating the fact that the Rockies rate as a difficult matchup against opposing RHPs. Nevertheless, they are a whole lot less intimidating away from Coors Field. So far, the Rockies are slashing .260/.312/.480 away from home this season versus .293/.363/.511 in the friendly confines of home. Every season the trend is eerily similar simply because the atmosphere of Coors Field provides such an unfair advantage comparatively to all other ballparks in the big leagues. On Monday, the Rockies will head to Petco Park, which has ranked as the second most unfavorable hitters’ park over the past season according to ESPN Park Factors. Essentially they’ll be traveling from the best place to hit in the National League to the worst. Therefore, James Shields should not just automatically be avoided as he would be in Coors Field. Hell, Shields is even favored at home against a pitcher (Jon Gray) whose ERA currently sits over 11.00 and the game is only projected at 7.5 total runs. While the downside is Shields’ extreme susceptibility to LHHs (.380 wOBA allowed last season), the ballpark helps limit the damage they can do. If more salary relief is necessary to fit bats than Cueto’s price tag will allow, pairing Shields with Keuchel instead is the logical alternative.
*Stats are accurate as of Sunday, May 1