Josh Donaldson, nicknamed the “Bringer of Rain,” is the MLB’s best hitter against LHP and he’ll draw a matchup against one on Tuesday. It’s time for blast off. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays, $10,000 – A few of the hitters who haunt LHP’s dreams will square off against lefties on this slate and none is a more viable option than Josh Donaldson. Last year’s American League MVP ranked fifth among all qualified hitters in wOBA against LHP in 2015. This season, he is picking off exactly where he left off as he currently leads all qualified players in wOBA versus the handedness with an otherworldly .609 tally. He has already homered three times in 22 ABs against lefties and registered six total extra-base hits. A.J. Griffin made the Blue Jays hitters look sick last night and totally shut them down so they’ll be motivated for a bounce-back. This outcome seems likely against a pitcher in Martin Perez who has allowed a .365 wOBA to RHHs this season. In fact, last season he allowed righties to hit exactly .300 against him so this struggle extends beyond just a small sample to begin the year. Therefore, Donaldson should eat him for breakfast and is on red alert to launch one out of the yard.
Logan Forsythe, Rays, $8,400 – Unlike Donaldson who is recognized by one of the best hitters in the national media, Logan Forsythe largely goes unnoticed although he too is a borderline elite hitter versus LHP. Okay, so that comparison is completely unfair since Donaldson can rake against both sides, but Forsythe legitimately didn’t fall short of Donaldson’s statistics against the handedness by much last year. In fact, Forsythe hit 10 HRs compared to Donaldson’s nine versus lefties and they both hit exactly .299 versus the handedness. On this slate, if you’re willing to pay $10,000 for Donaldson, why not pay $8,400 for a hitter with a similar skill set? The Rays are favored at home against a National League pitcher who will head into this game with a 5.76 ERA. Righties have walloped Scott Kazmir to this point to the tune of a .371 wOBA and .290/.362/.500 slash line. Many of the Rays bats are viable in this matchup but none are as skilled against the handedness nor hit in a more prime lineup spot for cash games than Forsythe. He is the definition of a must-play in cash.
Michael Conforto, Mets, $7,200 – After disappointing last night, it’s back to the well once again with one of the game’s hottest hitters to begin the season. His .498 wOBA against RHP leads all players with at least 30 ABs against the handedness, and even in a disappointing game, he still drove in a run on a RBI single. The guy, and really the Mets overall, just seem to get it done on daily basis. With that being said, they’ll face a pitcher for the second straight day whose skill set suggests their weakness is LHHs. Opposing starter Matt Wisler literally ranked dead last in wOBA allowed to LHHs last season with a .419 tally. Overall, he allowed lefties to slash a ridiculous .320/.416/.569. After failing to meet expectations yesterday, Conforto draws an equally juicy matchup on Tuesday, and it’s unlikely he’ll disappoint on back-to-back nights. I expect a monster night from him as his price tag just will not increase to a level where I am uncomfortable rostering him against a weak right-hander.
Danny Santana, Twins, $4,400 – With aces worth rostering on the slate, a punt is going to be necessary to fit bats with upside alongside them. Similarly to Conforto, Danny Santana’s price just refuses to rise even though he continues to lead off on a day-to-day basis. Since being activated from the disabled list on Apr. 26, Santana has attempted four stolen bases in seven total games. While he doesn’t possess much power, the team is trying to use him to manufacture runs and get the offense started. In other words, he only needs to get on base one time in order to provide value (whether it be via a hit or walk). Furthermore, Santana is a switch-hitter meaning he’ll be hitting left-handed versus Collin McHugh, and McHugh has allowed a .463 wOBA to the handedness so far this season. Admittedly, Jason Castro is one of the best throwing catchers so a stolen base probability is low, but Santana still has an excellent opportunity to get on base multiple times and score runs. Hell, the team is expected to score approximately four runs according to Vegas, which is pretty high for them. If they’re going to get there, Santana will likely contribute in some way, shape or form and he is nearly minimum-priced. There is very little risk to rostering him.
Jake Arrieta, Cubs, $23,400 – On days where Jake Arrieta and Clayton Kershaw pitch, you can almost just assume I am going to lead off with them. Both of them are virtually unhittable and above and beyond the best two pitchers in the game in my opinion. Arrieta actually draws a very difficult matchup against a Pirates team that currently ranks behind only his Cubs team for the wOBA lead against RHP this season. The Pirates also have not struck out much (17.9-percent) and rank in the top in the top 10 of wRC+, BB rate, AVG, OBP and line drive percentage against the handedness. Even with all of that being said, Arrieta’s price is down $4,000 since his last start so the matchup has been factored into his price tag. At this price tag, I would probably start him against the 1927 Yankees on the moon.
Matt Harvey, Mets, $20,000 – To this point, Matt Harvey has been a bit of a volatile asset, as he only surpassed 20 fantasy points for the first time last start (his fifth of the season). An encouraging trend with Harvey is the fact that he has struck out more hitters each time out. Here are his strikeout totals by start (in chronological order): two, three, four, five and seven. Hopefully this signifies he is finding his groove and morphing back into the dominant pitcher we all know and love. His opponent, the Atlanta Braves, were just completely shut down by Bartolo Colon on Monday to help lower their already league-worst .270 wOBA versus RHP. The Braves also rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP, hard hit percentage and line drive rate. Essentially, they are one of the easiest matchups an opposing RHP could possibly draw. For cash game purposes, Harvey is worth deploying based on the helpless opponent alone, but he clearly possesses GPP upside as well.
Steven Wright, Red Sox, $14,000 – Recommending knuckleballers is not common practice for me as they can blow up on any given night if the knuckler is off. With that being said, Steven Wright appears to be amidst a special season in the making…maybe not too dissimilar from R.A. Dickey’s 2012? In 26.1 IP, Wright currently sports a 1.37 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 8.5 K/9 and 0.3 HR/9 rate, all of which are spectacular for any pitcher (let alone a knuckleballer). Overall numbers aren’t incredibly important against knuckleballers specifically but it should be noted the White Sox rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, hard hit percentage and line drive rate against RHP to this point. While Jose Abreu has an excellent history against Dickey, Wright throws a harder knuckler, so it’s sort of a whole different pitch altogether. In my opinion, he is worth a shot in all formats if you have the guts because his upside has been evident all year…Only Jose Quintana and Arrieta have averaged more fantasy points per start among all pitchers pitching on the slate.
*Stats are accurate as of Monday, May 2