George Springer has set the world on fire against LHP so far this season, and for his career, so continue to stay along for the ride. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Jose Altuve, Astros, $10,400 – Only Giancarlo Stanton is listed at a more expensive price on Thursday evening than Jose Altuve but the Astros leadoff hitter is still worth his price in gold. Last night, Altuve led off another game with a HR (his eighth) which is already more than half way to his career high of 15 (which he accomplished just last season). When all said and done, Altuve produced 30-plus fantasy points, and he now leads all hitters in fantasy points per game (FPPG). Oh by the way, last night he faced a right-hander and he actually favors the platoon split against left-handers. Probable starter Wade Miley is exactly what the doctor ordered for Altuve who is currently sporting a .484 wOBA versus LHP this season, including a whopping .333 ISO! Even at 5’6”, Altuve possesses elite power to go along with his elite speed, so there’s quite literally nothing he cannot do on a baseball field. Playing at home with the short porch in left field, Altuve is once again a prime candidate for a bomb and a must-play in all formats.
Joey Votto, Reds, $8,700 – Typically, an American League game or a tilt in Coors Field will draw the largest projected total from Vegas but not tonight. Instead, a matchup between Chase Anderson and gas can Alfredo Simon in the Great American Ballpark will earn those honors on this slate…and for good reason. Both pitchers pitch to contact and the ballpark is particularly hitter-friendly; it has played as the fourth best HR park over the past two seasons, per ESPN Park Factors. If there is one player primed to take advantage of a righty relying on contact, it is none other than Joey Votto. Unsurprisingly, Votto led the Reds with a .423 wOBA against RHP last season and produced a .306/.456/.541 slash line. None of those numbers are far off from Votto’s .415 career wOBA and .315/.432/.544 career slash line versus the handedness so last season was clearly not an anomaly. It’s only a matter of time until Votto’s numbers ascend to similar totals in 2016 and it should start with a game where the Reds are favored at home (-110) with one of the highest implied team totals on the slate (4.6 runs).
Ryan Braun, Brewers, $9,200 – Although the Reds are favored in this projected slugfest, they aren’t favored by much, so Vegas clearly expects both teams to score a healthy amount of runs…and why not? Alfredo Simon will head into this game with a 13.50 ERA and 2.85 WHIP in five total appearances this season (including four starts). These numbers are “video games set on the hardest level” horrendous and one more bad start may even lead to Simon’s release or demotion…he has been that damn bad. Furthermore, it’s not like only one side of the plate has lit him up to this point. Both RHHs and LHHs have managed at least a .422 wOBA against him and righties so far are slashing .366/.480/.475. Need I say more? Ryan Braun is the best hitter on the Brewers and amidst another monster campaign so just insert him into your lineups and move on.
George Springer, Astros, $8,800 – One Astro is simply not enough in an elite matchup against Wade Miley at home so pair Altuve with his compadre George Springer. Amazingly, Altuve’s .480-plus wOBA does not lead the team to this point because Springer has been so incredibly dominant versus the handedness in this young season. Springer currently sports a .531 wOBA, .438 ISO and .375/.474/.813 slugging percentage versus LHPs this season and his career .390 wOBA leads a pretty strong hitting team versus the handedness. In fact, Springer’s splits are quite heavily weighted against the handedness as his career wOBA is nearly 50 percentage points higher against lefties than righties. He is the quintessential player whose extreme platoon splits are well worth taking full advantage of and this situation certainly applies. Miley has allowed a .315/.351/.467 slash line to RHHs thus far including three of the four dongs he has given up. After scoring double-digit runs last night, the Astros are on red alert to accomplish the same feat on back-to-back nights.
Jacob deGrom, Mets, $22,000 –All of the Rockies’ starters, who are for the most part mediocre MLB talents, looked impressive against the Padres in their series earlier this week. Jacob deGrom, on the other hand, is no mid-tier pitcher by any means. This guy won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2014, made the All-Star team and finished seventh in Cy Young voting last season and has begun this season with a 1.02 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in three starts. To put it frankly, the Padres simply cannot hit righties. They flat out stink. To depict just how terrible they really are, they rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+ (second to last in each of the aforementioned categories), ISO, BB rate, AVG and OBP against RHP and have struck out at the third highest rate versus the handedness. This game is the baseball version of King Kong versus a city without a military force. deGrom should be able to come to town and conquer without much resistance. He is an absolute must-play in cash games as above and beyond the safest pitching bet of the night.
Kyle Hendricks, Cubs, $15,600 – Bryce Harper is a bad, bad man but the Nationals have struggled to hit right-handers for the most part (other than Wednesday afternoon). Sure, the Nationals are coming off a game where they dropped 14 runs on the Royals but they faced Kris Medlen who still has not fully righted the ship post-Tommy John surgery. Dissimilarly, Kyle Hendricks has done his best to maximize his talent potential going on three years now. While Hendricks isn’t an elite strikeout pitcher by any means, he Ks enough to remain respectable (7.40 career K/9) and is posting a career-best 59.7-percent ground ball rate so far this season. The Nationals currently rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, AVG, OBP and line drive percentage versus the handedness because basically everyone other than Harper and Daniel Murphy have been struggling. Look, no pitchers other than deGrom have close to zero downside on the slate, so you’re going to have to pick and choose your risks. Playing at home in a favorable matchup on paper with his fantastic offense behind him, Hendricks conserves a lot of salary while providing adequate upside.
Kevin Gausman, Orioles, $13,600 – The Yankees are not a team I actively look to target starting pitchers against but they haven’t exactly set the world on fire in 2016. Incredibly, they currently rank fifth worst in wOBA against RHP and also sit in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP, hard hit percentage and line drive rate to this point. While I don’t really expect this trend to continue, the loss of Alex Rodriguez for an indeterminate amount of time certainly does not help. With guys like Didi Gregorious and Ronald Torreyes in the lineup, their order isn’t exactly solid from top to bottom any longer. Probable starting Kevin Gausman has looked pretty solid in his two starts this season en route to a 2.45 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 8.18 K/9 and what would be a career-best 50-percent ground ball rate. He’s only enticing because of this bargain price tag but his cost certainly doesn’t account for his hot start and/or favorable matchup on paper. If you’re feeling risky, Gausman can be deployed in cash games, but he’s more of a top-tier GPP option to me.
*Stats are accurate as of Tuesday, May 3