The Orioles strike out at an extremely high rate against LHP so fire up Rich Hill and his 11.53 K/9 against them on Friday. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
David Ortiz, Red Sox, $8,700 – The aging David Ortiz just never seems to get old. At 40 years young, Ortiz ranks ninth of all of baseball this season in wOBA versus RHP (min. 40 ABs). Yet again, he is leading the Red Sox in the category and he’s just a legendary hitter who will be missed when he inevitably retires at the end of the season. On Friday, Ortiz and company will head to Yankee Stadium to face their arch rivals and probable starter Michael Pineda. Even though he is widely thought of as a solid pitcher, Pineda has been absolutely awful this season (6.33 ERA, 1.59 WHIP) and he was knocked around a bit by the Red Sox in his last start (5.0 IP, eight baserunners and two ER)…which was actually one of his better starts this season. From a pitcher’s perspective, it is never easy to face the same team within a short span of time because they have recently seen your arsenal and you are no longer a mystery. Ortiz homered in the previous game versus Pineda, although it was off reliever Johnny Barbato, but another bomb remains a distinct possibility in this matchup.
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays, $7,800 – Some people do not believe in hot streaks but I am not one of those people. After starting the year cold, Edwin Encarnacion has now homered in back-to-back games. Encarnacion is one of those guys, kind of like Manny Ramirez back in the day, who can get on an unstoppable roll and I believe this is the start of one of those streaks. It was only a matter of time until this Blue Jays offense awoke as a whole and there’s no doubt they’ll play as one of the MLB’s best moving forward. Last season, Encarnacion led the team in wOBA versus RHP (.399) so his current .299 tally is bound to rise and rise quickly. Expect that climb to start on Friday even against an opposing starter in Kenta Maeda who hasn’t had a taste of the American League yet. When Encarnacion is swinging the bat well, there isn’t a starter in the league who can stop him, and I don’t expect Maeda to either in his first career start in the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre.
Billy Burns, Athletics, $9,200 – Only seven starting pitchers allowed more stolen bases last season than Ubaldo Jimenez (22): Jon Lester (44), Tyson Ross (37), A.J. Burnett (33), Jake Arrieta (27), Gerrit Cole (25), Jimmy Nelson (24) and Cole Hamels (24). This is great news for speeder and Athletics leadoff hitter Billy Burns who stole the tenth most bases (26) among all players last year…and he did it in only 125 games. To this point, Burns has only stolen one base, mostly because he has only produced an OBP of .307 (compared to last year’s .334). Not only does Jimenez present a favorable matchup on the base paths but he has struggled to retire opposing hitters…all opposing hitters. Burns, a switch-hitter, will hit left-handed against the right-handed Jimenez and that’s the side of the plate Jimenez has struggled the most against. In 10.1 IP versus LHHs so far this year, Jimenez has allowed a .429 wOBA and .326/.431/.581 slash line. While Burns is unlikely to one out (although he did hit five HRs in 2015), he should be able to use his slap-hitting abilities to reach base multiple times. From that point on, the sky is the limit as Burns could steal multiple bases and score multiple runs. Also, a ball hit in the gap is automatically extra bases for someone as fast as Burns. He is one of the highest floor players on the slate and will be a staple for me in cash games due to his versatility and ability to reach 15-20 fantasy points in multiple ways.
Corey Dickerson, Rays, $6,000 – Most of the Rays prefer the platoon split against LHPs but Corey Dickerson, a lefty, is one of the few exceptions. He’ll likely hit in the cleanup spot against spot-starter Cory Rasmus who will be filling in for the injured Garrett Richards. All season, Rasmus has worked out of the bullpen and the most pitches he has thrown in any outing so far is 55 (2.2 IP in that outing). More than likely, he’ll only throw around 70-80 pitches and then get pulled for a reliever. In other words, Dickerson and the rest of the team will likely end up facing multiple pitchers before the game is all said and done. Ramus, however, is currently sporting an ERA of 4.40 which is only slightly above his career mark of 3.83. At Dickerson’s prime lineup spot against a mediocre pitcher, he is worth the bargain price tag. Now factor in his career .395 wOBA against RHP and he is arguably the best value on the entire slate.
Noah Syndergaard, Mets, $25,200 – Jacob deGrom managed a feat yesterday that few have been able to do prior to him this season; he struggled against the San Diego Padres. Heading in to the game, the Padres ranked second to last in wOBA against the handedness and shutting them down was basically a cake walk for all starters who had previously faced them. Still, deGrom didn’t manage a strikeout until the third inning, and he lasted just five innings in which he allowed three ERs. During the broadcast, the Padres announcers speculated deGrom was pulled at 86 pitches due to injury. Either way, he did not look right and therefore I wouldn’t expect his lack of success to translate to the one they call “Thor.” Noah Syndergaard’s 12.25 K/9 ranks second to only Jose Fernandez among all qualified starting pitchers and he has complemented that total with a 2.51 ERA, 1.40 FIP and 1.81 xFIP. He’s been among the most dominant pitchers this season and I think his outing should be night and day compared to deGrom’s. He is above and beyond the top starting pitching play on the slate and I would not be worried at all to go back to the well with a Mets SP in spacious Petco Park.
Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks, $19,600 – Beyond Syndergaard, there are a wide array of options with upside that all have their respective downside. The one I feel comfortable pairing Syndergaard with in cash is Zack Greinke pitching on the road in Atlanta. So far, pitching in Chase Field has been a rude awakening for Greinke as he currently owns a 7.61 ERA at home through four starts. On the other hand, he has still enjoyed his usual success on the road judging by his 1.93 ERA (two starts). While the Braves do not strike out much (17.6-percent versus RHP), they do rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO and hard hit percentage versus the handedness. Despite allowing a .347 AVG at home, his .222 AVG allowed on the road is more like the Greinke we all know and love. In a road matchup against a weak opponent, expect Greinke to throw a vintage, overpowering gem.
Rich Hill, Athletics, $14,800 – Less than $15,000 for the guy who currently ranks 11th in the MLB in strikeouts? Is this some sort of joke? Obviously FantasyDraft’s pricing algorithm hasn’t caught up with an ongoing trend that Rich Hill is just a very good Major League pitcher. All of the names listed above him in strikeouts are almost always priced in the $18,000-$27,000 range so this is a crazy bargain for his strikeout-driven floor. Additionally, the matchup is actually solid against an Orioles team that sits middle of the pack in wOBA against LHP this season. Most importantly to prospective Hill owners, they have struck out at the eighth highest rate against the handedness (23.9-percent). Other than Mark Trumbo, all of the staples in their lineup favor the platoon split against RHP…including RHH Manny Machado. Other than Machado and Joey Rickard, the rest of the lineup has struck out at a 24.4-percent rate or higher this season against the handedness. Even though they do not seem like an offense to actively target against (their 4.35 runs per game rank 13th in baseball), lefties with swing-and-miss stuff are the time look to take advantage of them. Any time Hill takes the mound, he is a threat for double-digit strikeouts, and I legitimately think he can be deployed in all formats at this price point.
*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, May 5