Despite serious velocity, Nathan Eovaldi continues to under-perform as a professional pitcher. David Ortiz, on the other hand, is firmly supplanted as a professional hitter and needs to be started in this elite matchup. 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 (Early) – Opposing starter Nathan Eovaldi is a strange case. The guy is just oozing with upside as evident by his 96.4mph average fastball which ranks second in all of baseball behind only Noah Syndergaard this season. Aside from velocity, he’ll put together dominant outings, such as two outings ago, where he allowed four baserunners in seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts. Then, there are outings like his last one…which coincidentally came against the Red Sox. He allowed a whopping 10 hits, three walks and six ERs in 5.0 IP while striking out just three batters. Now, he’ll draw the difficult task of seeing the same offense who just lit him up for the second time in a week. David Ortiz’s .450 wOBA against RHP once again ranks in the top 10 (ninth) among qualified hitters. He clearly still has plenty left in his final season and is still an elite hitter versus the handedness so Eovaldi, who often struggles with location, can throw as hard as he wants. If he misses his spot even once, Ortiz is going to crush one. As is always the case when Ortiz squares off against a lefty, he is firmly in play for all formats on Saturday.
Rougned Odor, Rangers (Early) – The highest over/under on the early slate features a matchup between A.J. Griffin and Mike Pelfrey in Comerica Park. Considering Griffin will head into this game sporting a 2.32 ERA, it’s no surprise the Tigers are not heavily favored at home. In fact, it’s shocking that they’re favored at all with one of the worst pitchers in baseball on the mound. To this point, Pelfrey is 0-4 with a 5.68 ERA and 2.05 WHIP, and he’ll be coming off three consecutive games of allowing at least four runs. Pelfrey has allowed more than a hit per inning in every start this season except for his one quality start which came on Apr. 19 in Houston. Otherwise, he has been a complete train wreck and I expect that trend to continue on Saturday. So far, the Rangers offense has disappointed as a whole as they went from ranking seventh in wOBA versus RHP last season to 23rd in the category to this point. Looking down the roster, the talent is still there and it’s only a matter of time until they bust out. Rougned Odor will likely draw the start and lead off which means he is theoretically guaranteed to get the most cracks at Pelfrey throughout the course of the afternoon. Every hitter in this lineup is viable but Odor is a staple for cash in his prime lineup spot.
Josh Reddick, Athletics (Late) – Probable starter Mike Wright will be making his first start since appearing out of the bullpen for an inning on May 4. While he only threw 13 pitches, moving back and forth between the bullpen and rotation is never a positive for pitchers. The move always seems to screw up their rhythm and it’s not like Wright was such an impressive pitcher to begin with. Heading into his relief outing, he was sporting a 5.40 ERA but he was actually coming off his best outing of the season. Now, he’ll have to deal with the adjustment back to the rotation and I doubt it ends well for him. Vegas projects a 8.5 over/under and the Orioles are only slight favorites. Therefore, the Athletics are projected to score just about four runs, which is nearly a half a run greater than their 3.59 run average. All of this is a long-winded way of saying this matchup is favorable for Josh Reddick. He is the Athletics leading in wOBA against RHP this season and his .288/.363/.500 slash line versus the handedness is almost identical to the line he produced last year (.289/.347/.478). If Wright struggles as I expect to return to pitching multiple innings instead of just one, Reddick is the prime candidate to take advantage.
Michael Conforto, Mets (Late) – Petco Park isn’t supposed to be a difficult park to keep the ball inside but James Shields has struggled with the long ball at home since the beginning of last season. In 2015, Shields allowed 19 HR at home versus 14 on the road. Furthermore, he allowed 23 HR to LHHs compared to just 10 to RHHs. This season in a limited sample size, Shileds has allowed a higher wOBA to RHHs but he still has been much more susceptible at home (.280/.343/.398 slash line at home). Unfortunately for Shields, this could be a long night considering the Mets have hit the most HRs of any team (well, tied with the Rockies). Unlike Colorado, they play in a pitcher-friendly home park so there’s no asterisk on their HR total…they can hit them out of anywhere. While Conforto has only hit four HR overall (all versus RHP), he leads the team heftily in wOBA versus RHP (.443) and has hit the ball hard a ridiculous 58.9-percent of the team versus the handedness. Against a pitcher who is susceptible to hard-hit balls, Conforto matches up perfectly. Not only is he a rock solid cash play but he possesses the upside necessary to justify using him in GPPs as well.
Chris Sale, White Sox (Late) – I’ve made this argument before but let’s review…Last season, the Twins were a tougher matchup against LHP. Sure Trevor Plouffe was activated from the disabled list earlier this week, which will help, but the loss of Torii Hunter has had more of an impact than expected. To this point, the Twins rank neutral in nearly every category versus southpaws and actually rank in the bottom 10 of line drive rate. With a pitcher like Chris Sale, that’s really all you need to hear. Sale is almost always in play when he pitches because of his ultra-elite strikeout potential and the fact that he’s probably one of the best three pitchers in the game. As long as he doesn’t draw one of the worst possible matchups, he’s worthy of consideration. On a slate with no real viable ace alternatives (maybe other than Dallas Keuchel), lock and load Sale in cash games without thinking twice.
David Price, Red Sox (Early) – On the early slate, there really are not very many enticing options. By the numbers, David Price actually draws a better matchup than you may think against the team’s rival (the Yankees). By far the team’s best hitter against LHP Alex Rodriguez was placed on the disabled list earlier this week and the team had already been struggling versus the handedness. The Yankees rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO and AVG so far versus lefties although they have been a very difficult team to strike out (19.4-percent K rate). Price was just beat up by the Yankees last time out (7.0 IP, six ER) so people may be scared off of him. However, Rodriguez homered twice off Price in that game and he’ll now be replaced in the lineup by Chase Headley who is a vastly inferior hitter. I would go back to the well with him and reap the benefits while others use the recency bias to fade him.
Jake Odorizzi, Rays (Late) – While Sale is a stone cold lead pipe lock, the second starting pitcher spot isn’t so clear on the late slate…especially in tournaments. Guys like Keuchel, Bartolo Colon and Jimmy Nelson are enticing for cash games but both the pitchers in the night cap are intriguing to me. At 8:05pm CST, the Rays will take on the Angels with a starting pitching matchup of Jake Odorizzi versus Jered Weaver. I simply cannot recommend a pitcher with a sub-5.00 K/9 to this point (Weaver) and the Rays are actually favored on the road despite their weak offense versus RHP. This tells me Vegas believes the floundering Weaver will continue to flounder. If we expect him to struggle, the matchup for Odorizzi actually isn’t too bad as the Angels rank 25th in wOBA and in the bottom 10 of ISO, AVG, OBP and hard hit percentage versus RHP. As long as one keeps Mike Trout and Albert Pujols reasonably quiet, there really isn’t much depth to the lineup. In the AL’s most pitcher-friendly ballpark, there is a strong case to be made for rostering Odorizzi in all formats, but I’ll deem him a more preferable GPP option as opposed to cash.
*Stats are accurate as of Friday, May 6