Against the strikeout prone Padres, the sky is the ceiling for Jon Lester, so you won’t want to miss out on rostering him. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks, $10,800 – Yesterday paying up for the top priced hitter in Coors Field (Nolan Arenado) didn’t work out as planned but do not expect that trend to trickle over into Tuesday. Among active players with at least 150 ABs versus LHPs, Paul Goldschmidt’s .430 career wOBA ranks second behind only Ryan Braun. So one of the best hitters in the game versus the handedness will square off against a lefty in the best hitters’ park in baseball…are you interested yet? If not, here is the icing on the cake: Chris Rusin, the opposing starting pitcher, has allowed a career .300/.368/.488 slash line to RHHs as well as a .369 wOBA. All of the stars are aligned for Goldschmidt, and with only ace paying up for on the slate, you can easily fit him alongside a value pitcher in your SP2 spot.
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays, $8,000 – One of the only scenarios as favorable as Coors Field for a hitter is facing Matt Cain in any park. RotoCurve’s Josh Collacchi and I joke that he is Coors Field lite because the ball just carries against him. In all seriousness, he has experienced a serious fall from grace and is allowing at least a .389 wOBA to both sides of the plate so far this season. 2016’s mediocre numbers are only slightly worse than 2015’s as he allowed a .357 wOBA to RHHs and .404 wOBA to LHHs last year. His skills have simply eroded and he just does not have it any longer. This should be music to your ears as a DFS owner because he’ll face an elite offense in the Toronto Blue Jays. They will likely go under-owned due to their late start and playing in a bad hitters’ park but even AT&T Park will not be able to limit the damage this Blue Jays offense should cause. Edwin Encarnacion, the team’s leader in wOBA against RHP last season, hit a ball out last season and has now officially turned around his early season struggles. At just $8,000, he is a much cheaper alternative to Josh Donaldson in cash games although literally everyone in this lineup is viable.
Michael Saunders, Blue Jays, $6,800 – One Blue Jay bat simply isn’t enough against gas can Cain. Michael Saunders would be most viable if he were to lead off once again but the team had him hitting in the five spot on Monday with Troy Tulowitzki moving down to the six hole. Regardless of whether Saunders hits first or fifth in the lineup, he is certainly viable for DFS purposes because he is the cheap part of a lineup destined to go off. Saunders is hitting for average so far this season (.289), which would be a career anomaly (.233 career average), but he has always possessed some pop and has never hit in a lineup with this type of RBI potential before. Combine the skill set with the matchup and Saunders is worth much more than just $6,800. He is a prime value on the slate in both cash games and GPPs.
Josh Reddick, Athletics, $8,400 – Arguably the worst pitcher in the major leagues last season was none other than the Phillies’ Sean O’Sullivan. In 71.0 IP, O’Sullivan allowed a 6.08 ERA with a 6.18 FIP, 5.37 xFIP, 1.61 WHIP, 2.03 HR/9 with just a 4.44 K/9. In other words, he pitched to contact and opposing hitters smoked the crap out of the ball. Amazingly, he allowed a .352/.424/.748 slash line to opposing LHHs and a .481 wOBA. Those numbers are simply astronomical and now he’ll be pitching in Fenway Park which is very short down the line. Josh Reddick, the team’s best hitter against opposing righties, is in a fantastic spot. Not only will he enjoy an extremely positive ballpark shift but he’ll square off against maybe the most inadequate pitcher he’ll ever face. No hitter outside of Coors Field is likelier to homer on the slate so lock him in as an absolute staple for cash games.
Jon Lester, Cubs, $23,600 – Yesterday’s game was rained out so Jon Lester remains the probable starter. Here is my exact tidbit from last night since all of the information still applies: “In one sense, Jon Lester’s matchup is, in poker terms, ”the nuts.” No team has struck out a higher percentage against either handedness of pitchersthan the Padres have against LHPs (27-percent). They also rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate, OBP and line drive percentage against the handedness as well. In other words, Lester’s strikeout potential will never be greater and the Padres do not hit well either. Furthermore, only Melvin Upton is a real stolen base threat which is a real positive considering Lester is the absolute worst at holding runners. All-in-all, I prefer Lester’s matchup to any other pitcher’s on the slate. For that reason, he should be locked and loaded into cash games and can obviously be considered in GPPs as well with that sort of K potential.”
Adam Conley, Marlins, $14,800 – To fit a plethora of viable hitting options into any lineup, saving money on the SP2 spot is going to be essential. On this slate, it will not be difficult either as a lot of cheaper options possess a fair amount of upside. One of the options that stands out to me is Adam Conley squaring off against a team that ranked in the bottom six of wOBA versus LHP last season. To this point, the Brewers look like an improved ball club versus the handedness due to the additions of Domingo Santana and Chris Carter, but they aren’t unbeatable. They do rank in the top 10 of wOBA versus the handedness so far but they rank in the bottom 10 of line drive rate. Conley has dominated opposing RHHs so far this season as they are currently slashing .161/.245/.293. All of the Brewers’ top hitters against LHPs are right-handed so they may struggle to reach base. Furthermore, the Marlins opened as -159 favorites against the Brewers and their struggling starter Zach Davies. In theory, Conley should have an excellent chance for a victory at home (although wins are incredibly hard to predict). For just $14,800, there are a whole lot more positives to his matchups than negatives, and he has been excellent (3.06 ERA, 9.46 K/9). Start him with confidence no matter the format.
Hector Santiago, Angels, $14,000 – If $14,800 isn’t cheap enough, or you’re looking for a starter not facing a team currently ranking in the top 10 of wOBA against his handedness, Hector Santiago is the logical alternative to Conley. Although the Cardinals started hot against LHPs, they have sunk to middle of the pack and currently rank in the bottom 10 of line drive percentage. Last year, for what it’s worth, the Cardinals ranked in the bottom four of wOBA versus the handedness and they did not make any major acquisitions this offseason that would move the needle a whole lot. Santiago and the Angels will head to the National League and enjoy a positive league shift as he’ll get the opportunity to face the pitcher instead of a designated hitter. I always love taking advantage of American League pitchers taking advantage of this transition because the impact is typically underappreciated. As a fly ball pitcher, pitching in a park that has played as a below average home run park over the past two seasons (per ESPN Park Factors) should not hurt him. While he’s best suited for GPPs, the shift to the NL deems him cash game playable as well if your heart desires.
*Stats are accurate as of Monday, May 9