Brian McCann and the Yankees are implied to score the highest run total on the slate so you’ll want exposure to the former All-Star catcher. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, $8,400 (Early) – With only four games on the early slate, I don’t want to focus too much time on it. However, I still recommend playing the slate considering one of my favorite pitchers (Rich Hill) will take the mound and the en fuego Tigers will square off against Ricky Nolasco. After starting the season with four consecutive respectable starts, Nolasco has allowed 14 runs in his past three starts and only managed to pitch at least 6.0 IP once during that stretch. The righty/lefty splits favor starting a LHH against Nolasco (such as Victor Martinez) but this price is just too cheap for Miguel Cabrera against a pitcher with a 4.87 ERA. This is one of those scenarios where you do not want to overthink this and just start a great hitter versus a bad pitcher. Now factor in Cabrera is a career .306 hitter during day games and fading him becomes a frightening proposition.
Brian McCann, Yankees, $7,800 – The highest over/under on Wednesday comes via the Yankees/Diamondbacks game being played in Chase Field. It is projected to be a 9.5 run total with the Yankees actually favored (-126). How the mighty have fallen considering Shelby Miller (and his 6.94 ERA) is listed as an underdog at home against a team that ranks 21st in wOBA against RHP…but here we are. Miller is missing bats at a career-low rate (5.66 K/9), walking hitters at by far the highest rate he ever has (5.91 BB/9) and is allowing a career-high hard hit rate. He’s just a complete mess and his susceptibility to LHHs has been a major contributing factor. Lefties have slashed .292/.438/.486 against him en route to a .398 wOBA. Since Brian McCann plays catcher, his price inherently is depreciated on FantasyDraft (a site without the requirement), in concurrence with how the pricing algorithm seems to work. For that reason, you can roster his elite skill set (leads the Yankees in wOBA against LHP this season) for a discount comparatively to Jacoby Ellsbury ($8,700) or Brett Gardner ($8,400). Starting hitters near the top of the lineup on the projected highest scoring team of the night is generally a solid strategy in the daily game and McCann is no exception.
Bryce Harper, Nationals, $9,900 – Unlike most of the rest of the league, the Mets are not scared of Bryce Harper. Last season, the Mets only walked him nine times in 78 plate appearances (PAs) for a BB rate of only 11.5-percent. Overall, he registered a BB rate of 19.0-percent so the Mets avoided him way less than the rest of the league. If facing a Mets starter, Bartolo Colon is certainly the preferred option if rostering an opposing hitter, especially as opposed to all the aces. In terms of batter versus pitcher data (BvP), Harper is 3-13 (.231) in his career versus Colon but he has hit a HR and driven in three runs. It’s been awhile since teams have allowed Harper to swing the bat but remember he led all of baseball in wOBA against RHP last season with a .478 tally. His numbers are a bit down this season to this point and he still sports a .427 wOBA against the handedness. Colon has thrown his fastball at the highest percentage of any pitcher this season (85.8-percent) and Harper ranked by far as above and beyond the majors’ best hitter versus the pitch last season, per FanGraphs pitch type linear weights. Although Harper has been quiet lately, it’s about time he woke up in a big way.
Stephen Piscotty, Cardinals, $8,400 – Preying on Chris Rusin in Coors Field is a no-brainer but he actually hasn’t even fared much better on the road this season. At Coors, he has allowed a .334 wOBA and .280 AVG overall versus a .323 wOBA and .277 AVG on the road. Amazingly, a similar principle applies in terms of lefties and righties as both have hit him pretty similarly as well (although he has yet to allow a HR this season). Something has got to give with Rusin whose career ERA sits at 5.14 with a 1.54 WHIP…eventually he’ll get ripped. The prime candidate to smoke him in this matchup is Stephen Piscotty and his .492 wOBA against LHP so far this season. Hell, he is slashing a ridiculous .378/.489/.676 versus the handedness and consistently hitting in the top third of the order. At just $8,400, the skills he has displayed against LHP this season more closely resemble a $10,000 pitcher. In other words, he is one of the best values on the entire slate, and his salary is still reasonable enough that you should be able to easily squeeze him into a lineup with two aces.
Johnny Cueto, Giants, $23,200 – Despite the fact Madison Bumgarner is left-handed, he put on a tutorial of how an upper-echelon starting pitcher should dominate the Padres. As bad as the Padres fare against lefties, they are worse against RHP. They rank second worst in wOBA behind only the Braves and rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG, OBP and hard hit rate. As the icing on the cake, they strike out at the second highest rate versus righties as well. After imploding late last season and in the playoffs, Johnny Cueto is back and throwing like the vintage version of himself. Through 57.2 IP, he sports a 2.97 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 1.63 GB/FB ratio. Pitching in the friendly confines of Petco Park isn’t going to hurt him any so consider him a rock solid cash option regardless of his unusually expensive price tag.
Francisco Liriano, Pirates, $20,100 – Has there ever been a surer thing than Francisco Liriano at home against the Atlanta Braves? Just how bad are the Braves? Their .250 wOBA against LHP rates 22 points lower than the next lowest total (Twins) against the handedness. Also, it rates 24 percentage points worse than the lowest wOBA against RHPs…which also happens to be the Braves. Not only do the Braves rank dead last in the aforementioned wOBA category but they also are the worst team in terms of wRC+, ISO, AVG and OBP versus the handedness…they literally rank 30th in all of those categories. It almost doesn’t matter that Liriano has struggled a bit (4.99 ERA) to this point because the Braves are the magic elixir. They strike out at 24.6-percent versus LHP, and Liriano is striking out 10.44 batters per nine innings, so the sky is the limit in this matchup as well. If there’s a pitcher to go all-in on, Liriano slightly edges out Cueto as the best play on the entire slate.
Brandon Finnegan, Reds, $10,800 – If two $20,000-plus pitchers do not allow for as many bats as you would like, Brandon Finnegan is a solid source of salary relief. One split I have overlooked to this point is the Indians struggles against southpaws; they rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate and hard hit percentage versus the handedness. Finnegan’s struggles this season have come at the hands of LHHs, and other than Jason Kipnis, the Indians do not really possess many threats. Therefore, Finnegan has only allowed a .203 AVG and .301 OBP to RHHs, so he should be able to handle the rest of the lineup. He may not possess 30 fantasy point upside like the first two guys but he should be able to compile a productive start at an extremely reasonable cost. In tournaments, this will help you roster all the high upside bats and should come at a relatively low ownership. He’s a high risk, high reward option that is perfect for using in the $6K Home Run contest.
*Stats are accurate as of Tuesday, May 17