There is no need to mess around at starting pitcher tonight. Roster Chris Sale against a strikeout-prone offense and be done with it. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.


Joe Panik, Giants, $7,200 – Petco Park is not an optimal location for hitting to occur but finding value hitters is going to be key on Thursday’s slate. Multiple aces are in play so you’re going to have to plug in cheap hitters and preferably ones with upside. Joe Panik fits the bill as he’ll square off against the pitcher (James Shields) who allowed the most HRs last season. Despite pitching in arguably the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in the National League (NL), Shields allowed 33 total HRs including 19 at home. Most of the damage was done by LHHs who managed a .380 wOBA against him including 23 HRs. While Panik isn’t exactly a prototypical HR hitter, he has hit five HRs against RHP so far this season. He’ll be hitting second in the lineup, and is 5-13 (.385) in his career off Shields, so he feels like a very safe bet regardless of the park.

John Jaso, Pirates, $6,900 – After going 0-fer last night, it’s time to go back to the well with John Jaso once again. Admittedly, his opponent Mike Foltynewicz appears to be taking a step forward (at least comparatively to last season). Through 18.2 IP, he sports a 2.89 ERA but his peripherals suggest there could be trouble on the horizon. His FIP sits at 4.50 with a 3.66 xFIP which suggests he has been a bit lucky…plus it’s a limited sample size. Still, even with a small chunk of data, Foltynewicz is getting crushed by LHHs yet again. After surrendering a .401 wOBA and .320/.368/.582 slash line to lefties in 41.0 IP last season, he is allowing a .420 wOBA and .333/.333/.667 slash line so far in 2016. On the other hand, Jaso is following up his .358 wOBA against RHP last season with a .338 tally thus far. Maybe most importantly, he’s nearly half the price of preferred option Gregory Polanco, therefore much easier to fit alongside expensive pitchers. The fact that hits atop the order is the icing on the cake so he should be a staple in cash games.


Brett Gardner, Yankees, $8,100 – Heading into Wednesday evening, Brian McCann and Brett Gardner were tied for the team lead in wOBA against RHP. After Gardner homered, he’ll probably possess a slight lead heading into a matchup against Kendall Graveman and the Athletics in the Oakland Coliseum. Okay, so there is a steep ballpark downgrade heading from Yankee Stadium to Oakland but the matchup is extremely favorable against a pitcher who has allowed at least four earned runs (ERs) in four consecutive starts. Combined, they should be a wash for his price tag and his salary actually decreased $300 from last night. Oh and Gardner has stolen seven bases in 35 games. Now factor in Graveman has already allowed four HRs to LHHs and you have yourself the one hitter worth “paying up for” if you roster aces.

Danny Valencia, Athletics, $7,600 – Not only is Danny Valencia en fuego but his hot streak has catapulted him to second on the team in wOBA against RHP. Typically, the play would be to use the team leader Josh Reddick against the handedness but Ivan Nova possesses some reverse splits. While he has dominated LHHs in 10.2 IP to the tune of a .285 wOBA, RHHs have slashed .293/.317/.491 against him with a .343 wOBA (13.2 IP). This very easily just could be an anomaly due to a small sample size considering the splits went the other way last season but I’m willing to take the chance while Valencia is sizzling. Valencia is hitting .414 (12-29) this month with six HR and 10 RBI and he’s a streaky type hitter. Now is the time to roster him when he is amidst this streak and the price is incredibly reasonable under the circumstances.


Chris Sale, White Sox, $26,800 – Why are all of the hitters in this article so reasonably priced? They need to be in order to roster Chris Sale who is the absolute top priority on the slate. Nearly all of the hitters on the Astros favor the platoon split against southpaws but this is no ordinary left-handed starter. Aside from maybe Clayton Kershaw, there is no pitcher in the league who is decisively better than Sale. Furthermore, the Astros are one of the most K-prone teams, as they have struck out at the fifth highest percentage versus LHPs. Their weakness is facing pitchers who miss bats and there may not be a pitcher in the game more apt to do so than Sale. Essentially the sky is the limit for Sale in this start as I can see it ending in 12-plus Ks. There is some risk that he may get hit a bit along the way but the strikeout floor is too juicy to pass on.

Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, $25,200 – Targeting the Mets is usually a better strategy with a LHP (like Gio Gonzalez last night), but Stephen Strasburg, like Max Scherzer, is one of the exceptions. Record isn’t something I put any stock in but Strasburg is 6-0 with a 2.95 ERA. Additionally, the Nationals are listed as -122 favorites in a game with a seven run over/under on the road against Matt Harvey. To me, that shows just how bullish Vegas feels about Strasburg and the Nationals. The two weaknesses in the Mets offense lie within their propensity to strikeout (10th highest rate) and their lack of line drive rate. Strasburg’s 29.8-percent K percentage ranks ninth among qualified starters and he hardly allows any hard contact (25.6-percent hard hit rate ranks 18th among qualified SPs). For all of these reasons, pairing the two aces in cash isn’t the worst idea in the world, especially if you can find a bunch of cheap hitters with potential.

Jhoulys Chacin, Angels, $11,600 – If salary relief is needed to fit in bats that will actually cost you a pretty penny, Jhoulys Chacin is an interesting option. In my RotoCurve rotations article earlier this week, I outlined Chacin’s game log to this point:

Apr .12 @ WAS – 6.0 IP, five hits allowed (H), zero ER, eight Ks

Apr. 17 @ MIA – 5.1 IP, four H, three ER, six Ks

Apr. 23 vs NYM – 5.2 IP, seven H, two walks allowed (BB), three ER, five Ks

Apr. 28 @ BOS – 5.0 IP, six H, two BB, two ER, four Ks, W

May 4 vs NYM – 4.2 IP, seven H, four BB, eight ER, four Ks

(Acquired by Angels)

May 14 @ SEA – 7.0 IP, five H, two ER, four Ks

In other words, his numbers look mediocre (4.81 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) right now only because of one bad start (May 4). Literally every other start has been respectable and resulted in at least 10.35 fantasy points. The Dodgers roster seems talented and like it should be productive against RHP but so far they rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO and AVG against RHPs. For this price tag, you don’t need a complete game shutout, and he’s actually favored at home in a game with an over/under of 8.0. Ross Stripling is volatile in terms of both effectiveness and potential innings pitched. It’s not unthinkable the Angels could get to him and help Chacin cruise to an easy win. Regardless, this is a fair amount of skills for a miniscule price, so taking a shot on him makes a ton of sense in GPPs.

*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, May 18

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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