Alfredo Simon owns baseball’s worst ERA among pitchers with at least 20 IP so fire up Robinson Cano and the Mariners stack against him without hesitation on Sunday. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Robinson Cano, Mariners – Among all players who have thrown at least 20 innings so far this season, Alfredo Simon’s 10.34 ERA ranks absolutely dead last. He arguably is the worst pitcher in all of baseball as his 7.08 FIP (third worst behind Brett Oberholtzer and Chris Young) suggests he has pitched nearly as bad as the numbers suggest. Unsurprisingly with his gas can-esque numbers, lefties have absolutely killed him to the tune of a .400/.455/.750 slash line and a ridiculous .506 wOBA. Therefore, Robinson Cano and his .439 wOBA against RHP (ninth best amongst players with at least 90 ABs versus the handedness) is an absolute must play. The Mariners as a whole are in a great spot but Cano possesses an elite skill set against the handedness and looks primed for an explosion. Fading Cano leaves you vulnerable to missing out on 20-plus fantasy points at an extremely high ownership. Just roster him and save yourself the headache.
Zack Cozart, Reds – In the same game as Cano, a formidable Reds offense versus LHP will square off against middling lefty Wade Miley. So far this season, Miley is allowing a career high 1.44 HR/9 and a four year low in groundball percentage, meaning the opportunity for extra base hits against him is aplenty. While neither lefties nor righties have demolished him, seven of the eight HRs he has allowed have been to RHHs. Furthermore, RHHs are hitting .262 against him versus .225 to LHHs. The man who will draw the most possible ABs against him is the Reds leadoff hitter: Zack Cozart. Four Reds have produced a superior wOBA against the handedness to this point (Eugenio Suarez, Billy Hamilton and Brandon Phillips) but Cozart’s .380 tally isn’t too shabby. Most of the Reds are in play, but for cash games, give me the guy with the best possibility to draw five total ABs in a plus matchup. Oh by the way, Cozart is hitting .323 against lefties this season so he’s a threat for multiple base hits including those of the extra base variety. He should be a building block for 50/50s, double ups and head-to-heads.
Jayson Werth, Nationals – Only the Pirates have produced a better wOBA against LHP in 2016 than the Nationals and a large part of their success can be attributed to Jayson Werth’s bat. The only player who sports a higher wOBA against LHP (min. 20 ABs) this season is surprisingly Jimmy Rollins of the White Sox. Other than Rollins, Werth’s .591 tally bests every other player in the game right now. Hell, he leads his team alone by 99 percentage points. Amazingly, he is slashing .455/.520/.909 against the handedness, and while he’s likely to come back down to Earth, those numbers still jump off the page. In a matchup against Adam Conley, most will probably overlook Werth because of the matchup against a solid talent. To me, Conley isn’t exactly Clayton Kershaw, so he is not an auto-avoid type pitcher. Go ahead and trust the skill set of Werth because he will come through more often than not in 3-4 ABs against a left-hander…almost regardless of who they are.
Michael Saunders, Blue Jays – Phil Hughes, aka “The Giver of Dongs,” will toe the mound against what was once considered an elite offense. Although the Blue Jays offense isn’t quite the same this season, they still possess crazy power from top to bottom in their lineup. Among qualified pitchers, Hughes’ 1.48 HR/9 ratio ranks 23rd worst, slightly behind Colby Lewis and Sonny Gray. Fresh off homering on Saturday, Michael Saunders is once again viable on Sunday because he is by far the best value on the team. Although he is consistently priced at least $1,000 less than the likes of Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion, he actually leads the team by a wide margin in wOBA against RHP this season. Take the discount and roster him instead of one of those guys in order to fit the ace of your choice. He has just as much upside as any of them and comes at a much more affordable price tag.
Noah Syndergaard, Mets – Speaking of the “ace of choice,” Noah Syndergaard is above and beyond my favorite pitching play on the entire slate. The Brewers on paper look like a formidable foe because they rank in the top 10 of wOBA against RHP. However, Ryan Braun has not played since Tuesday and Domingo Santana has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore shoulder. Essentially, this saps the Brewers lineup of two of their better bats, and their fill-ins (Alex Presley, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and/or Ramon Flores) are distinct downgrades. A major component to the matchup is the fact that the Brewers strike out at 24.8-percent versus RHP and Syndergaard’s 31.6-percent K rate ranks fourth in baseball (behind only Jose Fernandez, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer). In spacious Citi Field, there is very little downside to the matchup because a mediocre pitcher is going to hit one out of a pitcher-friendly ballpark in order to spoil his day. A scenario such as that is unlikely so Syndergaard can and should be relied upon in any and all formats.
Jordan Zimmermann, Tigers – It’s possible the recency bias will come into play with Jordan Zimmermann because the Twins, a favorable matchup for RHPs, absolutely lit him up in his last outing. Zimmermann was spotted an 8-0 lead, and before you could blink an eye, the scoreboard read 8-7. Somehow, someway he came away with a win but the matchup against the Rays and Twins is eerily similar. Both teams strike out at a top 10 rate yet rank below average in terms of wOBA. Unlike the Twins, the Rays rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, BB rate, AVG and OBP against RHP so the matchup against them is slightly preferable. Let’s try this again with Zimmermann and hope he can revert back to his dominant ways as he had in each of his first seven starts to begin the season.
Kenta Maeda, Dodgers – Watching Kenta Maeda over his past two starts has raised some red flags because his velocity has very rarely touched 90mph. Even with pinpoint control, it is difficult to consistently retire opposing big league hitters if they have time to adjust to the pitch. According to FanGraphs, his average fastball velocity this season sits at 89.6mph, so this isn’t a new concern. Now that there is film on the guy, he is a lot less of a mystery. In most matchups, I would probably continue to express concerns about him but he’ll face the absolute bottom of the barrel team against his handedness. Yes, he’ll toe the mound in pitcher-friendly Petco Park against a Padres team that ranks in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG and OBP. Vegas lists the Dodgers as -160 favorites in a game with a projected 7.5 over/under. That’s a huge number for a favorite on the road so Maeda appears to have an excellent chance for a win…along with the potential for an excellent start against a porous opponent. If concerned about Zimmermann’s prospects, Maeda is the logical alternative.
*Stats are accurate as of Saturday, May 21