Zack Cozart and the Reds present a difficult matchup for any left-hander, especially Scott Kazmir who has allowed nine HR to RHHs so far, which is tied for most in the league. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Eric Hosmer, Royals, $8,000 (Early) – Tyler Duffey is no fraud as his ERA currently sits at 3.30 after a 3.10 tally last season. His numbers looked impressive last year but he has cut down on the walks this year which typically signifies progression in a young pitcher. However, he misses bats at about the league average (7.50 K/9) and the Royals put the ball in play with the best of them (18.3-percent K rate versus RHP ranks sixth lowest in the league). Therefore, it makes sense to me that Vegas would favor the Royals even in Minnesota. The Royals’ implied total current sits around 4.3 runs which is one of the higher totals on the early slate and Eric Hosmer has pretty much served as “Mr. Reliable” against RHP this season. To this point, Hosmer is slashing .371/.422/.569 against the handedness with a .425 wOBA and 42.6-percent hard hit rate. Without any true gas pan pitchers toeing the mound on the early slate, I’m going with a guy who never seems to be priced up to his skill set and taking advantage of the value.
Zack Cozart, Reds, $6,900 (Late) – Although you may not have guessed it watching the Reds offense get dominated by Clayton Kershaw the other night, they present one of the most difficult possible matchups for opposing LHPs. The potency in their lineup all begins at the top with leadoff man Zack Cozart and his .377 wOBA against lefties in 2016. Hell, he is slashing a healthy .316/.341/.553 against the handedness and guaranteed to draw the most ABs of any hitter in lineup (or at least tie). Opposing starter Scott Kazmir has had some issues with the long ball this season to say the least as he has already allowed 12 HRs…nine of which were hit by right-handers. While value on offense isn’t incredibly necessary on the night slate devoid of aces, rostering Cozart literally will allow you to roster any and all bats you would like alongside him.
Gregory Polanco, Pirates, $8,800 (Late) – Need to find somewhere to spend money on the late slate? Look no further than Gregory Polanco who has raised his average 30 percentage points since May 11. Coming off a 32 fantasy point and five RBI performance on Tuesday, Polanco and the Pirates will square off against Rubby De La Rosa at home on Wednesday. While De La Rosa looks to be a much improved pitcher this season, I cannot seem to get the drastic struggles against LHHs from last season out of my mind. In 2016, De La Rosa has dominated LHHs to the tune of a .160 AVG but he has only made seven total starts. Last year in an extended sample size (87.1 IP), De La Rosa allowed a .312 AVG and .404 wOBA to LHHs. When all said and done, I think De La Rosa is somewhere in between last year’s struggles and this year’s dominance so I’m willing to take the shot on a hot hitter. Oh by the way, Polanco’s .392 wOBA against the handedness ranks first among Pirates regulars so his overall skill set ain’t too shabby either. It’s telling that the Pirates are favored at home with Jeff Locke on the mound so both odds-makers and I believe Pittsburgh will get to De La Rosa in this one.
Brandon Guyer, Rays, $8,400 (Late) – While I was going to write up Gerardo Parra against Stephen Wright at a $6,400 price tag, there is no reason to take risks in cash games against the top SP on the slate (despite his favorable batter versus pitcher data against knuckleballers). Instead, Brandon Guyer makes a whole lot more sense in a matchup with a left-hander who just absolutely does not miss bats. Opposing starter Justin Nicolino has walked more batters per inning (3.38 BB/9) to this point than he has struck out (1.84 K/9) which is very far from ideal. On the other hand, Guyer’s .470 wOBA against LHP this season is very impressive and would lead most teams…except the Rays’ roster includes the American League leader in wOBA against the handedness (min. 25 ABs): Steve Pearce (.566). Guyer hits in a prime lineup spot (first), possesses elite skills and is facing a pitcher who physically cannot force him to swing and miss. Consequently, expect some hard contact from both Guyer and the entire Rays lineup in what could be the sneakiest stack of the entire night.
Marco Estrada, Blue Jays, $16,200 (Late) – The Yankees sound prestigious in name but their offense is nothing more than league average in 2016. They do not present an incredibly difficult matchup statistically against either side of the plate. Marco Estrada, a fly ball pitcher, will toe the mound in Yankee Stadium on Thursday which generally isn’t a great mix. Nevertheless, the Yankees actually rank in the bottom 10 of both hard hit rate and line drive percentage, which limits the threat for them to hit multiple HRs. Additionally, the Yankees rank in the middle of the pack in terms of wOBA, wRC+, AVG and OBP against the handedness so I’m going to trust Estrada’s track record to this point; he owns a 2.61 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 8.71 K/9 and 0.70 HR/9 rate in 51.2 IP. On a slate without true studs at the position, Estrada is worth using in all formats even though he is listed as a slight underdog to Ivan Nova.
Junior Guerra, Brewers, $14,800 (Late) – “Who?” Yes this virtual unknown Junior Guerra is a viable start against the lowly Atlanta Braves offense. While the Braves are the absolute worst team in terms of wOBA against LHP, they rank a few spots higher against righties, though they aren’t exactly setting the world on fire (.284 wOBA). They rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP, hard hit rate and line drive percentage as well although they are an extremely difficult team to strike out (18.4-percent K rate). Still, and somewhat surprisingly to me before I started research for the day, using Guerra is more than just a matchup play…he has actually pitched pretty well. Guerra will be heading into this game coming off two straight quality starts including an 11 K performance versus the Chicago Cubs his last time out. Here are some of his notable statistics so far: 3.96 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 3.14 FIP, 3.80 xFIP, 8.64 K/9 and a 3.00 K/BB ratio. Amazingly, all of those statistics are not only respectable but most jump off the page. Guerra is a pure fly ball pitcher, and considering the Braves lack of power, that’s a positive in this specific matchup. All signs point to a nice outing from this cheaply-priced, obscure 31-year old right-hander.
Dillon Gee, Royals, $10,400 (Early) – Instead of mindlessly recommending Jake Arrieta on the early slate (he’s a no-brainer), I wanted to suggest a guy who may have flown under your radar: Dillon Gee. He’s a mediocre talent but he has always limited hard contact in terms of both hard hit rate and line drive percentage. Coincidentally, his opponent (the Twins) only excel in two categories versus RHP: hard hit rate and line drive percentage. Otherwise, Minnesota sits in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, AVG and OBP while striking out at the eight highest percentage in all of baseball. Gee’s team is favored and most of the other solid talents draw terrible matchups so saving the money to pair Gee with Arrieta opens up a ton of salary for bats.
*Stats are accurate as of Tuesday, May 24