Hunter Pence will square off against a RHP possessing reverse splits in Coors Field so make sure your lineups include the righty slugger on Friday. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Manny Machado, Orioles, $9,300 – There is rarely ever a game where Manny Machado isn’t worthy of consideration due to his ability to hit both sides of the plate and his combination of power and speed. With that being said, Machado has drawn five career at-bats (ABs) against probable starter Trevor Bauer and he has homered twice and walked. Among all Orioles regulars, Machado leads the team in wOBA against RHPs by a large margin and he’s right-handed. The guy can straight ball and his .338 ISO signifies the two HRs against Bauer were no fluke. Progressive Field has played like a top four hitters’ ballpark over the past two seasons, according to ESPN Park Factors, so Machado will enjoy a minor upgrade in hitting atmosphere from his home park as well. While Bauer has shown some improvement against RHHs so far this season, Machado is no “Average Joe.” Machado is not only threat for a HR in this game but a multiple hit performance as well so you’ll want to roster him in cash games for his ability to reach 20 fantasy points in a variety of ways.
Ian Kinsler/Victor Martinez, Tigers – Opposing starter Sean Manaea is a top prospect for the Athletics but his road so far in the big leagues has been bumpy to say the least. After failing to record a quality start in each of his first two Major League starts, Manaea was blown up for eight ERs in 2.2 IP on May 10. His following start, he recovered and allowed just one ER in 6.2 IP, so it seemed like he had finally righted the ship. However, he reverted back to mediocrity in his last start and will now draw an incredibly difficult matchup against the Tigers. Unsurprisingly, RHHs have been responsible for most of the damage against him as they are slashing .337/.389/.556 with a .402 wOBA (versus a .176 wOBA allowed to LHHs). The reason I list two Tigers is because Ian Kinsler would be my preference if healthy but he has sat the last two games due to illness. He leads the team in wOBA against the handedness this season by exactly 100 percentage points (.468) and ranks second in career wOBA behind only Miguel Cabrera. Therefore, Victor Martinez and his career .305/.375/.485 slash line against lefties makes for a nice alternative and he’s substantially cheaper than Cabrera. Most will focus on Coors Field but the Tigers present a nice, sneaky stack option that could top either team playing in the Rocky Mountains.
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, $8,800 – Just like the Staind song, “It’s Been Awhile” since a game has been played in Coors Field, but here’s a reminder: the place is a hitters’ haven. Although the over/unders seem to be way off a fair amount of the time in this elite hitting environment, it should be noted the Rockies opened as -113 favorites in projected 11 run game. Carlos Gonzalez is only hitting .229 in the month of May but he has shown signs of turning things around lately. The mashing lefty had registered multiple hit games in two of his last three games heading into Thursday night…and the only night he hadn’t, he still tripled. UPDATE: Gonzalez homered on Thursday as well so he’s officially heating up. In Carlos Gonzalez, we are still talking about a player with a .392 career wOBA against RHPs including a .302/.366/.560 slash and he’ll square off against a pitcher who has been owned against lefties this year. Matt Cain, pitching in AT&T Park half the time no less, has allowed a .392 wOBA to LHHs so one can only imagine the beating they will give to him in Coors Field. Both Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon are as close to must-starts as it gets but Gonzalez gets the nod as the slightly better play of the two.
Hunter Pence, Giants, $10,200 – Crazily, a Colorado starting pitcher has posted respectable numbers this year (Tyler Chatwood), but if you look closely you’ll find an interesting trend with him. Chatwood is only allowing a .249 wOBA to LHHs but righties have smoked him to the tune of a .353 wOBA and hit five of the six HRs he has allowed. Consequently, Hunter Pence and Buster Posey look like the prime targets on the Giants as the duo ranks as two of the top three hitters on the team in terms of career wOBA against RHPs. Posey ranks higher on the career list but Pence leads the team in wOBA against RHPs by 25 percentage points this year. Since daily is a “what have you done for me lately” game, Pence is the slightly more enticing option of the two and a lock in cash games. Ideally, Gonzalez, Blackmon, Pence and Posey would all fit into one cash lineup, but you have to get creative in the pitching department in order to make it work. UPDATE: Pence is not in the lineup. He is easily replaceable with either Posey and/or Matt Duffy (the team’s other righties).
Felix Hernandez, Mariners, $23,200 – Admission is the first stage to recovery. For those denying it, it’s time to admit: Felix Hernandez is no longer an ace. It’s okay because he’s still a productive pitcher but he no longer possesses the velocity to blow it by hitters. If the season were to end today, Hernandez’s 7.42 K/9 would rank as a career-low total and his 3.95 BB/9 would also be a career worst. Still, Hernandez still sports just a 2.21 ERA and is keeping the ball on the ground at a respectable rate (53.8-percent). Okay so Hernandez’s peripherals (4.05 FIP, 4.10 xFIP) suggest regression is coming to his ERA but the matchup against the Twins likely isn’t going to be the one to do it. The Twins rank in the bottom half of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate and OBP against RHP while striking out at the seventh highest percentage. Maybe most importantly, Hernandez will be pitching in the friendly confines of Safeco Field, where he owns a 1.55 ERA this season and three-year ERA of 2.81. Minnesota’s strength on offense is their power (32.5-percent hard hit rate and 23.8-percent line drive percentage) but the large park should help neutralize their specialty. As a result, I think Hernandez is trustworthy in this matchup and he comes at a much cheaper price tag than Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom; both of which pitch in sub-par matchups.
Adam Conley, Marlins, $15,000 – Coming off two blowups in his past three starts, there may not be a better elixir for a struggling lefty than a matchup against the Braves. Atlanta literally ranks dead last in wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG and OBP against LHP while striking out at the tenth highest percentage. Even amidst Adam Conley’s struggles, he has maintained a 3.59 FIP and 8.50 K/9 rate. Also, Conley is a fly ball pitcher yet he has maintained a low HR/FB ratio, and the Braves are not likely to hit one out considering they have only hit eight total HRs versus lefties in 2016 with a .316 SLG. This is the best possible matchup a southpaw could ask for, and with the expensive collection of Coors bats all in play, rostering him is a logical way to make it all work in a single lineup.
Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks, $16,800 – In order to complete the Coors stack, Robbie Ray is my choice for SP2 to pair with Conley, or even a GPP SP2 to pair with Hernandez. All I’m really trying to say is I really like Ray against a Padres team that is struggling to make hard contact against lefties. Admittedly, they have been swinging the bat a little better against LHPs recently as was expected because they do have some solid talents against the handedness (Matt Kemp, Derek Norris to name a few) on the roster. Nevertheless, they still strike out at the second highest rate against left-handers and overall rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, AVG, OBP and line drive rate against the handedness. He’s a bit of a shot considering he has allowed a .364 wOBA against RHHs and the Padres will likely load the lineup with them. The choice in cash games is either going to be dipping down to a Ray tier of pitcher of fading a few bats in order to roster Hernandez. The choice is yours.
*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, May 26