A date with the Phillies is favorable for any RHP but Kyle Hendricks has pitched well this season and is backed by the National League’s most potent offense. Start him in a game he should win with relative ease. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (Early) – I want Matt Moore to be an ace…I really do. However, at this point, facts are facts and Moore’s 4.52 FIP ranks 23rd worst among qualified starters. Although he possesses a mid-90s fastball and nasty breaking curveball, he has been consistently missing spots (particularly up in the zone) which has yielded some unfavorable results. Sure Moore is walking the fewest hitters he has in any of his Major League seasons, but he’s allowing a career high home run rate (1.59 HR/9) and a hit rate comparable to last season’s disastrous total (10.2 H/9 compared to last season’s 10.9 tally). Combine all these factors and suddenly Moore rates as nothing better than subpar pitcher to this point. Therefore, Alex Rodriguez and his team-leading .391 wOBA against LHP this season is firmly in play. As a whole, the Yankees have not hit well versus lefties this season but the recent DL stint for A-Rod has not helped those numbers either. Moore is allowing so many bombs that even if the team struggles as a whole, Rodriguez could reach 14 fantasy points with one swing of the bat. As one of the favorites on the slate to dong, he’s a solid cash play but elite GPP option.
Scooter Gennett (Early) – Whenever a pitcher has allowed a wOBA over .400 against a handedness, it is certainly eyebrow-raising. When a pitcher has allowed a .470 wOBA through 17.0 IP against a handedness, fantasy owners need to be running and not walking to roster those who fit the bill against him. In this case, Alfredo Simon is pitcher in the example, and Scooter Gennett is a left-hander who typically hits second in the order against RHPs. To this point, Gennett has been a bit disappointing considering his .305 wOBA and .247/.300/.398 slash line against righties but his career numbers paint a different picture. Over 1008 career ABs versus RHPs, Gennett’s .340 wOBA ranks second on the team against the handedness (behind only Ryan Braun) and he sports a slash line of .302/.335/.452. It’s only a matter of time until he starts ascending back to his career norms and there’s no better situation for this trend to begin than against arguably the worst pitcher in the league.
Colby Rasmus, Astros (Late) – Somehow, someway Jered Weaver is getting by throwing a fastball with an average velocity of 82.9 mph. Weaver’s ERA, FIP, xFIP and HR rates would all be career worsts yet his record sits at 4-3 through nine starts this season…if you were ever wondering how terrible and unpredictable of a statistic “wins” were. Of the aforementioned statistics, the 1.89 HR/9 rate stands out the most against a team built on power and tied for first in the ISO category against RHP. On most other teams, Colby Rasmus’ eight HRs versus the handedness would rank first but the Astros possess otherworldly power and George Springer has launched 10 into orbit already. Pretty much the whole team is in play in this game because all of them have the ability to hit one out but I prefer Rasmus due to Weaver’s splits. This season, Weaver has allowed a .373 wOBA to RHHs and a .390 tally to LHHs including six of the 11 HRs he has given up. While Rasmus typically doesn’t factor into the cash game conversation due to volatility, Saturday is a prime spot for him to flash the power potential. Start him and most of the Astros in any and all formats.
Seth Smith, Mariners (Late) – As long as we’re on the topic of HR-prone pitchers, Phil Hughes certainly applies, as he ranks just behind Weaver with a 1.66 HR/9 ratio so far this season. Hughes, similarly to Weaver, pounds the strike zone and relies on fastballs to result in outs. Unlike Weaver, Hughes does not have a large home ball park helping him out. Quietly, the Mariners rank sixth in wOBA against RHP so far this season and a contributing factor is the ability to deploy Seth Smith in the platoon split (and Franklin Gutierrez against lefties). Consistently priced at a reasonable cost, Smith owns a career .359 wOBA against the handedness and usually bats in a prime lineup spot (second) when in the lineup. By comparison, Smith’s career ISO rates just eight percentage points lower than that of Robinson Cano, yet the outfielder can consistently be rostered for approximately $2,000-2,500 less. Take the discount on the late slate in order to roster Noah Syndergaard and/or Zack Greinke and enjoy the nice value and upside of Smith at a mid-tier price.
Noah Syndergaard, Dodgers (Late) – Admittedly I’m a sucker for velocity, and Noah Syndergaard’s fastball is the fastest in the league per FanGraphs, but what is not to like about this 23-year old rising star? Only Jose Fernandez, Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer have struck out more batters per inning and only eight pitchers have allowed fewer HRs per nine innings than Syndergaard. Hell, both Syndergaard’s FIP and xFIP rank second best of any qualified pitcher behind only Clayton Kershaw and I think that accurately signifies how talented of a pitcher we are talking about. On Saturday, he’ll draw a matchup against a Dodgers offense that has been surprisingly subpar against RHP considering all the left-handed talent in their lineup (Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez and Joc Pederson to name a few). Still, the numbers are hard to argue with as the team ranks in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+ and ISO against RHP and they have struck out at about a neutral percentage (20.0-percent). If fading Syndergaard ever, there needs to be a pretty convincing reason, and no such roadblocks seem evident in this matchup so lock and load him as per usual.
Kyle Hendricks, Cubs (Early) – The leaders in ground ball rate this season aren’t exactly as expected; the top four in the category include a 25-year old kid (Marcus Stroman), a Rockies starter (Tyler Chatwood) and Kyle Hendricks. In fact, the Cubs’ right-hander has improved his rate a whopping 6.8 percentage points from last season to 2016. Consequently, Hendricks has hardly allowed any homers (0.39 HR/9) and his 2.91 FIP would easily finish as a career-high. He’ll draw a matchup against the Phillies in this one who have not fared well against RHPs to say the least. They rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate, OBP and hard hit percentage against the handedness. Part of their struggles are due to their stubbornness to abandon Ryan Howard and his average that hasn’t even begun to flirt with the “Mendoza line” (.160). Regardless of whether he’s in the lineup or not, this matchup will feature the Cubs offense against Jerad Eickhoff which isn’t a fair fight. Not only is Hendricks destined to cruise to a quality start, his offense should provide him with plenty of runs as well. He is the ideal cash game play, and his salary is incredibly reasonable, which will help roster Coors Field bats next to him.
Carlos Rodon, White Sox (Early) – No I’m not just being a Chicago homer by recommending both Chicago pitchers on the early slate because Carlos Rodon draws a plus matchup as well. While I typically do not advise using a pitcher against an offense who just saw him, the Royals just have nothing working against left-handers in 2016. Of all their regulars, only two possess wOBAs over .300 against lefties to this point…three hundred! The Royals are difficult to strike out but they rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, AVG, hard hit rate, line drive percentage and (most importantly for Rodon) BB rate. At times, Rodon struggles with control but it shouldn’t matter against a team that swings at anything and everything. Rodon’s most recent start came against the Royals and he threw 6.2 IP with just two ER and managed four Ks. A lack of strikeout potential is made up for by the potential to pitch deeper into games with a lower pitch count in this matchup as he just displayed his last time out. The 6.2 IP were tied for his third longest outing of the season and were actually only one out short of his season-high 7.0 IP. I expect a similar outing from his in this one and the Chicago duo opens up the ability to roster just about any hitter you can dream of.
*Stats are accurate as of Friday, May 27