Williams Perez has struggled against LHHs in his young Major League career so strongly consider deploying the left-handed leadoff man for the Padres on Monday. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Mike Napoli, Indians, $8,800 – The Mike Napoli signing has worked out beautifully for the Indians so far as he currently ranks fifth in the American League with 14 HRs to this point. His specialty is and has always been his ability to crush LHP as he currently sports a .372 wOBA against the handedness with a .259 ISO and .278/.339/.537 slash line this season. Amazingly, Napoli has hit the ball hard a whopping 47.2-percent of the time versus southpaws (which ranks 13th among all hitters with at least 40 ABs against lefties to this point). On Monday, the Indians will square off against James Paxton who was absolutely obliterated in his first Major League start of the season (at San Diego). He’ll try to rebound in this game but retiring a powerful right-handed bat will not be easy for him. Although LHHs have fared better against Paxton in his young career in terms of wOBA, 13 of the 15 HRs he has allowed have come off the bat of RHHs. Therefore, I like Napoli’s changes for a dong against a struggling pitcher and I’m willing to deploy him in all formats for the power potential.
Victor Martinez, Tigers, $8,400 – When analyzing this upcoming slate, J.A. Happ doesn’t stand out as a name to target against in talent level alone. He has pitched extremely well this year as he currently owns a 6-2 record with a 3.06 ERA and 1.16 WHIP but the Tigers are a formidable offensive team. In a battle between two pitchers who have performed extremely well this season, Vegas projects this game at an over/under of 9.0 runs with the Tigers listed as -124 favorites at home. In other words, the Tigers are implied to score 4.8 runs or so, which is a number that should jump off the page against Happ. A handful of Tigers bats are in play in this matchup but Victor Martinez stands out as the best overall value. While Kinsler’s .453 wOBA against the handedness leads all the regulars, his is priced $900 more and is difficult to fit if rostering the top ace on the slate. Consequently, I prefer Martinez at a more affordable price considering he sports a .383 wOBA and .313/.400/.479 slash line against LHP to this point. The OBP alone (.400) deems him a cash game play so his career .444 OBP against Happ is just icing on the cake.
Jon Jay, Padres, $7,800 – Until last start, Williams Perez was looking like a much improved pitcher this season, especially against LHHs…then he squared off against the Giants. Brandon Belt hit a bomb off of him and Perez allowed four runs in 5.2 IP when all said and done. Overall, Perez matches up well against a mostly right-handed Padres team and he actually makes for an interesting contrarian GPP option on the slate. However, one hitter you can expect to take advantage of him is Jon Jay. Even with Perez’s improvement in 2016, he has still allowed a career .288/.367/462 slash line to LHHs, and all three of the HRs he has allowed this season have come off the bats of lefties as well. Sure Jay probably isn’t going to hit a HR (although he’s hit two off of righties this year) but he does rank second on the team in career wOBA against RHP (.329) with a .288/.353/.493 slash line as well. Admittedly Jay is best left for cash games but he possesses multiple extra-base hit upside and the potential to steal a base regardless of whether Tyler Flowers or A.J. Pierzynski draws the start. Among all catchers who have caught at least 50 innings since the beginning of 2015, Flowers’ -7 stolen base runs above average (rSB) ranks second worst (behind only Hank Conger) and Pierzynski’s -4 ranks tied for fifth worst out of 98 total catchers, per FanGraphs. In layman’s terms, they are two of the worst catchers in terms of holding baserunners in the entire league. There are multiple ways for Jay to reach double-digit fantasy points but the bottom line is I believe he gets there in this matchup.
Mikie Mahtook, Rays, $6,400 – In Mike Mahtook’s tenure with the Rays at the end of the 2015 season, he pretty must just platooned against LHPs, and was always a threat to be pinch-hit for later in the game. Due to the injury to Brandon Guyer, Mahtook actually led off against a RHP on Sunday and recorded a hit off of him. Whether this earns him more playing time against the handedness remains to be seen but the good news is the team will face a struggling left-handed starter on Monday: Robbie Ray. Unsurprisingly, the root of most of Ray’s struggles have come off the bats of RHHs as they are slashing .291/.391/.494 against him and have hit eight of the nine HRs he has allowed this season. Even though Mahtook entered Sunday slashing just .114/.158/.143 in 35 ABs this season, he’ll presumably draw the start in the leadoff spot once again. As per usual, he’s a threat to be pinch hit for, but it’s about time he broke out of his slump. Not only is the one-on-one matchup favorable but he’ll enjoy an extreme positive ballpark shift moving from Tropicana Field to Chase Field…a top three hitters’ park over the past two seasons, per ESPN Park Factors. At this miniscule price tag, the potential reward is much greater than the risk, so deploy him anywhere and everywhere (assuming he draws a start hitting in one of the top two spots in the order).
Jon Lester, Cubs, $22,500 – Jon Lester looked dominant his last time out (at home versus the Dodgers) and there’s no reason to believe he cannot produce a similarly dominant outing in Philadelphia. The Phillies are a doormat offensively, especially against LHP, as they rank second to last in most categories behind only the Braves including wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG and OBP. Additionally, they have struck out at a rate of 23.9-percent against LHP so Lester should possess his usual K floor. Honestly, this matchup isn’t worth overanalyzing because Lester is above and beyond the top pitching option on the slate.
Michael Fulmer, Tigers, $19,200 – A former first round pick of the Mets (2011 Draft), Michael Fulmer has certainly pitched like a guy loaded with talent in 41.2 IP this season. Fulmer currently owns a 3.24 ERA, 3.58 FIP and 3.38 xFIP with a 1.22 WHIP, 9.50 K/9 and 49.3-percent GB rate. All five HRs he has allowed have come off the bat of RHHs, but even when digging deep, it is difficult to find any red flags in Fulmer’s numbers to this point. I think this kid is just legit, and although he’ll have some growing pains just like any other pitcher, he should be valued as a solid commodity moving forward. Tonight, he’ll face a Blue Jays team that just isn’t quite the same this season. Everyone continues to expect them to revert to last season’s dominance but yet they rank in the bottom half of wOBA, wRC+, ISO (!), AVG and OBP against RHP this season. As a pitcher with a respectable K rate, it’s encouraging to note the Blue Jays have also struck out at a rate of 22.2-percent against the handedness. On paper, Fulmer certainly makes the case for being cash game playable, though I wouldn’t blame you for focusing on him mostly in tournaments.
Christian Friedrich, Padres, $14,800 – SP2 is extremely difficult for cash on this slate but my preference is Christian Friedrich only because he draws the best matchup any pitcher could ever ask for. The Braves’ .261 wOBA ranks 13 percentage points worse than the Phillies…and the Phillies’ wOBA against LHP is still lower than any team’s against RHP this season. As noted in the Lester tidbit, the Phillies rank last nearly everywhere against LHP and have struck out at a rate of 22.7-percent versus the handedness. Currently, Friedrich’s 2.53 ERA looks nice but his FIP and xFIP suggest he has been awfully lucky. His big struggle has been with control (5.91 BB/9) but the Phillies walk at the fourth lowest percentage against lefties so that really isn’t a concern in this matchup. At this miniscule price range, a quality start of any rate will do, and that’s probably just about what you can expect from him. Friedrich keeps the ball on the ground and does not give up many HRs so he should possess a safe floor. As long as your hitters hold their own, you should be able to cash in 50/50s and double ups with the Lester-Friedrich duo.
*Stats are accurate as of Sunday, June 5