Alfredo Simon versus Matt Carpenter is like David versus Goliath except David forgot to bring his sling shot. Carpenter should do work in this matchup. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Ian Kinsler, Tigers, $9,900 (Early) – All of the Tigers are in play on the early slate but Ian Kinsler is my favorite play of the bunch despite ranking sixth on the team in wOBA against RHPs. Why? The team will square off against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and Kinsler has displayed the ability to rip the pitch. Seriously, hitting a knuckleball is a skill of its own, and Kinsler is 8-19 lifetime off of Dickey (.421) with three HRs, six RBI and a .476 OBP. Playing at home, the Tigers are listed as -125 favorites in a game with a projected 9.0 run over/under, so Vegas is essentially implying the Tigers should score about 4.8 runs. A smart cash game strategy is to use players atop the lineups of teams who are going to score a healthy amount of runs and Kinsler absolutely fits the bill. He’s the safest hitting play of the entire early slate.
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals, $10,200 (Late) – The fact that Alfredo Simon still holds a spot in the rotation is a victory for all DFS players. Through 47.1 IP, Simon’s ERA sits at 8.94 with a 6.89 FIP, 5.42 xFIP, 1.92 WHIP, .356 BABIP, 4.18 BB/9, 6.46 K/9 and 2.28 HR/9 rate…all of which are suboptimal to say the least. Furthermore, Simon has allowed LHHs to slash .360/.413/.636 against him with a whopping .439 wOBA! Really any hitter who faces Simon is in play any time he toes the mound but Matt Carpenter legitimately jumps off the page. Carpenter leads all regulars with a .409 wOBA against RHP this season and is slashing .295/.398/.590 against the handedness. Maybe most importantly, Carpenter has hit the ball hard 48.2-percent of the time…or nearly half! Simon rarely misses bats and allows a ridiculous amount of hard contact so Carpenter’s floor might be one extra-base hit. If all goes well, Carpenter could have himself a monster night, so I wouldn’t want to be the guy who fades him, especially in cash games.
Bryce Harper, Nationals, $8,800 (Late) – It feels like Bryce Harper has dealt with a season-long slump yet he still has produced 13 HRs with 37 RBI and a .409 OBP. Last night against struggling right-hander Mat Latos, Harper mashed a double that drove in two and ended with three RBIs on the night overall. Hopefully this is the beginning of a hot streak for him because Wednesday’s matchup is similarly enticing against James Shields. Strangely, Shields has thrown exactly 33.2 IP against both RHHs and LHHs this season, but has allowed a wOBA 22 percentage points higher to lefties. In fact, LHHs are slashing .291/.358/.448 against him with four HRs and a .348 wOBA. These mediocre numbers are following up his 23 HRs and .380 wOBA allowed to the handedness in 2015. Now Shields will move from pitcher-friendly Petco Park to U.S. Cellular Field which allows HRs at a rate of 8.0-percent above league average, per FanGraphs. While Daniel Murphy is firmly in play as well, Harper possesses similar (if not superior) skills at more than $1,000 cheaper, so he is the best value on the team. I think last night was foreshadowing better days ahead for Harper and I’m predicting a bomb from him in this game.
Robbie Grossman, Twins, $5,700 (Late) – Slowly but surely Robbie Grossman’s price is on the rise, but heading into Tuesday, Grossman led the team with a .544 wOBA against LHP. Grossman ended the day 2-4 with a HR (though it wasn’t off the left-hander) so basically he once again out-produced his miniscule price tag once again. Not counting Tuesday’s 21 fantasy point outburst, Grossman’s 9.25 fantasy point per game (FPPG) average is superior to the likes of Carlos Gonzalez, Paul Goldschmidt, Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper (to name a few). Okay, so this obviously is due to a smaller sample size for Grossman but it still outlines just how excellent he has been for a ridiculously reasonable cost. Yet again against Wei-Yin Chen, Grossman’s skill set is just too great of a value to pass on. Oh by the way, all eight HRs Chen has allowed this season have come off the bat of RHHs.
Max Scherzer, Nationals, $25,800 (Late) – Sure the White Sox lit up right-hander Joe Ross last night but Max Scherzer is a whole different animal. On paper, the White Sox seem like a favorable matchup against RHP; they rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP, hard hit rate and line drive percentage. Despite Scherzer’s inflated ERA (3.87) due to his 1.77 HR/9 rate, he still ranks fourth among all qualified pitchers with an 11.18 K/9. As eluded to earlier in the piece, U.S. Cellular Field can play HR friendly, so there is some downside to the matchup. However, the White Sox strike out at the 11th highest rate versus RHP so he should possess a solid K floor and an uncapped ceiling to boot. With other top starters in seemingly more difficult situations (Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner), Scherzer is my ace of choice, particularly for cash game formats.
Yu Darvish, Rangers, $21,300 (Late) – This price tag is a bit unfriendly for a guy recently back from Tommy John surgery but it’s hard to argue with the results. In two starts since coming off the disabled list, Darvish has averaged 20.70 FPPG and struck out 12 batters in 10.2 IP. The bad news is Darvish likely will not pitch into the eighth inning due to the team easing him back into game action. On the other hand, Darvish (like Scherzer) should have a nice strikeout floor due to the Astros’ 24.5-percent K rate versus RHPs. Overall, the Astros rank above average in most of the meaningful categories but Darvish is a talented enough pitcher that I think he can limit the damage. Moreover, Darvish went from five innings in his 2016 debut to 5.2 IP last time out so I think he could top six innings if all goes well this time out. He’s best suited for cash games because of the likely pitch limit but I’d be surprised if he didn’t reach 6-7 Ks and keep his team in the game.
Drew Pomeranz, Padres, $22,800 (Early) – The best matchup of the entire day goes hands down to Drew Pomeranz against the miserable Braves. Not only has Pomeranz pitched like a stud this season (2.22 ERA and 10.66 K/9) but he’ll face a Braves team that ranks last in virtually every important category against LHP: wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG and OBP. Meanwhile, they have struck out at a hefty 22.7-percent versus the handedness so they are susceptible to Pomeranz’s swing-and-miss stuff. Either the Braves are going to hit the ball weakly or whiff which bodes well for an ace pitching in one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the game. If you don’t use Pomeranz on the early slate then you weren’t really that committed to winning in the first place.
*Stats are accurate as of Tuesday, June 7