Cheap starting pitching is necessary in order to fit all the enticing bats on the early slate Saturday and Dan Straily certainly fits the bill (in a favorable matchup). Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Kyle Seager, Mariners, $8,000 (Late) – Pitchers do not need to throw 99mph to be successful at the Major League level and Colby Lewis is the personification. So far this season, only four starting pitchers are averaging a lower average fastball velocity than Lewis’ 87.6mph: R.A. Dickey (82.0), Steven Wright (82.9), Jered Weaver (83.2) and Doug Fister (86.7). Still, Lewis has pitched well (5-0 record, 3.20 ERA and 1.16 WHIP) despite allowing 11 HRs in 12 starts (1.30 HR/9). Even so, Kyle Seager is firmly in plate on the late slate for a multitude of reasons. Lewis’ .325 wOBA allowed to LHHs this season is 50 percentage points higher than his wOBA allowed to RHHs (.275). Furthermore, Lewis’ FIP, xFIP, HR rate, hard hit rate and BB rate are all significantly higher against LHP. Only Robinson Cano currently sports a higher wOBA against RHP on the team than Seager’s .421 and no one is hitting for a better average than his .333. As icing on the cake, Seager is 11-31 (.355) lifetime against Lewis with two HRs, seven RBIs and a .429 OBP. Do not let Seager fall through the cracks because he’s under the radar one of the best plays on the entire late slate.
Travis Shaw, Red Sox, $7,200 (Early) – In four starts this season (20.2 IP), Kyle Gibson has struggled mightily; his ERA sits at 6.10 with a 5.35 FIP, 5.67 xFIP and a BB/9 rate (5.23) greater than his K/9 rate (4.79). It goes without saying but all of these are terrible signs and he’s going to get much better quickly in order to stand a chance against the ferocious Red Sox offense. To this point, the Red Sox lead all teams in wOBA against both lefties and righties so it does not matter who they are facing. When looking at their prices, most of them are in the $8,000-10,000 range, yet somehow Travis Shaw’s price fell below the wayside. I really like him at this price because Gibson has allowed a wOBA 20 percentage points higher to LHHs over his career and a .270 AVG overall. In a limited sample size this season, lefties are slashing .344/.417/.594 with a .421 wOBA so they have been the main reason for his struggles. While David Ortiz is obviously the preferred option, I’d rather roster Shaw in cash games for more than $3,000 less and still comfortably fit Jake Arrieta.
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, $10,800 (Early) – Erik Johnson, the same one who stunk it up for the White Sox in an earlier stint this season, will start against the Rockies in Coors Field this afternoon. Like the “Red Wedding,” I expect it to be a bloodbath. As per usual, Vegas projects a gigantic over/under (12 runs) in the hitters’ haven but amazingly the Rockies are listed as -219 favorites. In other words, they are implied to score a whopping 7.3 runs…and this time I actually concur with Vegas’ assessment. I think the Rockies are about to lay the smack down on Johnson and the lefties are the favorites to do the damage. For his career, Johnson has allowed LHHs to slash .296/.399/538 with a .401 wOBA. Hm…who is the powerful lefty on the Rockies who is the prime candidate to take advantage? You guessed it: Carlos Gonzalez.
Michael Conforto, Mets, $8,400 (Early) – Other than the Johnson in Coors, the clear alternative pitcher to take advantage of is Wily Peralta. In 2016, no qualified starting pitcher owns a higher ERA than Peralta’s 6.79 and none have allowed a higher BABIP than his .387. The reason for his inflated BABIP allowed isn’t due to bad luck but rather is correlated to the career-high 35.7-percent hard hit rate and 23.3-percent line drive rate he’s allowing this season as well. Peralta is just the ultimate gas can this season and it shows in his splits; .382 wOBA allowed to LHHs and .458 wOBA allowed to RHHs. If the salary is available, spend up for Yoenis Cespedes and sleep like a baby, but it will be difficult to fit both Coors and Cespedes. Consequently, I am more than okay settling for some of the Mets more reasonably priced secondary players such as Michael Conforto, Asdrubal Cabrera ($8,100) and James Loney ($7,200). Although Conforto has been struggling, there’s nothing like the worst pitcher in the entire league to help wake up his bat. He’s better suited for GPPs due to the recent cold streak but I’m okay with deploying him in any and all formats if need be.
Jose Fernandez, Marlins, $26,400 (Late) – Pitching on the road in a hitters’ park against a team that ranks 11th in wOBA against the handedness isn’t the ideal situation. At the same time, we are talking about the starting pitcher leading the majors in K/9 by nearly two batters per nine innings. Yes, Jose Fernandez’s 13.26 K/9 is substantially higher than second place Stephen Strasburg’s 11.39 rate and it’s not even close. On May 4, Fernandez took on the Diamondbacks at home and allowed three ERs with seven Ks…and that’s when he was still on a pitch count. Since that time, Fernandez has only failed to go 7.0 IP just once. Aside from Fernandez, the top priced options on the night slate are Justin Verlander, Jeff Samardzija and Masahiro Tanaka (against the Tigers), so there is quite a gap in talent. In cash games, it makes sense to just pay up for the talent and ride Fernandez’s absolutely elite K rate to the top half of cash games. A dud for him likely still results in 15 or so fantasy points so there really isn’t much downside to rostering him.
Jake Arrieta, Cubs, $26,100 (Early) – While on the topic of top tier talents, Jake Arrieta is easily one of the best handful of pitchers in the MLB in his own right. After last year’s magical season, Arrieta is proving it was no fluke by following up his 2015 1.77 ERA with a 1.80 ERA so far in 2016. Meanwhile his opponent, the Atlanta Braves, are arguably the best matchup a pitcher could draw. They rank dead last in wOBA, wRC+, ISO, line drive rate and hard hit percentage and second to last in AVG and OBP against RHP. When a titan faces a mere mortal, there’s no use in overthinking…Use Arrieta and sleep like a baby.
Dan Straily, Reds, $14,400 (Early) – The issue with rostering Arrieta on the early slate is how it affects the quality of bats you can roster. In order to counteract the hit his salary takes on your cap, using Dan Straily as SP2 makes a ton of sense. Quietly, Straily owns a 3.34 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 67.1 IP. While it’s not time to crown him a “stud” just yet, it is worth considering him in a favorable matchup. The Athletics will come to town to face Straily in the Great American Ballpark and lose their designated hitter, which further weakens their already struggling offense. To this point, the Athletics rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate, OBP and hard hit percentage…and that’s mostly with a designated hitter in the lineup! The lineup they’ll send out there on Saturday afternoon gives both the Braves and Padres a run for their money for the worst possible lineup by the numbers against a RHP. As a result, it’s hard not to like Straily in one of the best matchups he could possibly ask for.
*Stats are accurate as of Friday, June 10