Building your lineups around Francisco Lindor and his .342 average against LHP this season is a smart idea on Sunday afternoon. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Nolan Arenado, Rockies – In Coors Field, the Rockies bats are once again viable although the Padres will send a lefty to the mound this time around. Therefore, guys like Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez become less desirable and Ryan Raburn and Nolan Arenado emerge as the best plays on the team. Raburn was signed to platoon against LHPs and yet Arenado leads the team by 75 percentage point (.443) in wOBA against the handedness. Beyond the insane wOBA, Arenado leads the team in ISO (.323) and is slashing .323/.417/.645 against left-handers in 62 ABs. Despite a limited sample size this season (28.0 IP), Christian Friedrich has not allowed a HR to a RHH and are only allowing them to slash .244/.351/.275, so we may be looking at an improved pitcher. Typically, those numbers do not matter in Coors Field, especially the wind is expected to be blowing out for the second consecutive day. On a windy day at Coors, expect Friedrich to more closely resemble his career numbers which include a .373 wOBA allowed to RHHs and a .306/.382/.483 slash line. Once again, fading Arenado at home is a scary proposition and could set you up to be drawing dead in cash games without him.
Francisco Lindor, Indians – With Colorado, Boston and even the Blue Jays squaring off against favorable opponents, the Indians stack has the potential to fly under the radar…and I think that would be a mistake. Opposing starter David Huff was producing mediocre minor league numbers earlier this season before his call up to the Angels and he displayed why in his first start. Huff lasted just 3.1 IP, allowed nine baserunners, five ERs and struck out just one hitter. Over the span of 391.2 IP at the Major League level, Huff now sports a 5.15 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 1.31 HR/9, 3.01 BB/9 and 5.33 K/9 rate. In other words, you want to target opposing hitters against him each time he toes the mound. For cash games, there is no safer bet on the Indians than Francisco Lindor. Not only is Lindor the only Indians regular hitting .300-plus against lefties but he sports a .366 wOBA and is slashing .342/.385/.466 against the handedness. Add in his ability to swipe a base or two and he becomes one of the highest floor players on the entire slate, plus he won’t cost you a fortune.
George Springer, Astros – Bold prediction: Astros righties are going to launch multiple HRs in this game off of Matt Moore. Why do I say this? Moore has already allowed 11 HRs to RHHs which ranks second worst behind Cole Hamels and Hector Santiago (tied with league worst 12 HRs allowed to the handedness). Furthermore, righties are slashing .284/.346/.495 against him with a .360 wOBA, and he has walked them at a higher rate (3.04 BB/9) and struck them out at a lower rate (7.93 K/9) compared to LHHs. Moore has simply had serious issues all-around and is no longer a pitcher to fear. Consequently, George Springer and company are firmly in play. Many of the Astros hitters favor the platoon split against LHPs but none more than Springer; his .431 wOBA against LHP is 74 percentage points higher than his output against RHP (.357) this season and he’s hitting at an AVG 51 points higher as well. Four hitters on the Astros offense hit from the right side and sport a wOBA of .380 or greater to this point so any and all of them are a threat to go deep. Considering Springer will hit at the very top of the order (and is guaranteed to tie for the most plate appearances against Moore), both he and Jose Altuve are my preferred options if you can fit them, regardless of format.
Jayson Werth, Nationals – Only the Red Sox have produced a superior team wOBA against LHP to the Nationals’ .347 and the man running away with the team lead is Jayson Werth (.482). Among all pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings this season, probable starter Adam Morgan’s 6.70 ERA ranks fifth worst behind only Alfredo Simon, Cody Anderson, Shelby Miller and Wily Peralta. Since all the other four on the list are right-handed, we can infer Morgan has pitched the worst of any left-handed starter in baseball so far. Nothing in Morgan’s peripherals suggest things are going to get much better any time soon and his 1.73 HR/9 rate foreshadows the hard contact Nationals hitter should be able to induce. Like Springer, Werth has one of the best chances among non-Coors hitters to go deep.
Jon Lester, Cubs – Recently the Braves hitters have shown signs of improvement against LHP as they’ve moved from the doghouse in wOBA against the handedness to just second worst (they passed the Phillies). Still, they rank in the bottom two of nearly every category across the board and have struck out at a rate of 23.1-percent, or ninth highest versus LHP. Meanwhile, Jon Lester’s ERA is down to 2.06 after back-to-back-to-back starts of six-plus innings and one ER or less. Despite his inability to earn runners, Lester hasn’t allowed baserunners to reach, which has sort of solved his issues temporarily. Eventually a team will be able to take advantage of Lester’s weaknesses but it likely will not be the Braves. They have exactly one stolen bases threat (Mallex Smith) and he bats at the end of the order. No other player on the team has stolen more than three bases. Without a doubt, Lester is the top pitching play on the slate in both cash games and GPPs.
Steven Matz, Mets – Arguably Steven Matz’s worst start of the year other than his season debut came in his last outing; he allowed ten baserunners and two ERs in 5.0 IP at Pittsburgh. While this outing wasn’t fantastic, the fact that it may have been his “worst” over the past nine starts shows just how dang impressive this kid has looked. Matz will head into Sunday’s tilt against the Brewers with a 7-2 record, 2.39 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with 61 Ks in 60.1 IP. Milwaukee started the season hot against LHP but have been dropping down the leaderboard and now rank exactly 15th in wOBA against the handedness. Additionally, they rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, AVG and line drive percentage and have struck out at a slightly above average rate (21.4-percent). Strangely, the Brewers are slight (-101) favorites with Zach Davies on the mound but I’m fading Vegas in their assessment of this game. Matz has pitched well all season and I expect another quality start with 6-7 Ks in this one.
Joe Ross, Nationals – Tanner Roark looked like an ace against the Phillies on Saturday afternoon so one can only imagine how Joe Ross might fare. Ross isn’t a dominant strikeout pitcher and he doesn’t force opponents to pound the ball on the ground but he does dominate opposing RHHs. Hell, righties have slashed .196/246/.349 against him this season in 36.2 IP with a measly .254 wOBA. Looking at Philadelphia’s lineup, most of the team is right-handed other than Odubel Herrera, Cesar Hernandez and Ryan Howard. If Ross can keep that trio at bay, there’s no reason he shouldn’t throw one of the better games of the day. Oh by the way, the Phillies rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate and hard hit rate while striking out at 22.3-percent against RHP so the matchup looks awfully juicy on paper as well. Ross is viable cash play if you need salary relief to one of the aforementioned pitchers and/or are worried about Matz not being listed as the favorite.
*Stats are accurate as of Saturday, June 11