Victor Martinez and the Tigers offense are in a great spot on Monday squaring off against a pitcher who has allowed 17 ERs in his past two starts. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
NOTE: Victor Martinez is getting a rest day on Monday. Do not use him.
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, $8,400 – The theme of the infield for this upcoming slate is Tigers, Tigers and more Tigers. Something is up mechanically with James Shields right now as evident by his 17 ERs over his last 4.2 IP. 17! In each of Shields’ last two starts, he has fared more like an actual pitching machine than a former All-Star caliber pitcher. Both this season and for his career, Shields has allowed a higher wOBA to LHHs than RHHs but righties have still managed a .344 wOBA and hit six HRs against him this season. Meanwhile, Cabrera leads the team in both wOBA and ISO against RHP this season with a .331/.382/.589 slash line. In a plus matchup, Cabrera really should be priced in the mid-to-upper $9,000s. With this type of discount in a game where I expect the Tigers to explode, Cabrera will be a building block for me in all of my lineups.
Victor Martinez, Tigers, $8,000 – As mentioned in the Cabrera tidbit, lefties are typically the preferred play against Shields. Well, Victor Martinez fits the bill and has slashed a whopping .344/.383/.552 against LHPs this season with a .392 wOBA and .208 ISO. Not only has Shields allowed exactly six HRs to lefties (the same as he has to righties) but he’s also allowed a .373 wOBA and .310/.372/.500 slash line to the handedness as well…and the .373 wOBA is actually a minor improvement so far from last season’s .380 during which he allowed 23 HRs to lefties alone! If Martinez were ever a prime candidate to hit a bomb, this would be the matchup. The Tigers are implied to score 4.8 runs and I expect a healthy amount of the run production to involve Martinez in one way or another. UPDATE: Martinez is not in the lineup. Simply substitue Nick Castellanos for him for $100 more.
Danny Valencia, Athletics, $10,000 – I would be lying if I said I loved paying this sort of price for Danny Valencia but his skill set actually dictates this to be a fair cost. Right now, Valencia leads the Major Leagues in wOBA (.548) against LHP and he has done so in 39 ABs. Even in his semi-extended sample, he is topping all of the anomalies with 8-10 AB sample sizes. If that doesn’t display just how dominant he has hit the handedness than nothing will. Unsurprisingly, his accompanying numbers are impressive as well: .462 ISO, .410/.452/.872 slash line with a 51.2-percent hard hit rate. Opposing starter Cesar Ramos has been roasted by RHHs in a limited sample size this season; in 21.2 IP versus the handedness, Ramos has allowed a .310/.348/.548 slash line with four HRs and a .377 wOBA. People may look at Valencia’s name alone and decide the price tag is too steep but it actually makes perfect sense in this given matchup.
Adam Eaton, White Sox, $6,400 – Lefty/lefty matchups are generally scary propositions, especially in cash games, but Adam Eaton is worth the risk on Monday. Eaton is one of the rare cases of lefties who has posted respectable numbers versus the handedness. So far this season, Eaton owns a .364 wOBA and .328/.403/.422 slash line against the handedness, although his ISO sits at just 0.094. While you’re likely not getting much power with Eaton, what he lacks with the pop he makes up for with the speed. Okay so Eaton has only stolen eight career bases versus left-handers but I’m talking more about him putting the ball in play and turning what should be a single into a double…although Jarrord Saltalamacchia has produced one of the worst stolen base runs above average (rSB) tallies of any catcher over the past two seasons (-3), aka he’s not great at shutting down opposing base runners. Furthermore, the White Sox are favored in a projected 9.5 run game so Eaton possesses the upside to score multiple runs. Assuming Vegas is correct and the White Sox do get to Boyd early and often, Eaton will very likely end up facing a right-handed reliever at some point…especially considering Boyd has pitched into the seventh inning just once in four starts this season and thrice in 17 career appearances. Melky Cabrera is firmly in play as well but value is going to be needed to fit the aforementioned bats and Eaton presents the best value on the entire team hitting in the leadoff spot.
Max Scherzer, Nationals, $23,600 – Targeting the Cubs isn’t usually a profitable strategy but they do have one glaring hole that has transferred over from last season: they strike out a ton. The Cubs rank in the top half of most of the major statistical sabermetric categories against RHPs but they strike out at the 10th highest percentage (22.4-percent). In other words, the type of starter most likely to shut them down is one with the ability to miss bats. Considering Max Scherzer’s 10.90 K/9 ranks fifth amongst qualified starters behind only Jose Fernandez, Stephen Strasburg, Noah Syndergaard and Clayton Kershaw, I’d say he possesses the necessary skill set to succeed. Even with Kyle Hendricks on the mound, Scherzer is listed as a -135 favorite against one of the best offenses in baseball. If multiple viable alternatives existed on the slate, one could consider fading in cash games, but that just isn’t the case. Consequently, Scherzer is worth using for his K floor alone, especially considering you can pair him with the underpriced Tigers bats.
Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks, $21,600 – Aces or bust is the way to go on this slate as many of the cheaper pitchers either draw an unfavorable matchups or are just not the type of talents I can trust. Zack Greinke proved last time out that pitching in Chase Field was not the obstacle it had seemed in his previous starts. Greinke shut out the Rays with five baserunners in just 104 pitches and now he’ll square off against a Dodgers offense sporting an inferior wOBA to Tampa Bay against RHP. The Dodgers rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO and AVG against RHP and are hitting a league-worst .190 in the month of June. Even though Greinke has hit some bumps along the way, he has still produced a respectable 1.17 WHIP and 4.56 K/BB. Despite pitching in one of the worst pitchers’ ballparks, the matchup is too promising to pass on.
R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays, $14,800 – Gulp. It brings me no pleasure to say R.A. Dickey is the value pitcher worth dropping down to if aiming to fit a plethora of expensive bats. Although it’s difficult to ever declare a knuckleballer a cash play, this may be one of the few times it’s a viable strategy. Phillies’ active hitters are slashing .266/.318/.342 against Dickey for their careers, meaning most of their hits against him have not gone for extra bases. Knuckleballers are a different animal but the Phillies rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, AVG, OBP and hard hit rate versus RHP while striking out at 22.7-percent (or the ninth highest percentage). Vegas loves the Blue Jays bats on Monday evening as evident by the Jays being listed a -209 favorites at home in a game with a projected 9.0 run over/under. Using Dickey is a risk no matter what format but I think he at least manages a quality start and he clearly has an excellent chance at earning a victory. In this matchup, he’s worth the risk…especially in GPPs.
*Stats are accurate as of Sunday, June 12