Marco Polo

Marco Estrada draws an incredibly favorable matchup against the Phillies so do not overlook him on Wednesday evening. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.

Infield:

Danny Valencia, Athletics (Late) – Over the past few days, Danny Valencia’s price has fluctuated all over the place. After charging $10,000 to roster him on Monday, FantasyDraft dropped the price to just $7,600 on Tuesday even though he was once again squaring off against a LHP. Considering the fact that I was willing to pay for him at his peak, any discount from that level is a bargain. On Wednesday, he’ll once again face a left-hander and this matchup looks more favorable than yesterday’s on paper. In 51.1 IP versus RHHs this season, probable starter Derek Holland has allowed a .270/.323/.470 slash line including eight of the nine HRs he’s given up and a .337 wOBA. To reiterate, Valencia has shown elite ability to hit southpaws this season (.542), although he was passed for top spot in the category just recently by Chris Young (.547). Nevertheless, Valencia’s .419 ISO highlights the immense power he has been able to produce against the handedness and Holland has been susceptible to the long ball. The sky is the ceiling for the Athletics slugger in this one and he is a viable commodity in any and all formats.

Jose Abreu, White Sox (Late) – After a cold start to 2016, the bat has come on recently for Jose Abreu, who is now hitting .372 with three HRs June. By comparison, Abreu hit exactly three HRs in both April and May (96 and 111 ABs respectively), and has done so in June in just 43 ABs. The light has clicked on for Abreu so you can pretty much throw his overall season numbers out the window. Instead, we know from the past two seasons that Abreu is one of the game’s best when he’s hitting on all cylinders, as he hit 66 combined HRs in 2014 and 2015. Probable starter Mike Pelfrey has pitched into the seventh inning just twice this season (12 starts) because he’s one of the worst in the game at limiting baserunners. Through 65.1 IP, Pelfrey sports a 4.68 ERA, 5.40 FIP, 5.01 xFIP, 1.38 HR/9, 4.68 K/9 and a horrendous 1.71 WHIP. Not only is Pelfrey allowing a career high 11.6 hits per nine innings (H/9), he’s walking 3.86 batters per nine as well. There’s almost no such thing as a clean inning for Pelfrey and the aforementioned HR rate has contributed to Pelfrey’s highest hard contact rate (29.7-percent) since his rookie season. All-in-all, Abreu in midseason form should be able to exploit this matchup in a big way and fading him is a dangerous proposition.

Outfield:

Jay Bruce, Reds (Late) – Bud Norris has struggled mightily against LHHs since the beginning of 2015 so overlooking this trend would be a mistake. Last year, Norris allowed a .385 wOBA to lefties, and that number has increased to .391 in 21.0 IP versus the handedness in 2016. Hell, lefties are slashing .286/.404/.512 against him and have hit four of the six HRs he has allowed. Despite ranking second on the team in ISO (behind Adam Duvall), Jay Bruce leads the Reds with a .375 wOBA against RHP. With an average of only .264, he’s not usually a cash option, but this is an exception. If there was one telling stat, it’s the fact that Norris allows hard contact 44.4-percent of the time to LHHs. Meanwhile, Bruce hits the ball hard 42.1-percent of the time and Joey Votto leads the team by hitting it hard 45.2-percent of the time. Bruce relies mostly on power but this is a prime matchup for him to manage at least one extra-base hit…if not more.

Brett Gardner, Yankees (Early) – Gazing at a Rockies pitchers’ numbers and seeing an inflated home ERA compared to the road isn’t a surprise. However, Eddie Butler’s ERA on the road still sits at 5.52 through 45.2 IP this season. Essentially, Butler has been smoked regardless of location, so it’s difficult to ever have high hopes for him in any start. Most of the damage done off Butler has come via RHHs (.382 wOBA, 10 HRs) but he’s still allowing a .275 AVG and .333 OBP to LHHs. Regardless of the reverse splits, Brett Gardner simply has run away with the team lead in both wOBA (.373) and OBP (.405) against RHP. He hits in the two spot in the order and has hit more HRs than anyone not named Carlos Beltran or Brian McCann against the handedness this year. In other words, Coors Field should only help his cause and it’s not like the opposing pitcher has effectively limited baserunners (1.48 season WHIP and 1.54 career WHIP). At worst, Gardner should reach base multiple times. If Bettis throws him something to hit, a HR is always possible in Coors Field as well. The Yankees offensive weapons are all in play but none possess a safer floor than Gardner, plus he has the ability to reach a 20-25 fantasy point ceiling.

Pitcher:

Corey Kluber, Indians (Late) – Wednesday is split up in a frustrating manner because Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg and Johnny Cueto pitch during the day, leaving almost no aces available in positive matchups for the night slate. One option is Noah Syndergaard but he just faced the Pirates and allowed nine baserunners in 6.0 IP with just five Ks. Instead, Corey Kluber stands out to me as the only ace worthy of cash game consideration on Wednesday evening. The Royals are simply not quite the same with starters Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon out of the lineup; they rank in the bottom 11 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate and hard hit percentage versus RHP. One scary aspect of the matchup is the fact that the Royals rank sixth in AVG versus RHP and Kluber seems to get BABIP-ed to death in certain starts. Still, Kluber’s 2.89 FIP and 3.34 xFIP combined with his 8.83 K/9 and 1.93 BB/9 suggest brighter days on the horizon and Vegas lists him as a -131 favorite in Kansas City. Even though Kluber isn’t likely to K double-digits in this matchup, he is a solid bet to pitch deep into the game and end with a quality start. For cash game purposes, that’s about as good as it gets on this frustrating slate for pitching.

Marco Estrada, Blue Jays (Late) – Dollar-for-dollar, Marco Estrada is the best pitching play on the entire night slate, even beyond Kluber. Estrada will not only come at a discount but he’ll draw a matchup against a weak Phillies offense. So far, the Phillies rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, AVG, OBP and hard hit percentage while striking out at a whopping 22.8-percent. On the other hand, Estrada has quietly dominated both sides of the plate from the get-go. Playing in a hitters’ ballpark and a solid division full of hitting in the American League, Estrada has somehow limited lefties to a .164 AVG and righties to a .171 AVG. Neither side of the plate has produced a wOBA greater than .254! For his mastery, he doesn’t get nearly the credit from the masses nor the pricing algorithm, so start him as a rock-solid SP1 in all formats despite not being priced as such.

Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks (Early) – As per usual, Clayton Kershaw rates as above and beyond the top play of his slate, so there’s no reason to waste anyone’s time explaining why. Interestingly enough, his slate will coincide with a game being played in Coors Field and multiple other aces (Strasburg, Cueto) toeing the mound as well.  My order of priorities on this slate are as follows:

  1. Kershaw
  2. Coors Bats
  3. Everything else

As long as you follow those principles, you should be fine because Kershaw is so insanely dominant and Yankees/Rockies has a projected 12 run over/under. In order to fit all of the above, you’re going to need to get creative at SP2 and I think I have found the answer: Patrick Corbin. Hear me out…using both starters in a single game is contrarian on a larger slate, but when you only have 10 starting pitchers to choose from, is it really?  The projected over/under for Dodgers/Diamondbacks in Chase Field is seven and the line is even…meaning neither team is listed as a favored or the underdog. If this is going to turn into a low-scoring affair, both guys have an excellent shot at throwing a quality start. Additionally, the Dodgers rank third to last in wOBA against LHP and also rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP and line drive rate. In his last two starts alone, Corbin has struck out 11 batters in 13.1 IP with a sub-1.00 WHIP. Unlike the other cheaper pitching options, he seems to possess a high floor due to the below average opponent and recent production. It’s a bit contrarian but small slates require this sort of thinking outside the box!

*Stats are accurate as of Tuesday, June 14

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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