All RHPs are worthy of consideration versus the Padres so the much-improved Tanner Roark is definitely deserving of a roster spot on Thursday. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
David Ortiz, Red Sox, $10,800 – One offense I admittedly overlook both in cash games and in these articles too often is the Red Sox. They are the league’s best offense (in terms of wOBA) against both RHP and LHP and are averaging 5.89 runs per game (RPG) or 0.39 more than the second place Cardinals. Of course, the leader of this offense is David Ortiz as he is amidst a magical season for anyone, let one someone at age 40. First and foremost, the Red Sox yet again own the highest implied total of the slate (5.1 runs) so it makes sense to own at least a small piece of the team likely to score the most runs. Maybe more importantly, the matchup is incredibly juicy against a right-handed starting pitcher failing to miss bats (4.58 K/9) this season. Ortiz is worthy of starting against any RHP considering he currently sports a .480 wOBA against the handedness with a .353/.435/.746 slash line. If the pitcher is going to rely on contact to try and retire this monster, it’s not going to end well for him…especially in Fenway Park. Ortiz is above and beyond the top overall hitter on the slate.
Tommy Joseph, Phillies, $6,900 – There is exactly one threat in the Phillies lineup against LHP and his name is Tommy Joseph. Among all active players on the team, only Joseph has produced a wOBA greater than .349…and his currently sits at a whopping .487! Joseph currently owns a .300 ISO and .400/.455/.700 slash line in just 20 ABs against the handedness (admittedly a small sample size). Still, his 40.0-percent line drive rate is hard to ignore, especially against a slumping starter. Opposing pitcher J.A. Happ produced a 2.76 April ERA and 3.32 ERA before struggling in two June starts to the tune of a 7.50 ERA in 12.0 IP. While I expect a productive start from him overall, which I’ll get to later, Joseph is the one major obstacle in the order for him. Priced at sub-$7,000, there’s just too much value packed into his bargain cost to overlook. Hell, .400-plus wOBAs should cost in the $9,000 range and you’re getting him for a $2,000-plus discount.
Mookie Betts, Red Sox, $10,500 – One member of the Boston offense is simply not enough especially with no true ace pitching on the slate. Since we’ll be saving money at both pitching spots, why not load up on the best offense in baseball? To reiterate, Wilson does not miss bats and allows home runs at an above-average rate (1.07 HR/9) which has led to a 4.73 ERA. Mookie Betts is one of five Red Sox regulars hitting over .300 against RHPs but there is an advantage to rostering him over the others: he hits in the leadoff spot. Yes, Betts is the ideal cash game play because he is a five tool player leading off for the best offense in baseball so he’s a threat to produce in any and all categories. As icing on the cake, the Orioles’ catcher has ranked average or below average in terms of stolen base runs above average each of the past three seasons. In other words, Betts and all the Boston speedsters should have as good a chance as ever to swipe in a base. Maximum exposure to this offense is not only a smart strategy but it’s the preferred approach to attacking this slate especially in cash games.
Joey Rickard, Orioles, $6,400 – In a game with a 9.5 over/under, you better believe there are bats worth rostering on each side. Of all Orioles bats, the one whose skill set doesn’t match his price is Joey Rickard. Against left-handers, Rickard starts in the two hole of the lineup, and he’ll face a pitcher who’s allowed nine ERs and five HRs over his past 10.1 IP. Meanwhile, Rickard is sporting a respectable .359 wOBA, .203 ISO and .288/.344/.492 slash line against the handedness this season. Not a single member of the Baltimore offense has stolen a base against LHP this season so that probably isn’t in the cards but Fenway Park plays extremely friendly to RHHs; the stadium ranks second most favorably to righties according to RotoGrinders Park Factors. Against a struggling opponent, the combination of matchup, atmosphere and talent would be foolish to pass on at this steal of a price tag.
Tanner Roark, Nationals, $20,000 – The theme of the pitcher section is going to be “pitchers who appear to have improved this season.” Justin Verlander is the most expensively priced pitcher on the slate, but after seeing the Royals whoop Corey Kluber yesterday, I’ll happily pass on him. Instead, Tanner Roark is going to be my go-to SP1 at a slight discount. Roark has nearly cut his ERA in half from last season (4.38 to 2.93) and is inducing ground balls at a rate nearly five percentage points higher (52.5-percent) than his 2015 total (47.8-percent). Therefore, it’s not surprising to see Roark has cut his HR/9 rate from 1.38 to 0.56. All of these numbers are impressive but the weird part is they may not even matter against his doormat opponent: the Padres. San Diego ranks dead last in wOBA, AVG and OBP against RHP and has struck out at a 23.5-percent against the handedness. Last but not least, Roark will enjoy a positive ballpark shift, heading to pitcher-friendly Petco Park. In the best matchup a right-handed pitcher could ask for in a ballpark that will only help his cause, he’s a rock solid investment in all formats.
CC Sabathia, Yankees, $18,800 – Another pitcher who looks like a new man is CC Sabathia but his reclamation is nothing short of amazing. Prior to this season, the last time Sabathia posted an ERA under 4.78 was back in 2012. After suffering through three miserable seasons, Sabathia appears to have learned how to pitch with a diminished velocity. Not only is Sabathia’s ERA back to the levels of his prime but his FIP suggests this isn’t solely an extended string of luck. On the other hand, his .275 BABIP, 3.2-percent HR/FB rate and 4.64 xFIP could signify gloomier days ahead, but this matchup probably will not be the start of it. Even on the road, Sabathia and the Yankees are favored against Kyle Gibson and a mediocre Twins offense. All-in-all, the Twins rank as a neutral matchup against LHPs, but they rank in the bottom 10 of BB rate and OBP while striking out at 23.9-percent. One strong point for the Twins has been their ISO as their .177 tally ranks 11th against southpaws this season. The addition of Robbie Grossman certainly has sparked their offense a bit but Sabathia has dominated superior offenses and he has limited hard contact (23.1-percent) and power (0.30) overall. He matches up extremely well against this offense so he’s firmly in play for the SP2 conversation.
J.A. Happ, Blue Jays, $14,400 – As mentioned earlier, the Phillies’ possess exactly one threat against LHP on their roster…at least one that they’ll regularly use (Darin Ruf is a beast but he rarely seems to crack the lineup). J.A. Happ, like both the other pitchers mentioned, was cruising alone looking like he would easily best last season’s numbers before allowing 10 ERs in his past two starts. To be fair, Happ had to deal with two of the games’ best offenses (Tigers and Orioles) so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. On Thursday, he’ll enjoy a positive league shift as he’ll have the opportunity to face the pitcher instead of a designated hitter. Furthermore, the Phillies rank second to last in all of the following categories against LHP: wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG and OBP. Although Happ isn’t much of a strikeout pitcher (5.77 K/9), the Phillies also strike out at a rate of 23.6-percent. At this price tag, you can fit literally all the bats you want, and that’s really what enhances his value. While his upside is probably capped at about 25 fantasy points, he should possess a 10 or so fantasy point floor in one of the best matchups he could ask for. On a slate full of brutal pitching options, that might be all you need for cash games if you can choose the right bats to complement him.
*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, June 15