If the Shoe(maker) Fits, Wear It

Matt Shoemaker’s combination of price and matchup deems him above and beyond the best pitching play on the slate. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.

Infield:

Albert Pujols, Angels, $7,200 – Batter versus pitcher data typically isn’t typically relevant because it usually just confirms what we already know. In the case of Albert Pujols versus Kendall Graveman, this concept is especially applicable. Through eight career ABs versus the right-hander, Pujols is 4-8 (.500) with a HR, two RBIs and BB (.556 OBP). However, this should not be surprising since this is a battle of one of the best hitters of our generation versus a well below average Major League starter. So far this season, Graveman possesses some reverse splits; LHHs have produced a .370 wOBA compared to .391 for LHHs. Most notably, seven of the 11 HRs Graveman has allowed have come of the bat of right-handers. While Pujols isn’t quite the hitter he once was, his seven HR versus RHPs rank second on the team, behind only Mike Trout. Both of the Angels’ superstars are in play but Pujols will come at a $3,000 discount and therefore he is the preferred option of the two in cash games.

Evan Gattis, Astros, $6,800 – Opposing starter John Lamb has struggled from the get-go this season and presents an incredibly juicy matchup for the entire Astros lineup. Houston’s kryptonite is their propensity to strike out and Lamb just does not miss bats whatsoever. In 42.0 IP, Lamb has only produced a 4.71 K/9, and he has nearly walked as many hitters (3.64 BB/9) as he has struck out. It’s no wonder his ERA sits at 5.14 and he has struggled to keep the ball in the park (1.50 HR/9) considering he is anything but a ground baller (career 40.6-percent GB rate). With the short porch in left field, it doesn’t even take a full swing for a powerful righty to hit the ball out. This is excellent news for Evan Gattis considering he leads a powerful team in ISO against LHP (.271). As icing on the cake, six of the seven HRs Lamb have been hit by RHHs and they are slashing .286/.353/.512 against him with a .369 wOBA. Even though Gattis is typically thought of as a GPP option only because of his boom-or-bust nature, he’s actually slashing .271/.333/.542 off of left-handers. In other words, Gattis can and should be deployed in all formats because at least one extra-base hit is a virtual lock.

Outfield:

Nelson Cruz, Mariners, $10,800 – On FantasyDraft, $10,800 is pretty much the ceiling for how expensive a hitter’s price tag will get. Even Nolan Arenado in Coors Field versus a terrible pitcher just gets priced at this exact cost. In order to pay this outrageous sum for an offensive player, they need to be in an absolute cannot miss situation…Nelson Cruz fits the bill on Friday. Probable starter Roenis Elias allowed 15 total HRs in 2015 and right-handers were responsible for a whopping 14 of them. In fact, Elias has allowed 31 HRs in his career and 27 of them were, you guessed it, slugged by right-handers. Over the course of 218.1 career IP versus RHHs, Elias has allowed a .252/.334/.413 slash line and a .328 wOBA. On the other hand, Cruz owns a career .391 wOBA against LHPs with a ridiculous .251 ISO and .300/.375/.551 slash line. Literally all of these statistics combined are just a long-winded way of saying Cruz is the best bet on the entire slate for a HR in hitter-friendly (especially to RHHs) Fenway Park.

Nomar Mazara, Rangers, $6,800 – There was a period of time where Nomar Mazara’s numbers deserved an asterisk next to them because they were such a small sample size. Earlier this season when I’d write about him, I’d have to follow up with “but they’re likely to regress over a larger sample.” At this point, Mazara has compiled 145 ABs against RHPs and is still slashing .331/.384/.545 against them with a .393 wOBA. There are no more excuses to be made: Mazara is for real. Tonight, Mazara and co. will square off against Michael Wacha and his unusually straight fastball. Wacha has allowed LHHs to slash .255/.333/.463 with a .334 wOBA this season, which isn’t great, but I think this offense is up to the challenge. Nearly all of the lefties are underpriced in this matchup and worthy of consideration but none present a better combination of skill set and value than Mazara.

Pitcher:

Matt Harvey, Mets, $20,100 – What a strange ride it’s been for Matt Harvey over the course of the last month and a half or so. Harvey’s price sank into the $14,000s and he was nearly unplayable at that level not too long ago and now it’s risen to $20,100 and is well within reason. No team has scored fewer runs per game this season than Harvey’s upcoming opponent: the Braves (3.23). Furthermore, the Braves rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP and hard hit percentage this season. Most importantly though, Harvey has been pitching like the 2015 version of himself lately. Over his past three starts, a span of 20.0 IP, Harvey has allowed just two ERs while striking out 17. It appears Harvey has turned a corner so there’s no need to fade him any longer, especially in one of the two best matchups he could ask for.

Cole Hamels, Rangers, $17,100 – On paper, the matchup against the Cardinals has gone from horrendous to a positive for opposing pitchers over the course of just a few weeks. Why? Both Stephen Piscotty and Matt Holliday are ice cold this month and they would present the largest obstacles for Hamels in this matchup. Just how bad has Piscotty, one of the best hitters in the league versus LHP, been in the month of June? After a 24.2-percent line drive rate in May, Piscotty’s rate is down all the way to 13.8-percent this month and he’s striking out at 22.7-percent compared to just 10.9-percent last month. Meanwhile, Holliday is slashing just .237/.326/.395 in June. Hell, even Jhonny Peralta has struggled in 11 ABs against LHP since returning from the DLs. These combination of struggles have led the Cardinals to rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO and AVG against LHPs overall. Looking back at last season, they ranked as an overall favorable matchup against the handedness as well, so this could just be a case of natural regression. As long as they’re struggling, Hamels is looking like a fantastic start against them, especially at the affordable price tag.

Matt Shoemaker, Angels, $16,800 – Dollar-for-dollar, the best pitching play on the entire slate is Matt Shoemaker. In the Harvey tidbit, I eluded to the fact that he has turned the corner, but Shoemaker’s transformation has been even more amazing to watch. After temporarily being sent down at the beginning of May, Shoemaker has looked like a completely different pitcher. Whatever the team did to tweak his mechanics worked because Shoemaker produced a 3.28 ERA in May and is working on a 2.38 ERA in June through 22.2 IP. Now he’ll face an opponent (Athletics) who rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate, OBP and hard hit rate and are arguably without their best offensive weapon (Josh Reddick). He’s priced the cheapest of all three options in this article and could possess the most upside due to his newfound dominance. Start him anywhere and everywhere.

*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, June 16

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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