With aces on the slate and a few offenses in excellent spots, Seth Smith makes for a perfect combination of upside whereby he can be comfortably inserted into any lineup, regardless of roster construction around him. 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 – At 40 years old, David Ortiz seems to be immune to the aging process. Among all players with at least 40 ABs against RHP this season, Ortiz’s .494 wOBA and .772 SLG both rank first. In other words, Ortiz is still the best hitter in the league against the handedness despite the fact that he’s approaching eligibility for the senior discount at Old Country Buffet. I’m projecting an absolute offensive explosion from the Red Sox as a whole on Monday against a struggling pitcher (4.74 ERA) who is walking too many batters (3.92 BB/9), allowing a healthy amount of homers (1.03 HR/9) and only striking out hitters at about the league average (7.63 K/9). The most enticing aspect of the matchup is the fact that Gonzalez sports a career 38.5-percent GB rate in a ballpark (Fenway Park) where routine fly balls can easily sneak over the wall. Assuming Gonzalez, a fly ball pitcher, pitches to contact against Ortiz, there’s an excellent chance Ortiz will blast one just left of the pesky poll in right field. Basically Ortiz is the one hitter to pay up for even if you spend up at pitching because he is the likeliest candidate on the slate to hit a bomb.
Corey Seager, Dodgers, $6,400 – Facing Stephen Strasburg obviously is not the most favorable of matchups but all the Dodgers are crazily underpriced because of it. Instead of hovering around the $8,000-$9,000 price range, young phenom Corey Seager can be rostered for nearly $2,000 less than usual…and the same is true for nearly even hitter on the Dodgers roster. Look, the Dodgers are not likely to bust out for six runs against an ace like Strasburg but he does allow a lot fly ballers (43.9-percent GB rate) which has led to a 0.97 HR/9 rate. Even if he throws a great game and strikes out 12, at least one of the Dodgers is likely to get theirs. In order to fit Clayton Kershaw and a decent bat or two, you’re more than likely going to have to choose at least one Dodgers. Look it could be Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley or Trayce Thompson who does the damage but the favorite is Seager who ranks first on the team in AVG and second in wOBA against RHP. All of them are so insanely cheap and likely a trap but the one who just cannot be overlooked is Seager who is just oozing with upside and is priced like a bum.
Seth Smith, Mariners, $7,600 – My other favorite offense on Monday other than the Red Sox are definitely the Mariners squaring off against Mike Pelfrey…and away from Safeco Field no less. Seattle’s home park is worst hitters’ park in the American League so traveling to any other ballpark results in a positive park shift. Also, Pelfrey alone is like a Coors Field substitute as he currently sports a 4.79 ERA, 5.37 FIP, 5.19 xFIP, 1.70 WHIP, 1.26 HR/9, 3.79 BB/9 and 4.42 K/9 rate. Essentially, he allows too many baserunners (including via the walk), struggles to keep the ball in the ballpark and has trouble missing bats. There are virtually no saving graces to this game and the Mariners are full of hitters that enjoy the platoon split against RHPs. While Adam Lind, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and Leonys Martin are certainly all in play as well, my favorite value on the entire team is easily Seth Smith at just $7,600. Of all the valuable assets on the team, he’s the cheapest, will hit second and still has produced a .356 wOBA and .273/.382/.429 slash line against RHP this season. If you have a .382 OBP heading into a matchup versus Pelfrey, that number is likely to just go up when all said and done. Smith possesses both a high floor and high upside in an offense that is implied to score 5.2 runs (second most on the slate behind the Red Sox).
Joey Rickard, Orioles, $7,200 – Strangely, leadoff hitter Adam Jones is hitting just .186 with one HR in 59 ABs versus LHP this season. Furthermore, Manny Machado has begun serving his four game suspension so he will miss Monday’s contest against Derek Holland and the Rangers. So if looking for a talented bat near the top of the Orioles lineup to exploit the favorable matchup, Joey Rickard fits the bill. At just $7,200, Rickard ranks second among regulars with a .374 wOBA (behind only Machado) against LHP this season with a .306/.358/.516 slash line. How are things going for Holland lately? He has produced a combined 5.10 fantasy points over the course of his last two starts. By comparison, Kershaw is coming off back-to-back games of at least 34.90 fantasy points…each. Most of the damage against Holland has been dished out by RHHs this season as they have hit nine of the 10 HRs he has allowed and have produced a .272/.331/.479 slash line against him. Rickard, of course, is right-handed and hits in a prime spot in the lineup (second) against the handedness. With multiple opportunities to produce against a subpar pitcher, Rickard should produce more than enough fantasy points to justify using him at this bargain price.
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, $27,600 – On paper, the matchup against the Nationals is a difficult one as the team ranks in the top 10 of the following categories against LHPs: wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG, OBP and hard hit percentage…all while striking out at just 19.0-percent. Between the tough opposing offense and the lower than usual win probability against another ace, fading Clayton Kershaw seems like a more rational strategy than per usual. However, that’s the strongest argument I can make for not using him because he’s above and beyond the best pitcher in baseball and can shut any team down on any night. As tough of a matchup it is for Kershaw, it’s 20 times tougher for the Nationals offense. This is a steep price to pay but fading him can always result in drawing dead because he can push 40 fantasy points on any given start. Here are the facts. Act accordingly. Full disclosure: I will be using him in cash games solely because he is who he is.
Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, $25,500 – Actually Stephen Strasburg’s matchup is superior to Kershaw’s for that is worth because the Dodgers rank in the bottom half of most important statistical categories against RHP: wOBA, wRC+, AVG, OBP and line drive rate. While they only K at slightly below the league-average rate (20.8-percent), there still should be plenty of whiffs in a game against the pitcher with the second highest K/9 (among qualified starters). According to ESPN Park Factors, Dodger Stadium has played as the sixth worst hitters’ ballpark in the majors over the past two seasons, so Strasburg’s above average fly ball rate should not come back to haunt him in this contest. The game is projected at an over/under of just 5.5 runs so both starting pitchers are firmly in play. Pairing Kershaw with Strasburg makes it damn nearly impossible to fit any respectable bats so you’ll pretty much have to select just one in all formats…It’s quite honestly a toss-up.
Kevin Gausman, Orioles, $11,100 – Pitching beyond the two top tier studs is pretty awful on this slate, especially when you take into consideration the level of salary relief you need to fit bats alongside Kershaw. The only viable option I can find to make it all work is Kevin Gausman; a road favorite in a game with a projected 9.5 over/under. Okay so this Vegas setup is not ideal but the Rangers actually rank in the bottom half of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, OBP and hard hit percentage against RHPs. In 11 starts this season, Gausman has managed at least 12.25 fantasy points in nine of them, although the two outliers both resulted in negative points. Still, that’s a remarkable level of consistency for a pitcher priced only slightly more than Xander Boagerts. Since one can roster hitters with an average price of $7,662 alongside the duo of Kershaw/Gausman compared to $5,862 with Kershaw/Strasburg, it’s worth the risk in all formats…at least to me.
*Stats are accurate as of Sunday, June 19