Don’t be afraid of the matchup against Dallas Keuchel because Lorenzo Cain has displayed elite skills versus LHPs and Keuchel is a completely different (worse) pitcher this season. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox, $8,100 – Even in Texas, the Red Sox are listed as -160 favorites against Nick Martinez. Considering Martinez will bring a career 4.30 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 5.19 K/9 rate into this game, all Red Sox hitters must be licking their chops. As a whole, the Red Sox rank first in wOBA against RHPs this season, so they are difficult proposition for any pitcher. However, they are a damn near impossible challenge against a pitcher who simply does not miss bats. There are multiple reasons to like Dustin Pedroia best among the pack, starting with the fact that Martinez owns reverse splits for his career. Righties have managed a .361 career wOBA compared to just .338 for lefties. In fact, RHHs have slashed .289/.353/.480 against Martinez in 130.1 career IP against them. Meanwhile, Pedroia is significantly cheaper than the likes of David Ortiz and Mookie Betts, yet he owns a career .297/.355/.441 slash line against the handedness. Hitting second in this elite offense will assure opportunities for both RBIs and runs along with his multi-hit upside. At just $8,100, it would be foolish to pass on him in cash games especially.
Welington Castillo, Diamondbacks, $7,800 – Many offenses are in promising spots on Friday evening but Coors Field obviously cannot be fully ignored. The Diamondbacks will square off against left-handed Tyler Anderson who only has 12.0 Major League IP under his belt. Of the two games he has started, only one came at home, and he shut down the Padres in 6.1 IP. I don’t care who you are…eventually pitching in the hitters’ haven of Denver will lead to a plethora of earned runs. Instead of valuing him as a pitcher with a 2.25 ERA and 1.71 FIP, I’m valuing him as your “Average Joe” pitching in a terrible atmosphere. With a .450 wOBA against LHP this season, Welington Castillo is simply too cheap, especially when you take into consideration Paul Goldschmidt’s $10,800 price tag. For $3,000 cheaper, Castillo is hitting just 12 measly percentage points worse in terms of wOBA against LHP this year, so he is absolutely the better bargain of the two. In order to get cheap(er) exposure to the game, lock and load Castillo in any and all formats. UPDATE: For some unbeknownst reason, Castillo did not make the lineup. Simply replace him with Phil Gosselin and/or Peter O’Brien.
Curtis Granderson, Mets, $7,600 – Last time out, Aaron Blair threw just his second quality start in 10 attempts and it came against these very Mets. In that game, Curtis Granderson went 0-5, but I would not expect that drought to continue on Friday. In 22.2 IP against LHHs this season, Blair is allowing a .287/.412/.488 slash line and .388 wOBA. Granderson is only hitting .223 overall but that number is higher against RHPs (.236) and he has already launched 11 HRs against the handedness. He hits the ball hard a whopping 41.1-percent of the time against righties and Blair has struggled to miss bats (5.24 K/9). Players with a low AVG generally aren’t prime cash game options but Granderson is hitting leadoff for an offense listed as a -160 favorite and are implied to score 4.5 runs. Over a larger sample size, Blair isn’t going to shut Granderson out and his price is way down. There is simply too much value to pass on at this incredibly attractive price point.
Lorenzo Cain, Royals, $7,200 – One pitcher many will not choose to pick on is reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel purely based on reputation. Through 15 starts in 2016, Keuchel looks like a completely different pitcher in a bad way; his ERA is nearly double, his FIP and xFIP have skyrocketed and he’s even walking nearly an additional batter per nine innings. Building on a trend from last season, Keuchel has pitched significantly worse away from Minute Maid Park. After allowing a 3.77 ERA on the road last year, that tally sits at 5.91 this season. Hitters on the road are slashing .277/.337/.457 against him, meaning he has simply pitched like a bum away from home. On the other hand, Lorenzo Cain is an absolute elite hitter against LHP as he once again leads the team in wOBA against southpaws. Hell, Cain also leads the team with a .241 ISO and .407/.475/.648 slash line against the handedness this season (after .335/.391/.568 last year). The price tag is affordable due to a perceived subpar matchup but I actually do not think it is very difficult at all. When an elite hitter is priced below $7,500 in a beatable matchup, you just have to pounce.
Max Scherzer, Nationals, $26,800 – Only Jose Fernandez and Clayton Kershaw have struck out batters at a superior rate to Max Scherzer’s 34.1-percent and only Fernandez and Strasburg have struck out more batters per nine innings. Clearly Scherzer’s ceiling is as high as anyone’s every time he takes the mound but especially against the team whose active roster is averaging the third highest K rate versus RHP. The Brewers as a whole rank slightly above league average in most categories but the strikeout potential is difficult to overlook. Many of the aces draw mediocre matchups and/or are dealing with an injury (Steven Matz), so Scherzer’s floor appears highest by default. With reasonably priced SP2s to pair Scherzer with, he appears necessary to spend up for in cash games at the very least.
Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees, $17,200 – Pitching with a partially torn UCL has now slowed down Masahiro Tanaka recently as he has produced double-digit fantasy points in six of his last seven starts. Most notably, Tanaka dropped 25.80 fantasy points against the Twins in Minnesota his last time out (Jun. 17). Typically, starting pitchers facing the same opponent in a short period of time are risky (see Tim Lincecum last night), but the Twins present an incredibly juicy matchup. They rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO and hard hit rate while striking out at 21.1-percent against RHP…and are still without their best offensive weapon: Miguel Sano. While I probably would avoid him in GPPs due to his substantially worse ERA at home (4.60) than on the road (1.32), his 10-15 fantasy point floor is enticing on a slate full of crap shoots. Using him as opposed to Danny Salazar or Aaron Sanchez as SP2 opens up the ability to roster a few high-end bats and that is worth the discount to me.
Jake Peavy, Giants, $13,600 – If you’re feeling lucky, Jake Peavy is the ultimate risk/reward candidate. Although Peavy’s numbers look brutal overall (5.47 ERA, 1.44 WHIP), he has produced 20-plus fantasy points in three of his last four games and at least 16.5 in four of his last five. In fact, his worst outing during that stretch ended in 9.05 fantasy points in Busch Stadium against the Cardinals. Now, he’ll square off against the lowly Phillies in the pitcher-friendly atmosphere of AT&T Park. Only the Braves and Padres sport lower wOBAs against RHP than the Phillies this season and the Phillies also rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, BB rate, AVG, OBP and hard hit rate against the handedness. As icing on the cake, the Phillies’ 22.5-percent K rate ranks 9th against righties and Peavy’s 8.47 K/9 rate in June is by far the best of any month so far (nearly 2.0 Ks/9 better than April’s 6.65). Since Peavy looks to be in midseason form, starting him in literally the best pitchers’ park in baseball against a terrible offense is a viable strategy…period, end of story.
*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, June 23