Jose Abreu has produced excellent numbers against knuckleballers over his career, including probable starter R.A. Dickey, so do not hesitate to start him in any format. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Jose Abreu, White Sox, $9,300 (Early) – After hitting just .229 in April and .252 in May, Jose Abreu has finally started to look like the player we have become accustomed to in June. In 78 ABs this month, Abreu is slashing .333/.382/.615 with five HRs (just one more than April/May combined) and 20 RBIs. Even so, there is an even more enticing reason to deploy Abreu in a matchup against R.A. Dickey: he smokes knuckleballers. In 12 career ABs versus Dickey, Abreu has gone 5-12 (.417) with three HRs and five RBIs. However, the sample size stretches beyond just the matchups with Dickey because he has smoked Steven Wright as well to the tune of 3-9 (.333) with a HR and three RBIs. The projected 9.5 run over/under signifies how high scoring Vegas projects this game to be and the Blue Jays are only listed as a slight favorite (-119). Expect Abreu to lead the offensive charge for the White Sox while simultaneously rating as the top bet on the entire early slate to hit a bomb.
Salvador Perez, Royals, $7,600 (Late) – While on the topic of hot hitters, is there another hitter on the planet hotter than Salvador Perez in the month of June? In 67 ABs this month, Perez is slashing .358/.377/.642 with five HRs and 10 RBIs. Looking at his splits, there’s no question which handedness is the preferable side of his platoon splits: RHP. To this point, Perez’s wOBA against righties is more than 65 percentage points higher than his output against lefties and he is slashing a ridiculous .313/.340/.566 against RHPs overall. In other words, the best possible matchup he could ask for would come against a righty who possesses reverse splits and allows better numbers to RHHs as well. On Saturday evening, his wish will come true. Opposing starter Mike Fiers has allowed a .353 wOBA to RHHs in 42.0 IP this season including eight of the 13 HRs he has allowed and a .271/.324/.506 slash line. As if that weren’t enough, Fiers’ ERA away from home this season currently sits at 6.19 and this game will be played in the hitter-friendly atmosphere of Kauffman Stadium. Although catchers rarely stand out on a site where they are not required, Perez simply cannot be overlooked in a fantastic spot.
Matt Kemp, Padres, $9,600 (Early) – According to ESPN Park Factors, the Great American Ballpark has ranked as a top 10 hitters’ park over the past two seasons. Compared to Petco Park, a park ranked the third most pitcher-friendly, hitting in Cincinnati must feel like hitting on the moon. Essentially, the transition is a gigantic positive ballpark shift for offensive players on the Padres. Still, the best thing Matt Kemp has going for him in this matchup is the fact that he’ll square off against a left-handed starter. In 67 ABs versus LHP this season, Kemp sports a .447 wOBA, .373 ISO and .358/.466/.731 SLG. During the month of June, Kemp has produced a 24.2-percent line drive rate which is more than four percentage points greater than any month prior in 2016. The hard contact has led to a .360/.387/.535 slash line and 149 wRC+. After homering off John Lamb earlier in the series, Kemp will draw a matchup with a pitcher (Brandon Finnegan) who has allowed 11 HRs this season…10 of which have come off the bats of RHHs. Quite obviously, a homer is not out of the question as Kemp can safely be relied upon to make hard contact multiple times in a favorable hitting environment.
Trayce Thompson, Dodgers, $7,500 (Late) – For the first time in this article, a tidbit will address a hitter with an AVG lower than .300 in the month of June: Trayce Thompson. Despite a .214 AVG this month, Thompson has hit the ball hard a whopping 40.8-percent of the time (including four HRs), yet his BABIP sits at .244. There may not be an unluckier hitter in the game over the past 24 days so it’s about time the luck factor changed. I’m predicting it does on Saturday against a porous Jeff Locke, especially against RHHs. Of the 12 HRs Locke has allowed, nine have been hit by righties, and righties have produce a wOBA exactly 60 percentage points higher against him (.367) than lefties (.297). Locke struggles to miss bats, especially right-handed bats (4.60 K/9), so Thompson is virtually guaranteed to make contact. Since he has made hard contact roughly half the time this month, we can safely infer hard contact will be made at some point. Thompson’s price tag has been plummeting lately so this is a perfect time to hop back on board and roster him at just a silly discount.
Madison Bumgarner, Giants, $27,300 (Late) – AT&T Park has ranked as the best pitchers’ park in the National League over the past two seasons (per ESPN Park Factors) so it shouldn’t be hard to fathom why Madison Bumgarner has dominated at home. In 55.1 IP, Bumgarner’s home ERA currently sits at 1.79 this season, which is only slightly better than his 1.93 tally on the road. Nevertheless, opposing hitters have only managed a measly .240 wOBA and .190/.256/.279 slash line against him in San Francisco. Good luck to the visiting Phillies who rank dead last in wOBA against LHP and also rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG, OBP, hard hit rate and line drive percentage. As if those statistics weren’t enough, the Phillies strike out at the 10th highest rate against the handedness. If you fade Bumgarner on this slate in any format, you do so at your own risk, because he is clearly the top pitching option.
Julio Teheran, Braves, $24,600 (Late) – Okay so Julio Teheran pitches on a terrible team which has led to a 3-7 record but his numbers suggest he deserves better. In 15 starts, Teheran owns a 2.66 ERA and 0.91 WHIP with 92 Ks in 98.0 IP. The one downside to the matchup, if you want to call it that, is the fact that he just threw a complete game shutout (CGSO) against the Mets his last time out. Now, he’ll have to attempt to fool their hitters again despite facing them for the second time in a week. Still, the matchup hasn’t changed much on paper, as the Mets rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, AVG and OBP versus RHP while striking out at a rate of 23.0-percent. Assuming you do not mind taking the “facing the same opponent twice in a short period of time” risk, Teheran can be deployed in any and all formats.
Carlos Carrasco, Indians, $19,500 (Early) – Chances will need to be taken on the early slate as there isn’t really one starting pitcher without holes in their matchup, let alone two. Therefore, I want to roster the pitcher I consider the most talented on a slate, even in a perceived unfavorable matchups against the Tigers. The good news is Detroit is missing J.D. Martinez who is a staple in their offense regardless of the handedness they are facing. Unfortunately, the Tigers have temporarily replaced him with Steven Moya, who has produced a .398 wOBA against RHP in 51 ABs. Moya, however, strikes out more than any Tigers regular not named Justin Upton, so he adds to the K potential. Detroit can struggle against RHPs who don’t walk hitters (only 6.7-percent BB rate) and miss bats (21.4-percent K rate). Consequently, Carlos Carrasco’s skill set clearly coincides with the matchup and dictates he possesses the necessary ability to shut down this potent offense. It will not be easy but the same can be said for literally every other pitcher toeing the mound during the daytime.
*Stats are accurate as of Friday, June 24