I can feel it coming in the air tonight…an Arenado bomb that is. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Nolan Arenado, Rockies, $10,500 – In opposing starter Adam Morgan’s young career, he has struggled mightily against RHHs, especially in terms of keeping the ball in the ballpark. Over the course of 112.0 IP, righties have produced a 1.85 HR/9 rate compared to a 1.07 HR/9 rate allowed to lefties (in 33.2 IP). Of the 27 HRs Morgan has allowed in his career, 23 have come off the bats of RHHs. Most importantly, right-handers have slashed .293/.334/.534 against him with a .366 wOBA…and now take those numbers into Coors Field. Coincidentally, Nolan Arenado is a RHH, and a damn good one at that. Hell, he nearly leads the team in every single important category against LHPs this season: wOBA (.403), ISO (.268), OBP (.408), SLG (.561) and HRs (five). Furthermore, Arenado possesses some of the most extreme home/away splits as he’s hitting .309 in friendly confines of Coors versus .267 on the road. This is just a simple case of David versus Goliath except this time Goliath is also carrying a deadly bat. Fade him at your own peril.
Willson Contreras, Cubs, $8,400 – Although Lucas Harrell has only pitched in (and started) one game this season, there is an extended sample size on him (407.2) over the course of his career. What his career numbers denote are he fares pretty similarly against each side of the plate and RHHs have actually hit for more power (RHHs have hit more HRs and produced a superior SLG). While Anthony Rizzo leads the Cubs in wOBA against RHP, Willson Contreras only ranks slightly behind (five percentage points), and he leads the team in both ISO and SLG against the handedness. Obviously the Cubs usuals are in play but the top dogs are all priced in the elite hitter range…and those should be reserved for Coors hitters in cash games. However, Contreras is priced more than $2,000 cheaper than Kris Bryant and possesses similar upside in a plus matchup. Due to the monster power numbers he has produced against the handedness, Contreras is one of my favorite few bets on the slate for a bomb, and he should be under-owned because of the game in Colorado.
Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners, $6,900 – Franklin Gutierrez is always in play against a left-hander and Thursday evening is no exception. Probable starter Danny Duffy has not only fared worse at home but also against RHHs. In other words, he will be in a pair of unfavorable splits in his matchup against an underpriced Gutierrez, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Mariners’ outfielder take advantage. Duffy has allowed eight HRs at home (versus three on the road) and a wOBA more than 40 percentage points higher in Kauffman Stadium. This phenomenon has led to a 4.29 ERA at home versus 2.04 on the road. Also, all 11 HRs Duffy has allowed have come off the bats of RHHs, and righties are slashing .243/.296/.457 against him overall. All of this combined leads to a whole ton of value for a hitter packing a .384 wOBA against LHPs so far this season with a .255 ISO. If rostering a pair of aces in cash games, Gutierrez fills a spot with a ton of potential upside.
Travis Jankowski, Padres, $6,400 – Speaking of upside for cheap, the Padres’ leadoff hitter Travis Jankowski is priced like a bum…and he is not. The allure of rostering Jankowski lies within his 12 stolen bases (SBs) and .361 OBP. Virtually any leadoff hitter can be deployed for that price as long as they are not squaring off against one of the elite pitchers. Not only will the Padres not be squaring off against one of the top tier pitchers, but they’ll face Hyun-Jin Ryu making his first start since the 2014 season. Rust can be expected in Ryu’s start as well as a short least so this has all the makings of a bullpen game. Even if Ryu is nasty from the start, his ceiling might be to pitch 5.0 IP. Therefore, Jankowski should find himself in some ABs later in the game against some middle relievers. Okay so the Dodgers sport the second best bullpen ERA in all of baseball (2.89) but that’s partially because the end of their bullpen is so damn good. All of the Dodgers catchers threw out runners at about league average in 2015 so Jankowski has about an average shot to steal a base if he gets on. Like most grinders, I love using leadoff hitters in cash games, so when you can get one this cheap it’s essentially a no-brainer. If Jankowski isn’t starting against the left-hander, Yangervis Solarte is hitting .375 against the handedness and listed at the exact same price.
Drew Pomeranz, Padres, $22,800 – The aforementioned Jankowski is a viable option in DFS due to his price tag and role but both myself and Vegas do not expect many runs to be scored in the contest. Strangely, Vegas lists the Dodgers as -145 favorites at home with a pitcher pitching for the first time in two years against the opposing team’s ace. I’m not sure I’m buying their assessment mostly because the Dodgers rank in the bottom four of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG and OBP versus LHP so far this season. The projected over/under sits at 7.0 runs but I think this game should go under in pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. In one prior start against the Dodgers this season, Pomeranz allowed just one ER in 7.0 IP with five Ks. Expect a similar line from Pomeranz in this one and the reason to roster him is for the safety in cash games.
Rich Hill, Athletics, $22,000 – One option not considered extremely safe on Thursday is Rich Hill in Minute Maid Park against the Astros. If nothing else, a solid strikeout floor should emerge in this matchup for a few reasons. First, the Astros strike out at the eighth highest percentage versus LHPs this season (22.9-percent). Second, and probably more importantly, Hill’s 10.29 K/9 ranks 12th among all starters with at least 70.0 IP this season (one spot behind Pomeranz). Amazingly, despite all the talent on the Astros roster, they rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+ and AVG against lefties. Still, their ridiculous power has to be factored in and any mistake could, and probably will, be lifted over the short left field porch. While I may slightly prefer the salary relief of Trevor Bauer for cash games, Hill is an absolute elite GPP option with 10-plus K upside.
Lucas Giolito, Nationals, $15,600 – A popular alternative to the high priced options is likely going to be the young and extremely talented Lucas Giolito. Before his call up, Giolito was considered the number one prospect in baseball, and one mediocre big league start should not obscure that fact. Even though Giolito only struck out one batter in his debut against the Mets (4.0 IP), he only allowed three total baserunners. Additionally, his start was cut short by rain, and his manager (Dusty Baker) has a notoriously long leash with starting pitchers. At every level Giolito pitched at in the minors (min 3.0 IP), he registered a K/9 of at least 8.56, but hovered around 10.00 a majority of the time. In his second start where he’s a bit more comfortable, expect the strikeouts to come. He’ll face the exact same opponent who still K a ton (21.7-percent) and rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, AVG and OBP versus RHP. All-in-all, Giolito has monstrous upside at a bargain price tag.
*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, July 6