The Wong and Winding Road

With Matt Carpenter and Brandon Moss both landing on the disabled list, Kolten Wong is the primary Cardinals left-hander to target against Jimmy Nelson on Friday evening. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.

Infield:

Odubel Herrera, Phillies, $10,000 – Both the Rockies and Phillies will toss their “aces” tonight which limits the appeal of the hitters a bit. With the likes of Chris Sale, Jose Fernandez, Jake Arrieta, Stephen Strasburg and even Corey Kluber pitching tonight, finding two starters that go absolutely nuts is going to be the preferred play in cash games. Hell, you’ll even want to build around at least one ace in GPP lineups as well, leaving Coors bats as a distant priority. Still, if there’s one guy to roster from this game, it’s Odubel Herrera leading off against Jon Gray and his 5.05 ERA at home. Facing lefties at home is an ultra-specific split but it’s the worst split in Gray’s stat book as he’s allowing a .343 wOBA in that scenario. With Herrera hitting in the optimal spot in the lineup, he’ll get at least the most possible looks against Gray, which should signify a big day (with help from the atmosphere).

Kolten Wong, Cardinals, $6,400 – With Matt Carpenter placed on the disabled list and manager Mike Matheny expressing “serious concern” over the injury, Kolten Wong is primed for an extended role in his absence. Rotowire is reporting Wong will see an increase in playing time at second base with Carpenter on the shelf and he will probably hit in the top two of the batting order against Jimmy Nelson on Friday. Nelson is amidst a respectable season but he has continued to allow LHHs to hit for power against him…a trend that has plagued him for his entire career. While he has improved his numbers against the handedness overall, they have still hit eight HRs off of him so far and produced a .337 wOBA. For Nelson’s career, he has allowed a .266/.358/.463 slash line to the handedness with a .355 wOBA. Wong has underwhelmed in 138 ABs versus RHPs so far this season (.289 wOBA) but last year’s .335 tally provides some hope for the future. Against a pitcher continuing to struggle against hitters of his handedness, Wong is well-worth the miniscule price tag, especially considering the Cardinals’ 4.6 implied run total.

Outfield:

Melky Cabrera, White Sox, $6,800 – Did I mention basically all the aces are pitching on the slate? In order to fit them, especially in cash games, you’re going to have to get creative by finding cheap bats with upside. After a fantastic start to the season through two months, probable starter Matt Wisler has started to fall apart and, in the process, look like last year’s version of himself. In 2015, Wisler essentially rated as a gas can as he produced a 4.71 ERA and 1.46 WHIP while walking too many hitters (3.30 BB/9) and failing to miss many bats (5.94 K/9). Last month (June), Wisler allowed a 6.59 ERA, 1.76 WHIP and 50.0-percent hard hit rate with an inflated walk rate (3.62 BB/9). When Wisler goes bad, LHHs are usually to blame considering he has allowed a career .376 wOBA to the handedness. So far this season, Melky Cabrera (a switch hitter) leads all White Sox hitters in wOBA against RHPs and is slashing .281/.337/.437 against them. Combine all of these factors and Cabrera packs a ton of punch at his middling price tag and is a borderline must-start.

Alex Gordon, Royals, $6,000 – Hisashi Iwakuma is suffering through his worst season as a professional at age 35 as he has regressed in nearly every statistical category across the board. The strangest deterioration of any stat is the fact that his GB rate has fallen off the table (50.4-percent last year to 38.7-percent so far this year). Unsurprisingly, this has led to be a career-high HR/9 rate but also hard hit rate as well (32.2-percent). Along the way, right-handers have only hit .248 off of him. So where is all the production coming from? You guessed it: LHHs. In 46.1 IP against lefties this year, Iwakuma has allowed seven HRs (out of 18 total) to go along with a .323/.368/.508 slash line and .374 wOBA. Alex Gordon is amidst a tough season but all six of his HRs have come off RHPs and he’ll hit leadoff against Iwakuma. Eventually Gordon is going to break out of his funk against right-handers considering he sports a career .346 wOBA against them in 3,042 career ABs. At this price tag it is worth a shot especially against a pitcher allowing hard contact nearly one-third of the time.

Pitcher:

Chris Sale, White Sox, $26,100 – The 2016 version of Chris Sale is not the same pitcher we’ve been accustomed to since joining the majors in 2010. Sale has gradually morphed into a fly ball pitcher and this season his K rate is down to career worst (8.85 K/9). Still, if this is his “rock bottom,” it really isn’t that bad. Overall, Sale sports a 2.93 ERA and 0.98 WHIP so he’s still been quite dominant. On this night, none of his struggles matter because he’ll literally draw one of the best few matchups a LHP could ask for…the Braves. Atlanta ranks in the bottom three of wOBA, wRC+, ISO and OBP against LHP while striking out at a rate of 20.6-percent. While they’ll be able to add a designated hitter to the lineup playing in an American League ballpark, they’ll still be dealing with Sale. Expect a throwback Sale performance against a helpless opponent.

Jose Fernandez, Marlins, $26,000 – If Jose Fernandez isn’t one of your favorite pitchers in daily fantasy baseball, you probably haven’t been playing him enough. With Clayton Kershaw having been placed on the disabled list, Fernandez is probably the best fantasy pitcher left standing. Not only does he lead the league in K/9 (13.10) but he ranks third in both FIP (2.19) and xFIP (2.4) behind only Kershaw and Noah Syndergaard. At home this season, Fernandez has dominated to the tune of a ridiculous 1.72 ERA and .222 wOBA allowed. Good luck to the Reds ball club coming to town who ranks in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, AVG and OBP against RHP. It’s very difficult deciphering who is the better bet between Fernandez and Sale so it’s probably just worthwhile to use both in cash games and compile value hitters.

Matt Shoemaker, Angels, $13,200 – If punting in the hitting department isn’t your forte, Matt Shoemaker is a risk/reward start in all formats. After having been priced around $20,000 consistently over a four start span, Shoemaker was understandably hammered in Fenway Park during his last start. Apparently getting beat up by arguably the best offense in baseball led to a steep price reduction and cancels out the remarkable month of June he had? To me, this presents an excellent buying opportunity, even in a hitters’ park (Camden Yards) against a potent offense: the Orioles. One weakness the Orioles have is their propensity to strike out as they K at a rate of 21.9-percent versus RHPs. Even if Shoemaker allows a few runs, he should strike out 5-6 batters minimum, and his offense will get a shot at awful Ubaldo Jimenez. With a decent chance for a win, and a solid chance for a 10 or so fantasy point floor due to strikeouts, Shoemaker looks like a potential awesome bargain…if you have the cojones.

*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, July 7

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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