While it’ll take a leap of faith to roster him, the combination of value and upside of A.J. Griffin is too great to overlook. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Adrian Beltre, Rangers, $7,800 – With the Rockies squaring off against Zach Eflin at home, I expect many of the other stacks to go criminally under-owned. Amidst the Texas heat, the Rangers are slated to face Tommy Milone and his 5.45 ERA, 1.73 HR/9 rate so far this season. Hitting conditions should be excellent and Milone has allowed a .317/.367/.500 slash line and .368 wOBA to RHHs to this point. In other words, fire up all Rangers right-handers, and Adrian Beltre features the best combination of skill set and value. In 88 plate appearances (PAs) versus LHP this season, Beltre is slashing .346/.398/.543 with a .396 wOBA and costs less than $8,000. All those with superior wOBAs (Ian Desmond, Elvis Andrus and Ryan Rua) against the handedness are listed as more expensive but Beltre is the one with the fantastic batter versus pitcher (BvP) numbers versus Milone: 9-19 (.474) with two HRs and five RBIs. Combine all of these factors and Beltre is simply an elite per-dollar play and can be considered a must-start in all formats.
Martin Prado, Marlins, $6,600 – Martin Prado is a guy who is consistently overlooked in cash games even though he is a fantastic fit for the format. Many times his price will become inflated along with the big bats (Marcell Ozuna, Giancarlo Stanton) when battling a left-handed opponent so from that perspective overlooking him makes a bit of sense. However, on a day where he is priced in the mid $6,000s against a young southpaw, there really isn’t much of an argument against him. In 72 ABs versus LHP this season, Prado hasn’t hit a single HR, but he is slashing .375/.446/.444 with a .380 wOBA. He’s the perfect type of player to fill a spot in a cash game lineup for cheap because he is incredibly unlikely to drop a goose egg. Prado will likely manage 1-2 hits, score a run or two and maybe even drive in a run…especially against Cody Reed and his 9.00 ERA and .365/.434/.689 slash line allowed to RHHs. If that is the sort of production you need from the final spot on your cash roster, Prado is an ideal play.
Charlie Blackmon, Rockies, $10,000 – It’s time to acknowledge the obvious: Coors Field is in play once again. Probable starter Zach Eflin will head into Sunday’s start sporting a 4.30 ERA, 4.78 FIP, 4.75 xFIP, 4.60 K/9 and, maybe most importantly, a 39.8-percent GB rate. Yes, Eflin rarely ever forces opponents to hit the ball on the ground, so he’s going to rely on fly balls to retire Rockies hitters in the thin atmosphere of Denver. Even though Eflin has produced reverse splits in a limited sample size (29.1 IP), all the usuals are in play against a pitcher not missing bats. Of the five HRs Eflin has allowed, three have come off the bats of left-handers. If looking for a Rockies hitter to begin lineups with, start with the epitome of safety: Charlie Blackmon. Not only has Blackmon already hit nine HRs against RHP this season (tied with Mark Reynolds), he has stolen a team-high six bases against the handedness and is slashing .322/.383/.534 against the handedness with a .389 wOBA (second to only Carlos Gonzalez on the team). Go ahead and complement him with both Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado if you please because I expect a big showing overall from the potent Rockies in the high altitude.
Melky Cabrera, White Sox, $7,200 – On Friday, fantasy owners faced a similar conundrum with the White Sox facing Matt Wisler…which White Sox lefty was the one worth starting against a susceptible opponent? Adam Eaton proved to be the play on Friday as he registered two hits including a homer versus Wisler and he’s certainly in play once again. Nevertheless, the team leader in wOBA against the handedness is very difficult to overlook especially at a more affordable price. Melky Cabrera continues to lead the team with a .333 wOBA against RHP as does his .285 AVG. Regardless of which hitter you choose, just make sure you roster one because Mike Foltynewicz has allowed a .299/.365/.708 slash line to LHHs this season with an insane .430 wOBA. Amazingly, these numbers are all in line with his career tallies as well so Foltynewicz is simply someone who needs to be taken advantage of any time he takes the bump. Eaton’s game is better-rounded but Cabrera’s bat packs the most punch so choose wisely because at least one is destined to go off (if not both).
Kenta Maeda, Dodgers, $17,700 – 2016 has been an up-and-down rookie campaign for Kena Maeda and the sample size against the Padres is actually a microcosm of his season. Maeda shut down the Padres to the tune of zero ER in 6.0 IP in his first meeting against them but then only last 5.0 IP with four ER the second time. Since the beginning of June, every other start has essentially been a productive one for Maeda followed by a letdown. The good news is Maeda is coming off a stinker (four ER and 10 baserunners in 4.0 IP) versus Baltimore and the Padres rank favorably on paper. San Diego sits in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, AVG. OBP and hard hit percentage while striking out at a rate of 24.0-percent against RHP this season. With Maeda listed as a -200 home favorite against rapidly regressing Christian Friedrich, he feels like a reasonably safe bet for a SP1 in cash games…and comes at a much better value to the likes of Madison Bumgarner against a tough opponent (Diamondbacks).
Dallas Keuchel, Astros, $15,600 – Although the Athletics are an annoying team to target pitchers against due to their low strikeout rate, I actually don’t mind said trend against Dallas Keuchel in a small ballpark. Keuchel has routinely relied on groundball outs to retire opponents and the Athletics rank in the bottom 10 of hard hit percentage. In essence, this should be a prime opportunity for Keuchel to pitch deep into the game while inducing plenty of weak ground balls along the way. Furthermore, Keuchel has preferred pitching at home throughout the course of his career, and this season is no different (4.26 ERA at home versus 5.50 ERA on the road). With 62-percent of public money on Keuchel in the early stages, $15,600 feels like a hefty value for a pitcher with some serious upside. The 2016 version of Keuchel always takes a degree of courage to roster but I expect the end result to be positive in the friendly confines of home. As icing on the cake, you can fit some much superior bats next to him that you can next to, say, Carlos Carrasco.
A.J. Griffin, Rangers, $13,900 – The value of the day at the pitching position is none other than A.J. Griffin. What if I told you it was possible to roster a starter with a 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 8.62 K/9 for less than $14,000 in a pretty darn good matchup? On Sunday, this is somehow a reality. Sure Griffin relies on fly ball outs, so he could give up a homer or two, but the risk is negated by the price tag. On paper, the Twins rate as an incredibly favorable opponent; they rank in the bottom half of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP and hard hit percentage while striking out at 20.9-percent. In fact, only four teams have hit less HRs against RHP than the Twins. If there were ever a time to drop down in price for a cash game pitcher, Griffin looks like an awfully safe option for a rather minuscule cost. Assuming he can approach 15-20 fantasy points as I believe he can, the bats you can fit alongside him will give you a huge advantage versus opponents.
*Stats are accurate as of Saturday, July 9