Matt Holliday’s price tag does not equal in his potential in this matchup against a struggling left-hander so deploy him in any and all formats. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Nolan Arenado, Rockies, $10,800 – Only Jered Weaver has allowed a lower GB rate than Monday’s probable starter Drew Smyly. In other words, Coors Field is not a place he is likely thrilled to pitch because it’s the opposite kind of ballpark he would prefer to fit his skill set. When a ball is lifted into the thin air, it tends to carry, and Smyly is already dealing with a career-worst 1.79 HR/9 rate. Nolan Arenado is an absolute must-play because he leaders the team in wOBA, wRC+, OBP and SLG against LHP this season. Furthermore, he has slashed .307/.385/.639 overall in Colorado with a .331 ISO and .422 wOBA. If there was ever a prime spot for Arenado to go deep, it would be against the HR-prone Smyly in the friendly confines of home.
Albert Pujols, Angels, $6,000 – Opposing starter A.J. Griffin’s last outing was a sign of things to come. On Jul. 10, Griffin allowed 10 baserunners and six ERs to the Twins at home. Now, he’ll take his talents (or lack thereof) to Angels Stadium to take on an Anaheim squad that has produced the sixth best wOBA of any team in the month of July (.352). Yesterday, Albert Pujols homered twice off of right-handed starter Jacob Turner and he’ll now battle a starter destined for immediate regression. Over the course of Griffin’s short career, he has fared quite similarly to each side of the plate; .299 wOBA to LHHs versus .294 to RHHs. The split is more drastic this season (.355 wOBA to LHHs, .261 to RHHs) but righties have still managed a 23.9-percent line drive rate and 32.8-percent hard hit rate. Both Griffin’s peripherals (4.34 FIP, 4.81 xFIP) and contact rates suggest the second half will not be as kind as the first half. When Pujols is hot, no one is stopping him, and this price tag is just too darn cheap to pass on against a below-average opponent.
Brandon Guyer, Rays, $10,000 – In almost any other scenario, a $10,000 price tag should defer daily fantasy players from rostering Brandon Guyer. However, facing a lefty in by far the best hitters’ park in the league is a different story. First and foremost, Guyer is an elite hitter against LHPs plain and simple. Among all qualified hitters this season, Guyer’s .482 wOBA against the handedness ranks second behind only Yoenis Cespedes (.503). If wOBA doesn’t mean much to you, Guyer is slashing a ridiculous .368/.493/.649 against the handedness with a .281 ISO. In four starts at home, Tyler Anderson has actually fared incredibly well, especially for a Rockies pitcher. He has produced a 2.63 ERA in 24.0 IP but there is an underlying issue: the .313 AVG allowed. Anderson attempts to keep the ball on the ground (59.8-percent GB rate) but those have often resulted in hits. Considering his HR/FB rate is still well above average (17.4-percent), darker days should be ahead pitching in Coors Field. Many of the Rays hitters are incredibly talented against the handedness so this game has the potential to be Anderson’s worst yet at home. If there’s one hitter to own, especially for cash games, Guyer’s safety definitely deems him the one to spend up for.
Matt Holliday, Cardinals, $6,800 – After homering against a left-handed starter at home yesterday, Matt Holliday’s price only rose $500, and he’ll face another one on Monday (Christian Friedrich). Although Holliday’s numbers are down this season against LHP, he still owns a .294/.397/.497 career slash line against the handedness with a .386 wOBA. Friedrich began the season on a high note with a 1.65 ERA in May but it has been a substantial fall from grace since that time; he posted a 5.08 ERA in 33.2 June innings and a 7.20 ERA in 10 July innings so far. Opposing hitters have slashed .302/.348/.524 against him this month as his freefall continues. Righties have managed a hard hit rate more than 7.5 percentage points higher than lefties against Friedrich this season. To top it all off, it’s implied the Cardinals score 4.9 runs at home, or the fifth most of any team on the slate (behind the Rockies, Rays, Tigers and Orioles). At an incredibly reasonable price, and facing a subpar opponent, Holliday simply possesses too much talent to pass on.
Jose Fernandez, Marlins, $26,800 – This is maybe the easiest write up of the year because Jose Fernandez is above and beyond the best pitching play of the day. He will likely end up close to 100-percent owned in a matchup with the lowly Phillies…even on the road. Why? Fernandez both leads the MLB in K rate and faces an offense ranking in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, AVG, OBP, hard hit rate and line drive percentage. If you fade Fernandez in cash games, you’re simply being too cute. On the other hand, a case can be made in GPPs if you’re shooting for the first. It is virtually impossible to fit Fernandez and Coors Field bats so fading him in that format is an interesting contrarian play. For the most part, however, not using him would be a very, very bad idea.
Jon Lester, Cubs, $18,300 – The Cubs are ice cold right now so Jon Lester will likely go under-owned in a matchup against a solid Mets team versus the handedness. The last time he squared off against this very opponent, he allowed eight ERs in just 2.0 IP. There is some serious upside to the matchup because the Mets strike out at the fifth highest rate versus LHP. To be fair, they do rank in the top 10 of most categories against the handedness as well so this start takes some cojones. Last time, Lester was pitching on the road where is a lot less comfortable (3.67 ERA and .313 wOBA allowed) than he is at home (2.32 ERA, .258 wOBA). Additionally, Lester’s K rate at home (29.3-percent) is much superior to his rate on the road (20.0-percent). I’m going to bank on the change of scenery sparking Lester’s swing-and-miss stuff to show up this time and lead to a productive outing. Hell, if he pitches anywhere near his potential, this price tag is a freaking bargain.
Wade LeBlanc, Mariners, $14,100 – If the duo of Fernandez and Lester does not free up enough salary to fit the bats you see necessary, Wade LeBlanc is a risky yet viable alternative. LeBlanc, who owns a lifetime 4.44 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, began his 2016 season with back-to-back quality starts…only to follow that up with an implosion in Houston last time out (3.1 IP, seven baserunners and four ERs). Fortunately, LeBlanc will draw a matchup against a team that has scored one run over their last 40 innings: the White Sox. Hector Santiago made Chicago look sick on Saturday and they now rank in the bottom half of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG, OBP and hard hit percentage against LHP. If using LeBlanc, you’re relying more on the White Sox’ incapability than the skills of LeBlanc. When a team is cold, they’re cold, so there certainly are worse investments you could make on the slate. May the force be with you.
*Stats are accurate as of Sunday, July 17