The trend of Josh Donaldson absolutely lighting up left-handed pitchers has unsurprisingly carried over into 2016 and he’s one of the best bets for a homer on the entire slate. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
David Ortiz, Red Sox, $10,800 – It feels like I write this guy up every day (because this marks the third consecutive day) but the guy keeps coming through. In fact, David Ortiz has not finished a game with zero fantasy points since Jul. 2 (a string of 13 consecutive games). Yet again (I feel like a broken record), Ortiz will square off against a susceptible RHP at home where he absolutely rakes at superhuman levels. Not including yesterday’s monster game, Ortiz is slashing .401/.515./.861 against RHP at home now this season. While it almost doesn’t matter, Ortiz will square off against Kyle Gibson and his .313/.362/.489 slash line allowed to LHHs this season. On the road, lefties are slashing .368/.442/.605 with a .436 wOBA against him so this isn’t much of a match. Don’t get cute and just continue to use the most automatic hitter in the game at this time.
Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays, $10,400 – Once again, the reigning American League MVP is putting up incredible numbers this season as he’s hitting .308 with 24 HRs and 70 RBIs overall. As per usual with Josh Donaldson, he is faring better against LHP compared to RHP. Among all hitters with at least 35 ABs versus southpaws so far this season, Donaldson’s .438 wOBA ranks 18th and the rest of his stat line is equally impressive (.241 wOBA, .337/.467/.578 slash line). Opposing starter James Paxton throws hard but there is nothing scary about the matchup; all four HRs hit off of him have come of the bats of RHHs and he’s allowing a .330/.361/.469 slash line against RHHs with a .351 wOBA. Like the aforementioned Ortiz, Donaldson prefers hitting at home as evident by his .385/.510/.487 slash line versus LHP in the Rogers Centre this season. Pairing these two dominant infielders provides your infield with both a substantial floor and ceiling, so it makes sense to use both in all formats.
Charlie Blackmon, Rockies, $9,200 – Yes, there is a game in Coors Field on Friday, but this game features a battle between each team’s ace. Essentially, hitters are in play, but it’s not a time to full on stack either the Braves or Rockies. Instead, you’ll need to pick and choose spots, and no hitter makes more sense than Charlie Blackmon. Heading into Thursday’s game, Blackmon was amidst a 13 game hitting streak and his average is now pushing .310. The real allure of rostering him is Teheran’s weakness against LHP. Although he is much improved against the handedness this season, he has already allowed nine HRs to lefties (after allowing 18 in 91.0 IP to LHHs last year). If opposing hitters were ever going to produce power against him, it would be in the hitters’ haven of Coors Field. The aspect that puts him over the top is the fact that the Braves possess some of the worst throwing catchers in the league so Blackmon surely could steal a base as well. He’s one of the safest players in the daily game at home against a right-hander, and Friday is no difference, even though he is facing a solid opponent.
Robbie Grossman, Twins, $8,100 – Quietly, Robbie Grossman is hitting .325 in the month of July fueled by a ridiculous 37-percent line drive rate. He is roping everything this month and much prefers the platoon split against LHP. Guess what: Eduardo Rodriguez will toe the mound against the Twins this evening. So far, Rodriguez’s 2016 season can be summed up in one word: disaster. Okay so Rodriguez was sent down for tipping pitcher and was recently called back up but still these numbers are horrendous: 7.18 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 6.67 FIP, 5.90 xFIP, 2.48 HR/9, 3.47 BB/9 and 5.45 K/9. Even assuming he has improved, he only managed to strike out one hitter in his last outing. If he’s going to rely on contact to retire Grossman, good luck because Grossman is smoking everything. In hitter-friendly Fenway Park, this $8,100 price tag presents too much value to pass on.
Madison Bumgarner, Giants, $25,200 – Madison Bumgarner is absolutely worthy of consideration but I’m not sure he’s fully necessary for cash games. This feels like a slate where hitting is absolutely necessary considering the plethora of offenses/players in plus matchups. Even so, Bumgarner, experiencing a negative ballpark and league shift, will pitch against the American League’s worst hitting team versus LHP…the Yankees. New York ranks last in the league in wOBA and ranks in the bottom 10 overall (in MLB) of wRC+, ISO, BB rate, OBP and line drive rate. Only two hitters on the roster sport a wOBA greater than .329 against the handedness: Carlos Beltran (.417) and Didi Gregorious (.386)…and Gregorius is a lefty! All-in-all, Bumgarner should put together a dominant outing as per-usual, but the fact that he has to face a designated hitter makes you think twice. There certainly isn’t a discount for the league switch which is why I think Bumgarner might be best served for tournaments at a lower than normal ownership rate.
Jason Hammel, Cubs, $15,200 – With the Cubs on the road, many will look at Hammel’s home/away splits and decide to pass. However, anyone from the city of Chicago will tell you that a Cubs game in Miller Park is basically a home game for them because so many fans travel. Milwaukee is only an hour away from Chicago and the stadium always fills with mostly Cubs fans. Furthermore, the matchup against the Brewers on paper is actually fantastic. Why? No team has struck out at a higher percentage against RHP than the Brewers and they also rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO and AVG versus the handedness. In one start against the Brewers earlier this year (on the road), Hammel struck out seven and finished with 15.30 fantasy points. At this bargain price tag, a repeat performance would be viable as long as hitters come through, but I think he could even improve upon his last outing. I think the Cubs bats get to Jimmy Nelson and he’ll have an excellent opportunity to top off a quality start with a win.
Gerrit Cole, Pirates, $14,700 – Targeting the Phillies is rarely a bad idea in daily fantasy baseball because they rate so poorly against both righties and lefties. This season, Gerrit Cole has not pitched anywhere near the level he did just a season ago but still has posted respectable numbers…including a 3.11 ERA. There are clearly categories he is struggling in this season including WHIP (1.37), K rate (down to 7.47 K/9) and GB rate (42.7-percent down from 48.0-percent last year), but the price reflects his issues. If he ever were going to bust out of this slump, it would be at home against the lowly Phillies. It’ll take a leap of faith but I think 2015 Cole rears his head in this game and you’ll want to own him in all formats. If you’re really worried about his recent struggles, at least give him a shot in GPPs.
*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, July 21