Rick Porcello is listed as the heaviest favorite on the slate and his price tag is friendly enough to fit serious bats alongside him. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Nolan Arenado, Rockies – When an opposing starter such as Tyrell Jenkins has a limited sample size at the Major League level, I typically defer to Vegas to assist in talent analysis. Considering the Rockies are implied to score 7.1 runs, easily the most on the slate, it appears they aren’t a fan of his. On paper, Jenkins has allowed a superior wOBA to LHHs (.354) compared to RHHs (.345) in just an overall sample size of 20 IP. However, RHHs have hit more than 30 percentage points higher against him and have gotten on base at a .360 clip. These numbers will only get worse in the ultimate hitter-friendly atmosphere of Coors Field and I expect Nolan Arenado to be able to take advantage. At home versus RHPs this season, Arenado is slashing .289/.350/.648 with a .412 wOBA to go along with 10 (of his 24) HRs. He’s going to likely end up the highest owned hitter on the entire slate for good reason, so don’t get too cute and just use him.
Eric Hosmer, Royals – Will the algorithm ever get the pricing right for Eric Hosmer and the Royals? Every single day one or all of them are priced way too cheaply for their matchup-at-hand. On Sunday, Hosmer will square off against A.J. Griffin at home in a game where the Royals are listed as -115 favorites and implied to score 4.7 runs. Overall, Griffin’s 4.26 ERA and 1.30 WHIP do not seem so terrible but he has come apart at the seams in the month of July. In each of his three starts this month, Griffin has failed to pitch into the sixth inning, and has produced an 8.36 ERA, 1.93 WHIP. He’s the kind of pitcher who was better suited to be successful early due to his slow breaking curveball that usually hovers around 68mph. Once the league has seen his repertoire and has a scouting report on him, the difference in velocity between his pitches should become easier to recognize. As if that weren’t enough, Hosmer leads the Royals in wOBA against RHP and is slashing .313/.381/.460 against the handedness. There is just too much value to pass on at this price point.
George Springer, Astros – Pitchers that deter me from using George Springer are the types that consistently miss bats. So far this season, Tim Lincecum has managed a 8.79 K/9 including at least six Ks in three of his last four starts but the matchup still is not scary enough to fade the powerful leadoff hitter. Why? The Astros are listed as whopping -200 favorites at home, implied to score 5.7 runs and Lincecum has allowed a .426 wOBA to RHHs on the road this season. In fact, Lincecum has allowed a .429/.544/.764 slash line to RHHs overall this season with a .541 wOBA! Taking a deeper dive into the splits, Lincecum has struck out 10.26 left-handed hitters per nine innings compared to just 6.75 amongst righties. In other words, he misses right-handed bats at a below league-average level. Springer loves hitting at home as he has hit for nearly 50 points higher in Minute Maid Park with a wOBA more than 60 points higher. All the splits align in this matchup and Springer is one of my favorite bets for a bomb on the entire slate.
Jayson Werth, Nationals – The difference in Jayson Werth’s splits are about as substantial as you will ever see; he is slashing .201/.304/.339 against RHP compared to .359/.433/.620 against LHP! His wOBA difference? .286 versus righties compared to .444 versus lefties. There’s no denying he’s simply a much better play against southpaws and he’ll face a struggling one today: Christian Friedrich. After a 1.65 ERA and .271 wOBA allowed in May, Friedrich has regressed to a 5.08 ERA in June (.336 wOBA allowed) and 6.46 ERA so far in July (.355 wOBA allowed). As time goes on, opponents are hitting him harder as well as he’s gone from a 12.8-percent line drive rate in May to 21.2-percent in June and now 26.5-percent in July. As evident by Werth’s numbers, he consistently smokes the ball against the handedness, so this should be a long day overall for Friedrich. Statistically, the Nationals rate as the best hitting team against LHP this season so stacking them is an excellent alternative to either team playing in Coors Field.
Rick Porcello, Red Sox – With Jon Lester and Corey Kluber listed as by far the most expensive pitchers on the slate, I actually prefer the matchup for Rick Porcello at home against the Twins. Although the aforementioned duo of aces are superior talents, Porcello is listed as a heavier favorite (-220) than either and will face a below-average Twins offense that ranks in the bottom half of nearly every offensive category versus RHP. Even if Porcello struggles a bit, his offense is implied to provide him with 6.1 runs against Tommy Milone…a pitcher with horrendous splits on the road. The safety of Porcello is tough to argue with and he opens up room for Coors Field and Nationals so I really like the approach of fading the top pitchers to provide the most potential upside.
Jameson Taillon, Pirates – Every single game on the slate other than Phillies/Pirates comes with an over/under of 8.5 runs or more on Sunday’s slate. Vegas projects the Pirates as -142 favorites in a game with an over/under of 8.0. Sure Jameson Taillon left his previous start after being hit in the head with a line drive but he reported no symptoms of soreness or anything else so the team deemed him ready for this start. Prior to getting smacked in the noggin, Taillon was on quite the roll having allowed just two runs in his last 12.0 IP. Taillon is one of the team’s (and league’s) top prospect and is just oozing with talent so a matchup with one of the worst hitting teams in baseball should lead to his skills on display. The Phillies rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, AVG, OBP, hard hit rate and line drive percentage versus RHP while striking out at 21.8-percent. None of the most expensive pitchers are in great spots so I have no problem dropping down to Taillon as my SP2 and pairing him with the premiere bats on the slate.
Blake Snell, Rays – If needing to free up more salary than the Porcello/Taillon duo allows, the prospects of spending down from Porcello to Blake Snell is interesting. Let’s not forget Snell just strung together six absolutely dominant innings in Coors Field against the Rockies on Jul. 19 and has now struck out at least seven hitters in back-to-back games. Sure the Athletics are a tough matchup on paper against LHP but they rank in the bottom 10 of BB rate (one of Snell’s Achilles heels so far as a big leaguer), OBP, hard hit rate and line drive rate. He’ll experience a positive ballpark shift heading to the Oakland Coliseum and is actually listed as a favorite against Jesse Hahn and co. I believe in his talent and therefore I’m willing to take the shot here especially on a Sunday where random players are typically rested and he should get a watered down opposing lineup.
*Stats are accurate as of Saturday, July 23