Mookie Betts and the Red Sox squaring off against gas can Tim Lincecum simply isn’t fair so do not leave him out of lineups on Friday evening. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Jose Altuve, Astros, $10,200 – Friday’s slate is interesting because three players stand out above the rest as absolute must-plays…two of them are hitters and one is a pitcher. Each member of the trio is ultra-expensive so either a cheap SP2 or multiple cheap bats will be necessary to make it all work in a single lineup. Regardless, Jose Altuve is the first member of the “must-haves” due to a matchup with subpar lefty Matt Boyd. All six of the HRs Boyd has allowed this season have come off the bats of RHHs and he’s allowed righties to slash .264/.327/.449 with a .333 wOBA. On the other hand, Altuve has produced a hefty .394 career wOBA against LHP along with a whopping .354/.405/.508 slash line. Hell, it has only gotten better in 2016 as evident by his .441 wOBA and .361/.457/.588 slash line! Even at just 5’6”, Altuve is a superstar, and this is a prime spot for him (and the Astros offense as a whole) to shine.
Maikel Franco, Phillies, $6,600 – Apparently Maikel Franco’s wrist is okay because, after sitting out earlier in the week, he returned yesterday only to hit a three-run bomb in his first AB. Prior to the homer, Franco was already hitting 101 percentage points higher on the road this season. While it’s a weird split, it appears to be worth taking into consideration, as evident by the .396 road wOBA compared to just .251 in Citizens Bank Park. Opposing starter Tyrell Jenkins will head into Friday’s contest with some hideous numbers: 6.17 ERA, 7.73 FIP, 6.52 xFIP, 1.89 WHIP, 6.17 BB/9 and 4.24 K/9. Maybe most importantly though, Jenkins has allowed a .333/.433/.667 slash line and a ridiculous .458 wOBA to RHHs this season! Both the pitchers’ and hitters’ splits seem to coincide in this matchup and it should lead to a power display from Franco. At this price tag, and with a few aces scheduled to pitch on this slate, Franco is viable in any and all formats.
Mookie Betts, Red Sox, $10,200 – The second expensive amigo on the slate is Mookie Betts in an incredibly juicy matchup against arguably the worst starting pitcher in baseball: Tim Lincecum. The last time Lincecum took the mound (Jul. 24), it ended with nine baserunners eight ERs and zero Ks in 1.1 IP. While that start was the worst of Lincecum’s season, it extended a streak of (now) six consecutive starts without a quality start. A majority of the damage has been done by RHHs this season off Lincecum as they have hit six of the nine HRs he has allowed to complement an almost unthinkable .452/.566/.869 slash line and .584 wOBA. Meanwhile, Mookie Betts is arguably in the MVP conversation with a .304 AVG, 20 HRs, 80 RBIs and 16 SBs out of the leadoff spot. Like his opponent, Betts too possesses reverse splits; he has produced a wOBA (.383) more than 70 percentage points higher against RHP than LHP. For whatever the negative ballpark shift detracts from the matchup, the probable starter more than makes up for, and this is an absolutely perfect spot to deploy Betts. If I were going to spend up for just one hitter on the slate, Betts would be that guy.
Joey Gallo, Rangers, $6,200 – If rostering Joey Gallo, you’re not looking for doubles or singles…you’re going for the gold. Gallo has been described by scouts as “the reincarnation of Russell Branyan,” aka a guy who swings for the fences (or strikes out). At this price tag, he is difficult to pass on against a pitcher with a 5.72 road ERA. Sure Edinson Volquez has produced reverse splits this season, and Gallo is a lefty, but Gallo’s power is other-worldly. In the first game after his call up on Wednesday, Gallo hit a 454 foot HR. If rostering Max Scherzer and another reasonably expensive pitcher, concessions will need to be made on offense. Gallo fills a spot while providing about as much upside as you could ask for from a $6,200 hitter.
Max Scherzer, Nationals, $26,400 – It’s hard to overstate the boost a pitcher gets heading to AT&T Park. Over the past two seasons, the Giants’ home stadium has played as the most pitcher-friendly park in baseball, per ESPN Park Factors. As if Max Scherzer needed any more help to dominate, he’ll get it from the environment around him on Friday. Even as the road team, Washington opened as -158 favorites in a game with a projected 7.0 run over/under. The Giants do not K much (18.1-percent) versus RHP but they do rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA and ISO…and understandably fare worse at home. With the Giants only implied to score 3.1 runs, building cash lineups around Scherzer makes all the sense in the world.
Steven Matz, Mets, $16,300 – Dollar-for-dollar Steven Matz feels like the best pitching play on the entire slate at home against the Rockies. First and foremost, only the Brewers and Rays have struck out at a higher percentage against LHP than Colorado’s 24.3-percent. Additionally, the Rockies rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+ and AVG against the handedness, even with half of their games being played in the hitters’ haven of Coors Field. To further the point, no team has hit for a lower AVG away from home than the Rockies (.237). After dealing with an elbow issue towards the end of June, Matz seems to have righted the ship as he’s coming off of a 6.0 IP shutout in Miami. Now, pitching at home, he’ll take the mound as a -152 favorite in a game with a 7.0 run over/under. Matz likely has a similar ceiling to Scherzer at a price almost exactly $10,000 less. They make a fantastic duo in cash games and you can even roll out Matz as a SP1 alongside a cheap SP2 in tournaments.
Jake Odorizzi, Yankees, $16,000 – Unlike the aforementioned two starters, Jake Odorizzi doesn’t possess the same kind of strikeout potential, but there still is a ton to like about his matchup. Odorizzi’s splits drastically favor pitching at home as his ERA is more than half a run better at Tropicana Field (3.82) compared to on the road (4.42). The Yankees just aren’t very good as they’ve relied upon depreciating Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in the middle of their lineup for a majority of the season. Altogether, the Yankees rate in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG, OBP, hard hit percentage and line drive rate…or nearly every important sabermetic statistical category. Odorizzi, who struggled a bit in June (4.96 ERA), is coming off back-to-back starts with at least 22.70 fantasy points heading into this duel versus the “Bronx Bombers.” Unfortunately, there aren’t many bombs coming off of their bats these days, so the advantage goes to Odorizzi. Vegas believes in him as well so go ahead and take a shot on him in GPPs if looking for a viable alternative to either of the two likely highest-owned pitchers of the night.
*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, July 28