Adam Conley is a respectable opponent so some may overlook Javier Baez in this matchup at home. Don’t be one of those people…especially at the $7,600 price tag. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Javier Baez, Cubs, $7,600 – On Chicago radio a few weeks ago, I heard Manager Joe Maddon refer to Javier Baez as “two different hitters” against righties and lefties…and it’s true. Baez has struggled mightily against RHPs as he has slashed .257/.280/.421 against the handedness. However, his numbers look Jose Altuve-esque against LHPs: .363/.433/.575 slash line with a .428 wOBA. Amazingly, Baez has even struck out 17.8-percent of the time against lefties compared to a whopping 25.4-percent of the time against righties. Lately, Baez’s price has inflated to the $9,000 range when the team has squared off against a left-hander but the algorithm went easy on him Monday. Whenever you’re able to roster a player with borderline elite skills in the split, and he’s cheap enough to fit alongside a pair of aces, there’s no reason to get cute. Baez is a cash game staple.
Ryan Schimpf, Padres, $7,200 – With the departure of Matt Kemp, it appears rookie Ryan Schimpf is now locked into the cleanup spot against RHP moving forward. Although he’ll never be accused of hitting for an exceptional AVG (a trend that holds true for his entire Minor League career as well), Schimpf leads the ball club in wOBA (.396), ISO (.371) and SLG (.607) against RHP this season. In the month of July, Yangervis Solarte is the only player on the team to have hit the ball hard a greater percentage of the time (44.3-percent) than Schimpf (43.8-percent). Meanwhile, opposing starter Jimmy Nelson has struggled with left-handers both this season and for his entire career; he has allowed a .264/.355/.457 slash line to LHHs in 173.1 IP against them and lefties have already hit nine bombs (out of 15) against him in 2016. Although Petco Park isn’t incredibly hitter-friendly, Schimpf has preferred hitting at home considering his AVG is nearly 20 points higher at home and he owns a .398 wOBA at home against RHP. Schimpf is a boom-or-bust option in nature but a date with a mediocre right-hander at home is a prime spot for him to break out the power stroke.
Nelson Cruz, Mariners, $9,600 – Outfield is a difficult proposition on Monday because many of the best options play in unfavorable ballparks. The results for both Nelson Cruz and Franklin Gutierrez haven’t been great at home; Cruz’s wOBA at home against LHP currently sits at .327 (versus .498 on the road) while Gutierrez has produced a .324 wOBA against LHP at home (versus .419 on the road). Nevertheless, Eduardo Rodriguez hasn’t exceeded a 34.8-percent GB rate in any start since Jun. 22, so this looks like a golden opportunity for a bomb. RHHs have slashed .297/.351/.584 against Rodriguez so far this year including 11 of the 12 HRs he has given up. As if that weren’t enough, Rodriguez’s 7.08 ERA on the road is exactly a run higher than in Fenway Park this year. Just because Cruz’s numbers at home haven’t been great doesn’t mean he can’t come through against a beatable opponent. With limited other options at any price range, I’ll take my chances with one of the better hitters in the game.
Bryce Harper, Nationals, $9,200 – The hitter section of this article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Nationals in Chase Field against Archie Bradley. Although Nationals Park plays as a favorable hitters’ park, the entire offense will still experience a positive park shift. This is an excellent matchup especially for Nationals lefties because Bradley has been blasted by them; LHHs are slashing .295/.394/.528 against him with a .387 wOBA. If you could guarantee me Daniel Murphy would be back in the lineup on Monday, I’d prefer him to a very cold Bryce Harper. Since that guarantee cannot be made at this point, I’m just going to write up all the left-handers in the lineup (and Trea Turner who is still way too cheap for his skill set). Only the Indians are implied to score more runs of the slate, although I think that will even out when Vegas catches up to Jose Berrios starting that game, so the Nationals’ 4.7 runs should end up atop the projections. Harper still possesses elite skills and it’s only a matter of time until he snaps out of his recent funk. What better time to turn it around than in a top five hitters’ park against an incredibly susceptible pitcher?
Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, $25,200 – Multiple factors are working against Stephen Strasburg in Mondays’ matchup against the Diamondbacks which will likely tone down his ownership…this is excellent news for prospective daily fantasy players looking to roster him. The Diamondbacks rate as a respectable offense overall, especially at home, but there are some kinks in the armor. For one, Arizona rarely walks (6.8-percent BB rate) and Strasburg is batters at his highest rate since 2013. Also, the Diamondbacks strike out at the fifth highest rate (22.8-percent) of any team against the handedness and Strasburg is one of the best at missing bats. Even in a hostile environment, Strasburg is listed as a -185 favorite and his opponent is only implied to score 3.4 runs. If you can stomach the bats alongside him or even find a cheap SP2 that you feel good about, Strasburg is a rock solid option in any and all formats (who probably will come at a 30-percent ownership or less in cash).
Danny Salazar, Indians, $20,100 – The main reason I expect Strasburg’s ownership to be down is because Danny Salazar is a logical alternative for more than $5,000 cheaper. Salazar’s K/9 (10.14) is only slightly lower than Strasburg’s (10.93) and, amazingly, the Twins nearly strike out at the identical rate (22.2-percent) as the Diamondbacks. Other than Salazar having to face a designated hitter, his matchup is eerily similar to Strasburg’s especially considering how hitter-friendly Progressive Field plays. A major difference, however, is Salazar is pitching at home. Therefore, he is listed as a heavier favorite (-220). An American League game with a projected 8.0 run over/under suggests it’ll be a low-scoring affair as does the Twins’ 3.2 implied run total. Passing on Strasburg is difficult to swallow but Salazar should put up a comparable score for substantially less. Disclaimer: I’m not opposed to using both aces in the same lineup especially with so few hitting options worth paying up for.
Kyle Hendricks, Cubs, $18,800 – On this slate, the “correct” play feels like pairing one of the aces with Kyle Hendricks at home. In Wrigley Field, Hendricks is simply automatic, as evident by his 1.36 ERA. Hendricks’ modus operandi is forcing opponents to pound balls into the ground but that is especially true at home; 57.7-percent GB rate at home versus 45.9-percent on the road. On the other hand, his opponent (Marlins) are a solid draw on paper; they rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, BB rate and hard hit percentage against RHP. Sure Dee Gordon is back in the lineup and his presence cannot be understated but the Marlins still do not scare me. Listed as a -175 favorite, Hendricks may be the best bet on the entire slate to finish with a quality start.
*Stats are accurate as of Sunday, July 31