With most focused on Coors in tonight’s slate, there is plenty of value to be found in Chase Field, including of course this year’s MLB All-Star Final Vote finalist Jake Lamb. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Jake Lamb, Diamondbacks – With a game scheduled in Coors that features a pair of starting pitchers with ERAs over 4.50, ownership for the Brewers/Diamondbacks game may fall under the wayside. In my opinion, that would be a gigantic mistake as Chase Field also rates as a top five hitters’ park and features a matchup of Matt Garza (5.32 ERA) versus Patrick Corbin (5.30). This game could easily outscore the tilt in Denver and yet cash and GPP lineups alike and yet people will focus on the other game simply because of the stadium’s reputation. Garza is a pitcher whose skill set has been in decline for years now and he’s now a pitcher who has allowed a .277/.350/.495 slash line and .354 wOBA to LHHs in 23.2 IP this season. Actually, his numbers suggest he has fared as a reverse splits pitcher (at least in terms of wOBA), but RHHs have only hit one out of the five HRs he has allowed this season. Earlier in the month, Jake Lamb was suffering through a slump due to a hand injury, but he has recovered and homered in consecutive games (heading into Friday night). As long as he is healthy, he has an excellent chance to succeed in this fantastic matchup, especially considering he has already hit 16 HRs at home this season.
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals – Yesterday, Matt Carpenter finally returned from an extended disabled list (DL) stint and, in tune, the Cardinals lineup received their best hitter back. In just his second game back, Carpenter draws an elite matchup against a pitcher extremely susceptible to LHHs: Mike Foltynewicz. In 30.2 IP against lefties this year, they crushed him with seven HRs, a .256/.320/.539 slash line and .356 wOBA. Furthermore, Foltynewicz has produced a vastly inferior ERA (5.40) on the road compared to at home (3.71), so LHHs on the road have actually slashed .300/.338/.580 against him. On the other hand, Carpenter has slashed .311/.435/.611 with a .434 wOBA against RHP this season including 11 of his 14 bombs. His home/away split numbers favor this matchup as well as he’s hit for an AVG more than 20 percentage points higher at home (.309) compared to on the road (.287). Although he’s not part of the top duo of game stacks, he is absolutely worth paying up for as a one-off in any and all lineups.
Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – In Coors Field, there is no better cash game option than Charlie Blackmon against a RHP. Unlike Nolan Arenado or Carlos Gonzalez, Blackmon’s skill set includes the aspect of speed. A five tool player in Coors Field is about as safe as it gets as there are a multitude of ways he can produce fantasy points. In this specific matchup, opposing starter Andrew Cashner has allowed the 26th most stolen bases off of him since the start of the 2013 season (43 total), so the speed factor is certainly in play. Additionally, Cashner has allowed a .336 wOBA to LHHs this year after allowing a career-worst .383 tally to the handedness last year. Blackmon will cost you a pretty penny but there are too many different ways he can reach double-digit fantasy points to disregard…including the possibility of going deep.
Ryan Braun, Brewers – As mentioned in the Lamb tidbit, Brewers/Diamondbacks in Chase Field is a game to target as a whole in both cash games and GPP. Milwaukee is a sneaky solid team against LHP this season as they rank in the top 10 of wOBA, AVG and hard hit percentage versus the handedness. They, of course, are led by Ryan Braun and his .434 career wOBA against lefties (which ties him for first among all active hitters with Paul Goldschmidt). Amazingly, only Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre, Ryan Howard, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have hit more career HRs against southpaws than Braun. Nevertheless, Braun is a perfect spot to add to his total against Patrick Corbin in the Arizona heat. Although Corbin sports some reverse splits, he has allowed a 6.91 ERA at home and 15 (out of 20 total) HRs to RHHs this season to go along with a .356 wOBA. All the Brewers usuals are in play (Braun, Jonathan Villar, Hernan Perez and Chris Carter) but Braun is the safest bet of the bunch. With plenty of solid mid-tier pitching available, spending up for a handful of hitters should not be an issue on this slate.
Carlos Martinez, Cardinals – Other than the month of May, Carlos Martinez has pitched like an ace in 2016. Here are his ERAs by month: 1.93 (April), 5.18 (May), 1.31 (June) and 3.48 (July). With Stephen Strasburg toeing the mound on the slate, it’s always enticing just to spend up on the top guy. However, the Giants are a tough draw for any pitcher because they only strike out at 16.4-percent and rank in the top 10 of wRC+, BB rate, AVG, OBP and line drive rate. In essence, a similar performance can be expected from the much cheaper Martinez in a date with the Braves at home on Saturday. The Braves don’t strike out a ton either (19.0-percent K rate versus RHP) but they do rank in the bottom three in all of the following categories against the handedness: wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG and hard hit rate…even with the addition of Matt Kemp. Although the line isn’t out yet, expect Martinez to be listed as a heavy favorite, and a damn near lock to finish with a quality start.
Chris Tillman, Orioles – Would anyone have guessed Chris Tillman would be 14-3 to begin the month of August? If you could have then congrats because you either can see into the future or own a time machine. On Saturday, Tillman will square off against a White Sox team that has struggled to hit all season, partially due to a down year from slugger Jose Abreu. Currently, the White Sox rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, WRC+, ISO, BB rate, OBP and hard hit rate against RHP, and Tillman has pitched better away from Camden Yards (3.13 road ERA). After getting roughed up last start, Carlos Rodon should start to progress back to his old start, and I expect this game to go under the predicted Vegas total. A blow up has a very low probability against this offensively devoid White Sox team so I expect Tillman to be productive when all said and done. Taking the shot on a guy who just keeps winning opens the door to roster virtually any hitter you would like if you pair him with Martinez or Skaggs. That’s the preferred strategy for me even though Tillman probably doesn’t have 30 fantasy point upside.
Tyler Skaggs, Angels – After striking out double-digits in consecutive rehab starts, Tyler Skaggs has hit the ground running since his activation as well. In his two starts following his return to the rotation, Skaggs has tossed 12.1 shutout innings with 13 Ks. Remember, Skaggs was the 40th overall pick by the Angels in the 2009 MLB draft, so he’s clearly talented. In 2014, Skaggs pitched 113.0 innings with a 4.30 ERA but 3.55 FIP and 3.65 xFIP. Essentially, this could simply be a talented pitcher putting it all together despite some numbers that simply have to regress in upcoming weeks (100-percent strand rate, 0.00 HR/9 rate, etc.). Predicting it to all crumble in this game would be foolish because Skaggs will have the benefit of pitching in the American League’s most pitcher-friendly ballpark (Safeco Field). Both Nelson Cruz and Franklin Gutierrez have struggled at home, even against LHP, so the concern of them taking Skaggs deep is a lot less than if this game were on the road. If looking for upside from a mid-tier starter, the matchup is extremely enticing for Skaggs against a team hitting a measly .247 with a .317 OBP versus LHP.
Bonus Early Slate Play:
Jose Berrios, Twins – All of the pitchers on the early slate possess some sort of caveat when it comes to rostering them: Corey Kluber pitches in Yankee Stadium, Rich Hill will start for his first time in weeks due to a blister, Jake Arrieta’s control has been off as of late and Chris Archer faces a red-hot Twins offense. In a slate full of YOLO, why not YOLO to the max by rostering youngster Jose Berrios against a team that strikes out at the highest percentage of any American League ball club. Berrios allowed three runs and four base runners in the first inning of his start against the Indians on Monday then did not allow a single base runner until the sixth inning after that point. In fact, the only runners he allowed after that point were two singles, and the three runs ended up being all he’d surrender. In the minors, Berrios was once again dominant following his disastrous early-season MLB stint, so it appears he learned plenty from his first attempt in the big leagues. Against a team whose bats he should be able to miss all day long, Berrios should come with a nice floor for cash games even if he does give up a few runs (or more). With that being said, his sky is the ceiling, and it’s entirely possible Berrios reaches double-digit Ks in this game if he can avoid another early implosion.
*Stats are accurate as of Friday, August 5