Jake Smolinski’s numbers against LHP this season rival those of Jose Altuve’s (also in play on this slate) yet he is priced at only $6,000. It would be foolish to waste this golden opportunity to roster him. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
David Ortiz, Red Sox, $9,900 – If cheap pitching were aplenty on the slate, a Red Sox stack would be in order for cash games. Unfortunately, it is not, so you’re going to have to pick and choose which hitters to roster. Against a poor righty at home, it’s foolish to overlook David Ortiz these days, who is slashing a ridiculous .369/.477/.809 at home versus RHP with a whopping .513 wOBA! Those are video game numbers and they should only improve against a pitcher sporting a 6.02 ERA, 4.79 FIP, 3.70 xFIP, 24.6-percent line drive rate and 1.45 WHIP. Opposing starter Luis Severino strikes me as Michael Pineda-lite in that his peripherals will keep suggesting he’s a better pitcher than he actually is and he’ll continue to be fool’s gold. I’m not buying it, especially in a hitters’ park against the MLB’s team leader in runs per game (5.44), so I’ll be focusing on the top Red Sox bats in all formats. If there can only be one, then let “Big Papi” be your Highlander.
Jose Altuve, Astros, $9,600 – Heading into Tuesday, George Springer is just two for his last 15 and four for his last 30 (.133). He is more of a boom-or-bust option, which is enticing for tournaments, but doesn’t always get it done in cash games. Therefore, the Astros hitter to take advantage of in an incredibly favorable matchup against Hector Santiago is Jose Altuve. On Monday evening, Altuve finally sat out a game, ending his streak of 202 consecutive games played, yet he’ll still come into this game red hot (.345 AVG in August). Furthermore, Altuve is like Ortiz in terms of dominance against the handedness of pitching of his choice…except he prefers hitting against lefties. Altuve has produced a .451 wOBA, .257 ISO and .362/.456/.619 slash line in 105 ABs against LHP this season. On the other hand, Santiago has already allowed 18 HRs to RHHs this year to go along with a .323 wOBA (33.3-percent GB rate to the handedness). Those who rely heavily on batter versus pitcher (BvP) will look at Altuve’s 4-20 (.200) against Santiago and become dissuaded but positive results are on the horizon…and they should come in a huge way tonight.
Michael Saunders, Blue Jays, $7,200 – In battles between reverse splits pitchers and reverse splits hitters, especially of the left-handed variety, the hitters always go under-owned. People are just afraid to deploy a lefty against a lefty because it’s perceived to be a low probability play. In this case, there is no reason to fear rostering Michael Saunders and his .415 wOBA against LHP. That’s right, Saunders is slashing a healthy .284/.370/.621 against the handedness with a .337 ISO. Meanwhile, Drew Smyly’s 23 HRs allowed this season are tied for sixth among all pitchers, behind only Josh Tomlin, Ian Kennedy, R.A. Dickey, Max Scherzer and James Shields. Of the bombs allowed, six have come off of left-handed bats to complement their .272/.306/.500 slash line and .341 wOBA against him. As if that weren’t enough, Smyly’s road ERA (5.83) is nearly a run and half worse than the number he has produced at home (4.43). All signs point to Saunders as a sneaky play in all formats, especially at the price tag.
Jake Smolinski, Athletics, $6,000 – One of my favorite hidden treasures in daily fantasy baseball is Jake Smolinski against LHPs. Despite the scrub price tag and non-household name, Smolinski has walloped lefties to the tune of a .457 wOBA, .322 ISO and .356/.415/.678 slash line this year. Just scroll up and compare those numbers to Altuve’s and you’ll see why this is the most elite value on the slate by far. Sure he’ll be working against his unfavorable home park but his .495 wOBA at home against the handedness signifies the atmosphere has not slowed him down much, if at all, to this point. Assuming he draws a start in the top six of the order, and it’s likely he’ll hit second, he is an absolute no-brainer in any and all formats.
Marco Estrada, Blue Jays, $22,400 – Writing up Max Scherzer does no good on a larger slate because he obviously possesses the most upside of any pitcher on the slate. The matchup against the Indians isn’t ideal but the fact that it will be played in Washington at least negates the designated hitter. He’s still a threat for double-digit strikeouts but allowing a few homers wouldn’t be surprising so roster him as you wish. Instead, the SP1 that stands out in GPP formats is none other than home/away splits king Marco Estrada. Okay so “king” may be overstating it but he has only allowed a 2.69 ERA, 0.96 WHIP at home this year. The dominance at home is nothing new as it accurately portrays a trend that has been developing his entire career. Additionally, Smyly could be in line to get blown out, the Rays strike out at a higher percentage against RHP than any team in the American League (AL) and rank in the bottom 10 of BB rate, AVG, OBP and line drive rate against the handedness. If Estrada is right, he should push double-digit Ks to go along with a probable win. What more can you ask for?
Rick Porcello, Red Sox, $19,200 – The name Rick Porcello is synonymous with cash games as he has yet to eclipsed 26.90 fantasy points this year but has only failed to reach double-digit fantasy points just thrice (last time was Jun. 23). His offense typically provides him with healthy offensive support and they should once again against Luis Severino. Porcello will head into this game having produced at least 20.05 fantasy points in five consecutive games and in six of his last seven. As icing on the cake, the Yankees are pretty devoid of offense these days without Carlos Beltran; they rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA (dead last), wRC+ (also dead last), ISO, AVG, OBP, hard hit rate and line drive percentage. If safety is what you seek, Porcello is your man.
Kenta Maeda, Dodgers, $18,800 – None of the incredibly cheap pitchers on the slate stand out to me which will make roster construction interesting. Instead of rostering Scherzer, the preferred play may be to go Porcello/Kenta Maeda in cash games, allowing a roster $7,750 per bat…or $8,000 per bat after locking in Smolinski. That’ll do. Maeda will square off against the lowly Phillies who rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, AVG, OBP, hard hit rate and line drive percentage while striking out 21.-4percent of the time against RHP. Maybe most importantly, the Phillies have yet to face Maeda, and his initial deception is part of the allure. Listed as a -181 favorite in a game where his opponent is implied to score 3.0 runs, start him with confidence.
*Stats are accurate as of Monday, August 8