The White Sox are a brutal hitting team and Danny Duffy is emerging as an upper-echelon starter. This combation creates the perfrect elixir of a matchup. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Jordy Mercer, Pirates (Early) – Most of the bats from Rockies/Rangers game are rightfully going to be popular choices due to the 10.5 over/under and two bad pitchers on the mound. Consequently, excellent plays such as Jordy Mercer should go under-owned on the early slate. Opposing starter Christian Friedrich hasn’t posted a monthly ERA under 5.08 since May and has allowed six of his nine HRs to RHHs. Meanwhile, Mercer never gets the respect he deserves against LHP although he typically hits near the top of the order and has produced some respectable numbers: .385 wOBA, .187 ISO and .307/.409/.493 slash line against the handedness. He is always underpriced and fills a spot with a ton of upside which will help roster a combination of an ace (probably Noah Syndergaard) and bats from the aforementioned prime game to target.
Eric Hosmer, Royals (Late) – There are only four games on the late slate Thursday and all of them include at least one upper-echelon pitcher toeing the mound. One of the few non-aces on the slate is Miguel Gonzalez so targeting bats against him makes a ton of sense…especially because the Royals are never priced correctly. For whatever reason, the pricing algorithm constantly disrespects them, and this is the slate to take advantage. Probable starter Miguel Gonzalez has done a decent job at limiting hard contact to both sides of the plate this year but lefties have still homered six times off of him. The Royals offense lacks a ton of punch against RHP but Eric Hosmer leads all regulars with a .347 wOBA and has slashed .294/.360/.440 against the handedness. With the team implied to score around 4.3 runs, which is actually a huge total on this slate, rostering the guy likely to do most of the damage is a no-brainer.
Tyler Naquin, Indians (Late) – While Miguel Gonzalez was a starting pitcher to target bats against, Jhoulys Chacin is the starting pitcher to target bats against on the evening slate. There’s no question that Chacin is the worst pitcher on the slate and in the worst situation. An argument can be made for Michael Pineda as well but Chacin will be pitching on the road, in an extreme negative ballpark shift for him against an explosive offense with their ace (Corey Kluber) on the mound. Vegas lists Cleveland as -220 favorites for a reason, well multiple reasons, and many of those include the Indians bats exploding. The issue with this slate becomes the pitching is a higher priority than the hitting so you have to take what you can get in the bats department. The cheapest of the Indians stud bats is Tyler Naquin and he’s a nice way to get exposure to the top offense. Crazily, Naquin actually leads the team in both wOBA (.407) and ISO (.283) against RHP with a .317/.369/.600 slash line. Since he bats in the lower half of the order, he frequently goes overlooked. I doubt his ownership is low in this game though so make sure to fit him alongside the aces in order to maximize upside.
Kole Calhoun, Angels (Late) – The key to this slate is going to be finding the single hitters who produce against upper-echelon pitchers and one situation that stands out is Kole Calhoun versus Corey Kluber. As mentioned in the last tidbit, the Angels pitcher will experience a negative ballpark shift but that means a much better hitting environment for their lineup as well. Mike Trout is too expensive and Calhoun actually has a nice history against Kluber; he’s 3-10 off him (.300) with a HR and two RBI. Kluber actually possesses some substantial splits whereby RHHs have produced a .242 wOBA off him and LHHs have produced a .272 tally. Specifically at home against LHHs, Kluber has allowed a .281/.336/.430 and .332 wOBA…or the worst of any of his home/road splits to either side of the plate. With Calhoun’s price depreciated due to a matchup against a solid opponent, he has a chance to provide some solid value.
Jon Lester, Cubs (Late) – With so few games on the late slate, and most featuring teams throwing out one of their top two starters, determining which to use is difficult. Corey Kluber is listed as a -220 favorite but faces an Angels team that only strikes out 15.0-percent of the time versus RHP so his upside is quite limited. Steven Wright will square off against the Yankees in Fenway Park as a big favorite (-164) but his results have been sporadic recently so he’s best saved for GPPs. So if looking for a top starter to roster, Jon Lester wins by default. His opponent, the Cardinals, rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, AVG and OBP against LHP, and this is a trend that has carried over from last season. Other than Stephen Piscotty and Matt Holliday, most of their better hitters are either left-handed or simply prefer hitting righties. Furthermore, the Cardinals don’t possess a true running threat so his Achilles Heel likely will not even be taken advantage of in this matchup. This is simply a safe spot to deploy Lester in both cash games and GPPs.
Danny Duffy, Royals (Late) – Danny Duffy is developing into an upper-echelon starter in the Major Leagues so it’s time to hop on the bandwagon. Even if you have not rostered him yet, Thursday evening is a prime opportunity as he’ll take his 2.97 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 10.30 K/9 into a matchup at home against the White Sox. Unsurprisingly, Kansas City is listed as -164 favorites in a game with an 8.0 run over/under but Duffy is more like a -600 shot to put together a solid fantasy performance. He’ll face a team that rates as neutral-to-below average in nearly every sabermetric category against LHP and rank in the bottom 10 of BB rate, hard hit percentage and line drive percentage. Duffy relies heavily on fly ball outs (33.6-percent GB rate) and has struggled with the HR ball at bit because of it (1.09 HR/9) but the White Sox struggle to hit the ball hard. Therefore, this matchup completely suits Duffy’s skill set and he’s my favorite pitching play of the entire day.
Jose Berrios, Twins (Early) – First off, Noah Syndergaard stands out as the top starting pitcher on the early slate by far. While bats are aplenty on the slate, heading into cash games without Syndergaard locked and loaded into that top spot is a risky proposition because of his incredibly safe floor (-218 favorite and 10.93 K/9). However, in order to fit bats alongside him, risks are going to need to be taken at the SP2 spot. While Jose Berrios is not even favored in this game at home, he faces an Astros team that strikes out at a rate of 23.2-percent versus RHP. Even if the Astros manage to hit him a bit, and Vegas thinks they should considering the 9.0 run over/under, he should possess a safe K floor of around 5-6. If he is able to find a rhythm like he did after the first inning against the Indians on Aug. 1, he could push double-digits in terms of strikeouts. It’s not a safe play but he has a 25-30 fantasy point ceiling and elite skills so it is worth the risk…especially in tournaments. If averse to risk-taking, consider his opponent (Doug Fister) for cash games who is listed as a -121 favorite despite his puny 5.80 K/9.
*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, August 10