Get in the Zone: VottoZone

Joey Votto has been on absolute fire for two months now and draws a matchup against an opponent who has both struggled on the road (7.03 ERA) and against LHHs (.371 wOBA). Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.

Infield:

Corey Seager, Dodgers, $9,900 – Phillies probable starter Jake Thompson has now pitched two games at the Major League level and neither have resulted in a quality start. After allowing six ERs to the Padres in Petco Park through just 4.1 IP, Thompson surrendered three ERs in just 5.0 IP at home against the Rockies last time out. In an extremely small sample size, Thompson has allowed a .316/.435/.526 slash line to LHHs to go along with a .416 wOBA (a sample of 23 total batters faced). When the sample size is this small on a pitcher, I like to look back on his minor league stats (all of Thompson’s are filled with average-to-below-average FIPs) and rely on Vegas’ assessment of the pitcher. In this case, Vegas lists the visiting Dodgers as heavy -160 favorites in a game with a 9.0 run over/under so they obviously like the prospects of the Dodgers bats. Corey Seager is amidst an amazing season where he is hitting .309 with 21 HRs and 56 RBIs. More applicably, he leads the team with a .397 wOBA against RHP to complement his .232 ISO and .329/.383/.561 slash line against the handedness. With the team experiencing a substantial positive ballpark shift, Seager is firmly in play in all formats against a mediocre opposing pitcher at best.

Joey Votto, Reds, $10,200 – The month of August has been kind to Joey Votto so far as he is slashing .429/.500/.653 so far this month with a .224 ISO, .482 wOBA and season-best (of any month) 46.5-percent hard hit rate. Amazingly, all of this follows a month of July in which he slashed .413/.549/.627 to go along with a .213 ISO, .493 wOBA and 39.0-percent hard hit rate. In other words, Votto has been en fuego for quite a while, so you have been missing out if you have been fading him recently. His torrid hitting hasn’t even affected his price that much as he’ll yet again be priced in just his usual ~$10,000 range. Unsurprisingly, Votto has hit for more power at home (12 HRs compared to just seven on the road) in a HR-friendly Great American Ballpark. On Wednesday, the team will square off against Andrew Cashner and his .371 wOBA allowed to LHHs. Furthermore, Cashner has been roasted on the road this season as evident by the 7.03 ERA and 1.54 WHIP partially due to a 1.82 HR/9 rate. If Cashner struggles with the HR ball in general on the road, he will certainly struggle in Cincinnati. Considering his kryptonite comes in the form of LHHs, Votto is in a fantastic spot to put together yet another monster game (which is becoming routine for him).

Outfield:

Yasmany Tomas, Diamondbacks, $9,600 – Yasmany Tomas possesses some of the most substantial splits of any hitter in baseball. Although Tomas has only slashing .252/.282/.458 against RHPs with a .313 wOBA and 19.2-percent line drive rate, he has absolutely ripped LHPs to the tune of a .308/.370/.615 slash line, .408 wOBA and a whopping 25.4-percent line drive rate. Similarly to the likes of Javier Baez, Tomas is simply two different hitters depending on which handedness he is facing. In his top-tier hitting home park of Chase Field, he’ll draw a matchup against Jonathon Niese and his 5.20 ERA. While Niese has fared pretty evenly to each side of the plate in terms of wOBA this season, the numbers equate to those of a gas can (.375 wOBA allowed to LHHs and .372 wOBA allowed to RHHs). In fact, RHHs have already mashed 19 HRs off of Niese and are slugging a hefty .530 against him. Arizona is not a great atmosphere for pitchers who have struggled with the long ball so Niese and his 1.78 HR/9 should be in trouble. Tomas’ has produced amongst the best hard contact numbers of any hitter in baseball since the All-Star Break (45.1-percent hard hit rate) so expect some more smokes to come his bat tonight. He rates as a building block in any and all formats. UPDATE: Yasmany Tomas hit a bomb yet again last night so start this dude and sleep like a baby.

Max Kepler, Twins, $8,400 – Lefties against Mike Foltynewicz are such an easy play at this point in time but they continuously come through so it makes sense to keep going back to the well. After giving up nine long balls and a .401 wOBA to LHHs in 2015, Foltynewicz has only slightly improved to allowing seven HRs (so far) and a .366 wOBA. Both are still substantial totals and it’s hard to ignore the .265/.340/.543 slash line left-handers have managed against him. Meanwhile, Max Kepler has worked his way up the ranks on the Twins offense and now leads the team in each of the following categories against RHP: wOBA (.383), ISO (.299) and SLG (.575)…or basically all of the categories that signify hard contact. Even with the Twins tossing out a subpar starter (Kyle Gibson), they are only listed as minimal underdogs, as Atlanta opened as -104 favorites in a game with an 8.5 run over/under. The Twins offense isn’t one of my main focuses but this ongoing trend cannot be ignored with Foltynewicz and Kepler is clearly the prime candidate to take advantage.

Pitcher:

Yu Darvish, Rangers, $22,200 – Among all pitchers who have thrown at least 50 innings so far this season, Yu Darvish’s 11.60 K/9 ranks eighth. If you remove the relief pitchers from that list, Darvish ranks third amongst starting pitchers behind only Jose Fernandez (12.94) and Lance McCullers (11.78). The man simply has always had a knack for missing bats and therefore putting up dominant fantasy outings. Darvish seems to have found a groove, and while it took him a while to get into it following injury, he has now thrown five quality starts in a row (including at least five Ks in all of those outings). One of those games came against his upcoming opponent (Athletics) where he strung together six innings with just four hits, no walks, two ERs and six Ks. The previous game was played in hitter-friendly Ballpark in Arlington and this game will be as well…and Texas is listed as -205 favorites. A similar performance should be expected as the Athletics still rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, AVG and OBP against RHP. Since losing Josh Reddick, their offense has lost a decent degree of potency against right-handers. There is no better SP1 for cash games than the high-floor, high-ceiling Darvish.

Scott Kazmir, Dodgers, $15,200 – With a fair amount of high upside bats worth using, avoiding a second ace (such as Jon Lester) and spending down a little is the preferred play in all formats. On paper, the worst hitting team against LHP by far is the Phillies; they rank dead last in wOBA, wRC+, OBP, hard hit rate and line drive percentage against the handedness while also ranking in the bottom 10 of ISO, BB rate and AVG. As if that weren’t enough, they strike out at a 22.3-percent rate against southpaws as well…and Scott Kazmir is a strikeout pitcher. With the Dodgers listed as -165 road favorites, Vegas expects a victory from them. In other words, Kazmir rates as a rock solid SP2 in all formats, and could even be relied upon as your staff’s ace if planning to truly go with an offensively loaded roster.

Homer Bailey, Reds, $17,400 – Using pitchers four starts into their recovery from Tommy John Surgery isn’t my favorite play in the world but it’s hard to disregard Homer Bailey’s six inning, 11 K performance the last time out…on the road, no less. Now Bailey will draw a matchup against a Marlins team that doesn’t strike out much but ranks in the bottom half of wOBA, ISO, BB rate and hard hit rate against RHP. Listed as a -121 favorite, Bailey looked like a guy who only needed a few starts to shake off the rust of a long layoff. Giancarlo Stanton hit the disabled list earlier this week so the Marlins offense immediately became a lot less potent. A lot of factors are working in Bailey’s favor but he’s still a risky proposition and the ballpark won’t do him any favors. He’s probably best left for tournaments because of the potential downside but he has a great chance to neutralize a weak opponent (while his offense should provide him with run support as well). If needing the bats, he’s the only cheap starting pitcher I can find with at least some form of cash viability. UPDATE: I wrote this article before pricing came out and Homer Bailey’s price is just too high. David Price is actually only priced as a mid-tier starter despite facing an excellent matchup against an Orioles team that struggles to hit left-handers. Therefore, he is the cheap pitcher to use in order to fit bats in GPPs (other than Kazmir).

*Stats are accurate as of Tuesday, August 16

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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