Only four pitchers have produced a superior K rate to that of Robbie Ray and he’ll face a strikeout-prone Padres offense tonight. Fire him up in both cash games and GPPs. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Nolan Arenado, Rockies, $10,400 – On Saturday, the Cubs will move Mike Montgomery at least temporarily into the starting rotation (with the news of John Lackey hitting the disabled list) and let him make his first start with the team. That’s not exactly very kind of them considering the game will be held in Coors Field. His arms isn’t stretched out, and the atmosphere will obviously not be in his favor, so he could be in for a long (short?) evening. Without Trevor Story and Mark Reynolds (both on the disabled list), the one real threat left in the Rockies lineup to crush left-handers is Nolan Arenado. Want to hear some ridiculous numbers? At home against LHP (63 ABs), Arenado is slashing a video game-esque .349/.446/.714 with a .365 ISO, .471 wOBA and 39.3-percent hard hit rate. This isn’t a knock on Montgomery’s skill set, as he’s actually a respectable pitcher, but retiring Arenado multiple times is going to be a tall task. Advantage: Arenado.
Trea Turner, Nationals, $9,600 – Opposing starter Tyrell Jenkins is the epitome of a gas can. Not only does he not miss bats (4.11 K/9) but he walks way too many (5.87 BB/9), gives up the long ball (1.57 HR/9) and somehow has only allowed a .247 BABIP which is bound to rise (33.8-percent hard hit rate). His statistics are just a mess and a majority of the damage has come off of the bats of right-handers: 29.2 IP against them and he’s allowed six HRs (out of eight total) to complement a .250/.349/.519 slash line and .366 wOBA. Furthermore, if Tyler Flowers draws the start, he’s one of the Major League’s worst throwing catchers so the Nationals could be off to the races. All of these statistics align perfectly with the skill set of Trea Turner and suggest it could be a monster day for the Nationals leadoff hitter. In a limited sample size at the big league level (131 ABs), the guy has hit for both average (.313) and power (.527 SLG) and has stolen 13 bases in 31 games. This matchup presents an opportunity for him to put his entire five tool skill set on display so he should be a lock for cash games due to his high floor (and high ceiling).
Yasmany Tomas, Diamondbacks, $10,200 – Yasmany Tomas has smoked the living hell out of the ball since the All-Star Break and is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. A few days ago, I recommended him against a left-hander and he damn near hit three HRs in that contest (one went off the wall and ended as a triple). His updated stats in the second half are as follows: .314/.345/.733 slash line, .419 ISO, .442 wOBA and an insane 47.6-percent hard hit rate! Nearly half of the balls leaving his bat are considered to be hit hard recently and he strongly favors the platoon split against southpaws. Cubs Manager Joe Maddon refers to players like Tomas as “two different hitters” because the wOBA is more than 100 percentage points higher against LHP (.439) compared to RHP (.318). Now Tomas and co. will square off against a pitcher designated for assignment by the Cubs…a team that was in need of a left-handed reliever and Clayton Richard couldn’t even stick in that role. Like Jenkins, Richard walks too many (5.31 BB/9), doesn’t miss bats (5.75 K/9) and just generally isn’t overly talented. This should be bombs away for the Diamondbacks bats and both Tomas and Paul Goldschmidt are top priorities.
Lorenzo Cain, Royals, $9,000 – Since returning from injury, Lorenzo Cain has been rather quiet. He has yet to hit a bomb in 68 ABs in the second half of the season and has only managed a .269 wOBA. Still, this guy has not forgotten how to hit against LHP. In total, Cain is slashing .385/.437/.615 against lefties this season compared to just .254/.295/.337 against righties. Clearly, there is a substantial difference and this is just an ongoing trend for his career as he’s produced a .359 wOBA against lefties in 641 ABs. So when Hector Santiago toes the mound on Saturday, Cain will be ready. Furthermore, Santiago has already surrendered 20 HRs to RHHs this year to go along with a .337 wOBA. Among qualified pitchers, only 12 have allowed ground balls at a lower percentage than Santiago’s 37.9-percent. Essentially, this is a prime matchup for Cain to hit his first bomb in a while against a pitcher who rarely retires opposing hitters via the ground ball. Certainly, Cain has a chance for extra bases and he should go overlooked considering his superb skill set against the handedness.
Max Scherzer, Nationals, $26,400 – For a team that doesn’t strike out much, Reynaldo Lopez sure found a way to miss their bat on Thursday night as he struck out double-digit Braves. A few days later, it will be Max Scherzer’s turn against a Braves team that ranks in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+ and ISO against RHP. The Achilles Heel for Scherzer all season long has been his propensity to give up the long ball and only four National League teams sport a lower ISO tally than the Braves. In other words, it’s doubtful this team is able to take advantage of his weakness. Therefore, it’s fair to expect smooth sailing, especially with the offense matched up against a subpar opposing pitcher. Expect a quality start where Scherzer flirts with double-digit strikeouts and has an excellent chance to finish with a win. He’s a great SP1 to build around in cash games assuming value hitters emerge as lineups come out.
Felix Hernandez, Mariners, $22,200 – Just to be honest, Felix Hernandez is a guy experiencing a steep diminishment in skills. Once upon a time, Hernandez was knocking on the door of 10 strikeouts per nine innings and this season he has regressed all the way to just 7.74. Additionally, he is walking a career-worst 3.96 batters per nine and his average fastball velocity is a career-low 90.4mph…so again, this isn’t the Cy Young version of a once great pitcher. Nevertheless, Hernandez will draw a matchup against the team striking out at the highest rate (25.9-percent) versus RHP: the Brewers. It doesn’t hurt that Safeco Field enhances strikeout totals for pitchers and Hernandez has allowed a wOBA nearly 40 percentage points lower in the friendly confines of home. While I do not typically target Hernandez any more, this prime spot is hard to overlook in any and all formats.
Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks, $20,000 – Quietly, Robbie Ray’s 10.89 K/9 ranks fifth amongst all qualified starters, behind only Jose Fernandez, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Noah Syndergaard. Essentially, the guy possesses a high floor normally due to the strikeouts and now he’ll experience one of the best possible park shifts he could ask for when he heads to Petco Park. Due to the losses of Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton, the offense is not nearly as potent against left-handers as it was a few weeks ago. The current construction of the Padres offense ranks in the bottom half of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP and line drive rate while striking out at a whopping 24.8-percent rate. Considering how often they swing and miss, this could be a double-digit strikeout outing for Ray, which deems him an excellent alternative to either of the aforementioned starters.
*Stats are accurate as of Friday, August 19