One might say Kris Bryant is “Da Bomb” or will likely hit one in a matchup against a poor left-hander in the hitters’ haven of magical Coors Field. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Adrian Beltre, Rangers, $8,700 – Every time Drew Smyly takes the mound, right-handed hitters from the opposing team emerge as high upside plays. Why? Smyly has already allowed 18 HRs to RHHs this season to go along with a .253/.312/.450 slash line and .323 wOBA. In nine career ABs versus Smyly, Adrian Beltre has produced five hits (including a HR) and hit the ball at an average velocity of 96.1mph. By comparison, Keon Broxton leads the league in average batted ball velocity with a 96.1mph tally (Nelson Cruz ranks second at 95.5mph). Essentially, we’re looking at a player who has consistently hit the ball hard (in a small sample size) against a HR-prone pitcher. As if that weren’t enough, Beltre ranks second on the team with a .413 wOBA against LHP and strikes out at the lowest percentage against the handedness on the team. Smyly relies heavily on the strikeout to retire opposing hitters but strikes out lefties at a 31.1-percent rate compared to just 21.2-percent rate to righties. If he is not able to induce a swing-and-miss from Beltre, he is destined to do some serious damage.
Javier Baez, Cubs, $9,600 – I cannot write up Javier Baez without mentioning the Joe Maddon quote on him where he said Baez “is two different hitters” against pitchers of each handedness. While Baez has slashed .260/.282/.425 against RHHs with a 16.4-percent line rate and 26.9-percent K rate, those numbers kick up to .323/.394/.516 against LHHs to go along with a 23.5-percent line drive rate and 20.2-percent K rate. For the season, Baez’s .389 wOBA against LHP ranks slightly ahead of known lefty-killers such as Ian Kinsler, Edwin Encarnacion and even Nolan Arenado. On Sunday, Jorge De La Rosa and his .371 wOBA allowed to RHHs will take the mound against a Cubs team who rank second in wOBA against LHP. This could be a bloodbath and you’ll want as much exposure to Cubs right-handers as possible in cash games while still being able to roster pitchers with some upside.
Kris Bryant, Cubs, $10,800 – Did I mention you want exposure to Cubs bats? The Cubs are listed as -147 road favorites in a game with an 11 run over/under. Typically, Vegas is just going through the rhythms by listing a projecting a game in the high altitude with double-digit runs but this game really does project as high-scoring…at least for the Cubs. To this point, Kris Bryant owns a .434 wOBA, .311 ISO, 12.7-percent BB rate, .318/.420/.629 slash line and 41.2-percent hard hit rate against LHP this season. Not only has De La Rosa allowed a .290/.379/.482 slash line to RHHs but he has walked 4.50 righties per nine innings as well. In other words, Bryant is a threat to reach base in each AB against him with upside for a bomb in each as well. No player has more upside on Sunday and he should be a staple in all cash lineups (at the very least).
Seth Smith, Mariners, $6,000 – Fortunately for the Mariners, the Brewers keep tossing out gas can right-handers against them this weekend. After facing Wily Peralta last night, Matt Garza will toe the mound today. Overall, Garza sports less than ideal numbers: 4.87 ERA, 4.69 FIP, 4.95 xFIP, 1.55 WHIP, 3.48 BB/9 and 5.01 K/9. Most of the damage done against Garza has come off the bats of left-handed hitters as they have hit five of the seven HRs he has surrendered to complement a .378 wOBA. While Safeco Field is no ordinary opponents’ park, because it rates much more pitcher-friendly, he still has allowed a 5.40 ERA on the road (compared to 3.91 at home). Factoring in the negative league shift, Garza is in a world of trouble against an upper-echelon Mariners offense. Robinson Cano is the cream of the crop amongst their lefties but Seth Smith hits second and always comes at a significant bargain. Although he will probably get pinch hit for later in the game, Smith has three excellent opportunities to produce against a subpar opponent.
Corey Kluber, Indians, $22,800 – None of the top pitchers slated to start on this slate draw ideal matchups by any stretch of the imagination. Justin Verlander will face the best offense in terms of runs per game, Noah Syndergaard faces the pesky Giants on the road and Corey Kluber pitches against the Blue Jays. Although the reputation of the Blue Jays hitters are strong, their numbers are simply middle of the road against RHP this year. They rank 13th in wOBA but also rank in the bottom 10 of AVG and line drive rate while striking out at the highest percentage of any American League team against the handedness (24.7-percent). The numbers suggest Kluber should possess a high strikeout floor in a ballpark where he has produced a 2.96 ERA this year. Notably, Kluber surrenders a miniscule amount of hard contact against opposing RHHs (16.1-percent line drive rate) and most of the Blue Jays best hitters fit the bill (Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion). With Jose Bautista on the shelf, this lineup isn’t quite as difficult to navigate, and Kluber is listed as a -152 favorite in a 7.5 run game. Spending up for a pitcher against the Blue Jays doesn’t feel right but the numbers dictate this is a solid play on the slate at hand.
Gio Gonzalez, Nationals, $17,200 – If needing a cheaper pitcher to pair with Kluber in order to fit bats, do not overlook Gio Gonzalez against the lowly Braves. While I consistently describe their offense as “pesky” against RHP, they do not deserve such a title against LHP. They rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO and the all-important BB rate category. Gio Gonzalez’s Achilles Heel for both this season and his career has been the fact that he walks too many hitters. If the Braves aren’t going to accept the free passes he tries to award them, they are going to have a long day. While this offense doesn’t project as poorly as prior to the acquisition of Matt Kemp, they still aren’t exactly a juggernaut. Start Gonzalez will confidence in any and all formats.
Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox, $15,300 – An under-the-radar play I really am intrigued by on this slate is the recently red hot Eduardo Rodriguez. In 39.1 IP since the All-Star Break, Rodriguez has produced a 2.52 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and has allowed a measly .228/.287/.345 slash line and .275 wOBA. Most importantly, Rodriguez is striking out batters at career-high levels (8.92 K/9). Hell, that total is up to 9.97 per nine innings in the month of August. If Rodriguez, a once top prospect for the Red Sox, is finally realizing his potential then this price tag is a steal…even as an underdog on the road against a pitcher he’s unlikely to pick up a win against (Justin Verlander). The Tigers rank in the bottom half of wOBA, wRC+, AVG, OBP and line drive rate while striking out at a rate of 22.3-percent. This is simply a case of me believing in the talent more so than both the odds-makers and the pricing algorithm. He’s a best fit for tournaments but I think he is a borderline elite GPP play. UPDATE: Eduardo Rodriguez has been scratched from his Sunday start and Henry Owens will start in his place. While I have no interest in Owens, Luis Perdomo and Vincent Velasquez emerge as notable GPP-only plays.
*Stats are accurate as of Saturday, August 20