The finger issue Freddie Freeman has been battling recently has not slowed him down so start him without hesitation in a fantastic matchup against Archie Bradley in Chase Field. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Freddie Freeman, Braves, $10,500 – Heading into Monday, Freddie Freeman was amidst a 10 game hit streak and had an average batted-ball distance of 274 feet, an exit velocity of 97mph and a hard-hit rate of 62-percent over the course of his last 13 games (source: FantasyLabs). All Freeman did was extend his hitting streak with a first inning HR in one of the best hitters’ park in the MLB. Yet again on Tuesday, the Braves hitters will enjoy the extreme positive park shift to Chase Field, except this time they’ll square off against Archie Bradley. Not only has Bradley struggled mightily at home this season (6.25 ERA, .358 wOBA allowed and 25.0-percent line drive rate) but he has been absolutely lit up by left-handers to the tune of a .324/.424/.563 slash line and .415 wOBA allowed. Freeman naturally leads the Braves in wOBA against RHP with a .382 tally to complement his .272 ISO and 41.7-percent hard hit rate. The guy is simply the top priority amongst all hitters on the slate as literally every factor is working in his favor.
Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays, $9,300 – The pricing algorithm strangely priced Edwin Encarnacion as more expensive than Josh Donaldson on Tuesday despite Donaldson’s career .413 wOBA against the handedness. Maybe the algorithm is taking into account the few days in a row Donaldson missed over the weekend but he returned to the lineup on Sunday. It has been business as usual this year for Donaldson as he leads the team in wOBA against LHP (.418) and has only struck out at a 13.5-percent rate against the handedness. After a respectable run at the end of July, opposing starter Tyler Skaggs has regressed mightily. Over his last three starts, he hasn’t managed more than 4.80 fantasy points due to allowing at least four ERs in each of those games. In a matchup between one of the game’s best lefty-mashers and a struggling left-hander, the advantage certainly goes to Donaldson.
Stephen Piscotty, Cardinals, $10,400 – On a full 15 game slate, it’s easy to overlook the Cardinals offense with an implied total of 4.9 runs (sixth most on the slate). However, probable starter Jonathan Niese has struggled all year to get anyone out…literally. Niese has allowed a .296/.374/.500 slash line and .375 wOBA to lefties while surrendering a .290/.352/.532 slash line and .371 wOBA to righties. It’s to the point where all hitters with any semblance of potential are in play against him always. One player with a hell of lot more potential than just a “semblance” is the Cardinals team-leader in wOBA: Stephen Piscotty. With a .418 wOBA, .274 ISO and .308/.407/.583 slash line against LHP so far this season, he’s the prime suspect to take advantage of this elite matchup. While he doesn’t come cheap, he easily rates as one of the favorites to go deep, and therefore should be a cash game staple.
Dexter Fowler, Cubs, $7,600 – In order to fit some of the ultra-expensive bats, salary is going to need to be saved at some point. For whatever reason, National League MVP candidate Dexter Fowler is priced in the mid-$7,000s in a matchup against an opponent who has only thrown two quality starts in his last 11 games. Strangely, Christian Friedrich has fared worse at home in one of the Major League’s most pitcher-friendly environments. Even though it doesn’t make much sense, the numbers don’t lie, and allowing a wOBA 24 percentage points higher at home is eye-opening. Since the All-Star Break, Friedrich owns a 5.03 ERA, .276/.324/.397 slash line, 1.35 WHIP and .311 wOBA allowed. Meanwhile, Fowler ranks second on the Cubs with a .387 wOBA against LHP to go along with a .293/.402/.495 slash line and 38.3-percent hard hit rate. Although Friedrich really doesn’t allow much power, he still allows a healthy amount of baserunners and base hits. Fowler possesses a high floor on this matchup and needs to be started as a pure price play, if nothing else.
Carlos Rodon, White Sox, $16,800 – If paying up for one pitcher on this slate, Madison Bumgarner is the guy. Rostering a guy priced over $25,000 severely limits the bats you can use on a full slate so it really isn’t a recommended strategy. Also, rostering Jake Arrieta certainly isn’t a recommended strategy after struggling at home against the Brewers and failing to reach 6.0 IP in back-to-back games. Consequently, a duo of mid-tier pitchers is going to make the most sense beginning with Carlos Rodon in one of the best possible matchups for a LHP. Sure the Phillies will gain a designated hitter in U.S. Cellular Field but they rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG, OBP, hard hit rate and line drive percentage. As if that weren’t enough, the Phillies K at a 22.3-percent rate. When Rodon struggles, it usually is due to control, but the Phillies don’t walk much. On days Rodon succeeds, it’s due to racking up the Ks. This matchup is conducive to Rodon’s skill set and I have no problem relying on him as a SP1 in all formats.
Joe Musgrove, Astros, $15,000 – Doug Fister dominated the Pirates last night and it should be Joe Musgrove’s turn tonight. After beginning his big league career with three dominant starts, Musgrove was finally smoked in a difficult environment (at Baltimore) in his last start. Blips on the radar happen to every pitcher and it’s time for Musgrove to get back to his domination. Hell, the dude had excelled in both the minors and majors this season prior to the aforementioned blowup. In 23.2 IP, Musgrove has posted respectable numbers ever with the outlier: 4.18 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 3.43 xFIP, 1.10 WHIP, 1.14 BB/9 and 8.75 K/9 rate. In the second half of the season so far, only the Padres and Blue Jays are hitting for a lower AVG than the Pirates (.236)…oh and their .296 wOBA ranks second to last during that span (behind only the Royals). Especially considering the positive league shift, this is a beatable matchup for a talented, underpriced pitcher.
Jon Gray, Rockies, $14,800 – The last three starts for Jon Gray do not exactly promote confidence but a date with the Brewers on the road is a prime spot for him to rebound in a big way. Only 11 qualified pitchers sport a superior K/9 than Gray’s 9.38 and the Brewers strike out more than any team in baseball (both in total and against RHP). Additionally, the Brewers rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP and line drive rate against the handedness. At this price tag, there isn’t much downside, and it opens up so much salary for upside hitters. The Rodon/Gray pairing in cash doesn’t scream safety but I actually love it on this slate while others waste their money spending up for Arrieta.
*Stats are accurate as of Monday, August 22