Franc-ly Speaking

All hitters are in play against gas can James Shields and Maikel Franco certainly is no exception. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.

Infield:

Wilson Ramos, Nationals, $7,800 (Late) – Whenever the Nationals face a left-hander, the jerk reaction is (rightfully) to go and roster Jayson Werth. While Werth leads the team in wOBA, SLG and hard hit percentage, Wilson Ramos leads the team with a .329 ISO against LHP. In fact, he isn’t far behind Werth in terms of wOBA (.454 compared to Ramos’ .415) and SLG (.650 compared to Ramos’ .647). Currently sporting a .318/.375/.647 slash line against lefties, Ramos is certainly in play for cash games, but he rates as an elite GPP play. On FantasyDraft, most actively avoid rostering catchers simply because they do not have to but then guys like Ramos and the recently en fuego Gary Sanchez go drastically under-owned. Considering opposing starter Wade Miley has allowed 18 HRs and a .364 wOBA to opposing RHHs, Ramos is an elite play in all formats, and the Nationals stack (including Werth) is firmly in play as one of the top three or so on the slate.

Maikel Franco, Phillies, $9,200 (Late) – Ah, James Shields, we meet again. A string of luck brought Shields some good fortune in the month of July (1.78 ERA) but he has since fallen off a cliff (17.36 August ERA). This terrible month comes on the heels of a horrendous June where he registered a miserable 11.07 ERA. Since the All-Star Break, Shields is allowing an outrageous amount of hard contact (39.6-percent hard hit rate), not missing bats (4.04 K/9), walking too many (3.79) and struggling to keep the ball in the ball park (2.78 HR/9). In all seriousness, he might be the worst pitcher in baseball right now and you have to take advantage every single time out. Maikel Franco leads the Phillies with 15 HRs against RHP so far this year and sports a 25.7-percent line drive rate against the handedness. If Shields isn’t going to force him to swing and miss, he’s going to hit the ball a long way. Do not be shocked if Franco goes deep in this matchup.

Outfield:

Kris Bryant, Cubs, $10,400 (Early) – On Wednesday, there are five games on the early slate, and the offenses are highlighted by the Cubs against Paul Clemens. Here are Clemens’ 2016 totals so far: 4.82 ERA, 6.95 FIP, 5.72 xFIP, 1.58 WHIP, 41.0-percent GB rate, 2.41 HR/9, 4.82 BB/9 and 6.51 K/9 rate. An ongoing trend in Clemens’ career is the intense reverse splits he has surrendered. In 21.0 IP against RHHs this season, Clemens has allowed eight HRs (out of 10 total) to go along with a .310/.398/.655 slash line and .434 wOBA. Meanwhile, Kris Bryant is amidst a possible MVP season and has posted gaudy numbers against RHPs: .395 wOBA, .251 ISO, .296/.384/.547 slash line and a team-leading 42.3-percent hard hit rate. Even Petco Park can’t contain a mismatch of this magnitude and Bryant should be the top priority to roster of any hitter on the early slate.

Odubel Herrera, Phillies, $9,600 (Late) – One opposing hitter against James Shields simply isn’t enough and even the lowly Phillies should be able to get it done against this gas can. The aforementioned Franco leads the team in HRs but Odubel Herrera leads the Phillies in wOBA (.362), AVG (.303) and OBP (.381) against RHP. Furthermore, Herrera has stolen a team-high 15 bases against right-handers so the matchup would become all the more enticing if Omar Narvaez would draw the start because he has yet to throw out an opposing runner. Herrera is a five-tool player and this matchup presents an opportunity for him to display any and all of his skills. Lock and load him for cash games and do not sleep on Aaron Altherr in GPPs as well. Tonight is one of the rare times a full Phillies stack is worthy of legitimate consideration.

Pitcher:

Marco Estrada, Blue Jays, $16,800 (Late) – Ever felt so comfortable in a certain atmosphere, maybe a first date spot where you know the bartender, that you just perform better in that environment? That appears to be the case with Marco Estrada except we’re talking about his home ballpark (Rogers Centre). After performing much better at home last year, Estrada’s ERA at home this year (2.75) is nearly a run better than on the road (3.68). Additionally, he has allowed very little hard contact considering neither side of the plate has bested a .276 wOBA against him. His opponent, the Angels, rank in the bottom half of wOBA, ISO, BB rate, OBP, hard hit rate and line drive percentage against RHP. While they do not strike out much, they don’t hit the ball with a ton of authority (other than Mike Trout) so this could present an opportunity for Estrada to pitch deep into the game. As icing on the cake, I expect the Blue Jays to provide Estrada with some serious offense as Matt Shoemaker has struggled as of late away from his home ballpark. Estrada is a prime SP1 candidate for cash games.

Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees, $21,000 (Early) – On paper, this matchup does not rate incredibly favorably; the Mariners rank in the top 10 of wOBA, wRC+, AVG and OBP while only striking out at a 19.0-percent rate. However, Masahiro Tanaka will experience an extreme positive ballpark shift heading from hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium to the most pitcher-friendly park in the American League (Safeco Field). It also should be noted active Mariners hitters have slashed .162/.205/.324 against Tanaka in 74 career ABs (admittedly a small sample size). Probably the strongest argument for Tanaka is his 2.28 ERA away from home this season. Unlike pitching at home, this ballpark will forgive some of his mistakes, so I expect a solid game out of him despite squaring off against a formidable opponent.

Carlos Martinez, Cardinals, $17,600 (Late) – Although Carlos Martinez has performed worse at home this season, he opened as a favorite in a game with projected 7.5 run over/under. His numbers since the All-Star Break look mediocre but that’s because of one poor outing against the Braves at home on Aug. 6. Other than that one poor start, each of his five home starts prior resulted in quality starts (and two resulted in wins). Basically, I’m willing to throw the home/road splits out the window in this game due to the Mets ranking in the bottom 10 of wOBA, BB rate, AVG and OBP against RHP…all while striking out at 21.1-percent against the handedness. Also, Martinez comes at a discount to the top starters on the slate who all feel overpriced and poor points-per-dollar investments. At worst, you’ll save money at starting pitcher and spend up on bats, which increases your lineup’s upside anyhow.

*Stats are accurate as of Tuesday, August 23

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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