Martin Prado is quietly putting together a monster season against LHP so a favorable matchup against Clayton Richard should only solidify the need to roster him. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Carlos Santana, Indians, $9,200 – One statistic jumps off the page when analyzing opposing starter A.J. Griffin: he has allowed a 43.3-percent hard hit rate to LHHs. In other words, more than four out of every 10 balls off the bats of left-handers are hit hard nearly one out of four is a line drive (24.1-percent line drive rate). Those are atrocious numbers for any pitcher but especially one pitching in a hitter-friendly environment such as Texas. Earlier in the year, Griffin was getting away with relying almost solely on fly ball outs (31.2-percent GB rate) but he has suffered through regression in the second half (5.87 ERA). The Cleveland roster is full of formidable LHHs so it’s hard to imagine Griffin managing even a respectable start on Saturday evening. Carlos Santana is the prime candidate to take advantage of Griffin’s struggles as he ranks second to only Tyler Naquin in wOBA against RHP with a .368 tally. Furthermore, he owns a .274 ISO, .240/.352/.514 slash line and notable 38.0-percent hard hit rate against the handedness. Griffin allows hard contact and Santana produces it so this is a perfect opportunity for the Indians first baseman to put his power on display.
Martin Prado, Marlins, $8,800 – Sure Paul Goldschmidt leads baseball in wOBA against LHP this season with Jose Altuve a close second but would you have guessed (without looking) that Martin Prado’s .458 ranks third? The guy simply never strikes out (9.4-percent) and squares up nearly every pitch headed his way (28.6-percent line drive rate). Amazingly, Prado is slashing .431/.508/.578 against southpaws in 109 ABs…aka a sample size that is becoming extensive. On the flip side, probable starter Clayton Richard has posted some ugly numbers beginning with his 5.13 BB/9 rate. Additionally, he currently sports a 4.44 ERA, 4.70 FIP, 4.73 xFIP, 1.71 WHIP and 6.15 K/9. While Richard hasn’t allowed much hard contact (23.9-percent) and is forcing opponents to pound the ball into the ground (69.0-percent GB rate), he has pitched out of the bullpen for a majority of the season. Essentially he was placed into games in favorable situations for him out of the bullpen whereas now he has to face everybody. His career hard hit percentage (31.0-percent) suggests hitters will start to smoke the ball when they see him more often and it should begin with the Marlins. Start both Prado and Marcell Ozuna with confidence in all formats.
Starling Marte, Pirates, $10,400 – Probable starter Jimmy Nelson’s career numbers suggest left-handers have enjoyed more success against him (.354 wOBA) than right-handers (.300 wOBA). However, the same has not held true in the 2016 season as RHHs have actually managed a superior wOBA (.345) than LHHs (.341). This could be an anomaly due to small sample size or it could be related to a shift of Nelson’s pitching philosophy. Regardless, the numbers do not lie and so I am going to trust them mostly because Starling Marte’s speed makes the most sense for this matchup anyways. What does that mean? Well, Nelson has already allowed 24 bases this season which ranks second worst behind only Noah Syndergaard (40). Therefore, players with any semblance of speed can reasonably be expected to attempt a stolen base against Nelson. Not only does Marte lead the team in steals (43) but he’s the only player on the roster with more than 16 steals. Marte possesses both power and speed upside in this matchup. As long as he reaches first base once, he will almost assuredly produce enough fantasy points to make rostering him worthwhile in cash games. With that being said, he is start-able everywhere.
Adam Duvall, Reds, $9,600 – Although Chase Field isn’t Coors Field, it is still one of the game’s top hitting environment. Daily fantasy players should love using hitters enjoying a positive ballpark shift to Chase Field especially considering the ballpark’s over/unders almost always push 10 runs by default. Saturday’s matchup between the Reds and Diamondbacks is no different; the reds are listed as -104 road favorites in a game with a projected 9.5 over/under. Anthony DeSclafani is clearly the superior pitcher in the matchup so it’s likely the Reds produce a majority of the runs in this game. Although Zack Godley’s splits are rather normal (with lefties producing a higher wOBA), right-handers have hit five of the eight HRs he has allowed. Also, they are slashing .262/.308/.444 against him. Those numbers get even worse at home as Godley has allowed a .290/.359/.518 slash line and .370 wOBA in Chase Field so far this season. Joey Votto leads the team in wOBA against RHP handily (.420 wOBA) so he is the safe play but Adam Duvall is the GPP preference. Why? He is right-handed but ranks second on the team with a .343 wOBA against RHP and has hit a team-high 22 HRs against the handedness. Facing a bad pitcher in a fantastic hitters’ park, now is as good of a time as any for Duvall to hit number 23.
Noah Syndergaard, Mets, $24,000 – In a previous tidbit, it was mentioned that Noah Syndergaard has allowed a league-worst 40 stolen bases so far this season. In his upcoming matchup with the Phillies, that probably won’t matter because they will not be on base much. The Phillies rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, AVG, OBP, hard hit rate and line drive percentage while striking out at a hefty 22.5-percent rate. Meanwhile, Syndergaard’s 10.76 K/9 rate ranks fifth best among qualified starting pitchers, behind only Jose Fernandez, Robbie Ray, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Unsurprisingly, Syndergaard opened as a heavy -223 favorite at home and he is clearly the safest pitcher on the slate by a large margin.
David Price, Red Sox, $19,200 – Beyond Lorenzo Cain, no hitter in the Royals lineup is particularly scary. Consequently, Vegas’ assessment of listing David Price as a -164 home favorite against fellow stud Danny Duffy holds weight. While the Red Sox offense ranks second in wOBA against LHP, the Royals rank 16th. Hell, Kansas City always ranks in the bottom 10 of BB rate, OBP and hard hit percentage. Price will head into this game amidst a streak of three consecutive quality starts and he has produced a 3.21 ERA since the All-Star Break overall. While Price has actually pitched worse at home (4.25 ERA, .322 wOBA allowed at home compared to 3.76 ERA, .296 wOBA allowed on the road), no team has produced a lower wOBA in the second half so far than the Royals. This is the battle of a hot pitcher versus a cold offense so the advantage clearly goes to Price.
Dallas Keuchel, Astros, $17,700 – If you’ve read this article before, you’ve heard me to refer to hitters as “two separate” hitters in terms of facing righties versus lefties. Well, Dallas Keuchel is now going on two straight seasons of pitching like an ace at home versus an ERA nearly two runs worse on the road. This year alone, Keuchel has allowed a .233/.278/.355 slash line, .275 wOBA and measly 26.0-percent hard hit rate in Minute Maid Park. After smoking LHP in 2015, the Rays production against the handedness has fallen off a cliff. In fact, only the Yankees sport a lower wOBA against lefties among all American League (AL) teams. As if that weren’t enough, the Rays also rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG, OBP and hard hit rate while striking out at the highest rate of any AL team. In tune, Keuchel possesses more upside than per usual especially considering he has struck out exactly seven batters in three consecutive starts. Expect him to push double-digit strikeouts while stringing together a quality start so he is an upper-echelon option in both cash games and GPPs.
*Stats are accurate as of Friday, August 26