Jose Urena seems physically incapable of striking out lefties and it has led to a substantial 1.43 HR/9 against that side of the plate. Asdrubal Cabrera has been red hot and hit four HRs over the past two weeks so it could be blast-off once again. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs, $9,900 – With only three games on the slate Thursday evening, the top few plays on the slate are guaranteed to be heavily owned. One of those studs who would be a mistake to fade is Cubs All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo. He’ll draw a matchup against Jeff Samardzija at home and Samardzija has both fared worse against LHHs and on the road. In 73.1 IP against lefties this year, Samardzija has surrendered 10 HRs (out of 22 total), a .269/.321/.476 slash line and .336 wOBA (compared to .285 to righties). Additionally, Samardzija sports a 4.31 ERA on the road compared to a 3.57 ERA in the extremely pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. On the other hand, Rizzo leads an elite offense in wOBA against RHP (.410) as well as ISO (.273), AVG (.313), OBP (.405) and SLG (.586). With the Cubs listed as -160 favorites at home with a mediocre starter (Mike Montgomery) toeing the mound, the odds makers clearly believe the Cubs offense will keep them in this game…and Rizzo is the prime candidate to inflict damage.
Asdrubal Cabrera, Mets, $9,200 – Over the past 14 days, Asdrubal Cabrera is slashing .447/.476/.868 with four HRs, 11 RBI and a whopping .547 wOBA. His season numbers overall are not nearly as impressive but it’s hard to overlook the recent trend. Clearly, Jose Urena is the worst pitcher on this slate so targeting multiple bats against him is the top priority in cash games. Vegas agrees with the assessment as the Mets’ 4.4 implied run total slightly tops the White Sox for highest on the slate. Judging by Urena’s splits (both this season and for his career), lefties are the preferred plays against him. Not only have lefties hit more HRs than righties against him (eight to three) but they are hitting nearly 30 points higher (.297 to .269) and have produced a wOBA 45 percentage points higher (.366 to .321). Even at this outlandish price tag, Cabrera is the arguably the top play on the team. UPDATE: Cabrera is not in the lineup…use James Loney at an extremely affordable price tag instead.
Curtis Granderson, Mets, $8,100 – One Mets hitter is simply not enough so Curtis Granderson certainly warrants consideration as a left-handed outfielder. Unlike Cabrera, Granderson isn’t exactly on fire as of late, but he is slugging .656 (four HRs) over the past two weeks. In contrast to teammates such as Jose Reyes or Yoenis Cespedes, Granderson is more of a boom-or-bust option. If rostering Granderson, you’re searching for extra-base hits because he’s only hitting .225 against RHP with a 20.6-percent K rate. Amazingly, Urena has struck out right-handed opponents at a 22.7-percent rate compared to just 8.9-percent for left-handers. The lack of punch outs has naturally led to more hard contact and a 1.43 HR/9 to lefties compared to just 0.61 for righties. Retiring Granderson is a much easier proposition when able to get him to swing and miss. Since Urena does not possess that attribute in his skill set, look for Granderson to put his .228 ISO against RHP on full display.
Adam Eaton, White Sox, $7,200 – Opposing starter Ervin Santana is listed as the second most expensive starter on the slate so many are just going to glance over the bats against him. If so, they’ll miss the incredibly affordable price tag on Adam Eaton. Despite allowing a worse ERA at home (3.76) compared to on the road (3.29), Santana has actually limited hard contact more effectively at home (.276 in Target Field compared to .313 on the road). Furthermore, right-handers have enjoyed more success against Santana to the tune of 10 HRs and a .308 wOBA (versus five HRs and .279 wOBA to lefties). Even with those factors working against Eaton, the skill set are simply too valuable for the price tag. First of all, Eaton is a career 5-13 (.385) off Santana with an average exit velocity of 93.8mph on his eight balls put in play. By comparison, Nelson Cruz leads the league in average exit velocity at 95.4mph…and David Ortiz averages 93.9mph. Also, Eaton’s .341 wOBA ranks second among regulars on the White Sox behind only Jose Abreu. Eaton is hitting the ball hard 30.6-percent of the time against the handedness so the consistent hard contact against Santana is not an outlier. At this cost, there is simply no reason to pass.
Jose Quintana, White Sox, $20,700 – Active Twins hitters are slashing .235/.299/.352 against Jose Quintana in 230 career ABs and Quintana will head into Thursday evening as a small -113 road favorite. The 4.0 implied runs for the Twins would be unappetizing for an expensive pitcher on most slates but there isn’t much to choose from with only three games. One enticing aspect of the matchup is the Twins 22.2-percent K rate against LHP. Another is Robbie Grossman appears to be ailing from an oblique issue which always tend to linger. Grossman is slashing a hefty .347/.429/.561 against lefties in 98 ABs this year. If he were to be held out of the lineup tonight, the matchup would drastically improve for Quintana. Assuming he sits, a case can be made for Quintana as the top overall play on the slate.
Jacob deGrom, Mets, $17,600 – I used the terminology “a case can be made” for Quintana in the final sentence of his tidbit because there is a strong case to be made for Jacob deGrom as well. Over the past two weeks, only three hitters on the Marlins with at least 30 ABs have hit over .219: Xavier Scruggs (.333), J.T. Realmuto (.279) and Martin Prado (.264). As a whole, the Marlins rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate and hard hit percentage and are just an overall unimposing offense without Giancarlo Stanton. Meanwhile, deGrom has been dominant at home: 1.89 ERA, .191/.257/.307 slash line, .249 wOBA and 0.59 HR/9 rate. The 3.2 implied runs for the Marlins are by far the lowest on the slate and deGrom is by far the heaviest favorite. Quintana makes sense as a pivot, or a complement if afraid of dipping down in pitcher salary, but deGrom certainly rates as the safest pitcher on the slate by far.
Mike Montgomery, Cubs, $8,000 – By default, Mike Montgomery is the only value pitcher on the slate worth considering. He basically costs you nothing and opened as a -160 favorite. However, the potential downside is substantial in the matchup. For one, the Giants only strike out at an 18.0-percent rate against LHP. Secondly, Montgomery has yet to eclipse 5.0 IP as a starter on the Cubs so his leash is likely short if gets in trouble. Lastly, his career 7.43 K/9 isn’t exactly overly impressive so his K upside in the matchup might be three total. If you can stomach all the potential downside, the defense behind him is solid and his offense will likely provide run support. If he lasts five innings, he should have an excellent shot at a win. None of the other cheap starters are even a little enticing so he is literally the only way to open up salary to fit the big bats. Are you feeling lucky, punk? Well, do ya?
*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, August 31