After homering against C.C. Sabathia last week, why wouldn’t you roster Steve Pearce and his .452 wOBA against LHPs once again in tonight’s matchup? Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Steve Pearce, Orioles, $7,800 – Instead of writing up overly obvious Nolan Arenado at home against a pitcher who struggles to retire opposing RHHs, I decided to get a little more creative. The unintentional theme of this article is players coming off of big games against their upcoming opponent. For example, Steve Pearce led off against C.C. Sabathia on Aug. 28 (Sabathia’s last start) and homered off of him in the sixth inning. However, the real reason to like Pearce is because he is currently sporting a .452 wOBA, .338 ISO, .338/.424/.676 slash line and 43.9-percent hard hit rate against LHP this season. Meanwhile, Sabathia has allowed 14 HRs to RHHs (out of 16 total) and has struggled mightily since the All-Star Break (5.17 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 10 HRs). Clearly Pearce is capable of taking advantage of this exact matchup, and for a hitter with flat-out elite skills against the handedness, he is drastically underpriced.
Josh Harrison, Pirates, $7,200 – Speaking of recently dominating a certain opponent, the Pirates squared off against Jimmy Nelson just last week as well. Considering Nelson has allowed the second most stolen bases (26) of any starting pitcher this season (behind only Noah Syndergaard), it was no surprise Josh Harrison ran on him when he reached base. On Aug. 27, Harrison registered three hits, stole two bases, drove in two runs and scored two runs en route to 27 fantasy points. As long as Harrison reaches base, he will be off the races once again. Harrison doesn’t possess much power against RHP (.352 SLG) so most of his hits will result in singles. In this case, singles are preferable to doubles because they’ll result in eight fantasy points (hit and a steal) compared to just five for a double alone. While expecting 27 fantasy points is probably unreasonable, it’s not unfathomable to think Harrison should reach double-digits at an affordable price yet again. Lock and load him in cash games.
A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks, $7,800 – For an extremely talented player drawing a favorable matchup in Coors Field, the $7,800 salary does not fit the upside. Opposing starter Tyler Chatwood has been dominant on the road (1.82 ERA), but like most, he has not figured out how to consistently succeed in Coors Field. In 68.0 IP at home this season, opponents have managed a 5.43 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, .293/.369/.476 slash line, .362 wOBA and 32.1-percent hard hit rate off of Chatwood. In a limited sample size since returning from the disabled list, A.J. Pollock has hit for a .360 wOBA against right-handers, but produced a similar .369 wOBA against the handedness in a larger sample size last year. In other words, the recent success cannot just be written off and Pollock finally ripped his first homer of the season last night. If he is getting into a groove, then the price tag does not do him justice, and he is going to be a dangerous fade. There is no question Pollock is my favorite hitter on the entire slate.
Miguel Sano, Twins, $7,200 – When James Shields toes the mound, hitters simply must be rostered against him. Okay, so he’s coming off a quality start in Detroit his last time out but the only concern is his recent strikeout spike. Over the course of his last two starts, he has struck out 12 batters in 12.0 IP (six each start) after not striking out six-plus hitters in a start since May 25. The only piece of data I can find that would indicate a recent change is the fact that he started throwing a slow curveball, per Brooks Baseball. Otherwise, his velocity and movement for each pitch are virtually the same and suggest the outlier strikeout performances are simply anomalies. With that being said, Shields has been blasted by RHHs this season to the tune of 20 HRs (out of 32 total), a .298/.363/.573 slash line and .391 wOBA. Although Brian Dozier is the premier play amongst the righties on the Twins (he’s on fire), Miguel Sano still deserves consideration. His kryptonite comes in the form of strikeout pitchers and Shields only Ks RHHs at a rate of 6.64 per nine innings. If he isn’t missing Sano’s bat, expect the Twins slugger to take advantage of Shield’s 39.9-percent hard hit rate against his side of the plate. Sano is amidst a subpar season so he can be difficult to roster at times but this is the perfect matchup for him to put his crazy power on display.
Rich Hill, Dodgers, $22,800 – If rostering Rich Hill, the only real question with the matchup is whether or not he is able to make it through a full start. Actually, the first obstacle is whether or not he actually makes the start. A blister issue has hampered him for well over a month now and led to his last start getting pushed back yet again. Supposedly everything is fine this go-around and Hill cruised to a respectable 20.50 fantasy points in 6.0 IP in his last start (Aug. 24). Now, he’ll face a laboring Padres team against LHP that likely sunk into the bottom 10 of wOBA after their weak performance against Julio Urias (four baserunners in 5.1 IP). Most importantly, the Padres strike out at a rate of 24.0-percent against southpaws and Hill continues to strike out hitters at a fantastic rate (10.21 K/9). As long as Hill starts, doesn’t feel any pain and completes the outing, the output is likely to be monster. Getting there is going to be the hard part and therefore it is tough to trust him outside of GPPs.
Ivan Nova, Pirates, $17,200 – With a game being played in Coors Field, there is no need to roster any of the expensive pitchers anyways because salary relief is going to be necessary. Relaying back to the underlying theme of the article, Nova’s last game came against the Brewers. On Saturday, Nova will once again face the Brewers after shutting them down for just one ER in 6.0 IP on Aug. 28…and that game was played in Miller Park. Nova will now pitch at home and opened as a -183 favorite against Jimmy Nelson in a game with a projected 8.5 run over/under. By converting those lines into implied run projections, Vegas believes the Pirates should win the game 5.0-3.6. No team strikes out at a higher percentage against RHP than the Brewers (27.3-percent) and the 3.6 implied run total is one of the lowest on the slate. While Nova doesn’t possess the same upside as the likes of Hill or Jose Fernandez, he comes at an extreme bargain to them. Expect him to hold his own in this matchup yet again and feel free to rely on him as a SP1 in any format in order to fit expensive (Coors Field) bats.
Kevin Gausman, Orioles, $16,500 – Kevin Gausman has faced the Yankees in four different games this season (three starts) and has straight dominated: 0.98 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, .223/.243/.311 slash line and a ridiculous 8.0 K/BB ratio. In his last start, which came post Gary Sanchez call up mind you, he allowed seven baserunners in seven innings while striking out nine Yankees and allowing zero runs. For some reason, Gausman just has their number (although the same holds true for most RHPs because they rank 11th worst in wOBA against the handedness). While the Yankees don’t strike out too much (19.5-percent K rate), they do rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, AVG and hard hit rate even with Sanchez’s numbers factored in. Gausman and co. opened as -138 favorites in Camden Yards where the hard-throwing righty owns a 2.48 ERA this season. For pitchers, it is a disadvantage for an offense to have seen them recently, but I wouldn’t worry about it in either Nova or Gausman’s cases. Both are in enticing spots once again and can be started in any and all formats.
*Stats are accurate as of Friday, September 2