D.J. LeMahieu now leads all of baseball in AVG and draws a matchup against a fly ball lefty in Coors Field on Monday evening. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Daniel Murphy, Nationals, $10,800 – Paying up for Daniel Murphy in cash games is difficult for multiple reasons. First, Nolan Arenado is priced at the same price and will face a HR-prone lefty in Coors Field. Secondly, there are a few starting pitchers worth paying up for so fitting Murphy into a cash lineup is either going to take concessions at pitcher or on exposure levels to the game being played in the high altitude of Denver. Regardless, rostering Murphy is of the utmost importance due to this elite matchup against 26-year old, middling prospect Ryan Weber. Picked in the 22nd round of the 2009 MLB Draft, Weber has posted mediocre numbers in now two Major League stints other than his respectable GB rate (59.9-percent). Despite forcing opponents to mostly pound the ball into the ground, Weber has allowed more than one HR per inning overall (1.07 HR/9). Nearly all the damage against him have come off the bats of LHHs as they have produced a .330/.380/.590 slash line, .406 wOBA and 1.90 HR/9 rate off of him over the course of his short career. Considering Murphy ranks second among National League qualified hitters in wOBA against RHP (.418), he is the prime suspect to keep the hard contact theme rolling against Weber. While he certainly doesn’t come at a discount, he should be in line for a monster game.
D.J. LeMahieu, Rockies, $10,000 – Sure Nolan Arenado always feels like the correct play at home but D.J. LeMahieu does not get nearly enough love for a player leading all of baseball in AVG. Furthermore, he actually leads the team in wOBA against LHP with a .411 tally. His other numbers against the handedness aren’t too shabby either: .185 ISO, .345/.436/.529 slash line, 37.5-percent hard hit rate and 26.0-percent line drive rate. Meanwhile, opposing starter Matt Moore has already struggled to contain RHHs as they have hit 18 HRs (out of 22 total) against him without having pitched in Coors Field one time. Moore has pitched well enough lately, and is talented enough overall, that a full-on Rockies stack is not necessary. However, the right-handed staples are certainly in play against a pitcher allowing a 32.0-percent hard hit rate against the handedness. Part of the reason for his recent success (3.16 ERA) is the positive league shift from the Rays to the Giants and the fact he has pitched half his games since the trade in extremely pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. The task at hand is nowhere near as easy with the ballpark on the exact opposite end of the spectrum and Moore is a pure fly ball pitcher (39.2-percent GB rate). One of the Rockies’ righties is destined to go deep and LeMahieu is my pick of the bunch.
Angel Pagan, Giants, $9,300 – Of the two offenses playing in Coors Field on Monday, the Giants find themselves in a much better spot. Not only will they face a less talented pitcher (Chad Bettis) but their offensive staples are listed at much cheaper prices. The ongoing glaring weakness for Bettis is his inability to retire RHHs at a respectable clip. This season, Bettis has allowed 15 HRs (out of 20 total), a .287/.342/.492 slash line and .355 wOBA to RHHs in 82.0 IP. In fact, the numbers against RHP get significantly worse at home: .333/.378/.514 with a .381 wOBA. Amongst Giants hitters, Pagan leads all righties with a .345 wOBA against RHP and the speed factor is in play as well (11 SBs versus the handedness). Pagan is slashing a healthy .291/.358/.437 against RHP and that should only translate to fantasy goodness in Coors Field against a beatable foe.
Jason Heyward, Cubs, $6,600 – Recently the light switch (finally) turned on for Jason Heyward…a hitter who had been struggling to find an offensive groove all season long. August was only the second month in which Heyward hit .250 or better and yesterday Heyward drove in all three Cubs runs, including the game-winner in extra innings, to complete the 3-1 series victory over the Giants. Remember this is a guy who slashed .301/.364/.470 against RHP last season with a .358 wOBA and owns a career slash line of .278/.364/.449 against the handedness (.355 wOBA). Once he finds his stroke, the price is going to increase drastically and rapidly. I expect him to keep the momentum rolling tonight against Zach Davies has surrendered a .269/.325/.450 slash line and .332 wOBA to LHHs this year. Now that I have faith in Heyward’s swing once again, he is remarkably underpriced in one of the most favorable ballparks for lefties, per RotoGrinders Park Factors. Start him in any and all formats in spite of the fact that he’ll likely hit sixth in the lineup. This is a hitter ready to explode over the final month of the season and the time to roster him an incredible bargain is now.
Drew Pomeranz, Red Sox, $23,200 – Can you say, “Revenge game”? The Padres traded Drew Pomeranz to the Red Sox earlier in the season and now Pomeranz will head to Petco Park to pitch against his former team. Beyond the added motivation of facing his former team, the Padres simply rate poorly as an offense against LHP. They strike out at a hefty rate of 24.4-percent and rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO and AVG against southpaws. Pomeranz is striking out batters at a career-best rate this year (9.94 K/9) and the Padres continue to strike out at a higher rate than the season average without the likes of Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton. Even with Max Scherzer pitching on the slate, there is no reason to pay up for him when Pomeranz should string together a similar performance at a slightly reduced price tag.
Kenta Maeda, Dodgers, $17,600 – The last time Kenta Maeda squared off against the Diamondbacks at home, he produced 17.85 fantasy points in 6.1 shutout IP. On paper, the Diamondbacks rate as a neutral matchup against RHP except they rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+ and BB rate while striking out a rate of 22.1-percent (seventh highest among all MLB teams)…and half their games are played in one of the top few hitting environments. Maeda’s ERA has skyrocketed over the past two months to the tune of 4.61 and 4.05 respectively but his hard hit rate dropped back to respectable levels in August. Brighter days are ahead as Maeda is simply adjusting to a longer MLB season, shorter waits in-between starts and teams having more and more tape on him as he makes more starts. With the Diamondbacks only implied to score 3.2 runs and Maeda listed as a -149 favorite, expect a vintage Maeda dominant performance like we became accustomed to seeing earlier in the season.
Raul Alcantara, Athletics, $7,800 – Let’s be clear: the main reason to like Raul Alcantara is due to the dirt cheap price tag…and I do mean dirt cheap because he’s listed as the bare minimum for a starting pitcher. Since Alcantara isn’t available on competing sites, he may come at a low ownership, which is an especially enticing proposition for GPPs. Manager Bob Melvin already conceded Alcantara will likely remain in the rotation for the remainder of the season because they want to give this kid an extended look after a rejuvenated post-injury season in Triple-A this year (1.18 ERA, 2.80 FIP). Although he doesn’t strike out opposing hitters at an elite level (6.31 K/9 in Triple-A this year), he doesn’t need to at this price tag. Hell, Alcantara is even favored at home in this game so he is worth a shot as a virtual unknown.
*Stats are accurate as of Sunday, September 4