Edwin Encarnacion will draw a matchup tonight against a pitcher who allowed 16 home runs to right-handed hitters last year in hitter-friendly Ballpark in Arlington so consider him a great play in both cash games and tournaments. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Jose Altuve, Astros, $8,700 – Typically, batter versus pitcher data does not interest me unless the same size is large enough and the results make sense. This is definitely the case for Jose Altuve against Hisashi Iwakuma as the Astros’ second baseman led the Astros in wOBA against RHP last year and hit a ridiculous .348 against the handedness. What are the career numbers? Well, Altuve is a cool 16-38 (.421) against Iwakuma with one HR, seven RBI and a healthy .658 SLG. Although Minute Maid Park played as the worst hitters’ park in the league last year, it still is equipped with that short porch in left field which means it is easy for a right-hander to pull the ball out of the park. An elite hitter like Altuve should always be priced at around $10,000 so take the huge discount all the way to the bank.
Edwin Encarnacion, Indians, $8,400 – Last season, Martin Perez allowed a whopping 16 HRs to RHHs and they finished with a .341 wOBA against him when all said and done. While he actually pitched substantially better at home overall, he allowed 10 HRs at the Ballpark in Arlington compared to just eight on the road. In a solid hitters’ park, it is not overly surprising to see him struggle with the long ball and there is no player more equipped to take advantage on the Indians than Edwin Encarnacion. In 2016, Encarnacion posted a .385 wOBA and .220 ISO against RHPs which edged out everyone on the current team not named Brandon Guyer. Additionally, he finished with a .461 OBP versus the handedness and Perez struggled with control versus lefties (3.92 BB/9) more so than against righties (3.33 BB/9). Basically, Encarnacion should possess a high floor in a game where his team is implied to score 4.6 runs and his upside is that of a multiple homer performance. At just $8,400, Encarnacion packs too much punch to consider fading even in cash games.
Kyle Schwarber, Cubs, $8,000 – Speaking of power hitters at reasonable costs, Kyle Schwarber certainly fits the bill in a matchup against Adam Wainwright who just does not look healthy. In his third to last start in Spring Training, Wainwright was shelled for 11 earned runs (ERs), and although he recovered to some degree after that, he still allowed three ERs in 5.0 innings in his final start. As a pitcher, there is no doubt his skill set is beginning to depreciate and it was evident in the fact LHHs slashed .304/.366/.475 against him with a .361 wOBA. Sure Wainwright pitched better at home when all said and done last year but he came out of the gate struggling (7.16 ERA) like I believe he will this year as well. Meanwhile, Kyle Schwarber is leading off for the Cubs against RHPs so he should be a safe bet for 4-5 at-bats (ABs) in a favorable matchup against a pitcher who allowed 11 HRs versus his handedness in 2016. With this many opportunities against a beatable opponent, Schwarber is an awesome investment in any and all formats.
Logan Forsythe, Dodgers, $6,600 – Everyone is going to be on Logan Forsythe’s ex-teammate Evan Longoria (for good reason) but I actually prefer Forsythe at this price (although I probably will be rostering both). Amongst all active hitters with at least 150 ABs against LHPs, Forsythe’s .352 wOBA ranks 71st or only slightly behind the likes of Lorenzo Cain and Mookie Betts. In all likelihood, the Dodgers will choose to use Forsythe in the leadoff spot against the left-hander after Andrew Toles led off in the opener. His opponent, Clayton Richard, nearly walked as many hitters per nine innings last year (4.12) as he struck out (5.45). Despite the fact he managed a 3.33 ERA, he is really not that good…especially against RHHs. Oh by the way, this ERA came in an extremely small sample size of just 67.2 IP as that sort of success is basically unsustainable over the long run. Anyways, Richard surrendered a .302/.379/.420 slash line to RHHs to complement a .345 wOBA over a 50.2 inning sample. These numbers are going to regress over the long run and Forsythe is the prime suspect to jump start the process on Tuesday evening.
Kenta Maeda, Dodgers, $18,400 – Kenta Maeda rarely enters consideration for me so you know this is a bit of a special situation. Yes, tonight Maeda will draw a matchup at home against a Padres team that struck out at the sixth highest rate against the handedness just a season ago. Furthermore, the Padres’ active hitters combined cumulatively ranked in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP and hard hit rate versus RHPs last year as well. In a matchup versus the aforementioned Richard at home, Maeda is listed as a substantial -233 favorite after posting a 3.22 ERA in Dodger Stadium last year. All signs point to a monster outing from Maeda at a mid-tier price tag.
Lance McCullers Jr., Astros, $18,400 – Rostering Lance McCullers Jr. is normally a roller coaster ride so strap in because he is absolutely in play tonight. As mentioned in the Altuve tidbit, Minute Maid Park rated as the worst hitters’ park in baseball last year which partially explains why McCullers allowed a .312 wOBA at home compared to .362 on the road. On paper, the Mariners do not rate as the most favorable opponent considering they ranked in the top 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG and OBP versus RHPs last year but McCullers is so nasty he can get it done against anyone. In 12.0 IP against the Mariners last year, McCullers struck out 18 batters, allowed just nine hits and registered a 1.46 ERA. While McCullers could easily rack up a rising pitch count and the manager could be choose to be careful with his young stud early in the year, McCullers also possesses some huge upside. He is the epitome of a tournament play although the Mr. Hyde version of him is one of the best pitchers in the league. Exposure to McCullers is necessary and the only question is which format you feel comfortable rostering him in.
Tyler Anderson, Rockies, $11,700 – The safer SP2 alternative to McCullers is the much cheaper Tyler Anderson who also helps fit big bats alongside him due to the cost. Amongst all pitchers who threw at least 100 innings last year, Anderson’s 50.9-percent ground ball rate rated 26th in league, only slightly behind Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. Considering Anderson relies heavily on a well above-average cutter, his ability to keep the ball on the ground is not surprising in the least. Anderson does not post monstrous strikeout numbers (7.79 K/9 last year) but he will draw an amazing matchup against a Brewers team that struck out at the highest rate of any team in the league in 2016. They actually hit the handedness well overall but Anderson shut them down to the tune of five baserunners in 5.0 IP last year and pitching away from Coors Field certainly hurts his cause. Admittedly, this is not the greatest of slates for starting pitching so risks will need to be taken. A cheap pitcher with strikeout upside in a more favorable ballpark than his home park is a solid shot in my book and he will probably end up being my second pitcher in cash games.
*Stats are accurate as of Monday, April 3