Diamond(back) in the Rough

Yasmany Tomas is an elite hitter against left-handed pitching, and yet he is priced like a mediocre talent, so make sure to take advantage of the pricing discrepancy against an opposing pitcher who allowed 20 homers to righies last year. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.

Infield:

Joey Votto, Reds, $9,600 – Admittedly, Joey Votto looked awful in the opener and he even started punching things after making the last out in his 0-4 performance on Opening Day. Still, the overall sample size paints a different story and this is a perfect situation for him to rebound and come out swinging (pun intended) in his second game of the year versus Jerad Eickhoff. In 2016, Eickhoff allowed a whopping 18 HRs to LHHs while surrendering a .274/.324/.498 slash line and .347 wOBA to them. Meanwhile, Joey Votto leads all active hitters in wOBA against RHPs (min. 200 ABs) at .419 to go along with a .234 ISO and .318/.436/.552 career slash line versus the handedness. According to ESPN Park Factors, the Great American Ball Park rated as the fourth friendliest to HRs, so if Votto gets a hold of one it should go a long way. Forget about his stinker last game and go immediately back to the well of an incredibly talented hitter.

Brandon Belt, Giants, $7,600 – Brandon Belt is one of those rare lefties who is an adequate hitter against both left-handers and right-handers but Wednesday presents an opportunity to start him against a beatable RHP. Yes, Belt and the Giants have a date with Taijuan Walker in Chase Field which means a significant positive park shift for all their hitters. Furthermore, Walker has struggled a bit away from home in his young career which happened to be an extreme pitchers’ park up until this season where he will play in an extremely hitter-friendly park. Just a season ago, Walker gave up 16 HRs to LHHs in just 67.2 IP so he certainly is beatable. For the second consecutive night, Vegas is implying the Giants will lead the slate in runs scored (4.9 implied runs) so the man who led their team in wOBA against the handedness last year (Belt) is firmly in play. While Walker does not stand out as a talent to target against, it remains to be seen if he can handle pitching in this unfavorable atmosphere. Vegas expects him to struggle to adjust and I am inclined to agree.

Outfield:

Trea Turner, Nationals, $9,600 – Death, taxes and Trea Turner producing fantasy points on a given day are the surest things in life and that streak continued into the first game of the season. In his first game of the year, Turner produced a double and even stole a base en route to 10 fantasy points. Dating back to last year, it was the fourth straight game in which he had produced double-digit fantasy points. As a Major Leaguer, Turner has averaged 12.3 fantasy points per game (FPPG) which is just an absurd total for a 23-year old let alone anyone. Tonight, he will square off against a pitcher who produced some reverse splits last year including 21 HRs allowed to RHHs (versus 10 to LHHs). During the process, RHHs produced a .322 wOBA against him compared to .290 for LHHs. Oh by the way, Straily’s wOBA away from home was 45 percentage points higher than at home (although he is pitching for a different team this year). Basically, Turner should be a lock for about a five fantasy point floor with the more likely outcome being yet another 10-plus fantasy point performance for this beast.

Yasmany Tomas, Diamondbacks, $7,600 – This price tag is simply too cheap for a guy who basically becomes a different, better version of himself against lefties compared to against righties. Yasmany Tomas was absolutely ridiculous versus southpaws last year: .460 wOBA, .326 ISO, .364/.423/.690 slashing and an absurd 46.9-percent hard hit rate. Somehow, someway with those numbers, Tomas is only priced at $7,600 at home in hitter-friendly Chase Field against an opposing pitcher, Matt Moore, who allowed 20 HRs to RHHs last season. Sure Moore looked better after joining the Giants but Tomas’ skill set alone demands a higher price than this. If looking for a ton of bang for your buck, look no further than this Diamondbacks slugger.

Pitchers:

Rich Hill, Dodgers, $21,000 – On per-inning basis last year, Rich Hill was about as dominant as any pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. In 110.1 IP, Hill posted a 2.12 ERA, 2.39 FIP and 3.36 xFIP while striking out 10.52 batters per nine innings and only allowing 0.33 HRs/9 as well. Even though Hill will head into this season at 37-years old, he has still got it and Kershaw showed on Monday just how favorable the matchup against the Padres could be for left-handers. To refresh the memory, the Padres posted the fourth highest strikeout rate last year versus LHPs while ranking dead last in both wOBA and wRC+ against the handedness. In just about the best matchup Hill could ever ask for (especially with the game being played at home), there is no reason to overlook him (especially in cash games).

Jacob deGrom, Mets, $20,400 – No team is being implied to score fewer runs on tonight’s slate than the Braves (2.9) because they will face an awfully tough pitcher: Jacob deGrom. Unfortunately deGrom did not match his numbers of 2014 and 2015 last year but, to be fair, those were two incredibly dominant seasons. In fact, even in a season where he regressed, he still managed a 3.04 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 3.47 xFIP, 2.19 BB/9 and 8.70 K/9 in 148.0 IP. The Braves’ current roster rates as a middle of the road opponent, at least in terms of wOBA versus the handedness, as their active hitters cumulatively ranked 17th in 2016. They did struggle in terms of creating runs and ISO so even deGrom’s mistakes should theoretically not punish him too much. As icing on the cake, only the aforementioned Hill is a heavier favorite (-250) than deGrom (-195) so he jumps off the page as a cash game play specifically.

Michael Pineda, Yankees, $16,200 – Do you have the guts for this play? Well, do you? It is going to take some cojones to start Michael Pineda but the numbers back him up in this meeting against the Rays. How so? Just a season ago, the Rays struck out at the second highest rate of any team in the American League (23-percent) versus the RHP and they also ranked in the bottom 10 of BB rate, AVG and OBP. However, the bad news is the Rays also ranked in the top 10 of wOBA, wRC+ and even ISO so the possibility of an implosion inning/game is certainly in play. On the stat sheet, Pineda seems like a guy who has been continuously unlucky throughout the course of his career and yet he has never been able to replicate (or even come close) to his magical 2014 season. For fantasy purposes, Pineda strikes out enough batters (10.61 K/9) to create a decent floor and the matchup only enhances those possibilities. As long as he can avoid implosion, he can easily compete for one of the best fantasy outputs of any pitchers on the slate. The risks are evident but the reward could be worthwhile so go ahead and take a shot on him in GPPs if your conscience allows you to.

*Stats are accurate as of Tuesday, April 4

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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