George Springer and all the Astros bats are ready to erupt tonight in a meeting against a pitcher who allowed a 1.89 HR/9 rate last season in home run-friendly Minute Maid Park. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Justin Turner, Dodgers, $7,200 (Early) – What in the world is this price tag? Just a season ago, opposing pitcher Jered Weaver allowed exactly a .365 wOBA to both lefties and righties. When all said and done, right-handers had homered off of him a whopping 22 times and they had produced a .529 SLG against him. Meanwhile, Justin Turner is one of the few righties in the league that sports significant reverse splits (.385 wOBA against RHP, .283 wOBA versus LHP last season). In other words, this is a match made in heaven for Turner who slashed .307/.349/.536 against RHP at home in 2016 to go along with a .229 ISO and a .373 wOBA. With all these skills combined with an elite matchup, this price tag is just absurdly low and he packs a ton of bang for the buck.
Freddie Freeman, Braves, $8,400 (Late) – Although Freddie Freeman is only 3-18 (.167) against Matt Harvey in his career, he is still absolutely in play on Thursday evening. Why? Matt Harvey’s preseason velocity was reportedly down in spring although he picked it up in his final outing. Apparently, he hit 97 early in his final Spring Training outing but his velocity faded as the game went on. If Harvey is not at 100-percent then it is doubtful he is able to consistently retire an upper-echelon hitter such as Freeman. Last year, Freeman put up fantastic numbers against RHP: .410 wOBA, .293 ISO, .303/.405/.596 slash line and 43.3-percent hard hit rate. On most nights, Freeman will be priced closer to $9,500 so take the savings all the way to the bank. Hell, Harvey surrendered four HRs, a .311/.370/.495 slash line and .365 wOBA to LHHs last year so it is not like he presented a scary matchup on paper.
Bryce Harper, Nationals, $9,600 (Early) – As I will note many, many times in this article, I try to stay away from batter versus pitcher (BvP) data unless it makes sense. In this case, Bryce Harper’s dominance against Tom Koehler totally makes sense. In 32 career at-bats (ABs) versus Koehler, Harper has produced 11 hits including one double, six HRs, 11 RBI and a .344/.447/.938 slash line. Amongst all active players with at least 150 career ABs against RHP, Harper’s .394 wOBA ranks seventh best and his .397 OBP is awfully impressive as well. On the other hand, Koehler allowed a hard hit rate around 4.0 percentage points higher against LHHs than RHHs last year and a line drive rate nearly two percentage points higher. Koehler’s stuff is rather mediocre, and if you do not possess dominant stuff, then Harper certainly has a chance to rake. Facing a pitcher he has torn up throughout the course of his career, Harper once again stands out as a virtual must-play in both cash games and tournaments.
George Springer, Astros, $8,700 (Late) – This is quietly an absolutely excellent spot for all of the Astros’ RHHs tonight as they will face a true fly-baller in a park that accentuates right-handed power. The short porch in left field means power hitters do not exactly have to kill a ball in order for it to get out and Miranda allowed 1.89 HRs per nine innings just a season ago while only striking out 6.83 batters per nine. Despite a 3.88 ERA, Miranda sported a 5.25 FIP and 5.06 xFIP so his numbers look primed to fall off a cliff this season…especially in HR-friendly parks. Amazingly, Miranda’s GB rate last year sat at just 31.2-percent; amongst all starters who pitched at least 50 innings last year, Miranda’s GB rate ranked fourth lowest, behind only Chris Young, Jered Weaver and A.J. Griffin. Oh by the way, Springer posted a .400 wOBA, .286 ISO and .560 SLG against the handedness. Essentially, this is a situation where Springer and most of the likely Astros candidates should be legitimate threats to go deep. Stack ‘em up.
Brandon McCarthy, Dodgers, $14,400 (Early) – Thus far, the pattern against the Padres has been as follows: gem from Clayton Kershaw, mediocre outing from Kenta Maeda and then gem from Rich Hill. The Padres struggled to hit both sides of the plate last year so a one-game sample size against a RHP is not scaring me off going back to the well just yet. On Thursday evening, Brandon McCarthy will draw a date with this Padres team whose active hitters cumulatively ranked in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP and hard hit rate versus RHP last year and they also struck out at the fifth highest rate against the handedness. Of all pitchers on Thursday’s 13 game slate, McCarthy is listed as the heaviest favorite of them all (-220) and 82-percent of the early public money is already on their money line. Even if McCarthy struggles a bit, it is unlikely Weaver limits the Dodgers offense, so he should still have a decent shot at a win. There are a lot of ways in which McCarthy can provide value at this bargain price tag and he rates as my top point-per-dollar projection of the day.
Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks, $16,000 (Late) – Only one qualified pitcher produced a superior K/9 than Robbie Ray last year: Jose Fernandez. Yes, Ray struck out a hefty 11.25 batters per nine innings and he also posted the fifth highest strikeout rate, behind only Fernandez, Max Scherzer, Noah Syndergaard and Justin Verlander. Having said that, Ray also struggled a bit with the long ball, walked a few too many hitters and ended with a 4.90 ERA. At the same time, his left on base rate was well below league average and his BABIP allowed was high so his ERA was a bit unlucky especially when taking into consideration his 3.76 FIP and 3.45 xFIP. There is something to be said for being a year older and wiser and I think Ray takes the next step to stardom this year. Although the Giants did not strike out much against the handedness last year, they ranked in the bottom 10 of wOBA, ISO, AVG and OBP as well. If Ray is not able to miss a ton of bats, there is unlikely to be much hard contact either. For those reasons, Ray is worth a shot in any and all formats.
Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays, $16,800 (Late) – Michael Pineda was rocked by the Rays on Wednesday but they are not an incredibly formidable offensive team. Despite ranking in the top 10 in wOBA, wRC+ and ISO against RHP last season, they also ranked in the bottom 10 of BB rate, AVG, OBP and line drive rate too. Most importantly, the Rays struck out at the fourth highest rate against RHP so the combination of the potential to miss bats and induce weak contact lines up perfectly for Marcus Stroman. The Jays’ youngster relies heavily on ground ball outs plus he posted a 7.32 K/9 last year so he can retire hitters in either way (or both). He is a guy most have begged as a potential breakout pitcher this year after being a few years removed from major injury. With a solid offense behind him, the win potential is there as well, plus he will enjoy a positive ballpark shift playing on the road. All-in-all, Stroman should possess a solid combination of floor and ceiling here tonight.
*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, April 5