Last year, D.J. LeMahieu led the MLB in batting average and he will now will face a reverse splits righty in Coors Field at an affordable price compared to most of the other Rockies’ bats. At that sort of discount, LeMahieu is a steal. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Nolan Arenado, Rockies, $10,200 (Late) – To this point, games in Coors Field have either featured matchups of two solid starting pitchers or have been featured on slates with plenty of options. Tonight, neither of those things are true so focusing on bats from this game is of the utmost importance beginning with Nolan Arenado. Just a season ago, Jarred Cosart allowed a .362 wOBA to RHHs and a 7.39 ERA away from home in admittedly small sample sizes (both under 30.0 IP). However, Cosart’s career numbers suggest neither were a fluke as he has allowed a career wOBA to RHHs that is 28 percentage points higher than his career wOBA allowed to LHHs. Over the past two seasons, righties have managed a 29.3 and 36.4-percent hard hit rate against Cosart and righties once again crushed him in his first start this season (.661 wOBA). Coors Field only enhances pitcher’s problems, it rarely ever solves them, so Cosart is in a world of trouble tonight. The Rockies’ implied total of 6.3 runs is by far the most of any team on the slate and Arenado’s .395 wOBA against the handedness ranked second on the team behind only Charlie Blackmon last season (min. 35 ABs). Start him.
D.J. LeMahieu, Rockies, $9,200 (Late) – One bat from this team is simply not enough and right-handers are clearly the ones to target. While Mark Reynolds rates as a fine play as well, D.J. LeMahieu represents the much safer play considering he hit .356 against RHP last season. As if that were not enough, LeMahieu posted a .390 wOBA, .417 OBP, .486 SLG and 27.4-percent line drive rate against the handedness and only struck out at a 12.1-percent clip. For the reigning MLB batting champion (.348 AVG), $9,200 at home against a susceptible pitcher is simply way too cheap. It would be foolish to fade him at this cost…especially in cash games.
Adam Eaton, Nationals, $8,100 (Late) – After leaving Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury, Trea Turner also sat out Sunday’s game, and Manager Dusty Baker said his hamstring is “so-so” at this point. In other words, this is not exactly a ringing endorsement for his health and he is scheduled to be re-evaluated on Monday. How does this affect Adam Eaton? Well, he will likely move up to the leadoff spot in Turner’s absence so Eaton could both see an extra at-bat (AB) and he could be called upon to run a bit more in this role. The team will take on Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals tonight which will not be a spot many look to target. With Wainwright coming off a solid outing, many will overlook bats in this game but the man still has a lot to prove after a very mediocre 2016 campaign. The issue here for Eaton is there is likely no speed upside with Yadier Molina behind the plate but Wainwright could struggle against a very left-handed Nationals team. Away from home in 2016, Wainwright posted a miserable 6.18 ERA and allowed a .299/.358/.531 slash line and .374 wOBA. At a reasonably cheap price tag, Eaton has the potential for multiple hits and multiple roads go consider him one of the safer options on the slate.
A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks, $6,800 (Early) – Probably the most interesting matchup on the entire early slate is a rematch of a game that turned in a slugfest last week. Once again, Matt Moore and Taijuan Walker will square off against one another except this time the game will be played in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. Of course, this should lead to tempered expectations for the bats overall but A.J. Pollock and a bunch of the Giants bats are still too cheap considering Moore allowed 20 HRs to RHHs last year. Despite the favorable park, Moore is still a pure fly baller and has allowed a hard hit percentage over 30.5-percent in three consecutive seasons. Meanwhile, Pollock sports a career .367 wOBA against LHP to complement a .216 ISO, .294/.355/.511 slash line and 34.6-percent hard hit rate. Moore allows hard contact and Pollock produces it against left-handers so this is actually a pretty sneaky spot. Now add in Pollock will lead off and is only priced at $6,800 and he stands out as a prime value on the afternoon slate.
Jon Lester, Cubs, $22,000 (Late) – On paper, Jacob deGrom versus the Phillies seems enticing until you see deGrom allowed a slash line of .309/.340/.457 away from Citi Field last year (plus he was not as dominant overall as in year’s past). Therefore, Jon Lester stands out as the pitcher to spend up for on the night slate in order to create the highest possible floor for a cash roster. Last season, the Dodgers’ current active hitters, even with the additions of Logan Forsythe and Franklin Gutierrez, struck out at the eighth highest percentage against LHP and ranked in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP and hard hit rate. On top of that all, Lester held opponents to an absurd .181/.240/.297 slash line and .237 wOBA at home to go along with a 1.74 ERA. As icing on the cake, the Dodgers do not really possess a ton of speed with Andrew Toles likely out of the lineup so they will not even be able to take advantage of Lester’s Achilles Heel. All signs point to a dominant outing from the Cubs’ stud lefty.
Tyler Glasnow, Pirates, $15,000 (Late) – This is going to take a bit of a leap of faith but Tyler Glasnow presents a solid amount of upside at home against the Reds in his season debut. Glasnow’s control can be a bit of an issue at time but he possesses true swing-and-miss stuff. In his short stint in the majors last year, Glasnow whopped an ugly 5.01 batters per nine but also struck out 9.26 per nine. His control has yet to be refined, as evident by all his minor league numbers, but he still is the only cheaper pitcher with double-digit strikeout upside. Hell, the Reds struck out at about the league average rate versus RHP last year and they also ranked in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO and hard hit percentage. Only Joey Votto produced a BB rate greater than 9.6-percent against the handedness and only Tucker Barnhart/Votto produced BB rates over 8.9-percent. Otherwise, the team did not walk at an incredibly high rate and Scott Schebler ranked second on the team with a .339 wOBA against RHP. While there certainly is a low floor here, Glasnow is listed as a -140 favorite and the Reds are only implied to score 3.7 runs. Although he is a classic risk/reward option, his salary will help fit bats in cash games, so he is a viable option in literally all formats.
Michael Pineda, Yankees, $16,800 (Early) – Despite struggling against the Rays last week, Michael Pineda still should come equipped with a significant potential ceiling in this matchup. When he last faced the Rays, he was about 50-60-percent owned in all cash games on FantasyDraft and his ownership is likely to be nowhere near that number this go-around. However, nothing has really changed about the matchup other than the fact this game will be played in Yankee Stadium. The Rays still struck out at the fourth highest percentage against RHP last year and they still ranked in the bottom 10 of BB rate, AVG, OBP and hard hit rate versus the handedness. In five meetings against the Rays last year, Pineda was blasted once, was mediocre twice and pitched pretty well the other two times. Nevertheless, he struck out at least seven batters in four of the five meetings and the outlier was the 3.2 shellacking he took on May 28. Other than Justin Verlander, who faces the Red Sox, no pitcher on the early slate comes without downside. Consequently, it is worth taking the strikeout floor of Pineda in order to hunt for his upside. Although he disappointed in this matchup recently, that only presents a buying opportunity at a much lower ownership percentage on Monday afternoon.
*Stats are accurate as of Sunday, April 9