Facing a pitcher that struggles mightily against left-handed hitters, Mitch Moreland is a prime value to target in a game at hitter-friendly Fenway Park equipped with a 9.5 run over/under. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Corey Seager, Dodgers, $8,400 (Late) – On this slate, with the team squaring off against the heavily favored John Lackey, I do not expect Corey Seager to be incredibly popular. However, he stands out as an excellent bargain at this price tag for a multitude of reasons. For one, Seager rated as the team’s best hitter against fastballs last season (per FanGraphs’ pitch type linear weights) and Lackey threw his fastball at the 28th highest percentage of any qualified starting pitcher last season. Additionally, Seager led the Dodgers handily in wOBA, AVG and OBP against RHP last season so he clearly is a talented hitter against the handedness. Lastly, the Dodgers have posted the highest wOBA against righties so far this season so Lackey is a sneaky bet to struggle in this start…even at home. If the Dodgers are going to score off of him, the young and talented Seager will definitely have his hand in it. Due to the pitch data and bargain price combined, Seager is actually a viable play in cash games as well as GPPs.
Mitch Moreland, Red Sox, $6,800 (Late) – Arguably my favorite play of the entire night slate is Mitch Moreland against the unpredictable Ubaldo Jimenez. In fact, if there is one predictable aspect of Jimenez’s game, it is the fact that he consistently struggles to retire LHHs. Otherwise, it is anyone’s guess as to whether he starts hot and fires a gem or decides to implode early…because both are legitimate possibilities any time out for Jimenez. Amongst qualified first basemen last season, Moreland ranked 11th in pull rate so Fenway Park should prove to be the perfect park for him. The “Pesky Pole” in right field stands only 302 feet away from home plate so it is one of the easiest spots in the entire MLB to hit one out. Meanwhile, Jimenez allowed LHHs to slash .292/.378/.506 against him last season with a .378 wOBA and 10 HRs allowed. Moreland, who registered an uncharacteristic .299 wOBA against RHP last year, should be destined to bounce back this year…and it could start with this game.
Mike Trout, Angels, $10,500 (Late) – Starting the best player in baseball should be a habitual occurrence for DFS players but sometimes that does not go without saying. Therefore, let me say it: play Mike Trout a lot…including tonight. Amongst starting pitchers who threw at least 100 innings last year, A.J. Griffin’s ground ball (GB) rate ranked second lowest (29.1-percent) behind only Jered Weaver (28.8-percent). Consequently, it was not surprising to see Griffin allow 2.12 HR/9, which actually was the absolute highest rate allowed of any starter with a minimum of 100 innings. Basically, this is a matchup between the pitcher who allows bombs at the highest rate versus the best offensive player in baseball who habitually hits 40-plus bombs. Although Griffin was absolutely crushed by LHHs last year to the tune of a .406 wOBA and 18 HRs allowed, he still allowed 10 HRs to RHHs as well and they still produced a 32.2-percent hard hit rate against him. Both he and Kole Calhoun are bordering on must-plays because Griffin is legitimately one of worst pitchers in the league.
Rickie Weeks Jr., Rays, $4,500 (Early) – In order to fit the top ace on the slate along with other enticing hitting plays, salary relief is going to be necessary on the day slate and FantasyDraft has yet to appropriately adjust Rickie Weeks Jr.’s price tag. Against left-handers to this point, Weeks Jr. has been starting and hitting cleanup after he produced a ridiculous .419 wOBA, .358 ISO and .284/.368/.642 slash line against the handedness just a season ago. While he could easily get pinch hit for at the first sign of a right-handed reliever, Weeks possesses an insane amount of talent for a miniscule price tag. If looking to get a ton of bang for your buck, Weeks has the potential to leave the yard at nothing more than a basement price tag.
Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays, $18,000 (Late) – No pitcher forced opponents to hit the ball on the ground at a higher rate than Marcus Stroman last season which is absolutely ideal for fantasy purposes. Fantasy owners can live with base hits but it is big HRs that will flat-out ruin an outing. Last year, Stroman allowed 0.93 HR/9 and it was actually a significantly higher rate than what he allowed in a limited sample size of 2015 and basically all his Minor League numbers combined. It makes sense a ground-baller would limit power and the Brewers’ current active players cumulatively struggled mightily against RHP since the beginning of last year. Not only did they rank in the bottom 10 of line drive rate and wOBA versus the handedness in 2016 but they also struck out at the highest rate of any team, produced the second lowest wRC+ and only managed the 22nd best ISO. In other words, they are not an especially potent offense and they will now have to deal with the tough task of facing a young, ascending pitcher. Advantage: Stroman.
Jesse Chavez, Angels, $15,000 (Late) – Two things Jesse Chavez does not do much of is walk hitters (2.42 BB/9) nor surrender ground balls. This is worth noting because the Rangers rated as a below-average offense without Adrian Beltre in the lineup last year and Angels Stadium overall rates as poor park to hit the ball out of, per RotoGrinders’ Park Factors. Also, it is worth at least noting that there is speculation in the industry that the backdrop of Angels Stadium affects opposing hitters who are not used to it because the ball blends in with the rocks which makes it more difficult to pick up the ball out of the pitchers’ hand. So far, the Rangers have struck out at a 24.9-percent rate against RHP, mostly because Joey Gallo has been added as a staple to the lineup. While he possesses some insane power, he is also a guy who has struck out at a 48.3-percent rate in the big leagues. Chavez should not be mistaken as an ace but he is a guy who should limit baserunners, miss bats at a solid rate (8.46 K/9 last year) and allow fly balls in a park where they are unlikely to leave. Oh by the way, Mike Trout playing center is a huge help because he is an elite defender and should only help. As a SP2, Chavez is a great way to save salary and still have access to plenty of upside.
Blake Snell, Rays, $14,400 (Early) – Of course, Max Scherzer is in play on the early slate and a rock solid SP1 option but everyone knows he is worthy of consideration each and every time out. The more difficult question is which pitcher to complement him with in order to fit bats and I think the answer is Blake Snell (since Danny Salazar is too expensive). None of the Yankees’ hitters really stand out against LHP as the injured duo of Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez were two of the team’s top hitters in terms of wOBA against the handedness. Otherwise, Chris Carter led the team at .368 and Matt Holliday ranked second at .333. Oof, that is bad and Carter still hit .224 against lefties so he is not exactly Hank Aaron or anything of the sort. Expect Snell, who is equipped with a nasty arsenal of four pitchers, to dominate this helpless lineup as long as he can avoid walking hitters. For what it is worth, Snell struck out 24 Yankees in 18.0 innings against them last year and their team may be worse off now since they are sans Sanchez. Looking for an ideal risk/reward play? Snell is your man.
*Stats are accurate as of Tuesday, April 11