Noah Syndergaard, who will be battling through fake fingernails, is still an awesome start tonight against a Phillies team only implied to score 2.8 runs. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Jose Altuve, Astros, $9,600 (Early) – None of the pitchers on the early slate, maybe other than Erasmo Ramirez, stand out as ones who absolutely must have opposing bats targeted against them. However, if digging a bit deeper, the matchup for the Astros is probably amongst the most enticing of the afternoon. Last season, Matt Shoemaker pitched significantly better at home and it has been speculated that the rock wall in center field is partially to blame for those numbers. Many of the Angels pitchers have succeeded at home and it is not absurd to think the ball leaving the pitcher’s hand could blend in with the color of the rocks and make it difficult for hitters to pick up. Pitching on the road was not nearly as kind to him as he allowed a .332 wOBA on the road compared to just .285 in Angel Stadium. Shoemaker fared as a reverse splits pitcher overall but allowed a .236 wOBA to RHHs at home and a whopping .410 wOBA to RHHs on the road. The short porch in left field of Minute Maid Park will only make it easier for the Astros’ power hitters; most of which have produced excellent numbers against RHP in their career. Unsurprisingly, Jose Altuve led the charge last year with a .395 wOBA against the handedness to complement his ridiculous .348/.398/.544 slash line. If there is one hitter worth spending up on the early slate, it is Altuve (with George Springer as a close second).
Mike Moustakas, Royals, $7,200 (Late) – Finally the pricing algorithm decided to adjust Mike Moustakas’ price tag but it still was not adjusted enough to consider fading him in an excellent matchup. On Thursday evening, the Royals will take on Andrew Cashner at home and Mr. Cashner had himself a rough year against LHHs in 2016. In 64.2 IP against hitters from the left side of the plate, Cashner allowed 11 bombs, a .286/.380/.524 slash line to go along with a .380 wOBA, 25.6-percent line drive rate and a ridiculous 41.0-percent hard hit rate. So far this year, Moustakas leads all the Royals’ regulars in hard hit rate versus RHP (37.5-percent) as well as wOBA, ISO and SLG. Literally all of the team’s lefties are in play here, including Eric Hosmer, but Moustakas continues to be the forgotten man in terms of pricing. While Hosmer is listed at $8,800, Moustakas can be rostered for $1,600 less and possesses similar upside. In terms of bargains, there may not be a better one from an offensive perspective on this entire slate.
Chris Davis, Orioles, $9,200 (Late) – Kudos to Scott Feldman because the man has thrown three decent games to begin the year but the underlying numbers suggest regression is headed his way fast. Despite sporting a 2.87 ERA through 15.2 IP, his FIP and xFIP sit at 4.18 and 4.24 respectively and a 4.60 BB/9 rate should only lead to problems in the long run. Additionally, a 26.2-percent line drive allowed is going to kill him over time as the balls will start hitting gaps instead of gloves. In 2016, LHHs did the most damage off of Feldman as they produced a .323/.387/.504 slash line and .377 wOBA. Oh and it should be noted Feldman’s career 5.61 K/9 rate is well below the league average. Therefore, if Feldman is not going to miss Chris Davis’ bat, then he is going to have an excellent chance to induce some damage. Just a season ago, Davis posted a 42.9-percent hard hit rate against righties and launched 30 home runs (HRs) off of them. If Feldman comes into his wheel house, Davis should be able to add another HR notch to his belt in an extremely hitter-friendly ballpark.
Yasmany Tomas, Diamondbacks, $7,800 (Late) – At $7,800, count me in for Yasmany Tomas virtually any time he faces a lefty regardless of park. This go-around, Tomas will square off against a lefty ground baller who, like Feldman, rarely ever misses bats. In fact, this is a similar case where the FIP and xFIP suggest the ERA is a bit lucky to this point and Clayton Richard’s .254 BABIP so far confirms that theory. Hell, Richard has nearly walked as many (3.15) batters per nine innings as he has struck out (4.50) so it is not surprising he has struggled with the long ball. When relying solely on contact, even if most of the contact is forced on the ground, eventually power hitters are going to get the best of you…and that should be the case with Tomas tonight. Last season, Tomas posted a .460 wOBA against LHP which actually edged out Paul Goldschmidt. In fact, Tomas’ .326 ISO against the handedness blew Goldschmidt’s out of the water (.224) as did his .364 AVG and .690 LSG. Tomas is simply an elite hitter versus LHP and he is not priced as such. Although the negative park shift will not help his cause, Tomas has the strength to hit it out of any park. He is probably my favorite tournament play of the entire day.
Noah Syndergaard, Mets, $22,800 (Late) – Facing the Phillies has not been as easy of a task this year as it has been in seasons past but Noah Syndergaard should still be up to the challenge. Notably, the Phillies still are striking out at a 23.2-percent rate against RHP this year so the upside is certainly there for the one they call “Thor.” Syndergaard is literally the worst in the league at holding runners so Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera should give him extra trouble at the top of the lineup if they get on. On the other hand, Herrera was the only active Phillies hitter to produce a wOBA greater than .335 against righties last year so there still is not exactly a ton of pop here. The newly acquired Michael Saunders ranked second last season on the team in wOBA but he also stuck out at a whopping 27.8-percent rate. Also, Vegas loves Syndergaard as he is listed as a hefty -175 favorite at home in a game where the Phillies are only being implied to score 2.8 runs. Double-digit strikeouts are certainly on the table here and the Phillies only possess really one true speed threat (Hernandez) since he was the only one to steal more than 20 bases off of RHP last year. Expect a dominant Syndergaard performance here and do not get caught fading him in cash games.
Lance McCullers Jr., Astros, $18,900 (Early) – Honestly, the matchup against the Angels is not ideal due to their frustratingly low K rate but Lance McCullers Jr. is still firmly in play against them at home. In his young career, McCullers has surrendered a .340 wOBA on the road but that number dives all the way to just .283 at home. To this point, the Angels and Mariners have struck out at virtually the same rate against RHP and McCullers struck out 10 Mariners when they came to town earlier this season. His stuff is so nasty that it basically does not matter what the numbers say on paper because facing him in real life is an incredibly difficult task. On the early slate, McCullers is listed as the heaviest favorite (even over Chris Sale) and his offense should provide some run support against the aforementioned Shoemaker who struggles on the road. This all sets up perfectly for a solid outing despite the somewhat difficult setup for McCullers.
Carlos Martinez, Cardinals, $17,400 (Late) – These days, the Brewers are hitting the crap out of everything but their strikeout rate is still their kryptonite. James Paxton and Stephen Strasburg are safer cash game plays but they are also a lot more expensive so value will need to open up in order to create a favorable roster with either of them and Syndergaard. Assuming that does not happen, Martinez is a solid alternative in a matchup against a Brewers team that has struck out at the third highest rate in baseball against RHP so far to go along with a miserable .221 AVG and .296 OBP versus the handedness. Obviously, Eric Thames is the X-Factor here because he had homered in five consecutive games heading into Tuesday…and on Wednesday, he walked three times to at least keep his on-base streak intact. So far, Martinez has struck out an impressive 12.23 batters per nine innings and his peripherals suggest he has actually gotten unluckier than his 3.57 ERA. Essentially, positive regression should be on the horizon and facing an offense that whiffs an awful lot should help speed up that process. Although he will be pitching on the road in Miller Park, he is still listed as a -121 favorite and he is still a viable play in all formats.
*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, April 20