Facing a miserable White Sox team that ranks in the bottom 10 of virtually every category versus right-handed pitcher, Corey Kluber is a stone cold, lead pipe lock and should be started in all formats. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.
Brandon Belt, Giants, $9,600 – Even on a large 15 game slate, Coors Field can simply not be overlooked, especially with Tyler Chatwood toeing the mound for the Rockies. Just a season ago, Chatwood got blasted at home to the tune of a .300/.375/.497 slash line, .374 wOBA and 33.5-percent hard hit rate (compared to just 24.8-percent on the road). Strangely, both lefties and righties at home produced exactly a .374 wOBA against him although lefties produced superior numbers on the road. In other words, lefties are the slightly higher percentage play against Chatwood and the Giants line is loaded with them, beginning with Brandon Belt. In 2016, Belt was such a beast that he actually rated second on the team in wOBA against RHP (behind only Jarrett Parker whose numbers came in a limited sample size of 90 at-bats) and he also finished second in wOBA against LHP (behind only Buster Posey) as well. Specifically against righties, Belt posted a .370 wOBA, .193 ISO, .273/.395/.466 slash line, 38.2-percent hard hit rate and a whopping 29.3-percent line drive rate. The Giants’ 5.4 implied run total leads the entire slate so exposure to their bats is of the utmost importance (especially in cash games). Go ahead and roster arguably their best hitter and sleep like a baby.
Brandon Crawford, Giants, $9,200 – As noted in the Belt tidbit, focusing on the lefties in this lineup is the preferred move and Brandon Crawford certainly qualifies. His overall numbers were somewhat mediocre against RHP last season but his .180 ISO against the handedness ranked third best on the team behind only Belt and Conor Gillaspie (169 at-bat sample size). Obviously, pure power is the way to rack up fantasy points quickly in the thin atmosphere of Coors Field but Chatwood’s 1.68 WHIP against LHHs at home last year signifies he could/should possess a high floor as well. Since he hits further down in the order, most will not think to include him at this price tag but the matchup and atmosphere dictates this is an excellent spot for the 30-year old shortstop.
Carlos Gomez, Rangers, $7,800 – Another team Vegas loves on Friday is the Rangers and this one makes all the sense in the world as well. Opposing starter Nathan Karns will head into this game having walked nearly as many batters per nine innings (4.38) as he has struck out (5.84) and sporting a ground ball (GB) rate 20 percentage points higher than his career average. Karns has always been a pure fly ball pitcher, and if he reverts back here, balls are going to leave the yard. Pretty importantly, RHHs posted a .375 wOBA off of him in 2016 compared to just a .282 wOBA for LHHs and that trend has held true for the entirety of his career. Thus far, Carlos Gomez has posted a .330 wOBA and .261 ISO off of RHP and he should draw the start in the leadoff spot. In tune, he will at least tie for the team lead in at-bats (ABs) and could see five or six opportunities in a game where his team is expected to score a bunch of runs. The numbers line up perfectly for Gomez to possibly rack up a multi-hit game. If all goes right, and Gomez takes advantage of Karns’ 33.3-percent hard hit rate versus RHHs, he could potentially leave the yard as well. Start him.
Corey Dickerson, Rays, $6,600 – Speaking of leadoff hitters, Corey Dickerson rates as a fantastic value at just $6,600 at home against Mike Fiers. Last year, Fiers struggled mightily away from Minute Maid Park as he finished the season with a .287/.345/.502 slash line and .361 wOBA allowed away from home. Overall (regardless of location), Fiers allowed a ridiculous 35.3-percent hard hit rate and 25.9-percent line drive rate. Basically, a huge amount of the contact he allowed was of the hard variety which bodes well for a powerful bat like Dickerson. Despite only managing a .334 wOBA against righties last year, Dickerson’s .264 ISO led the team and his .510 SLG ranked second. Over the course of his career, Fiers has fared as a slight reverse splits pitcher but lefties still produced a .321 wOBA and nine homers off of him in 75.2 IP. Rostering leadoff hitters theoretically creates a higher floor in cash games because more opportunities equals more potential for production in baseball. At this price point, he both is a safe play and opens up some much needed salary for some of the upper-echelon pitchers and/or bats.
Corey Kluber, Indians, $21,000 – Death, taxes and targeting bats against the White Sox are the three surest things in life because the bottom of the White Sox’ order belongs in AAA. Meanwhile, Corey Kluber is a former Cy Young Award winner who was also nominated for the award last year so there is quite a discrepancy in talent here. So far this year, the White Sox have struck out at a 24.7-percent rate and rank in the bottom 10 of all the following categories against RHP: wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG, OBP, hard hit rate and line drive rate. Hell, they have only hit six bombs against the handedness which is tied for third worst in the MLB as well. Kluber struck out 9.50 batters per nine innings last year and his career mark is almost identical (9.48) to that tally. Against this White Sox team, he could prove to miss bats at an even higher rate and should be a lock to flirt with double-digit strikeouts. Facing easily the worst hitting team in the league, fading Kluber is a scary proposition.
Cole Hamels, Rangers, $18,000 – The Royals simply cannot hit right now and they especially cannot hit LHP. Although they were difficult to strike out last year, the Royals have struck out at the eighth highest percentage against southpaws this year while also posting the lowest wRC+ and second lowest wOBA against the handedness in the American League. To put it in perspective, the Royals currently sport a .195 AVG and .280 OBP against lefties so the advantage certainly goes to Cole Hamels here. Despite suffering through a down season, at least by Hamels’ standards, he still dominated LHHs (.271 wOBA) and allowed just a .316 wOBA to RHHs. Well, thankfully for Hamels, this Royals lineup is loaded with left-handers and their only alternatives are to fill-in with subpar right-handed bats. Either way, it will be a favorable matchup for Hamels in an unfavorable home park. The way the Royals are hitting right now, they could be playing in Coors Field consistently and still struggle to score, so Hamels rates as a rock solid option in any and all formats.
Drew Pomeranz, Red Sox, $13,200 – If feeling lucky, Drew Pomeranz actually pretty quietly draws an excellent matchup against the Orioles. Okay, so he dominated them in his first game back from the disabled list on Apr. 11 so the secret may be out but this price tag is absurd. Of course, with a pitcher facing the same offense for the second time in a short period, there runs the risk of the offense not being as surprised by his arsenal. The advantage actually should go to the hitters this go-around. Even having said that, the Orioles’ .288 wOBA against LHP so far ranks 12th worst in the league and they have struck out at a whopping 27.7-percent versus the handedness. Coincidentally, Pomeranz misses bats at a pretty substantial rate (9.81 K/9 in 2016) so this does set up nicely for him. Other than Trey Mancini and Chris Davis, the Orioles’ next highest wOBA so far against LHP is Adam Jones’ .340. While there will not be the element of surprise, the price tag combined with the matchup pretty much alleviate most of the risk. If looking for upside combined with a reasonable price tag, Pomeranz is as good as it gets on Friday evening.
*Stats are accurate as of Thursday, April 20