Mallex Luthor and the Legion of Doom

Mallex Smith will once again face a starter who is amongst the easiest in the league to run on. With this sort of stolen base upside, there is no reason to overlook Smith on tonight’s slate. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.

Infield:

Anthony Rendon, Nationals, $8,400 – Whenever the Nationals take on a southpaw, Anthony Rendon should be the first name that comes to mind because he has absolutely dominated LHP this season. Although Ryan Zimmerman is priced at a $1,600 more expensive price tag, Rendon leads him in wOBA (.554), ISO (.459), AVG (.405), OBP (.511), SLG (.865), hard hit rate (46.9-percent) and even fly ball rate (50.0-percent) against lefties this year…and Zimmerman is one of the top plays on the slate as well. Rendon has been nothing short of magnificent against the handedness and he will square off against a pitcher tonight who is virtually incapable of missing bats: Justin Nicolino. In 125.2 IP against RHHs, Nicolino has only whiffed 9.2-percent of them while allowing a .343 wOBA, .278/.343/.450 slash line and 31.5-percent hard hit rate. If not going to strike Rendon out then he is going to make the opposing pitcher pay and that should be the case tonight. Start the Nationals third baseman with confidence in all formats.

Javier Baez, Cubs, $5,700 – For a player who owns a career .341 wOBA against LHP, this price tag is simply too affordable to pass on. Like Rendon, Javier Baez will hit lower in the lineup than is ideal but Manager Joe Maddon once referred to Baez as “two separate hitters” against each side of the plate. Of course, what this comment implied is that Baez was a lot more patient and powerful against left-handers than he was against pitchers of the right-handed variety. All-in-all, Baez has slashed .276/.336/.481 against the handedness for his career and the Cubs have rated as third best team against LHP this year (in terms of wOBA). In order to fit a pair of upper-echelon starting pitchers, concessions will need to be made, and this concession features starting a talented hitter for a ridiculously cheap price. In other words, locking in Baez is a near no-brainer.

Outfield:

Mitch Haniger, Mariners, $8,400 – Amongst all pitchers who have thrown at least 10 innings versus RHHs this year, only Josh Collmenter has allowed a higher wOBA to the handedness than probable starter Anibal Sanchez. Amazingly, Sanchez has yielded a .373/.439/.804 slash line, 4.91 HR/9 rate, 55.6-percent hard hit rate and 42.9-percent fly ball rate to righties and this is a pitcher who used to be a border top of the rotation starter. Oh how the mighty have fallen in this case, but nevertheless, do not be even a little bit scared to pray on the weak. The likeliest candidate to take advantage of Sanchez’s struggles is Mitch Haniger as he leads the entire team in wOBA against RHP (and he coincidentally hits from the right side of the plate). In this matchup, Haniger should be priced closer to $10,000, so take this discount all the way to the bank.

Mallex Smith, Rays, $7,200 – Since the start of 2013, Scott Feldman has allowed 78 stolen bases which ranks seventh amongst active pitchers during that time span behind only Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jake Arrieta, Tyson Ross and John Lackey. Essentially, this is not a difficult pitcher to steal on and Feldman has once again allowed the fifth most stolen bases this season alone. All Mallex Smith is going to need to do in this matchup is reach first base and then he should easily be on second. The last time he faced a pitcher in the top five of stolen bases allowed, he stole three bases and homered against Andrew Triggs (just saying). At just $7,200, this is an excellent value for a leadoff hitter clearly possessing a ton of upside in this spot.

Pitchers:

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, $26,000 – What really needs to be said about Clayton Kershaw at this point? Not only is he back to pitching like the best pitcher in the league but the Mets are only being implied to score a miniscule 2.6 runs tonight in Dodgers Stadium. As if those two facts alone were not enough, the Mets rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, AVG and OBP while striking out at a 22.1-percent rate against the handedness. The other night, Jon Lester dropped 30-plus fantasy points on this Mets team and he is nowhere near the pitcher Kershaw is. Fade Kershaw at your own risk because this is very likely going to be one of those vintage Kershaw gems.

Jon Lester, Cubs, $20,400 – Spending down at SP2 tonight feels risky because all the reasonably priced options very clearly have downside in their respective matchups. On the other hand, Jon Lester finds himself in an excellent spot against a Padres team that ranks dead last in wOBA against LHP this year. Other than Jose Pirela, the team does not even possess many base stealing threats, so the team may not even be able to run wild on Lester if they wanted to. Additionally, the Padres rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP, SLG and line drive rate while striking out at a 24.3-percent rate versus the handedness. Lester is coming off his best start of the year and should be able to carry the momentum into this start at home. Pairing Lester with Kershaw limits the potential of the bats able to roster but presents the safest form of roster construction on this slate.

Jake Odorizzi, Rays, $14,700 – Of all the pitchers in the bargain tier, Jake Odorizzi feels like the safest of the bunch, mostly due to the fact he is pitching at home. In 37.2 IP at Tropicana Field this year, Odorizzi has only allowed a .292 wOBA to opposing hitters to go along with a .210/.265/.426 slash line. Over the course of the last two weeks, the Reds have hit for the 19th highest AVG (.263) while only getting on base at a .319 clip. Odorizzi has produced a respectable K rate to both sides of the plate and the Reds are only being implied to score 4.0 runs so he makes sense to consider at this price point.

*Stats are accurate as of Sunday, June 18

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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