You Won’t Avila Thing

Catchers are not required to be rostered on FantasyDraft but Alex Avila’s matchup is so perfect today that he demands consideration. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.


Eric Thames, Brewers, $7,600 (Early) – If there is one thing we know about Eric Thames in the early going of his career, it is homers come in bunches. When this guy gets hot, there is simply no stopping him, so it is extra noteworthy that he hit a bomb off Dan Straily on Sunday (his last game played). Additionally, this is worth taking into consideration because Thames and the Brewers lefties draw an elite matchup against gas can Ubaldo Jimenez on Tuesday afternoon. Although he has struck out 22.4-percent of the lefties he has faced this year, Jimenez has stilled yielded a .407 wOBA, 13.3-percent BB rate, 3.23 HR/9 rate, .266/.366/.623 slash line, 32.6-percent hard hit rate and 37.5-percent fly ball rate to the handedness. Assuming Thames is now over his cold spell which led him to just a .187 AVG and .318 wOBA over the last month, this is a great spot for Thames to keep the momentum going especially in Miller Park (which is an extremely power-friendly park to LHHs). All-in.

Alex Avila, Tigers, $7,600 (Early) – Catchers are not a required roster spot to fill on FantasyDraft and yet sometimes a matchup is so favorable that a member of the position is still worth rostering…and this is one of those occasions. Amongst all qualified hitters, Alex Avila has produced the highest hard hit rate in the league against RHP and he leads second place (Miguel Sano) by an insane margin (11 percentage points). Today, Avila will square off against Matt Cain and this should be music to fantasy owners’ ears because the Giants right-hander has been both putrid on the road and against LHHs this season. While pitching on the road this season, Cain has been roasted to the tune of a .354/.423/.564 slash line, .416 wOBA, 21.1-percent line drive rate and 40.8-percent fly ball rate. In the split against lefties specifically, Cain has allowed a .314/.397/.467 slash line, .368 wOBA, 26.2-percent line drive rate and 33.6-percent hard hit rate. Now, Cain will be tasked with battling through a negative park shift and a negative league shift (American League parks require facing a designated hitter). In other words, Cain is in a world of trouble and Avila should be the main cause for his concern.


George Springer, Astros, $9,300 (Late) – While most are (correctly) focusing on stacking the bats in Coors Field on the late slate, the Astros are likely to go drastically under-owned against a young lefty consistently fighting through his control issues: Sean Newcomb. Typically, Newcomb relies on swings-and-misses but the Astros have struck out at the third lowest rate in the league against LHP. Also, they have walked at a 9.7-percent rate and have produced phenomenal numbers across the board so there is no doubting this will be Newcomb’s toughest test yet. George Springer leads the team in both wOBA and BB rate against LHP this year so he should theoretically possess both the highest floor and ceiling on the team. In hitter-friendly SunTrust Park, it would not be surprising for Springer to lead the charge for an offense that finally puts a whooping on the inexperienced youngster.

Matt Joyce, Athletics, $6,800 (Early) – The Athletics saw James Shields on Jun. 24 and all they did was touch him up for 10 baserunners, six earned runs (ERs) and three home runs (HRs) in 3.0 innings. Of course, that game was played in a more hitter-friendly ballpark (Guaranteed Rate Field) but this is undoubtedly a terrible matchup for a pitcher of Shields’ skill set. Since the start of last season, Shields has relied on fly ball outs at some of the highest rates of his career and this Athletics team is one of the most powerful in the league (eighth highest ISO against RHP). Sure, they strike out a lot, but they also will hit the ball over the fence if a pitcher misses his spot and they showed that very ability against Shields the last go-around. Shields’ other glaring weakness has been his inability to consistently retire LHHs and this season is no different: .402 wOBA, 14.5-percent K rate, 2.70 HR/9 rate, .268/.406/.554 slash line, 29.8-percent hard hit rate and a ridiculous 57.4-percent fly ball rate. In the previous meeting, Matt Olson was the suggested play, but he has since been sent down, so Matt Joyce stands out as the lefty to play on this offense by default. Against Shields, any left-hander is viable, and Joyce possesses some nice skills against the handedness. Therefore, he can be deployed in all formats.


Corey Kluber, Indians, $24,600 (Late) – Pitching on the late slate is brutal beyond the top two options and distinguishing between the two aces is even difficult. Clayton Kershaw at home is always a monster, and the Diamondbacks struggle on the road, but Corey Kluber against the Padres is difficult to overlook as well. This is a slate where one will be forced to choose between either spending up on a pitcher or stacking a team in Coors Field (most likely the Rockies). If getting creative, Kluber can fit alongside Rockies bats who are a virtual must and he is a virtual must-play against a team that ranks in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, BB rate, AVG, OBP, SLG, hard hit rate and line drive rate against RHP. As icing on the cake, they have struck out at a 25.3-percent rate against the handedness and Kluber has whiffed 10-plus in each of his last four games. If spending up for one ace, Kluber slightly edges out Kershaw as a per-dollar investment.

Jameson Taillon, Pirates, $16,400 (Early) – Clearly, Chris Archer is above and beyond the best pitching option of the early slate so the question that needs to be answered is “who is worth pairing with him?” Well, how about a talented pitcher against the Phillies coming off two straight 19-plus fantasy point performances? Yes, Jameson Taillon has pitched well since returning from testicular cancer surgery and it thankfully appears that he is back to near 100-percent after the procedure. The Phillies rank dead last in the league in terms of wOBA against righties and have struck out at a healthy 23.6-percent rate in the split. Since returning from his ailment, Taillon has allowed just six runs in 22.1 IP and he seems primed to build on that momentum. Consider him an excellent option in both cash games and tournaments.

Daniel Gossett, Athletics, $10,800 (Early) – Daniel Gossett is not an exciting talent by any stretch of the imagination but he has induced ground balls at a solid rate at every level he has pitched at since being drafted in 2014. Two of Gossett’s four starts have come against the Astros thus far so his numbers are a little skewed but he faced this very White Sox team about two weeks ago and shut them down. With this contest being played in Gossett’s pitcher-friendly home park, the spot becomes even more compelling when factoring in his price tag. Oh by the way, the White Sox have posted the fourth lowest wOBA in the league against RHP and rank in the bottom 10 of wRC+, ISO, BB rate, OBP, SLG, hard hit rate and line drive percentage. Gossett is easily the best pitcher in the bargain pricing tier on the early slate and is the key to fitting a plethora of expensive bats.

*Stats are accurate as of Monday, July 3

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, 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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