Morales of the Story

Kendrys Morales has excelled against Doug Fister in 22 career at-bats, producing a respectable 96.6mph average exit velocity. Since Fister has struggled against lefties once again this year, Morales can be fired up in all formats. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.

Infield:

Mike Napoli, Rangers, $7,800 (Late) – On paper, the Rangers have been horrendous against LHP this year but a date with Wade Miley should change their luck. Despite the struggles, the Rangers roster includes three different hitters with .350-plus career wOBAs against southpaws, with Mike Napoli (.386) leading the pack. Also of note is the fact Napoli owns the highest career BB rate against LHP amongst all active members of the team (14.4-percent) because Miley has walked opposing hitters at the third highest rate of any qualified pitcher this year. Stacking the Rangers is a frustrating proposition, because multiple members of the team are boom-or-bust type talents, but Napoli stands out as the best play of the bunch. Vegas is implying 4.9 runs for the Rangers and it will likely take a few home runs (HRs) for the team to get there. Fortunately, Miley has yielded a .385 wOBA and 1.64 HR/9 rate to RHHs this year while only striking them out at an 18.3-percent rate. If a lefty is not going to miss Napoli’s bat then he is going to make them pay. Start him in all formats.

Kendrys Morales, Blue Jays, $7,600 (Early) – One player who may go overlooked on the early slate is Kendrys Morales because Justin Smoak leads the team in wOBA against both sides of the plate this year. When fantasy owners think about the Blue Jays first baseman worth rostering, Smoak is always the first name that comes to mind. While he is playable on this slate as well, Morales may be the superior play of the two. Batter versus pitcher data (BvP) can be misleading but looking at previous exit velocity versus a pitcher shows the quality of contact they have made. In 22 career at-bats (ABs) against probable starter Doug Fister, Morales has posted seven hits, including three home runs (HRs), with an average exit velocity of 96.6mph for the balls put in play. Fister has allowed a .476 wOBA to LHHs in a small sample size this year and has struggled against the handedness throughout the entirety of his career (37.5-percent fly ball rate, only 16.5-percent K rate). While most are paying up for Smoak, Morales quietly may present the superior value of the two.

Outfield:

Cody Bellinger, Dodgers, $10,500 (Late) – Targeting lefties against Mike Foltynewicz has been a profitable endeavor during his Major League tenure and tonight he will draw the tough task of trying to shut down the Dodgers lineup. Of course, the Dodgers lineup is loaded with powerful lefties, starting with Cody Bellinger and his 26 bombs so far this season (tied for second in the National League). All lefties have done against Foltynewicz this year is posted a .375 wOBA (third highest of any pitcher on the slate), 9.6-percent BB rate, 1.64 HR/9 rate, .314/.383/.497 slash line, 26.7-percent line drive rate, 32.0-percent hard hit rate and a massive 40.7-percent fly ball rate. Hell, Foltynewicz has also struck them out at a much lower rate (18.2-percent) comparatively to right-handers (22.2-percent). Since he will not be able to blow it by Bellinger, contact will most likely result in a hard hit fly ball. In Bellinger’s case, that means the fly ball has a great shot to leave the yard, so act accordingly in rostering him.

Tommy Pham, Cardinals, $9,000 (Early) – Since Seth Lugo figures to be a somewhat popular punt option at the starting pitcher position on Thursday afternoon, Tommy Pham may fly under the radar. Heading into today, Pham has managed at least double-digit fantasy points in 9 of his last 12 games. During that span, he has hit three homers, stolen four bases and driven in a whopping 13 runs. In other words, Pham is en fuego and low-key morphing into an upper-echelon player in this league. Despite his nasty curveball, Lugo has posted some reverse splits this year; righties have produced a .353 wOBA, 1.47 HR/9 rate and .282/.342/.493 slash line against him. The Cardinals/Mets matchup is a virtual toss-up according to Vegas with both teams being implied to score around 4.6 runs. If the Cardinals are able to reach that total, they will need production from their powerful righty hitting second, and he should oblige. Feel free to fire him up in both cash games and tournaments.

Pitchers:

Madison Bumgarner, Giants, $22,800 (Late) – The only knock on Madison Bumgarner tonight is the fact he just faced this same Padres team in his last outing. However, this game will be played in arguably the one ballpark than can actually be considered a positive ballpark shift for the pitchers: AT&T Park. Fewer homers have been launched out of the Giants’ home stadium than other park and it is playing at the pitcher-friendly environment in the league by a wide margin this year. The Padres are nearly completely devoid of power as it is but this ballpark will fully sap any team’s power. Essentially, this is a fantastic matchup for Bumgarner despite the Padres having just seen him. For the season, the Padres rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP, SLG and line drive percentage while striking out at the highest rate in the league (27.8-percent) against the handedness. All aboard the Bumgarner train tonight.

Brandon McCarthy, Dodgers, $13,200 (Late) – One pitcher who inevitably is going to heavily owned on this slate is Brandon McCarthy but he is difficult to avoid. Freddie Freeman left last night’s game with a hand injury and he may or may not make the lineup on Thursday. If so, McCarthy would emerge as by far the best value on the slate whereas fantasy owners would at least have to think twice if Freeman is starting. Vegas is only implying 3.3 runs for the Braves in Dodger Stadium although McCarthy has only struck out six batters in his last 13.2 IP combined. The Braves currently rank 12th worst in wOBA against RHP, and McCarthy should get run support, so he should theoretically compete for the position lead in fantasy-points-per-dollar tonight.

Luis Castillo, Reds, $13,600 (Early) – Admittedly, I am a sucker for swinging strike rate, and Luis Castillo’s 13.0-percent tally in the category is beyond impressive. Since his call-up, Castillo has averaged 98.0mph on his fastball and that has rated as his worst pitch. Both his breaking ball and his changeup rate as above average pitches and Castillo has struck out both lefties and righties at a 29-plus percent rate. Strikeouts are a very important part of pitcher scoring on FantasyDraft so the ability to miss bats is huge…especially for a pitcher priced this cheaply. The Diamondbacks are no walk in the park but they have struck out at the 10th highest rate in the league against RHP. If looking for upside at a minuscule cost, Castillo is one of the best risk/reward options of the day.

*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, July 19

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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