Khris-tmas in July

Khris Davis strikes out more than 30-percent of the time against right-handed pitching but Matt Cain literally induces swinging strikes at the lowest rate of any pitcher in the league. Therefore, Davis should flash his power stroke tonight. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.

Infield:

Justin Smoak, Blue Jays, $9,600 – Anytime James Shields toes the mound, fantasy owners must take notice because he is the epitome of a gas can. Even in a game where White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone noted Shields’ changeup looked as nasty as it has all year, the right-hander still yielded five runs in just 4.0 IP. The man simply has nothing left and it is evident in the fact lefties have posted a .440 wOBA against him this year to go along with a 3.52 HR/9 rate, .307/.426/.644 slash line, 30.6-percent hard hit rate and a 51.8-percent fly ball rate. Hell, Shields has walked LHHs at a higher rate (14.8-percent) than he has struck them out (13.1-percent) and that is pretty much a microcosm of the way his season has gone. Meanwhile, Justin Smoak is amidst a breakout season where he has already launched 29 homers and driven in 69 runs. Against righties specifically, Smoak owns a .382 wOBA and only Aaron Judge, Khris Davis, Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper have hit more home runs (HRs) against the handedness this year. If there were ever a prime spot for Smoak to go deep, this would be the one.

Mike Moustakas, Royals, $8,400 – Speaking of players in an excellent power matchup, Mike Moustakas and the Royals have themselves a date with Ubaldo Jimenez on Monday evening. All lefties have done against Jimenez this year is roast him to the tune of a .412 wOBA, 11.5-percent BB rate, 2.98 HR/9 rate, .283/.370/.632 slash line, 34.8-percent hard hit rate and a 37.3-percent fly ball rate. In 31 career at-bats (ABs) against Jimenez, Moustakas has not fared well: 5-31 (.161) with just one homer and an average exit velocity of 76.5mph. However, this should keep his ownership down, and Jimenez is legitimately just a shell of his former self while Moustakas has developed into an All-Star caliber player. Therefore, the batter versus pitcher (BvP) data is worth ignoring, especially because Moustakas leads the team in homers against RHP by a large margin (22 to Salvador Perez’s 14). Jimenez relies heavily on fly ball outs to retire hitters so he is going to have a tough time keeping Moustakas and his .304 ISO out of the right field bleachers.

Outfield:

Khris Davis, Athletics, $9,000 – Opposing pitchers are able to consistently retire Khris Davis if they are able to miss his bat. Amongst all hitters with at least 150 at-bats (ABs) against RHP this year, Davis’ 32.3-percent K rate ranks 12th worst. Luckily for Davis, Matt Cain literally has induced by far the lowest swinging strike rate (4.8-percent) of any pitcher who has thrown at least 100 innings this year. By comparison, Andrew Cashner ranks second to last with a 5.9-percent swinging strike rate and then Ty Blach would be next all the way up at a 6.9-percent. Cain simply has nothing left in the tank and is no longer a Major League quality pitcher so bats are always worth targeting against him. In past seasons, Cain had fared significantly worse against LHHs than RHHs but the depreciated version of himself gets shelled nearly evenly by both sides of the plate. Consequently, Davis will make undoubtedly make contact and that quite often ends in extra-base hits (XBH) for the powerful righty.

Nelson Cruz, Mariners, $7,600 – Why is Nelson Cruz priced like a mediocre talent? Name value alone suggests Cole Hamels should be a formidable opponent but he is another pitcher having issues missing bats this year. Hamels sports a career 12.2-percent swinging strike rate and yet he has only induced a 7.9-percent rate in 2017 to this point. This has led to a career-low 14.4-percent K rate and career-worst 5.04 SIERA. In other words, there is no reason to fear this individual matchup, especially considering the positive park shift for Cruz and the Mariners’ offense. As per usual, Cruz against a left-hander is a lock, and this LHP has allowed a 38.8-percent hard hit rate and 33.1-percent fly ball rate to RHHs this year. All aboard the Cruz train at this irrationally affordable price tag.

Pitchers:

Luis Severino, Yankees, $23,100 – This has been a season of ups and downs for Luis Severino. Here are his xFIPs by month this season, beginning with April: 2.40, 3.45, 2.89 and 3.48 in July so far. Essentially, his tally in the category this year has moved up and down like a heartbeat on a heart rate monitor.  Fortunately for Severino, he will be squaring off against a Tigers team on Monday that will be sans J.D. Martinez (traded last week) and Alex Avila (traded last night), so their lineup is certainly watered down comparatively to the start of the year. Their current active hitters cumulatively rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG and SLG against RHP so this matchup is not nearly as daunting as it seems. Severino has struck out over 30-percent of the RHHs he has faced this year and the Tigers just traded their best left-hander (plus Alex Presley is on the disabled list). Basically, Severino should cruise here and rack up the strikeouts. Fading him is a scary proposition.

Charlie Morton, Astros, $20,700 – LHHs have not stood much of a chance against Charlie Morton this year: .261 wOBA, 29.5-percent K rate, 0.65 HR/9 rate, .169/.289/.288 slash line, 29.9-percent hard hit rate and a 30.2-percent fly ball rate. The Rays projected lineup, assuming Logan Morrison is healthy enough to play, will feature five LHHs. Add in the fact the Rays have struck out at the fourth highest rate against RHP and it is easy to see why Morton’s matchup jumps off the page. With a plethora of affordable hitters on this slate, spending up for two expensive pitchers is the preferred strategy (especially in cash games).

Marco Estrada, Blue Jays, $12,800 – If looking to spend on bats, Marco Estrada is the only cheap pitcher with any semblance of upside. With Avisail Garcia on the disabled list and Melky Cabrera traded, the White Sox are nothing more than a bottom-dwelling offense against RHP with what little firepower they have left. One day, Yoan Moncada will be an excellent player in the MLB, but he is still figuring things out in the big leagues at this point. Estrada, who has walked at least three hitters in seven consecutive games, will face a White Sox offense that walks at by far the lowest rate in the league against RHP. Since they are mostly devoid of power as well, Estrada may be able to get away with his wildness and reliance on fly ball outs. While he is not safe by any means, the White Sox present arguably the best possible matchup he could ask for.

*Stats are accurate as of Sunday, July 30

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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