Valuing Devers-ity

Rafael Devers has taken the league by storm since his call-up and he draws another fantastic individual matchup tonight (Miguel Gonzalez) so feel free to roster him in all formats. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.

Infield:

Jose Altuve, Astros, $10,800 – After letting his fantasy owners down yesterday, it is time to go back to the Jose Altuve well on Thursday. Opposing starter Blake Snell is as wild as any pitcher in the league and that is not encouraging especially when facing arguably the best offense in the league. Furthermore, righties have posted a respectable 33.9-percent hard hit rate and 42.1-percent fly ball rate against Snell to complement the .354 wOBA. Over the course of the last few weeks, only the Indians have managed a superior wRC+ comparatively to the Astros, and it will be difficult to slow down their offense if issuing free passes. No base stealers have been thrown out when attempting to steal against Snell this year (3-3) so that is even a bonus for the All-Star second baseman. Altuve, who is slashing .347/.415/.568 against LHP this year, is playable versus every lefty so one lacking control should be mincemeat.

Rafael Devers, Red Sox, $7,200 – All Rafael Devers has done since being called up last week is hit. Although Devers failed to register a hit in his 2017 debut, he still racked up 6.0 fantasy points. Since that time, Devers has hit safely in six consecutive games and has produced at least 7.0 fantasy points in every game during that span. The reason Devers had not been called up sooner is because his glove is still lacking but the bat has been Major League ready for a while. Tonight, Miguel Gonzalez will toe the mound against Devers and the Red Sox in a game where Boston is being implied to score a whopping 6.2 runs. If the team is going to get there, they are going to need production from their red-hot duo: Devers and Eduardo Nunez. On paper, lefties match up better against Gonzalez this season as they have roasted him to the tune of a .355 wOBA, 1.11 HR/9 rate, .284/.349/.495 slash line, 35.1-percent hard hit rate and 38.8-percent fly ball rate. At just $7,200, Devers is about $2,000 underpriced considering his impressive skill set combined with the upper-echelon matchup.

Outfield:

Mookie Betts, Red Sox, $9,900 – Amongst all pitchers who have thrown at least 90 innings this year, Miguel Gonzalez’s 85.6-percent contact rate against is the third highest in the league, behind only Matt Cain and Andrew Cashner. On the other hand, Mookie Betts’ 85.3-percent contact rate ranks 23rd amongst qualified hitters so far this year. The correlation here is impossible to miss and will almost assuredly result in contact for Betts just about every time up. With his team implied to score the most runs of any on the slate, Vegas is likely expecting this contact to result in positive outcomes. Not only is Betts a threat for multiple base hits (and extra-base hits) but he also has stolen 17 bases already this season and only two of the last 12 base stealers against Gonzalez have been caught. Ignore the fact Betts has disappointed this year and fire him up in a spot where he should be producing multiple frozen ropes.

Max Kepler, Twins, $6,000 – If attempting to roster a pair of costly pitchers, and are expecting to fit an expensive bat or two along with them, then at least one punt will be necessary. Well, look no further than the Twins left-handers against gas can A.J. Griffin because they are all underpriced…beginning with Max Kepler. First off, Kepler leads the team in wOBA against RHP this year (.360) and is slashing a respectable .289/.358/.493 in the split with a 36.8-percent hard hit rate and 43.1-percent fly ball rate. All Griffin does is allow fly balls (54.9-percent fly ball rate) and lefties have crushed him for 2.51 homers per nine innings and a .542 SLG. Maybe most importantly, Griffin has only struck out lefties at a 13.9-percent K rate, so Kepler is likely to make contact. Oh, by the way, lefties posted a .403 wOBA against Griffin in 2016 and this will be his first start since being activated off the 60-day disabled list. Advantage: Kepler (and a full Twins stack is intriguing).

Pitchers:

Corey Kluber, Indians, $21,200 – Since the All-Star Break, Aaron Judge is slashing .159/.316/.349 with a .190 ISO, .277 wOBA, 68 wRC+ and 27.0-percent hard hit rate. In fact, Judge, Gary Sanchez, Clint Frazier and Matt Holliday have all posted well below-average wOBAs in the second half thus far. With the team heading into tonight cold, Corey Kluber, who people are likely to shy away from, should be a rock-solid investment as per usual. RHHs have had virtually no chance against Kluber this year anyways as he has held them to a .248 wOBA and struck them out at an outrageous 37.6-percent rate. Lefties have fared slightly better against him but Didi Gregorius swings outside the zone more than any player on the team (and Kluber induces swinging strikes at the highest rate of any pitcher in the league). Overall, the Yankees’ active hitters cumulatively have struck out at the 12th highest rate versus RHP and Kluber has not sunk below 21.65 fantasy points since May 2 despite matchups with the Dodgers, Rangers, Tigers, Blue Jays, etc. The matchup may feel daunting but the “Klubot” should be able to dominate.

Rick Porcello, Red Sox, $18,900 – After winning the American League Cy Young last year, Rick Porcello’s performance has disappointed this year. His biggest problem has been the hard hit rate as literally no other pitcher has yielded hard contact at a 40.0-plus percent rate; Porcello’s currently sits at 41.7-percent. Luckily for Porcello, the current construction of the White Sox offense is basically a Minor League team plus Jose Abreu. Seriously, they rank dead last in wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, AVG and OBP while striking out at a 23.8-percent rate against RHP. As icing on the cake, they have produced the ninth lowest hit rate against the handedness as well. If there ever were a spot for Porcello to revert to the 2016 version of himself, this would be the one.

Sean Newcomb, Braves, $10,400 – If needing a pitcher in the lowest pricing tier in order to fit bats, Sean Newcomb is at least worth a look because of his strikeout potential. In nine starts this season, Newcomb has only failed to reach eight fantasy points twice and double-digit fantasy points thrice. Here are the matchups he has struggled in: versus Astros (-10.30 fantasy points), versus Cubs (4.80 fantasy points) and versus Marlins (8.10 fantasy points). Otherwise, he has posted double-digit fantasy points against the Mets, Giants, Padres (on road), Nationals (on road), Dodgers (on road) and Phillies (on road). Newcomb’s major issue is his propensity to walk opposing hitters but he has only walked 9.8-percent of opposing hitters at home (compared to 14.3-perent on the road). The Dodgers are no walk in the park, but Newcomb owns some reverse splits, meaning he has fared better against RHHs. Coincidentally, the Dodgers like to load their lineup with righties when facing a left-hander so there very well may be a path to success even against a formidable opponent. Essentially, this is a price play.

*Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, August 2

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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