Gather ‘Round, it’s Story Time

Trevor Story is susceptible to strikeout pitchers but Clayton Richard pitches to contact. Consequently, it could be bombs away tonight for the Rockies’ shortstop. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.

Infield:

Justin Smoak, Blue Jays, $9,300 – While batter versus pitcher data (BvP) typically does not interest me, Justin Smoak’s is substantial and simply makes sense. In 19 career at-bats (ABs) versus Bartolo Colon, Smoak is 6-19 (.316) with two bombs, five extra-base hits (XBH) and an average exit velocity of 100.0mph. 2017 has clearly been Smoak’s breakout season and he has posted some impressive numbers versus RHP: .362 wOBA, .274 ISO, .257/.334/.531 slash line with a healthy 40.5-percent hard hit rate and 44.5-percent fly ball rate. Meanwhile, Colon has yielded a .388 wOBA, 1.93 HR/9 rate, .318/.368/.558 slash line, 42.6-percent hard hit rate and 45.6-percent fly ball rate to LHHs this year. As icing on the cake, Colon has only struck out lefties at a 13.5-percent rate, so it is easy to see why a left-handed power bat has excelled in this individual matchup. Feel free to roster Smoak in both cash games and tournaments because he is on red-alert to go deep.

Trevor Story, Rockies, $8,000 – Trevor Story is a strikeout machine (33.3-percent K rate versus LHP) but when he makes contact it usually spells trouble for the opposing pitcher. Tonight, Clayton Richard will head to the hitters’ paradise that is Coors Field and attempt to shut down a loaded Rockies lineup. Overall, the Rockies’ active players cumulatively rank first in wOBA against LHP (.347 wOBA) and their numbers are unsurprisingly significantly better when in the split at home (.379 wOBA). Since Richard only whiffs RHHs at a 14.3-percent rate, the odds are in Story’s favor that he will actually make contact. If so, Story is as powerful as they come, and he currently owns a .464 wOBA, .416 ISO (!), .327/.411/.743 slash line, 51.4-percent hard hit rate and a 48.6-percent fly ball rate. Richard is a pure ground-baller and Story prefers to hit the ball in the air so something has got to give. Considering Story is 3-6 off Richard with a dong, the advantage goes to the batter in the elite hitting environment.

Outfield:

Rhys Hoskins, Phillies, $10,400 – In his first 34 games as a Major Leaguer, Rhys Hoskins has already hit 18 home runs (HRs). In fact, since Aug. 10 (his pro debut), he leads the majors in homers, runs scored (32) and RBIs (39). Basically, he has been playable almost every night since his call-up and Friday is no exception. Luckily for Hoskins, the Phillies will do battle with a pitcher who has allowed a monstrous 3.86 HR/9 rate to RHHs this year despite playing half his games in pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum. Amongst all starters on tonight’s slate, Daniel Mengden has also struck out righties at the lowest rate (9.4-percent) of them all. If unable to avoid the barrel of Hoskins bat, this young superstar has a great shot to put another one in the left field bleachers.

Jesse Winker, Reds, $6,600 – Probable starter Chad Kuhl has dealt with ineffectiveness against LHHs all season long and now he will toe the mound in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. Pitching in Cincinnati’s home park is frustrating for pitchers because the park’s dimensions are so darn small. What would be a routine fly ball in most other parks has the chance to leave the yard and the park plays especially power-friendly for left-handed pull hitters. To this point, Jesse Winker, the team’s presumed leadoff hitter, has pulled the ball against RHP at a 42.6-percent rate. On the Reds, he is one of three hitters who has pulled the ball at a rate greater than 42-percent in the split, so the entire lineup finds themselves in a favorable matchup. Oh, by the way, lefties have hit the ball hard 37.2-percent of the time against Kuhl and hit the ball in the air 42.1-percent of the time. At this price point, Winker is worth every penny, and his salary relief is necessary on a slate with a ton of expensive assets.

Pitcher:

Chris Sale, Red Sox, $25,200 – Only the Athletics have struck out at a higher rate against southpaws this year than the Rays so the squad from Tampa Bay cannot be excited to see Chris Sale come to town. Sale should dominate this team that ranks in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, AVG, OBP, SLG and hard hit rate against LHP in a pitcher-friendly park. The Rays’ active hitters have combined to slash .212/.264/.307 off sale in their careers with 81 Ks in 212 at-bats (ABs). To put it differently, they have struck out at a 38.2-percent rate against him. No one on the slate possesses comparable upside to Sale so fading him is dangerous.

Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks, $24,400 – Relying heavily on fly ball outs in Chase Field is a scary proposition but relying on them in AT&T Park is a recipe for success. Fewer homers have been hit in AT&T Park this year than any other stadium and it is not even close. Ray has allowed righties to hit the ball in the air at a 41.6-percent rate and lefties to hit fly balls at a 40.4-percent rate. The Giants lineup is completely devoid of power as evident by the fact they rank dead last in ISO against LHP. Now, factor in the Giants ranking in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, BB rate, OBP, SLG, hard hit rate and line drive percentage and it is easy to see why Ray is a superb play in all formats (and the direct pivot from Sale).

Mark Leiter Jr., Phillies, $12,600 – If looking for a bargain at the starting pitcher position to try and fit some bats, Mark Leiter Jr. fits the bill. He will square off against an Athletics team who will be dealing with a negative league shift (lose their designated hitter). Furthermore, the Athletics have struck out at the highest rate in the American League (AL). This season, Leiter has struck out both lefties at righties at about a 21-percent rate and he has limited hard contact from both sides of the plate. If there is one area where the Athletics excel, it is in the power department, but it is tough to create power if they cannot hit the ball hard. Therefore, Leiter should inevitably win out and he should easily compete for the positional lead in fantasy-points-per-dollar if he can keep the ball in the ballpark.

*Statistics are accurate as of Thursday, September 14

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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