Gray Matter

Jon Gray will enjoy a significant positive park shift and face a Padres team that strikes out at the 10th highest rate versus right-handed pitching. In other words, his ceiling far exceeds his mid-tier price tag. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB contests.

Infield:

Chris Iannetta, Diamondbacks, $7,200 – Typically, catchers are not worth rostering on FantasyDraft mostly because they are not required. Catchers are slow and the better hitters can be pulled for defensive replacements late in games but sometimes their matchup is excellent that they actually demand consideration…and tonight is one of those nights. The top of the Diamondbacks lineup is arguably the best in the league at hitting left-handers (when considering the depth) and Chris Iannetta fits right in: .388 wOBA, .297/.402/.500 slash line, .203 ISO, 135 wRC+ and a 34.0-percent fly ball rate. While his numbers do not quite match up to the likes of Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez, he hits in front of those guys so he is habitually driven in by the dominant duo. Most importantly, Iannetta costs significantly less and he is a great way to get some exposure to the Diamondbacks stack without paying top dollar. While the whole stack is in play against Adam Conley (.348 wOBA allowed to RHHs this year), Iannetta is the most affordable one-off amongst the intriguing hitters in the middle of the order (A.J. Pollock, Goldschmidt and Martinez). Hell, do not sleep on Adam Rosales either.

Jason Kipnis, Indians, $6,900 – To be fair, Jason Kipnis has not exactly hit the cover off the ball this year as he heads into Friday slashing .228/.284/.407 with 11 homers and 31 RBIs in 82 games, but he is a better hitter than he has shown. Although Kipnis will head into tonight sporting a .305 wOBA against RHP this year, his career .348 wOBA suggests positive regression is on the horizon. What better time to positively regress than in a matchup against Erasmo Ramirez who has yielded a .354 wOBA and 11 homers to LHHs this year in just 44.0 IP? With Vegas factoring the negative park shift into the team’s 4.9 implied run total, people may choose to ignore Indians on the slate. Ramirez’s FIP and xFIP have both risen drastically in the second half so his surface numbers are misleading. A solid offense like the Indians should punish Ramirez and Kipnis is simply too each (for tournaments).

Outfield:

Dexter Fowler, Cardinals, $10,000 – If you have not been paying attention to baseball for the last week, you probably missed the fact Dexter Fowler is en fuego right now. If it were not for rookies like Rhys Hoskins and Matt Olson setting records, it would be safe to call Fowler the hottest hitter in the game. Prior to Thursday, Dexter Fowler was slashing .455/500/.579 with a .671 wOBA and 329 wRC+ (both best amongst qualified hitters) over the course of the last seven days. Then, Fowler went and produced three more hits yesterday including two doubles and two RBI. Opposing starter Ivan Nova rarely misses bats which is obviously a huge negative against a red-hot hitter such as Fowler. In the split against lefties specifically, Nova has only struck them out at a measly 12.5-percent rate and they have slashed .293/.329/.505 against him this year with a .350 wOBA, 25.5-percent line drive rate and 34.8-percent hard hit rate. Good luck retiring Fowler with those subpar numbers, Mr. Nova.

Kevin Kiermaier, Rays, $8,800 – This matchup is incredible for Kevin Kiermaier for a variety of reasons beginning with the stolen base upside. Probable starter Ubaldo Jimenez has allowed opposing base stealers to swipe the second most bags against him of any active pitcher since the start of the 2013 season (behind only Jon Lester). Thus far, Kiermaier has stolen 14 bases this year and nine of those have come off RHPs. Furthermore, the individual matchup jumps off the page because Jimenez is one of the worst starters in the league against LHP. In 64.0 IP against lefties, Jimenez has been roasted to the tune of a .293/.366/.614 slash line, .405 wOBA, 36.4-percent hard hit rate and 38.1-percent fly ball rate which has led to 20 homers to the handedness already. Quietly, Kiermaier has launched 10 bombs off righties this year so he certainly should flash his five-tool skill set tonight. At an unusually expensive price tag for Kiermaier, he is worth every penny.

Pitcher:

Justin Verlander, Astros, $24,400 – Pitching at this time of the year is annoying because most teams choose not to extend their starters deep into the game with all the additional roster spots. The few exceptions to the rule are teams fighting for playoff seeding but the Astros are going to win this division for fun. Still, Justin Verlander has thrown at least 6.0 IP in 12 consecutive starts including three straight since being acquired by the Astros. In fact, Verlander has gone six, eight and seven innings in his three starts with Astros respectively and struck out seven, nine and 10 in those starts.  Now, Verlander will square off against an Angels teams filled with righties tonight, and Verlander has held righties to a .273 wOBA this year. All aboard the Verlander train at SP1 because there is no one even remotely as reliable.

Rich Hill, Dodgers, $18,000 – Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said he was going to limit the starters’ innings down the stretch which makes starting Rich Hill a bit of a scary proposition. However, as noted earlier, all teams not playing for anything will limit starters to keep them healthy anyways. Hill faces a Giants team devoid of power at home this evening and Vegas is only implying 3.0 runs for the Giants. Against LHP this year, the Giants rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO, OBP, SLG and hard hit rate, so Hill should steamroll this team as long as Roberts allows him to. The price factors in the risk so Hill is still a rock-solid investment in all formats.

Jon Gray, Rockies, $17,400 – Lately, targeting against the Padres has not been fun as they rank 17th in wOBA over the course of the last week. For them, that is a solid performance, but overall it is still below average and Jon Gray has the stuff to blow any offense away. This season, Gray has fared like a reverse splits pitcher but arguably the Padres’ top righty, Jose Pirela, has been ruled out for the remainder of the season. The Padres’ active hitters cumulatively have struck out at the 10th highest rate against RHP and Gray has struck out 25.3-percent of hitters on the road. At just $17,400, Gray should easily compete for the positional lead in terms of fantasy-points-per-dollar tonight.

*Statistics are accurate as of Thursday, September 21

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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