MLB DEEP DIVE – 5/10/17
Yu Darvish [RHP – TEX] vs. SDP – It doesn’t get much easier than this — Darvish is a -200 ML favorite at home against a Padres squad that strikes out at a 25.3 percent clip with the league’s fifth worst wOBA (.294) vs. right-handed pitching. I’m not worried about Rangers Ballpark hamstringing Darvish’s production, as he’s actually pitched better at home for his career than he has on the road. He may not be a ground ball pitcher, but he’ll rack up strikeouts at an elite clip (career 30% K-rate, 12% SwStr) and limits hard contact. He is firmly planted in the non-Kershaw top tier of pitchers and should face little adversity in his attempts to mow down this punchless Padres lineup on Wednesday night. I’m not at all against paying a premium for someone who possesses legitimate 40-DKPT upside.
Chris Archer [RHP – TB] vs. KC – The Royal have now scored seven runs in consecutive games, which comes as a huge surprise to anyone who’s even casually followed baseball this season. Blake Snell imploded on Monday and the Rays’ bullpen collapsed yesterday after Matt Andriese held the Royals to two earned runs across 5.1 innings of work. Chris Archer is not Matt Andriese, and he certainly isn’t Blake Snell. Actually, Archer is one of the league’s premiere righties, who through his first seven starts is sporting a 25.7 percent K-rate, 11.9 percent swinging strike rate and 3.17 FIP.
Archer is holding opposing righties to a .268 wOBA in 2017, and although he’s always had some trouble with opposite-handed bats, Kansas City boasts a far from formidable presence from the left side of the plate. Alex Gordon has still yet to record his first homer on the season, Brandon Moss is striking out at a 33.7 percent clip, and Eric Hosmer is sporting a dismal .131 ISO vs. RHP. Mike Moustakas has been serviceable, but this Royals team as a whole has been dreadful.
Archer is a massive -190 ML favorite at home inside the pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field, while the Royals’ 3.2-run implied total serves as the second lowest mark on Wednesday’s nine-game main slate. Archer won’t come cheap, and I have him ranked behind Yu Darvish for now, but Kansas City’s .284 wOBA and .139 ISO vs. right-handed pitching surely makes him one of the most appealing arms on the night.
Danny Salazar [RHP – CLE] @ TOR – I wanted to reserve this spot for Kenta Maeda [RHP – LAD], who draws a home matchup against the scuffling Pirates, but his unreliable pitch counts keep him from being a top option on Wednesday night. I love Maeda’s matchup, I love that he’s a -200 ML favorite inside the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, and I love that Pittsburgh has been putrid against right-handed pitching. What I don’t love, however, is the fact that Maeda has thrown more than 87 pitches in only one of his first six starts in 2017. You could argue that Maeda has faced some tough teams that chased him from the mound early, but there’s still plenty of risk associated with rostering him at a upper-mid-range price point.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about one of the most electric, infuriating, exciting and unpredictable pitchers in the game. Danny Salazar owns as much strikeout upside as anyone, boasting a massive 32.9 percent K-rate and 16.6 percent swinging strike rate on the season, ranking fourth and first, respectively, among all starting pitchers. Salazar’s frequent loss of command (10.7% BB) has kept him from becoming an elite pitcher — Salazar is averaging the sixth most pitches per inning on the year — but he offers such immense upside that we’d be foolish to ignore him against the Blue Jays. When Salazar has everything working, he becomes virtually impossible to hit, as evidenced by his league-leading 45.3 percent O-Contact rate and 32.6 percent O-Swing rate in 2017.
Toronto continues to lug around a bottom-five wOBA vs. RHP (.281), while their .141 ISO is equally uninspiring. Moreover, the Jays are striking out at a 22.9 percent clip (9th), while walking only 7.3 percent of the time (25th). If Salazar can harness his stuff on Wednesday I wouldn’t be surprised to see him post his best fantasy totals of the young season. He’s a rather heavy road favorite (-145 ML) against a Blue Jays squad that owns a modest 3.6-run implied total at the Rogers Centre. If you fancy yourself a risk taker, Salazar is unquestionably going to be your guy.
Jason Hammel [RHP – KC] @ TB – Jason Hammel is far from an exciting pitcher, but any pedestrian right-hander can warrant consideration when facing the Rays. On the season, Tampa Bay is striking out at a league-high 26.3 percent clip vs. RHP. They own league average numbers vs. righties overall, but are susceptible to huge strikeout totals on any given night, and that’s where Hammel comes into play. Hammel finished his last two campaigns with a double-digit swinging strike rate and a combined 22.8 percent K-rate, both of which serve as above average marks. Those numbers are down in 2017, but Hammel doesn’t appear to be doing anything differently so I’d expect him to rebound eventually. If you’re looking to stack bats in GPPs you could do much worse than Hammel, but with this being a non-Coors slate I don’t see it being a necessary move.
HONORABLE MENTION: Lance Lynn [RHP – STL] @ MIA – Lynn gets no respect. The 29-year-old right-hander has been very impressive since returning from Tommy John, owns a career 22.8 percent K-rate and hold right-handed hitters to a miniscule .276 wOBA. Miami has a few lefty bats scattered throughout their lineup, but the bulk of their power comes from the right side of the plate. Marlins Park is also a pitcher-friendly venue. Lynn will go almost entirely overlooked on Wednesday, but I have no problem targeting him as a SP-2 in GPPs on two-pitcher sites.
Eric Thames [1B – L] vs. Kendrick [RHP – BOS] – I simply cannot justify fading Barry Thames against Kyle Kendrick. Milwaukee’s power-hitting first baseman is hammering righties to the tune of a .453 wOBA and .357 ISO with a 41 percent flyball rate to boot. He’s tied for the league lead in homers with 13 and is second in runs scored with 32. How can you not love him against arguably the worst righty in baseball? Kendrick allows a career .362 wOBA to LHB, while serving up 1.34 HR/9 and striking out a dismal 12 percent of batters. He’s as putrid as they come, as evidenced by Milwaukee’s 5.1-run implied total at the hitter-friendly Miller Park. Thames is undoubtedly a top overall option on Wednesday’s nine-game slate.
A.J. Pollock [OF – R] vs. Boyd [LHP] – To be clear, Paul Goldschmidt [1B – R] is also a top option on Wednesday, but I’m trying to get some positional diversity in here and Thames has already been listed. Pollock draws the same matchup as Goldschmidt, is leading off for a power-laden D-Backs squad, and draws the start inside the hitter-friendly Chase Field. Matt Boyd has had a serious homer problem over his career, allowing 1.75 HR/9 to RHB with a 50 percent flyball rate. He should get torched on Wednesday against this righty-heavy Arizona squad that currently owns a massive 5.7-run implied total at home. Pollock isn’t your prototypical power hitter, but he can rack up extra-base hits at an elite clip, and is willing to steal whenever he reaches safely. Both Pollock and Goldschmidt should be considered top options in all formats across the industry, and a Diamondbacks stack is definitely in order.
Mookie Betts [OF – R] @ Anderson [RHP] – Chase Anderson has often been thought of as a southpaw who throws with his right hand. What I mean by that is his pitch mix/selection resembles that of a lefty, and so do his career splits; Anderson is allowing a .353 wOBA to opposing righties over his career compared to a .312 wOBA vs. left-handed bats. Anderson isn’t an awful pitcher, but I don’t have much confidence in him to escape unscathed on Wednesday. Boston boasts ample talent from the right side of the plate, and Miller Park won’t do Anderson any favors, either. Furthermore, Anderson is allowing 1.38 HR/9 to RHB with a sub-20 percent K-rate for his career.
I’m expecting Betts to go overlooked on this nine-game slate, as there are several teams with higher expected run totals and better on-paper matchups. Betts has hit righties to the tune of a .372/.197 wOBA/ISO for his career, which isn’t elite but serves as a well above average mark. He won’t come cheap, but we could see Betts go very low owned on a night where picking on Chase Anderson won’t be a necessity.
HONORABLE MENTION: Miguel Cabrera [1B – R] @ Godley [RHP]; Andrew Benintendi [OF – L] @ Anderson [RHP]
Jayson Werth [OF – R] @ Miley [LHP] – Werth has been absolutely dominant vs. left-handed pitching for his career, which immediately puts him in play against Wade Miley. Miley is off to a hot start in 2017, but this is still the same guy who has had some serious problems with right-handed hitters over his career. No, Miley isn’t one of the worst pitchers scheduled to pitch on Wednesday night, but the Nationals are certainly one of the best offenses, as they lead the league in wOBA (.422) and ISO (.282) vs. left-handed pitching by a ridiculously wide margin.
Werth’s career .400/.246 wOBA/ISO split vs. lefties is impressive, and he’ll have an excellent chance to build on that this evening. Anthony Rendon [3B – R], Ryan Zimmerman [1B – R] and Trea Turner [SS – R] all make for excellent plays against Miley, and I’d also consider using Bryce Harper [OF – L] in some Nationals stacks as well. I’ll be looking to get at least one right-handed Washington bat into all of my lineups.
Rougned Odor [2B – L] vs. Perdomo [RHP] – Luis Perdomo has been hammered by left-handed hitters over one-plus seasons in the majors, allowing a Goliath .372 wOBA and 1.95 HR/9 across 345 batters faced. Perdomo does induce a lot of ground balls, but he owns a career 16.3 percent K-rate and won’t have the luxury of pitching inside Petco Park. Game-time temperatures will be hovering around 81 degrees in Arlington, and the Rangers currently boast a 5-run implied total at home.
Odor hasn’t exactly hit for average, but Wednesday’s matchup should remedy his early-season struggles. We know the left-handed second baseman has plenty of power after he recorded 33 home runs in 2016, and he should earn every opportunity to produce against Perdomo and a Padres bullpen that owns a dismal 5.07 ERA on the year. We should also expect Odor’s .202 BABIP to normalize back to his career average soon enough. At $2,900 on FanDuel, Odor is very difficult to ignore. Nomar Mazara [OF – L], Joey Gallo [3B – L] and Shin-soo Choo [OF – L] remain very affordable on DraftKings and FantasyDraft, making them strong options for both cash and GPP.
Travis Shaw [3B – L] vs. Kendrick [RHP] – Travis Shaw doesn’t get much love from the DFS community, but he’ll certainly warrant some attention on Wednesday. Shaw has offered ample power vs. right-handed pitching, sporting a .277 ISO in 2017 with six home runs and 18 RBI. Kendrick, as earlier noted, is one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball, and his splits vs. left-handed hitting are downright atrocious.
Stacking the Brewers makes too much sense, especially considering the majority of them are very reasonably priced. Their 5.1-run implied total is the second highest on Wednesday’s nine-game slate, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see them mount double-digit runs on Kendrick and Co. this evening. My only concern is the Red Sox bullpen, which has been very stout to start the year. Nevertheless, I’ll be looking to roster Shaw, who’s cleaning up for the Brewers and draws the platoon advantage at the homer-happy Miller Park.
HONORABLE MENTION: Yasmany Tomas [OF – R] vs. Boyd [LHP]; Jonathan Villar [2B – L/R] vs. Kendrick [RHP]; Corey Seager [SS – L] vs. Kuhl [RHP]; Nick Castellanos [3B – R] @ Godley [RHP]; Elvis Andrus [SS – R] vs. Perdomo [RHP];
Chris Owings [SS – R] vs. Boyd [LHP] – I’m listing Owings as a value play because he’s way too cheap for this matchup with Matt Boyd. Owings’ salary comes down significantly when he’s facing a string of righties, as he’ll drop to seventh in the D-Backs’ order and his ownership plummets. As a result, we get him at a significant discount against the Tigers’ weak southpaw, and he should be bumped back up to second in the order.
Owings is hitting ahead of Goldschmidt and behind Pollock when facing lefties, who he owns a .405/.216 wOBA/ISO split against in 2017 (excellent numbers for a shortstop). He’s also eight bags this season and is one of only a few hitters with five-plus home runs and five-plus stolen bases this year. I love Owings when facing lefties and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be heavily targeting him on Wednesday. Arizona owns a slate-high 5.7-run implied total vs. Boyd. They should hammer him at Chase Field.
Andrew Romine [OF/SS – L/R] @ Godley [RHP] – Romine will be one of Wednesday’s most popular value options if Ian Kinsler’s hamstring keeps him sidelined for another night. Romine is hardly a great baseball player, but there’s no way we can overlook him if he leads off against Zack Godley. The Diamondbacks’ 27-year-old right-hander has been absolutely tortured at Chase Field over his career, sporting a 6.44 ERA with a 42 percent hard hit rate and .386 wOBA against. He’s also allowed a whopping 1.69 HR/9 at home across 58.2 career innings pitched. As a result, Romine becomes a viable punt by default; if he leads off against Godley, the switch-hitting shortstop won’t need to do much at all in order to pay off such a negligible price tag.
Corey Dickerson [OF – L] vs. Hammel [RHP] – Dickerson doesn’t garner much excitement in the DFS world, but he continues to produce at a dirt cheap price. You don’t roster Dickerson with the hopes of a double-dong game and six RBI, but in matchups with struggling righties he’s very capable of taking them deep or at least racking up a couple of hits. He’s quietly sporting a .362/.216 wOBA/ISO vs. RHP in 2017, and offers significant power with the platoon advantage. Tropicana Field isn’t a hitter’s haven, but it’s hard to ignore his price point when he leads off. Dickerson is a DraftKings-specific play on Wednesday night.
Robinson Chirinos [C – R] vs. Perdomo [RHP] – The catcher position has become so shallow that Chirinos should make for a solid play if he’s slotted into the lineup on Wednesday. I hate using hitters who are way down in the order, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any affordable backstops in good matchups who have favorable batting spots.
Alex Avila [C – L] is the other catcher I’ll be using, drawing the platoon advantage against Zack Godley inside the ultra-hitter-friendly venue known as Chase Field. Depending on where Chirinos is hitting, Avila could easily be the top catcher option on Wednesday’s nine-game slate. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Avila leads the entire league in wOBA vs. RHP (.505) among hitters with 50-plus plate appearances.