MLB DEEP DIVE – 6/26/17
Jeff Samardzija [RHP – SFG] vs. COL – Samardzija earns top honors in the Deep Dive on Friday, mostly because he’s cheap and he has fewer question marks than every other pitcher on this six-game slate. Don’t worry, we’ll discuss Chris Sale and Carlos Carrasco in a moment, but let’s first start with Shark. Samardzija has pitched much better than his 4.74 ERA would indicate this season, as evidenced by a 2.81 DRA and a 3.16 SIERA through 15 starts. He’s surrendered only four home runs at home inside AT&T Park (12 on the road), which is widely considered to be the most pitcher-friendly venue in baseball. He’s also holding right-handed hitters to a .305 wOBA with a 2.89 xFIP and 2.1 percent walk rate thus far.
The Rockies are devoid of left-handed talent outside of Charlie Blackmon, as Carlos Gonzalez will likely remain sidelined, David Dahl has no timetable to return, and Gerardo Parra just started rehabbing this weekend. Only the Twins (vs. Sale) have a lower implied run total than the Rockies (3.6), who own the eighth highest strikeout rate (23.8) away from Coors Field. Samardzija continues to hold same-handed hitters to weak contact (28% HH) while inducing enough ground balls (46.2 GB) to make AT&T Park his bitch on Monday night. Mid-range and value pitching is nonexistent with only six games on the schedule, making Samardzija that much more enticing at his price point.
Carlos Carrasco [RHP – CLE] vs. TEX – Michael Pineda was embarrassingly bad against the Rangers on Sunday, which was rather disappointing when you consider Texas owns a league-high 26.6 percent K-rate and 28th ranked wOBA (.294) away from home. Yankee Stadium is far from a pitcher’s haven, but Pineda had been outstanding here until yesterday’s implosion. I’m willing to go back to the well with Carrasco, though, as Progressive Field doesn’t favor hitters and this is a solid overall matchup for Cleveland’s right-hander.
The Rangers’ lineup was strengthened by Adrian Beltre’s return, but this team still offers a ton of strikeouts against right-handed pitching. Forget about their league-high K-rate on the road — here are some individual strikeout percentages for Texas bats vs. RHP: Gallo (36.2%), Napoli (30.4%), Gomez (27.6%), Odor (24.4%), DeShields (24.1%), Chirinos (22.5%), Choo (20.3%).
If Carrasco can limit power on Monday night he should have no trouble posting elite fantasy totals in a high-upside matchup. Rostering him over Sale is a frightening prospect, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Carrasco produce comparable, or even better fantasy totals than Boston’s ace southpaw evening. The Rangers have been dreadful away from home, are heavy road dogs (CLE -170 ML), and own a sub-4 implied run total (3.8) on Monday night.
Chris Sale [LHP – BOS] vs. MIN – Let’s be real — Chris Sale has been tormented by the Twins over the last few years, but you’re probably not fading him for that purpose tonight. Pitching is awful across the board, and Sale has arguably been the best pitcher in baseball all season long. So while Minnesota has given him trouble in the past, you’d be hard-pressed to leave him out of all lineups on a night where he’s a -216 ML favorite at home. The Twins’ 3.5-run implied total is unsurprisingly the lowest mark on the slate, and they remain massive road dogs despite handing the ball to Jose Berrios on Monday.
I’m not a BvP guy, so I’m not going to base decisions off of past struggles against a specific team. Sale’s 35.1 percent K-rate, 16 percent swinging strike rate and 2.63 xFIP also make it easier to ignore past results. Moreover, Minnesota ranks 25th in ISO vs. left-handed pitching, and I don’t see their sub-20-percent K-rate holding up much longer, either. That being said, I’m not opposed to favoring Shark or Carrasco on FanDuel if you’re looking to fit more bats, especially considering Sale’s ownership should be through the roof. A Carrasco/Samardzija pairing on DraftKings could be very rewarding if Sale doesn’t tally elite numbers against the Twins. This all just depends on your risk tolerance on a night where pitching is thin.
Jose Berrios [RHP – MIN] @ BOS – Berrios makes for a very intriguing tournament play on Monday, as he’ll go vastly overlooked on a slate where he’s price below, but not far below Sale and Carrasco. Berrios is striking batters out at a strong 25.2 percent clip, boasts a double-digit swinging strike rate, and clearly possesses enough upside to break the slate if Boston stays quiet.
The Red Sox, aside from their low strikeout totals, haven’t been all that impressive vs. right-handed pitching, ranking 18th in wOBA (.319) and 26th in ISO (.151) through nearly three months. Nevertheless, DFS players continue to avoid them like the plague. Berrios is holding same-handed hitters to a .221 wOBA with a whopping 31.5 percent K-rate this season, and Boston has only a few potent lefties (Benintendi, Moreland, Bradley Jr.) of which Moreland strikes out 25 percent of the time with the platoon advantage and Bradley has been pedestrian vs. right-handed arms. If you’re looking for that low-owned tournament play with top-shelf upside, look no further than Berrios tonight.
Gary Sanchez [C – R] @ Holmberg [LHP] – Sanchez hasn’t hit left-handed pitching well, but you aren’t going to convince me that he cannot produce against them. You especially aren’t going to convince me that he can’t hit David Holmberg on Monday where the Yankees boast a slate-high 5.9-run implied total at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Here’s the thing: Holmberg is allowing 2.28 HR/9 to RHH for his career, while ceding a .376 wOBA and .256 ISO across 319 total batters faced. He’s also coughing up a 44 percent flyball rate and 37.3 percent hard-hit rate in the process. Sanchez, on the other hand, boasts a mammoth 47 percent hard-hit rate vs. southpaw pitching, and is still maintaining an ISO north of 200 (.218). Don’t believe the hype; Sanchez won’t stay cold against lefties forever, and a matchup with Holmberg inside this hitter-friendly venue could remedy his troubles on Monday night.
Aaron Judge [OF – R] is lugging around a modest .496/.383 wOBA/ISO vs. left-handed pitching this season. I guess that’ll be enough to consider him against Holmberg, but his 48.4 percent flyball rate, 48.4 percent hard contact rate and league-leading 95.9 MPH average exit velocity are really quite concerning. Maybe he’ll get lucky and run into one tonight, but don’t get your hopes up. I guess we’ll have to play him in order to find out.
Cody Bellinger [OF – L] vs Nolasco [RHP] – Bellinger’s .405 ISO vs. right-handed pitching not only leads the league, but leads the league by a wide margin; Aaron Judge ranks second with a .363 ISO, 42 points behind the Dodgers’ rookie slugger. Bellinger has been absolutely fantastic in his freshman campaign, and he should only improve his already gaudy numbers on Monday against Ricky Nolasco.
In 2017, Nolasco has allowed more homers (23) than any other pitcher, while striking left-handed hitters out at dismal 16 percent clip. His 1.93 HR/9 and 44 percent flyball rate vs. lefties are equally deplorable, and I simply don’t see how he’ll be able to escape tonight’s matchup with the Dodgers unscathed. Bellinger is hitting 48 percent fly balls with a Goliath 51 percent hard contact vs. right-handed pitching, so as long as he makes contact against Nolasco good things will surely follow.
Corey Seager [SS – L] will also make for a top play if he’s back in the lineup tonight. The shortstop position is predictably weak, and his Dodgers own the second highest implied run total (5.5) on the slate. If he’s unable to take the field, we’ll likely get some decent value on a night that’s currently devoid of low-end hitting options.
Bryce Harper [OF – L] vs. Butler [RHP] – Speaking of implied run totals, the Nationals (5.3) are third behind only New York (5.9) and Los Angeles (5.5) tonight. Still, Harper will probably be lower owned than both Judge and Bellinger despite obviously elite splits vs. right-handed pitching (.440/.326 wOBA/ISO). To be fair, I prefer both Judge and Bellinger over Harper, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a fantastic play against Eddie Butler.
Chicago’s back-of-the-rotation right-hander has limited home runs this season, but he’s still sporting a 6.24 xFIP and 14.7 percent walk rate vs. left-handed hitters. Furthermore, Butler is inducing no ground balls against lefties (25%), yet hard contact continues to be an issue (38.3% HH). My guess is the home runs will shortly follow, as Butler’s peripherals simply don’t align. Keep Harper and Daniel Murphy [2B – L] on the radar tonight if you’re looking to spend up at their respective positions.
HONORABLE MENTION: Kris Bryant [3B – R] @ Gonzalez [LHP]; Francisco Lindor [SS – L/R] vs. Hamels [LHP] [GPP]
Justin Turner [3B – R] vs. Nolasco [RHP] – Justin Turner’s salary has risen for this plus matchup with Nolasco, but he’s still one of my favorite overall plays on Monday night. Turner is one of the rare right-handed hitters who has hit same-handed pitching significantly better for his career. This should play well for him against Nolasco, who’s allowing a .391 wOBA, .298 ISO and 41.5 percent hard-hit rate to right-handed bats.
Moreover, Nolasco is hemorrhaging home runs to righties, allowing 2.98 HR/9 with a ridiculous 29.2 percent HR/FB rate despite inducing only 44 percent ground balls. It also doesn’t hurt to know that Turner is 14-29 at the dish over his last eight starts, with three home runs, nine RBI and five multi-hit efforts in that span. He’s worth paying for across the industry, and should be a key piece in Dodgers stacks this evening.
Yasiel Puig [OF – R] should also be considered a fantastic mid-range play against Nolasco. 13 of his 14 home runs have come against right-handed pitching this season, and he appears to be heating back up as we approach July. Puig is a stellar play for many of the same reasons Turner tops the list in such a spectacular matchup, and I wouldn’t hesitate to load up on Dodgers bats tonight.
Brian Dozier [2B – R] @ Sale [LHP] – Brian Dozier is strictly a tournament option on Monday, but he’s a phenomenal tournament play nonetheless. Sale is one of, if not the best pitcher in baseball right now, but that doesn’t mean he’s impenetrable. Sale being susceptible to getting hit isn’t why we like Dozier, though; the real reason for targeting Dozier is his dirt cheap price tag and projected low ownership at the hitter-friendly Fenway Park. Dozier gets a sizeable park boost, hits out of the leadoff spot and is available at a second base position that lacks talent outside of Dodger bats. He’s also hitting southpaws to the tune of a .418 wOBA and .240 ISO this season, while striking out at a 15 percent clip.
If you plan on fading Sale, Dozier, Miguel Sano [3B – R] and Eduardo Escobar [3B/SS – L/R] make for a nice three-player mini Twins stack. The truth is Sale has definitively had trouble with Minnesota in the past, and while that type of history doesn’t always predict future results, he’s allowed 49 runs across his last 70.1 innings pitched. My guess is Sale either locks all door and windows tonight or gets hammered. I’ll have pieces of both just in case.
Matt Holliday [1B – R] @ Holmberg [LHP] – Holliday missed Sunday’s game with an allergic reaction (to what is unknown), but he should be back in the lineup tonight. If Holliday does in fact return to the Yankees’ order we’ll want to consider him in all formats across the board. David Holmberg is in for a long night against this righty-heavy Yankees club, as he’s already struggled with opposite-handed hitters and now he’ll have to face a slew of red-hot sluggers in Holliday, Sanchez and Judge.
Holliday’s split against southpaws this season are in line with his career averages, but his 45 percent flyball rate and 45.2 percent hard-hit rate are very much improved. The Yankees are going to score their fair share of runs tonight, and Holliday is priced far more affordably than his counterparts. If he’s starting, you’ll want some exposure. Holliday is in play for both cash games and GPPs.
NOTE: If Holliday is unable to take the field on Monday, Adam Lind [1B – L] should make for a strong pivot assuming he gets the start. Lind is lambasting righties for a .416 wOBA and .269 ISO this season, with six home runs, seven doubles and 27 RBI across only 93 at bats.
HONORABLE MENTION: Yasmani Grandal [C – L/R] vs. Nolasco [RHP]; Chris Taylor [2B/OF – R] vs. Nolasco [RHP]; Starlin Castro [2B – R] vs. Holmberg [LHP] [Stacks Only]; Joc Pederson [OF – L] vs. Nolasco [RHP]
Brian Goodwin [OF – L] vs. Butler [RHP] – Goodwin has been spectacular this season, yet he still remains underpriced across the board and especially on FanDuel ($2,600). As earlier noted, I’m expected Eddie Butler to regress quite heavily in the home run department, and considering Goodwin is hitting almost 52 percent fly balls against right-handed pitching, he may be able to implement some correction on Monday night. At the time of writing this article, Washington has moved ahead of the Yankees for the highest implied run total (5.6) on the slate. Assuming Goodwin is starting again and batting in a somewhat favorable lineup position, he should be strongly considered at his current price point. It’ll be hard to fade him on FanDuel where he allows you to pay up elsewhere.
Chase Utley [1B/2B – L] vs. Nolasco [RHP] – Utley provides us with cheap exposure to the Dodgers on a night where they should pummel Ricky Nolasco. Assuming he leads off again, Utley will draw the platoon advantage against the homer-happy Nolasco, and even has some stolen base upside if he gets aboard. Utley makes for a strong one-off and a perfect stack piece at his price point, but he offers some decent upside, too. He isn’t my top second base option from a projected fantasy points perspective, but certainly makes for a premiere value play across the board.
Javier Baez [2B/SS – R] @ Gonzalez [LHP] – Baez has been bad against same-handed pitching this season, which his kept his salary down when facing southpaws. He’ll draw a matchup with Gio Gonzalez tonight, who is one of the better lefties in baseball but is allowing 1.56 HR/9 to righties in 2017. Baez is sporting a very solid .283 ISO against LHP and possesses as much home run upside as anyone on Monday night. If you’re looking for value at the shortstop position, Baez makes sense.
HONORABLE MENTION: Tyler Austin [OF – R] @ Holmberg [LHP]; Erik Gonzalez [2B/SS – R] vs. Hamels [LHP]; Matt Wieters [C – L/R] vs. Butler [RHP] [GPP]