MLB DEEP DIVE – 6/30/17   PITCHING   Jacob deGrom [RHP – NYM] vs. PHI If you’re fading deGrom against the Phillies, it’s going to be a long stressful night. I’m not saying you can’t do it, but if you do, you’re gonna be on edge. Here’s why: Philadelphia has fallen to 27th in wOBA (.300) vs. RHP this season, while ranking 29th in ISO (.138) with the sixth highest K-rate (23.5) in 2017. Moreover, the Phillies own bottom-five marks in both flyball rate and hard-hit rate vs. right-handed pitching. They just aren’t a good baseball team, and that’s further evidenced by deGrom being a -250 ML favorite at home. Howie Kendrick, who has arguably been the Phillies’ best hitter this season, was placed on the 10-day DL, while Cesar Hernandez, one of their only capable bats from the left side of the plate, is out for at least another few week. Seeing that deGrom is holding same-handed hitters to a .289 wOBA with a 3.04 xFIP and 31.6 percent K-rate this season, he’s going to make for a top overall play on Friday night. Taking this one step further, only Chris Sale, Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber boast higher swinging strike rates than deGrom (14.4%), whose 27.8 percent strikeout rate marks a career high for the 29-year-old righty. The Phillies’ 3.1-run implied total is tied with San Diego for the lowest on Friday’s slate, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see deGrom shut them down entirely at home, where he’s sporting a 2.76 ERA with nearly 11 K/9 in 2017. Don’t make the mistake of getting cute here.   Alex Wood [LHP – LAD] @ SDP Alex Wood is elite. I’ve stood by that statement and won’t be backing down from it anytime soon. He’s the only starter in baseball with a 67 percent groundball rate and 30 percent strikeout rate, a combination that makes for stellar upside from a fantasy perspective. Wood’s 0.92 WHIP is another mark worthy of being discussed, as his ability to limit baserunners is a huge plus on sites like DraftKings. His 12.9 percent swinging strike rate is the best of his career by more than three percent, while his 37.7 percent O-Swing rate leads all of baseball this season. In case you still aren’t convinced, Wood’s velocity is up two ticks from previous campaigns, and he’s generating 64-plus percent ground balls on all three of his pitches. The problem with Wood posting elite numbers s his salary has now risen into elite territory as a result. Wood is the second highest priced pitcher across the industry, and his unreliable pitch counts make him difficult to trust at a premium price point. If Dave Roberts let him throw as many pitches necessary to get out of tough innings late in games, or at least wasn’t babying him with sub-100 pitch limits, I’d be more than eager to deploy him on Friday. The problem, however, is one laborious frame could result in Wood lasting only five innings no matter how well he’s pitching. San Diego is tied with Philadelphia for the lowest implied run total (3.1) on Friday’s 15-game slate, so my concerns about Wood have nothing to do with his ability to stymie this punchless offense. The Padres now rank dead last in wOBA (.283) and 26th in ISO (.136) vs. left-handed pitching, while striking out at the sixth highest clip (25.2%) this season. Petco Park will also work against them, as Wood is allowing a miniscule 0.27 HR/9 across his first 11 starts. I love Wood for tournaments but simply cannot trust him in cash at such an inflated price point. There is legitimate 30-plus-DKPT upside, though, and I’ll be sure to deploy him in GPPs — because he’s elite.   Lance McCullers [RHP – HOU] vs. NYY Lance McCullers is in many ways the right-handed version of Wood. Both pitchers boast 60-plus-percent groundball rates and 29-plus-percent strikeout rates, while utilizing nasty knuckle-curves to neutralize their opponents. McCullers mixes in a four-seamer with the sinker while Wood relies on the two-seamer as his primary pitch, but both pitchers work with a fastball/curveball/changeup arsenal that garners an elite level of ground balls and strikeouts. Despite all of these striking similarities, McCullers is considerably less expensive than Wood on both DraftKings and FantasyDraft. Sure, he draws a much tougher matchup with the Yankees, but there’s absolutely no reason McCullers should be this cheap. Actually, the Yankees’ 3.2-run implied total is the third lowest mark on Friday’s slate behind only the Phillies (deGrom) and Padres (Wood). They also didn’t arrive at their Houston hotel until 6 o’clock this morning, after last night’s series finale in Chicago was delayed until 10pm. McCullers is entirely capable of shutting down any offense, as he limits hard contact — his 26.3-percent hard-hit rate is the third lowest mark among all qualified starters — induces an elite amount of ground balls, and misses a ton of bats in the process (12.7-percent swinging strike rate). He’s able to mitigate the influence of hitter-friendly venues, as evidenced by a career .278 wOBA and 2.61 xFIP at Minute Maid Park, and doesn’t display extreme platoon splits in any direction. McCullers is my top SP-2 on Friday night, and I will use him at nearly one hundred percent exposure where he is criminally underpriced.   Sonny Gray [RHP – OAK] vs. ATL If you’re looking to stack bats and don’t want to pay a premium for pitching, a Sonny Gray/Lance McCullers pairing makes sense. Gray has been rather impressive this season despite his 4.45 ERA, as he’s striking out north of one batter per nine, owns a 3.24 DRA and a 12 percent swinging strike rate across his first 11 starts. Gray is also inducing 55-percent ground balls while striking batters out at a 23.6-percent clip. He’s back to sitting 94 MPH on his fastball and has the slider working better than ever (48% Whf/Sw, .076 ISO), so I don’t see any reason why Sonny Gray would revert back into Sonny Fray this season. The Braves haven’t been awful against right-handed pitching (thanks, Matt Adams), but they still aren’t a good offense. This matchup shouldn’t be terribly concerning for Gray, who is holding left-handed hitters to a below-average mark (.304 wOBA) with sub-30-percent hard contact in 2017. Atlanta’s 3.8-run implied total is higher than only the three teams we’ve already discussed (PHI, SDP, NYY), all whom are facing elite pitchers on Friday night. Pitching is devoid of talent in the bottom tier, so Gray should be considered a strong mid-range option on a night where you likely won’t be punting.   TOURNAMENT PLAYS: Mike Foltynewicz [RHP – ATL] is a boom-or-bust option every time he toes the rubber, but he’ll possess some strikeout upside against the Athletics on Friday night. Folty could get shelled, too, as Oakland boasts plenty of power vs. right-handed pitching, but he’s also an upside candidate with the A’s striking out at a 25.3-percent clip (second highest vs. RHP). Johnny Cueto [RHP – SFG] has lost my trust, but he is dirt cheap on DraftKings and FantasyDraft. I could see the appeal for tournaments, but the strikeout upside is limited here against a Pirates team that ranks 29th in K-rate vs. right-handed pitching. Cueto will need to pitch deep into this game and keep any runs from crossing the plate if he’s to make a dent in GPPs.   HITTING   HIGH-PRICED   Corey Dickerson [OF – L]/Logan Morrison [1B – L] @ Tillman [RHP] Dickerson and Morrison will interchangeably be the top two hitter options on Friday night if Chris Tillman is in fact on the bump. We’ve still yet to get clarification on who’s pitching for Baltimore, but here’s to hoping it’s Tillman, because this guy is flat-out trash. Tillman is serving up a mammoth .463 wOBA to left-handed hitters this season with a 6.95 xFIP and dismal 9.5-percent K-rate across 105 batters faced. His 21-percent flyball rate isn’t encouraging for hitters until you mention his 28-percent line drive rate against. Tillman has been putrid in all facets of the game, and I’ll be sure to target him this evening. C-Dick and LoMo are pounding right-handed pitching this season. Dickerson boasts a .399/.262 wOBA/ISO with 27 extra-base hits, while Morrison has been even more impressive, producing a .337 ISO with 45-percent flyball rate and Goliath 46.6 percent hard-hit rate thus far. Game-time temperatures will be around 90 degrees at Camden Yards tonight, and the Rays own a slate-high 5.6-run implied total against Tillman. There’s absolutely no reason to fade either of these two lefties, and you should make it a priority to squeeze at least one of them into the majority of lineups.   Jose Ramirez [2B/3B – L/R] @ Sanchez [RHP] Ramirez is a legitimate MVP candidate in the American League this season. He won’t win it, and probably shouldn’t, but he’s been good enough to enter the conversation. His matchup with Anibal Sanchez is about as good as it gets, too, as Sanchez is one of the worst starting pitchers in all of baseball. He’s also incapable of holding runners, so Ramirez will have a number of avenues in which he can produce. You’ll have to pay a premium for the surging infielder, but with a .415 wOBA, .271 ISO and 11 percent K-rate vs. right-handed pitching, Ramirez is worth the price of admission.   J.D. Martinez [OF – R] vs. Tomlin [RHP] There aren’t too many high-priced hitters worth paying for despite having 15 games on tonight’s slate. J.D. Martinez is one of my favorites, though, facing a homer-prone righty in Josh Tomlin who’s struggled against same-handed bats. Tomlin is serving up a .377 wOBA to RHH this season, with 1.90 HR/9 allowed. Martinez is making 50-percent hard contact against right-handed arms, which should serve him well against a flyball pitcher like Tomlin. Detroit unsurprisingly owns a 5-run implied total at home tonight, but there is one aspect of this matchup that I hate: Cleveland’s bullpen leads the league in ERA, is second in xFIP and fifth in HR/9. If Martinez is going to do damage, it’ll likely have to come against Tomlin.   HONORABLE MENTION: Carlos Correa [SS – HOU] vs. Pineda [RHP]; Bryce Harper [OF – L] @ Leake [RHP]; Travis Shaw [3B – L] vs. Volquez [RHP]   MID-RANGE   Jonathan Villar [2B – L/R] vs. Volquez [RHP] Villar returned to action with a bang last night, mashing two homers in his first start since June 9th. While I wouldn’t expect the same results tonight, Villar draws an equally appealing matchup with Edinson Volquez. On the season, Volquez is allowing a .345 wOBA to left-handed bats, and while he’s done a solid job of limiting home runs, I wouldn’t expect that trend to continue much longer. His 5.60 xFIP, 39-percent flyball rate and 41-percent hard-hit rate vs. LHH back up my claims. Moreover, Volquez has already allowed 11 stolen bases this season, while Villar has succeeded on 14 of his 18 attempts. He’s a lock on FanDuel at $2,500, but I’ll also be using him on DraftKings at $4,100 if I don’t pay for Ramirez or decide to deploy him at third base.   Francisco Lindor [SS – L/R] @ Sanchez [RHP] Lindor’s $4,200 salary on DraftKings is puzzling. He’s facing Anibal Sanchez, who is not only terrible at keeping the bases clean, but also at holding runners. Lindor has somehow only swiped three bags this season, but even if speed isn’t a major factor, this matchup at the plate is good enough to target. Detroit also ranks dead last in bullpen ERA, xFIP and HR/9. You know what to do. Asdrubal Cabrera [SS – L/R] is a bit overpriced on DraftKings, but his $3,200 salary on FanDuel is very appealing against Ben Lively. I’m actually not against using him even where he owns an inflated price point, as Lively really is that bad. Lively has struck out four of the 65 left-handed hitters he’s faced this season (6.2% K-rate), while owning a 6.25 xFIP and 40-percent flyball rate thus far. Mets lefties could go overlooked on this 15-game slate, but I wouldn’t recommend ignoring them entirely. Jay Bruce [OF – L] is also an appealing outfield play at an upper mid-range cost.   Miguel Cabrera [1B – R] vs. Tomlin [RHP] We still don’t have clarification on who’s pitching for Baltimore; if Tillman starts tonight, you’ll want to play Logan Morrison in every possible lineup. If Bundy happens to get the nod, however, Cabrera will become a top first base option on DraftKings at an inexplicable $3,900. Mggy isn’t having a career year by any stretch, but there’s no reason why he should be price below $4,000 for a week straight — especially not against the homer-prone Josh Tomlin. Keep this play in mind throughout the day until we get clarification on Tillman’s status for the Orioles. Alex Avila [C/1B – L] is also a very strong play against Tomlin, and easily makes for one of the best catcher options on the board. Yes, Cleveland’s bullpen is very strong, but Avila has been so dominant against right-handed pitching that we’d be remiss to not mention him against Tomlin. On the year, Avila is sporting a .449 wOBA, .305 ISO and sixty-one percent hard-hit rate vs. right-handed pitching. That’s all you need to know before deploying him on Friday night.   HONORABLE MENTION: Justin Bour [1B – L] @ Garza [RHP] [GPP]; Willson Contreras [C – R] @ Feldman [RHP]; Jason Kipnis [2B – L] @ Sanchez [RHP]; Manny Machado [3B – R] vs. Faria [RHP]; Steven Souza [OF – R] @ Tillman [RHP]; Evan Longoria [3B – R] @ Tillman [RHP] [FanDuel]; Christian Yelich [OF – L] @ Garza [RHP]; Ian Happ [2B – L/R] @ Feldman [RHP]   VALUE   Matt Olson [OF – L] vs. Foltynewicz [RHP] Olson is strictly a price play, but a pretty good one against Mike Foltynewicz. O.Co isn’t the most hitter-friendly venue, but with Folty allowing a .389 wOBA and 40-percent flyball rate to left-handed hitters this season, it shouldn’t make much of a difference. Olson, across 61 career plate appearances vs. right-handed pitching, owns a .340 wOBA, .234 ISO and 50-percent flyball rate. At a near minimum salary cost across the industry, he’ll make for one of the best value options at any position. Oakland’s 4.8-run implied total is also rather encouraging considering the pitcher-friendly confines at the Coliseum.   Shane Peterson [OF – L] @ Tillman [RHP] We’d love to see Peterson hit in a favorable spot for the Rays on Friday, but as long as he’s in the lineup I’m willing to use him. Tillman, as earlier noted, has been absolutely putrid against hitters from both sides of the dish, and considering I’ll be looking to roster several high-priced Rays in the majority of lineups already, why not add Peterson to the mix? Peterson hasn’t been bad in  limited opportunity vs. RHP this season (.196 ISO), but does it matter? He’s the bare minimum on FanDuel ($2,000) and $2,500 on DraftKings. That’s all you need to know.   Stephen Drew [3B/SS – L] @ Leake [RHP] If you’re looking to punt the shortstop position (or third base position on DraftKings), Stephen Drew will likely get the start for Washington. Trea Turner broke his wrist last night and won’t be back on the diamond for a while, so Drew seems like the logical candidate to fill the void while the young phenom recovers. Drew isn’t a great hitter, but he’ll have the luxury of hitting behind some of the best hitters in baseball. He’ll at least draw some opportunity to knock in runs and cross the plate himself, which at a near minimum salary price point puts him in the conversation. Wilmer Difo [2B/SS – L/R] could get the start over Drew, though, and if he does I’ll want nothing to do with him regardless of salary.   HONORABLE MENTION: Brian Goodwin [OF – L] @ Leake [RHP] [GPP]; Alen Hanson [2B – L/R] vs. Bibens-Dirkx [RHP]; Logan Forsythe [2B/3B – R] @ Richard [LHP]