MLB DEEP DIVE – 6/7/17
Zack Greinke [RHP – ARI] vs. SDP – The way I see it, pitching is rather straightforward on Wednesday. For that reason, I’m going to keep things pretty simple. Greinke draws the Padres at Chase Field on a night where they own the lowest implied run total (3.6) of any team scheduled. They also strike out more against right-handers (25.8%) than any team not named the Rays. San Diego has fallen to 29th in wOBA (.292) and 27th in walk rate (7.2%) this season, so although this game won’t take place inside a pitcher-friendly venue, Greinke should benefit enough from the matchup alone to excel.
Greinke’s 14.7 percent swinging strike rate is the highest of his career, and currently ranks fifth in baseball behind only the league’s most elite arms. Greinke leads the league in O-Swing (37.6%) and ranks top-10 in O-Contact (52%). He’s also sitting amongst the league leaders in Z-Swing (61.6%) and Contact rate (68.8) at seventh and sixth, respectively. Needless to say, Greinke has been dominant. His fastball velocity may been down a couple ticks, but his slider ranks second in Whf/Sw behind only Max Scherzer and leads the league in swings out of the zone. Greinke has traded velocity for elite command of a five-pitch arsenal and should continue to dominate on Wednesday. Consider him the top overall option on this 12-game slate where he is a -205 ML favorite against the hapless Padres.
Jimmy Nelson [RHP – MIL] vs. SFG – Jimmy Nelson remains very affordable on two-pitcher sites, and while I’m not one hundred percent sold on his newfound eliteness, we have to consider him on Wednesday. Not only is Nelson striking batters out at a career-high 24.3 percent clip, but he’s issuing walks at a career-low six percent in 2017. Nelson’s secondary pitches haven’t been outstanding, but he’s seeing an uptick in fastball velocity, which has resulted in more missed bats. His curveball has made the biggest difference against left-handed bats this season, as he’s generating a whopping 45.5 Whf/Sw. He’s also throwing the two-seamer less and the four-seamer more against LHB, which is one of the likely reasons for his massive uptick in K-rate (29.7%).
San Francisco ranks dead last in both wOBA (.283) and ISO (.127) vs. right-handed pitching. They won’t strike out at an elevated clip, but as we saw with Chase Anderson on Tuesday (7.2 IP/O ER/4K), pitchers are going deep into games against the Giants while limiting runs to a minimum. Miller Park isn’t a friendly pitcher’s venue, but San Francisco is devoid of power from both sides of the plate. I have no problem targeting Nelson against the league’s worst offense, especially on a night where mid-range pitching is far from enticing.
Buck Farmer [RHP – DET] vs. LAA – This is the part of today’s Deep Dive where you contemplate closing your browser and never reading again. All I ask is that your hear me out first. I swear I haven’t lost my mind, and I’ll do my best to prove that over the next few lines…
Farmer tossed 6.1 innings of shutout baseball in his 2017 debut, using 103 pitches to strike out 11 White Sox at the hitter-friendly Guaranteed Rate Field. Farmer allowed only three hits and two walks in the start, relying primarily on a four-seamer, cutter and changeup to finish the job.
Walks have plagued Farmer in previous major-league stints, but he appeared to correct that issue in 10 Triple-A starts this season (1.78 BB/9, 4.7 BB%). Farmer is averaging more than one strikeout per inning vs. right-handed hitters, something that should serve him well against an Angels team that will slot at least five righties into the lineup on Wednesday. Even if Mike Scioscia tries to load the lineup with lefties, he’ll be working with a cast of clowns such as Eric Young, Luis Valbuena, Cliff Pennington and Ben Revere. Kole Calhoun is the only formidable left-hander in this lineup, and he has just now started to wake up. Despite the somewhat limited strikeouts, the Angels own one of the worst offenses in baseball with Mike Trout and Cameron Maybin sidelined.
Farmer shouldn’t be expected to post another 30-plus DraftKings Points on Wednesday, but he’s impossible to ignore at minimum salary across the board. Not only has Farmer proven himself capable of racking up quality strikeout totals, but he isn’t on a pitch count, either. I’ll happily roll the dice on a pitcher that is priced cheaper than 95 hitters on DraftKings. Even 10 fantasy points would be enough to justify the play, but Farmer is capable of more than doubling that mark against the punchless Angels.
HONORABLE MENTION: Yu Darvish [RHP – TEX] vs. NYM; John Lackey [RHP – CHC] vs. MIA
Jake Lamb [3B – L] vs. Perdomo [RHP] – Jake Lamb has obliterated right-handed pitching this season to the tune of a .436 wOBA/.325 wOBA/ISO across 185 PA. Arizona’s surging third baseman leads the entire league in RBI vs. RHP (43) while ranking 10th in home runs (12), eighth in wRC+ (168) and third in soft-hit rate (9.1%). You won’t find a better play at the position than Lamb, as he not only draws a matchup with Luis Perdomo, but will be hitting inside the homer-happy confines of Chase Field.
Luis Perdomo has shown some improvements this season, but he’s still allowing a whopping .363 wOBA to left-handed bats. Perdomo’s K-rate also declines significantly against opposite-handed hitters (16.5%), while his hard-hit rate spikes to 32.4 percent. Being able to generate ground balls at an elite clip has allowed the young righty to limit home runs, but he’ll face a D-Backs squad that owns an implied run total north of five on Wednesday night. Fade Lamb at your own risk.
Carlos Correa [SS – R] @ Vargas [LHP] – Shortstop is a barren wasteland on Wednesday, forcing us to consider Correa in a less-than-stellar matchup with Jason Vargas. Kansas City’s veteran southpaw has been impressive this season, and his stellar changeup has wreaked havoc on opposite-handed bats. That being said, he’s set to run into a buzzsaw against an Astros team that’s climbed to sixth in wOBA vs. LHP (.336). Moreover, Houston strikes out at a 17.4 percent clip vs. lefties (29th), and leads the league by a wide margin in wOBA, ISO, wRC+ and K-rate over the last month.
Correa has struggled against LHP this season, but the sample is small and he boasts a career ISO north of .200 for his career. This is more of a positional scarcity play, as shortstop is devoid of talent at every single tier. With Buck Farmer opening up plenty of cap space across the board, Correa won’t come close to breaking the bank on Wednesday night. The same goes for George Springer [OF – R] and Jose Altuve [2B – R] at their respective positions.
Dexter Fowler [OF – L/R] @ Arroyo [RHP] – Now that Jered Weaver is sidelined, Bronson Arroyo becomes the worst active right-handed pitcher in major-league baseball. On the season, Arroyo is ceding a .393 wOBA, .394 ISO and 53.7 percent hard-hit rate to left-handed hitters. Amazingly, Arroyo is sporting a HR/FB rate of 22.7 percent despite inducing only 29 percent ground balls! Arroyo’s 10 home runs allowed to LHB is a league-worst mark, and I’m guessing that number will be on the rise tonight.
Fowler is no stud, but he is hitting righties for plenty of power this season, with eight home runs and a .231 ISO across 155 AB. The Cardinals own one of the highest implied run totals on the night (5.2), which makes Fowler a very appealing play at the leadoff position. He’s especially appealing on FanDuel at $3,300, but I’m willing to deploy him across the industry in such a stellar matchup.
HONORABLE MENTION: Corey Dickerson [OF – L] @ Pelfrey [RHP]; Joey Votto [1B – L] vs. Lynn [RHP]; Paul Goldschmidt [1B – R] vs. Perdomo [RHP] [GPP]; Miguel Sano [3B – R] @ Gallardo [RHP]; Nelson Cruz [OF – R] vs. Mejia [LHP]
Matt Carpenter [1B – L] @ Arroyo [RHP] – Carpenter has been a colossal disappoint of late, there’s no denying that. He isn’t hitting the ball hard right now and has squandered several quality matchups over the past couple of weeks. That being said, Carpenter is still sporting an elite 51 percent flyball rate and 40.2 percent hard-hit rate vs. right-handed pitching. It may be time to throw in the towel if he can’t produce against Bronson Arroyo, but I’m willing to fire one more bullet at Carpenter in an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle.
As earlier noted, Arroyo has been absolutely dismantled by left-handed hitters, allowing 3.75 HR/9 with a 6.26 xFIP and 4.7 percent K-BB rate in 2017. He’s already surrendered 10 home runs at Great American Ballpark, which ranks as the fifth best lefty power park in baseball, and is inducing only 29 percent ground balls against left-handed bats. Carpenter has been floundering of late, but he simply will not draw a better matchup than this one with Arroyo. He’ll see at least five plate appearances on Wednesday night.
Alex Avila [C/1B – L] vs. Meyer [RHP] – Alex Meyer possesses some strikeout upside, but he also serves up 1.78 HR/9 to left-handed bats. Across 25.1 career innings pitcher vs. LHB, Meyer owns a dismal 16.5 percent walk rate and 10.7 percent soft-hit rate. I’m simply not sold on him being a quality arm and Vegas seems to agree, as the Tigers own a slate-high 5.4-run implied total at home.
Avila’s .485 wOBA vs. right-handed pitching ranks third behind only Freddie Freeman and Mike Trout. You’d be hard-pressed to find any catchers with these type of numbers, but what’s even more amazing is Avila’s .376 ISO vs. righties, ranking behind only Freeman, Trout and Bryce Harper. The veteran backstop is batting second in a potent Detroit lineup, and remains affordably priced across the board. I’ll continue to deploy him until he either becomes priced out of contention or cools down significantly.
Brian Dozier [2B – R] @ Gallardo [RHP] – Brian Dozier is simply too cheap for this matchup with Yovani Gallardo. Maybe he hasn’t been elite this year, but Dozier has still pieced together a solid enough campaign to warrant a higher price tag against one of the night’s worst pitchers. Gallardo is allowing a massive .406 wOBA and .227 ISO to right-handed hitters. He’s also serving up 2.15 HR/9 while striking batters out at a miserable 16.3 percent clip. Righties are also making great contact off of Gallardo, with a 38 percent hard-hit rate across 135 plate appearances.
Dee Gordon [2B – L] makes for a fine second base pivot in a strong base-stealing matchup against John Lackey. He’s more appealing on FanDuel where his $3,100 salary marks a $300 discount from Dozier, but is also very much in play on DraftKings at $3,900.
Joey Gallo [3B – R] vs. Wheeler [RHP] – Zack Wheeler has been fine this season, but he has yet to face a boss like Joey Gallo. Gallo will never hit for average, but he will hit 500-foot bombs on a regular basis. His 17 home runs rank second in baseball behind only Aaron Judge, while his .321 ISO vs. right-handed pitching is as elite as they come. If you’re looking for a boom-or-bust tournament option with two-homer upside at one of the most hitter-friendly venues in baseball, you need not look any further than Gallo. Wheeler’s 47 percent hard-hit rate vs. LHB simply won’t play in Arlington.
HONORABLE MENTION: Evan Gattis [C – R] @ Vargas [LHP]; Josh Harrison [2B/3B – R] @ Miley [LHP]; Jedd Gyorko [3B – R] @ Arroyo [RHP]; David Peralta [OF – L] vs. Perdomo [RHP]; Odubel Herrera [OF – L] @ Foltynewicz [RHP]; Danny Valencia [1B – R] @ Mejia [LHP]
Taylor Motter [2B/SS – R] vs. Mejia [LHP] – Shortstop is so thin that Taylor Motter elevates to one of the best plays at the position by default. Here are the facts: Motter should bat sixth against a weak left-hander in Mejia whose 5.06 xFIP vs. right-handed hitters tells the story. This is a price play at a barren position, and playing Motter at shortstop should free up cap space elsewhere. Seattle also owns a favorable 4.9-run implied run total inside Safeco Field.
Rougned Odor [2B – L] vs. Wheeler [RHP] – Odor has been disappointing this season, suffering a decline in nearly every fantasy-relevant metric through two-plus months of baseball. Having said that, he’ll make for a very interesting value play against Zack Wheeler, as Odor is priced at a very affordable $2,900 on DraftKings and $5,700 on FantasyDraft.
Wheeler’s numbers look solid on the surface, but he’s allowing a Goliath 47 percent hard-hit rate to left-handed bats. This should do him no favors at Globe Life Park, where temperatures will be hovering around 85 degrees at first pitch. Odor boasts a 45 percent flyball rate vs. righties this season, so I’ll happily take my chances of grabbing a cheap home run inside one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball.
Sam Travis [1B – R] @ Sabathia [LHP] – I don’t have much faith in Travis, and I’m not suggesting you should, either. I do, however, have some love for any righty who faces a pedestrian southpaw and bats in the middle of his order. Travis hit fifth last time Boston faced a left-handed pitcher, and figures to bat in the middle of the lineup again on Wednesday. He’s looked great in limited plate appearances this season, and is capable of paying off his near min-sal price tag with one swing of the bat. Travis is by no means a must play value option, but he should go virtually unowned at a first base position that isn’t nearly as deep as we’ve become accustomed to seeing.
HONORABLE MENTION: Chris Herrmann [C/OF] [Q] vs. Perdomo [RHP]; Luis Valbuena [1B/3B – L] @ Farmer [RHP]; Cesar Hernandez [2B – L/R] @ Foltynewicz [RHP]; Manny Pina [C – R] vs. Blach [LHP]