MLB DEEP DIVE – 6/9/17
Corey Kluber [RHP – CLE] vs. CWS – Not much needs to be said here — Unless he’s on a pitch count, Corey Kluber will make for the top overall pitching option on Friday night. The White Sox own the league’s 28th ranked wOBA (.295) and sixth highest K-rate (23.7) vs. right-handed pitching. They are massive road dogs on Friday (CLE -249), while sporting a slate-low 3.3-run implied total at Progressive Center. Combine that with Kluber’s near 29 percent strikeout rate and 13.9 percent swinging strike rate, and you’ll get yourself an unignorable play. I could delve deeper here, but it doesn’t seem necessary. You know exactly what to do.
If you’re looking for mid-range pitching on Friday, you’ll likely land on Michael Wacha [RHP – STL], Jordan Montgomery [LHP – NYY], Brad Peacock [RHP – HOU] or Alex Cobb [RHP – TB]. Wacha has struggled of late, but faces a Phillies team that ranks 25th in wOBA, 24th in ISO and seventh in K-rate vs. RHP. This game will be played inside the pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium where Wacha is a -170 ML favorite. Philadelphia owns one of the lowest implied run totals on the night at 3.9, and has tallied the third fewest runs in baseball over the last 30 days.
Montgomery faces an Orioles team that continues to improve against southpaws as the season wears on. They are, however, striking out at a 25.3 percent clip vs. LHP, good for fifth most in baseball. Montgomery not only boasts a sparkling 12.6 percent swinging strike rate through his first 10 starts, but is holding right-handed hitters to a .291 wOBA with with a miniscule .56 HR/9 allowed. Montgomery has also done a phenomenal job of limiting hard contact. He makes for a stellar tournament play at a lower mid-range cost.
Peacock has seen his salary rise across the industry, but it’s hard to argue the price hike when he’s striking batters out at a ridiculous 37.6 percent clip. The Angels are a bad baseball team that became even worse when Mike Trout hit the shelf, but they don’t strike out much, either (19.4%). My guess is Peacock will need to be efficient on Friday if he intends on paying off his newly inflated price tag. He should still generate some strikeouts, but this matchup offers far less swings and misses than his previous three matchups with the Twins, Tigers and Rangers. Fortunately, Houston is scoring runs at an elite clip right now, and should provide Peacock with some run support at home (HOU -164). The Angels own the third lowest implied run total on Friday’s 14-game slate (3.8).
Cobb is nothing more than a tournament play as someone who generally doesn’t add much to the strikeout column, but he does face an A’s squad that makes for one of the most fantasy-friendly matchups in baseball. Oakland is now striking out at the fourth highest clip vs. RHP (24.8%), but they also lead the league in ISO (.204). They are the Brewers of the west, capable of shattering a pitcher within the first few innings or striking out double-digit times in a scoreless effort. If I’m looking for tournament options at the position, I’d rather go cheap and roll the dice on someone with greater strikeout upside and similar risk.
Jhoulys Chacin [RHP – SDP] vs. KC – Chacin could go overlooked on Friday, but I’d urge you to at least consider the play. The 29-year-old right-hander has been brilliant at home this season, allowing a .204 wOBA with a 3.61 xFIP and 0.85 WHIP. He’s also been stellar vs. right-handed hitters, holding them to a .267 wOBA with a 27.5 percent K-rate and 21 percent hard-hit rate across 153 batters faced. Petco Park is a pitcher’s best friend, and so is a matchup with the Royals, who have been downright trash vs. right-handed arms. On the year, Kansas City ranks 27th in wOBA (.296), 23rd in ISO (.151) and 29th in BB-rate (6.3%). The Royals are even striking out at a league-average clip (21.3%), so there isn’t much not to like about this matchup.
Chacin is far from elite, but he won’t need to possess Kershaw-like stuff to succeed on Friday night. Kansas City will likely run out four lefties against Chacin, but they are hardly imposing outside of Mike Moustakas. Eric Hosmer does an admirable job of getting on base, but he lacks power even with the platoon advantage (.146 ISO vs. RHP). Meanwhile, Brandon Moss is striking out at a 35 percent clip vs. right-handed pitching, and Alex Gordon’s .235 wOBA is nothing short of pathetic. Chacin certainly warrants some attention on a night where the Royals own a 3.9-run implied total inside one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in baseball.
Andrew Triggs [RHP – OAK] @ TB – Andrew Triggs is another speculative tournament option at a dirt cheap price point. Only the Padres are striking out more vs. right-handed pitchers than the Rays this season (25.7%), while Tropicana Field does a nice job of suppressing home runs. Don’t get me wrong, Tampa Bay boasts plenty of talent from the left side of the plate (Dickerson, Morrison, Kiermaier), but they’re also more than capable of ceding huge games to opposing pitchers. Triggs is holding left-handed hitters to a .244 wOBA this season, while inducing nearly 50 percent ground balls and limiting hard contact to 25.9 percent. His upside has been limited due to a lack of punchouts, but the Rays should boost that number assuming Triggs can limit damage on the basepaths.
Randall Delgado [RHP – ARI] vs. MIL – Using pitchers as Chase Field generally doesn’t offer yield the most promising results, but I find Delgado rather interesting on Friday. Milwaukee’s only power from the left side of the plate comes from Eric Thames and Travis Shaw. Outside of those two sluggers, the Brewers are devoid of left-handed talent. Delgado is holding righties to a .277 wOBA this season with a 24.5 percent K-rate and 3.17 xFIP. Moreover, right-handed bats are putting only 28.8 percent of batted balls in the air, which should greatly benefit Delgado at this hitter-friendly park.
I’m well aware of the risk here, as Delgado could certainly implode against a power-laden lineup, but the Brewers strike out at the third highest clip vs. RHP (24.9%) while their ISO has fallen to ninth best in baseball (.187). Delgado boasts an 11.4 percent swinging strike rate this season with a 23 percent K-rate and 26 percent hard-hit rate across 41.2 innings pitched. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him post quality fantasy totals against the Brewers despite this contest owning one of the higher totals (9.5 O/U) on Friday’s slate.
Jay Bruce [1B/OF – L] @ Teheran [RHP] – It’s hard to argue against the Mets being a top stack on Friday night, facing the right-handed Teheran in Suntrust Park. Teheran has always struggled against left-handed hitters, but 2017 has been an unmitigated disaster through two-plus months. Lefties are torching Teheran to the tune of a .391 wOBA and .258 ISO with a 38 percent hard-hit rate on the year. But wait, it gets much worse; Teheran owns a negative K-BB rate vs. LHH (-1.2%) to complement his sky-high 6.66 xFIP and 2.36 HR/9 allowed. It couldn’t get worse than that, right? WRONG. Suntrust Park has been an absolute enemy to Teheran this season, as he is ceding 4.40 HR/9 to LHH at home, while his -6.5 K-BB rate is downright putrid.
I cannot fathom a way in which Teheran escapes unscathed on Friday, as he’ll face a lefty-heavy Mets lineup inside one of the most lefty-friendly venues in baseball. Jay Bruce is an obvious top play, but Michael Conforto [OF – L], Lucas Duda [1B – L] and Neil Walker [2B – L/R] make for stellar options as well. All four of these left-handed Mets bats will carry rather steep price tags, but I don’t see much reason to fade. Teheran doesn’t strike opposite-handed hitters out, doesn’t induce enough ground balls and cannot prevent hard contact. The success, or lack thereof, I have on Friday will almost certainly hinge upon New York’s ability to pile up runs in Atlanta.
Jake Lamb [3B – L] vs. Davies [RHP] – Many people were unwilling to pay for Lamb on Wednesday when he faced the improving, yet still below average Luis Perdomo. They won’t make that same mistake again on Friday. Lamb has been an absolute monster vs. right-handed pitching this season, leading the league in RBI with 46 (Paul Goldschmidt ranks second with 41) and ranking seventh in home runs with 13. Lamb also ranks top-10 in both wOBA (.440) and wRC+ (170) vs. RHP, so you can see why I love him against Zach Davies in one of the most hitter-friendly venues around.
Davies doesn’t generate enough strikeouts or ground balls to succeed at Chase Field, especially not against the Diamondbacks. His 4.88 xFIP and 1.53 HR/9 vs. LHH won’t do him any favors on Friday and Vegas tends to agree, as Arizona owns one of the highest implied run totals at 5.2. If you plan on spending up at the third base position look no further than Lamb. He’s been as consistent and reliable as they come.
Andrew Benintendi [OF – L] vs. Zimmermann [RHP] – Benintendi has been a boom-or-bust fantasy option in his rookie campaign, but it’ll be hard to ignore him on Friday when he faces one of the worst starting right-handers in baseball. Jordan Zimmermann used to be a serviceable middle-rotation arm, but those days have long been in the rearview mirror, as he now owns the league’s fourth highest xFIP (5.49) among all qualified pitchers. Zimmermann hasn’t been unlucky, either, as his .308 BABIP and 71.8 percent strand rate are right around league average. He’s serving up a Goliath .401 wOBA and 2.39 HR/9 to LHH this season, while coughing up 42 percent hard contact and inducing ground balls at a paltry 26.9 percent clip.
Benintendi is a near must play on FanDuel at $2,900, but I’m still willing to deploy him at $4,700 on DraftKings based on matchup alone. Boston owns a slate-high 5.7-run implied total at Fenway Park where Zimmermann stands no chance of keeping the ball in the yard, and Benintendi should see at least five plate appearances on the night. Moreover, Detroit’s bullpen owns the league’s worst xFIP (4.72) and a 25th ranked K-rate (21.1%) in 2017. All of these Red Sox bats are firmly in play against one of baseball’s worst starting pitchers.
Trea Turner [SS – R] vs. Cashner [RHP] – Trea Turner has brought us nothing but pain this season, suffering some serious regression after a stellar 2016 campaign. That being said, the young shortstop appears to be waking up of late, with five multi-hit games and 10 stolen bases over his last nine starts. Turner is running on every opportunity right now, which makes Friday’s matchup with Cashner that much more appealing.
Cashner is below average at holding runners and is walking batters at an 11.4 percent clip. He owns a negative K-BB rate this season, which coupled with his 5.3 percent swinging strike rate means Turner will see every opportunity to get on base. I don’t care how Turner does the damage, so long as he’s patient at the dish. Stolen bases are the most undervalued asset in daily fantasy baseball, as evidenced by Turner averaging 15 DKPT per game over his last nine starts despite recording zero home runs and only two extra-base hits over that span. I’d be surprised to see him finish with single-digit fantasy points on Friday night.
HONORABLE MENTION: Xander Bogaerts [SS – R] vs. Zimmermann [RHP]; Eric Thames [1B/OF – L] @ Delgado [RHP]; J.D. Martinez [OF – R] @ Johnson [LHP]; Corey Dickerson [OF – L] vs. Triggs [RHP]; Bryce Harper [OF – L] vs. Cashner [RHP]; Miguel Sano [3B – R] @ Moore [LHP] [GPP]
Dee Gordon [2B – L] @ Glasnow [RHP] – Gordon finds himself in a very similar position to Turner on Friday, facing a vulnerable right-hander with shaky command and an inability to hold runners. Glasnow is not only walking lefties at a 12.7 percent clip, but he’s ceding a .439 wOBA this season. Moreover, the young righty has allowed more stolen bases (12) than any other pitcher, and that number should only rise on Friday.
Gordon has been somewhat disappointing this year, but he doesn’t strike out and ranks third in stolen bases (20) behind only Billy Hamilton (28) and Trea Turner (21). He can be had at a respectable mid-range price point across the industry, and is likely to see an easy five plate appearances on a night where the Pirates own a 4.8-run implied total at home.
NOTE: Second base offers a lot of quality mid-range options on Friday. Ian Kinsler [2B – R] vs. Johnson [LHP], Brian Dozier [2B – R] @ Moore [LHP] and Jason Kipnis [2B – L] vs. Gonzalez [RHP] all make for viable pivots away from Gordon if you aren’t excited about the Marlins’ middle infielder.
Mookie Betts [OF – R] vs. Zimmermann [RHP] – Whereas Benintendi is dramatically underpriced on FanDuel, Betts’ price tag is depressed on DraftKings ($4,300). I don’t care if Betts has been underwhelming this season — Jordan Zimmermann should remedy those troubles on Friday night. As earlier noted, only three qualified starting pitchers own a higher xFIP than Zimmermann, who has been dreadful against both lefties and righties in 2017. He doesn’t generate swinging strikes, doesn’t keep the ball on the grass, and doesn’t induce weak contact; Zimmermann’s 13.5 percent soft-hit rate vs. RHH is one of the worst marks in baseball. Needless to say, the aging right-hander should serve up plenty of runs to the Red Sox, who own the highest implied run total (5.7) of any team on Friday’s 14-game slate.
Nick Castellanos [3B – R] @ Johnson [LHP] – Brian Johnson hurled a complete-game shutout in his 2017 debut, shocking the world and probably even himself. He’s unlikely to enjoy the same success on Friday, though, as the Tigers own a 5-run implied total in a game that boasts the highest combined total on this 14-game slate (10.5 O/U). Johnson looked good in Triple-A this season before being called up, but he’ll have to face nine right-handed Tigers inside the hitter-friendly Fenway Park.
Castellanos got off to a rough start in 2017, but he’s been crushing the ball of late, with two homers and three doubles across six June starts. He should also bat second against Boston’s left-hander, and the move from Comerica to Fenway also provides him with added value. If you don’t plan on paying for Lamb, Castellanos makes for a stellar third base play — especially at $2,800 on FanDuel.
HONORABLE MENTION: Christian Yelich [OF – L] @ Glasnow [RHP]; Matt Carpenter [1B – L] vs. Hellickson [RHP]; Jason Kipnis [2B – L] vs. Gonzalez [RHP]; Francisco Lindor [SS – L/R] vs. Gonzalez [RHP]; Brian Dozier [2B – R] @ Moore [LHP]; Matt Adams [1B/OF – L] vs. Harvey [RHP]
Asdrubal Cabrera [SS – L/R] @ Teheran [RHP] – Mets left-handers should top your list of hitters tonight, and a discounted Asdrubal Cabrera needs to be considered. His paltry season averages don’t concern me much, as Cabrera is going to see plenty of at bats with runners on base and ample opportunity to score or drive in runs against Teheran. We’ve already discussed this at length, but Teheran has been so bad against left-handed hitters that all New York lefties should be strongly considered in both cash and GPPs. Cabrera carries a very cheap price point across the industry, and makes for a great way to save at shortstop if you don’t intend on paying for Trea Turner.
CATCHERS: Chris Herrmann [C/OF – L] vs. Davies [RHP]; John Hicks [C/1B – R] @ Johnson [LHP]; Austin Barnes [C – R] vs. Garrett [LHP] – I’ll likely be using one of these backstops depending on whether they’re starting on Friday and where they’re hitting in their respective lineups. Herrmann is dealing with right hand soreness, but if he’s in the lineup and batting sixth or higher against Davies I’ll definitely be on board. At $2,200 on FanDuel and $3,100 on DraftKings, Herrmann should be considered a top catcher option in the event that he’s healthy enough to play.
Hicks has been getting starts against southpaws with McCann sidelined. McCann is expected back either tonight or tomorrow, so Hicks is far from a sure thing, but he’s been batting sixth when starting and continues to carry a very affordable price point across the board. I’d be willing to deploy James McCann [C – R] if he’s active, as both of these right-handed Tiger bats should see plenty of opportunity to produce against Johnson.
Barnes isn’t very good, but he’s cheap and draws a very enticing matchup with Amir Garrett. Cincinnati’s rookie southpaw started the season off strong, but he’s now allowing a .374 wOBA, .300 ISO and 2.50 HR/9 to right-handed bats. Garrett is also serving up a 40 percent hard-hit rate to RHH with a 5.65 xFIP in 2017. If Barnes is in the lineup he’ll make for a fine catcher punt at home.
DODGERS RHH: The Dodgers have struggled vs. left-handed pitching, but they do offer some value from the right side of the dish. Franklin Gutierrez [OF – R], Logan Forsythe [2B/3B – R] and Kike Hernandez [SS/OF – R], depending on who’s in the lineup, are all capable of hitting lefties and weigh in at discounted price point. None of them should be priorities in any format, but I’m not against using them as a final piece at their respective positions. For what it’s worth, the Dodgers own a very tasty 5-run implied total against Amir Garrett, who has been downright dreadful over the past one-plus months.
HONORABLE MENTION: Curtis Granderson [OF – L] @ Teheran [RHP]; Daniel Descalso [2B/OF – L] vs. Davies [RHP]