MLB DEEP DIVE – 7/1/17
Carlos Carrasco will start the second game of Cleveland’s double-header against the Tigers. While we know that the Tigers are a dangerous offense, this is still a very high-upside spot for Carrasco. All of the Tigers power, with the exception of Alex Avila, comes from the right side of the plate. Carrasco has struck out 28.8 percent of right-handed hitters that he has faced this season, allowing just 27.3 percent hard contact with a 46.5 percent groundball percentage. Carrasco has also performed better on the road than at home since the start of last season, striking out 27.8 percent of hitters with a 3.12 xFIP and 0.7 home runs per nine innings away from Cleveland compared to a 23.5 percent strikeout percentage with a 3.70 xFIP and 1.8 home runs per nine innings at home. Detroit has struck out 21.9 percent of the time against right-handed pitching this season with a .322 wOBA and 99 wRC+. It is also worth noting that there is a chance that the Tigers’ lineup is weaker than normal as it will be the second game of a doubleheader.
Zack Greinke faces the Colorado Rockies at home in Chase Field. Greinke has been phenomenal overall this season, striking out 28.4 percent of hitters with a 13.6 percent swinging strike percentage and 36.0 percent o-swing percentage. He has not been quite as sharp lately, however, failing to complete six innings in three of his last four and four of his last six starts. He had a swinging strike percentage below 10 percent in two of his last three starts (against Detroit and Philadelphia). Those were the first two times this season that he has not gotten swings and misses greater than 10 percent of the time. Greinke has upside against the Rockies but his recent struggles and the tough ballpark in Arizona are enough for me to rank him behind Carrasco among the expensive pitching options.
Jordan Montgomery has an extremely difficult matchup against the Houston Astros, but his price reflects it on DraftKings and FantasyDraft where you are required to roster two starting pitchers. Montgomery has been phenomenal in his rookie season, striking out 23.2 percent of hitters with a 13.7 percent swinging strike percentage and 37.5 percent o-swing percentage. His swinging strike percentage ranks sixth amongst all qualified starting pitchers and he leads the major leagues in o-swing percentage. He has three quality offspeed pitches to complement his four-seam and two-seam fastballs, featuring a curveball, change-up and slider that have generated 20.0, 16.7 and 23.2 percent whiffs, respectively, this season. Most of the Astros lineup is right-handed and Montgomery has not struggled with hitters of the opposite handedness, striking out 24.1 percent of righties while allowing just a .299 xwOBA. It is not a great spot for Montgomery but he is a strong option at his price tag on two-pitcher sites.
Jason Hammel struggled earlier in the year but he has turned things around lately. Hammel has had a swinging strike percentage greater than 11 percent in four of his last five starts, including in difficult matchups against the Indians, Giants and Red Sox. The only game that he did not have a swinging strike percentage greater than 11 percent was against the Astros, which can be written off somewhat because of how good the Astros are and how hard it is to get swings and misses against them. Hammel will be facing a Minnesota team that has struck out 25.1 percent of the time over the last two weeks with a .259 wOBA and 55 wRC+. There is also a chance that the Twins rest a starter or two in the second game of a doubleheader. Look for Hammel to continue his resurgence.
Aaron Judge leads the world in most hard-contact statistics and he will face Astros’ right-hander Francis Martes in Houston. Martes has shown good strikeout stuff overall in the majors so far, but he has struggled with right-handed hitters. Martes has allowed 36.0 percent hard contact with only 12.0 percent soft contact while striking out just 13.2 percent of righties and allowing 2.45 home runs per nine innings. Judge will be a very difficult matchup for Martes and he is worth trying to pay up for.
Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy have a matchup against Michael Wacha, who is much worse against left-handed hitters than he is against righties. Wacha has allowed a .346 xwOBA to lefties this season with 1.38 home runs per nine innings. Harper has a .429 xwOBA against righties and Murphy has a .377 xwOBA against righties this season. Look for two of the best left-handed hitters in baseball to have success in this matchup against Wacha.
Nelson Cruz will face Ricky Nolasco in Anaheim. It is not a great park for hitters, but it is a great matchup for Cruz. Everyone knows that Cruz destroys left-handed pitching, but he has a .356 xwOBA and .222 ISO against righties this season as well. Nolasco has allowed 2.8 home runs per 9 innings to righties this season with 41.8 percent hard contact. If Nolasco is not at the top of his game, Cruz is a very good bet to homer at least once tonight.
Miguel Sano will face Jason Hammel who, despite pitching better lately, is still home run prone. Sano has been one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball this season and Hammel has allowed 1.37 home runs per 9 innings to righties this season along with a .363 xwOBA. If Sano is in the line-up for game two of the doubleheader, he makes for a strong third base option.
Brian Dozier has the same matchup as Sano against Jason Hammel and is just too cheap at a weak second base position, sitting at $3,700 on DraftKings and $7,200 on FantasyDraft. He is $3,300 on FanDuel. Dozier has been average against right-handed pitching this season, but he does offer power against a home run prone pitcher at a weak position for a cheap price.
Logan Forsythe looks to be turning things around after a slow start dealing with injuries earlier in the season. Over the last 14 days, Forsythe has a 30.2 percent hard contact rate with just 11.6 percent soft contact. Since the start of last season, Forsythe has a .402 xwOBA against left-handed pitching. He will be facing Dillon Overton, who has allowed a .455 xwOBA to righties in the major leagues since the start of last season. Forsythe looks like the best value option on the slate as of now.
Luis Valbuena makes for an interesting tournament option as he is only $2,700 on DraftKings, $5,400 on FantasyDraft and $2,300 on FanDuel. Valbuena has struggled this season, but we know that he has plenty of power when he makes contact. Opposing starter Sam Gaviglio has struck out just 16.5 percent of lefties this season, while allowing 2.25 home runs per 9 innings on 36.2 percent hard contact with just 6.9 percent soft contact. On a short slate where value is tough to come by, Valbuena has plenty of upside in tournaments.
New York Yankees- The Yankees may not be at full strength, but they still have plenty of power in their lineup and they are in a hitter-friendly park in Houston. As mentioned before, Martes has struggled with right-handed hitters in his brief time in the majors. If he is not able to limit Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, he could be in for a very long night. The Astros also used four different relievers last night so their bullpen is not quite at full strength.
Seattle Mariners- The Mariners are not playing in a good park and, normally, I prefer to take one or two hitters against Nolasco as opposed to an entire stack. Tonight is different, however, as it is a short slate so there are less great stacking options. It is also different because, unless they make a roster move before the game, the Angels do not have a lefty in their bullpen after sending down Jose Alvarez yesterday. This means that you can get Gamel, Cano and Seager guaranteed to face righties for the entire game, in addition to the high-upside matchups for guys like Segura, Haniger and Cruz.
Los Angeles Dodgers- We saw the Dodgers score a ton of runs last night and they are in a great spot again tonight against Dillon Overton and the Padres. Overton has allowed 3.41 home runs per 9 innings with a .458 wOBA against righties in his career so far. He has also struggled against lefties, though the sample size is much smaller. The Padres bullpen is at less than full strength as well, as two different relievers through around 40 pitches last night.