MLB DEEP DIVE – 7/24/17
Jacob deGrom [RHP – NYM] @ NYM – deGrom has struggled away from home this season, but with matchups that came in Texas, Atlanta, Milwaukee and a 95-degree St. Louis, you can understand the lopsided splits. I’m not worried about tonight’s tilt in San Diego against a Padres team that not only leads the league in K-rate (25.6%) vs. right-handed pitching, but also sits 27th in wOBA (.305) and 24th in walk rate (7.6%) this season. The Padres own a slate-low 3.3-run implied total and deGrom is a -160 ML favorite on the road, so I’m not exactly scared away by his sky-high price tag.
deGrom wasn’t missing any bats in his last start (6.4% SwStr), but he still went seven strong innings and allowed only one run in the win. He’s sporting a 13.6-percent swinging strike rate on the season, is throwing arguably the best four-seamer in all of baseball, and is striking batters out at a career-high 28-percent clip. Moreover, deGrom has been elite against right-handed batters, holding them to a .274 wOBA with a 31.9-percent K-rate and 2.90 xFIP across 279 batters faced. With San Diego’s current regular left-handed hitters being Carlos Asuaje, Hector Sanchez, Corey Spangenberg, Erick Aybar and Franchy Cordero, we shouldn’t be too concerned.
James Paxton [LHP – SEA] vs. BOS – Paxton’s last two matchups have been very difficult spots for a southpaw (Astros and White Sox), yet he’s come away with a combined 13 IP, 3 ER, 16 K, 1 BB and 56.1 DKPT. The ace left-hander has won each of his last four starts while sporting a 2.05 ERA, 28.6-percent K-rate, 14.5-percent swinging strike rate and 3.34 SIERA over that stretch. Needless to say, I’m not too concerned about Monday’s home tilt with Boston. Sure, the Red Sox strike out at a league-low clip against left-handed pitching, but this baseball team just hasn’t been very good of late.
Safeco Field heavily favors pitching, the Red Sox own one of the lower implied run totals (3.6) on this 12-game slate, and Paxton has been stellar since the start of July. He should see depressed ownership in a difficult perceived matchup, and is priced high enough for people to avoid him in tournaments. If Paxton can stifle the Astros in Houston and the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to slam the door on Boston inside one of the most pitcher-friendly venues baseball has to offer. Simply put, when your arsenal is as filthy as Paxton’s, you’re going to rack up strikeouts and a lot of weak contact no matter who the opponent happens to be.
Kevin Gausman [RHP – BAL] @ TB – If you trusted me with the Gausman call last week you’re probably still recovering from some brutal gastrointestinal problems and post-traumatic stress. That’s what happens when you roster someone like Gausman, as he is one of the most erratic right-handers in all of baseball. That being said, we got a stellar performance from him, as he hurled six one-run innings with eight strikeouts and the win against Texas, and he did so at a dirt cheap price point. Well, Gausman is still affordable on Monday, and he draws another enticing matchup with the Rays, who he stymied for 35 DKPT just three weeks back.
Now I’m not expecting to get another nine strikeouts across seven scoreless frames, but Gausman has some legitimate upside at Tropicana Field. In seven starts since June 16th, Gausman is boasting a sick 13.1-percent swinging strike rate while striking out north of 30 percent of batters faced. Seldom will you find this type of upside at a low-$7K price point, especially when facing a Rays team that strikes out at a 24.4-percent clip vs. right-handed arms.
Gausman could cough up seven runs tonight and I wouldn’t be surprised. He could also strike out 10 batters en route to his fifth 20-plus-DKPT performance in his last seven outings. Gausman’s splitter has been so filthy since he began using it more frequently, and he should continue to find success with increased usage of the pitch. I’m willing to roll the dice on Baltimore’s all-potential right-hander on a night where rostering him would make paying for deGrom a much more feasible approach. Keep in mind, however, that Gausman becomes a much better play if Caleb Joseph, not Welington Castillo, is behind the dish.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Brad Peacock [RHP – HOU] should have no trouble shutting down the Phillies, but paying a premium for him in cash on both DraftKings and FantasyDraft feels imprudent. I’m as big a fan of Peacock as anyone, but he has struggled to pitch deep into games for most of the year, and only 19 other starting pitchers are averaging more pitches per inning than Peacock (17.5 P/IP) this season. The Phillies, believe it or not, are averaging six runs per game over their last 10 contests, too, so Peacock may not be facing them at the most opportune time. Having said that, Peacock boasts the fourth highest K-rate in baseball (32.4%), and is more than capable of posting elite fantasy totals in this matchup. I’ll be reserving him for GPPs, though, especially with Philadelphia owning a surprisingly high 4.2-run implied total at Citizens Bank Park.
Justin Verlander [RHP – DET] was a great play last week in this same matchup with the Royals, but he was discounted by almost a thousand dollars on a night where quality pitching options were nonexistent. He doesn’t seem discounted enough to use comfortably in cash tonight, but the same can be said for Gerrit Cole [RHP – SFG] in a road tilt with the Giants. Cole is nearly $10K on DraftKings due to his recent surge in strikeouts, but I don’t see him coming close to paying off that salary on Monday night.
Cody Bellinger [1B/OF – L] vs. Colon [RHP] – If Cody Bellinger is facing Bartolo Colon, you play him. Seriously, Bellinger is murdering right-handers to the tune of a .409 wOBA and .371 ISO this season, while recording nearly 47-percent fly balls and hard-hit balls in his rookie campaign. The Dodgers boast a 5.8-run implied total against the ancient Colon, who’s been carved up by lefties and righties alike in 2017. Colon doesn’t stand a chance on Monday, which is why we should be targeting both Bellinger and Corey Seager [SS – L] at the top of their respective positions.
Jose Ramirez [2B/3B – L/R] vs. Adleman [RHP] – The Indians are a top stack option on Monday against a righty in Tim Adleman who has been tortured by left-handed bats. Adleman has actually posted respectable numbers against same-handed hitters, but lefties have been a different story. On the season, Adleman is allowing a .364 wOBA, .307 ISO and a whopping 2.79 HR/9 to LHH, while sporting a 6.13 xFIP with a Goliath 51.2-percent flyball rate surrendered across 179 batters faced.
Adleman will be in for a long night against the likes of Ramirez and the rest of Cleveland’s left-handers. We’ll get into the rest of these Indians bats in the next section, but for now, Ramirez and Francisco Lindor [SS – L/R] make for the top high-priced options at their positions. Cleveland boasts a 5.5-run implied total at home, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them double that number against Adleman and a middle of the road Cincinnati bullpen. This Indians team is too powerful from the left side of the plate for Adleman to escape this meeting unscathed.
Giancarlo Stanton [OF – R] @ Perez [LHP] – Stanton is in play whenever he’s facing a southpaw. He’s a top play whenever facing a weak southpaw, and an elite play whenever he’s facing a weak southpaw in Arlington. That’s what we’ll get on Monday when Stanton squares off against Martin Perez at Globe Life Park. Game-time temperatures will be hovering around 92 degrees in Texas, so if Stanton makes contact he’s probably sending one into the seats. He owns a filthy .411 wOBA and .325 ISO vs. LHP for his career, with a 46-percent flyball rate and 44-percent hard-hit rate to boot.
What more can we ask for? Martin Perez is surrendering a .364 wOBA to RHH this season, while striking out only 13 percent of hitters in 2017. He’s ceding 37-percent hard contact to righties, and seven of his 11 total home runs allowed on the season have come against right-handed bats in Arlington. Marcell Ozuna [OF – R] is also very much in play here against Perez, and you’ll get him at a significant discount from Stanton on Monday night.
Jonathan Schoop [2B – R] @ Snell [LHP] – Blake Snell has struggled to locate his fastball in the majors, and it has resulted in some troublesome numbers this season especially. According to Pitch Values, Snell’s four-seamer has easily been his worst pitch, and he’s throwing it nearly 60 percent of the time vs. right-handed hitters this season. Righties are boasting a .247 ISO against the pitch, which is only inducing 35-percent ground balls, and although he’s pitching inside Tropicana Field on Monday, I could see him struggling against some of Baltimore’s right-handed bats.
Schoop is hitting southpaws well for the first time in his career. Meanwhile, Snell is allowing a .354 wOBA and 1.52 HR/9 to RHH with an 18.7-percent K-rate and 5.75 xFIP this season. With 12 games on this slate, Schoop should be rather low owned, but I’m willing to roll the dice in GPPs against the struggling southpaw. His .396 wOBA and .305 ISO vs. left-handed pitching is a giant step up from his production in previous campaigns.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jake Lamb [3B – L] vs. Dickey [RHP]; Paul Goldschmidt [1B – R] vs. Dickey [RHP]; Freddie Freeman [1B/3B – L] @ Greinke [RHP] [GPP]; Khris Davis [OF – R] @ Liriano [LHP]
Joc Pederson [OF – L] vs. Colon [RHP] – There are a ton of solid mid-range options to choose from on Monday, but we’ll start with Pederson. Not only is Peterson too cheap for a matchup with Bartolo Colon, but he possesses more than enough power to take advantage of such a stellar matchup. You’re getting him at $3,700 on DraftKings and $3,000 on FanDuel on a night where the Dodgers own a robust 5.8-run implied total at home. I don’t care if this park isn’t the most hitter-friendly venue in baseball; Peterson is too affordable to ignore in this spot. He’ll also make it easier to stack the Dodgers if you plan on paying for the high-end bats such as Bellinger, Seager and Turner.
Bradley Zimmer [OF – L] vs. Adleman [RHP] – I’m expecting Adleman to get shelled tonight, facing the lefty-heavy Indians at Progressive Field where they boast a .338 wOBA as a team. Zimmer has been leading off for the Indians of late, but he’s still priced like someone who’s batting at the bottom of the order. As a result, we should be targeting him heavily across the industry, as the Indians are poised to pile on the runs against Adleman, who as earlier noted has been brutalized by left-handed hitters this season.
Some added power would be nice for Zimmer, but his well above average speed and ability to rack up extra-base hits should mitigate that concern. I’ll be stacking the Indians quite a bit tonight, with Zimmer, Ramirez, Lindor and Michael Brantley [OF – L] being key pieces in those lineups. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Zimmer register six plate appearances by game’s end.
Adrian Beltre [3B – R] vs. Conley [LHP] – Beltre has yet to record a home run vs. left-handed pitching this season, but that shouldn’t stop us from targeting him on Monday. Texas owns the highest implied run total (6.1) on this 12-game slate, facing Adam Conley who misses zero bats and induces ground balls at a league average rate. With temperatures creeping above 90 degrees in Arlington we should strongly consider targeting Beltre in all formats, as he’s been crushing at home this season and should have no trouble teeing off on Conley. With Conley’s 37-percent hard contact allowed to right-handed hitters, I’m expecting Beltre to notch his first home run with the platoon advantage in 2017.
Elvis Andrus [SS – R] is also very appealing on FanDuel where he’s priced at $3,000. Paying $4,500 for him on DraftKings is less appealing, though, as this means you’d be paying for him over an identically priced Lindor or a similarly priced Seager. That said, you’ll want ample exposure to Andrus on all sites if you intend on stacking the Rangers.
Manny Machado [3B – R] is also way too cheap on DraftKings, weighing in at $3,600 for a matchup with the left-handed Snell. Anytime a hitter with legitimate multi-home run upside is priced this cheap with the platoon advantage, we must take notice. Snell has really struggled to set down righties this season, so regardless of whether Machado matches up well against him or not, the price remains too cheap.
HONORABLE MENTION: Yoenis Cespedes [OF – R] @ Richard [LHP]; Scooter Gennett [2B/OF – L] @ Tomlin [RHP]; Yasmani Grandal [C – L/R] vs. Colon [RHP] [FanDuel]; Chase Utley [1B/2B – L] vs. Colon [RHP] [GPP]; David Peralta [OF – L] vs. Dickey [RHP]; Abraham Almonte [OF – L/R] vs. Adleman [RHP]
J.T. Realmuto [C – R] @ Perez [LHP] – Realmuto has tallied very strong numbers against left-handed pitching this season, with a .444 wOBA and .271 ISO across 69 plate appearances. The excellent park shift he’ll receive on Monday coupled with a nice price point across the industry makes Realmuto a stellar play in all formats. Temperatures will be soaring and Realmuto should have ample opportunity to knock in runs hitting behind some of the better righty bats in the game. Any time you have a catcher with some pop batting middle of the order with the platoon advantage on a team with a 5-plus-run implied total you need to place him on the radar. Hitting inside Globe Life Park is just icing on the cake.
Alex Avila [C/1B – L] has been rather underwhelming of late, but he’s so cheap across the industry that we’d be remiss to not mention him on Monday. Despite his recent slump, Avila is still smashing righties to the tune of a .398 wOBA and .230 ISO this season, while his 54.5%:4.1% Hard Contact/Soft Contact ratio is the best mark in baseball. A matchup with Jason Hammel is hardly a formidable one, especially with Avila being priced at $3,100 on DraftKings and $2,300 on FanDuel.
Marcus Semien [SS – R] @ Liriano [LHP] – Semien looks to be on a mini-tear over the past three games, recording seven hits, one home run, three RBI and two stolen bases in that span. He’ll draw another opportunity to produce against Liriano, who is below average at holding runners and has struggled mightily to limit walks (14.1% BB vs. RHH). Liriano is ceding a mammoth .388 wOBA to opposite-handed hitters this season, and has caught only two of nine base stealers thus far. If you’re looking to punt the shortstop position Semien makes plenty of sense at his bottomed out price tag.
Ryon Healy [1B/3B – R] @ Liriano [LHP] – Healy is a boom-or-bust option for fantasy purposes, but he possesses plenty of pop against southpaw pitching. On the year, Healy boasts excellent power numbers against lefties while Liriano is coughing up 1.39 HR/9 to righties with a 5.69 xFIP and 18.1-percent K-rate. I’ll take my chances on Healy’s .294 ISO inside the homer-happy Rogers Centre, as I have no faith in Liriano to limit runs in this matchup.
Jonathan Lucroy [C – R] vs. Conley [LHP] – If you’re looking to full-punt the catcher position, Lucroy makes for a strong play at the bottom of the position. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been awful with the Rangers, but it’s hard to ignore the tournament upside in this matchup with Conley. He’ll have a premier hitter’s park, the platoon advantage, and the highest implied run total (6.1) to work with on Monday’s slate. You could definitely do worse at a near min-sal price point.
HONORABLE MENTION: Scott Schebler [OF – L] @ Tomlin [RHP]; Wilmer Flores [1B/3B – R] @ Richard [LHP]; Delino DeShields [OF – R] vs. Conley [LHP] [FanDuel]; Josh Phegley [C – R] @ Liriano [LHP]