MLB DEEP DIVE – 7/3/17

Yikes, three plus hours into research and having created the cheat sheets, I still don’t know exactly who I WANT to play, but at least I have crossed off a bunch of the options.  While days like these make it tough to write, it also means it is tricky for everyone out in DFS land and by default indicates we should have a fine night for tournaments.

Yes, it would be easier if Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals were not starting their game at 6:05pm, but we would just see too many gamers flocking there for us to really get much upside ourselves.

Let’s walk through each game and see if we can uncover some fantasy gold or at a minimum, find the traps to avoid!


Pittsburg Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies

Once again we have the theme of hot temperatures on the East Coast which adds an element of risk to pitchers.  Aaron Nola will likely be a popular play with everything being relative on this slate.  Since the beginning of 2016 in 31 starts, Nola has been adequate against hitters swinging the stick from the left side of the plate with a 4.08 xFIP, a 1.10 HR/9, a 21.5% K-rate and a 29.9% hard contact rate with an above average 52.1% groundball rate.  The beauty with Nola is that he is outstanding against same-handed hitters with a 27.2% K-rate a 2.69 xFIP (against a 4.48 ERA which means positive “progression”) a 54% groundball rate and a low 27.2% hard contact rate with just a 0.76 HR/9 rate.  The projected Pittsburgh lineup will likely have three lefties (Adam Frazier, Josh Bell and Gregory Polanco) and even if a fourth is inserted tonight, this bodes well for Nola.

Ivan Nova does a pretty good job of limiting production to right-handed hitters as well and will likely see four or five from the Phillies, however, the park downgrade and lack of strikeout upside limit my interest in Nova.  If this matchup was in Pittsburgh, it would spark a little more confidence for me.  Plus, Philadelphia does have several switch hitters (though they don’t pack much power in their bats, they are pesky as hell).

This game has the lowest projected run total on the night at 8.5 runs so really the only interesting play on either side for me is rookie Nick Williams for Philadelphia.


Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees

Here is where things get interesting, we have a very talented Masahiro Tanaka who has in turn burned and thrilled his backers over his last several outings.  Take a moment to go look at his game log and realize that this is not a slam dunk matchup.  He does profile well if he can get his slider and splitter working.  If he hangs them over the plate, the Blue Jays boppers will be taking him deep.  He profiles well against Toronto seeing them quite often in his three MLB season as they are division rivals.  Current Blue Jays have a slash line of .182/.232/.315 with just 12 extra base hits in 165 at bats with a 24.8% K-rate.  This is clearly no guarantee of future performance, but it is somewhat comforting.

Marcus Stroman is a fine pitcher, but at his current price point he is really only under consideration on FanDuel at $8,800, but we really want to put ourselves in a position to get the win over there and Toronto is -120ML underdogs in a dangerous matchup.  The back half of the Yankees order is not that intimidating with Chase Headley, Tyler Wade, Clint Frazier and Austin Romine likely to take the field but the warm and humid weather in the Bronx have me off of Stroman.  We can look to the top five hitters in the New York lineup (assuming Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius are the guys, but they are not going to come cheaply today.  Perhaps that will help suppress ownership and I would definitely prefer them as a stack other than Aaron Judge who warrants one-off consideration against all but a handful of hurlers, regardless of his price.


Miami Marlins at St Louis Cardinals

Word of warning, 88 degrees and 45% humidity aka Home Run Weather.  It is easy to cross Adam Wainwright off the list, but we will want to look to the Marlins, particularly lefties Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich and Justin Bour.  Along with rounding out stacks with the power upside of Giancarlo Stanton and Marcel Ozuna, even with Wainright only allowing a 0.84 HR/9 over his last 49 starts, the weather is a HUGH deal in Busch Stadium when it is this hot.

Jeff Locke over his last 25 starts (six this season) Locke has not been someone we can confidently consider.  He is allowing a 1.21 HR/9 against righties with a 14.3% K-rate and a 34.2% hard contact rate and against fellow lefties, he has allowed similar 1.20 HR/9, 13.2% K-rate and an even better 21.9% hard contact rate with close to a 50% groundball rate to hitters from both sides of the plate.  Locke is really nothing more than a tournament punt on two pitcher sites (FantasyDraft $9,600 and DraftKings $4,900) though we need to remember Coors Field is in play so we will need cap savings somewhere if we want to get in some hitters at altitude.  The usual top six hitters in the Cardinals roster are worthy of consideration (Matt Carpenter, Thomas Pham, Stephen Piscotty, Jedd Gyorko, Yadier Molina and Randal Grichuk).


Boston Red Sox at Texas Rangers

It should be in the mid-90s at game time so I think we can easily pass on the pitching duo of Rick Porcello and Martin Perez.  However, the hitters are incredibly intriguing!  Mookie Betts has been on a heater going 9 for 17 with 3 home runs, 8 RBI, 5 walks and 8 runs scored with 3 SBs in his last four games. Chris Young and newbie Sam Travis are solid discount options and once upon a time, Dustin Pedroia used to be phenomenal against southpaws.  One key thing to remember though is that RHP Martin Perez does a pretty good job of limiting damage in any one start having allowed just nine home runs across 82.1 innings this season and allowing more than four runs in just two of his 15 starts.  The Texas bullpen is sketchy at best, but it would seem that the BoSox are better off as onsie/twosie type plays rather than a full stack.

On the other side, the current reigning Cy Young Award winner RHP Rick Porcello can be heavily targeted with the Rangers, particularly those swinging the stick from the left-side of the plate.  This season in 235 plate appearances by lefties, Porcello is allowing a 1.5 HR/9, a very high 47.4% fly ball rate when combined with a .349 wOBA and a 44.8 hard contact rate in the Texas heat lock in Shin-Soo Choo, Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara and do not forget about Joey Gallo and his 21 home runs, even though he will likely be the caboose on this freight train from hell!


Los Angeles Angels at Minnesota Twins

Remember when the Twins Traded RHPs Ricky Nolasco and Alex Meyer (minor leaguer at the time) for LHP Hector Santiago and RHP Alan Busenitz (reliever who recently joined the Twins bullpen from the minor).  Yeah, don’t worry, not too many people will.  RHP Alex Meyer is most definitely in play on two-pitcher sites for his reasonable salary (FantasyDraft $13,600 and Draftkings $6,900) along with his strikeout upside boasting 62 punchouts in 55.1 innings.  Brian Dozier and Miguel Sano still warrant interest from the Twins side, but that is about it for me unless you are doing a maximum team stack in the hopes that Meyer does implode in a relatively warm (for Minnesota) 80 degree summer evening as young fireballers are wont to do from time to time.

On the other side we have LHP Adalberto Mejia who has a grand total of 53 Major League innings including a cup of coffee last season.  It is a very thin sample size, but he does look to have a bit of a walk issue and not a lot of strikeouts to offset it (even looking at his minor league track record).  He spent the better part of six seasons in the Giants farm system before being acquired by the Twinkies in mid 2016.  He is still relatively young at 23, but he projects to be more of a journeyman pitcher (aka a #4-5 starter) who may be better off being converted to a reliever which should help boost his strikeout numbers.  The Halos are interesting in that while nobody really jumps off the page (Mike Trout is likely to return shortly after the All-Star Break) they are in a decent situation and they are favorably priced across the industry, making them fine fillers for our rosters with my order of preference being Martin Maldonado, Yunel Escobar, Cameron Maybin, Danny Espinosa and Kole Calhoun.


Cincinnati Reds at Colorado Rockies

Blah, Blah, first game of the series for both teams in Coors Field after being on the road, Blahbiddy Blah.  Okay, while I have no real interest in either RHPs Luis Castillo or Jeff Hoffman I am not particularly enthralled about going out of my way to load up against them. Hoffman is a solid pitcher, but again we have a warm one in Coors Field with game time temperatures in the 85-87 degree range which is warm, even for early July.  Though 176 lefties faced, Hoffman has allowed a 0.68 HR/9 rate with just a 29.9% hard hit rate and a .279 wOBA though only striking out 15.6% of the hitters he faces.  He has struggled more against the 157 righties allowing a 1.87 HR/9 buoyed by a 38.2% hard contact rate, though he has struck out a full quarter of all same-handed hitters he has faced.  Today’s pricing for the Reds have me looking at Billy Hamilton, Zack Cosart and Scott Schebler with the latter being the only consistent power source of this trio.

Luis Castillo has faced a grand total of 46 hitters in The Show so there is not a lot to gather from that small sample size. He is a hard thrower and consistently flirted with the upper-90s in the minors, of course that is not something that will help him in the thin air of the Mile High City.  Like Adalberto Mejia in the previous game capsule, he is probably better suited for a relief role as he is more or less a two-pitch pitcher (changeup with a slider that still needs work per minor league synopses and prospect rankings I found).  My favorite targets will be pretty much everyone on the Rockies roster including the batboy.  Just know that will be a very popular strategy tonight without a ton of expensive pitching options.

Kansas City Royals at Seattle Mariners

RHP Ian Kennedy allowed 31 home runs in 2015 with the Padres, 33 last season with the Royals in Kauffman Stadium and this season with 16 already he is on pace to approach 40 home runs allowed (he will likely get put on the disabled list before that happens). During that stretch his HR/9 has been 1.72 to lefties and 1.56 to righties.  Literally the entire Mariners roster is a viable option, even Jarrod “revenge game” Dyson.

Seattle is countering with RHP Andrew Moore who will be making must his second ever big league start as the Mariners are pushing Felix Hernandez back a day for extra rest.  It appears that with Drew Smyly and Hisashi Iwakuma dealing with injuries, Moore will get at least a couple starts to earn a spot in the rotation.  He was a second round draft pick in 2015 and has been solid in the PCL and Texas League with a combined .215 batting average against with a 0.99 WHIP and a 2.67 ERA in 87.2 innings with 81 strikeouts.  At $10,800 on FantasyDraft ant $5,500 on DraftKings he is definitely in play as a discount SP2.

On the other hand, since it is just Moore’s second start, do not be shy about picking on him with a couple Kansas City hitters with the preferred targets being Mike Moustakas (22 HRs), Salvador Perez (16 HRs), Whit Merrifield (3 SBs on Sunday), Jorge Bonifacio (fair price, some pop and should be in the top half of the order), Eric Hosmer (Mr Steady Eddie with a .307 average) and the do-a-little-of-everything Lorenzo Cain.

Tune in at 5pm to the DeeperDive on FanVice Live for additional analysis from myself, Manny Lora and Adam Scherer.

Good Luck Gamers! ~ EMac