MLB DEEP DIVE – 8/11/17
Rich Hill [LHP – LAD] vs. SDP – I wouldn’t blame anyone for rostering Dicky Hill on Friday, as he’s a -285 ML favorite at home against a Padres team that owns a slate-low 2.9-run implied total at Dodger Stadium. He won’t come cheap, though, especially since turning his season around back in late June. Over his last eight starts, Hill is sporting a 33-percent K-rate, 12.6-percent swinging strike rate and 34-percent O-Swing rate to accompany a sexy 3.20 xFIP.
Hill makes for an easy play on FanDuel where he’s $100 cheaper than Jimmy Nelson and only $400 more expensive than Carlos Carrasco. It’s harder to pull the trigger on him on DraftKings, though, where he’s the priciest pitcher by a wide margin ($12,200). Here’s the thing: San Diego is terrible against left-handed pitching, ranking dead last in wOBA (.286) and 20th in ISO (.153) with the fifth highest K-rate (25.3%) this season. They also rank 30th in baseball against the fastball and 29th against the curveball, which in case you were unaware, are Hill’s only two pitches.
I was hesitant to label Hill a top play on DraftKings with his exorbitantly high salary, but this matchup is simply too favorable. I’ll likely be paying for him and sacrificing talent at other positions. If value doesn’t open up throughout the day I’ll consider pivoting to a cheaper SP-1, but as of now he’s my clear top option across the industry. The only concern here is a limited pitch count, but the matchup is good enough to mitigate those concerns.
Carlos Carrasco [RHP – CLE] @ TB – Carrasco has not looked sharp lately, posting sub-20-DKPT performances in each of his last five starts. That shouldn’t keep us from targeting him on Friday, though, as his velocity hasn’t dipped and his swinging strike rate was sitting at 11.7 percent over that stretch despite three of the five teams he faced having bottom-five strikeout rates vs. RHP. The Rays can remedy those problems tonight, as they rank third in K-rate against right-handed pitching (25.1%) and currently own the second lowest implied run total on the slate (3.8).
The important issue here is Carrasco’s health/mechanics, and I don’t see a problem with either. Assuming he just ran into a stretch of tough outings, there’s no reason why Carrasco shouldn’t be able to rebound tonight at the pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field. At a slightly depressed price point across the industry, I’d expect Carrasco to be one of the night’s most popular pitching options against the K-heavy Rays.
Jimmy Nelson [RHP – MIL] vs. CIN – Nelson doesn’t draw a great matchup tonight, but he has been phenomenal at home this season and has steamrolled the Reds in two prior outings (14 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 16 K). That doesn’t mean he’s a lock to produce on Friday, but Nelson has been good enough to deploy in less-than-optimal conditions. The 28-year-old right-hander is sporting a 27.3-percent K-rate this season, a number that jumps to 32 percent against left-handed bats.
Cincinnati will likely run five lefties in the lineup tonight (Votto, Gennett, Hamilton, Winker, Barnhart), and although none of them own shockingly high strikeout rates vs. RHP, it’s still a plus for Nelson. Nelson is also holding same-handed hitters to a .290 wOBA with only 0.61 HR/9 and 26-percent hard-contact, so he doesn’t have any pronounced platoon splits heading into this matchup with the Reds. Cincinnati’s 3.8-run implied total is tied with Tampa Bay for the second lowest projected mark on Friday’s slate, while Nelson is a -186 ML favorite at home. He’s been far too good to ignore at a sub-$10K price point.
Pitching gets very dicey once we drop below Nelson and Carrasco, as you’ll essentially be throwing darts at any arms in the middle or lower tiers. Jacob Faria [RHP – TB] is coming off his best performance since mid-June, and faces an Indians team that generally never makes for a good fantasy matchup. I could see him limiting their run production at Tropicana Field, but will he record enough strikeouts to pay off a mid-$8K salary? Cleveland is striking out at the fifth lowest clip vs. RHP (19.6%) while boasting the league’s seventh best wOBA (.328) in 2017.
Ubaldo Jimenez [RHP – BAL], much like Kevin Gausman, has been much better with Caleb Joseph behind the plate. Jimenez is sporting a 4.88 ERA with a surprisingly strong 9.6 K/9 across 59 innings with Joseph catching, and a 8.06 ERA with 6.48 K/9 in 51.1 innings caught by Welington Castillo. Now I’m not saying Joseph automatically transforms Jimenez into an efficient pitcher, but he certainly seems to make him a serviceable one.
If Joseph is catching on Friday I’d be willing to consider Jimenez against the A’s, who strike out at the fourth highest clip against RHP (24.8%) and no longer have their best left-handed hitter in Yonder Alonso. Jimenez’s primary struggles have come against left-handed bats, and Oakland’s lefties consist of Jed Lowrie, Matt Joyce, Bruce Maxwell and Matt Olson — not exactly Murderers’ Row.
Seth Lugo [RHP – NYM] could carry some ownership on Friday, and I can’t blame anyone for deploying a pitcher against the Phillies. Lugo will likely need to pitch six or seven clean innings to get the job done, though, as he’s striking out only 16.3 percent of batters this season. We can’t rely on him for upside, so we’ll have to hope the Phillies remain inept at the plate. I likely won’t be using Lugo tonight.
As an upside play I’d rather target Taijuan Walker [RHP – ARI], who possesses significantly more blow up potential than Lugo, but is also more capable of posting impressive strikeout totals against the Cubs. Chicago owns the 20th best wOBA vs. RHP this year while striking out at a 22.2-percent clip. Walker has no true platoon splits, and while Chase Field won’t do him many favors on Friday, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him post between 22-25 DKPT by night’s end.
Mike Trout [OF – R] @ Gonzales [LHP] – I won’t spend much time on this one; Trout faces a struggling southpaw who’s allowing a career .408 wOBA .254 ISO, 41-percent FB rate, 41-percent HH rate and 2.12 HR/9 to right-handed bats. Marco Gonzales was once a highly touted prospect, drafted 19th overall in 2013, and while he may one day live up to those lofty expectations, it won’t be tonight. Trout is the best hitter in baseball. What more is there to say?
Bryce Harper [OF – L] vs. Stratton [RHP] – The Nationals should tee off against Chris Stratton tonight, which puts Harper in play as a top option across the board. Stratton averaged an 18-percent K-rate through Double-A and Triple-A and induced an average amount of ground balls, so it’s hard to believe he’ll see much success on Friday. Washington owns a slate-high 5.7-run implied total at home, and I’m actually tempted to rank Harper over Trout at a similar price point. Daniel Murphy [2B – L] seems to be bothered by an ailing hip, but if he’s in the lineup tonight I’ll still be targeting him quite heavily. This entire Nationals team boasts massive value against Stratton.
Jose Altuve [2B – R] @ Hamels [LHP] – I don’t think Cole Hamels is nearly as bad as many declare him to be, but he’s still likely to struggle on Friday. Altuve has dominated left-handed pitching (.414 wOBA, .231 ISO) and also offers plenty of speed on the basepaths, while Hamels has struggled to hold runners throughout his career. Hamels somehow ranks towards the top in SRAA this season, but I don’t buy it. He’s also pitched much better of late, but this is still the Astros at Globe Life Park. Houston owns a 5.3-run implied total in what’s projected to be the second highest scoring game on the night, and Altuve should continue to rake at the top of the order.
While Altuve is always a solid play when facing left-handed pitching, I’d urge you not to overlook Chris Taylor [2B/OF – R], who draws an excellent matchup with Clayton Richard. San Diego’s left-hander is ceding a robust .386 wOBA to righties this season, with all 18 of his home runs coming against opposite-handed bats. Richard does induce a lot of ground balls, but he’s coughing up 36-percent hard contact to RHH while striking them out at a dismal 13-percent clip. Richard is also allowing 23-percent HR/FB to righties, so his ground-balling tendencies should do nothing to dissuade us from rostering Taylor on Friday night.
HONORABLE MENTION: Freddie Freeman [1B/3B – L] @ Wainwright [RHP]; Paul Goldschmidt [1B – R] vs. Lackey [RHP]; George Springer [OF – R] @ Hamels [LHP]; Ryan Braun [OF – R] vs. Bailey [RHP]; Giancarlo Stanton [OF – R] vs. Gray [RHP] [GPP]
Travis Shaw [3B – L] vs. Bailey [RHP] – Homer Bailey has allowed 42 earned runs this season — in 42.2 innings pitched. He’s legitimately allowing more than two baserunners per inning, while striking out a putrid 12 percent of batters faced. We can speak to his velocity being intact, but that doesn’t take away from Bailey being terrible. His slider is getting hammered, and his fastball location has been spotty at best, so I wouldn’t expect Bailey to find success at Miller Park tonight.
Shaw ranks top-15 against the slider this season (probably won’t see many of them as a LHH, though), and is brutalizing righties to the tune of a .400 wOBA and .269 ISO with 20 home runs and 62 RBI. His Brewers own a 5.3-run implied total at home, and I’m expecting them to pile on the runs against Bailey and Co.. Shaw is especially appealing at only $3,300 on FanDuel.
Eric Thames [1B/OF – L] has been a colossal disaster since his early-season explosion, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for rolling the dice tonight. Bailey is generating only 11-percent strikeouts vs. left-handed hitters, and misses no bats with his four-seamer, either. You could do a lot worse in this price tier.
Justin Turner [3B – R] vs. Richard [LHP] – Turner would be one of only a couple reasons I’d fade Shaw tonight, as the Dodgers’ third baseman has been absolutely dominant against left-handed pitching. On the year, Turner is boasting a ridiculous .513 wOBA and .360 ISO vs. LHP, ranking second and fourth in baseball, respectively. He is one of the best pure hitters in the game, but his power against southpaws has never been so intense. What makes Turner most appealing in this matchup against the ground-balling Richard is his 45-percent flyball rate and 48-percent hard-hit rate vs. left-handed arms. The more I look into the third base position, the more I like Turner ahead of Jake Lamb [3B – L], Alex Bregman [3B – R] and even Travis Shaw.
Brian Goodwin [OF – L] vs. Stratton [RHP] – Brian Goodwin came out of nowhere this season, and his fantastic power has remained on display through July and into August. Not only has Goodwin racked up 13 homers, 21 doubles and a triple across only 242 at bats, but he has stayed hot of late with two home runs and three doubles over his last five games. Goodwin’s batted ball profile also looks fantastic vs. RHP (46% FB, 36% HH), and there’s no reason to believe he’ll slow down on Friday against the unimpressive arm of Chris Stratton. Outside of Harper and Murphy (assuming he’s in the lineup), Goodwin is my top Nationals bat to target, as he’s very affordably priced across the industry and continues to hit atop a very potent order.
Yoenis Cespedes [OF – R] @ Pivetta [RHP] – Nick Pivetta has struggled mightily to limit right-handed power this season, surrendering a massive 3.12 HR/9 with a .412 wOBA and .350 ISO allowed. The Phillies’ rookie right-hander is also ceding a Goliath 45-percent hard-hit rate to righties with 44.3-percent fly balls and 25.9-percent HR/FB to boot. These are some startlingly bad numbers, so it’s only logical to target a power righty in Cespedes who owns a career .219 wOBA vs. right-handed arms. Cespedes’ power numbers vs. righties don’t look great on the surface this season, but with 48-percent fly balls and 42-percent hard contact you’d think he would find some success on Friday night. Cespedes is striking out at a mere 15-percent clip vs. right-handed pitching.
David Peralta [OF – L] is an equally attractive play against John Lackey, who has been brutal against lefties and now has to pitch inside Chase Field. Lackey is allowing 2.50 HR/9 to LHH, is striking them out at a paltry 16-percent clip, and ceding a .378 wOBA in the process.
NOTE: Targeting base-stealing Diamondbacks against Lackey also makes plenty of sense, as he ranks towards the bottom of all pitchers in SRAA (4.36%) and has caught only one of 12 base stealers in 2017.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jake Lamb [3B – L] vs. Lackey [RHP]; Alex Bregman [3B – R] @ Hamels [LHP]; Robinson Cano [2B – L] vs. Nolasco [RHP]; Jean Segura [SS – R] vs. Nolasco [RHP]; Andrelton Simmons [SS – R] @ Gonzales [LHP]
Austin Barnes [C – R]/Kike Hernandez [OF – R] vs. Richard [LHP] – Barnes and Hernandez are two of my favorite value plays on Friday, facing a homer-prone lefty on a night where the Dodgers boast a 5.2-run implied total at home. We’ve already highlighted Richard’s glaring weaknesses against right-handed bats, so let’s take a quick look at Barnes’ and Hernandez’s numbers against southpaws in 2017…
Barnes has hit six home runs and 18 XBH on the season; five of those home runs and 11 of those extra-base hits have come against left-handed pitching. He owns a phenomenal .382 wOBA and .276 ISO vs. LHP and easily makes for a top backstop option tonight. Hernandez has been even better, with nine home runs in only 111 AB vs. LHP. Hernandez boasts a massive .360 ISO vs. lefties this year, while his 151 wRC+ is just icing on the cake. Hopefully both of these Dodgers righties are in the lineup tonight so we can get great value and plenty of power against the unintimidating Richard.
Matt Olson [OF – L] vs. Jimenez [RHP] – I noted earlier that Jimenez could actually produce some solid fantasy totals tonight if Joseph is behind the plate, but that doesn’t mean he’s immune to serving up some shots against left-handed bats. Olson is dirt cheap across the board, has 1B/OF eligibility on DraftKings, and is sporting a .277 ISO vs. RHP this season. He’s been batting sixth in the A’s order, and could pay off his salary with one swing of the bat on Friday night. If you plan on paying up for both of your pitchers, Olson would serve as a preferred punt with pop against the homer-prone Jimenez.
Aaron Hicks [OF – L/R] @ Rodriguez [LHP] – Hicks is a pure price play against Rodriguez, as he doesn’t draw the best matchup, but probably shouldn’t be so cheap, either. Hicks has only seen 73 PA against LHP this year, but he’s been fantastic with a .396 wOBA, .250 ISO 11-percent walk rate. Eduardo Rodriguez does have some reverse splits, but he hasn’t looked sharp against anyone of late, so I’m not too worried about his presence on the mound. Hicks won’t be a primary target of mine, but I’ll be willing to consider him if other preferred value options aren’t in their respective lineups.
Neil Walker [2B – L/R] @ Pivetta [RHP] – As earlier noted, Pivetta has struggled to contain right-handed power this season, and hasn’t been nearly as bad against left-handed bats. That being said, I expect those numbers to regress, as there’s no reason he should be holding opposite-handed hitters to a sub-300 wOBA with his uninspiring stuff. Moreover, Walker is dirt cheap across the board, and finally appears to have woken up last night with a 4-5 showing at the dish. If you’re looking for a cheap second baseman with decent upside, Walker should definitely be in play.
HONORABLE MENTION: Travis D’arnaud [C – R] @ Pivetta [RHP]; Asdrubal Cabrera [2B/SS – L/R] @ Pivetta [RHP]; Manny Pina [C – R] vs. Bailey [RHP]