MLB DEEP DIVE – 9/11/17

 

PITCHERS

Carlos Carrasco [RHP – CLE] is Monday night’s top pitching option, facing a garbage Tigers team that regularly deploys the likes of Jeimer Candelario, Mikie Mahtook, Efren Navarro, JaCoby Jones and Dixon Machado. All of Detroit’s power-hitting studs are gone, and what’s left of their lineup is a concoction of forgotten castoffs, so it’s no surprise they own a slate-low 2.9-run implied total tonight. It’s true, Carrasco has always performed better on the road, but he’s a massive -356 ML favorite on Monday while his Indians boast a slate-high 5.7-run implied total against Myles Jaye.

Moreover, Carrasco is holding right-handed hitters to a miniscule .269 wOBA with 0.64 HR/9 and 29-percent strikeouts this season. That should bode well for him against a Tigers squad that will run out at least five righties tonight. Seven of Detroit’s possible hitters for Monday own sub-.300 wOBA’s vs. RHP, while six of them are striking out at a 20-plus percent clip. Needless to say, Carrasco would really need to implode for his performance to go completely off the rails, as he is easily the best choice of pitching on Monday night.

Zack Greinke [RHP – ARI] shouldn’t go ignored just because Carrasco is a massive favorite against the downtrodden Tigers. Greinke has been brilliant at home this season, holding batters to a .251 wOBA with a 3.05 xFIP and 30-percent K-rate across 105.1 innings. He’s been virtually unhittable against righties at Chase Field, too, and Colorado lacks a left-handed presence outside of Charlie Blackmon, and on occasion, Gerardo Parra/Carlos Gonzalez. The Rockies own the third lowest implied run total on Monday’s slate (3.7), and Greinke is the third heaviest favorite at -188 ML.

Greinke is steeply discounted from Carrasco across the industry, but actually trails directly behind Cleveland’s righty in K-rate (27.9%/10th vs. 27.4%/11th) and swinging strike rate (13.2%/9th vs. 12.9%/10th) this season. His 72-percent Contact rate, 20-percent soft-hit rate and 47-percent groundball rate are outperforming Carrasco as the regular season comes to a close.

Carrasco still seems to have the upside advantage, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Greinke outscore him tonight. Colorado ranks 23rd in wOBA (.305), 29th in ISO (.143) and sixth in K-rate (24.4%) away from home, making Greinke a strong top-shelf option who is certain to garner far less attention than Carrasco.

CC Sabathia [LHP – TB] is not someone I like to roster, but Monday’s lack of mid-range and value pitchers leaves us with few alternatives. Sabathia’s matchup with the Rays is actually quite enticing, though, as they rank 27th in wOBA (.301), 23rd in ISO (.150) and first in K-rate (26.0%) vs. left-handed pitching this season. Tampa Bay’s only hitters with above average numbers vs. LHP are Corey Dickerson, Logan Morrison and Steven Souza, of which two are lefties and the other is dealing with an ailing leg. Sabathia has allowed zero home runs to left-handed hitters this season, is holding them to a .260 wOBA and stellar .029 ISO, and striking them out at a respectable 22.2-percent clip. Kevin Cash will likely run out five lefties tonight with Evan Longoria, Wilson Ramos, Trevor Plouffe and Adeiny Hechavarria being his lone righties in the lineup.

I’ll likely have some exposure to Longoria and possible Ramos at a dirt cheap price tag, but that shouldn’t detract from Sabathia’s value, as he could cough up a couple solo shots and still produce serviceable fantasy totals inside the pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field. Only a few teams own lower implied run totals than the Rays tonight (4.0), who should strike out at a high clip and facilitate a pretty solid outing for New York’s 37-year-old southpaw.

Low-end pitching is very ugly on Monday, so I’m going to run through a few options I think could be viable, but are far from sure things in their respective matchups:

Jason Hammel [RHP – KC] stinks, but you could make the argument that the White Sox are much worse. What makes Chicago so dreadful at the plate isn’t just their piss-poor on-base numbers against right-handed pitching, but more so their inability to make contact with the baseball. Matt Davidson (41.1% K), Adam Engel (37.3% K), Yoan Moncada (35.8% K), Rob Brantly (25.3% K), Tyler Saladino (27.7% K), Tim Anderson (27.1% K) and Alen Hanson (23.8% K) all offer highly appealing strikeout numbers, while Jose Abreu, Nicky Delmonico and Avisail Garcia are the only potential threats in this lineup.

Hammel won’t inspire much confidence in anyone who contemplates utilizing his services on Monday, but he’s cheap enough to consider on a night where the Royals are -178 ML favorites and the White Sox own a dismal 3.9-run implied run total at Kauffman Stadium. 17-20 DKPT feels like a reasonable projection in this matchup, and it doesn’t hurt to know that Hammel hasn’t finish with fewer than 10 DKPT in a game since July 1st — a stretch of 12 straight respectable starts.

Brandon Woodruff [RHP – MIL] is a groundball righty with a 95-MPH four-seamer and decent slider that he throws exclusively to righties. Woodruff mixes in a changeup to left-handed bats, and while it doesn’t miss a ton bats, it does induce plenty of ground balls and hasn’t been hit hard this season. Woodruff also strikes same-handed hitters out at a much higher clip than lefties (24.1% vs. 15.8%), which should serve him well against a Pirates team that doesn’t boast much left-handed talent. Pittsburgh doesn’t offer many strikeouts, but they’ve been dreadful against right-handed pitching (.305/.140 wOBA/ISO, 28th/29th) and own a mere 3.9-run implied run total tonight. Woodruff is a healthy -163 ML favorite at home, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him post a seven-inning, one-run, four-strikeout line on Monday night.

Chris Stratton [RHP – SFG] would never have been in consideration against the Dodgers earlier in the year, but there literally hasn’t been a worse team in baseball over the past 30 days. Yeah, you read it correctly; the Dodgers rank dead last in wOBA (.289), 27th in ISO (.141) and 11th in K-rate (22.5%) over the past month. Get this: Los Angeles scored 10-plus runs in 13 games from April through June, yet they haven’t cracked the double-digit mark once since the start of July. Moreover, the Dodgers have dropped 15 of their last 16 games while averaging 2.3 runs in the process.

The Truth is the Dodgers have been so bad lately that Stratton becomes a viable punt at his price point. AT&T Park is a pitcher’s haven, and Stratton’s 20-percent K-rate and 9.2-percent swinging strike rate are respectable enough to consider him against the floundering National League leaders. It’s a massive risk, but also one that could pay off in spades if L.A. continues to struggle.

 

HITTERS

HIGH-END

 

J.D. Martinez [OF – R] has been on another planet since joining the Diamondbacks on July 19th, hammering southpaws to the tune of a .457 wOBA (.432 xwOBA), .410 ISO and 92-MPH AEV. Amazingly Martinez’s splits against lefties on the season are even better, as he’s sporting a .541 wOBA, .519 ISO and 53.6-percent hard-hit rate in 2017. Martinez leads all hitters with at least 90 PA vs. LHP in each of those three categories, while his 10 home runs ranks seventh despite far fewer at bats than those who sit above him.

Needless to say, Martinez makes for a stellar play against Kyle Freeland, who has surprisingly been much worse vs. righties on the road than he has at home. Freeland does a solid job of inducing ground balls, but he’s coughing up 35-percent hard contact to righties away from Coors and is striking them out at a putrid 10-percent clip. I’m generally not a fan of targeting Freeland, but I’m willing to make exceptions on Monday. Martinez and Paul Goldschmidt [1B – R], who also clobbers lefties (.416/.265 wOBA/ISO), are very much in play on a night where Arizona boasts the third highest implied run total.

 

Gary Sanchez [C – R] and Aaron Judge [OF – R] smacked two home runs a piece in yesterday’s 16-7 win over the Rangers. It would be foolish to expect a repeat performance on Monday, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see both of these sluggers follow up Sunday’s performance with another fine showing. Ricky Nolasco is the only right-handed pitcher to have allowed more home runs to righties (22) than Jake Odorizzi (18) this year, yet Odorizzi’s limited innings make his numbers that much more alarming. He’s serving up a whopping 2.34 HR/9 to RHH while allowing a .257 ISO with 47-percent fly balls and 43-percent hard contact in 2017. Both Sanchez and Judge possess immense power against same-handed pitching, and should be considered top options at their respective positions on Monday night.

 

Justin Smoak [1B – L/R] is one of several high-end first basemen worth targeting tonight, as he squares off against a weak righty in Ubaldo Jimenez who is serving up a whopping 2.75 HR/9 to LHH this season. Jimenez has definitely been more impressive with Caleb Joseph behind the plate, but it hasn’t made him unhittable by any stretch. He’s still surrendering a league-worst .410 wOBA to lefties and a 27.3-percent HR/FB rate, bested by only Masahiro Tanaka (27.8%) this year. Smoak hits lefties better for his career, but a .277 ISO vs. righties this season is more than serviceable. Kendrys Morales [1B – L/R] is also in play at a slightly lesser price point.

 

Cleveland Indians hitters are very much in play against Myles Jaye, but their astronomical price points could make them tough to fit on a night where cheap pitching is at a premium. Jaye misses virtually zero bats, so we should hardly be concerned about an above average groundball rate and lack of home runs. Jose Ramirez [2B/3B – L/R], Francisco Lindor [SS – L/R], Carlos Santana [1B – L/R], Lonnie Chisenhall [OF – L] and Edwin Encarnacion [1B – R] all make for great options, but stacking them seems near impossible and even deploying them in pairs looks tough. If you can make it work, by all means go ahead, but I wouldn’t feel obligated to jam in Indians simply because they draw an enticing matchup.

 

MID-RANGE

 

Ryan Braun [OF – R] finally appears to have regained a pulse after limping through August with only one home run and seven RBI. Over the last week, however, Braun has gone a respectable 8-24 with two home runs, a double and two stolen bases. Let’s not forget, Braun owns a .428 wOBA, .285 ISO and 39-percent hard-hit rate vs. southpaws for his career, and Steven Brault has struggled against opposite-handed hitters across 205 career batters faced. Braun is priced down on FanDuel ($3,200) and weighs in at a respectable $4,600 on DraftKings. I’ll happily deploy him against a left-hander who’s striking righties out at a 10-percent clip with a 6.57 xFIP this season.

 

Elvis Andrus [SS – R] might be the most erroneously priced hitter on DraftKings tonight, priced at only $3,900 in a spectacular home matchup with Ariel Miranda. No pitcher has allowed more home runs to righties than Miranda this season, whose 30 long balls surrendered is four more than the next closest pitcher (Derek Holland: 26). Miranda actually isn’t a terrible pitcher, but he genuinely struggles with right-handed power, and unsurprisingly coughed up three home runs to the Rangers–one of them to Andrus–in his only appearances at Globe Life Park this season.

I see no reason to fade Andrus tonight, especially considering he’s sporting a sexy .239 ISO vs. lefties this season. Miranda’s 2.10 HR/9 and 55.5-percent flyball rate allowed to righties is more than enough to solidify Andrus as the top shortstop option on Monday night. I much prefer him over Lindor at a massive discount on DraftKings. I’ll take the $600 savings on FanDuel, too.

 

Mike Moustakas [3B – L] is a strong mid-range target against Reynaldo Lopez, who has already allowed four home runs and five extra-base hits to lefties across only 56 batters faced this season. Lopez is generating no strikeouts to opposite-handed bats and isn’t even inducing ground balls (25% GB) to mitigate the damage. Moustakas, on the other hand, is hitting 49-percent fly balls against righties this season with an average 21-degree launch angle. This is an ideal matchup for the flyball-hitting Moose, especially considering the Royals boast one of the highest implied run totals (5.2) on Monday night. Eric Hosmer [1B – L] is sub-$4K on DraftKings and should serve as a nice pairing with Moustakas at the corner infield positions.

 

Jay Bruce [OF – L] has been ice cold of late, but he still makes for a nice way to get Indians exposure without having to pay a premium. Bruce can be had at a mid-range price point, is batting in the middle of Cleveland’s potent lineup, and is still very capable of hammering weak right-handed pitchers (.370/.279 wOBA/ISO in 2017). Lonnie Chisenhall [OF – L] is the preferred Indians outfielder on FanDuel, though, as he has fallen south of $3,000 and is likely to bat second against the inexperienced Jaye.

HONORABLE MENTION: Nelson Cruz [OF – R] @ Hamels [LHP] [DraftKings]; Jesus Aguilar [1B – R] vs. Brault [LHP]; Delino DeShields [OF – R] vs. Miranda [LHP]; Jean Segura [SS – R] @ Hamels [LHP]; Hernan Perez [3B/OF – R] vs. Brault [LHP]; Domingo Santana [OF – R] vs. Brault [LHP]

 

VALUE

 

Evan Longoria [3B – R] has been absolute dogshit against southpaws this season, but there are a few things that make him rather appealing on Monday night. First, he owns a very respectable .368/.235 wOBA/ISO vs. LHP for his career; and second, Longoria has destroyed CC Sabathia across 88 career plate appearances. As you know, I’m not a big advocate of BvP, but Longoria’s history vs. Sabathia is definitely noteworthy, as it includes seven home runs, nine doubles and a 92-MPH AEV. Longoria is discounted across the industry and definitely deserves a look in all formats this evening.

 

Chris Davis [1B – L] is nearing the end of a forgettable 2017 campaign, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take advantage of his dirt cheap price tag against Marco Estrada. Davis will never hit for average, but he still offers well above average power vs. right-handed pitching (.258 ISO) despite an otherwise underwhelming season. If you plan on rostering Carrasco you’re going to need some salary relief, and Davis offers both a cheap price tag and power at the first base position.

 

Chris Iannetta [C – R] has been a bright spot at the catcher position this season, and his price tag remains affordable across the industry. The veteran backstop is sporting a stellar .404 wOBA and .219 ISO vs. LHP this year, and has also been batting second when drawing the platoon advantage. If you don’t want to pay a top-shelf salary for Gary Sanchez, Iannetta is great way to pivot at the position against Kyle Freeland. Mike Zunino [C – R] also warrants some GPP appeal against Cole Hamels inside one of the best hitters’ parks in baseball.

Wilson Ramos [C – R] is one of the best overall punts on Monday’s eight-game slate, as he has basically bottomed out on DraftKings ($2,200) and FanDuel ($2,100). As earlier noted, I’m not against rostering Sabathia tonight, but Ramos is simply too cheap to ignore at his near min-sal price point. This is one of the easiest ways to comfortably fit Carrasco and another non-punt pitcher.

HONORABLE MENTION: Robinson Chirinos [C – R] vs. Miranda [LHP];  Brandon Drury [2B – R] vs. Freeland [LHP]; Nicky Delmonico [OF – L] @ Hammel [RHP]