MLB DEEP DIVE – 9/15/17
Chris Sale [LHP – BOS] is actually underpriced when you consider his matchup. In five meeting with Tampa this season, Sale has racked up 57 strikeouts with only eight runs allowed across 35 innings pitched. Yeah, that works out to a 43-percent K-rate against a Rays squad that leads the league in strikeouts vs. left-handed pitching while owning a bottom-five wOBA (.302) and ISO (.149) this season. He’s allowed four home runs in an otherwise brilliant run against them this season, and should have no problem burying them again on Friday. Fading Sale in cash is not only a risky proposition, but a stupid one. He’s a virtual lock to make good on his asking price.
Robbie Ray [LHP – ARI] makes for a strong play against the Giants, but I can’t justify paying a Sale-like salary for him on a night where he doesn’t possess the same strikeout upside as his left-handed counterpart. Sure, Ray has been otherworldly in recent weeks, racking up 45 strikeouts across his last four starts (25.1 IP) with only four runs allowed over that stretch, but the Giants aren’t exactly the free-swinging offense we like to target when paying a premium for pitching. I understand the lower owned pivot, but actually prefer this next guy if I’m going to risk fading Sale in tournaments…
Luis Severino [RHP – NYY] has been one of baseball’s most consistent fantasy options all season long. The third-year righty has finished with 30-plus DKPTs in five of his last ten starts, while failing to reach the 20-DKPT mark only once over his last 12 outings. He’ll face a Baltimore team on Friday that possesses a decent amount of pop, but also owns plenty of K-heavy hitters throughout the lineup. Chris Davis, their only power lefty, strikes out at a 36-percent clip vs. RHP, while Adam Jones and Manny Machado are their only every day hitters without a 20-plus-percent K-rate this season. Severino should be able to use his hard-biting slider and high-90’s heat to rack up strikeouts against the O’s, who own a mere 3.4-run implied total at Yankee Stadium. He’s a -260 ML favorite at home, too, a slate-high mark by a wide margin.
Severino’s ability to induce ground balls at an elite clip vs. right-handed hitters should serve him well against the righty-heavy Orioles. His 0.65 HR/9 and 2.65 xFIP are also huge assets in this matchup. Chris Davis and Seth Smith are Baltimore’s only regular lefties and neither of them pose much of a threat. If there was one pitcher capable of outscoring Sale tonight I’d put my money on Severino.
Jeff Samardzija [RHP – SF] has been a hard player to make sense of this season, but one thing we do know is he’s very capable of flashing ceiling games every so often. I’m not so sure that’ll be the case tonight, but he does draw a decent home matchup with the Diamondbacks. Arizona has been excellent against right-handed pitching on the year, but they still strike out at a top-10 clip, and have struggled mightily away from Chase Field. Actually, the D-Backs own a bottom-five wOBA (.301) and top-six K-rate (24.4%) on the road, which should serve Shark well at AT&T Park.
Samardzija has inexplicably recorded significantly fewer strikeouts at home this year, but it’s hard to believe that’s anything outside of extended variance. He’ll be hard-pressed to earn the win against Ray, but I could see this game being a low-scoring pitchers’ duel with most of the fantasy production being generated from the mound. I don’t see myself going with Shark on Friday night, but wouldn’t blame anyone for pulling the trigger at a mid-range price point.
Mark Leiter Jr. [RHP – PHI] has actually produced some half-decent numbers since the start of August, sporting a 24.2-percent K-rate, 11.5-percent swinging strike rate and 4.5-percent BB-rate across 37.1 IP. I wouldn’t say he’s been lucky, either, as Leiter is allowing only 27-percent hard contact and 28.7-percent fly balls over that span. Homers have been an issue (1.69 HR/9), but the rookie right-hander has made up for them with serviceable strikeout totals in the majority of his appearances.
Now, to be clear, Leiter is no lock to produce on Friday, but he is facing an Oakland team that strikes out at a 24.6-percent clip vs. RHP this season. The A’s boast ample power against righties, and this could be a big problem for Leiter, but he doesn’t have any pronounced platoon splits, so that’s at least a plus. Leiter offers tournament upside at a value price point — that’s about the extent of it.
Bud Norris [RHP – LAA] would’ve been an interesting play if we thought he would throw more than ~50 pitches tonight. Unfortunately, Mike Scioscia will likely use tonight’s home meeting with Texas as a bullpen game, especially considering Norris hasn’t pitched in over a week. He’s dirt cheap across the board, and is actually sporting a stellar 29 percent K-rate across 53 innings, but he’ll be useless to us if we can’t get more than a couple innings with him on the bump.
Nolan Arenado [3B – R] is a clear top option tonight against Clayton Richard. On one side, Arenado is hammering southpaws to the tune of a .536/.444 wOBA/ISO this season (.546/.469 wOBA/ISO vs. LHP at home), with a 222 wRC+ and 47-percent flyball rate. He’s been a virtual lock to produce when facing lefties at home. On the other side, 22 of Richard’s 23 home runs allowed have come against right-handed bats. Only Ariel Miranda and Derek Holland have allowed more long balls to righties this year. Colorado’s 6.8-run implied total is an unsurprising slate-high mark, and Arenado should be a staple in all of our lineups.
Mike Trout [OF – R] is an equally appealing option tonight, facing a weak righty in Nick Martinez who’s allowing 2.70 HR/9 to same-handed bats this season. For a pitcher who’s ceding 35-percent fly balls to righties, Martinez should not be serving up 26.2-percent home runs per fly balls — but he is. Meanwhile, Trout is annihilating righties to the tune of a .460 wOBA, .363 ISO and 47-percent flyball rate in 2017. I don’t care where this game is being play, so long as Trout is in the Angels’ lineup. Lock it up.
Rhys Hoskins [1B/OF – R]. Enough said? Seriously, the dude has smacked 18 homers in 34 games. That’s .53 home runs per game and one home run per every 6.5 at bats. He’s homered against every team he’s faced but the Braves, and in 10 games against the Marlins recorded eight home runs and 19 RBI. No, he isn’t facing the Marlins on Friday, but he does draw a nice matchup against Daniel Mengden, who’s allowing a career 1.79 HR/9 to righties with a sub-20-percent K-rate and 5.42 FIP. At this point, not playing Hoskins is a massive risk in itself.
HONORABLE MENTION: Aaron Judge [OF – R] vs. Ynoa [RHP]; Jose Ramirez [2B/3B – L/R] vs. Vargas [LHP]; Edwin Encarnacion [1B – R] vs. Vargas [LHP]; Jose Abreu [1B – R] @ Sanchez [RHP – DET]; Charlie Blackmon [OF – L] vs. Richard [LHP]
Trevor Story [SS – R] and D.J. LeMahieu [2B – R] are both underpriced on both DraftKings and FantasyDraft, making them excellent plays tonight against Clayton Richard. Story left Thursday’s game with some hamstring cramping, but it didn’t seem to be an issue, so we’ll consider him in play for the time being. He and LeMahieu boast elite numbers vs. southpaws this season with a .464/.416 wOBA/ISO and .413/.189 wOBA/ISO, respectively. Story strikes out at a much higher clip than LeMahieu (33.3% vs. 8.6%), but also possesses far more power. LeMahieu likely won’t belt two home runs tonight, but Richard’s 14-percent K-rate and .372 wOBA vs. RHP should allow for some great at bats and plenty of solid contact at Coors. A Rockies stack consisting of Arenado, Story, LeMahieu and some combination of Mark Reynolds [1B – R] or Charlie Blackmon should yield excellent results tonight.
Matt Olson [1B/OF – L] has been absolutely smashing over the past couple weeks, with 10 home runs and 19 RBI across his last 15 starts. Based on this recent success, and a plus matchup with Mark Leiter at Citizens Bank Park, Olson is actually priced nicely across the board and especially on DraftKings. As earlier noted, Leiter has enjoyed some success in the form of strikeouts, but he’s still allowing 1.75 HR/9 to lefties on the year. If Olson isn’t striking out, he’ll probably be parking balls in the stands, and that’s a risk I’m willing to take. His outfield eligibility on DraftKings is also a plus.
Avisail Garcia [OF – R] is one of several White Sox bats I’ll be targeting tonight, as almost anyone is in play against Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez is allowing a ridiculous 3.32 HR/9 to same-handed hitters this year, and his problems have only grown worse over the past month. A 42-percent hard contact rate, 39-percent flyball rate and 28-percent HR/FB rate won’t do him any favors tonight against a Chicago team that’s averaging 10 runs per game over their last six contests.
Brett Gardner [OF – L] also makes for a strong play in this price range against Gabriel Ynoa. The Yankees’ 5.8-run implied total is second to only the Rockies tonight, and Yankee Stadium is the most lefty-friend park in the league. Gardner has never exactly been known for his power, but a .204 ISO vs. RHP at home is more than enough to target him against an inexperienced righty who’s coughing up a .366 wOBA to lefties across 82 major-league batters faced.
HONORABLE MENTION: Joey Gallo [1B/3B – L] @ Norris [RHP]; Odubel Herrera [OF – L] vs. Mengden [RHP]; Yolmer Sanchez [2B/3B – L/R] @ Sanchez [RHP]; Andrew McCutchen [OF – R] @ Bailey [RHP]; Justin Smoak [1B – L/R] @ Colon [RHP]; Matt Joyce [OF – L] @ Leiter [RHP];
Yoan Moncada [2B – L/R] has been someone I’ve praised since he was called up in late July, but the young infielder hadn’t started producing until lately. Unlike Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow, who have made me look quite bad this year, Moncada finally seems to be acclimating to major-league pitching. Over his last four starts Moncada has gone 10-19 at the plate with a home run, triple, stolen base and three multi-hit efforts.
He’ll draw another opportunity to continue this burner against Anibal Sanchez, who’s coughed up a whopping 11 home runs over his last four starts, with two-plus home runs allowed in three of the four. This is a great spot for Moncada and he remains very affordable across the industry. It’s also worth noting that Sanchez has struggled to hold base runners over his career. Maybe Moncada’s recent swipe will result in some increased confidence on the base paths.
Freddy Galvis [SS – L/R] and the Phillies have actually looked competent of late, which is reason to consider him on Friday night. Galvis hits towards the top of the order, has better splits vs. RHP and his Phillies own a surprising 5.2-run implied total at home. I’d love to see him run more, as his 13 stolen bases on the year is underwhelming for a player with his speed, but we’ll take the dirt cheap price tag and premium matchup on Friday night. J.P Crawford [SS – L] also merits some consideration at $2,500 on DraftKings and $2,400 on FanDuel.
Cory Spangenberg [3B/OF – L] and Yangervis Solarte [2B/SS – L/R] are both underpriced for a plus matchup with Tyler Chatwood at Coors. They’re far from being priority plays on a 14-game slate, but certainly make for strong value against a pitcher who’s serving up a .424 wOBA and .213 ISO to lefties at home. Chatwood, like most Colorado pitchers, induces a lot of ground balls in order to mitigate the effects of Coors, but he’s serving up 31-percent HR/FB to lefties at home, and I’m okay with that. There should be enough runs to go around in this game, so getting some cheap exposure to the Padres isn’t a terrible way to balance out tournament lineups.
Hector Sanchez [C – L/R] is a nice way to save at a weak catcher position, especially if he’s batting middle order for San Diego. The only catcher I’d be willing to spend on is Gary Sanchez [C – R] — everyone else is overpriced for their respective matchups and skill sets.
HONORABLE MENTION: Nicky Delmonico [1B/OF – L] @ Sanchez [RHP]; Adam Frazier [2B/OF – L] @ Bailey [RHP]; Ian Desmond [1B/OF – R] vs. Richard [LHP]; Mike Moustakas [3B – L] @ Bauer [RHP]