MLB DEEP DIVE – 9/16/17
Zack Greinke [RHP – ARI] shouldn’t be expected to do what Robbie Ray did last night. Hell, Robbie Ray shouldn’t have been expected to do what Robbie Ray did last night. He punched out 10 Giants en route to his fourth straight 30-plus-DKPT performance, and continues to post elite fantasy totals every five days. Greinke, on the other hand, has been good but not great. His upside is capped in a matchup like this, where the opposition owns a sub-20-percent K-rate vs. RHP, and although I said the same about Ray on Friday, he’s just that much better than his right-handed counterpart.
I could see Greinke posting another 20-25-fantasy point performance, but that’s not acceptable at his price point. We can’t take away from his 200-strikeouts or brilliant overall campaign in 2017, but we can worry about him being dramatically overpriced on DraftKings. On FanDuel, where he’s $9,800 and less expensive than Jacob deGrom, I can understand why he would be appealing.
Jacob deGrom [RHP – NYM] could become a far more enticing option on Saturday if Atlanta’s lineup is thinned out from injuries. Tyler Flowers has already been ruled out for the series, Matt Adams is unlikely to play and Matt Kemp left last night’s game with hamstring tightness. This should force some replacement player-level bats into the Braves’ lineup tonight, who strike out at the same clip but don’t possess nearly as much pop at the dish. I’m not that high on deGrom, though, as Atlanta never makes life easy on right-handed pitchers and deGrom hasn’t exactly been a beacon of consistency since the All-Star break. Having said that, I’ll certainly use him over Bumgarner at a $1000 discount, even if Atlanta doesn’t make for the best fantasy matchup.
Madison Bumgarner [LHP – SFG] might actually be my favorite top-priced pitcher tonight. Arizona is still without Chris Owings and could also miss the services of J.D. Martinez tonight, who was scratched from Friday’s game with neck stiffness. That would be a big deal, knowing what we already do about Martinez’s torrid pace since joining the D-Backs. Arizona owns a surprisingly awful .303 wOBA (26th) against left-handed pitching this season while striking out at a robust 24.8-percent clip (4th). They’ve also struggled away from Chase Field, where they rank seventh in K-rate, 26th in wOBA and 16th in ISO this season.
I still respect this Diamondbacks lineup, but AT&T Park should muffle some of their power, and Bumgarner is at least reasonably priced across the industry relative to other high-end options. Moreover, potential injuries could provide a huge boost to Bumgarner’s value, but it’s not exactly encouraging to see him as a +127 ML home dog on Saturday night. Simply put, I’m just not sold on Greinke or deGrom at their inflated salaries in matchups that also leave us wanting more.
Ben Lively [RHP – PHI] is in play for the same reasons Mark Leiter was our second pitcher option last night. Leiter performed almost exactly as we expected, allowing four runs on two homers early on before racking up nine strikeouts and finishing with a very respectable 19 DKPT on the night. Oakland possesses ample power vs. RHP, but they also strike out at an astronomical clip. Their K-heavy lineup mitigates the power threat as we saw last night, but the concern with Lively is he hadn’t started registering serviceable strikeout totals until recently. His numbers on the year are underwhelming, but I can live with the 21.4 percent K-rate and 9.6 percent swinging strike rate he’s produced over the last month. It isn’t ideal, but we’ll have to settle somewhere on Saturday’s slate. I could see myself landing on Lively.
Kendall Graveman [RHP – PHI] isn’t going to follow up Daniel Mengden’s complete-game shutout with another sterling gem — at least I don’t think he will. But on a slate of this nature, maybe we should be considering him at an actual discount from Ben Lively. The only way Graveman is posting respectable fantasy totals will be through short, effective innings and bad contact, though, as he owns a 6.6-percent swinging strike rate and 85-percent contact rate this season. We have, however, seen this be the case in recent weeks, and Graveman does feel like a viable cash game option at $7100 on DraftKings. He’s also been much better against left-handed hitters, allowing a mere .307 wOBA and 28-percent hard contact. In all seriousness, there is no sure thing at pitcher tonight. Ask yourself whether you’d rather roll the dice on upside or play for safety — if you go with the latter, Graveman is probably for you.
Parker Bridwell [RHP – LAA] being listed in today’s Deep Dive is simply a product of bad mid-range and low-end pitching. Much like last night, there is nothing to love below the top-shelf plays, but tonight’s slate is even worse, as Chris Sale, Luis Severino and Robbie Ray are replaced by Zack Greinke, Jacob deGrom and Madison Bumgarner. You pick the better trio. Bridwell is not a high-upside pitcher — get that notion out of your head now. He’s finished with five or fewer strikeouts in all but one of his 16 starts, owns a 15 percent K-rate and only induces ground balls at a 36.6 percent clip.
I’d generally have no interest in rostering a pitch-to-contact righty who allows too much hard contact, but Saturday’s slate certainly forces our hand. The Rangers strike out at a top-four clip on the road and will have to hit inside the pitcher-friendly Angel Stadium tonight. Bridwell should give us around 15 fantasy points at a dirt cheap price point, and he’ll allow for expensive bats to become a priority at Coors Field.
I would’ve legitimately considered Tyler Anderson [LHP – COL] tonight against the Padres, but it looks like he’ll be limited to only 65-70 pitches. Anderson actually offers higher strikeout upside than every non-top-tier pitcher on this slate, and the Padres are a trash baseball team. Unfortunately, he won’t have a long leash in his first start with the Rockies in months.
Charlie Blackmon [OF – L] has fallen on some hard times of late, but a matchup with Jordan Lyles should remedy his troubles. Lyles is allowing a Goliath .430 wOBA and 2.52 HR/9 to left-handed hitters this season, while ceding 41-percent hard contact in the process. Blackmon has murdered righties at home all season long, and I’d like to think he could rebound on a night where the Rockies own a 7-run implied total at Coors. He’s a top play across the industry no matter how many struggles the leadoff outfielder has endured in recent games.
Josh Donaldson [3B – R] beats up on left-handed pitching every year, and 2017 is no different. His .365 wOBA is less than stellar, but a .265 ISO, 42-percent FB rate and 38-percent hard-hit rate are more than appealing. Adalberto Mejia’s splits vs. RHH have been serviceable this year, but that’s before we take into account his 5.37 xFIP, 17.8 percent strikeout rate and double-digit walk rate (11.3%). Justin Smoak [1B – L/R] has also hammered southpaws this year, with a beautiful .443/.255 wOBA/ISO across 124 PA. I’m a fan of both Blue Jay sluggers tonight in what should be a relatively high-scoring affair.
HONORABLE MENTION: Nolan Arenado [3B – R] vs. Lyles [RHP]; Matt Olson [1B/OF – L] @ Lively [RHP]; Paul Goldschmidt [1B – R] @ Bumgarner [LHP] [GPP]; Mike Trout [OF – R] vs. Hamels [LHP]
Wil Myers [1B – R] continued his stretch of solid hitting on Friday when he crushed a solo homer for the Padres’ only run on the night. Myers has racked up four home runs, two doubles, two stolen bases and seven RBI over his last seven starts, and now he’ll face a volatile lefty in Tyler Anderson at Coors. Anderson was hit hard earlier this season, allowing 27-percent line drives with a .384 wOBA and .252 ISO to right-handed bats. Myers hits southpaws for plenty of power, and there’s no doubting his ability to maximize that upside inside Coors Field. San Diego owns the second highest implied run total on Saturday’s slate (5.2), and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them soar past that number if Anderson can’t keep the ball on the grass.
Manuel Margot [OF – R] is also a nice mid-range play for San Diego, as Coors Field’s spacious outfield is a perfect venue for gapped doubles and triples. Margot’s six triples on the year ranks top-10 in baseball while his 35 XBH and 14 stolen bases are enough to feel good about his matchup tonight. Anderson is league-average at holding runners, but he’s struggled against right-handed hitters and is serving up way too many line drives to succeed at Coors. Margot won’t need the ball to leave the stadium in order to produce — that’s what makes him so appealing on Saturday night.
Carlos Gonzalez [OF – L] should not be overlooked tonight. Put your bias aside because this guy is swinging a hot bat right now, and it’s something we should acknowledge. CarGo is sporting a sexy .519 wOBA, 211 wRC+, 17.3-percent walk rate and 48.2-percent hard contact rate in September across 52 plate appearances. How about this one: over the last month, Gonzalez boasts a .456 xwOBA vs. RHP with a .474 ISO and 95.1 AEV to boot. He’s actually been good, and the power is beginning to show. Against Jordan Lyles I’ll roster almost anyone, which means CarGo is certainly in play despite his recently inflated price point.
Also, keep playing Trevor Story [SS – R] on DraftKings if he continues to bat middle of the order on Saturday. Sure, he strikes out at a high clip, but there’s no reason a player with Story’s power should be almost $4K flat at Coors in a very solid matchup.
Ryan Braun [OF – R] will eventually have to produce in a favorable matchup, and he’ll draw yet another solid spot against Adam Conley on Saturday night. Conley is a lot of fly balls and hard contact to right-handed hitters, strikes them out at a mere 16-percent clip and is lugging around a heinous looking 5.72 xFIP this year. Marlins Park hasn’t helped him much, either, as he’s serving up 1.51 HR/9 at home with only 12.3-percent strikeouts across 41.2 IP. Braun remains discounted on DraftKings, but has appeared to pick up the pace over his last 10 games with a pair of homers, three stolen bases and five double-digit DKPT performances. He’s tortured southpaw pitchers for his career (.428/.284 wOBA/ISO), so it’s hard to believe he stopped knowing how to hit them just because he’s no longer juicin’.
HONORABLE MENTION: Gerardo Parra [OF – L] vs. Lyles [RHP]; Asdrubal Cabrera [2B/SS – L/R] @ Dickey [RHP]; Joey Gallo [1B/3B – L] @ Bridwell [RHP]; Jesus Aguilar [1B – R] @ Conley [LHP]; D.J. LeMahieu [2B – R] vs. Lyles [RHP]; Adrian Beltre [3B – R] @ Bridwell [RHP]; Kendrys Morales [1B – L/R] @ Mejia [LHP]; Matt Joyce [OF – L] @ Lively [RHP]
Catcher is a brutal position on Saturday, so I wouldn’t spend too much time deciding between a group of scrubs. Manny Pina [C – R] draws a solid matchup with the platoon advantage against Adam Conley, while Austin Hedges [C – R] is also facing a southpaw and could see a better batting spot than last night when he faced a righty. I’ll likely just roster whoever fits best at the position and wait until lineups are released to see if we get any value. Russell Martin [C – R] and Bruce Maxwell [C – L] can also be considered here assuming they start.
Jabari Blash [OF – R] should bat sixth against the left-handed Anderson tonight, yet he’s somehow only $3,200 on DraftKings. Yes, I’ll happily deploy him at that salary, especially since he boasts a pretty respectable .346/.224 wOBA/ISO vs. LHP for his short MLB career (86 PA). What I like most about Blash is his 48-percent flyball rate and 48-percent hard-hit rate vs. left-handed pitching. Those are fantastic batted ball numbers, and if Blash can put the ball in the air with solid contact tonight, he’s going to pay off his dirt cheap price tag with one swing of the bat. I’m in.
Nick Williams [OF – L] is more of a price play on DraftKings than anything else. There’s no reason he should be $3,600 on a night where the Phillies own a 4.9-run implied total against a pitch-to-contact right-hander in Kendall Graveman. Graveman doesn’t miss bats and Nick Williams strikes out at a pretty high clip, so he should thrive in a matchup where contact won’t be an issue. Williams is hitting for both power (.208 ISO, 40% HH) and average vs. right-handed pitching, so I’ll happily call his number again on Saturday night at a mid-$3K price point.
C.J. Cron [1B – R] is a cheap first base punt who I’d be okay with in tournaments assuming he bats middle order vs. Hamels. Hamels has always been known to cough up solo shots to right-handed hitters, while Cron has generated immense power vs. southpaws this season (.299 ISO). He’s there if you need him, and I can’t imagine Cron will carry any ownership this evening.
HONORABLE MENTION: Domingo Santana [OF – R] @ Conley [LHP]; Max Kepler [OF – L] vs. Estrada [RHP]; Teoscar Hernandez [OF – R] @ Mejia [LHP]; Keon Broxton [OF – R] @ Conley [LHP]