MLB DEEP DIVE – 9/18/17
Clayton Kershaw [LHP – LAD] might be worth playing on Monday even if he was limited to 80 pitches against the Phillies. No one would be surprised to see him throw a complete-game shutout with fewer than 100 pitches tonight, and it doesn’t hurt to know that Rhys Hoskins has gone hitless over his last three games. Kershaw’s 2017 campaign has been another beauty despite being plagued by injuries, and considering he threw 91 pitches last time out I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kershaw without restriction tonight.
There’s really no analysis needed here; outside of Hoskins, the Phillies are entirely unimposing from the right side of the plate. Aaron Altherr hasn’t looked good since returning from injury and Tommy Joseph is a strikeout waiting to happen right now. I’ll pay the premium and reap the rewards. You do what you’d like. The world’s best pitcher squaring off against the worst team in baseball isn’t exactly something to ignore. He’s a -320 ML favorite on the road and the Phillies own a slate-low 2.6-run implied total on the night. Enough said.
Patrick Corbin [LHP – ARI] could be a tough fit with Kershaw, but it can’t hurt to try. He was tuned up by this same Padres team just a couple weeks back, but aside from that solitary slip up Corbin has been brilliant. Over his last eight starts, Corbin is sporting a 25.1-percent K-rate 11.3-percent swinging strike rate and 25.9-percent hard-hit rate with only 0.51 HR/9 allowed. Sure, San Diego clobbered him for eight runs at Chase Field, but they’re still one of the worst teams in baseball vs. left-handed pitching, with the 29th ranked wOBA (.290), 24th ranked ISO (.151) and second highest K-rate (25.2%) this year.
Corbin is a -150 ML road favorite and the Padres own a sub-4 run total at Petco Park, tied with the Mets for the second lowest mark on the night. The only concern here is San Diego’s righty-heavy lineup, which could potentially cause Corbin some trouble if he isn’t hitting his spots. Aside from the platoon advantage, the strikeouts should be plentiful, and Corbin’s ability to induce a lot of ground balls and weak contact should keep him afloat on Monday night. I don’t see one poor performance against a league cellar dweller keeping me from considering him this evening.
Dan Straily [RHP – MIA] doesn’t draw the best strikeout matchup against the Mets, but he should certainly be able to limit runs at home. This Mets squad is a sad excuse for a major-league baseball team, as they executed a pretty effective fire sale over the last couple months and were left with nothing but scrubs at nearly every position. The healthy players left on New York’s roster are Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki, Tomas Nido, Dominic Smith, Asdrubal Cabrera, Gavin Cecchini, Jose Reyes, Matt Reynolds, Phillips Evans, Amed Rosario, Nori Aoki, Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares and Travis Taijeron. Heard of any more than three of them? Didn’t think so.
Straily may not be a high-K pitcher, but he’s priced cheap across the industry and shouldn’t face much of a power threat at the dish. He makes for a nice pairing with Kershaw at only $7,500 on DraftKings, and should strongly be considered in cash. Moreover, Straily has done an excellent job of limiting opposite-handed hitters this season, which should serve him well against the newly added lefties in New York.
Jameson Taillon [RHP – PIT] isn’t as safe a play as Straily, but he surely boasts more upside against the Brewers. Unfortunately, Taillon’s swinging strike rate has plummeted to 7.1 percent over the last month, while his K-rate has fallen to 16 percent in the process. What’s strange is Taillon is still sitting 95-96 MPH on his fastballs, but both the four-seamer and two-seamer have been getting peppered. Milwaukee presents a nice bounce back opportunity for Taillon, especially with this game being played inside the pitcher-friendly PNC Park, but it’s hard to place much faith in him right now. Taillon’s whiff rates look awful on all four of his pitches, and his hard-hit rate is up significantly. The good thing about Taillon is he’s dirt cheap on DraftKings and the Brewers own a league-high 25.8-percent K-rate vs. right-handed pitching. The upside is certainly on the table, but only if Taillon can somehow slide out of the funk he’s been mired in over the past 30 days.
Buck Farmer [RHP – DET] has some punt qualities on Monday, facing an Oakland team that despite their power and a Hoskins-like run by Matt Olson, is striking out at a 24.7-percent clip vs. right-handed pitching. Farmer, while having some legitimate blowup potential against the A’s, does own an 11.5-percent swinging strike rate, 24.4-percent K-rate and 27.5-percent hard contact rate on the year. Farmer’s platoon splits aren’t very pronounced, either, and at his price point we wouldn’t need more than 13-15 fantasy points to justify the play. You won’t find Vegas in agreement here, but it’s not like we have many alternatives. Let’s hope Farmer can generate enough strikeouts to mitigate the damage. If so, he’ll be well worth the near minimum salary on two-pitcher sites.
Luis Perdomo [RHP – SDP] is a cash game pivot from Farmer if you’re looking for safe value at the position. His upside is limited due to a 16.6-percent K-rate and sub-9-percent swinging strike rate, but Perdomo’s elite 62.9-percent groundball rate and very limited power allowed at Petco Park should keep him from imploding on Monday night. The Diamondbacks boast plenty of power throughout their lineup, but they still rank 27th in wOBA (.300) with the seventh highest K-rate (24.2%) away from Chase Field. I’d be careful not to look at his performance in three starts against Arizona this season, though, as it might just be enough to scare you away.
Brian Dozier [2B – R] has blasted left-handed pitching this season, sporting a .433 wOBA, .305 ISO and 172 wRC+ across 151 PA. Jaime Garcia isn’t the worst southpaw in baseball, but he’s still susceptible to getting tuned up in difficult matchups, and his lack of strikeout upside should allow for Dozier to put the ball in play. More importantly, though, is Garcia’s inability to hold runners; the veteran lefty has allowed more stolen bases (20 SB) than every pitcher not named Mike Pelfrey and Julio Teheran this season, while catching only three in the process. Needless to say, Dozier draws a solid matchup both at the dish and on the base paths, providing him with ample upside at Yankee Stadium this evening.
Matt Olson [1B/OF – L] has been a Deep Dive staple over the last week, and there’s no reason he should leave us now. The rookie first baseman has now homered in six of his last eight starts while racking up a ridiculous 13 long balls over his previous 19 games played. He’ll draw an opportunity to keep this streak moving on Monday when he squares off against Buck Farmer at Comerica Park. I mentioned earlier that Vegas disagrees on Farmer, as evidenced by Oakland’s slate-high 5.2-run implied total, so it’s not exactly like Olson faces a stiff test at the plate. Moreover, Detroit owns one of baseball’s worst bullpens, so Olson’s favorable matchup should extend deep into the game. He won’t come cheap, but it’s hard to argue against targeting him on an abbreviated seven-game slate.
Cody Bellinger [1B/OF – L] woke from his slumber over the past week, having recorded two home runs, a triple, double, five RBI and six walks over his last five starts. Nick Pivetta’s struggles have come primarily against same-handed hitters, but he’s not exactly an ace against lefties, either. The Dodgers have been struggling lately outside of a few bats, though I’m not so sure their problems will extend past Monday. Bellinger is a strong play at both the first base and outfield position, and he draws a favorable park shift at Citizens Bank Park.
HONORABLE MENTION: Aaron Judge [OF – R] vs. Santana [RHP]; Gary Sanchez [C – R] vs. Santana [RHP]; Giancarlo Stanton [OF – R] vs. Harvey [RHP]; Byron Buxton [OF – R] @ Garcia [LHP]
Justin Bour [1B – L] draws a splendid matchup against a garbage right-handed in Matt Harvey. It feels like forever ago when Harvey was a league ace, as he’s withered into a barely capable back-of-the-rotation starter for a banged up Mets pitching staff. Harvey’s allowing a .394 wOBA and .259 ISO to left-handed hitters this season, while striking them out at a dismal 14.9-percent clip and ceding 2.48 HR/9. There’s nothing about Harvey’s performance that should keep us from picking on him tonight, and Bour makes for the perfect power bat in the middle of Miami’s order. I’ll have ample exposure to the Marlins’ first baseman, and so should you. Only the Athletics boast a higher implied run total than the Marlins (5.1) on Monday night.
Christian Yelich [OF – L] and Derek Dietrich [3B – L] also make for viable plays at respectable price points, and a Marlins stack certainly seems enticing on such a short slate. It also doesn’t hurt to know that the Mets’ bullpen owns one of the worst xFIPs in baseball over the last month, and should struggle well after Harvey gets the hook.
Justin Turner [3B – R] is one of several Dodger bats I’ll be targeting tonight, facing a homer-prone righty inside the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park. Pivetta’s 43.1-percent hard-hit rate vs. RHH is one of baseball’s worst marks, while his 2.70 HR/9 across 268 TBF is equally atrocious. Turner, meanwhile, has produced better numbers with the platoon advantage this season, but is still hitting righties to the tune of a .364 wOBA with only 11-percent strikeouts and 49-percent fly balls. This could be the breakout game from L.A. we’ve all been waiting for since August, and I won’t risk missing out on the fun.
Andrew McCutchen [OF – R] has experienced one of the more up-and-down seasons we’ve seen from him in a while, but he’s still massacring southpaws for a .448 wOBA and .364 ISO across 140 PA. Those are stellar numbers from the veteran outfielder, and he should be able to keep it moving on Monday against Brent Suter. Suter sits on a 96 MPH four-seamer which he’s throwing 70 percent of the time vs. RHH this season. He mixes in a changeup but gets only 25-percent whiffs/swing on the pitch, while his slider is getting hammered (.280 ISO) by righties in 2017. As you can see, PNC Park likely won’t save him tonight, at least not against McCutchen. I’ll take the savings here and spend up at other spots. McCutchen is $3700 on DraftKings despite a great matchup and three home runs over his last six starts.
HONORABLE MENTION: Corey Seager [SS – L] @ Pivetta [RHP]; Dee Gordon [2B – L] vs. Harvey [RHP]; Jed Lowrie [2B – L/R] @ Farmer [RHP]; Matt Joyce [OF – L] @ Farmer [RHP]; Yasiel Puig [OF – R] @ Pivetta [RHP]; Brett Gardner [OF – L] vs. Santana [RHP]; Eduardo Escobar [3B/SS – L/R] @ Garcia [LHP]
Chris Taylor [2B/OF – R] is impossible to ignore at only $3,500 on DraftKings and even at $3,200 on FanDuel. He’s been slumping along with much of this Dodgers squad over the past month, but should be nowhere close to this cheap against Nick Pivetta. Philadelphia’s right-hander is ceding a massive .415 wOBA and .310 ISO to right-handed hitters this season, while serving up a behemoth 2.70 HR/9 on the year. Taylor won’t have of an excuse if he fails to produce on Monday, and I’ll be taking my chances in the majority of lineups. I just can’t ignore Pivetta’s glaring weaknesses against the Dodgers.
Chris Davis [1B – L] blows, but he’s still dirt cheap in a strong matchup with Doug Fister. Despite some strong starts of late–save for his last implosion–Fister has struggled against left-handed hitters, allowing a .360 wOBA and 1.46 HR/9 on the year. With a sub-20-percent K-rate and 5.07 xFIP, Fister is as good a bet as anyone to serve up the rogue long ball to Davis. He’s also ceding nearly 40-percent hard contact to lefties this season.
Davis has been nothing short of putrid this year, but he still owns an excellent .247 ISO vs. RHP and has enjoyed some success against Fister with a pair of home runs and an AEV of 96 MPH. If you’re punting the first base position, it doesn’t get much easier than Davis. He at least has two-homer upside despite a heinous 38-percent K-rate and .314 wOBA in 2017.
Yasmani Grandal [C – L/R], John Hicks [C/1B – R] and Mitch Garver [C/1B – R] are the three catchers I’ll be considering outside of Gary Sanchez, who I don’t think I’ll have the funds to pay for on Monday. Catcher is a very rough position for a number of reasons, so I don’t see much reason to spend a ton of time here. Take the best price point and hopefully the best batting order/matchup and plug them in as the last hitter in your lineups. If you’re stacking, it won’t hurt to round out the stack with a backstop in order to free up cap space in Kershaw lineups.
HONORABLE MENTION: Chad Pinder [SS/OF – R] @ Farmer [RHP]; Neil Walker [2B – L/R] @ Taillon [RHP]; David Freese [3B – R] vs. Suter [LHP]