MLB DEEP DIVE – 9/6/17

 

PITCHERS

 

Carlos Carrasco [RHP – CLE] has been a markedly better pitcher away from Progressive Field, not just for the season but for his career. Since 2009, Carrasco has allowed a .330 wOBA and 1.25 HR/9 with a 22.6 percent K-rate at home compared to .279, .075 and .075, respectively, on the road. Some of this is likely noise, as Carrasco’s xFIP doesn’t change much depending on venue, but all information is valuable when referring to a pitcher in this price tier.

Carrasco’s 2017 campaign has been one of ups and downs, but he’s still the only pitcher on Wednesday’s slate with the numbers to back up his top-shelf salary. Unlike Gio Gonzalez [LHP – WAS] and Jose Quintana [LHP – CHC], Carrasco ranks towards the top of the league in K-rate (27.7%, 9th), swinging strike rate (13.1%, 8th) and contact rate (72.9%, 8th), whereas the two southpaws rank outside the top 30 in two of those three categories.

Carrasco’s season averages put him in play tonight, but a matchup with the White Sox solidifies his value. Chicago’s only healthy left-handers consist of Alen Hanson, Rob Brantly, Yoan Moncada, Omar Narvaez and Yolmer Sanchez, while Narvaez, Sanchez, Kevan Smith and Jose Abreu are the only active bats with sub-20-percent strikeout rates vs. right-handed pitching.

Carrasco is a massive -250 ML favorite at Guaranteed Rate Field, and the White Sox own a slate-low 3.5-run implied total on the night. Carrasco is Wednesday’s undisputed top pitcher, and is actually relatively easy to fit with all the cheap hitting options available to us during September.

 

Dinelson Lamet [RHP – SDP] has been virtually unhittable when facing same-handed bats, holding righties to a .230 wOBA on the season. Lamet is striking right-handed hitters out at a Goliath 34.9-percent clip, too, good for fifth in baseball among all pitchers with at least 40 IP vs. RHH. Lefties have been a different story, though, as they’ve accounted for the bulk of Lamet’s struggles throughout his rookie year.

Fortunately, Lamet could face a Cardinals team on Wednesday that won’t have a credible lefty in their lineup. Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler and Kolten Wong are all dealing with injuries, which in the event that they remain sidelined would leave Greg Garcia as their lone available left-hander this evening. Tommy Pham is also dealing with shoulder soreness and Jedd Gyorko remains shelved, so the Cardinals could truly be working with a skeleton crew against Lamet.

St. Louis’ 4.1-run implied total actually feels high when you consider the circumstances, but even if they happen to string together some hits against Lamet, there should still be plenty of strikeouts in play. Alex Mejia, Harrison Bader and Randal Grichuk are striking out at 30-plus-percent clips vs. RHP, while all but two of the Cardinals’ true contact hitters will likely be out of the lineup. It’s hard not to love Lamet on a night where he’ll be facing a shorthanded St. Louis team inside the pitcher-friendly Petco Park.

 

Kevin Gausman [RHP – BAL] continues to churn out elite fantasy totals over the second half of the year, sporting a 2.03 ERA with a 25.9 percent K-rate, 13.4-percent swinging strike rate and 3.74 xFIP in nine starts since the All-Star break. An increased usage of the splitter — which is garnering the second best whiff/swing rate in baseball at 43.5 percent — and brilliant game-calling/pitch-framing from Caleb Joseph have contributed to Gausman’s surge in production, but Gausman himself credits the turnaround to a change in his delivery. Gausman noted that he began squaring his shoulders more through his delivery instead of keeping them faced towards third base, and this adjustment unsurprisingly came right around the ASB.

Whatever the cause for his success, Gausman needs to be considered whenever he’s on the mound — even if it’s just in GPPs. Wednesday’s matchup with the Yankees is concerning, but it doesn’t come without upside; New York is striking out at a top-10 clip in baseball this season, and temperatures will be hovering around 65 degrees at Camden Yards. NOTE: Keep in mind, however, that weather is looking ominous in Baltimore tonight, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this game get postponed several hours prior to the scheduled first pitch.

 

Jack Flaherty [RHP – STL] doesn’t impress me much, but the Padres are bad enough to put him in play at a discounted price point. San Diego not only strikes out at a 24.5-percent clip vs. RHP, but also ranks 28th in wOBA (.308) and offers virtually no talent from the left side of the plate. That’s the good news. The bad news is Flaherty finished his first major-league start with a 5.6-percent swinging strike rate, allowed five earned runs to the Giants across only four innings of work, and threw only 71 pitches before getting the hook.

There’s been no indication of whether Flaherty got yanked early due to his shaky start or for the planned purpose of limiting him, but this should be another concern heading into Wednesday’s tilt with the Padres. If you’re rostering Flaherty tonight, it’ll be solely to free up cap space for hitters, not because you’re excited about his stuff. He’s there if you need him.

 

HITTERS

HIGH-END

 

Rhys Hoskins [1B/OF – R] makes for a phenomenal play tonight against Tommy Milone, but before we continue, it’s important to note that weather is looking sketchy at Citi Field. The northeast has been peppered with rain over the last 24 hours and it isn’t forecasted to subside until tomorrow morning, so keep an eye on any developments as we draw closer to lock. If they intend on getting this game in, though, I’ll be more than willing to take some risks with Hoskins in arguably the best matchup he’s drawn since entering the Phillies’ lineup.

Tommy Milone is an absolute garbage heap, allowing a .443 wOBA to righties with 3.55 HR/9 and a 16.8 percent K-rate across 161 TBF this season. Milone has made 12 major-league appearances this season (eight starts), yet he’s somehow already allowed 13 home runs to opposite-handed bats. Hoskins has seen only 32 plate appearances vs. lefties, yet he already has five homers, eight walks and only five strikeouts. You get the point. Hoskins is hitting 61-percent fly balls with 50-percent hard contact against southpaws, too, so if he puts bats on ball against Milone it’s probably becoming a souvenir. If this game plays I’ll be playing Hoskins — it’s really that simple.

 

Charlie Blackmon [OF – L] is facing a league-average right-hander in Coors. Here is your daily reminder. The Rockies own a slate-high 6.7-run implied total at home and Blackmon remains a top play across the industry.

 

Giancarlo Stanton [OF – R] remains homerless against Gio Gonzalez across 24 career plate appearances, but I have trouble believing that will last. Stanton is absolutely mutilating southpaws to the tune of a .484/.446 wOBA/ISO this year, with a league-high 13 home runs to boot. His 36.1-percent HR/FB rate also leads all hitters as the season comes to a close. Gonzalez, on the other hand, has allowed a career-worst 18 home runs to righties and is primed to serve up some hard contact on Wednesday night. I’m never opposed to rostering Stanton against a southpaw, even if he’s struggled in this particular spot for his career. It’s worth noting that Stanton boasts a 94.4 MPH average exit velocity against Gonzalez despite the underwhelming results.

 

Jose Ramirez [2B/3B – L/R] is pretty much always in play at this point, so there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in the conversation against Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez is allowing 2.16 HR/9 to lefties in 143 TBF since 2016, and a has already coughed up four home runs and a .419 wOBA in limited work this season. Meanwhile, Ramirez is trashing right-handed pitching, with a .391 wOBA, .270 ISO and 42 percent flyball rate in 2017.

Francisco Lindor [SS – L/R] is also in play against Lopez, but much of his value has to do with the lack of talent at shortstop on Wednesday night. I’d rather play Trea Turner [SS – R] at an almost identical price point. Dillon Peters was excellent in his major-league debut against the Phillies, but Washington owns far more capable righties, and Turner should give him trouble at the top of the order. However, if value does happen to open up at shortstop, I’ll look to save at the position.

HONORABLE MENTION: Nolan Arenado [3B – R] vs. Cueto [RHP]; Andrew Benintendi [OF – L] vs. Biagini [RHP]; Mookie Betts [OF – R] vs. Biagini [RHP]; George Springer [OF – R] @ Moore [RHP]; Jose Altuve [2B – R] @ Moore [RHP]

 

MID-RANGE

 

Joey Gallo [1B/3B – L] days are the best days. We can all agree on that much. The 23-year-old homer-mashing freak monster (yes, that’s what they call him in Texas) is smoking right-handed pitching this season to the tune of a .363 ISO, 58-percent flyball rate and 46-percent hard-hit rate, of which the latter two lead the entire league and the former ranks second behind only Mike Trout.

There’s no way you’ll find me avoiding Gallo on Wednesday when he squares off against Julio Teheran at Suntrust Park, where Atlanta’s righty is serving up a .391 wOBA, .321 ISO and 2.48 HR/9 to lefties this year. Teheran’s 40-percent hard-hit rate vs. lefties at home won’t do him any favors, either, as he’ll be taken deep by Gallo unless he strikes him out. Fortunately, Teheran is striking lefties out at a mere 14-percent clip at Suntrust this season, so Gallo should earn every opportunity to record his 38th — and maybe his 39th — long ball of the season. His first base and third base eligibility on DraftKings makes Gallo that much more appealing on a 12-game slate.

 

Jay Bruce [OF – L] (assuming he’s back in the lineup) and Lonnie Chisenhall [OF – L] make for great mid-range outfield plays against Reynaldo Lopez, who as earlier noted has some well-documented struggles vs. left-handed hitting. While the sample remains small, Lopez’s platoon splits are rather alarming; he’s held same-handed hitters to virtually zero power with a 20-percent hard-hit rate since 2016, but lefties are torching him for 38-percent hard contact. Lopez has only faced 38 lefties this year, but in that short span they are making a behemoth 46-percent hard contact with 61.5-percent fly balls and a 95 MPH AEV! It’s safe to assume Cleveland could tee off on Lopez tonight, and I’ll certainly want some mid-range exposure if I can’t afford to reach Ramirez or Lindor.

 

Buster Posey [C – R] isn’t someone I prefer to pay up for in most cases, and tonight isn’t any different. The difference here, however, is Posey actually remains affordable on DraftKings and FantasyDraft. For that reason alone I’ll be willing to deploy him, especially if the Phillies-Mets game rains out, but it doesn’t mean I’m supremely confident in his matchup. Sure, Posey draws the platoon advantage at Coors Field, so he immediately becomes a topic of conversation, but it’s worth noting Kyle Freeland has actually done a very solid job of limiting right-handed power at home. Nevertheless, Posey’s discounted salary and phenomenal numbers vs. left-handed pitching (.429/.235 wOBA/ISO) outweigh Freeland’s success. He is easily the best cash catcher on tonight’s slate.

 

Whit Merrifield [2B – R] is a nice second base pivot away from the top-priced options if you aren’t looking to splurge at the position. He’s hitting southpaw pitching well this season (.261/.231 wOBA/ISO) with solid batted ball numbers (42% FB/34% HH), and faces a left-hander in Boyd who’s been tuned up by opposite-handed bats. Boyd is ceding a plump .373 wOBA to righties this year, while also allowing a .201 ISO, 1.42 HR/9 and 38-percent hard contact. Moreover, Boyd’s xFIP vs. RHH has jumped north of 5.00 on the year, so this does make for a quite a nice matchup for Merrifield. The Royals are also one of six team with a 5-plus team total, so there’s a good opportunity for Merrifield to see five plate appearances on Wednesday night.

 

Gerardo Parra [OF – L] offers one helluva nice value across the industry tonight, facing a broken Johnny Cueto inside Coors Field, where the Rockies own a slate-high 6.7-run implied total. I don’t care if Parra hasn’t looked great lately; the veteran outfielder is still capable of blowing by his lower mid-range price tag tonight, and Cueto shouldn’t meet him with a ton of resistance. Like Posey, Parra is erroneously priced for a Coors matchup, and we have to take advantage of this kind of stuff when given the opportunity. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him go relatively under-owned, either.

 

Josh Reddick [OF – L] makes for a nice way to get exposure to the Astros tonight, as they should have no trouble mounting runs against the uninspiring arm of Andrew Moore. Moore’s 3.31 HR/9 and 10-percent K-rate vs. LHH isn’t exactly worrisome — neither is his 6.09 xFIP or 55-percent FB rate. I’d love to get more Houston exposure, but it could be tough outside of stacks unless you plan on fading Carrasco and pairing Lamet with Flaherty or some other low-end scrub. I see the value of doing so in tournaments, but don’t think it’s a necessary approach in cash. Reddick is a nice way to butter both sides of the bread without going home empty-handed, and his recent success — nine multi-hit games over his last 15 starts — doesn’t exactly lessen the appeal.

HONORABLE MENTION: Alex Bregman [3B/SS – R] @ Moore [RHP]; Kendrys Morales [1B – L/R] @ Fister [RHP]; Cesar Hernandez [2B – L/R] @ Milone [LHP]; Lorenzo Cain [OF – R] @ Boyd [LHP]; Asdrubal Cabrera [2B/SS – L/R] vs. Pivetta [RHP]; Eduardo Nunez [2B/3B – R] vs. Biagini [RHP]

 

VALUE

 

Tommy Joseph [1B – R] is a nice way to mini-stack the Phillies’ power righties if you’re into that kind of thing. Hoskins is now eligible in the outfield so he can be paired with Joseph, who has also displayed nice power against southpaws this season (.222 ISO). Joseph is having an unremarkable season as a whole, but Tommy Milone is capable of remedying those troubles in a jiffy. As earlier noted, Milone is serving up more than three home runs per nine to righties this season, and has actually allowed five more long balls to RHH (13) than he’s made starts (8) in 2017. Rain is a serious concern in this game, but if it plays I’ll absolutely be looking to get exposure to Philadelphia right-handers.

Add Aaron Altherr [OF – R] to the list of Philly power righties I’ll be targeting if he manages to make his way back into the lineup. Altherr boasts a .267 ISO and near 40-percent hard-hit rate vs. southpaws this season, so he should be firmly in consideration against Milone.

Jorge Alfaro [C – R] is also quite interesting at minimum salary (actually $100 above min-sal, but still) on DraftKings. He hasn’t hit for power since being called up, but Alfaro is proving that he can consistently get on base. At his price point you won’t require more than a single and a run scored to feel justified in playing him. There is, however, always upside for more against Tommy Milone.

 

Rougned Odor [2B – L] has rapidly become one of the most prominent boom-or-bust hitters in all of baseball, and I’ll continue to view him as such on Wednesday night. Odor has done nothing to improve his average this year, but the power has been on full display, as he’s boasting an impressive .238 ISO and 39.2-percent hard-hit rate vs. right-handed arms. That’s all we’ll need tonight against Teheran, who’s serving up massive contact, a ton of fly balls and subsequent homers to lefties at home this year. While Odor is batting down in the order, he’s more capable than ever of powering one (or even two) out of the lefty-friendly Suntrust Park.

 

Carlos Gonzalez [OF – L] is someone I keep writing up against my better judgement, but he actually continues to produce. CarGo has combined for 31 DKPT over the last two times he was highlighted in the Deep Dive, and he’ll draw another opportunity to turn in a decent line tonight against Johnny Cueto. Gonzalez is never a must play at a deep outfield position, but if you’re left with around $3,700 on DK or $3,200 on FD, or need to round out your Rockies stack, I really don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be in play. Gonzalez owns a 91-MPH average exit velocity and respectable .360 xwOBA over the last two weeks — maybe he’s waking up as the season comes to a close.

 

Sean Rodriguez [3B/OF – R] is just the guy you’re looking for if you find yourself in need of a bare minimum punt at third base or outfield. Rodriguez actually possesses plenty of power vs. southpaw pitching, sporting a .400 wOBA, .239 ISO and 90-MPH AEV dating back to the start of 2016. You can do a whole lot worse than that at his price point, especially considering Quintana has allowed more home runs to righties than everyone not named Ariel Miranda, Derek Holland, Clayton Richard or Ricky Nolasco. It’s safe to say he isn’t exactly sharing the best company in that department.

HONORABLE MENTION: Cory Spangenberg [3B/OF – L] vs. Flaherty [RHP]; Ryan McMahon [3B – L] vs. Cueto [RHP]; Freddy Galvis [SS – L/R] @ Milone [LHP]; Greg Bird [1B – L] @ Gausman [RHP] [GPP]