MLB Late Slate – 4/03/17 by EMac

Late Slate Preview – April 3rd

Greetings Gamers!  It is going to be interesting this year to see how the various DFS sites handle splitting up their game sets.  We are already seeing things diverge and it is only Opening Day.  Hopefully this is just an anomaly with the sites looking to entice players into their MEGA prize pool contests for the nine game “main slate” but we will have to wait and see as we find out together.

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In the meantime, in honor of the first full day of wall-to-wall baseball (Sunday’s three games don’t really count) here are some thoughts for the six teams with first pitch at 7pm ET or later.

Pitching

Dallas Keuchel – HOU vs SEA – This is a nice matchup for the 2015 AL Cy Young winner.  Keuchel had an uneven campaign in 2016, but he was still solid against opposite-handed hitters, particularly down the stretch and as a southpaw he is outstanding against left-handed hitters with his two year numbers against 337 total batters faced coming in at: 337 total batters faced, 2.65 ERA, 2.59 xFIP, 0.51 HR/9, 23.7% K-rate, .228 wOBA and just a 22.5% hard contact rate.  Those same numbers naturally pop a bit against righties, but they are still excellent against 1,275 total batters faced, 3.55 ERA, 3.22 xFIP, 0.92 HR/9, 22.0% K-rate, .295 wOBA and a 25.8% hard contact rate.

The Mariners have retooled their squad dramatically from last season, however, it is more with players noted for their defense and speed.  While they still have stalwart lefty-masher Nelson Cruz and recent addition Danny Valencia, the next two best bats are Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager who both bat left-handed themselves.  The Mariners also project to start light-hitting lefties Jarrod Dyson and Leonys Martin in the outfield.  Point per dollar, Keuchel is the pitcher I want to target on this slate.

Yu Darvish – TEX vs CLE

There is a great chance that if Yu Darvish is healthy, he challenges for the AL Cy Young Award this season as well as the League lead in strikeouts. After bursting on the scene in 2012 from Japan, Darvish posted insane strikeout rates with 221 in 191.1 innings pitched his first season and 277 in 209.2 innings pitched during his second year.  He has been held to 39 starts over the last two seasons, but still has tallied a MONSTER K-rate punching out 314 hitters in 244.2 innings.  Cleveland is a fearsome offense, but in tournaments we have to give Darvish strong consideration to flirt with double digit strikeouts in this Opening Night matchup.

Corey Kluber – CLE at TEX

The Klubot was a machine last season, but we need to remember that he also had 34.1 post season innings in addition to 215 regular season innings giving him a career high workload.  He has been durable with 200 innings and 200 strikeouts in each of the last three seasons, but it would not be a shock to see manager Terry Francona take it easy with his workhorse.

Felix Hernandez – SEA at HOU

Don’t let the name recognition fool you and as a life-long Mariners fan (I actually was at their first game waaaaaay back in 1977 when I was a wee lad) I urge caution with King Felix this season.  He is only 30 years old, but he has logged 2,415.2 innings over 12 seasons and has still never pitched in a post season game.  Two of his final three starts last season came against Houston and he allowed 14 runs (9 earned) in 10 innings with 24 baserunners against just six strikeouts.  Let others take the chance tonight.

Kendall Graveman – OAK vs LAA – If you are looking for a cheapie, then Graveman is your guy.  He is at home against veteran RHP Ricky Nolasco and the visiting Halos are projected to plate just 4.1 runs.

 

Hitting – Premium

Mike Trout (OF) – LAA at OAK – Trout will be one of the most popular plays on the evening slate and there is not much else to say about one of the best hitters in the game.  If you need numbers, over his last 1,030 plate appearances against right-handed pitching he has tallied a .414 wOBA and a .266 ISO.  Enjoy!

Nelson Cruz (OF) – SEA at HOU – While Cruz will mostly act as the Mariners designated hitter this season, he is considered an outfielder for daily fantasy purposes.  Over his last two seasons he has tormented southpaws with a .390 wOBA and a .266 ISO and 87 home runs.  On a short slate, it is okay to take a hitter against your pitcher, particularly when it is one as elite as Cruz.

Jose Altuve (2B) – HOU vs SEA – As mentioned above, don’t let the name recognition of Felix Hernandez dissuade you from rolling out a few Astros batsmen.  The diminutive Altuve packs a lot of pop in his bat and he will be ready to challenge catcher Mike Zunino’s arm when he gets on base tonight.

Carlos Correa (SS) – HOU vs SEA – With a six team player pool and only half a dozen pitchers to work with, we are going to need to make a stand on two-pitcher sites.  I am more than willing to target King Felix and Correa is the deluxe short stop option of this late slate.  If you are not spending here, just punt this position with either Andrelton Simmons or Danny Espinosa in the LA Angels at Oakland tilt.

George Springer (OF) – HOU vs SEA – Springer tends to be an all-or-nothing performer, which of course makes him an outstanding tournament option where we want to go big or go home.  He is a key part of any Astros stack this evening.

 

Hitting – Values

Danny Valencia (1B) – SEA at HOU – Those of you who are DFS veterans will be very family with Valencia’s prowess against southpaws.  Over his last 895 plate appearances in righty/lefty matchups he has produced at an outstanding clip with a .352 wOBA and a .189 ISO.  With the Mariners looking to play him more often than not, his price should remain reasonable this season since he is not as effective against same-handed pitching.

Josh Reddick (OF) – HOU vs SEA – Reddick looked lost in his time with the Dodgers after thriving against right-handed pitching during his time with the Oakland Athletics.  My guess is that he will return to form and should be on the field today for the Astros, albeit in the bottom-third of their stacked lineup.

Ryon Healy (1B/3B/OF) – OAK vs LAA – Healy qualifies at a variety of positions, depending on your DFS site of choice.  He will be in the lineup for the A’s at a variety of positions as well, particularly when they are facing right-handed pitching.  Over his last 214 at bats Healy has compiled a .302/.515/.853 slash line.

Steven Vogt (CATCH) – OAK vs LAA – Vogt was worn down last season with the heavy workload of being the regular backstop for the Athletics.  He should be well-rested after the off season and he will have the platoon advantage in his favor along with a spot in the top third of the Oakland batting order which should ensure him of an extra at bat.

C.J. Cron (1B) – LAA at OAK – Cron has made the most of his opportunities and he is turning into a fine young power hitter with a .344 wOBA and a .202 ISO with 59 extra base hits over his last 614 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers.

Matt Joyce (OF) – OAK vs LAA – Yes, this is a lot of outfield recommendations, but since we are required to play at least three on most sites it is important to have options to assist with a variety of lineup construction strategies.  Joyce should be in the heart of the order for the Athletics and he is an outstanding option when facing right-handed pitching and will typically come at a discount.