We have a full 15-game night slate on tap on FanDuel this evening, including just three games with totals under eight runs on the MLB odds board. The Dodgers and Rockies will face off in Coors Field in what should be the most heavily targeted game on the slate, while high-end arms Felix Hernandez, Matt Harvey and Jon Lester will all be toeing the rubber on the road.
Jon Lester ($10,600) – Assuming weather doesn’t turn out to be an issue here (RGs Chief Meteorologist, Kevin Roth, is expecting storms to be clearing right around game-time), Lester is my top option at the SP spot. He’s the biggest favorite among the high-end arms (-200 as of this writing) and he’s gotten off to a strong start this season, allowing just 13 hits (4 BBs) through 20 innings. His worst start of the season came against this same Reds squad, but they simply don’t have much pop against southpaws and shouldn’t be expected to tag Lester for more than 2-3 runs. Again, assuming weather isn’t an issue, Lester is arguably the safest cash game option on the board. If the weather outlook gets worse, I’d likely pay down for someone like Aaron Nola in cash games and load up on high-end bats.
Aaron Nola ($6,900) – Nola takes on a suddenly hot Brewers lineup in Milwaukee tonight, and he’s somewhat surprisingly a slight underdog to Zach Davies. The former LSU product was dominant in his first two starts of the season but struggled some in his last outing against the Nationals (5 IP, 7 Rs, 3 BBs). The fact that this Brewers lineup is so right-handed heavy will work in Nola’s favor; he held RH bats to a .270 wOBA last season and finished with a strong 2.97 xFIP and 9.54 K/9 rate. He also didn’t allow much hard contact (28.1 hard%, 20.3 soft%), which coupled with his strikeout prowess makes him a surprisingly safe target at this price tag.
Yasmani Grandal ($3,700) – Coors Field! The Dodgers have an exuberant team total of almost six, something we won’t see from them the rest of the season while they are outside of the state of Colorado. Jon Gray will make his 2016 debut in an extremely tough spot given how tough the Dodgers left-handed bats can be. Gray actually fared well against LH bats in his short stint in the bigs last year, but that sample size is basically the equivalent of 3-4 starts, so there isn’t any reason to expect the LA lefties to struggle. Grandal finished 2015 with an ISO just under .200 against RHP, and while the $3,700 price tag would be insane in any other stadium in baseball, it may be a tad too low in this spot. He should have plenty of RBI chances hitting in the six spot behind Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig.
Welington Castillo ($2,900) – If you still want solid power upside without the high price tag, give Castillo a long look. The split stats are working perfectly in his advantage as he gets to face a left-hander in hitter-friendly Chase Field, not to mention that he should slide into the middle of the lineup behind on-base machine Paul Goldschmidt. Castillo owned a .228 ISO against LHP last season including a very solid 39.3% hard-contact rate, so it’s hard to argue with rostering him in any format given the sub-$3K price tag.
Paul Goldschmidt ($4,500) – Adrian Gonzalez is a perfectly suitable play here, but in GPPs where the Coors bats will carry enormous ownership percentages, pivoting to the slightly more expensive Paul Goldschmidt is a strong strategy. Goldy’s ceiling is as high as anyone’s when he’s facing a lefty at home – in 2015, Goldschmidt finished with a robust .536 wOBA, .315 ISO, 245 wRC+ and a 60% hard-contact rate at home vs. LHs, numbers that are hard to even believe. Among all hitters on tonight’s slate, Goldschmidt’s exit velocity of 106 MPH in 11 ABs vs. Niese is the 2nd highest average exit velocity (Yoenis Cespedes is averaging 107 MPH EV in 10 ABs against Bud Norris), per Baseball Savant.
Anthony Rizzo ($4,200) – Speaking of suitable pivots off of Adrian Gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo is in a very favorable spot against the average (at best) Jon Moscot. Rizzo is among the best hitters in the league against RHP, something his .384 wOBA, .255 ISO and 34% hard-contact rate helps illustrate. He doesn’t strike out much and generates a fair number of walks, giving him one of the highest floors at the position. Moscot isn’t expected to hold the Cubs in check and has had some HR problems at multiple levels in his professional career, giving Rizzo an extremely high ceiling.
Logan Forsythe ($3,300) – The Rays leadoff man had far and away his most productive season in the majors last year, finishing 2015 with elite numbers against LHP (.405 wOBA, .299 ISO, 38.6% hard-contact rate). He’s also fared well against C.C. Sabathia over his career (6-15, 2 2Bs, 2 HRs), while the Yankees left-hander hasn’t had much success against RH bats recently (.370 wOBA, 25 HRs allowed last season). This game taking place in Yankee Stadium (more favorable to lefties, but still a nice place for RHs to hit) only helps to improve Forsythe’s outlook.
Dee Gordon ($3,600) – Gordon seems to be getting overlooked this evening, but he’s in an extremely sneaky spot against the very hittable Jeff Samardzija, who also has the propensity to allow SBs (31 SBs allowed over the last two seasons). While AT&T is a big park that doesn’t typically provide a boost to hitters, the spacious park may actually work in Gordon’s favor if he’s able to hit into the alleys. This isn’t a route I’d take in cash games, but as far as GPPs go Gordon is well worth the cap space.
Nolan Arenado ($5,300) – Arenado is one player I won’t be attempting to pivot off of in GPPs. The other high-end options at 3B aren’t in terribly favorable spots, while Arenado will be hitting in the heart of a Rockies lineup that is expected to score upwards of five runs. The young third basemen finished 2015 with a .417 wOBA, .269 ISO and 37.3% hard-contact rate when facing lefties at home, and I’d expect those numbers to improve during 2016. Kazmir hasn’t pitched in Coors in a few years, and I’m expecting a rude awakening for him tonight.
Evan Longoria ($2,900) – If you need to save cap at the 3B spot, Longoria is among the top dollar per point plays at the position. He’s facing a HR prone left-hander in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, and he’s actually had considerable success against Sabathia in the past (24-78, 8 2Bs, 6 HRs) in a large sample size. Tampa’s team total is hovering just under 4.5 runs.
Corey Seager ($4,000) – Seager should slot in near the top of the Dodgers order tonight in Coors, something that alone would make him a preferred option. The good news is we have several other reasons to be excited to roster him – he mashed RHP after his call-up last year (.437 wOBA, .259 ISO, 51.1% hard-contact rate) and will take on a pitcher making his season-debut in the most hitter-friendly environment in the league. Trevor Story is a great target in his own right, but I’ll take the savings with Seager.
Jean Segura ($3,300) – If you can’t pay for Seager or Story, Jean Segura is a suitable option hitting atop the Diamondbacks order against lefty Jon Niese. Segura has gotten off to a terrific start with his new squad, contributing in nearly every stat category as the team’s table setter. Niese finished 2015 with a FIP and xFIP over 4.30, and the dry air in Arizona shouldn’t do anything to aid those numbers tonight.
Andrew McCutchen ($4,500) – Since I doubt I need to tell anyone that the outfielders in the Coors game are solid targets, let’s pivot to another game that should provide us with plenty of fantasy goodness. McCutchen takes on LH Patrick Corbin in Arizona, a match-up the outfielder should be able to take advantage of. McCutchen was very solid against southpaws last season, compiling a .397 wOBA, .180 ISO and 38.1% hard-contact rate.
Josh Reddick ($3,300) – Aaron Sanchez has been red-hot to start the season, but he had a ton of trouble with LH bats last season; he allowed 9 HRs in 45 IP against LHs last year, including a .380 wOBA allowed and a dreadful 6.76 FIP. Meanwhile, Reddick (who completed 2015 with a .368 wOBA, .202 ISO when facing RHs on the road) will get to do business in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league. Sanchez will surely improve his numbers against LH bats this year, but he’s still not an arm we should shy away from by any means.
Steve Pearce ($2,100) – There honestly isn’t a ton of data to back this one up, but Pearce is expected to be hitting clean-up in Yankee Stadium, something that gives him notable value when he’s priced towards the minimum. Sabathia has had major HR issues with RHs over the past few seasons and Pearce’s $2,100 price tag will go a long way towards helping you afford some of the pricey Coors bats. As long as he’s somewhere in the top five spots in the order, Pearce is playable in any format.