Happy Friday! We have a nice 14-game late slate on tap on FanDuel to kick off the weekend, with the lone day game being played in Wrigley between the Cubs and Nats. We’re getting back to the top of pitching rotations with Noah Syndergaard, Madison Bumgarner and Chris Archer (among others) taking the hill this evening. The MLB weather looks to be nothing more than a mild concern overall, with Baltimore being the only city with issues that could cause trouble.
Noah Syndergaard ($11,200) – He’s struggled some over his last two starts, but the fact that we consider this ‘struggling’ for Thor goes to show how highly thought of he is; the seven runs aren’t a good look, but he still struck out 15 over 12.1 IP with just 14 combined walks/hits. The saving grace is that those performances may be enough to sway some people away from Syndergaard, and that’s something you’ll want to take advantage of. He’s the clear top option on this slate – not only is he leading the league in K% (34.4%) and SIERA (2.04), but he leads all pitchers on this slate in SwStr% (15.9%). Thor also takes on a Padres offense that ranks second to last in wOBA and owns the third highest K% (25.7%) against RH pitching. Don’t overthink this one in cash games. Madison Bumgarner isn’t far behind Syndergaard overall and Chris Archer is inching up behind them both (more so for GPPs), but Thor is the safest of the bunch.
Wei-Yin Chen ($8,000) – This one carries some risk. Chen has dealt with an elbow issue early in the season (it caused him to miss one start) and his velocity is down some (not uncommon for pitchers early in the season, as velocity typically ticks up as the year wears on), but he’ll take on a Phillies offense that is the definition of dreadful against LH pitching. Philadelphia is dead last in wOBA (.233) against LHs to go along with a league-high K% of 29.5% (!!!), nearly three percentage points higher than the next team. While Chen hasn’t been missing a ton of bats (19.2 K%, 7.6 SwStr%), the Phillies overall ineptitude against southpaws should more than make up for that. This is a GPP-only play for me as I’ll take the safety with Thor in cash games, but Chen has plenty of upside at $8,000.
Jonathan Lucroy ($3,000) – It’s not too easy to find data on Tim Adleman. He’s 28 years old and didn’t appear to be a highly thought of minor leaguer, so maybe this simply shows how unbelievably poor the Reds pitching staff is. Lucroy owns a healthy .420 wOBA vs. RHs early in the season and while that is bolstered by a .444 BABIP, he’s still in a prime run-producing spot behind Ryan Braun almost every night. Expect the Brewers to hang some runs up on Adleman.
Stephen Vogt ($2,700) – Assuming the weather concerns in Baltimore subside a bit before first pitch, Vogt will be a very solid target on the road against Ubaldo Jimenez. The Orioles RH has had relatively neutral splits over the past two years, although he does have more HR issues with LH bats (1.21 HR/9 last season) and doesn’t do a great job of limiting hard contact. Vogt will get a nice park bump in Baltimore and considering his .377 wOBA/.261 ISO on the road against RHs last season, this is a great spot to take him at a discount.
Joey Votto ($3,500) – I’ve been on the Votto train for much of the year despite his early-season struggles, but this is a very good spot for him to have a breakout performance. The Reds have a team total of nearly 4.5 runs against RH Tyler Cravy, who struggled mightily with LH bats in limited innings last season. His 7.52 BB/9 rate will not work well against Votto, who has already racked up 17 BBs this season and is one of the most patient hitters in the league. Cravy also allowed plenty of hard contact (36.0 hard% vs. LHs) and tends to keep the ball in the air, both of which work in Votto’s favor. As far as cash game plays go, Votto is among the safest at the position.
Byung-ho Park ($3,500) – Park couldn’t be more different than Votto – he doesn’t draw walks, strikes out at an enormous clip (32.5% vs. RHs) and tends to focus on the long ball (7 HRs this season). Park’s propensity to go all-or-nothing may actually work in his favor against Mat Latos, who doesn’t miss many bats (12.6 K%, 5.3 SwStr%) which should alleviate some of the strikeout concerns with Park. If you are looking for under-owned upside in tournaments, Park is a great target.
Robinson Cano ($3,900) – It’s rare that I’ll prefer Cano at a similar price point to Jose Altuve, but the matchups dictate that Cano is the better selection tonight. Cano owns a ridiculous .608 wOBA and .488 ISO on the road against RHs so far this season, and while a .452 BABIP isn’t sustainable, he’s hitting the ball very hard (44.4 hard% on the road against RHs) consistently. Meanwhile, Doug Fister has allowed a .409 wOBA to LHs to go along with a 42.1 hard% (8.8 soft%), numbers that won’t play well in hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park. Cano is worth every penny in this spot.
Brian Dozier ($3,300) – The Twins are one of the better GPP stacks of the day against Mat Latos, who despite a strong start to the season is still an arm we’ll want to pick on frequently this year. Dozier hasn’t gotten off to a strong start against RH pitching (.273 wOBA, .147 ISO, .200 BABIP, 26.6 hard%), but his numbers were strong last season (.208 ISO, 30.4 hard%) and he can contribute in so many ways that his ceiling is very high on any given night. He’s typically a guy we want to target against pitchers that are either HR prone or SB prone, and Latos doesn’t prevent either very well. He allowed 16 SBs last season (only 5 of 21 attempted base stealers were thrown out) and has allowed four already this year. Latos inability to miss bats should also aid one of Dozier’s biggest weaknesses (the strikeout).
Kyle Seager ($3,600) – I’ve already touched on Doug Fister’s inability to get LHs out, so it’s already evident why Seager is a strong target tonight. He owns a .367 wOBA and .279 ISO against RH pitching thus far in 2016, and like Cano he’s been a better hitter when doing battle away from his home park. Houston is one of the friendliest hitting environments in baseball and Seager should be a big part of any damage done to Fister.
Trevor Plouffe ($2,500) – If you want to go cheap at 3B but don’t want to sieve much upside, Plouffe is worth a long look. His ownership percentage will be miniscule for a variety of reasons (he’s not coming in hot, is fresh off the DL and is in a R/R matchup), but his ceiling against Latos makes his price tag very appealing. Plouffe blasted 16 HRs against RHs last year and hits between two powerful bats (Sano and Park), making him a nice addition to a Twins stack while still allowing you to pay up for one of the top arms. Latos is not going to maintain his .244 BABIP against RHs (or his 90.4 LOB% for that matter), and the drop off could very well begin tonight.
Zack Cozart ($3,400) – Tyler Cravy is one of the weakest arms going on this slate and the Reds should be able to pile up runs against him in their home park. Cozart has taken to the leadoff spot this season, sporting a .388 wOBA and .226 ISO vs. RH pitching to go along with a solid 33.9 hard%. He’s also not striking out much (12.5 K% vs. RHs) and considering the power upside he provides at a usually thin SS spot, he’s a fine target in any format.
Jean Segura ($3,200) – The SS spot dries up pretty quickly this evening. Segura moves to a more pitcher-friendly park tonight, but as the leadoff man for the away team his shot at 5 ABs does improve. Aaron Blair is a decent prospect, but he’s not well equipped to deal with the D’Backs offense. It also helps that A.J. Pierzynski (who will presumably catch tonight) is one of the easier catchers to run on, giving Segura nice upside in the SB department. He’s not going to be popular this evening but his wheels and spot atop the Arizona order give him an ample ceiling.
Nelson Cruz ($3,800) – Continuing with the Seattle theme, Cruz is in an elite spot against Doug Fister, who actually was a reverse splits pitcher last season (.368 wOBA allowed, 1.13 HR/9 rate). The entire Mariners order seems to perform better on the road, and Cruz is no different – he posted a .403 wOBA, .340 ISO and 35.9 hard% against RH pitching on the road last season. His power potential is about as good as it gets and his $3,800 price tag seems a tier too low given the spot he’s in.
Miguel Sano ($3,200) – I’ll keep this one short. The Twins are one of my favorite team stacks of the day and Sano hits right in the heart of the order, so it’s going to be very tough to pass him up at $3,200. His power upside is massive and I’d suspect he’ll have at least an at-bat or two with runners in scoring position. It won’t be long until Mat Latos finally gets lit up.
Corey Dickerson ($2,500) – This is as much of a price-point play as anything else. Dickerson should be hitting in the clean-up spot against Cory Rasmus at $2,500, and that alone is enough to make him an enticing target. He’s hit RH pitching well to start the season (.358 wOBA, .333 ISO, 37.2 hard%) and has had a better go of it on the road thus far. He’s not going to be hitting in an environment that is friendly to offense, but he can drive the ball out of any park and the price tag makes him a very worthwhile GPP gamble.