It’s Saturday, so that means we’re looking at a full day of baseball and two slates of games for our FanDuel contests. Personally, I love the two short slates. It’s easier to focus your research on six or seven games rather than a full slate of 14 or 15 games. As usual, I’ll feature players from both the early and evening slates. Good luck today.
David Price, Boston Red Sox, $9900 – One thing you know you’re getting with Price is strikeouts. He’s whiffing batters an absurd rate as he currently holds a 15.5% swinging strike rate. He’s having no trouble striking out both right and left-handed batters, and it’s worth mentioning that he’s been very unlucky so far this season. His BABIP allowed to righties sits at nearly .400, while his strand rate is well under 60%. When these numbers normalize, he’ll have even more impressive numbers. The Yankees do not worry me one bit. They simply aren’t a good offensive team, and they’ll be without Alex Rodriguez and, most likely, Jacoby Ellsbury. Their replacements are significantly inferior, and I fully expect Price to cruise through this lineup on his way to a win.
Bartolo Colon, New York Mets, $8100 – Sadly, targeting the Padres hasn’t worked the past two days as Jacob deGrom apparently struggled with a mechanics issue and catcher Rene Rivera apparently forgot that Noah Syndergaard can throw more than just fastballs. Both pitchers significantly underperformed, but that’s no reason to shy away from targeting a team that is dreadful against right-handed pitching. Colon isn’t going to wow you with high strikeout totals, but he’s going to pitch efficiently and induce a lot of ground balls and weak contact by locating his pitches perfectly. I’m playing the Sale fade today, especially after reading an article about how he’s pitching to contact more. The fact that he’s striking out less than a batter per inning supports that. Also, Minnesota has given him a lot of trouble in the past, and I don’t think he’s worth the $12,000 price tag.
Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers, $3400 – Martinez stands out as the top option at catcher. I’m not high on Buster Posey against hard-throwing righty Jon Gray, and I’m not really buying A.J. Griffin’s recent success. All of his metrics and indicators point to a 4.00+ ERA, so expect some regression at some point. While catchers usually have little to no upside and bat toward the end of the order, Martinez hits right in the middle of a potent Tigers lineup that should offer him several run-producing opportunities.
Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers, $3100 – Brewers are never too exciting to roster, but Brandon Finnegan is one of the weaker pitchers on today’s slate. He struggles with command and issues far too many free passes. He also allows a high rate of hard contact and doesn’t induce a high enough ground ball rate. He’s the type of pitcher that is going to get himself into trouble a lot, and that bodes well for Lucroy, who should be hitting fourth. Expect Lucroy to see some RBI opportunities, and reach base a couple of times himself. He’s a safe play at the catcher position that has solid upside given the run-producing chances he’s likely to see.
Additional Plays: A.J. Pierzynski
Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers, $2900 – It’s hard to write up Fielder given how bad he’s been this season, but the matchup is just too good. Mike Pelfrey is one of the worst pitchers in baseball, and he’s simply incapable of getting lefties out with any sort of regularity. This is a great opportunity for Prince to finally have a big day at the plate. He’s historically hit right-handed pitching very well, and his price is extremely cheap. Against a decent righty, I’d likely continue to fade him, but I just can’t pass on this matchup. Plus, if Pelfrey doesn’t last long, the Rangers will get to face Detroit’s weak bullpen.
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves, $3100 – Yes, the Braves are awful, have no power, and don’t score many runs. However, Shelby Miller is sporting a staggering 7.97 xFIP against lefties this season. Read that again because it’s not a typo and it’s actually a real number. His walk rate against lefties is an absurd 24.6%, and while I’ve always been of the opinion that everything Miller has ever done has been smoke and mirrors, I certainly didn’t expect him to be this bad. Braves lefties are certainly in play today as almost any major league hitter can tee off on a pitcher that is pitching this poorly. Freeman is cheap at $3100, has plenty of power, and is likely to see some good RBI opportunities given Miller’s inability to get lefties out.
Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers, $3700 – Odor should continue hitting lead off for Texas, making him a terrific play against below average righty Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey is simply brutal against left-handed hitters as he’s walking more than he’s striking out, allowing an extremely high rate of hard contact, and inducing too few ground balls. Texas hasn’t exactly been an offensive powerhouse so far this season, but this is a great opportunity for them to really get going. Odor’s metrics look great right now as he’s not hitting too many ground balls and he’s making a lot of hard contact. For me, he’s an easy play at second and the clear top option.
Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds, $2600 – Phillips has a tougher matchup today against Jimmy Nelson. Nelson induces a lot of ground balls against righties, but he’s also a pitcher that struggles with command and walks too many batters. Philips, after being extremely high owned the past couple of nights and rewarding owners with big games, is going to once again be the highest-owned player at second base. For me, in cash games, I’ll be rostering him purely for the block. There’s certainly merit to fading him in tournaments given Nelson is much better than the arms he’s seen lately, but there isn’t a compelling reason to use another second baseman unless you want to pivot to Derek Dietrich.
Jung-Ho Kang, Pittsburgh Pirates, $2800 – Clearly there’s no rust with Kang finally returning from injury as he smacked two home runs in his season debut last night. We’re not chasing that production, rather we are looking to target a pitcher in Adam Wainwright who mostly been a disaster this season. Against righties especially, he has struggled to strike batters out and has allowed a ton of hard hit balls. Wainwright is currently sporting a 5.63 xFIP to right-handed batters, which is absolutely dreadful. Kang hit righties very well last season while demonstrating a good amount of power, and at just $2800, he’s an easy play for me at third base.
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays, $3300 – Longoria isn’t a player I ever go out of my way to roster, but it’s hard to ignore a matchup against the gas can known as Jered Weaver. Weaver has absolutely nothing left. He can’t strike batters out, he allows a ton of hard contact, and nearly 80% of his batted balls to right-handed batters result in a fly ball or line drive. He might be able to get through the first two or three innings with savvy, but the result is almost always going to be the same. He’s going to knocked around for several runs and leave the game fairly early. I’m not seeing any one jumping out at me as a must play at third base, so I’m comfortable targeting one of the worst pitchers on the slate with a guy who bats third.
Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals, $2700 – Picking a shortstop for the early slate is really just a matter of finding a decent option. There’s not much to like at the position, and my strategy is simply to find a player that should have a good amount of opportunities to score points. Escobar will be leading off against Cody Anderson, a below average righty that doesn’t strike out many batters, and just isn’t very good. There aren’t any compelling stats I can give that are going to make you want to rush to get Escobar into your lineups, but shortstop is a thin position, and sometimes our best play is to take a cheap player that should be able to get on base a couple of times.
Carlos Correa, Houston Astros, $4000 – We have plenty of cheap options for the late slate, so we’re taking best available at shortstop. Nathan Karns is a reverse splits pitcher with a much lower strikeout rate against right-handed batters. He’s also allowed three home runs in under nine innings pitched to righties, which makes sense when you look at his 48.2% hard hit rate this season. Yea, he’s getting pummeled by right-handed batters, which is a terrible combination for him considering the Astros are stocked full of righties with power. Don’t hesitate to take several of the Astros righties today.
Stephen Piscotty, St. Louis Cardinals, $3200 – Since the start of last season, Piscotty has posted a .418 wOBA and .214 ISO against left-handed pitching. Jeff Locke has not pitched well this season as he’s struggled with command. He’s never been a high strikeout guy, and given how well Piscotty hits lefties combined with his favorable spot in the two hole, he makes for an excellent play at just $3200.
Mitch Moreland, Texas Rangers, $3100 – I normally don’t want to go too heavy on one team in cash games because it’s baseball and anything can happen, but Mike Pelfrey just can’t get left-handed hitters out. When you essentially remove striking out as one the possible outcomes of an at bat, the likelihood that a hitter does something positive goes up quite a bit. You can’t get a hit if you don’t make contact, and since Pelfrey can’t miss any bats, Rangers lefties should be making a lot of contact. They’re going to score points one way or another, so I have no problem with using three or four Rangers lefties in one lineup today. Moreland is another example of a decent lefty who has a lot of upside and safety against his particular pitcher.
Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves, $3000 – Markakis has little power, but he gets the honor of batting leadoff against Shelby Miller today. I’ve already discussed how bad Miller is against left-handed hitters, and I’m expecting Markakis to reach base several times today. He has doubles power, and if he can reach base, he should score some runs as well. He’s a solid cash game option as he provides a nice floor, but I might look elsewhere in tournaments given he’s very unlikely to hit a home run.