Another massive Friday on tap in Major League baseball. Let’s dig in deep and find some plays that stand out at each position. Baseball is a sport filled with variance, but these are some of the guys standing out to me today as top plays. Make sure to check the RotoGrinders DFS Alerts app - we’ll push injury and lineup news directly to your phone for free with a DFS spin.
Jose Berrios (vs. Chicago White Sox)
José Berrios is a fine young pitcher for the Minnesota Twins who strikes out slightly over one batter per nine innings. His xFIP and SIERA (2.99 xFIP,3.14 SIERA) both sit lower than his ERA which indicates that he is even better than some of the numbers he’s given up this year. The last two starts have been rough, but he’s also had three out of his six starts this season where he’s left the game after the seventh inning or later having given up zero earned runs. So there does appear to be a low floor but he also sports one of the highest ceilings on the slate. He takes on the Chicago White Sox tonight, a team that ranks bottom six in major league baseball in runs scored this year. This game is in Chicago and the White Sox have shown to be especially putrid at home, averaging 3.08 runs per game in the friendly confines of their own home ballpark. That ranks second to last in all of baseball. So, I’ll take my chances on an affordably priced, high upside pitcher with a very good matchup.
Walker Buehler (vs. San Diego Padres)
I want to try my best to fight off the “Buehler. Buehler. Buehler.” references. I’m also not going to make a Walker Texas Ranger joke. Because this is DFS. This is not a laughing matter. Walker Buehler’s future performance is going to be anything but fun times for his opponents though. As fantasy owners are just hoping he can harness that greatness right away and help our DFS teams tonight. This is a big-time prospect who really burst onto the scene after he had Tommy John surgery around 2015. They’ve given him two starts this year in which he has completed five full innings in both starts, struck out at least five batters in each of those starts and allowed a combined two earned runs. It appears they’re going to give him an opportunity to stick around this entire season and I would imagine that can only help relax him a bit. He’s got big time stuff and gets a matchup tonight against one of the worst offenses in major league baseball. We need to roster him now before the salary shoots through the roof.
Austin Barnes (vs. San Diego Padres)
The LA Dodgers stay out west tonight to take on the San Diego Padres and left-hander Joey Lucchesi. Overall, he looks like a solid prospect who can be a decent pitcher at this level, but he is still young and some of the numbers versus right-handers leave a little bit to be desired. He allows a 37.9% hard-hit rate against right-handers and 40.9% of the contact he gives up to righties has an exit velocity of 95 mph or more. Meanwhile Austin Barnes is a guy I usually turn to when there’s a left-hander on the mound against him. He’s been solid over the years sporting a .372 wOBA and .213 ISO versus left-handed pitching. He’s racked up a 37.1% hard-hit rate versus left-handers over the last two seasons and the salary fits the profile of what I want to spend tonight at this position.
Justin Bour (vs. Cincinnati Reds)
Justin Bour is the best hitter in this Miami lineup now. Since the start of last season, he sports a .253 ISO against right-handed pitching with a very solid 90.6 average exit velocity. He’s in a phenomenal ballpark for hitters tonight taking on a Cincinnati pitcher, Sal Romano, that is allowing a whopping 35.2% hard-hit rate versus left-handers over the last two years. Being in such a terrible offense like Miami is going to drive down the ownership on a phenomenal player every night. But this is a great ballpark in a great matchup and Bour deserves to be thought of as a top five first baseman tonight.
Ozzie Albies (vs. San Francisco Giants)
I’m the type of guy that never is sold on prospects until they come up to major league level and do something productive. So, I wasn’t overly hyped about Ozzie Albies last season but I’m now a believer. This kid is extremely solid and has smashed this season. He’s batting leadoff now for an Atlanta offense that is suddenly incredibly dangerous with this infusion of young talent. He’s a switch hitter that holds a .201 ISO against right-handed pitching since he joined the majors and he is at home taking on Chris Stratton tonight. Stratton is not a bad pitcher by any means but gets a park downgrade traveling from his San Francisco home park to hitter friendly Atlanta and he also has a slight hiccup against left-handers. The general numbers are good but his K rate dips down to 16.7% against lefties and his walk rate rises to 12.5%. I think he could struggle on the road against a very tough lineup. Ozzie has lots of protection behind him now with Acuna and Freeman hitting after him and they’ve even done him a favor by moving Inciarte down to the number nine spot to give him a potential baserunner when he comes up in the later innings.
Jose Ramirez (vs. New York Yankees)
I remember looking at this Cleveland team in the World Series a couple years ago and thinking about how a bright that future was. Good pitching and a fantastic core of young hitters that look like they would be contenders for several years. They are still contenders; the pitching is still intact, and this offense is still lethal. It’s amazing to think that with all the solid hitters on this team José Ramirez may very well be the best. The numbers stand behind that statement as he sports a .388 wOBA and .238 ISO versus left-handed pitching to go along with a very low 10.5% strikeout rate. He just chews up left-handers and spits them out. He gets the opportunity tonight to take on 37-year-old left-hander CC Sabathia in the very homerun friendly Yankee Stadium. The run prevention numbers for CC look great but the underlying numbers show that he is extremely close to imploding. He’s only striking out 5.5 batters per nine innings this year and his xFIP sits at 4.75, more than three runs higher than his ERA. He’s been able to keep runs off the board in part by allowing a .207 BABIP. At some point in the very near future you can expect a blowup game from Sabathia and Ramirez is so good against left-handers that he is an easy lock and load for me tonight.
Trea Turner (vs. Philadelphia Phillies)
The shortstop position is a little thin in my opinion tonight but one name that did stand out was Trea Turner. He has struggled a little bit this year in fantasy production, but he’s turned around recently having hit in five straight games and putting together 14 hits in his last 41 at-bats. It takes one glimpse at his 2017 season to see just how dominant he can be in fantasy. In an injury shortened season he still racked up 41 extra-base hits and 46 stolen bases. He’s got a variety of ways to win you fantasy games and tonight the matchup is at home against right-hander Nick Pivetta. Pivetta has looked better this year but if we look at last year we see terrible numbers that include a 42.1% hard-hit rate and a massive .305 ISO versus right-handed hitters. He is certainly not that bad but he’s also not as good as this year’s numbers indicate. So, if he starts falling back a little bit and regressing to the mean then it may be a good opportunity to play some hitters against him. Turner is a very safe option based on the numerous ways he can score you fantasy points.
Giancarlo Stanton (vs. Cleveland Indians)
Giancarlo Stanton has had a rough time to start his New York Yankees career. However, he showed signs in the last series against Houston that maybe he’s coming out of a slump. He had a 2-homer game in Minute Maid and now returns to Yankee Stadium to take on a notorious reverse splits right-hander, Josh Tomlin. Over the years Tomlin has some terrible numbers against right-handed hitting including a .213 ISO and 35.4% hard-hit rate. Stanton is bad about striking out, but Tomlin strikes out under 19% of the right-handed batters he faces. Stanton’s big issues have always been swing and miss but when he does make contact against right-handers an astonishing 46% of that contact has an exit velocity of 95 mile-per-hour or more. Nearly half the time he makes contact it is of the extremely hard variety. Tonight, he takes on a pitcher that has issues creating swings and misses so this could lead to another Stanton bomb.
J.D. Martinez (vs. Texas Rangers)
I could have done this entire article and just chosen hitters from the same two or three teams that I like tonight. One of those teams is the Boston Red Sox in a very hitter friendly environment to take on Bartolo Colón and the Texas Rangers. The one guy I’m going to single out from this lineup is JD Martinez. On the surface the numbers look great with a .325 ISO and a wOBA that is creeping up around a .400 mark against right-handed pitching. However, I was digging a bit deeper on this to see which Red Sox stood out the most and using plate IQ on Rotogrinders I came across some nifty stats. The best one is that Bartolo Colón uses his sinking fastball an unbelievable 61% of the time. That is a massive amount for any pitcher to use one pitch in his arsenal. JD Martinez just happens to be the best Boston hitter in this projected lineup against sinking fastballs. Going back to 2016 Martinez has popped off for a .453 wOBA, .284 ISO and 41.8% hard-hit rate against seeking fastballs. I love the stack of Boston tonight but if you can only choose one hitter to put your lineups, that hitter is JD Martinez for me.