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Daily Forecast: Lefty Targets

by Brad Johnson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

It's a full evening tonight. With 15 games, there will be a lot of different ways to post a high points total. In these scenarios, double down on matchups, ballparks, and weather.


If you want to talk matchups, none has more promise for offensive fireworks than Ricky Nolasco versus Vidal Nuno at Yankee Stadium. The hometown Yankees have intentionally brought in plenty of lefties to swing for the short right field porch. Lefty home run rates are increased a whopping 28 percent at Yankee Stadium. The Twins will be shooting at the left field porch, where home runs fly at a 14 percent elevated rate. Nuno is the weaker pitcher of the two, but both offenses should drive in some runs. Buyer Beware: There is a risk of storms tonight in New York (also Boston and St. Louis). With about 12 hours until game time as of this writing, it's too early to say whether this game is safe to use. Monitor the weather.



Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $45,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night's MLB games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Friday. Here's the FanDuel link.





Nelson Cruz - BAL: The Cruz missile will face fly ball pitcher Brett Oberholtzer in Houston. Cruz has seemingly stolen whatever blessed Chris Davis' 2013 season. He's at 19 home runs already. By one advanced metric, he's been the third best hitter in baseball behind Troy Tulowitzki and Yasiel Puig. He hits better against lefties than righties (Oberholtzer is left-handed), but his split isn't unusually large. 


Edwin Encarnacion - TOR: He had a sleepy start to the season, but once things clicked, they clicked. He's working to catch up with Cruz in the home run department, he's bashed 18 including 16 in the month of May. If the hot hitting doesn't persuade you, he'll have the platoon advantage against Royals starter Jason Vargas.


Jonathan Lucroy - MIL: When you scan down to the "also consider" section, you might get the sense I like the Brewers' matchup against Travis Wood. You would be correct. Nothing against Wood who is a thoroughly adequate starter, but the Brewers have a ton of lefty mashers. Lucroy provides a great option at the always scarce catchers position. He has a career .324/.365/.556 line against left-handed pitchers. I think we can all get behind those numbers.


Also Consider: Ryan Braun - MIL, Carlos Gomez - MIL, Jose Bautista - TOR





Brian Dozier - MIN: And now we finally get back to New York. Dozier does a little bit of everything except hit for average. Most of his power comes against left-handed pitchers, with an .881 career OPS compared to a tepid .647 OPS against righties. Nuno is a lefty, so we'll see the good Dozier leading off today.


Brian McCann - NYY: McCann's power was supposed to skyrocket in New York with the move from pitcher friendly Turner Field. Instead, it's taken an inexplicable dive. Some of his bad numbers might be the result of better shifting. Some of the NL East teams were bad at shifting last season, whereas the AL East is quite used to the practice. That doesn't explain why only seven of his hits have left the ballpark. In any case, a game against Nolasco promises the opportunity to pad those numbers. 


Adam Jones - BAL: While he doesn't possess noteworthy platoon splits over his career, he still has a good matchup against Oberholtzer. He tends to bat in front of Cruz, which could make the pair a pricey but effective mini-stack. Jones is extremely aggressive, so he produces a high batting average and low on base percentage. If you're playing a GPP, you should appreciate the grip it and rip it mentality. Extra base hits and RBI win tournaments, not walks.


Also Consider: Jay Bruce - CIN, Adam LaRoche - WAS, Anthony Rizzo - CHC




Trevor Plouffe - MIN: An important part to DFS success is leveraging platoon splits. Plouffe is one of those guys who quietly rakes against opposite-handed competition. Over his career, he has a .269/.337/.470 line against lefties compared to truly miserable results against righties. If and when the Twins ever get the proper personnel in place, Plouffe will be reduced to the same platoon role as Danny Valencia. Until then, he's batting third in a major league lineup.


Chris Denorfia - SDP: Over the last few seasons, Denorfia has very quietly been one of the best hitters against left-handed pitchers. He doesn't launch majestic home runs, instead he hits for a high average and takes his walks. A career .309/.369/.452 line is a steal out of the bargain bin. He'll probably bat at the top of the lineup too.


J.J. Hardy - BAL: Hardy is best known among fantasy players for his home runs, but it's been almost two months and he remains homerless. If something's going on, it's not really in his numbers. His average fly ball distance is definitely down at 273 feet, but Charlie Blackmon's averaging 271 feet, and he's tapped nine round-trippers. His other peripherals are more or less normal. The home runs have to come eventually, don't they? In any case, he's in the bargain bin, so you don't have to pay much to find out if today's the day. 


Also Consider: Danny Valencia - KAN, Jed Lowrie - OAK, C.J. Cron - LAA




Adam Wainwright - STL: They don't come much more expensive than Wainwright, so you better have a plan for rostering plenty of high upside bargain bin players. The expense is justify, he's among the league leaders in innings per start, which a key indicator for wins. Regardless of your chosen platform or contest type, a win can go a long way towards locking down some money. Most platforms count innings pitched too, so the stat is doubly useful. Of course, Wainwright is also good at netting strikeouts while limiting runs allowed. If you need further convincing, Busch Stadium is a pitchers park, and the Giants offense is relatively average.


Josh Beckett - LAD: Coming off a no-hitter, Becket is bound to be a popular target in today's contest. He'll face the Pirates at Dodger Stadium. The Pirates have what can be best described as an adequate offense, and the stadium is pitcher friendly. Of course, we're in the business of acquiring future stats, so it should be pointed out his 2.43 ERA is not supported by his peripherals. There's reason to believe an ERA in the 3.60 to 4.00 range is more likely. Most of the non-elite pitcher matchups have some kind of flaw today, or else Beckett might not even make the short list.


Rafael Montero - NYM: No scout will say Montero lacks for stuff. His issue through his first three starts has been deep counts and too many walks. Long innings kill a pitcher's value and Montero's averaged close to 20 pitches per inning (league average is around 15). We just got done talking about how innings are a leading indicator for wins. Well pitches per inning is a leading indicator for innings. Montero needs to clean up his act if he wants to last deep into the ball game. The Phillies offense might be just the unit to oblige. 


Also Consider - Madison Bumgarner - SFG, Ian Kennedy - SDP, J.A. Happ - TOR

Brad Johnson

You can read more from Brad Johnson on Rotoworld, FanGraphs, and RotoFanatic. Find him on Patreon and Twitter @BaseballATeam.