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Daily Forecast: Santana Surges

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

Today features a lot of iffy pitchers. Of those with major league experience, J.A. Happ appears to be the obvious goat. Happ has never dominated the strike zone, but he's been especially bad this season. In 12.2 innings, he's both walked and struck out 10 batters. To put it in perspective, Carlos Marmol walks hitters at a similar rate. Happ isn't especially stingy with fly balls, including the big fly variety, and the Rogers Centre is one of the friendlier parks for home run hitters. While the Indians don't dominate left-handed pitchers, they have enough right-handed pop to do some damage against a middling starter like Happ, especially when he's handing out the free passes.

TOP SHELF

Ryan Braun - MIL: Fresh off the disabled list, Braun has the pleasure of facing Pittsburgh left-hander Wandy Rodriguez. Braun has dominated left-handed pitchers throughout his career. Per one advanced metric, Braun is the best active hitter in baseball against lefties. He trails only Barry Bonds in overall performance since 2002. While today's Braun is probably worse than the stud of yesteryear, it's fair to expect big production against soft-tossing lefties. Bonus points: Rodriguez is struggling mightily, and Miller Park is great for home runs.

Mike Trout - LAA: Like Braun, Trout will face a lefty who's too tempting to pass up. Erik Bedard is a shell of his former self. He hasn't allowed any home runs to date, which is about the only positive thing to be said. Although Anaheim is not the best place for home runs, let's not worry too much about the park. The matchup can hardly be better - Trout has punished lefties mercilessly this season. He seems to have developed a strikeout problem against right-handed pitchers (33.3 K%), but it's not present against southpaws (12.2 K%).

Evan Longoria - TAM: The platoon advantage is a wonderful thing. Longoria does not possess the absurd production of Braun or Trout against left-handed pitchers, but he does rate as 40 percent better than league average against lefties. Tyler Skaggs is a thoroughly adequate starter. Admittedly, Longoria might not receive a recommendation on a day with a full slate of games. It's a good matchup but not a great one.

Also consider: Jose Reyes - TOR, Albert Pujols - LAA, Daniel Murphy - NYM

BULK PURCHASE

Carlos Santana - CLE: Coming off a big night, Santana draws the lovely matchup against Happ. It's been a weird season for Santana. An evaluation of his peripheral statistics hints at positive regression in his future. As daily fantasy owners, all we need to know is his expected production is considerably higher than his price. Until his price is corrected, he's one of the best values available. As a bonus, he's the cleanup hitter of an away team.

C.J. Cron - LAA: In 30 major league plate appearances, Cron has put his power stroke on display. He has 11 hits to date, including five for extra bases, and two were round-trippers. Cron has a minor league reputation of rudeness to left-handed pitchers. He's an aggressive hitter, so the one challenge will be waiting for Bedard to bring a hittable pitch.

Jonathan Lucroy - MIL: Catchers are risky players to recommend. Since the Brewers are playing a day game after an evening affair, there is a distinct chance they will start Martin Maldonado. It's up to you to monitor the lineup. If Lucroy starts, his career numbers against lefties are actually better than Longoria's on a rate basis. He's not much against right-handed pitchers, but he's every bit the cleanup hitter against lefties. And guess what? Rodriguez is left-handed.

Also consider: Pedro Alvarez - PIT, Wil Myers - TAM, Christian Yelich - MIA

BRAGAIN BIN

Sean Rodriguez - TAM: Perhaps best known for his positional flexibility, Rodriguez offers some power and a lot of strikeouts to his owners. On a given day, he could swat a home run and a double or take the golden sombrero (four strikeouts). S-Rod was a better play when he dominated the Boston Red Sox at Fenway. At Angel Stadium of Anaheim, home runs are harder to come by for right-handed batters. Still, he's cheap no matter where you're playing.

Travis Snider - PIT: When it comes to the bargain bin, what is it you want? Generally, the desired attributes are a nice spot in the lineup and a little pop. Snider gets his share of leadoff reps against right-handed pitchers, and he could even hit a home run in Miller Park. Bueno.

Ryan Raburn - CLE: When it comes to cheap, it doesn't get much cheaper than Raburn. A combination of poor production and scant playing time account for the price. Raburn has a reputation as a streaky, lefty masher. The lefty is on tap, but he's not running hot. Is the platoon advantage and cheap price worth it?

Also consider: Matt Adams - STL, Nick Swisher - CLE, Danny Valencia - KAN

STARTING PITCHER

Johnny Cueto - CIN: Were this game to be played in San Diego, it would be one of the most attractive pitching matchups of the season. Alas, Cueto will deal with the home run friendly nature of Great American Ball Park. Otherwise, an outing against the San Diego Padres carries a very low run expectancy. Cueto records about a strikeout per inning, limits walks and works efficiently. The only fly in the ointment is an elevated home run rate.

Nathan Eovaldi - MIA: Eovaldi possesses excellent heat and great results through his first eight starts. An increase in strikeout rate and decrease in walk rate are exactly what a team wants from a young starter. There is room for skepticism, but a matchup against the San Francisco Giants is meaty. What's more, AT&T Park is by far the friendliest to pitchers.

Wei-Yin Chen - BAL: Let's start with the bad. Chen will never strike out the world, nor is he particularly dominant in any one way. He relies on craftiness to survive outings, and sometimes it goes sideways. Moreover, he's opposed by young stud Yordano Ventura, so a win is far from guaranteed (hint: it always is). Here's the good - Chen is stingy to left-handed hitters. Kansas City's best hitters happen to have the lefty gene. It doesn't hurt that the game will be played in Kauffman Stadium.

Also consider: Michael Wacha - STL, Phil Hughes - MIN, Chase Whitley - NYA

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Brad Johnson

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