We finally have our first monster slate of the season, as Wednesday night brings us 12 games to look at. We have a Coors Field game to navigate and some solid pitching on the mound in a few others. Most of the aces are not going tonight, so we should have some soft spots and some tough decisions when it comes to pitching. We have quite a few hitters who are worth a look, so let’s discuss the top options below.
Carlos Carrasco – Indians v. Rays- $11,900 – Carrasco is the most expensive pitcher on the board today and deservingly so. He had a WHIP of only 1.07 last year and allowed only a .238 batting average to righties and a .218 to left-handed batters. He faces a weak hitting Rays team that is in the bottom third for batting average and runs scored. Carrasco dominated this team in 2015. In 15 innings of work, he only allowed them to score 4 runs. He held them to a batting average under .200 and an OBP of only .233. He also had 18 strikeouts against them, so he should be in line for a very good night.
Stephen Strasburg – Nationals v. Braves – $11,300 – Strasburg has a very soft matchup against a Braves team that currently sports the second worst batting average in baseball and a bottom third amount of runs scored. He was very good against them in 2015 with only 1 run allowed over 11 innings of work with 13 strikeouts. Other than Freddie Freeman, this team has not done well against Strasburg recently. He opened the season by going 6 innings against them with only one run allowed and four strikeouts. I would like to see the strikeout numbers improve for the price he is at, but I do think we see another dominant performance from the former #1 overall draft pick.
Mike Leake – Cardinals @ Brewers – $8,100 – Leake has his biggest troubles with solid left-handed bats. The Brewers really do not have any of them that scare me. Scooter Gennett and Jonathon Villar are probably the two guys who profile best against him, and neither of those guys give me worry. The Brewers have only managed 22 runs so far to start the season, and that has them stuck in the bottom five of the league as far as runs scored goes. They also are averaging over 9 strikeouts per game so far which has them up near the top for the most of any offense in the early going. The game is in St. Louis, so Leake is at home in a pitcher friendly park. I also like the fact that his team is in a god spot against Chase Anderson, so he should walk away with the win.
Michael Pineda – Yankees v. Blue Jays – $8,900 – It is not normally a good idea to target pitchers taking on the Blue Jays. It is also not smart to target them at home in the Rogers Centre. With that being said, Pineda does well against this group. The Jays can smash runs, but they also can strikeout with the best of them. They are averaging over 10 per game, which puts them in the top 3 in the league in that category. Other than Edwin Encarnacion who is 7 for 22 lifetime vs. Pineda, the Jays have struggled to figure him out. Pillar is 1 for 10 lifetime, Bautista is 3 for 19, and Josh Donaldson has a goose egg at 0 for 10. Left-handed bats are usually the way to go after Pineda, and we have discussed the lack of lefties on this Blue Jays team at length. This is a risky play for cash games, but the low ownership and BvP history do make him a very intriguing option for tournaments.
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Bryce Harper (OF) – Nationals v. Braves – $5,200 – This is a great spot for the reigning MVP who will likely be the highest owned player today. And for good reason. He faces Matt Wisler who allowed left-handed bats to hit .327 against him in 2015 with a WHIP of 1.97 and 10 homers in 48 innings of work. Harper was a monster against weak right-handed pitching last year. He finished the season with a wOBA of .478 and an ISO score of .354 in those matchups. He has a .313 batting average to start the season and is averaging 15.6 DraftKings fantasy points per game. At his price of $5,200, that is a return of 3X value which puts you on pace for a GPP cash and easily should leave you above the double-up line.
Lorenzo Cain (OF) – Royals v. Astros – $4,600 – Scott Feldman is a guy with severe reverse splits. Right-handed bats hit .294 against him last year, while he was tougher on lefties. Many will shy away from Cain because of the R/R matchup, but he has hit Feldman well in the past. Cain is 7/13 lifetime against him and has the added bonus of playing this game in a good hitter’s park in Houston. His ownership should be low due to the splits, which only makes me like him even more as a tournament option.
Matt Carpenter (3B) – Cardinals v. Brewers – $4,300 – I am always a big fan of Carpenter when he faces a weak right-handed pitcher. The Cardinals’ lead off man has a knack for getting on base and scoring runs. Carpenter owned a .398 wOBA and a .251 ISO score against right-handed pitching in 2015. Anderson allowed left-handed batters to hit over .260 against him. Carpenter should see 4 to 5 at-bats from his spot at top of the order, and that could translate into a huge day with his soft matchup.
“The Cardinals’ lead off man has a knack for getting on base and scoring runs”
Nolan Arenado (3B) – Rockies v. Giants – $4,900 – Arenado is pricey, but you have to expect a premium when a great hitter has a solid matchup in one of the best offensive parks in baseball. He faces Jake Peavy, who had extreme reverse splits last year. Right-handed bats hit .270 against him in same-handed matchups, while he was able to limit left-handed bats to only a .207 average. Arenado hits right-handed pitching well. He had a .388 wOBA last year and an ISO score of .318. He is also 5 for 11 lifetime off Peavy with a home run, so this is a matchup he is looking forward to.
Anthony Rizzo (1B) – Cubs v. Reds – $5,200 – This is a great spot for the Cubs first baseman. Alfredo Simon allowed left-handed bats to hit .289 against him with a WHIP of 1.54 in 2015. He also gave up a homer every 6.5 innings to them. Rizzo had a wOBA vs. right-handed pitching of .384 with an ISO score of .255. He has a lifetime line of 5 for 15 against Simon with 2 homers, so we have seen this play out favorably in the past.
Edwin Encarnacion (1B) – Blue Jays v. Yankees – $4,700 – E-squared is the one Blue Jay who does profile well against Pineda. Pineda had some issues last season and ended it allowing a .280 batting average to right-handed bats. Encarnacion has a 7 for 22 lifetime line against him with a home run. Encarnacion had a wOBA of .399 with an ISO score of .294 against all right-handed pitching in 2015. He also hit better at home, so this looks like a solid spot for him today.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B) – Diamondbacks v. Dodgers – $5,300 – Goldy is one of the best hitters in the league and has one of the best matchups on the day. Alex Wood has really struggled to get outs against right-handed bats. They hit .297 against him last year with a WHIP over 1.51. Goldy was one of the best against left-handed pitching in all of baseball in 2015. His wOBA of .455 is eye popping with a nice .256 ISO score to highlight his power. He is 4 for 9 lifetime vs. Wood with 2 homers already and will look to add to those numbers today.
Jose Abreu (1B) – White Sox v. Twins – $4,700 – Abreu is one of my top picks for a homerun today. He faces Phil Hughes who is considered an extreme fly ball pitcher. Right-handed bats had the better average against him last season and were able to bang out a robust .304 batting average. Abreu hits better in righty/righty situations anyway as his .384 wOBA and .240 ISO score would indicate. He has not gone yard off Hughes yet in his career, but he is 7 for 21 with a handful of extra base hits. With so many good first basemen in great spots, Abreu could fly under the radar and produce a very nice upside return against the homer prone Hughes.
Francisco Lindor (SS) – Indians v. Rays – $3,500 – It is not too often you can find a middle infielder that hits in the 3 or 4 spot in an order. It is even rarer when that guy is very reasonably priced, and rarer still when he also has a good matchup. That is the case today for Lindor. He faces Drew Smyly who was weaker against right-handed bats in 2015. Righties had a .249 average against him with 11 homers in 51 innings. Lindor is one of the best on the Indians against left-handers. He had a .381 wOBA and an ISO score over .200 against them last season. He homered yesterday for what is an anemic offense. I like Smyly to have a solid game here, but one of the two bats I am scared of is Lindor.
Miguel Sano (3B) – Twins v. White Sox – $4,100 – I always struggle with the cut off line to a guy being a value or not, but I felt I needed to find a spot for Sano today. The Power hitting third baseman for the Twins is one of the few bright spots they have. He had a .379 wOBA last year with a .235 ISO score against left-handed pitching. He faces Carlos Rodon who was bad against right-handed bats with a .272 batting average allowed and a WHIP of 1.59. Sano faced Rodon twice last year and came away 1 for 2 with a home run. This Twins offense is pretty bad right now, but Sano could be the one guy who does have some upside today.
Jason Castro (CATCH) – Astros v. Royals – $3,100 – Catcher is a really tough position today, especially with the top three priced options (Posey, McCann, and Schwarber) all banged up. Jason Castro is a very interesting option who deserves a long look. He faces Yordano Ventura today in his hitter friendly home park in Houston. Yordano was weaker against left-handed bats last year as they hit .255 against him with a WHIP of 1.35. Castro does not have great numbers overall, but is 4 for 8 lifetime against Ventura and does hit right-handed pitching better. I think today is a day to save at catcher and Ventura is one of the guys who stand out as a viable option there.
“. . . he did flash huge power last year when given a chance”
Joc Pederson (OF) – Dodgers v. Diamondbacks – $3,600 – Pederson is a guy who has extreme upside but has shown that he can seriously slump as well. He is not a guy I would use in cash games. With that being said, he did flash huge power last year when given a chance, and he now has a chance again. Crawford, Ethier, and Van Slyke are all hurt, so Joc should see plenty of opportunity in the outfield. He faces Rubby De La Rosa who allowed left-handed bats to hit .315 off of him in 2015 with a WHIP of 1.75 and 20 homers in 87 innings of work. Joc has power and De La Rosa struggles with left-handed power, so the matchup is as ideal as it gets.
Welington Castillo (CATCH) – Diamondbacks v. dodgers – $3,100 – Another catcher who caught my eye is BEEF Welington Castillo. Castillo is the rare catcher hitting in the heart of his team’s order, and he has a good matchup and a fair price today. He faces Alex Wood who has allowed a .297 average with a 1.51 WHIP to right-handed bats. Castillo has some pop as evidenced by his .228 ISO score. He was 2 for 5 against Wood last year with a home run. If you are looking for that cheap catching option, he has to be high up on the short list.
Corey Seager (3B/SS) – Dodgers v. Diamondbacks – $3,900 – I can’t believe Seager is still this cheap. Other Shortstops are off to hot starts, so his accomplishments are being swept under the rug, but Seager was and is the best prospect to come up behind Correa. He has the same soft matchup against De La Rosa who struggles with left-handed bats. Seager had a .437 wOBA against left-handed pitching in 2015, which included 2 hits in 2 at-bats against Rubby. He is still reasonably priced, still hitting towards the top of the order, and still a guy I prefer over more expensive options like Story. Seager is batting .333 out of the gate and has a hit in each game so far. That kind of consistency is rare in a young player, but it makes sense for us to look his way because of it.