We don’t typically have a split slate on Friday’s but the early season schedule is a bit wonky, so here we are. I’ll be focusing on targets for the 10-game main slate on DraftKings which begins at 7:05 pm est. Any questions regarding the earlier games feel free to find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan. Let’s jump in.
Yodano Ventura – Royals vs. Twins – $9,200 – Yordano Ventura grades out as my top pitching play of the day. It’s a nice spot for Ventura and I don’t believe he’ll be highly owned either, making him viable for both tournaments and cash games. His second half of 2015 was outstanding, including an 11-strikeout performance against these free-swinging Twins back on October 3rd, his last start of the regular season. His fastball and curve are exceptional, and his ability to keep the ball on the ground (52% GB rate last year) helps mitigate damage when he does allow contact. The Twins lineup looks a lot like it did last season, and that lineup finished 28th in the league in wRC+ against right-handed pitching.
Jaime Garcia- Cardinals vs. Braves – $9,400 – Rarely do I tout Jaime Garcia, but perhaps that’s more about me than the pitcher. I place a high emphasis on strikeout upside when running projections for the day and that’s where Garcia typically falls short. His 19% strikeout rate is below average, but his command is exceptional and it allows him to work deeper into games. The Braves are going to be a popular team to target when selecting your starting pitchers this season, and today is no different. I don’t love Garcia’s upside in tournaments, but he’s a strong cash game play against the weak Braves offense that finished 29th in wOBA against right-handed pitching last season.
Matt Shoemaker – Angels vs. Rangers – $6,200 – Matt Shoemaker really struggled for much of the 2015 campaign after having a nice breakout in 2014. He gave up a ton of hard-hit contact, and when combined with his fly ball tendencies, he was a homer-waiting-to-happen last season. With that said, he’s dirt cheap today and his home park in Anaheim is one of the more difficult parks to homer in, so he’s worth a look if you’re looking to pair a high-priced arm with a cheaper one. He can miss some bats, and if his command is on, he’ll easily pay off this price.
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Nelson Cruz (OF) – Mariners vs. A’s – $4,700 – What do you know about A’s left-handed starter Eric Surkamp? Just knowing that he’s a below-average, left-handed pitcher should be enough to get you lathered up about Nelson Cruz today. Cruz’s .465 wOBA and .329 ISO against left-handed pitching is just about as good as it gets.
Carlos Correa (SS) – Astros vs. Brewers – $4,900 – When I’m writing up Carlos Correa, I just want to fire hyperbole at you and ideally avoid drooling on my keyboard as I type. Resisting that urge is a big ask, but I think I’ll avoid it for now. Don’t worry about the lack of a handedness advantage today for Correa versus Chase Anderson. Anderson allowed right-handed bats to slug .446 against him last season, and Correa profiles as a hitter with fairly neutral splits. I’m paying up.
David Ortiz (1B) – Red Sox vs. Blue Jays – $4,400 – This is a great price for a left-handed power hitter in Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Ortiz’s wOBA and ISO are more than 100 points higher against right-handers than lefties, and Ortiz has started his 2015 farewell tour in good form.
Jose Bautista (OF) – Blue Jays vs. Red Sox – $4,800 – Red Sox’ pitcher Joe Kelly is unique in the sense that he’s a right-handed pitcher who handles left-handed bats well but struggles mightily against right-handed hitters. His reverse splits can be exploited by a bevy of Blue Jays today, but none grade out higher than Jose Bautista, who also has reverse splits. This works in his favor in a big way here.
Andrew McCutchen (OF) – Pirates vs. Reds – $5,000 – I think Andrew McCutchen is an elite tournament play today. He’s one of the game’s best players, and he’ll be extremely under-owned. Alfredo Simon is not someone we should fear, and Cutch gets a sizable park shift by playing on the road in Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark.
“He’s one of the game’s best players and he’ll be extremely under-owned”
Matt Carpenter (3B) – Cardinals vs. Braves – $4,200 – In 2015, both Manny Machado and Miguel Sano had ISO numbers better against right-handed pitching than they did against left-handed pitchers. So essentially they had reverse/neutral splits. Even so, their ISO number doesn’t match what Matt Carpenter did against right-handed pitching last season. Seriously. Read that again. Braves starter Matt Wisler is the most extreme fly ball pitcher on the slate tonight, so things are looking pretty, pretty, pretty good for Matt Carpenter here.
Eric Hosmer (POS) – Royals vs. Twins – $4,200 – I like this spot for Eric Hosmer today. He’ll likely be under-owned in tournaments due to the nature of the talent at his position, and he’s in a prime spot against Ervin Santana. Santana was crushed by left-handed bats last season (.466 ISO), and he’s both cash and tournament viable today.
Manny Machado (3B) – Orioles vs. Rays – $4,400 – I might be a donkey for suggesting that you use a hitter against Chris Archer, but hey, here I am. I don’t love Archer today in Camden Yards. The Orioles are very familiar with him and have a slew of right-handed bats that handle right-handed pitching well. Any time that you can use a top-10 hitter and get him when no one else is one him, that’s something that I’m very interested in for GPP’s.
Corey Dickerson (OF) – Rays vs. Orioles – $3,700 – Corey Dickerson is still way under-priced despite his hot start. Playing on the road in Baltimore is an excellent park shift for Dickerson and the Rays bats, particularly their lefties. Camden Yards ranks just behind Coors Field and Yankee Stadium in terms of home runs to left-handed bats, and Baltimore starter Chris Tillman has the lowest soft-contact percentage allowed against lefties of any pitcher going today. Yes, please.
David Peralta (OF) – Diamondbacks vs. Cubs – $3,600 – This is a good spot for David Peralta, who’s facing Chicago’s Jason Hammel. Peralta is always in play against a league average right-handed pitcher at home, where his wOBA and ISO are more than 100 points higher than they are against his fellow southpaws. Hammel allowed an exceptionally high 34.6% hard-hit contact rate to left-handers last season. He’s way too cheap.
John Jaso (OF) – Pirates vs. Reds – $3,300 – I wish John Jaso still had catcher eligibility, but he’s still a viable play as an OF. He’ll likely add 1B eligibility soon, too, but he’s a strong cash game play. Targeting leadoff/top-of-the-order bats on the road is a preferred strategy for cash games and is a way to maximize at-bats. The road team always gets 9 innings of at-bats, and in cash games, we’re looking to maximize our floor and opportunities. Jaso has excellent on-base skills and playing on the road is a favorable park shift.
“Targeting leadoff/top-of-the-order bats on the road is a preferred strategy for cash games and is a way to maximize at-bats”
Brad Miller (SS/OF) – Rays vs. Orioles – $3,400 – See Dickerson, Corey. Brad Miller is in play for all the same reasons as Corey Dickerson. He has a great matchup and has shown enough power/speed in the past to make him a sneaky play at his price. I’m admittedly a Brad Miller truther, but the risk is mitigated in the $3,400 price.
Scooter Gennett (2B) – Brewers vs. Astros – $3,200 – Astros starter Scott Feldman had some decent numbers against left-handed hitters last year, but that success is masked in a favorable BABIP-against, which is not sustainable. Scooter Gennett is a nice priced option at a difficult position to fill for Friday’s slate, and if he’s leading off, I like him quite a bit.
Colby Rasmus (OF) – Astros vs. Brewers – $3,400 – Colby Rasmus is just too cheap for a guy penciled into the cleanup spot in a great offense against a below-average pitcher in a favorable park. It’s that simple, really. Rasmus has double-home run potential, and that’s always worth a look as a tournament flyer.