We have a split slate today, and we will concentrate on the late slate here. We have 8 games, and it is a very tough one for pitching. Here is a look at some of the top plays we do have on this slate.
Steven Wright – Red Sox v. Rockies – $8,800 – Wright has been pretty good this year and is probably deserving of being the highest priced pitcher on this slate. I do not love him, but he is the best house on a bad block. When the Knuckleball is dancing, he has put up some big games. He has 17 or more fantasy points in all but one of his eight starts and half of those starts have been numbers in the mid to high 20s. Right-handed bats have hit him better with an average of only around .225 this year. We usually look at BvP against a knuckleballer, but there is not a lot to look at here. Wright is unlikely to get lit up today, so he is the safest option.
Scott Kazmir – Dodgers v. Reds – $7,900 – On a slate with a pitching void this big, I think Kazmir is worth a look in tournaments. I do not trust him for cash games, and a quick look at his game log will show you why. He is capable of going seven innings with a K per inning and only a few runs, but he’s also capable of getting lit up for a few runs and hits as well. Kazmir has more upside than most of the guys on the mound because of his strikeout potential. That is why I think he makes sense as a GPP play with upside, but I cannot say he is safe for cash games.
Hisashi Iwakuma – Mariners v. Athletics – $7,500 – Iwakuma may be my favorite pitcher on the night. He is at home and faces a lineup that does not have many scary left-handed bats. Iwakuma is tough on righties and can get hit by left-handers. With Reddick on the shelf, the scariest left-handed bat is Stephen Vogt. Guys like Valencia and Davis have been hot and do hit righties well, but Iwakuma is tough enough on righties that I am fine rolling him out. He does not have huge strikeout potential, but he is a big favorite at home and does profile well against his opponent.
Junior Guerra – Brewers v. Braves – $7,400 – Guerra threw two gems in his last two outings, one of which was an eleven strikeout performance. I think he is going to be a very popular SP2 on the day because of his last performance. He does also have a good matchup. The Braves hit right-handed pitching a tad better, but they are still near the bottom of the league in every offensive category. The projected total is pretty low in this game, and the Braves are a team with a historic lack of power in their lineup. I like Guerra because even with a bad game, I can’t see him getting blown up.
Gregory Polanco (OF) – Pirates v. Diamondbacks – $4,500 – Polanco has been scorching hot since moving up to the three hole. He faces De La Rosa who has struggled with left-handed batters throughout his career. Polanco has four multi-hit games in his last eight which has included four games with 2 or more hits and 20 or more fantasy points.
Manny Machado (3B/SS) – Orioles v. Astros – $4,500 – Machado is great in righty v. righty situations. He owns a .390 wOBA and a .252 ISO score in them since the start of 2015. He faces a guy in Collin McHugh that has allowed right-handed bats to hit for a high .280 average against him over the last two seasons. The game is in Houston which is a great hitter’s park and one balls tend to fly out of. Machado went yard yesterday for the third time in his last eight games.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B) – Diamondbacks v. Pirates – $4,900 – Goldy faces Jeff Locke today, who is a sub-par lefty. Goldschmidt owns a monster .429 wOBA since the beginning of last year against left-handed pitching with a robust .229 ISO score to go with it. Locke does not give up many home runs, but he has allowed a .290 batting average to right-handed hitters since 2015.
Robinson Cano (2B) – Mariners v. Athletics – $5,300 – The rookie Zach Neal is going to be making his second appearance and first start here for the Athletics. I fully expect him to pitch a few innings, with the later innings becoming a bullpen game. Cano is hot to start the year. He is hitting .292 with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs. He owns a .362 wOBA and a .205 ISO number since the start of 2015, which is solid. His numbers in 2016 alone are even better, so the high price is justifiable.
Evan Longoria (3B) – Rays v. Marlins – $5,000 – I do not love the price on Longoria, but I do love him anytime he faces a lefty. He has a .381 wOBA with a .222 ISO score since the start of 2015 against southpaws and has hit them well his whole career. Nicolino is not particularly tough on right-handed bats, and the Rays have a lot of them that have been mashing lately. I expect them to score some runs today and for Longo to have a piece of the action.
“He absolutely crushes the ball against right-handers . . .”
David Ortiz (1B) – Red Sox v. Rockies – $5,100 – Any time Ortiz faces a righty, he is in play. His .429 wOBA is great and his .339 ISO score is an amazing stat for him. He absolutely crushes the ball against right-handers. Chad Bettis is actually a decent pitcher outside of Coors and does not have a huge home run or fly ball rate. However, I still expect the Red Sox to continue to score runs and Ortiz to continue to be in the middle of that potent lineup.
Brandon Guyer (OF) – Rays v. Marlins – $4,300 – Much of what we said with Longoria rings true here, too. Guyer should be leading off and spearheading the right-handed onslaught against Nicolino. Guyer does have some pop and went yard off a lefty the last time the Rays faced one. He should get maximum at-bats on top of that order and put up another nice fantasy total today.
Joc Pederson (OF) – Dodgers v. Reds – $4,000 – I may be higher on Joc than others are, but he is red hot right now. In four of his last six starts against right-handed pitching, he has scored double digit fantasy points. I would like to see him moved up to fifth in the order as batting seventh like he did yesterday is not ideal. As long as he is hitting though, we know what kind of upside he has.
John Jaso (1B) – Pirates v. Diamondbacks – $3,400 – Jaso is still cheap and has been a solid cash game option lately. He gets the max number of at-bats from the top of the order and has been driven in by the big bats of McCutchen, Polanco and Kang behind him. He owns a .365 wOBA and a .172 ISO score since the start of last year v. right-handed pitching, so he can hold his own. The upside is limited, but the extra at-bat and the high number of runs scored have created a nice floor for him lately.
Jonathan Villar (SS) – Brewers v. Braves – $3,900 – Villar is one of the few guys who swings from the left side for the Brewers. He faces Mike Foltynewicz who allowed lefties to hit over .300 against him in 2015. Villar can pound out hits, score runs and has base stealing upside. If I do not use a power source like Machado or Correa at short, I prefer to go after guys who are in good splits matchups, hit high in the order and can steal a base like Villar can.
Welington Castillo (CATCH) – Diamondbacks v. Pirates – $3,600 – Castillo is a great option anytime he sees a left-handed pitcher. He owns a .381 wOBA and a .301 ISO score against them which are huge numbers from the catcher position. Locke is not a good pitcher and has struggled with a .290 average allowed to right-handed bats since 2015, so the matchup is definitely in BEEF Wellington’s favor.
“. . . and he is the biggest left-handed bat the Astros have”
Colby Rasmus (OF) – Astros v. Orioles – $3,900 – Tyler Wilson is not the best pitcher on the mound today, and you really want to attack him with left-handed bats. Rasmus usually hits cleanup against a right-handed pitcher, and he is the biggest left-handed bat the Astros have. Wilson has a high fly ball rate and is in a home run hitter’s park down in Houston. Rasmus tends to put balls into the air deep, so the metrics are in his favor for home run upside.
Steve Pearce (1B/2B)- Rays v. Marlins – $3,700 – Pearce, Souza and Mahtook are the three other right-handed bats near the top of that Tampa order, and all of them hit left-handed pitching well. I love the fact that we can use Pearce as our second baseman because he has more pop and upside than a lot of the other options at his price and position. I’m all about Tampa right-handed bats against Nicolino, so this is just another way to get some exposure to that matchup.
Ichiro Suzuki (OF) – Marlins v. Rays – $2,500 – With Yellich hurt, Ichiro has been playing every day and hitting in the lead off spot for the Marlins. He has 10 hits in his last 18 at-bats, with much of it coming against right-handed pitching. He has three multi-hit games in the last four and an incredibly cheap price. He will continue to score runs as long as he continues to hit some singles, so he has a very safe floor at near min price, which is something both rare and coveted for cash game lineups.