After the last three days, I'm guessing many of you will be disappointed to find out it's my turn to cover the Fix and not Mike Leone's. Mike has been red-hot with hitters the last few days and hopefully it's been a profitable ride for all of you. I'll do my best to carry the torch today!
Weather: FINALLY a few days without weather issues. Everything looks good to go today.
Before we get into today's recommendations, it is important to remind everyone to understand your scoring format and the pricing of the individual players on the site you're playing. These vary from site to site and all daily sites price their players differently, which could make someone a must start on one site but not another. In the space below I will break down the best and worst plays by position and make notes as to which type of formats to utilize players. If you are new to the daily fantasy baseball scene, there are daily fantasy websites which offer one day contests. These contests are mostly salary cap games where you can take any players you want as long as you stay under the cap and meet the positional requirements and all are points-based (not roto). As a result these recommendations often focus on value. By reading the notes below you'll be able to identify not only value options but potential weak pitchers to exploit. If a player is not touched on, it doesn't mean they're not a good play. We have limited space and assessing value across all the sites is a bit subjective. Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions regarding daily fantasy baseball.
Buster Posey (SF) - Clayton Richard getting scratched last night threw a bit of a monkey wrench into our Buster Posey love, but with another LHP expected to take the mound I'm basically going to plagiarize Mike Leone's blurb from yesterday. Posey is underpriced due to a slow start and has a really positive splits matchup today. He is facing LHP Eric Stults who has allowed a .327 wOBA to RHB and 24.8% LD Rate. On the flip side, Posey does a ton of damage against LHP posting a huge .467 wOBA since 2011. And that wOBA comes with a lot of power too as Posey's .309 ISO against LHP is 2.5 times greater than his ISO against RHP. He's a great value play on sites where he is slightly underpriced and a must play on those where he's actually cheap.
Miguel Montero (ARZ) - Montero has been letting us down against RHP in strong environments of late, but Sunday's matchup with Juan Nicasio is a great one and since Montero sat on Saturday night he's very likely to start on Sunday. Nicasio has surrendered a .356 wOBA to LHB's over the last three years along with 1.55 HR/9 and a 23% LD Rate. Quite simply left-handed bats see him very well. Montero's been very good in his career against RHP, posting a .354 wOBA and .821 OPS. His power stats (.181 ISO) coupled with a strong 20.7% LD Rate fit well against Nicasio and the hitting environment couldn't be any more favorable.
Joe Mauer (MIN) - With the two value plays above you probably won't need the stud, but if you find Mauer at a comparable price to the other he's worth a play tomorrow. Gavin Floyd allows 1.24 HR/9 and a .337 wOBA to LHB's over the last three years while Joe Mauer has hit .338/.425/.514 with a 1.45 EYE in his career against RHP. Mauer has also dominated the matchup with Gavin Floyd this year as he's hit .442/.556/.791 in 43 AB's against Floyd and has walked 10 times compared to just 4 K's.
Best Value Play:
Adam LaRoche (WSH) - LaRoche came through for us yesterday with a HR and on Sunday he'll get to face another Mets starter that struggles against LHB's. Dillon Gee has posted a 4.71 xFIP and allowed 1.26 HR/9 over the last three years against LHB's, while also walking 10.6% and striking out just 15.7%. LaRoche has hit .273/.347/.493 against RHP in his career and last year he posted an .861 OPS vs. righties. Gee's been struggling with velocity early on in the season and with his usual struggles against lefties the Nationals left-handed bats should be strong plays on Sunday.
Lance Berkman (TEX) - Berkman's price is all over the map on sites so be sure to compare him other values listed. If he's priced reasonably he's a strong matchup against Aaron Harang in Texas. Harang walks 10.8% of LHB's he faces and yields a .339 wOBA. His HR's allowed to LHB's have been a bit low over the last three years (0.82 HR/9) but a lot of that is because of the environments he's pitched in. On the road the last two years he's allowed 1.10 HR/9 and 1.19 HR/9 respectively to LHB's. Berkman has posted OPS' above .840 in each of the last four years against RHP and he's had a nice career track record against Harang with 11 XBH's in 58 AB's. Most of that sample was accrued years ago so I'm not sure how much weight to put on it but the environment in Arlington coupled with Berkman's strength against RHP makes me think he's a nice play on sites where he's valued as an average 1B.
Kendrys Morales (SEA) - In a very limited time at the major league level, Justin Grimm has been really bad against LHB's. He's allowed a .373 wOBA, a 28.6% LD Rate and only struck out 11.6% of LHB's he's faced. Kendrys Morales is a switch-hitter who has always been much better from the left side (career .855 OPS vs. RHP). In Texas, Morales makes for a nice value against a pitcher who hasn't appeared big league ready.
Expensive Options to Target: Adrian Gonzalez (LAD), Joey Votto (CIN), Mike Napoli (BOS), David Ortiz (BOS)
Dustin Ackley (SEA) - Ackley didn't deliver last night but we're going to give him another shot in the value plays section today. Ackley faces Justin Grimm who has struggled against both left and right-handed batters in his brief major league career. Grimm's posted an 8.00 ERA and 1.83 WHIP in his brief major league career and he hasn't been particularly menacing at AAA either (4.29 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 5.4 K/9). The Rangers have had a lot of injuries to their SP depth which is the only reason Grimm is pitching at the major league level. While Dustin Ackley hasn't had a lot of success in the majors he did crush AAA pitching back in 2011 (.908 OPS). Perhaps all Ackley needs to get going is to face some AAA caliber pitching in a great hitting environment in Texas? For the bare minimum on most sites he's a worthy play if you're looking for salary relief.
Kelly Johnson (TB) - Roberts typically gets the starts against LHP but the Rays are pretty savvy with their lineups and I'm guessing Joe Maddon knows all about Tommy Milone's reverse splits. Milone for his career has allowed a .334 wOBA to LHB's compared to a .312 wOBA against RHB's. Milone has also surrendered a 1.65 HR/9 to LHB's and Kelly Johnson has hit lefties as well as he's hit righties in his career (.771 OPS vs. LHP, .765 OPS vs. RHP). It's an odd "left-on-left" matchup, but it's one that seems to fit for Kelly Johnson. If he's hitting the near the middle of the lineup for the Rays on Sunday Johnson is a nice play when looking for salary relief.
Ryan Raburn (CLE) - Raburn's posted a career .798 OPS against LHP and an impressive .346 wOBA. His opponent on the mound on Sunday, Erik Bedard, has allowed a .324 wOBA, a 22% LD Rate, and 1.08 HR/9 to RHB's. Raburn is priced near the bare minimum on most sites and gets to face the Astros in Minute Maid Park where the short-porch in LF (Crawford Boxes) sits as a potential HR target for Raburn and the rest of the Indians RHB's.
Matt Carpenter (STL) - Carpenter gets to face Kyle Kendrick who has allowed a .348 wOBA and 1.26 HR/9 to LHB's over the last three years. Carpenter doesn't have a ton of power but he's a line drive hitter who typically hits near the top of a potent Cardinals offense when they face RHP. Carpenter's posted a .352 wOBA in limited time against RHP and he's put together a very solid 0.71 EYE. If Carpenter is priced as a below average option on Sunday and hitting near the top of the lineup, he's a solid value play.
Expensive Options to Target: Dustin Pedroia (BOS), Brandon Phillips (CIN), Chase Utley (PHI), Ian Kinsler (TEX)
Of the expensive 2B options Pedroia looks to be the most reasonably priced and he's facing homer-prone Ervin Santana (1.25 HR/9 to RHB) in Fenway. Phillips gets Alex Sanabia who has really struggled (.367 wOBA) against RHB's in his career while also yielding 1.1 HR/9. Ian Kinsler gets Aaron Harang who has similar issues with the long-ball in Texas. Chase Utley is probably the best bet to get on-base consistently against Jake Westbrook, but Westbrook's GB tendencies reduce the likelihood of a home run. If Robinson Cano is priced similarly to these options he belongs in the mix against a RHP, but Josh Johnson is by far the biggest threat any of the top 2B face, so I'm instead opting to save some money.
Jimmy Rollins (PHI) - Rollins price appears depressed across the sites I've checked. With the injuries to Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes he's one of the top five or so SS options left and he's being priced as an average one in most daily games. Rollins gets to face Jake Westbrook who walks 10% of the LHB's he faces and allows a .335 wOBA against over the last three years. Rollins has been a bit better against RHP in his career (.769 OPS vs. RHP, .741 OPS vs. LHP) and those splits have really widened over the last few years as he's posted .780+ OPS against RHP in 2011 and 2012. Given Westbrook's struggles against LHB's and the Phillies ability to stack them, Rollins figures to be a nice play on Sunday.
Mike Aviles (CLE) - With Asdrubal Cabrera leaving the game early on Saturday night Mike Aviles figures to get a start at SS on Sunday. Aviles might've been in the lineup anyway at 3B because of his success against LHP in his career (.293/.336/.453), but Cabrera's injury makes it even more likely. Given Bedard's struggles against RHB's (22% LD Rate, 1.08 HR/9, .324 wOBA) and Aviles' success against them in his career, he's a fine value play.
Cliff Pennington (ARZ) - Pennington isn't much with the bat but he's been competent as a LHB in his career (.696 OPS) and Sunday's starter Juan Nicasio has been so bad against LHB's that Pennington is worth a flier as a salary relief option. Nicasio has surrendered a 23.5% LD Rate against lefties and Pennington has actually posted a 21.9% LD Rate in his career against RHB's and with the spacious OF in Coors LD hitters are often rewarded with XBH's. While the DBacks have struggled to score runs in the series, it's never a bad play to take a cheap hitter in a game in Coors Field.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) - Same deal as always... if you can afford Tulo he's never a bad play at home. Brandon McCarthy is pretty tough on RHB's (.285 wOBA) so although he's struggled this year I'll probably be looking for value out of the SS position on Sunday.
Best Value Play:
Eric Chavez (ARZ) - I will continue to pick on Juan Nicasio with LHB's. We've covered it quite a bit and Chavez is near the minimum on a lot of sites. With the pinch-hit HR on Saturday I think Chavez earns himself a Sunday start. The late game means you'll have to confirm the lineup close to the 1:00 deadline, but Chavez has started a lot against RHP of late. With a career .853 OPS vs. RHP and a .908 OPS vs. RHP last year, Chavez is a fantastic value play in a favorable matchup.
Jeff Keppinger (CHW) - Keppinger hasn't quite been the FA acquisition the White Sox had hoped as he's hit .159/.157/.174 to start the season, but fortunately for daily gamers this creates a bit of value for the career lefty-masher. Keppinger has hit .331/.374/.484 in his career against LHP and he's done it with a 1.67 EYE thanks to a miniscule 3.8% K%. The opponent Scott Diamond is actually a reverse-split lefty allowing a .317 wOBA to RHB's and a .353 wOBA to LHB's, but Keppinger sees lefties so well and the environment at the Cell is a favorable one for hitters that I'm willing to take the chance. If priced similarly to Chavez and Chavez is in the lineup, I do prefer Chavez.
Will Middlebrooks (BOS) - This recommendation is very site dependent as I've seen Middlebrooks range from cheap to middle of the pack to above middle of the pack in terms of pricing. If he's cheap on the site you play at, take advantage on Sunday. Middlebrooks in his career has a .222 ISO at home against RHP and he faces Ervin Santana who allows 1.25 HR/9 and a 42% FB Rate to RHB's. Middlebrooks is a very power dependent 3B who doesn't have great control of the strike zone. There might not be a better matchup than to face Ervin Santana who serves up HR's and walks very few.
Other potential values: Pablo Sandoval (SF), Adrian Beltre (TEX), Chris Johnson (ATL)
Best Value Plays:
David Murphy (TEX) - We like to take our chances on David Murphy when Texas is facing weak RHP. Aaron Harang fits the profile having surrendered a .339 wOBA to LHB's over the last three years. Murphy finally cashed in for us last night with his first HR of the season and hopefully it's the start of a hot streak.
Chris Heisey (CIN) - I'm a little nervous Xavier Paul gets this start so make sure to check the lineup because this matchup is a bit of a dream for Heisey. As we've covered Heisey has some reverse splits in his career. He's hit .268/.322/.448 against RHP and he's been even better at home against RHP (.270/.327/.469) where his power plays up a bit. Alex Sanabia has allowed a .367 wOBA to RHB's and his 41.8% FB Rate leads to a hefty HR/9 (1.11). The matchup is ripe for Heisey to take advantage if he's in the lineup on Sunday.
Rick Ankiel (HOU) - This is the epitome of a boom or bust GPP play. Ankiel so far has struck out in 63% of his PA's against RHP which quite frankly is astonishing. He's also homered in 15% of his PA's against RHP which means over ¾ of his PA's vs. RHP are HR's or K's. There will never be a bigger boom or bust play than this one. The opponent on Sunday, Ubaldo Jimenez, allowed a .371 wOBA to LHB's last year and has allowed a .457 wOBA to LHB's in a very small sample so far this year. Of the 32 LHB's faced by Jimenez, 3 of them have left the yard. If you're scraping the bottom of the barrel and looking for big upside, Ankiel is an interesting play.
Andre Ethier (LAD) - Ethier continues to mash RHP (career .310/.388/.523) and on Sunday he gets to face Jake Arrieta who has been mauled by LHB's in his career. Arrieta is sneaky good against RHB's (.300 wOBA) but he's really struggled against lefties (.373 wOBA, 1.55 HR/9). Ethier is priced right on most sites and given his dominance against RHP and Arrieta's horrid performance against lefties, he's an ideal value play on Sunday.
Carlos Beltran (STL) - The price is starting to adjust as Beltran's homered a few times this week but on sites that are slow to adjust Beltran gets Kyle Kendrick who has allowed a .348 wOBA and 1.26 HR/9 to LHB's. Beltran has a career OPS greater than .860 from both sides of the plate so no matter the pitcher you typically get some favorable matchups, but Kendrick's struggles against LHB's makes Beltran the most attractive value option against the Phillies.
Other Potential Value Plays: Reed Johnson (ATL), Chris Denorfia (SD), Gerardo Parra (ARZ), Jesus Guzman (SD), Hunter Pence (SF)
Under-priced Star OF's to Target: Giancarlo Stanton (MIA), Matt Kemp (LAD), Jay Bruce (CIN)
Expensive Star OF's to Target: Ryan Braun (MIL), Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS), Bryce Harper (WAS), Justin Upton (ARZ), Carlos Gonzalez (COL)
Best Value Plays:
Wily Peralta (MIL) - On the season the Cubs have been somewhat competent against RHP but Wily Peralta just faced them last week and limited them to 2 ER's over 6 2/3 innings. He's not worthy of consideration on sites where you play just 1 SP, but if you're forced to play multiple SP's it's hard not to consider Peralta a value. The Cubs have scored 3 or less runs in half their games and are averaging just 3.4 runs/game this year. Peralta hasn't been great this year but his 60+% GB Rate keeps the ball in the park which is the biggest issue with Miller Park's run scoring environment. In addition his biggest weakness (11% BB%) isn't a strength of the Cubs as they rank 25th in MLB in BB% vs. RHP. As a 2nd or 3rd pitcher Peralta makes some sense.
Homer Bailey (CIN) - Bailey is actually a bit pricey for his skill-set on most sites but this is an ideal matchup for the RHP. Bailey's biggest issue is the long-ball and the Marlins have hit a league low 3 HR's against RHP. Their .498 OPS against RHP suggests it's not really the result of bad luck that they've hit so few HR's. Early in the season Bailey's boosted his K% thanks to improvements in his swinging strike rate and it appears he might finally be delivering on his huge prospect status from a few years back. If he's made a leap, he's probably priced just right or moderately under-priced for a neutral matchup. For a favorable matchup against the Marlins even if he hasn't made the leap, I think he's a strong value.
Doug Fister (DET) - The Angels are a pretty good offense but they derive almost all of their offensive value from 3 players - Trout, Pujols, and Hamilton. If you can work around them and limit their power, you can pitch to this Angels lineup. Fister pitches around extra base hits by keeping the ball on the ground (55% GB Rate) and not putting base-runners on (4.9% BB%). It's also a very limited sample but he's had good success against those 3 holding them to a 3-18 with 7 K's (much of the good work done against Hamilton). With Fister's price a bit lower than some of the other strong starts on Sunday (Medlen, Zimmermann, Bailey), I think he's a similar option for a cheaper price. The only downside is he doesn't have quite the upside of the other three.
Kris Medlen (ATL) - Medlen seemed to find the elite command that had eluded him in his first two starts the last time out against Kansas City. On Sunday he'll face a Pirates offense that ranks 19th in the league with a .310 wOBA against RHP and is striking out in over 21% of their plate appearances. PNC Park in Pittsburgh is a nice pitching environment and Medlen should have plenty of run-support against wild thing Jonathan Sanchez. Medlen is the top pitching play of the day.