Yesterday was the first time all season we've had weather start to impact games. The wind blowing out in Chicago and Cleveland yesterday led to some totals that kept moving after we had published. It had a noticeable impact on a few of the plays as Edwin Jackson went from a strong value play to a shaky one with the wind blowing out at 20 mph and Ryan Braun back. It's a reminder that in daily fantasy baseball, you have to be on top of not only lineups as they come out but also how weather might impact games. We'll have some similar challenges today as we have rain forecasted across parts of the Midwest; most notably in Chicago, Cleveland, and Kansas City. Kansas City looks to have the greatest potential chance for a rain-out with 80+% scattered strong storms from 9 PM on (as of this writing). We'll do some strategy pieces in this space over the course of the year and we'll tackle weather in one of them, but in general I shy away from pitchers in games with potential weather issues and hitters I use it as a tiebreaker unless the game looks very likely to get rained out altogether (80+% is bordering on that line). Most MLB games that have weather issues get played, even through multiple delays, so don't get too freaked out by a 40-50% chance of rain. That being said, down the road we will be adding an email-alerts feature to the Fix in which we email out the impacts of weather, lineup changes etc. to those who have subscribed to the Fix, so make sure to click the link down at the bottom of the Fix today and add yourself to our distribution list.
Also note: Today's recommendations exclude the TOR-DET game at 1:00. Most sites with just one day game choose to ignore the game in their player pool and with the late-game weather concerns we've chose to do the same.
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). Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions regarding daily fantasy baseball.
Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) - I feel like every day I sit down to write the fix, the Brewers are prepared to take on a lefty who allows a high fly-ball rate and subsequently a lot of HR's to RHB's. This is the case again on Tuesday as the Brewers face Travis Wood who has allowed a 22% LD Rate and 47% FB Rate over the last 3 years to RHB's. He allows 1.15 HR/9 to RHB's and they've hit .245/.316/.430 against him in his career. The .746 OPS allowed to RHB's is well above the league average and it plays nicely into Lucroy's history of crushing LHP. In Lucroy's career he's hit .321/.355/.558 against LHP and while he's off to a slow start this year, the matchup is a solid one for him.
Buster Posey (SF) - Posey's slow start to the season has seen his price drop considerably on most sites. No longer priced like a top catching option, Posey presents a great value even in tough matchups. Juan Nicasio has been pretty tough on RHB's in his career allowing just a 3.08 FIP, while striking out 21% of RHB's. He is however pretty LD prone, allowing a 21% LD Rate to RHB's and Posey derives much of his power rates from being a line drive machine. He's posted LD Rates above 24% the last two years and has a career LD Rate above 21%. Posey is certainly better against LHP, but his career .297/.367/.443 line against RHP isn't anything to sneeze at. Priced in a lot of places as a middle of the road catching option, Posey offers a nice value because of his slow start to the season.
Best Value Play:
Ryan Howard (PHI) - Dillon Gee really struggles against LHB's and the Phillies lineup is loaded with them. Howard in particular does most of his damage in his career against RHP and even though his star is fading he's still hit RHP of late (.247/.333/.451 against RHP last year). Gee allows 1.18 HR/9 to LHB's and has walked 11% of LHB's over the last three years. Howard also has strong individual results against Gee in a very limited sample as he's gone 2-7 with 2 HR's (and 3 K's). Howard is always a bit of a hit or miss play but given Gee's struggles with LHB's and the Phillies top 3 hitters all being LH, it's likely Howard is presented with a number of RBI opportunities in Tuesday's game.
Paul Konerko (CHA) - Konerko's slow start to the season (.100/.143/.150) has him priced way down on sites even in a matchup against a LHP. For his career Konerko has hit .297/.383/.552 with a 0.91 EYE against LHP and even last year he hit .271/.373/.473 with a 0.95 EYE against LHP in what was an injury plagued season. Gio Gonzalez isn't the average LHP, he's actually pretty good against RHB's as well, posting a career 3.39 FIP and just a 0.53 HR/9. However, he does walk over 10% of RHB's and with the White Sox lineup loaded with RHB's it's easy to see scenarios where Konerko gets some nice RBI chances. If you're looking for some salary relief Konerko against a LHP (even a tough one) at his current prices represents a good value.
Brandon Belt (SF) - Belt hasn't carried his strong spring over to the regular season just yet, but Tuesday night's matchup with Juan Nicasio could be just what the doctor ordered. Nicasio allows a 25% LD Rate to LHB's and over 1.7 HR/9 in his career to lefties. Pitching in San Francisco is about as extreme of ballpark change than where Nicasio pitches most of his games but even on the road Nicasio has allowed a .303/.361/.475 line to LHB's. Belt is more of a gap-power hitter with his LD stroke than a true bomber, so his profile actually matches up pretty well with Nicasio's propensity for surrendering line drives. Belt is priced below the average on most sites at the 1B position and is a strong bet to earn his value on Tuesday night.
Joey Votto (CIN) - Lance Lynn really struggles to put away LHB's. In his career Lynn has allowed a 5.28 FIP and 4.91 xFIP to LHB's due to a 14% BB Rate coupled with 1.34 HR/9 allowed to LHB's. There is perhaps no better LHB in the game than Joey Votto who has hit .322/.426/.574 in his career against RHP's. In the small sample this year Votto has gotten on-base in half his AB's against RHP and posted a 30+% LD Rate. If there's any 1B to pay up for on Tuesday, it's clearly Joey Votto.
Neil Walker (PIT) - Almost all of the Pirates are priced down after they scored just 6 runs in their first 5 games, but playing in Arizona seemed to cure some of that on Monday night. Chase Field plays 12% above the league average for runs scored and home runs and the favorable environment brings some nice value to the PIT hitters. Walker is a switch hitter but he's always been much better from the left side. In his career he's posted a .794 OPS against RHP and just a .667 OPS against LHP. Brandon McCarthy is scheduled to be on the mound for the Diamondbacks and he's allowed a 21.60% LD Rate to LHB's over the last 3 years along with a very average 3.70 xFIP. McCarthy does do a good job keeping the ball on the ground which limits the HR totals, but Walker is more of a gap-to-gap hitter anyway. In a high run-scoring environment with his prince abnormally low because of a slow start, Walker is a fine play today.
Robinson Cano (NYY) - Cano busted out of his early season slump yesterday with 2 HR's and a 2B. It's always bitter sweet to take the guy the day after they broke out but there are some good reasons to feel optimistic about Cano again on Tuesday. Carlos Carrasco the opposing pitcher has posted a 4.68 xFIP against LHB's over the last three years and he's walked over 10% of the LHB's he's faced. The .353 wOBA allowed to LHB's ranks in the bottom five of pitchers going on Tuesday and Cano is a notorious streak hitter. This is the kind of favorable matchup that keeps Cano's streak going.
Other Strong Stud Options: Chase Utley (PHI)
Mike Aviles (CLE) - You'll have to make sure Aviles is in the lineup but against LHP Andy Pettitte he should be. Aviles has hit .295/.339/.457 against LHP in his career and he's had some success in limited AB's against Pettitte. Aviles has gone 3-9 with a 3B and most encouragingly for me a 2:1 BB:K ratio in those plate appearances. Pettitte is still pretty good against RHB but he is susceptible to walks and the long ball. He walks nearly 8.5% of RHB's over the last three years and has surrendered over 1 HR/9. The Indians really struggled against lefties last year but in the offseason they added Mark Reynolds, Nick Swisher, and Mike Aviles who all hit LHP very well. Add in the success Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana have had as switch hitters hitting RH and the Indians lineup is now pretty formidable against LHP (just ask David Price). If Aviles is in the lineup, he's priced well below average on most sites and is a nice salary relief option at the SS position.
Yunel Escobar (TB) - Nick Tepesch is making his major league debut tonight for the Rangers. As a 23 year old in AA last year Tepesch allowed a 1.36 WHIP and over a hit per inning. His 4.28 ERA at AA and his 6.8 K/9 aren't really anything to get excited about and Vegas has already given us a hint of their expectations for this one by posting the total at 10.5, which is 1.5 runs higher than anything else on the board. Escobar can be had for near the minimum on most sites and he's been hitting 6th in Tampa's lineup much of the year. If he's slotted in the 6th spot behind Zobrist, Longoria, Joyce, there's a decent chance he gets some RBI opportunities in a projected high scoring affair. In Escobar's career he's shown no difference in splits vs. LHP or RHP (.748 OPS vs. .738 OPS) so the same-side matchup shouldn't be a significant issue.
Starlin Castro (CHC) - Castro warmed up a bit on Monday as he fulfilled Mike's selection of Castro as a value play by picking up a 2B and a 3B. His price still hasn't adjusted as he's being priced like a mid-tier SS instead of a high-end one due to the Cubs offensive struggles early on. Castro gets what I think will be a bit of a tough matchup for him in Wily Peralta, but his pricing is such that you can't ignore him. Peralta allows a 26% LD Rate to RHB's in his limited big league time which suits Castro's skills perfectly, but his biggest drawback is commanding the strike zone. Castro isn't a particularly patient hitter so Peralta could induce some bad swings from Starlin which brings some risk. The matchup makes Castro a higher volatility option, but the price on most sites makes him a risk worth taking.
If you're spending at SS:
Jimmy Rollins (SS) - We touched on some of Gee's struggles vs. LHB's in the blurb on Ryan Howard and they apply to Jimmy Rollins as well. Rollins has gotten off to a strong start this year hitting .300/.344/.500 and as a result he's probably over-priced on most sites. If you have the salary relief and want to pay up at SS though, he's a solid option. Rollins has hit .270/.331/.439 in his career against RHP and he's been a bit better at home (.279/.343/.461) where his power plays up a bit. He also has a nice small sample against Dillon Gee as he's gone 6-9 with 1 BB and 0 K's in his career against Gee.
Chris Nelson (COL) - Nelson is a line drive hitter who benefits from outfields with huge gaps. In Colorado he thrives, posting a career .320/.372/.460 line at home because of the spacious Coors Field OF. Now the Rockies aren't home tonight, but they are in a park with a huge OF. San Francisco doesn't allow a lot of HR's but their big gaps in the OF are perfect for line drive hitters with a bit of speed. Nelson has hit .295/.328/.422 against LHP in his career while posting a 23.5% LD Rate. His opponent on the mound on Tuesday night, Tim Lincecum, has had particular trouble over the last year in limiting line drives. Lincecum allowed a 23.8% LD Rate last year and in his first start this year it was still elevated at 21.4%. Lefties were especially difficult for Lincecum as he yielded a 28.6% LD Rate to them in his opener and last year surrendered a 26.7% LD Rate to LHB's. Nelson does almost all of his offensive damage via the line drive so this seems like a perfect matchup to exploit Lincecum's recent woes. It also doesn't hurt that in a very small sample Nelson has gone 4-6 off Lincecum with 2 BB's and 1 K.
Chris Johnson/Juan Francisco (ATL) - Johnson and Francisco have created a weird platoon pairing in Atlanta because while Johnson hits RH and Francisco LH, they both tend to hit RHP's way better than LHP's. Of late the situation has been remedied by Freddie Freeman's injury and tonight presents a unique opportunity to get both players at a very strong value. The Marlins are throwing LHP Wade LeBlanc and while neither Johnson nor Francisco hit LHP very well, LeBlanc isn't the prototypical LHP. LeBlanc has severe reverse splits, meaning he struggles against LHB's more than he does RHB's in part due to his heavy use of his change-up. For his career LeBlanc has allowed a ridiculous .389 wOBA to LHB's including a .313/.366/.534 line that makes any LHB look like Albert Pujols to LeBlanc. Against RHB's on the other hand, LeBlanc has been deathly. He's allowed a league average .326 wOBA. This is clearly good for Juan Francisco who is a LHB, but I'm guessing it will also work well for Chris Johnson who typically hits RHP's much better. Johnson has posted a .779 OPS in his career against RHP's and just a .661 OPS against LHP. Since LeBlanc is a lefty who throws like a righty, I think both Johnson and Francisco have chances to be solid value plays today.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) - Beltre's price has quickly corrected after a slow start to the season that provided a brief window of opportunity on a few sites to get excellent value. On Tuesday night he'll square off with Roberto Hernandez a RHP who has difficulty missing bats. Hernandez has allowed a 4.49 FIP to RHB's in his career and over 1 HR/9 while striking out just 15.7% of batters. His heavy reliance on a sinker leads to many balls down and in that can give some RHB's problems, but that's the sweet spot for Adrian Beltre's upper-cut swing. It's not a surprise to see Beltre has homered twice in 13 AB's against Hernandez and the 5:3 BB:K Ratio is also inspiring. Last year in Arlington against RHP's, Beltre hit .369/.406/.653. He's one of the stronger stud plays tonight.
Evan Longoria (TB) - I'm not particularly high on this Tepisch fellow, at least not as a major league pitcher. Perhaps he's a fine gentleman, a scholar, a noble man, but the evidence I have from his minor league performance suggests he is not a good fit as a major league starting pitcher. Evan Longoria should be able to take advantage of this. Longoria has hit better in his career against lefties than righties but his splits against righties are still pretty darn good (.273/.357/.500) and they're even better when he's away from Tropicana Field (.281/.364/.510). Hitting clean-up against a pitcher who struggled in AA last year in one of the highest run-scoring environments in baseball, Longoria is a very strong play if you're looking to spend at 3B tonight.
Best Value Plays:
David Murphy (TEX) - Murphy is always a nice play in Texas where he has a career .298/.362/.519 line against RHP, but Tuesday night presents an even better opportunity as it comes against a pitcher whom Murphy has had great individual success against. In 14 career AB's vs. Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona), Murphy has picked up 7 hits while also walking 3 times compared to just 1 strikeout. This makes sense given Murphy is best against RHP and particularly strong against RHP's who happen to be extreme ground-ball specialists. In his career Murphy has hit .337/.395/.515 against pitchers classified by Baseball-Reference.com as Ground-Ball pitchers. Throw in the added benefit of participating in a game with the highest total on the board by a full 1.5 runs over any other game, and David Murphy looks like one of the better values in the OF today.
Domonic Brown (PHI) - If you believe in Brown's spring training, he's still severely under-priced on most sites. Now to this point in the season Brown hasn't delivered much on that spring training buzz as he's hit just .231/.259/.346 in his first 27 PA's, but I think Tuesday night is a good spot for Brown to right the ship. Brown faces Dillon Gee who has allowed an FIP of 5.00 in his career against LHB's. Gee struggles to put them away (16% K%) and as a result he walks a lot of lefties (10.9% BB%). While he does generate GB's against LHB's (47%), his 1.18 HR/9 allowed to lefties is well above the league average. The Phillies lineup is loaded with left-handers and I think it's going to lead to Gee laboring through a lot of innings. If you look at Gee's track record vs. the Phillies it really shows. He's allowed a 6.46 ERA in 30 2/3 career innings against the lefty-heavy Phillies including a 1.66 WHIP and a 1.17 HR/9. Of the potential power hitting lefties in the Phillies lineup Brown is amongst the cheapest and makes for the best value.
Matt Joyce (TB) - Mike and I haven't had a ton of success going to our Matt Joyce well early this season but over the long-haul we believe his strong splits against RHP will win out. Joyce has hit .264/.354/.494 in his career against RHP and has upped those numbers away from the Trop where he's hit .269/.359/.518 against RHP. As we've covered repeatedly I'm not particularly high on Nick Tepisch's chances tonight and Joyce figures to be one of the biggest power threats the Rays have from the left side to attack Tepisch. Joyce's slow start to the season (.200/.273/.350) has him priced down on a number of sites making him one of the best value plays of the day.
Jason Heyward (ATL) - Check your sites pricing but those that take into account splits and are pricing Heyward down today because he's facing a LHP are ones you should look to exploit. We talked a bit about LeBlanc's reverse splits in the blurbs on Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco, but Heyward has a nice small sample against LeBlanc to help back it up as well. In 9 AB's, Heyward has 4 hits including 2 XBH's (2B, HR). Heyward's certainly struggled in his career against LHP (.222/.303/.657) but LeBlanc is the rare lefty that Heyward should be able to handle well. I might not pay a premium price for Heyward to exploit this matchup but if I can get him at a deep discount, I'm on board.
Jon Jay (STL) - Jay is significantly better in his career against finesse pitchers (as classified by Baseball-reference) and there may be no better example of a finesse pitcher than Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo has also struggled severely with limiting HR's to LHB's over the last 3 years (1.82 HR/9) and he's allowed a .366 wOBA to LHB's. If you can get some of the Cards left-handed bats into your lineup you're stacking the odds in your favor. Jay also happens to have a great track record against Arroyo as he's gone 10-25 with 2 2B's, 1 3B, and 1 HR while striking out just 3 times in those 25 AB's. Over the last 3 years Arroyo has posted a 4.60 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 1.0 HR/9 against the Cardinals. He hasn't been horrible, but he hasn't been particularly good either. Look for the Cardinals to put some runs on the board today and look for Jay to jump-start their offense at the top of the lineup.
High priced OFs with best matchups: Ryan Braun (MIL), Carlos Gonzalez (COL), Dexter Fowler (COL), Nelson Cruz (TEX), Matt Kemp (LAD), Justin Upton (ATL), Jason Kubel (ARZ), Jay Bruce (CIN), Carlos Beltran (STL), Shin Soo Choo (CIN), Nelson Cruz (TEX)
Best Value Plays:
Kris Medlen (ATL) - After a horrible first outing against the Phillies, Medlen's price has fallen considerably across most sites. Tonight he gets a Marlins offense that has generated just 14 runs in their first 7 games. Last year against the Marlins Medlen allowed just 4 ER's in 24 IP and posted a spectacular 22:3 K:BB Ratio while posting a WHIP of just 0.75. Take advantage of the over-reaction to one bad start and get Medlen in your lineups tonight.
Brandon Maurer (SEA) - After Joe Saunders tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings against the Astros last night we're officially on "start anyone against the Astros" until further notice. Maurer was rocked in his debut in Oakland but he did flash some of the stuff that won him the 5th job in the spring. He posted a 9.5% swinging strike rate and this spring he struck out 25 in 24 IP. The spring numbers (1.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) usually get thrown out because questions of competition but they actually might be more relevant to the Astros lineup than any other in MLB. I'm not sure Maurer is ready for the big leagues long-term, but I'm willing to take a chance against the Astros for a very cheap price on most sites.
Cliff Lee (PHI) - Over the last 3 years Cliff Lee has posted a 2.39 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 10.9 K/9 in 7 starts against the Mets. He's averaged 7 innings per start and has posted a 3-1 record. The Mets don't have some of the same splits advantage players they had in the past (Scott Hairston) this year so it's likely they'll roll out a lineup that includes at least 3 LHB's, which Lee has dominated in his career. Add in the likelihood of strong run support for Lee and you have the Stud play of the day.