We have an interesting slate of 11 games tonight on FanDuel with two elite pitching options that should dominate your lineups. Aces Chris Sale and Robbie Ray (who my beloved, yet completely inept Tigers sent away to acquire Shane Greene) are both starting tonight, and while both have massive upside, I’m giving a decisive edge to one over the other. It’s late in the season, so we have our usual litany of gas cans we can target with our pitching. We’ll have to find some value hitters tonight as both Sale and Ray carry hefty price tags, so let’s dive in. As always, make sure to check out RotoGrinders' DFS Alerts for any late-breaking news before finalizing your lineups.
Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks, $11,400 – I think the majority of ownership will flock toward Ray in cash games, and that’s where I’m headed as well. Ray draws an extremely favorable matchup with a bottom-feeding Padres offense that ranks 29th in team wOBA against southpaws while posting the third highest strikeout rate in the league. The Padres lineup is an absolute disaster, and the shift away from Chase Field to much more pitcher-friendly Petco Park will only serve to aid a pitcher who tends to give up a very high rate of hard contact and fly balls when he’s not missing bats.
Chris Sale, on the other hand, must face a much more imposing Orioles offense in a much better park for hitters. Of course, Sale can dominate any lineup and strikeout 12 batters, but the numbers say Ray is the better play, so that’s what I’m going with. However, if it seems like everyone is on Ray ahead of Sale tonight, Sale becomes a terrific tournament option if we expect we can get him at a much lower ownership level than he deserves.
Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs, $9100 – It’s been a somewhat down year for Lester, and while I certainly won’t advocate using him in cash games ahead of Ray or Sale, he is an interesting tournament option. There are only two teams that strike out more against left-handed pitching than the Padres, and the Rays are one of them. They lead the league with a woeful 26.1% strikeout rate against Southpaws, and while Lester isn’t a high strikeout arm against right-handed batters, the Rays offer a significant boost in the swing and miss department. Lester can easily rack up 10+ strikeout against this team, and if both Ray and Sale are off their game tonight, there’s a chance Lester could outscore them both at a much cheaper salary. That’s not a probable scenario, but it’s a plausible one.
Brian McCann, Houston Astros, $2700 – The Astros against James Shields is about as lop-sided as it gets, and you can expect to see several Houston bats in this article. McCann is an easy value play for me at a thin catcher position given Shields’s struggles against left-handed batters. He’s allowing a 6.04 xFIP with a 16.9% strikeout rate against a 12% walk rate. He’s also allowing a staggering one homerun for every 14 left-handed batters faces. McCann’s numbers don’t leap out at you, but he’s cheap, has homerun upside, is a part of the best offense in baseball, and, most importantly, is a left-handed hitter facing James Shields.
Additional Plays: Willson Contreras
Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals, $4100 – Reds starter Rookie Davis’s numbers against lefties in the minors are anything but impressive as he compiled a 1.54 WHIP while allowing six home runs over just 26 2/3 innings pitched against left-handed batters. Further, his very short tenure in the minors yielded a 17.7% walk rate against just a 13.3% strikeout rate. I think it’s safe to assume he’ll struggle against a guy like Matt Carpenter tonight.
Carpenter’s .240 average is in no way indicative of his prowess at the plate as he’s been victimized by .280 BABIP (over 100 points lower than last year’s mark) against right-handed pitchers. He’s sporting a 47.2% hard contact rate against righties this season with a 24.7% line drive rate and 28.7% ground ball rate. On top of that, his walk rate isn’t too much lower than his strikeout rate. The guy is a phenomenal hitter, and we shouldn’t be concerned just because he’s had terrible luck this season. This is a fantastic matchup, and he’s a top play that may go over-looked as people hone in on faulty stats like batting average.
Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals, $3500 – Murphy should be back in the lineup tonight, but please check lineups before locking him in. He offers the best combination of value and upside on a night where we’re likely to be paying up at pitcher in our cash game lineups. The Nationals will face Lucas Sims, a minor league pitcher who allowed a 1.44 WHIP against left-handed hitters in the minors and has so far been a disaster against lefties in the majors. Murphy’s .385 wOBA, .226 ISO, and 11% strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers make him an easy choice at second base.
Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners, $3600 – This article wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t use at least one hitter to pick on Andrew Cashner. Cashner does an excellent job of limiting hard contact, and I would never target him with right-handed hitters given his elite ground ball rates, but against lefties, he’s allowing a 5.93 xFIP while sporting a 12.6% strikeout rate and 11.6% walk rate. He’s also inducing ground balls just 36.9% of the time. I wish he allowed more hard contact, but given he can’t miss bats, I can live with it.
Seager, meanwhile, posted a .328 BABIP against righties last season, but that number is down to .262 this season. Some of that is likely due to the reduced line drive rate, but this is still a guy making hard contact 37.8% of the time while hitting ground balls just 30.4% of the time against right-handed pitchers. There are other very good plays at the third base position, and just punting altogether with Mike Moustakas, who is $2400 somehow, is a viable option as well, but Seager offers a solid combination of value and upside tonight.
Marwin Gonzalez, Houston Astros, $3000 – The switch-hitting Gonzalez has been a go-to guy for me at the shortstop position all season, so it should be no surprise to see him in this article when the Astros are facing gas can James Shields. Shields’s numbers against lefties are straight out of a horror movie, and given Gonzalez’s .389 wOBA and .231 ISO against right-handed pitchers make an easy play on the board at a thin shortstop position. Plus, he’s dirt cheap with plenty of upside at just $3000 on a day where we have two elite pitchers worth paying for.
Josh Reddick, Houston Astros, $3600 – There’s not much to say here. Reddick is a left-handed hitter facing James Shields, who is dreadful against left-handed hitters. Reddick’s job as Houston’s number two hitter affords him plenty of run-producing opportunities, and his .364 wOBA and .189 ISO make him a top play at the outfield position tonight.
Jay Bruce, Cleveland Indians, $3200 – It’s always nice to find guys with a ton of upside relative to their price, and that’s exactly what we have with Bruce tonight. He’s a guy who can hit you two home runs, and he’s in a great spot against Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco is allowing a 5.23 xFIP with a low 15.3% strikeout rate against left-handed hitters. Bruce is sporting a very solid .373 wOBA and .282 ISO against righties this season, and I think he’s a terrific play in both cash games and tournaments tonight.
Chris Young, Boston Red Sox, $2200 – Young has been obliterating lefties this season, but we’re talking about a guy who’s made a career out of mauling southpaws. He’s a terrific bargain at just $2200 as he’ll likely be batting second for Boston and facing below average lefty Wade Miley. Miley is just not very good as he’s allowing a 4.70 xFIP to right-handed batters along with posting an 18.8% strikeout rate and 12% walk rate. He’s also allowed 21 homers to right-handed batters this season.
Don’t forget that part of the appeal with Young is he’s offering you the ability to totally punt one of your outfield spots on a day where spending on pitching seems like a must. Even if Young posts a goose egg, the fact that he costs just $2200 allows you to spend more on the rest of your roster spots. And, given he’s an outfielder, rostering him doesn’t block you from rostering other top plays at the same position.