5/20 MLB DFS Picks: Tell Me What You Want, What You ‘Rizzi ‘Rizzi Want
Jake Odorizzi, SP, Tampa Bay – One man stands alone as the top play of Wednesday evening. No this isn’t the beginning of a Super Hero movie commercial but rather an introduction to the man in the upcoming slate: Jake Odorizzi. The Rays travel to Atlanta to play the Braves and their rookie starting pitcher with all of 2.1 innings of Major League experience. We always love when an American League pitcher gets to play by National League rules because the designated hitter turns into a likely weak hitting pitcher. Williams Perez‘s 2.1 IP, he has allowed seven baserunners (four via the walk), four earned runs and registered two strikeouts. It’s obviously an incredibly limited sample size so we have to look at his minor league numbers to get any kind of gauge. His strikeout rate has seemed to hover in the mid-7.00’s in the minor leagues and his numbers overall aren’t very impressive. The fact that Odorizzi is only a -125 favorite speaks to the home park rather than the pitching talent. Atlanta really isn’t the greatest matchup for opposing righties as their strike out rate is in the bottom 10 teams and they’re wOBA is tied for 11th. However, their wRC+ of 98 ranks 13th (or around the middle) and this is more a testament to the talent of Odorizzi. He has been lights out against lefties (.272 wOBA this season) and two of the Braves top three bats against RHP are lefties (Freddie Freeman and A.J. Pierzynski). Vegas likes the game environment with the over/under set at 7.5. Only three games have lower totals so fear not. Let Odorizzi’s super power (his right arm) lead you to victory.
Tyson Ross, SP, San Diego – Pitching in the friendly confines of Petco Park is never a bad thing. Evidence: In the top of seventh inning on Tuesday night, Dexter Fowler absolutely crushed one with two men on and two out. Fowler himself thought the ball was gone but Matt Kemp just drifted backwards and was able to haul it in at the wall in right center. Benefits like these are what make Petco Park so great to pitch in and what helped it rank second to last in terms of hitter’s parks last season according to ESPN Park Factors. Ross will be facing a team that struck out against James Shields 11 times in seven innings Tuesday and ranks second in the Majors in strikeout percentage slightly behind the Houston Astros. Although Ross has struggled this season compared to last, his strikeout rate sits at a career high 10.64 per nine innings. He’s also been hurt by the home run ball this season as his HR/FB ratio is also a career high 12.5 percent. At home, it’ll take the quite the blast for a ball to leave the ballpark. Essentially, he’ll have the opportunity to rack up the Ks in a park that forgives mistakes. Sign me up.
Joe Kelly, SP, Boston – The heaviest favored pitcher of the day is none other than Joe Kelly and his 5.58 ERA. According to FanGraphs, Kelly’s average fastball this season registers at 96.5 mph, which is tops in the majors. Kelly’s average velocity on the pitch is 0.7 mph faster than second place Eovaldi. Basically he has nasty stuff but his problem has been his control. At any point if his control is there, he can be absolutely lights out. On Wednesday, he may not need to be absolutely perfect considering he is facing off against a Rangers team that ranks 28th in wOBA against RHP. They also strike out over 20 percent, have a .306 on-base percentage (OBP) and are tied for second to last in wRC+ against opposing righties. Basically, despite all their left-handed bats (Leonys Martin, Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, etc.), the team isn’t very productive against righties. Both the statistics and Vegas support Kelly in this one so he is definitely worth a look on two SP sites despite the high game total (9).
Other SP options: Dallas Keuchel, Tsuyoshi Wada
Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota – Are you a believer in the Twins offense against lefties yet? Heading into Tuesday night, the team was hitting .288 against LHP and managed to ding Liriano for seven earned runs (ER) in just two-plus innings. The team possesses a bunch of lefty specialists (Torii Hunter and Trevor Plouffe to name a few) but none have a greater career wOBA (.374) against LHP than Dozier. I said it on the podcast last night and I’ll say it again: If you aren’t considering Dozier against left-handed pitchers in cash games then you are doing cash games wrong. He led off last night with a homer against Liriano to spark the rally and draws an even better matchup tonight against Jeff Locke. This season, Locke is allowing a .266 opposing batting average to right-handed hitters with a 1.39 WHIP and 4.91 ERA. He doesn’t throw hard and has the tendency to hang his slow curveballs. PNC Park in Pittsburgh played slightly above average in terms of allowing opposing home runs and just about average overall so Dozier has another decent shot of hitting one out (over a larger sample size this park is admittedly unfavorable for HRs). He’s the top overall 2B play on Wednesday night and is especially safe in cash lineups.
Ryan Raburn, OF, Cleveland – The king of all platoon plays is none other than Ryan Raburn who once again was priced below $3,000 on DraftKings (DK) last night ($2,700) and the bare minimum on FanDuel (FD). This season, Raburn has played 22 games with 51 AB against LHP and only 10 games with nine total AB against righties. In other words, Raburn starts (and usually hits in the four hole) against lefties and does not crack the lineup against righties. For his career, Raburn’s highest batting average at any spot in the order is the four spot by five percentage points (edging out the three hole). This season he is hitting .373 against LHP with a .235 ISO and .429 wOBA. Although this isn’t a split I typically put any stock into, Raburn is a career White Sox killer. In 112 career games, Raburn has a .302 career average with 18 HR and 79 RBI. He draws the matchup against the rookie Carlos Rodon on Wednesday who has some good stuff but has allowed 22 baserunners (10 BB) in just 12 IP against righties this year. Raburn has a nice chance to get on base, and if he sees a pitch he can hit, he will continue to rake against lefties like he has done his whole career. The best part is his price is the equivalent of a punt so you get consistent production for next to nothing!
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado – Okay, so I am going to be that guy today recommending a player in Coors Field. It’s tacky, overdone and borderline lame but I’m taking the plunge today. By Carlos Gonzalez standards, 2015 has been a disaster so far. He is hitting just .202/.272/.341 in 35 games and that’s with playing 15 of those games in the friendly confines of Coors. However, Gonzalez still possesses the ability to put an excellent swing on the ball. How do I know? Three of the top 45 hardest hit balls this season have come off the bat of Gonzalez according to hittrackeronline. Three times this season Gonzalez has hit a ball at least 111 mph off of the bat which to me shows he still holds the ability to hit rockets. In 2015, Gonzalez’s wOBA versus RHP sits 152 percentage points higher than his wOBA against lefties. He squares off against Severino Gonzalez who legitimately may be the worst starter in baseball. Even in his last full season at AA, Gonzalez posted an ERA of 4.59. If there ever was a time to wake up the sleeping giant (and five tool player), tonight would be the night. The over/under is 10 so the only thing that will stop him is the weather (which looks like it will be worth monitoring heading into the night). Do your rain dance and hope this game gets in because Gonzalez and the Rockies bats should all be monsters tonight if they play. Editor’s note: I’m not entirely sure Ricky understands the concept of a rain dance.
Who do you have in MLB DFS tonight? Let us hear it!