Wednesday MLB DFS Picks: This Hairy Slate Calls for Ubaldo
Cinco de Mayo has now come and gone. Those of you who owned Mookie Betts got the double dong you wanted and those who didn’t probably resorted to the tequila shots. Either of those two outcomes resulted in a win so congratulations.
Seis de Mayo is a lesser known holiday but one equally important for DFS (as is every day). In honor of the day after the day where everyone pretends like they’re celebrating a holiday for Mexican Independence but really is a Hallmark holiday designed to get you drunk and eat Mexican food, here is my guaranteed “El Dongo” (the real translation would be “carrera”) of the night:
Josh Donaldson, 3B, Toronto – The ballpark, game atmosphere and matchup (C.C. Sabathia and his 0-4 record with a 5.40 ERA) all play favorably and Donaldson is an absolute monster versus lefties (.289 ISO and .409 wOBA). If Donaldson doesn’t dongo, I will fill my shirt with some candy and let one lucky follower smack me with a wiffle ball bat until it all falls out..all in the spirit of Seis de Mayo! O la le!
And onto the rest of the selecciones (selections):
Max Scherzer, SP, Washington – Despite a 1-3 record through his first five starts of the season, Max Scherzer is pitching nothing like a pitcher with a well below .500 record. In seasonal leagues, I had Scherzer ranked as my number two overall pitcher behind Clayton Kershaw. Through 35.2 innings pitched (IP), the Nationals ace has outpitched just about every pitcher in the National League (NL). His 1.26 ERA ranks first in the NL as does his 1.6 wins above replacement (WAR). On Wednesday night, Scherzer will be pitching in a game tied for the projected lowest total. Obviously those games are the most favorable environments for starting pitchers. Scherzer faces a Marlins team that ranks 20th in baseball with a .299 weighted on-base average (wOBA) against opposing right-handed pitchers (RHP). A top starter squaring off against a near bottom-third team in impactful hitting is already a solid base. Add in the fact that the opposing starter (Tom Koehler) is sporting a 4.67 ERA and Washington is the favored team and that’s the icing on the cake. Even with aces Chris Sale and Jon Lester on the mound, there is no other starter you’d rather pay the big bucks for than Mighty Max.
Gerrit Cole, SP, Pittsburgh – The reigning pitcher of the month in the NL finds himself in another favorable matchup on Wednesday. Although the weather is going to be worth keeping an eye on (82 degrees and rain is on the forecast), Cole should toss a gem assuming the game gets played. Strikeouts are an important aspect of DFS and Cole has really stepped up his K-rate this season. His 10.27 K/9 ranks sixth in the NL behind Kershaw, Lance Lynn and three Padres starters and is a vast improvement from his 9.0 K/9 just a season ago. This a young, developing pitcher who is getting better with each given start and I think the dominance is for real. The over/under in this game also sits at seven, which is as good as it gets on this night. Pittsburgh is favored and at home in a ballpark that ranked in the bottom half of hitter’s parks last season. Essentially PNC is a pitcher friendly park and not an easy stadium to hit the ball out. The Reds rank 22nd in wOBA versus RHP and only sport a team .308 OBP against them as well. Outside of Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, not a single Reds player owns a career wOBA greater than .335. Assuming Cole can keep those two at bay, he is in line for a monster line and is a nice, slightly cheaper alternative to Scherzer on one pitcher sites.
Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Baltimore – Warning: this recommendation is not for the faint of heart. If history is any sort of judge, we have learned Ubaldo Jimenez does not succeed for long stretches of time…well at least not since 2010. Even with the incredible 2010 season (well first half more specifically) he put together, Jimenez’s career ERA still sits at 3.96 with a 1.35 WHIP. In 2015, Jimenez’s small sample size (four starts) has been quite impressive: 22.2 IP, 22 K, 1.59 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP. Those numbers clearly are not sustainable but I am expecting at least one more good start before the drop off. Jimenez squares off against an excellent pitcher in Jacob deGrom which decreases his chance of a win. On DraftKings (DK), that limits the potential of four additional Fantasy Points (FP) awarded for a pitcher victory considering the Mets are rightfully favored at home with a stud on the mound. However, this is baseball and the sport as a whole is reasonably unpredictable. Just Tuesday night, Jesse Chavez pitched 7.1 masterful innings against the favored Twins to seal the victory for his team. Basically do not take Vegas’ lines to be “the word of god” considering they are designed to prompt equal betting on both sides. If/when Jimenez pieces together a solid game, he will have a chance to win the game. Between his excellent start to the season and the Mets struggling offense (they had been shut out two straight games before their 3-2 victory Tuesday night), I truly believe there is a lot to like here. The Mets .284 wOBA versus RHP ranks 26th in baseball with just the Pirates, Angels, Rangers and Phillies behind them. Jimenez will get to face the pitcher instead of a DH due to playing in a National League ballpark and the ballpark is a favorable one to pitch in. Citi Field ranked 28th last season as a hitter’s park with only Petco Park and Safeco Field playing worse for offense. He’s admittedly a shot in the dark but all the data suggests he’s a shot worth taking so I’m confidently rolling with him in GPPs.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona – Picking players in Coors is a little corny so I’ll keep this explanation short. He has projected as a top play for days due to the ballpark, his elite spot in the lineup and his matchup against a mediocre LHP (which he absolutely kills….and I’m assuming the projected SP is still Tyler Matzek). He has the power potential (six HR) and steal potential (five SB) so there’s all kinds of upside. If the radar clears and the teams are able to get this game in, he is the top play from a game projected to score the most runs. He’s priced as the top hitter of the day because he is the top hitter of the day. Do not be scared to pay for him.
Victor Martinez, 1B, Detroit – If you weren’t aware, I spent all of last week vacationing in Florida. That statement partially is to rub it in your non-vacationing face but also partially to set up a story. While sitting on the couch, I stumbled on ESPN (or maybe ESPN2) during the DFS segments. During the segment, they had Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals come on to talk about his season and his matchup that night. I cannot remember who the pitcher was but he had a career .400 or so batting average against him so the anchors asked him if that mattered. Carpenter’s answer was something along the lines of saying that there absolutely is something to “BvP.” He is more excited to go up against a pitcher in which he has had previous success against because he either sees them better than others or just believes he’s going to get a hit. I honestly did not put too much stock into it beforehand but have noticed in the recent week that BvP guys have had some nice nights. I’m not ready to fully convert and say that it’s the absolute “thing” to follow in DFS baseball but I think Victor Martinez fits a meaningful mold on Wednesday. Martinez faces off against White Sox ace Chris Sale who usually is a pitcher you want to avoid playing hitters against. First and foremost, it is worth mentioning that Victor Martinez‘s .371 career wOBA and 129 wRC+ against LHP suggest he’s a solid play versus any lefty anyways. I at least had to fit that info in first as to not piss off both Drew Dinkmeyer and Mike Leone because I have a job to keep here. Beyond the excellent splits, Martinez’s career numbers against sale are as follows: 15-32 (.469 BA) with a .514 OBP and .844 SLG including three HR and six RBI. To me, there is a little something “extra” there similar to the phenomenon Carpenter was discussing in that ESPN spot. For that reason, I am going with my gut and going to use Martinez as my night slate 1B and in any all-day lineups which I can’t fit Goldschmidt’s salary. It’s a little contrarian but we can’t be chalk eaters all the time, right?
Mark Canha, 1B/OF, Oakland – I absolutely love this kid’s swing. For a skinny 6’1, 200 lbs, he has an incredibly powerful swing that generates some serious momentum for the ball coming off of the bat. Recently, Canha has been hitting anywhere from fourth to eighth in the lineup. Assuming Oakland uses him in the cleanup spot like they did on Sunday versus Yovani Gallardo, I think he is an excellent play yet again on Wednesday against Kyle Gibson. While the ballpark isn’t incredibly favorable, Gibson allows a lot of base runners as evidenced by his 1.40 career WHIP. In Canha’s limited sample, he has made meaningful contact against opposing RHP and is the current team leader in wOBA against the righties (slightly edging Ike Davis who I like as well in this game). Canha’s .352 OBP against righties is second to just Davis so he is likely to be hitting rockets and getting on base in some facet in this one. If hitting in the top six of the lineup, he is likely to see some RBI opportunities with his teammates getting on base as well. This leaves him as one of my favorite slightly contrarian tournament options of the day despite the fact that the over/under is eight and the Oakland Athletics are favored on the road. By the end of this game, Mark may be making Busta Rhymes wishing he called his 1996 hit “Canha!” instead.
Thoughts on Ricky’s “BvP” take? Let’s hear ’em!