While it’s all well and good that Noah Syndergaard got to be on Game of Thrones, I cannot fathom why the powers that be did not consider using someone who actually looks like he belongs in Westeros (albeit beyond the wall) – the ginger-god himself, Justin Turner. Seriously, how could they not get Justin Turner to play a freefolk. He legitimately looks just like Tormund Giantsbane – you’re telling me you couldn’t have him be Tormund’s brother (or long lost son), Turner Giantsbane? That’s a massive opportunity entirely blown by the writers and casting. Anyway, turning to DFS for a second, Justin Turner-Giantsbane is having quite a season so far. A career .284/.351/.419 hitter before the 2015 season, Turner had seemingly taken a big step forward over the past two seasons by posting numbers a step above his career to that point – .294/.370/.491 in 2015 (142 wRC+), and .275/.339/.493 (124 wRC+) in 2016. But just like how Tormund went from small character to a well-liked secondary character to a full-blown fan favorite, Justin Turner has gone from decent major league (everything up through 2014) to respectable major league hitter (2015-2016) to full blown MVP candidate this year by batting .348/.441/.561 (currently good for the 3rd best wRC+ at 166 – fourth if you want to include Mike Trout, which is mandatory because he’s Mike $%^&*!@ Trout). And of note is how he’s done it – so far in 2017, he’s destroying lefties on a level that even Edgar Renteria and Alex Rodriguez would be impressed by – so far this season, he’s batting .398/.489/.759 (222 wRC+) against lefties. Sure enough, he’s facing a lefty today, and not a good one either – Clayton Richard. Now, I will be the first to admit that his L/R splits in a single season are the product of small sample size. But while the lefty-mashing will likely regress, the righty-hitting will likely also likely regress (in the opposite direction) as he reverts towards his career norms of having no real split. And yes, it’s probable that the 2015-2016 Justin Turner is the “true” Justin Turner, but the 2015-2016 Justin Turner is still pretty damn good. And he’s in a great matchup, facing Clayton Richard today. So ride the ginger wave, and roster Justin Giantsbane. If he continues the 2017 Justin Turner, complete with lefty-mashing that can only be rivaled by Arya’s list, you’ve got an absolute monster today. And if he’s just the 2015-2016 Justin Turner? Well, you’ve still got one heck of a good play today.
On to the picks once Turner Giantsbane is a character in Game of Thrones
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Carlos Carrasco, SP: $8,900 – Carrasco’s skills are pretty well documented, he gets good but not elite strikeouts (25-26% K%), good but not elite control (around 6% walk rate) and good but not great ground balls (46-48%). He also rarely goes deep into games and sometimes has a blow up game. The Rays vs righties have the 3rd highest K% and give Carrasco some added upside. Teamonator thinks the Rays aren’t going to score a lot of runs and have them with the 3rd lowest total of the day. Carrasco is very cheap for his skills and should be able to put up a respectable score, especially for his price.
Jonathan Gray, SP: 7,900 – If you want someone who has as much upside as anyone pitching, it’s this guy. His stuff is legit, and he strikes out 26.1% of hitters when away from Coors. The Marlins are a below average offense and the bottom of their order is pretty bad right now, including a bunch of sub replacement level hitters. He’s an excellent GPP play.
Jarrett Parker, OF: $2,500 – Jarrett Parker hits right handers. He hits them hard (37.4% hard hit %) and he hits them far (.233 ISO and .522 slugging). He’s also super cheap and gets to face Edwin Jackson, who in the last 2 years has a 4.3 K-BB% vs lefties and a 39.2% ground ball rate. Now, Parker is projected to hit 3rd and cost $2,500. Yes please.
Ryder Jones, 1B: $2,100 – Look, Ryder Jones is not nearly the hitter Jarrett Parker is. But, since he’s on the same team as Jarrett Parker, by rule that means they get to face the same pitcher (unless Ryder Jones knocks Edwin Jackson out of the game before Parker gets to bat). Talent-wise, he’s acceptable enough (he did destroy AAA this year, to the tune of .312/.396/.574, although such production was entirely out of line with his previous years so take those numbers with a grain of salt) that his price-point makes him quite the attractive option if Bruce Bochy bats him 2nd against the aforementioned Edwin Jackson. I can’t really explain why Bochy thinks batting Jones 2nd is a reasonable idea – they have better options (well at least one in Joe Panik), but Bochy’s been doing it a bunch during Ryder’s brief big-league career so far, so his “oddness” is our DFS edge. If Bochy comes to his senses and puts Jones down to the 7th slot, ignore this section.
Rhys Hoskins, 1B: $2,500 – You want a great GPP guy right here? While there is a lot of talk in season-long leagues about Hoskins, the DFS chatter on him has been entirely minimal. That’s partly due to the Phillies incompetence – both because the Phillies are so bad that even if Hoskins starts destroying the league, his teammates won’t be getting on base for him to drive-in (or driving him in when he only hits a double as opposed to a homer), and also because the Phillies apparently want to bat him 7th despite the fact that he’s already better than most of Phillies lineup at the moment. It’s also partly due to…well I don’t really know why else – all I know is this guy can flat out tattoo a baseball – (.285/.385/.581 in AAA this year with 29 bombs, 13.5% walk rate and a 15.8% strikeout rate), he’s going to be very low-owned, and has as much homer upside as anyone around. A 2% owned double-dong is pretty much the most common way to get yourself to the top of the GPP leaderboard.
Rajai Davis, OF: $3,100 – Huge caveat here – there’s a good chance Davis doesn’t start. Recently, he’s been playing against lefties and Joyce or Brugman (or both) have been playing against righties. So why mention him? Because there is still a decent enough chance he starts, and on top of that, there’s also a chance he’ll bat leadoff. Why is that important? Because the Athletics are facing Ubaldo Jimenez, who, in one facet of the game – holding runners on – is comparable to Noah Syndergaard. Now, faithful readers of mine will remember I made the same argument early on in the season about Scott Feldman – namely, that Feldman is atrocious at holding runners on, just like Thor is. Ubaldo is another member of that group. The difference between Ubaldo and Thor (and it was the same difference between Feldman and Thor) is that Ubaldo is also atrocious at preventing guys from reaching base (in case this is your first baseball article entirely – Thor is very, very good at preventing guys from reaching base). This is the exact spot that fantasy players who focus way too much on stolen bases live for – a good base-stealer, facing a pitcher who is both atrocious at letting people get on base AND atrocious at preventing them from stealing the next base. Of course, the Athletics may decide that it doesn’t really matter that Rajai would be able to steal any base he wants off of Ubaldo, they’d rather just let Matt Joyce bat leadoff and drop a bomb instead, in which case, sorry stolen base aficionados, this entire breakdown was for naught.
Washington Nationals – Chris Stratton doesn’t do much well, he doesn’t miss bats (20.2% in AAA and 13.8% in MLB this year), walks too many (13.1% career in MLB) and has a roughly average ground ball rate (44.7%). Since he throws with his right hand, you want lefties who can hit for a little bit of power. The Nats have a few of those in Goodwin (.457 career slugging vs righties), Harper (.403 wOBA vs righties), Murphy (.410 wOBA vs righties the last 2 years) and Lind (.370 wOBA and .228 iso vs righties this year). Goodwin is obviously the worst of the 4, but he’s likely batting leadoff and the Nats total is quite high. Harper’s price might keep him out of cash, but Murphy and Lind are squarely in play.
New York Mets – Nick Pivetta actually misses some bats (23.1% to be exact) so far in his major league career. That’s not usually someone to pick on, but at the same time he walks guys (9.6%), gives up a lot of fly balls (40.4% ground ball rate) and gives up a lot of hard contact (38.6%). So far he’s given up a lot more homers to righties (3.12 HR/9 compared to .44 HR/9) but I don’t expect that to continue and would expect him to give up more to lefties going forward. That being said, the entire Mets team is basically a play. I’d stick to the top 4 for cash, and the rest are definite GPP plays either as one offs or in stacks.
Milwaukee Brewers – Homer Bailey has been legitimately awful this year. He’s been terrible vs righties (7.1% K-BB% with a 44.6% GB%) and even worse vs lefties (-1% K-BB% with a 45.9% GB%). I can’t tell you why he’s been so bad because all of his non-strikeouts and walks peripherals are around his career average, he’s throwing slightly harder than his career average and his statcast numbers are decent. So whether or not you want to target the Brewers is whether or not you believe the statcast, peripherals and velocity or his 2017 overall results. I wouldn’t target him with righties and only take the power lefties of Thames and Shaw. If you want to stack against him, it’s not a bad play, just like playing Homer Bailey isn’t a bad GPP play as the Brewers do strike out a ton vs righties (tops in the league with 25.6%). But I’d be cautious playing the Brewers, as if Homer Bailey’s overall results start lining up with the peripherals, you’re looking at a pretty good pitcher all things considered.
Arizona Diamondbacks – John Lackey has combined the strikeout ability of his 2014/2015 seasons with the walk rate of his 2016 seasons, which makes sense considering his velocity is down over a mph from last year. This year, lefties have been crushing Lackey (2.5 HR/9 and a 7.7 K-BB%) and he’s been unable to find a pitch to miss bats vs lefties (16.5 K%). Versus righties he’s been much better, but still has been giving up home runs vs them (1.64 HR/9). Pitching in Arizona is not the place to try to get right, especially against an Arizona team that has a lot of power, both right handed and left. Peralta, Pollock, Lamb, Goldschmidt and Martinez are all good cash and gpp plays and it will just depend on the value plays that open up and roster construction in terms of who you play in cash. Just a note that the projected bottom of the order is so unbelievably bad that Madison Bumgarner is likely an upgrade over 2 of their non-pitchers.
Houston Astros & Texas Rangers – This is the spot for weather truthers. Well, half a spot. The Astros are in a good spot naturally since Cole Hamels isn’t very good. So the fact that it’s hot and humid is just a nice bonus, as you should already be considering all of the right-handed Astros (and left handed in GPPs). But weather-truthers should and likely will play the Rangers as well, because it’s going to be very hot (94 degrees) and likely very humid, so load up on the Rangers, even though they’re nowhere near a top offense in general and are facing a fairly solid Charlie Morton. So, play the Astros if you like money, regardless of whether you’re a weather truther, and just be happy with the nice weather boost. But to the true believers out there – the Rangers are your opportunity to put your weather-faith to the test, and if you’re right, you’re going to entirely crush the slate.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
Washington looks to be 50% chance of rain and thunderstorms all day. And while technically the title of this section implies that we’re only here to discuss rain-issues, I do not feel the need to be constrained by such arbitrary boundaries such as having the body paragraph be related to the title of the section – so I will point out that the as of now it’s supposed to be 94 degrees in Arlington, with a good deal of humidity to boost. Perfect hitting weather, and it’s not like the Astros needed any help.
And if you want more heat, you can hop on up to Arizona where it’s supposed to be 104 at game time, but there’s a reason why they built a retractable roof and why it’s second only to Florida for the elderly. It’s still not quite as good as Texas for baseball-mashing because first, they can press whatever button they press to flip the roof from “open” to “closed”, and second, there’s no humidity whatsoever. Still, 100 degrees is 100 degrees, I don’t care what the idiots out there in the desert claim about it being a “dry heat.”
Doing Lines In Vegas
Arizona should be higher than the 4.9 implied total (and -114 moneyline) their lines are currently at, but their bottom of the lineup is so bad that you can at least see the justification for the lines being where they are. Their lineup is like having a bunch of Madison Bumgarners at the bottom because degree of difficulty matters in Major League Baseball…oh wait, no it doesn’t. So putting Jeff Mathis in the lineup does nothing but hurt your major league team and as we all know, hurts DFS players because now, they have a pitcher-like player hitting and a pitcher hitting. If the Diamondbacks play either Iannetta (much, much better than Mathis) or Herrmann (somewhat better than Mathis, although that really isn’t that hard, even Adrian Sanchez is better than Jeff Mathis), I’d be more than willing to take the Diamondbacks tonight. Jeff Mathis really is that bad, and having him in the lineup just makes cycling back to your good hitters that much harder.
And yes, I do realize that because I just wrote that paragraph, Jeff Mathis is going to drop 3 bombs tonight.