What do the fantasy gods have lined up for my Thursday debut? How about a 7-game FanDuel slate with two potential rain games? Both the Red Sox/Yankees and Brewers/Pirates games look risky, with rains potentially not stopping until after midnight, so play at your own risk; however since it’s such a short slate, I’ll still recommend any plays that stand out from those games. Surprisingly, my favorite arms on today’s slate are a trio of lefties. Numero uno is the new and super improved Mike Minor ($9,200). The change actually began in the second half of 2018 when Minor increased his changeup usage while fading his slider and curveball some. The result was an increased strikeout rate (18.9% to 23.8%) and a vastly improved wOBA allowed (.336 to .267). Minor’s strikeout rate in 2019 has spiked to a career-best (as a starter) 25.5%, which is supported by his 11.2% swinging-strike rate. Today Mike Minor gets a matchup against the Kansas City Royals, who have the 27th best (worst?) wOBA and ISO against left-handed pitching. Let’s take a look at the other lefties on today’s FanDuel slate that are stored in Flanders’ Leftorium.
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Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP: $11,000 – This is not the price I want to pay, but there’s no denying how well Ryu’s pitched this year. Ryu has somehow improved on his elite walk rate from 2018, edging it down from 4.6% to 1.7%. Today he faces the Mets, who aren’t exactly a pushover matchup but do strikeout at the 5th highest rate against left-handed pitchers.
Martin Perez, SP: $9,000 – If you look up “vastly improved” in Webster’s dictionary, there’s currently a picture of Martin Perez, with a tiny inscription that says, “thanks to cutter”. Perez’s cutter currently ranks as the best cutter in baseball (13.2 pVAL) and thanks to that pitch he has a career-best 22.9% strikeout rate. Perez faces the Tampa Bay Rays, who have the league’s worst strikeout rate (30.4%) against left-handed pitchers. In addition, they rank 21st in wOBA and 22nd in ISO. If I’m not playing Mike Minor, I’m locking in Perez.
Carlos Santana, C/1B: $3,600 – Santana has a .413 wOBA against lefties this year, thanks in part to a 19.4% walk rate (10.4% strikeout rate). I expect the Indians to crush Manny Banuelos and get to the league’s fifth-worth bullpen according to xFIP.
Max Muncy, C/1B: $3,500 – Muncy has a spot that I think is great, but should also keep him low owned. The Dodgers face the king of allowing hard contact, Jason Vargas (51.1% hard-hit rate). Vargas has also struggled against lefties, allowing a .259 ISO and .381 wOBA, which pairs nicely with Muncy’s .286 ISO and .378 wOBA against lefties. Seeing that dreaded lefty-lefty matchup should keep people off Muncy today.
Roberto Perez, C/1B: $2,500 – Perez has elite numbers against left-handed pitching (.281 ISO, .438 wOBA), and a date with Manny Banuelos should do nothing to squash those numbers. Rostering a catcher on such a short slate should make your lineup a little different from everyone else’s today.
Michael Chavis, 2B: $3,600 – I’ve already warned you, but in case you’re not listening, keep an eye on the rain in this one. Second base is a little thin today, so I’m most likely punting the position if I need the salary relief. However, if I’m paying up I like Chavis a lot against the sadly bad J.A. Happ.
Justin Turner, 3B: $3,400 – Turner’s season has gotten back on track after a hot May. He lowered his strikeout rate from 18.5% in April to 7.5% in May, while increasing his ISO and wOBA to .244 and .417, respectively.
Francisco Lindor, SS: $3,700 – Shortstop might be my punt position today. but I feel the need to point out that while Lindor has struggled against lefties this year, he was really good against them last year, so if you’re stacking the Indians, I wouldn’t just scoff at his .122 ISO and .297 wOBA and move on.
Cody Bellinger, OF: $4,800 – This might be a pipe dream, but I would love to figure out how to fit Bellinger in my lineup.
Shin-Soo Choo, OF: $3,800 – The 36-year old Choo has been nothing short of stellar against righties this year, sporting a .430 wOBA.
Jordan Luplow, OF: $3,100 – Luplow is my must-play on today’s slate. He’s a lefty masher (.500 ISO, .515 wOBA) and Manny Banuelos has allowed a .283 ISO and .433 wOBA to righties. In addition, in five plate appearances against Banuelos, Luplow has three homers.
Oscar Mercado, OF: $3,000 – One of the Indians’ top prospects, Mercado hasn’t hit lefties well in the majors, but I expect that to change and an opportunity against Manny Banuelos would seem to be the perfect place for that turnaround to start.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
As noted earlier, Red Sox/Yankees and Pirates/Brewers are the major problem spots, so buyer beware. The only other weather note is the temperatures in Texas are in the mid-80s, which should be a small bump up to bats in the Rangers/Royals game.
Doing Lines In Vegas
As of this writing, only the Dodgers are a big favorite (-235), so give Ryu a slight bump up for the potential win. The Rangers/Royals currently have a 10 total, with the Indians/White Sox being the next closest at 9 runs. My favorite play of the day is on the Dodgers’ team total. It came out at 4.5 runs and if you haven’t picked up on it yet, I don’t trust Jason Vargas against the Dodgers.