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Ricky Sanders
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Ricky Sanders

Director of Puns at RotoCurve
Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. In March of 2017, he officially joined RotoCurve as VP of Operations.

His daily MLB premium article "Sanders' Studs", has quickly become a must read for all serious DFS players. You can also find Ricky every day on the RC Twitter account, providing FREE analysis via periscopes. Ricky is also a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
Ricky Sanders
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Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 1.37.39 PM

Similarly to basketball, there are mix ups in the “rotations” in baseball as well, although they are executed in different manners. In the literal sense, teams are forced to make changes in their pitching “rotations” all the time due to ineffectiveness and injury all throughout the season. However, the other equivalent of this phenomenon in baseball are lineup and playing time shifts for offensive players as well. The goal of this article is to keep you caught up on all the alterations in MLB rosters and assist you in being able to accurately project them moving forward.

Let’s take a gander into team environments that are in the midst of transforming and make some sense of it:

Dodgers Lineup

When envisioning their starting outfield heading into this year, I’m not sure the Dodgers imagined Trayce Thompson would be part of the plan. He was more of a supporting character than a guy destined for a lead role. Nevertheless, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reported last night that Thompson is hitting himself into a starting job.

Manager Dave Roberts was quoted in the article of saying the rookie will be back in left field on Tuesday night. “He definitely deserves a little more playing time,” Roberts said…and why not? All Thompson has done since his call up last season (for the White Sox) is hit. In 2015, he produced a .419 wOBA against LHP and .356 wOBA against RHP in 55 and 67 at-bats (ABs) respectively. In a limited sample size to this point, Thompson is proving last season was no fluke. Through May 17, Thompson’s wOBA against LHP sits at .394 and his tally against RHP currently resides at .407. This just appears to be a kid with a major league ready bat and the Dodgers can use all the help offensively they can get.

Although Thompson has been hitting sixth and below in the lineup, it may only be a matter of time until he moves on up. His success is beginning to squeeze the struggling Carl Crawford and even Yasiel Puig out of the lineup. In 50 ABs, Crawford is slashing .200/.241/.280 with zero HRs and zero SBs (compared to Thompson’s club leading six HR). Similarly, Puig is hitting just .232 after hitting .255 last season in an injury-plagued campaign. Thompson’s bat is rising to the top like bubbles in boiling water except he himself is the one who is boiling hot. This feels like a Michael Conforto situation from 2015 where his bat eventually will cause him to not only remain in the lineup but eventually move up to the heart of the order. The days of overlooking him in tournaments should be over because he has now proven for nearly a combined half-a-season that he can absolutely rake.

Astros Lineup

On Monday, the Houston Chronicle reported Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow is growing impatient with Carlos Gomez. Lunhow is an admitted sabermetrics junky and all of the advanced statistics suggest there is a lot to be concerned about here.

If Gomez were to continue at this rate, he would produce a career worst K rate, AVG, OBP, SLG, wOBA, wRC+, BsR (FanGraphs’ base running metric), WAR, opposite field hit percentage and both contact percentages inside and outside the strike zone. We are now a month and a half into the season and all of these numbers have shown no signs of turning around any time soon. Due to the lack of productivity, the club called up Tony Kemp to try and provide a spark to the outfield.

Now the odds of Kemp running away with a starting outfield spot are slim-to-none. However, Gomez’s struggles could and probably should be leading to a platoon situation in center between him, Jake Marisnick and George Springer (on days Kemp would play the outfield). Kemp has posted solid numbers at Triple-A Fresno this year, hitting .298 with a .410 OBP. Last season, he compiled a 25-game hit streak in Triple-A and stole a combined 35 bases between two levels (three so far in 34 games this year). For DFS purposes, the takeaway from this tidbit is simple: stop using Gomez. The guy has consistently ruined Astros stacks since day one this season and he hasn’t even salvaged his terrible year by hitting a single HR…not one! Kemp and/or Marisnick will inevitably hit at the bottom of the potent Astros lineup and will provide contrarian alternatives to the stack from the usuals. While none of them will ever be cash game worthy, Marisnick can hold his own in the speed department and Kemp seems like a guy who should hold his own. Whomever makes the lineup over Gomez, they immediately warrant at least more consideration than he should because he just looks lost.

BREAKING: Immediately after finishing this article, Carlos Gomez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised left rib cage and Colin Moran was called up.

Angels Rotation

At the end of last week, the Angels acquired starter Jhoulys Chacin. This move didn’t even cause a raised eyebrow for the masses but Chacin is nothing to sneeze at. According to FanGraphs, Chacin owns a career 4.16 ERA at home in 398.1 IP. Don’t forget Chacin spent the first six seasons of his career pitching for the Rockies so that span accounted for 374.1 of those 398.1 IP at home total. His Coors Field innings resulted in a 4.21 ERA, meaning his overall home ERA on ball clubs other than the Rockies (Diamondbacks, Braves and now Angels) is lower than the 4.16 overall total.

Essentially, Chacin is a better pitcher than the numbers suggest and he is further proving that thesis so far this season. Here is how his game log has played out in six starts to this point:

Apr .12 @ WAS – 6.0 IP, five hits allowed (H), zero ER, eight Ks

Apr. 17 @ MIA – 5.1 IP, four H, three ER, six Ks

Apr. 23 vs NYM – 5.2 IP, seven H, two walks allowed (BB), three ER, five Ks

Apr. 28 @ BOS – 5.0 IP, six H, two BB, two ER, four Ks, W

May 4 vs NYM – 4.2 IP, seven H, four BB, eight ER, four Ks

(Acquired by Angels)

May 14 @ SEA – 7.0 IP, five H, two ER, four Ks

Five of his six starts have resulted in 10.3-plus fantasy points. He has fared well against both the top (Red Sox) and seventh highest rated offenses in wOBA against RHP. In fact, heading into the May 4 implosion, Chacin was sporting a 3.27 ERA and it was the second time he had faced an excellent offense in two weeks. One poor start in six has caused his ERA to balloon to the 4.81 tally it currently sits at which could act as a blessing in disguise. Away from Coors Field, Chacin has shown throughout the course of his career that he can hold his own. At his mid-tier price tags, Chacin and his 1.25 WHIP are a value and much of the masses are likely overlooking him. His next start will come on Friday against a White Sox team that ranks in the bottom half ow wOBA against righties and also ranks in the bottom 10 of ISO, hard hit percentage and line drive rate. Assuming he is priced affordably, you could do much worse with him then (and moving forward) as an option that most people simply overlook due to the name.


 

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