Sean Manaea (OAK) - Rookie and my personal favorite from Spring Training, Sean Manaea, was given the opportunity to make his major league debut last night against the Houston Astros. From a matchup perspective, it would be tough to find a worse lineup for the lefty pitcher to face than the very right-handed Houston Astros. Manaea's college and professional career has been marred by injuries up until this point, and while he flashes tremendous velocity on his fastback at times, he can rarely maintain it for the entire game. Being a lefty, he thrives by deception and is especially tough against left-handed batters. That said sweeping slider is effective against batters from both sides of the plate. On Friday, Manaea pitched pretty closely to his scouting report. Outside of a 2nd inning Evan Gattis home run, the rookie was cruising along pretty well until the 6th inning. After hitting George Springer and walking Carlos Correa, he gave up a game tying single to none other than Evan Gattis before getting pulled for Sean Doolittle (who later allowed the 2 inherited runners to score). Manaea's final line of the night was 5IP, 4H, 4ER, 3K, and 4BB. Oakland has given no indications that this call-up is only a spot-start, so Manaea needs to be owned in all formats as he figures to see more favorable matchups moving forward.
Carlos Rodon (CWS) - Despite a nice start to the season, Carlos Rodon continues to be overlooked. He's been as-advertised this year, striking out more than a batter an inning with control that tends to get him in trouble. The biggest issue for Rodon this season has been falling behind in the count. His first-strike percentage is all the way down to 43.2%, or about 17% lower than the MLB average. Working from behind in the count forces him to throw batter-friendly pitches later in the count, which is a big reason why he got burned on Friday night. Things were going smooth for Rodon until the 5th inning when he allowed 3 runs and another 3 runs in the 7th on a Nolan Reimold homerun. Rodon needs to change this approach and needs to start pounding the strike zone early. He's not getting very many batters to chase pitches out the the zone (just a 26.9% chase rate), so he's going to need to either generate swing and misses (below average 8.7% SwStr%) or pitch more to contact to let his defense bail him out. Given the below average swinging strike rate, we can infer that the reason he's striking out batters at an above average clip is mainly because his control issues are keeping batters off-balance. I still like him moving forward and I think there's a buying opportunity here, so take advantage of the off-night to float some offers out there.
Michael Saunders (TOR) - Lefty Michael "reverse split power hitter" Saunders knocked two homeruns out against the Tampa Bay Rays last night, nothing coming against left-handed pitching. The oft-injured outfielder has found a home in Toronto this season and has gotten off to a torrid start, slashing .329/.382/.614 to begin the year. Splitting time in the outfield with Ezeqial Carrera, Saunders has been seeing a lot of action out of the leadoff spot for Blue Jays, which opens the door for a lot of run scoring opportunities. Saunders has always suffered from a below average contact rate, but he does have good command of the strike zone with a better than average chase rate. This season he's also hitting a lot fewer groundballs, which should pay off if he can get his hard hit rate back closer to his career mark of 31.5%. Toronto hasn't been using him every day and they tend to give him days off when they are at home playing on the artificial turf. Plan accordingly, but he's a nice option in leagues with daily lineup changes and deep rosters. He's a tournament option tomorrow on FanDuel ($3,200) against the suddenly homerun-prone Chris Archer.
Miguel Cabrera (DET) - Miguel Cabrera continued his hot streak on Friday night, crushing a 2-run homerun and increased his hit streak to 5 games. Cabrera started off the season slow, but Cabrera has been one of the best hitters over the last decade and was a near lock to bust of the slump in a big way. The opportunity to buy low has likely closed, but if you can still acquire him for a discount, I would jump at the opportunity. Despite 3 years of declining contact rates (the last two years have been below league average), Cabrera has managed to stretch his streak of .300+ batting average seasons to 7 in 2015 after hitting a robust .338. We're probably past the years of ISO's exceeding .200, but still remains a great source of power. He's an absolute steal at $3,800 on FanDuel and $4,700 on DraftKings against right-hander Tyler Duffey on Saturday's slate.
Victor Martinez (DET) - Victor Martinez was another Tiger with a big night on Saturday, going 4-for-5 with a double and a homerun, while also driving in 2. After a down year in 2015, Martinez is well on his way to a bounceback season at age-37. On the year, he's now slashing a healthy .319/.388/.625 with an absolutely incredible 41.7% hard hit rate, which more than supports his 14.3% HR/FB rate. As players age, we typically see regression to their contact rate and chase rates. We're definitely not seeing either from V-Mart right now with him posting a phenomenal 87.5% contact rate and just a 23.9% chase rate. Martinez is still catcher eligible on FanDuel and he checks in as an excellent value play for just $3,000 on Saturday.
AL Daily Fantasy Values for 4-30-16:
Catcher: Geovany Soto - $2,200 (FD) / $3,000 (DK)
First Baseman: David Ortiz - $3,600 (FD) / $4,500 (DK)
Second Baseman: Jason Kipnis - $3,500 (FD) / $3,900 (DK)
Third Baseman: Evan Longoria - $2,800 (FD) / $4,100 (DK)
Shortstop: Francisco Lindor - $3,500 (FD) / $3,500 (DK)
Nomar Mazara - $3,300 (FD) / $3,800 (DK)
Mark Trumbo - $3,900 (FD) / $3,900 (DK)
Justin Upton - $2,700 (FD) / $4,100 (DK)