June 18, 2014
Daily League Strategy
Fave Three and Five
DraftStreet offers one of the best lineup constructions in the industry allowing for three pitchers, two starters and a starter/reliever. Additionally, they don’t overvalue the win as it is worth just two points. The rest of the scoring and roster setup can be viewed here if you aren’t already familiar with it.
Let’s try something a little different, wherein I offer up my top three pitchers and top five hitters to invest in on Wednesday.
1. Felix Hernandez ($26,705 – SEA at SD)
Both he and Kershaw are north of $25,000; while Hernandez is about $1,000 more expensive, his matchup is much better, as the Mariners head to San Diego while Kershaw hosts the Rockies. Meanwhile, Hernandez is having an absurd season and he’s been particularly electric since an odd zero-strikeout game back on May 7, just the second of his career. Since then he has posted a 1.34 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and a 7.4 K:BB ratio powered by 52 strikeouts in 47 innings. You’ll likely have to go with a reliever for your third pitcher, but Hernandez is worth it, and he could make a run at his recently-set career strikeout record of 15 against this remarkably inept Padres offense.
2. Chase Whitley ($11,497 – NYY v. TOR)
Whitley took four starts to top five innings, but he’s thrown seven or more in each of his last two starts, though they still appear to be building up his pitch count because he didn’t throw more than 87 pitches in either of those outings. His season high is 91, but at this price, even five strong innings are worth it. Whitley has 17 strikeouts and zero walks over his last four outings. The Jays have cooled down offensively of late, meaning we don’t have to universally avoid pitching against them right now.
3. C.J. Wilson ($16,885 – LAA at CLE)
Wilson has walked at least two in each of his last eight starts, but he’s also only allowed 42 hits in 53 innings, leaving him with a passable 1.22 WHIP in that span. He’s also got a 3.74 ERA and 46 strikeouts. Cleveland struggles against lefties with a .652 OPS—27th in the league—and a .098 ISO; only the Mets are worse at .094. Getting all three of these pitchers would leave you with less than $5,000 per hitting spot, but you’d jump to about $6,000 per slot with Hernandez, Wilson, and a reliever.
1. Josh Hamilton ($6,800 – LAA at CLE)
Hamilton’s played just 21 games so far this year, but he’s been fantastic and looks a lot more like the guy who won the 2010 MVP and received votes for the 2011 and 2012 ones than the near-league-average albatross contract from a year ago. He’s improved his plate discipline with a career-high 10.9 percent walk rate and a concerted effort to swing less at pitches outside the zone. Hamilton gets notorious lefty-friendly pitching machine Justin Masterson. After a career-best effort against lefties a year ago, Masterson has reverted to his old ways and then some with a career-worst .879 OPS against them in 2014.
2. Jonathan Lucroy ($7,502 – MIL at ARI)
You know I would’ve been here recommending Lucroy (as I do seemingly every time out) against Wade Miley in this very space had this piece come out on Tuesdays like normal. Well, Miley was pushed back while Lucroy exploded for a massive two-homer night, during which he went 3-for-5 with two R and five RBI. Now some of you may’ve switched him out once you learned Miley was pushed back if you made your choice based on the fact that Lucroy does his best work against lefties, but some of you would’ve still had him in. Anyway… I’m basically bragging about advice I didn’t actually give. Back to the matter at hand, Miley is going on Wednesday now, and I see no reason not to stick with Lucroy, who has been white-hot this month with a 1.181 OPS and six homers in 69 PA.
3. Joey Votto ($7,298 – CIN at PIT)
Votto still feels like a bargain here. He’s got hits in every game since returning from the DL, including three multi-hit efforts in the seven games. The fact that Votto walks so much also means that he rarely has a goose-egg night. Edinson Volquez has pitched better of late, but he does struggle with lefties, and while his walk rate is improved this year, he’s long been known for a lack of control, which is right up Votto’s alley.
4. Carlos Santana ($6,032 – CLE v. LAA)
I understand that I recommended Wilson, too, so obviously I would choose one or the other. The fact is that Wilson can excel and still let Santana get loose for a couple of hits and an RBI or two, but it’s silly to go against yourself. Santana is hitting just .191, but he’s still managing 2.61 PPG this year thanks to his walk rate, and he’s surging lately with a 4.22 PPG rate in his last 11 games with just two 0-fers.
5. Scott Van Slyke ($4,433 – LAD v. COL)
You gotta check the lineups carefully on this one. Okay, you have to check them carefully for every guy (Carlos Gomez and Michael Brantley both sat unexpected last night) because you never know, but SVS is a platoon player and the Dodgers’ crowded outfield means that even when they face a lefty, he isn’t guaranteed a spot in the lineup. He has taken full advantage of his 62 PA against southpaws this year with a .292/.452/.792 line that includes six homers, 12 walks, 13 runs, 14 hits, and 15 strikeouts. While this year’s work is a small sample, he has always excelled against them, even in the minors.
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Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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