July 25, 2014
Daily League Strategy
(Alex) Wood is Good
With DraftKings’ acquisition of DraftStreet, I will now be using that site’s dollar values to select my players of the day.
1. Zack Wheeler ($7,800 NYM at MIL)
Wheeler has shown glimpses of greatness throughout the season, but consistency has been an issue. Or perhaps better stated—he has been unable to stem the tide when it gets rough to avoid a disaster outing. He has allowed at least a run per inning pitched in four outings, in addition to one 6 IP/5 ER and one 5 IP/4 ER outing. However, he’s been on fire in his last four, allowing just one earned run in each of them, totaling a 1.42 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings. The Brewers have just a .683 OPS against righties, as their righty-heavy lineup (usually eight of nine and sometimes all nine if Rickie Weeks is starting at 2B) often faces a platoon disadvantage. Wheeler has handled righties very well this year with a .611 OPS allowed to them (.797 v. LHB).
2. Alex Wood ($7,700 ATL vs. SD)
The daily episode of “Who in the World is Facing San Diego?” gets even more interesting when it is actually a good pitcher like Wood. Wood has been really good since his return to the rotation (and from Triple-A) with a 2.87 ERA, 27 strikeouts, and a 3.4 K:BB ratio in 31 1/3 innings. He had a 1.04 ERA in his two starts at Triple-A this year if you’re trying to gauge how he might do against the Padres. (My hubris is sure to saddle us with a 6 IP/4 ER dud.)
3. Kevin Gausman ($6,400 BAL at SEA)
Gausman has allowed five earned runs in three of his eight outings and then a total of four runs in his other five others combined. He hasn’t really had an easy opponent yet, either. Until now. The Mariners’ .681 OPS against righties is 23rd in baseball and easily the worst that Gausman has faced (second-worst was NYY at .687). He doesn’t really go deep into games with regularity yet, but he’s cheap enough to ensure that a low innings count doesn’t really matter. Even if he just gives five strong, he’ll easily earn his price back.
Bonus shout-out to Dallas Keuchel at $5,400. He’s been shaky of late as he recovers from a wrist injury, but he’s the second-cheapest arm on the board and he’s facing Miami. Three starts ago, he cost $9,500. As recently as May 31, he was priced at $10,300. He’s definitely a gamble, but at this price you have to make a wildcard lineup with him in it. Even if you just play a smaller tourney and a head-to-head. I think most believe the magic is gone and he’s headed back to pumpkin-dom, but I think it’s just the injury, so assuming he’s over it, he’ll be back to excelling.
1. Jose Altuve ($5,100 HOU vs. MIA)
He’s been great all year, but his work against lefties is where he really stands out. He’s hitting .423 in 111 at-bats against lefties, baseball’s best mark. However, his .998 OPS is just 17th thanks to his modest power output. Still, can deliver plenty of points with a few singles, a stolen base or two, and a run scored. Brad Hand is getting torched by righties to the tune of a .312 AVG and .864 OPS. Even with the obviously favorable split, Altuve might not be a very popular pick because of his price tag, but I think you can afford a couple of $5,000 hitters if you stay on the bargain end of pitching, which is plentiful today.
2. Victor Martinez ($4,500 DET at LAA)
He may be trailing Altuve in average against lefties at “just” .393, but Martinez’s .738 SLG is nearly 200 points better than Altuve’s .550 total, giving V-Mart a huge edge in OPS at 1.190 (which ranks fourth in baseball among those with at least 90 PA). Unlike Altuve’s opponent, Tyler Skaggs actually fares better against righties with a .668 OPS allowed (compared to .759 v. LHB), but that does not dissuade me. Martinez is obliterating southpaws regardless of quality.
3. Stephen Vogt ($3,300 OAK at TEX)
Jerome Williams heads back to the majors with his 6.04 ERA (accumulated with Houston) to take on baseball’s best team. The A’s have several righty-mashers to choose from (Crisp, Moss, Jaso, and Reddick to name a few), but Vogt is the best bang for your buck. Not only is his .946 OPS against righties the team’s best mark (albeit in many fewer PA than the regulars I mentioned earlier), but he costs just $3,300 and qualifies behind the dish or in the outfield. I’d never want two catchers in my lineup in a full-season league (with one qualifying elsewhere despite still catching), because of their built-in time off, but I don’t mind it in the daily game because that factor isn’t in play. If you like Miguel Montero (or maybe you want to double up and go Jaso/Vogt) behind the dish, then Vogt is a great low-dollar OF3.
4. Corey Dickerson ($4,600 COL vs. PIT)
He is essentially a lineup staple at home against righties. He has a 1.075 OPS against righties in 208 PA and a 1.120 OPS in 140 PA at home. Obviously there is some overlap, but these are the times to play Dickerson. You can play him on the road, too, with a passable .851 OPS, but his .676 OPS says bench him against lefties in the instances he gets a start against them. This pick doesn’t give us an advantage on both ends, though, as Charlie Morton has actually been better against lefties this year with a .640 OPS permitted against them (.669 v. RHB), but I’m comfortable betting on the hitter in Coors.
5. David Peralta ($3,700 ARI vs. PHI)
Peralta has been an interesting find for the D’backs with an .835 OPS in 161 PA, but thankfully he’s still a hidden gem for us at DraftKings. He is a pure platoon guy with a .903 OPS against righties and just a .575 v. lefties, but he gets Kyle Kendrick from the Phillies. Kendrick is toting an .893 OPS against southpaws this year, 226 points higher than his mark against righties, and the third-highest total in baseball among righties behind only Ricky Nolasco (.954) and Edwin Jackson (.904).
Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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