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July 29, 2014

Daily League Strategy

Stacking Lefties

by Paul Sporer


With DraftKings’ acquisition of DraftStreet, I will now be using that site’s dollar values to select my players of the day.

PITCHING

1. Lance Lynn ($9,000 STL at SD)
I like his opponent Tyson Ross, $9,700), as well, but I’ll take the $700 savings and face the far worse offense (though St. Louis is hardly tearing the cover off of the ball). He seems to regularly mix in that awful start in the midst of a hot streak (2 IP/6 ER at the Dodgers in late June), but when you add in the four before it and four since, he has a 2.47 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings of work. The Padres actually have hit a bit lately, because regression is a thing and they just had to have SOME offense at some point, right? Even with their .707 OPS against righties this month (12th in the league), I will unflinchingly pick the pitcher facing them on a nearly night-in, night-out basis.

2. Marcus Stroman ($8,100 TOR at BOS)
All of his numbers look great, but I think they actually undersell how great he has been as a starter. His 3.21 ERA is actually inflated by a pair of rough relief outing. As a starter he has a 2.21 ERA in 61 innings with 55 strikeouts and a 3.9 K:BB ratio. He stifled the Red Sox for seven one-hit, scoreless innings five days ago, giving him his second straight outing of seven scoreless. Back-to-back starts against the same team is a mixed bag of results with the initial start not really being predictive of the second one. I’m betting on another gem from Stroman.

3. Henderson Alvarez ($6,800 MIA vs. WAS)
He is the 22nd-most expensive arm today despite a 2.62 ERA on the season. He doesn’t miss any bats (5.4 K/9), but he also doesn’t walk anybody (1.6 BB/9), and he regularly goes deep into the game with eight starts of seven or more innings, including an MLB-best three shutouts. He can end your night when he’s off (like his 5 IP/6 ER at Citi Field on July 11), but you know the risks with an arm this cheap, and he’s definitely worth the risk given the upside we’ve seen repeatedly this year. Even if he only gives you a solid 5-6 inning start with a couple of runs allowed, he is still worth the price.

HITTING

1. Billy Hamilton ($5,000 CIN vs. ARI)
I prefer to use Hamilton at shortstop, obviously, but I’m okat if you prefer to save money there and use him in the outfield. He does his best work against righties with a .280 AVG, .738 OPS, and five of his six homers. Meanwhile, Trevor Cahill has been horrific against lefties this year, yielding a 1.026 OPS in 102 PA. Small sample size warnings are in play (he has a .762 OPS against them in 2216 career PA), but he’s still worse versus lefties for his career. Plus, Hamilton has that added bonus of not needing to register any hits to have a strong night thanks to his speed. If he gets on via a fielder’s choice, he can swipe a couple of bases and score a run en route to a 12-point night despite an 0-for-4).

2. Jacoby Ellsbury ($4,900 NYY at TEX)
Ellsbury has actually been better against lefties this year, but I’ll bet on the career numbers here. He has an .802 OPS against righties for his career (.745 v. lefties). Nick Martinez has been pummeled by lefties this year with a .920 OPS allowed to them, which could lead to a long night. You can get a stack of Yankees lefties/switchies going if you’re so inclined, adding any of Brett Gardner (Mr. Four HR v. Darvish!), Carlos Beltran, Chase Headley, Mark Teixeira (assuming he plays, though he’s supposed to), and Brian McCann to the mix.

3. Corey Dickerson ($4,800 COL at CHC)
I’d obviously prefer any Rockie at home, but we don’t have that luxury today. Fortunately, Edwin Jackson is like a traveling Coors Field. He has a 5.53 ERA at home and .904 OPS against lefties. Dickerson’s OPS drops from 1.069 to .851 on the road, but he’s pounding righties to the tune of a 1.032 OPS regardless of venue. I’m sure there will be a smattering of Rockies used around the daily game today even with them on the road. I might be careful with Dickerson’s outfield mates, though. Carlos Gonzalez (.580 OPS) and Charlie Blackmon (.634) have been wretched on the road. Although, I do suspect there will be plenty of Cargo buzz given his .778 AVG (7-for-9) off of Jackson. All but three of the 10 plate appearances were in Coors, though.

4. Kole Calhoun ($4,300 LAA at BAL)
I don’t know what kind of black magic wizardry Chris Tillman has been involved with of late, but I’m suspicious. He started the season with a 5.20 ERA in his first 13 outings before a nine-start run that has seen him post a 2.40 ERA despite a 4.2 K/9 and 1.5 K:BB ratio in 60 innings. Needless to say, I’m a bit suspect of his hot streak continuing, especially against the Angels. Meanwhile, Calhoun has feasted on righties this year to the tune of a .297/.355/.507 line with 10 of his 11 homers. This $4,300 dollar price tag is really nice for a stud bat like Calhoun vs. RHP.

5. John Jaso ($4,400 OAK at HOU)
The A’s players will likely be popular throughout this series in Houston, but I don’t mind jumping on the bandwagon sometimes, especially when there isn’t one obvious pick that everyone will have, but instead several quality options to choose from on the same team. Jaso is my pick, but Jed Lowrie and Josh Reddick are also viable A’s picks today. Jaso has a fantastic .866 OPS against righties on the year with all eight of his homers against them. Of course, he’s pretty much in a straight platoon with just 26 PA against lefties so it’s not too surprising that so much of his damage is against righties. Scott Feldman is allowing a .302 AVG and .804 OPS to lefties this year, not to mention a 5.37 ERA at home in nine starts. The A’s popped Feldman for six earned in just 5 1/3 innings his last time out in Oakland. He allowed nine hits and five walks. I think we will see another start of double-digit base runners.

Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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