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September 26, 2014

Daily League Strategy

Our (T.J.) House

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.

We’re going with three arms and three bats today. I didn’t have a ton of bats that I loved despite a full slate, but the three I picked are all high-impact types.

PITCHING

1. Ian Kennedy ($9,000 SD at SF)
Kennedy opened September with a pair of 10-hit outings, but he’s allowed just eight in his last two combined including a 6 2/3-inning, two-run gem against San Francisco his last time out during which he allowed just five hits. Kennedy has lived in the mid-3.00s with his ERA for most of the season despite posting skills of someone with an ERA a quarter-to-half a run lower. He’s toting a career high strikeout rate and career low home run rate, not to mention the fact that half of his games come in a remarkably friendly home ballpark. All of that probably should’ve yielded a low-3.00s ERA, and while it’s too late for him to get there, he can still put up one more gem for us DK players to feast on at a high, but reasonable price.

2. T.J. House ($6,900 CLE v. TB)
House has allowed more than three earned runs just once in his last 13 starts (4 2/3, five ER at CWS), good for a 2.89 ERA along with a 7.7 K/9 and 4.3 K:BB ratio in 74 2/3 innings. Since that fateful day on the South Side, he’s reeled off four brilliant starts with a 1.38 ERA, 25 strikeouts, and just a single walk in 26 innings. His slider has been the key driver in his success, accounting for 46 of his 78 strikeouts (59 percent).

3. Drew Hutchison ($7,500 TOR v. BAL)
If you can’t stand volatility, don’t look at Hutchison’s game log. He started the season with a really sharp home/road split in his ERA, both of which seemed destined to head the other way because there was no rhyme or reason for either and they’ve essentially raced each other to the middle since then. He now has a 4.82 ERA at home and 4.33 on the road. His skills suggest both marks should be better, but home runs have sunk him in regardless of venue. Now that might make you leery of starting him against Baltimore, the home runniest team of all, but he has handled them virtually all year. He has a minuscule 2.38 ERA against them in 34 innings with a 0.82 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, and 6.0 K:BB ratio. This even includes a six ER shellacking in 6 1/3 innings against them on September 16th (he allowed two homers, of course). Perhaps the most impressive part of his season has been the 8.8 K/9 rate; I certainly didn’t expect that. He has a pair of double-digit strikeout efforts in September and at least six in each of his last six starts.

HITTING

1. Miguel Cabrera ($5,500 DET v. MIN)
I mean… what can I really say about him? I also recommend Mike Trout. And Andrew McCutchen. Okay, joking aside, we obviously know that these superstars are always desirable assets, but I think you actually have to be more selective with them because their massive price tags mean you can’t really afford a zero out of them. It’s hard to know exactly when they will go off, especially since we all know that stars like Cabrera will do plenty of damage against stud pitchers, but you’ll almost never have them in the daily game on those nights because the cost is too much to risk against an ace. But when they get a juicy matchup like Anthony Swarzak, it’s time to pounce. Of course, you won’t be the only one pouncing, but that’s okay. Sometimes you just want to have that huge night to keep up with everyone else getting those points. Cabrera is actually the batter Swarzak has seen most with 24 meetings between the two. and unsurprisingly, Cabrera holds the edge. He has a 1.189 OPS in the admittedly small sample, but I’m more interested in the fact that he’s having a tremendous September despite not being anywhere near 100 percent health-wise. He hit his seventh September homer on Thursday night after hitting just seven in three months from June through August.

2. Mookie Betts ($4,400 BOS v. NYY)
The rookie phenom has made the most of his limited opportunities so far this year with an .802 OPS on the year in 195 PA. He’s had even fewer chances against lefties, but he’s cashed most of them in, to the tune of an .850 OPS (buoyed by a .333 AVG). He’s shown the complete package of fantasy greatness this year as his small sample of work paces out to 17 HR, 20 SB, 105 R, and 51 RBI, not to mention a strong .285 AVG and an incredible 1.45 K:BB ratio thanks to a 10.2 percent walk rate.

3. Adrian Beltre ($4,600 TEX v. OAK)
Beltre deserves more credit for his exemplary season in the middle of the tire fire that was the 2014 Rangers. He has actually improved his OPS by a point with a sharp gain in OBP to offset his SLG dip. His batting average is also up 10 points to .325. That depressed SLG has manifested itself in the form of a lower home run output. By whole numbers, he’s 12 off of his last year’s 30, but with a near-100 AB difference, it might be more valuable to note his AB/HR change from 21 a year ago to 30 this year. He has seen no such degradation against lefties, though. He’s been an absolute monster against them with a .354/.447/.551 line, up from .325/.402/.545 last year. Scott Kazmir has been a key piece in the Oakland fall from grace with losses in each of his last four decisions and an 8.58 ERA in his last six starts.

BONUS PICK: As a bonus pick, take a look at the dirt-cheap Daniel Robertson if he’s in the lineup tomorrow. He’ll cost you a mere $2,600 despite being a lefty-killer so far this year. He has an .807 OPS against them in 106 PA (out of 194 total PA) compared to just a .484 OPS against righties. The 28-year-old rookie has long held a substantial edge against lefties with a 100-point OPS advantage against them in the minors since hitting Double-A (2011) with an .837 in 471 PA.

Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Paul's other articles. You can contact Paul by clicking here

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Pitching Backward: Bux... (09/25)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Daily League Strategy:... (09/19)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Daily League Strategy:... (04/04)
Next Article >>
The Prospectus Hit Lis... (09/26)

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