May 1, 2015
Yesterday's bludgeoning of Chris Sale caught the fantasy community off-guard, as he seemed primed for a big start against a weak-hitting Minnesota ballclub that crawled out of the gate and had particular issues battling left-handed pitchers. Instead, he surrendered nine runs before he could generate that many outs, and the Twins broke out of their early-season funk with a 12-spot against the White Sox. The good news is that Sale was so heavily rostered (48.1 percent in the 21k-entry Moonshot) that he took down a lot of teams, plus it was a very light day from a points perspective, so it was possible to recuperate some investment even if a roster had a Sale-sized anchor attached to it. We'll go into the nuts and bolts of the Vulture's blow-up in Raising Aces next Monday.
Gregory Polanco, OF ($4200)
vs. RHP: .269/.337/.398, with 20-for-24 SB in 293 PA
The sample sizes are miniscule and the young left-handed hitter is still developing, but the early returns suggest that he is still figuring out what to do with opposing lefthanders. On the bright side, Polanco has already composed himself well against righties, where his main asset – speed – comes out to shine. He is facing Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn today, which should bode relatively well for his slash line due to the platoon split, but Lynn's fickleness toward stolen bases (opposing runners were only 1-for-4 against him last year) will likely limit Polanco's value in today's game.
Brian Dozier, 2B ($4200)
vs. LHP: .286/.350/.510, 15-for-21 SB in 471 PA
vs. RHP: .223/.305/.351, 30-for-40 SB in 1294 PA
Home: .243/.329/.401 in 880 PA
Road: .237/.305/.391 in 885 PA
vs. Quintana: .200/.286/.360 in 28 PA
There's not much to glean from the 28 matchups that Dozier has had head-to-head with today's starter, Jose Quintana, but it's worth noting that Dozier has faced Quintana more times in his career than any other pitcher. Dozier has otherwise smoked left-handers in his career, with a platoon split that favors today's situation by more than 200 points of OPS. Even his Takeoff Rate is higher against lefties, a rare feat for any baserunner. Dozier has also enjoyed a small advantage when playing on the home turf, and the moons are aligning for Dozier to have a productive day of racking up the DFS points on Draft Kings.
Ryan Raburn, OF ($2900)
vs. LHP: .259/.329/.478 in 1024 PA
vs. RHP: .251/.297/.398 in 1221 PA
Raburn is a certified lefty-masher who has been strategically employed to make the most of this skill. There's always the danger that Raburn will get subbed out of the ballgame as soon as a right-hander appears, as the Indians are notorious for their attention to optimizing platoons, but his stock is bolstered by A) a low price that requires just 6 points to pay off, and B) an opposing southpaw in Mark Buehrle ($6200) who is a notorious workhorse. Buehrle's track record in 2015 includes a string of six-inning starts, but he has given up so many hits (36 so far in 23.7 innings) that he has faced 27 batters per game, putting Raburn in great position to get at least three plate appearances.
Scott Kazmir, OAK at TEX ($7400)
Kazmir is on a sick run to start the season, scattering 15 hits across 27.3 frames in four starts, with 30 strikeouts against nine walks. At 0.99, his ERA would make Bob Gibson blush. The only knock against him is an easy slate that has included two turns against the Astros and one against these Rangers, though his shutdown of the blue-hot Royals is a feather in his cap. He absolutely annihilated the Rangers in his first game of the season, striking out 10 and allowing just three baserunners across seven frames of efficient baseball. The Rangers biggest threat against lefties is normally Adrian Beltre, but Beltre has started the season in a Mendoza-inspired slump while facing a southpaw transforms Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo from middle-order threats into puppy dogs that stir impatiently in the left-hand batter's box.
Anthony DeSclafani, CIN at ATL ($7700)
Though his NL-leading ERA of 1.04 is a case of regression waiting to happen, the skills of Anthony DeSclafani are legit. He carries above-average velocity along with a wipeout slider in his arsenal, the latter of which has been responsible for 15 of his 21 strikeouts this season. He has maintained a low walk rate throughout his minor league career and has the stable delivery to support consistent command of his pitches - DeSclafani earns above-average marks in every subject of his mechanics report card. The shine has worn off of the Braves, who have lost eight of their last ten games to return to earth after floating on a cloud during Opening Week. The Braves offense has still been scoring runs, including 24 runs over three games against the pitching-rich Nats, so the assignment won't be a cakewalk, but DeSclafani is in a good position to shut down the Braves just as he did his previous four opponents.
Roenis Elias, SEA at HOU ($6600)
Elias is a very loose play with high bust potential, so he is best paired with an elite starter such as Max Scherzer ($12000) or Matt Harvey ($10200). The Astros have started to awaken from their offensive slumber of the early season and have won seven consecutive ballgames, averaging 7.7 runs per game in those contests, so Elias could be catching them at a very bad time. However, the allure of a high K-count is undeniable, and owners who reach for Elias will hope that the Astros look more like the club that lost 92 games last season than the one that currently leads the AL West.
Lorenzo Cain, OF ($3900)
Cain exploded onto the national radar last October, but truth is that he was a part-time player for much of last season, playing just 81 of his 133 games from start to finish. He hit everywhere in the lineup, but his two most frequent spots in the order were hitting seventh (132 PA) and eighth (104 PA). This season has been a different animal, and it was let out of the cage on top of the starting gun for the season. Cain has played 21 of the Royal's 22 games so far, has played the complete game in 20 of those contests, and has been penciled into the number-three spot in the order since Opening Day, with all 94 of his plate appearances.
Cain has responded extremely well to his expanded role and increased responsibility. His 880 OPS bests last season's mark by 130 points, he has been successful on six out of seven steal attempts, and his all-around contributions are well-represented by a slash line of .329/.404/.476. He had just 108 RuBI's (Runs + RBI) in 502 plate appearances last season, but the new spot in the order combined with his performance spike have resulted in 28 RuBI's in just 94 plate appearances thus far in 2015. He has mashed lefties in particular, including six of his eight extra-base hits this year despite 12 fewer plate appearances, a scenario which spells bad news for southpaw starter Kyle Lobstein of the Tigers.
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