May 8, 2015
… and the correct answer to yesterday's DFS Lineup Lotto was (drumroll, please): Yasmani Grandal.
It helped that Grandal had Joc Pederson to spark rallies. Pederson has been on a serious heater at the plate, such that yesterday's hit, RBI, two walks and two runs (13 points on Draft Kings) were relatively tame, following an incredible streak of seven homers in seven games. Pederson's cost had been slowly creeping upward, from the $3000 range of a few weeks ago to his $4200 salary of yesterday, but the lid finally popped off the Pringles with Pederson playing at altitude, checking in at $5400 as the third-most expensive player available in the entire pool.
Nolan Arenado, 3B ($4600)
vs. LHP: .299/.359/.529 in 291 PA
vs. RHP: .271/.299/.439 in 791 PA
Home: .297/.335/.515 in 546 PA
Away: .259/.295/.408 in 536 PA
Read this with the caveat that it might apply to Saturday in the event that today's game gets washed out, Arenado is scheduled to face lefty Brett Anderson at home, the perfect combination to maximize his value. The third baseman is making good on projections of more power in 2015, clubbing six homers and nine doubles in his first 24 games despite having played just nine of those contests away from the offense-loving environment of Coors. He has traditionally struggled away from home, with a .315/.355/.667 line on the road in the young season. He has also posted a rough platoon split thus far in his career, but once again the early returns from 2015 are encouraging, with a 959 OPS in and 14 of his extra-base hits in 85 plate appearance against right-handers. The transformation from flawed young hitter to everyday contributor rests in his addressing these gaps.
Luis Valbuena, 2B/3B ($3600)
vs. LHP: .221/.306/.347 in 344 PA
vs. RHP: .229/.311/.383 in 1817 PA
Valbuena has a weird line this season, slashing .194/.263/.437 with seven homers, as more than half of his hits have gone for extra bases. The results are extreme, yet within reason for a player who has one of the lowest groundball rates in the major leagues this season. Weaver is typically one of the leaders in flyball rate among pitchers, but this season has been somewhat of an aberration in that regard, and he is facing a Houston club that currently has the highest groundball rate in the AL. The platoon splits aren't anything special (though Valbuena's been well protected from southpaws) and the Weaver-Valbuena matchup could end up with a lot of lazy flyouts, but don't be surprised if Valbuena runs into one and knocks it into the seats.
Danny Espinosa, 2B/SS ($3400)
vs. LHP: .274/.347/.460 in 524 PA
vs. RHP: .213/.284/.362 in 1513 PA
Espinosa is playing a softy today in southpaw Eric Stults, and despite all of his obvious flaws Espinosa is able to hit lefties with some authority. He just not a full-time player, yet is often forced into a disadvantageous situation because he can cover either position up the middle. He's likely bat near the bottom of the order so the upside is limited, but the matchup is just right for Espinosa to turn a profit on his investment.
Matt Harvey, NYM at PHI ($11000)
The word is out that Harvey's back to his old dominant self, and his salary is reaching Kershaw territory in a hurry. He has a ridiculous strikeout-to-walk ratio of 34-to-4 in 33.7 innings this season and he has thrown 6.0 or more innings in every start that he has made. The record's 5-0, he is 4-for-5 in quality starts, and his pitch efficiency has kept him at 95 pitches or fewer in all but one of his turns. If there's a downside, it's that he has posted fewer strikeouts in every successive start (he bottomed out at three punchouts against the Nats in his last start) and the Phillies managed to push three runs across the plate against Harvey back on April 14. His velocity is strong as ever, his command is already in mid-season form, and he is poised for a huge day today against the Phils.
Sonny Gray, OAK at SEA ($9800)
Gray walked a total of five batters in first four ballgames, then gave away seven free passes in his most recent start against the Rangers. He only gave up two hits and ended up tossing 6.7 innings of shutout baseball, with a whopping 10 strikeouts along the way, but the A's have to worry about which version of Gray will show up today against division-rival Seattle. Will it be the guy who blanked the Rangers for eight innings on the strength of three strikeouts and three baserunners on Opening Day? Or will it be the True Outcome Machine that toed the rubber in his last start? He gave up one earned run over 7.3 innings in his first turn against the M's this season, and the A's will be more than pleased if he can post a repeat performance today. His best hopes of doing so might just be to throw four wide ones whenever Nelson Cruz strides to the plate, who is currently in a Bondsian zone and is not to be trifled with.
Wade Miley, BOS at TOR ($6100)
Miley has been getting crushed in early 2015, including a pair of starts in which he gave up seven runs apiece while recording just seven outs in each. He hasn't had to face the Blue Jays yet this season, but Toronto's 155 runs scored are the most in baseball and they have a bevy of right-handed bats who drink the blood of southpaws. It might be a short outing, so the middle of the Blue Jays order will want to make the most of the first couple trips to the plate. If you're looking for a stacking opportunity and have the money to spend on Jays, then this is a great way to go.
Mark Teixeira, 1B ($4300)
The Yankees have ridden the old guard to first place and a three-game cushion thus far in the AL East. Teixeira has been the biggest culprit as the Yanks are swingin' to the oldies, with 10 homers and 16 extra-base hits in total this season. He already has 18 walks (against 15 strikeouts) and 25 RBI in 27 games. Perhaps most importantly, the oft-injured (and well-compensated) first baseman has played every one of the games on the Yankee schedule.
At 35 years old and battling wrist issues the last few years, Teixeira's star had faded and the expectations of a comeback were low. Now that he's re-established himself as a threat at the plate, there is minimal faith that it can continue, and the general feeling around fantasyland seems to be an approach of “ride it while you can.” I'm inclined to agree with that sentiment, while acknowledging both the good and bad to come out of such an analysis – his value has definitely grown since Opening Day and though his performance spike will likely be short-lived, he makes for a worthwhile investment in the interim.
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