May 11, 2015
Mother's Day featured a rather tame slate of offense, with teams averaging just 3.5 runs apiece per game. Nobody hit double digits, and the closest came in Colorado, where the vicious weather that robbed us of the full allotment of Denver baseball has moved away from baseball cities, at least for a day.
Hanley Ramirez, SS/OF ($4700)
vs. RHP: .296/.365/.491, with 212-of-273 SB in 4036 PA
Ramirez enjoys an extra 65 points of OPS when facing southpaws like today's starter, Scott Kazmir. They've only squared off twice before, and the most recent meeting came in 2009, and in the six years since both Kazmir and Hanley have evolved as ballplayers. Ramirez returned on Saturday from the bum shoulder that he suffered when running into the outfield wall at Fenway, and though one must be careful with the power production of hitters coming off of shoulder injuries, Hanley has tried to silence the critics with some impressive blasts over the Monsta' in batting practice over the weekend. His stolen base totals take a hit against southpaws, but that's become less of an issue as power has taken a precedence over speed in Ramirez's game as he has aged.
Evan Longoria, 3B ($4200)
vs. LHP: .291/.382/.542 in 1175 PA
vs. RHP: .264/.341/.476 in 3071 PA
vs. CC Sabathia: .414/.528/.862 in 72 PA
Longoria is the first repeat player of the season, but I went out of my way to include him given the success that he's had in his career against CC Sabathia. Yes, Longoria mashes lefties, but he has taken particular aim at the Yankee southpaw, with six home runs that ties Longoria (with Alfonso Soriano) for the most head-to-head homers in Sabathia's 15-year career. Longoria also has eight doubles and 13 walks against just five strikeouts in their 72 meetings, and given Sabathia's current issues with elevated fastballs that fail to break the hard deck of 90 mph, the Rays' third baseman could be looking at a couple of big at bats versus tonight's starter for New York.
Ike Davis, 1B ($2500)
vs. LHP: .197/.261/.317 in 483 PA
vs. RHP: .255/.357/.454 in 1767 PA
The first two players hailed from the upper end of the pricing scale, but now we take a look at the other end of the spectrum. Davis is the cheapest first baseman likely to be starting today, and the left-handed bat continues to find himself in the fifth or sixth spot in the order when a right-hander takes the mound for the opposition. His OPS is 223 points higher versus righties when compared to southpaws, and Bob Melvin is careful to limit Ike's exposure to same-side arms. And there's the rub, as Davis has been subbed out in a handful of ballgames and he remains vulnerable to left-handed relievers. The good news is that he can score enough points to justify his salary with just an RBI single, and the expected production far outpaces the bottom-feeding price.
Jacob deGrom, NYM at CHC ($8100)
deGrom has been out to disprove the doubters this season, following up on his breakthrough campaign of 2014 with a 2.95 ERA and K-to-walk ratio of four-to-one through his first 36.7 innings of this season. In his most recent start, deGrom allowed just one run over seven innings against the Orioles, striking out nine batters against one walk. This was significant not just because of the quality offense that he was facing, but also due to the rough couple of starts that the right-hander had endured heading into the Baltimore game. Today he faces a Cubs team with tons of swing-and-miss, a factor which could push him over the edge of double-digit strikeouts for the first time this season, but the powerful young lineup of Chicago could put some dents on deGrom's overall pitching line.
Colome is an excellent value pick, with a price that allows a manager to pair him with Max Scherzer ($11800) or Zack Greinke ($10500) while leaving the financial flexibility for a strong lineup. Colome has been utilized in spot starts for the Rays over the last couple seasons, but there is an opportunity for the right-hander to seize a full-time role in the rotation due to the rash of injuries that Tampa has already sustained. The 26-year old throws his fastball in the mid-90s and has myriad breaking ball variations to keep batters guessing. Pitch command has been his biggest downfall in the minors, but Colome is making a strong case for a rotation slot with zero walks allowed in his first two starts of 2015.
Marco Estrada, TOR at BAL ($5300)
Similar to Colome, Estrada has a price that is very friendly, with Estrada checking in as the second-cheapest pitcher on Draft Kings today. Don't fall into the trap. There are a number of reasons to avoid Estrada, from his flyball tendencies against a powerful opponent to the likelihood of a limited pitch count. He pitched out of the bullpen to start the season, then made his first start of the year six days ago against the Yankees. Things did not go well, with Estrada surrendering eight hits and five runs without finishing the fifth inning. He held his velocity well through 79 pitches and the Jays are likely to extend him further this time around, but don't be surprised if he falls short of five full frames again.
Mike Leake, CIN vs. ATL ($8000)
The run-prevention stats are shiny, but Leake is essentially the same pitcher that he's been for the past four years. The component stats are the same, particularly the six-percent walk rate, while his 89-92 mph velocity and diverse pitch selection are right in line with previous years. Last season's K spike still only ran the rate up to 18.2 percent and is back down at the 16-percent range so far this season.
Case in point, he has just five strike outs over his last 16.0 innings pitched, yet that only covered two games in which he allowed a total of zero runs and just 10 baserunners, playing these Braves as well as the Pirates. Leake could have a fine day today, but given the K caveats along with the list of pitchers that are priced within the same range – deGrom ($8100), Shelby Miller ($8300), Jeff Samardzija ($8500) – there are better ways to devote the fictional dollars that are allowed under the salary cap.
Resources used for this article:
Draft Kings player prices