July 24, 2015
Target: RHB's Ryan Braun OF ($4700, +156 OPS and +.068 ISO career vs. LHP), Carlos Gomez OF ($4700, +28 OPS and +.040 ISO vs. LHP) and Jonathan Lucroy C/1B ($3500, +119 OPS and +.070 ISO vs. LHP) against LHP Patrick Corbin ($5900, +85 OPS and +.066 ISO vs. RHB)
It would be tougher to make this recommendation if we were talking about peak Corbin, but the southpaw is still working his way back from Tommy Surgery and any knocks to his command could result in hanging sliders that eventually find the Chase Field seats (he has already given up four homers this year in 15.0 innings). Braun and Lucroy each has a long history of sticking it to southpaws, and though Lucroy has struggled to find his stroke this season, such issues are reflected in the cheap price tag. Gomez gets a bit more power but Braun is the difference-maker, and the only dent to his fantasy-point potential tonight is if Corbin gets knocked out quickly and Braun gets limited opportunities to rake up lefties.
Avoid: LHB's Eric Hosmer 1B ($4300, career -118 OPS and -.064 ISO vs. LHP), Mike Moustakas 3B ($4100, -107 OPS and -.038 ISO vs. LHP) and RHB Kendrys Morales 1B ($3900, -86 OPS and -.054 ISO vs. LHP) against LHP Scott Kazmir ($10200, -111 OPS and -.056 ISO vs. LHB)
Kazmir makes his Astros debut tonight against the Royals, and though any assignment to KC is going to being the requisite strikeout caveats, Kaz enjoys a substantial platoon edge versus much of the Royals lineup. The platoon troubles of Hosmer and Moustakas are well known, but Kendrys Morales is a switch-hitter that takes a big knock to his value when forced to bat from the right side. On the flip side, there are a couple of Royal right-hand bats to target against the overpriced Kazmir, including Lorenzo Cain OF ($5000, +78 OPS and +.024 ISO vs. LHP) and Salvador Perez C ($3400, +70 OPS and +.042 ISO vs. LHP).
LeMahieu's on a .423/.474/.500 tear over his last 13 games, including steals in two of his last three contests, and Coors Field has a way of magnifying hot streaks. Blackmon is having a breakout season, and though the second-half swoon of last season looms over his performance outlook, his first week of post-break baseball has been a continuation of the four weeks that preceded it. He takes full advantage of the home environment, with an OBP that's 98 points higher in Coors than it is on the road, and with the extra opportunities Blackmon has 42 of his 65 career steals (64.6 percent) while playing on his home turf. Just about everyone who's playing at altitude has had their prices ratcheted upward (for good reason), but keep in mind that Coors boosts more than just power before balking at the asking price for the Denver speedsters.
Target: Austin Jackson OF ($3300, 11-of-19 SB this season) and Brad Miller SS ($3000, 10-of-11 SB) facing Drew Hutchison ($6800, 12-of-15 SB)
Consider this pair to be the lite beer of Blackmon-LeMahieu, coming in at two-thirds the price and packing half the punch of their Colorado counterparts. A-Jax has stolen 20 or more bags in three of his four seasons in the majors, and though his success rate has been bleak this season, his efficiency on the basepaths has turned it up a notch in recent weeks, attempting four steals in his last six games and finding success on three of them. Miller is four-for-four on steal attempts in the month of July. This is not a single-season blip on the radar for Hutchison, who gave up 22 steals in 25 attempts over 184.7 innings last season, and his general vulnerability to baserunners further boosts the playability of Jackson and Miller.
Head-to-head stats: .375/.444/.900 in 45 plate appearances
Tillman has only faced one batter more times than he has squared off with Longoria (Edwin Encarnacion, 47 PA), but Longoria has had the most success, with an insane line that includes six bombs in their head-to-head matchups. The half-dozen bombs are two more than any other hitter versus Tillman in his career (A-Rod and Lyle Overbay have four homers apiece against Tillman). He has already gone yard once on Tillman this season and has taken him deep at least once in each of the last four campaigns, erasing any worries of an early-career mirage. At the low, low price of $3200, it's hard to ignore Longoria no matter how atrocious he's been at the plate (Draft Kings tells me that he's had 3.6 fantasy points per game over his last 10 contests).
Target: RHB Troy Tulowitzki ($4400) versus RHP Anthony DeSclafani ($5000)
Tulo doesn't have a platoon advantage today but he does get a Coors advantage, and on a day when lightweights like DJ LeMahieu cost (and are worth) $4300 because of the thin air environment, getting the top offensive shortstop in the game (apologies to Carlos Correa, I'm not yet ready to pass the baton) while playing at home is too sweet to pass. The price tag would be enticing against Reds ace Johnny Cueto, but against a mid-level starter like DeSclafani it's a no brainer. For reference, Carlos Gonzalez is the same price ($4400) while top-tier Cincy bats are the most expensive available tonight, including Todd Frazier 1B/3B ($5800) and Joey Votto 1B ($5700).
Avoid: Scott Kazmir SP ($10200) against the Kansas City Royals
There are a laundry list of reasons to look the other way when Kazmir comes up in the player pool, starting with the price. The $10k threshold is typically reserved for the top pitchers, aces with a heavy dose of upside, but Kazmir is neither of these things. He has topped six strikeouts in a game just once since April, that being a seven-K contest against Seattle, and he hasn't punched out more than seven hitters in a game since the second week of the season. The low ceiling would keep me from rostering Kazmir at that price against nearly any opponent, but facing a contact-heavy club like the Royals essentially cements the decision to avoid him today. The run prevention has been awesome, make no mistake, but Kaz essentially has to throw six or seven shutout innings in order to justify this salary.
Resources used for this article:
Draft Kings player prices