August 4, 2015
Say Uncle, Phil
Target: RHB's J.D. Martinez OF ($4700, +55 OPS and +.030 ISO vs. LHP), Ian Kinsler 2B ($4100, +117 OPS and +.048 ISO vs. LHP), Jose Iglesias 3B/SS ($3100, +124 OPS and +.077 ISO vs. LHP) and Rajai Davis ($3300, +152 OPS and +.046 ISO career vs. LHP), against LHP Danny Duffy ($7700, +163 OPS and +.079 ISO vs. RHB)
The Tigers entered the season absolutely stacked to mash lefties, but the current iteration is without Miguel Cabrera (injury) and Yoenis Cespedes (trade). Even with those stars out of the lineup, the Tigers have a laundry list of position players that light up with elation when an opposing southpaw takes the mound. Martinez has cooled off since the barrage of 11 homers in 13 games that he deposited from the end of June to the beginning of July, but he might be starting up another run, with two homers and two doubles in his last three full games. Kinsler spent most of the first half wondering where his power had gone, and from the looks of his last 21 games (.425/.451/.655), he's found it. Rajai might just steal the show, what with his power+speed combo and heavy platoon splits.
Avoid: LHB's Ryan Howard 1B ($3700, -222 OPS and -.084 ISO career vs. LHP), Odubel Herrera 2B/OF ($2900, -88 OPS and -.021 ISO vs. LHP) and Domonic Brown OF ($3000, -115 OPS and -.046 ISO vs. LHP) against LHP Alex Wood ($7400, -80 OPS and -.047 ISO career vs. LHB)
The Phillies aren't exactly loaded with high-demand bats, and it shouldn't take much convincing to encourage a manager to look the other way when constructing a DFS roster for tonight. The platoon issues that plague these Philly bats should simply put the nail in the coffin.
The running Pirates get a steal recommendation for the second day in a row, but here's hoping that this time the game is not postponed by rain. Polanco has not been running much for the last six weeks due to busted wheels, so he may not take full advantage, but Arrieta provides the opportunity for Polanco to get back on the fast track. Marte is the most likely player to take advantage of Arrieta's loose reigns on the basepaths, but his outfield teammates could also be running rampant. As mentioned yesterday, Andrew McCutchen is a regular base thief (he averaged 23.8 steals per season from 2009-14) who has remained chained to the bag for most of 2015 (five-of-seven this year), but steals are the one baseball stat that are most tied to choice; if Cutch sees an opportunity against Arrieta he might just choose to seize it.
Target: Justin Upton OF ($4200, 17-of-18 SB this season), Will Venable OF ($3000, 8-of-9 SB) and Matt Kemp OF ($4000, 9-of-10 SB) against RHP Jimmy Nelson ($8200, opponents 15-of-19 SB this season)
Upton was good for 18-to-21 steals from 2009 through '12, but he was reduced to an eight-pack in each of the past two seasons. He has resumed the thievery in 2015, and he is already five bags away from setting a new career-high in the category. That said, J-Up is currently day-to-day after suffering a bruised thumb yesterday, so there's a chance that the efficient base thief will be missing from the lineup. Kemp is past the point where his speed would typically be considered an asset, particularly given his history of ankle injuries, but he has picked his spots this season to gain some extra bags and has done so with excellent efficiency.
Head-to-head: .180/.196/.240 in 52 PA
It's easy to pin Moose's struggles against the former prowess of Verlander, but the Tiger hurler has been off his game for a couple of years now. Most of the blame goes to Moustakas, who struggled mightily at the plate for his first few seasons, but 2015 has been a breakout campaign and DFS managers have been looking in his direction with increasing frequency lately. Verlander was thought to be lost, but over the last two starts he has thrown 16.0 innings with two runs allowed, 13 strikeouts, and 11 baserunners (all hits). His days of Cy Young contention are likely over, and Moustakas has stepped up his game with an OPS that's more than 50 points higher than any other season of his career. Today could be an opportunity to dig out of the head-to-head hole that he has dug for himself against Verlander, but first Moustakas will have to prove that he is healthy enough for the lineup; he's currently listed as day-to-day with a sore left knee that took him out of the lineup on Sunday. If it's not too serious, then fingers crossed that his two days of rest were enough to resolve the issue and get him back in the lineup.
Avoid: Masahiro Tanaka SP ($9800) against the Boston Red Sox
Tanaka has not been the same dominant force that took the States by storm in 2014, as he is trying to pitch through an elbow injury while simultaneously avoiding surgery and leading his team to the playoffs. All things considered his performance to date hasn't been half bad. The walk rate is still incredibly low at 5.1 percent, and though the K rate is down a couple of percentage points, the whiffs are still a big part of his value proposition. The strikeouts are still hanging out at almost a K per inning, leading to a K-to-walk ratio of 4.7-to-one. His frequency of hits allowed is actually lower than last season, but many more of those hits are leaving the ballpark, with an astounding 15 homers allowed in 87.7 innings pitched that have resulted in a 3.80 ERA on the season. His performance of 2014 must still be leaking into his cost for tonight, as nothing that Tanaka has done for the last six weeks is worthy of $10k but the price tag would have been a bargain based on last year's performance alone. One can bank on the fact that he will chew up innings and keep the free passes off the bags, but the lowered K count and raised run-scoring conspire to make the above price too rich for my blood.
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