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August 7, 2015

Fantasy Rounders

A Squadron of Spitfires

by Doug Thorburn

There are so many awesome pitchers today that I am overwhelmed and will be compelled to setup at least a half-dozen unique lineups for tonight's $3 Moonshot tournament on DraftKings ($140k guaranteed). There are seven pitchers over the $10k mark for cost, each of whom has the track record of performance to justify that cost, as opposed to yesterday's high roller's club that struggled to meet their expenses based purely on merit. Eddie Izzard once said, “We can't all do big arms, we'll look like a squadron of spitfires,” but today's menu includes so many high-end pitching options that the DFS sky will be swarming with spitfires tonight.

Platoons

Target: RHB's Jayson Werth OF ($3100, +129 OPS and +.062 ISO career vs. LHP), Anthony Rendon 2B/3B ($3200, +58 OPS and -.007 vs. LHP), Ian Desmond SS ($3100, +29 OPS and +.012 ISO vs. LHP), and switch-hitter Danny Espinosa 2B/3B ($2900, +140 OPS and +.029 ISO vs. LHP) against LHP Jorge de la Rosa ($6500, +153 OPS and +.112 ISO career vs. RHB)

These recommendations are less about the bats and more about the vulnerabilities of Jorge de la Rosa, who has an opponents' OPS is nearly 800 versus right-handed batters in his career. Surely the Coors pitcher has his homer park to blame for some of the helium attached to that number, but the fact is that righties enjoy a massive advantage against the southpaw with the elevator leg lift, and in this case the pitcher's splits weigh more heavily than that of the batters. The Nats are stacked with right-handed bats, most of whom have a very modest platoon split - in addition to those listed above, they have right-handed hitters Wilson Ramos C ($3000), Yunel Escobar SS/3B ($3500), and Ryan Zimmerman ($3400). The sheer volume of hitters who can take their stance in the right-hand batter's box helps to diffuse any advantage that DLR gains versus Bryce Harper, and though the individuals are loaded with caveats (mostly injury-related), the prices associated with most of these players is so low (the $2900-$3200 range is very popular in DC today) that it's worth taking a shot on one or three in order to accommodate the talent-rich slate of arms on tonight's docket.

Avoid: LHB's Robinson Cano 2B ($3800, -113 OPS and -.058 ISO vs. LHP) and Kyle Seager 3B ($3600, -104 OPS and -.030 ISO vs. LHP) against LHP Cole Hamels ($10300, +6 OPS and -.007 ISO vs. LHB)

The Mariners have few players that love hitting lefties - with the exception of Nelson Cruz ($4700, +93 OPS and +.009 ISO vs. LHP) - and though Hamels has an essentially-neutral platoon split, the batters on the Seattle side carry heavy differentials in performance depending on the handedness of the pitcher on the mound. In this sense, the case of Hamels versus the Mariners is the exact opposite of Jorge DLR taking on the Nats. After a dreadful start to the season, Cano has discovered his stroke in recent weeks and rebounded his OPS accordingly (.359/.438/.688 over his last 16 games), but his season splits still reflect his vulnerability against southpaws, with a .238/.266/.311 line against left-handers this season. Seager has also been hitting better of late (.324/.389/.510 over his last 24 games), and in this case he has reversed the platoon splits this season, displaying some immunity to the OPS-suppressing effect of left-handers by slashing .308/.333/.508 in 126 plate appearances versus southpaws in 2015. Even the Cruz factor is minimized due to the quality of the new Texas lefty, providing a counterweight that tilts the balance to Hamels.

Join Doug in playing Baseball Prospectus Beat the Expert League on Draft Kings - click here for tournament lobby.

Details ($3 Entry):

  • Baseball Prospectus Private Daily Fantasy League
  • Starts tonight
  • Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 10: 8 fielders and 2 pitchers
  • Roster Format: 2 pitchers, 1 C, 1 1B, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 SS and 3 OF

Steals

There is one early game today and it features the Giants facing off against the easiest pitcher to steal against, Jon Lester ($10200) of the Cubs. So for those of you playing in All-Day tournaments, give Nori Aoki ($3400) a bump up the value board for the increased likelihood of thievery.

Avoid: Delino DeShields OF ($3600, 18-of-21 SB this season) and Elvis Andrus SS ($3200, 11-of-16 SB) against RHP Hisashi Iwakuma ($7800, opponents 1-of-2 SB this season)

DeShields carries the toolkit of an ideal leadoff hitter, drawing walks and stealing bags with the utmost efficiency. He has a 100-steal season on his minor-league resume, and has stolen a p[air of bags over his last three contests. Iwakuma's modest price tag reflects uncertainty, but the batters facing him have been discounted as if they were facing the 2014 edition, so there is an opportunity to roster Rangers bats that specialize in OPS. However, regardless of which version of Iwakuma shows up in Seattle this evening, the speed-first players in the Texas lineup will likely remained chained to first base against a pitcher who has given up just one successful steal (in 10 attempts) since the start of last season.

Also look out for Ben Revere ($3900, 24-of-29 SB), who will have a tough time getting his first Toronto steals against the Yankees' Nate Eovaldi ($6200, 3-of-4 SB this season).

Recency Bias

Target: RHB Nelson Cruz OF ($4700) facing LHP Cole Hamels ($10300)

Cruz last 16 games (16 starts): .431/.481/.917 in 79 plate appearances

The streaky Cruz has a tendency to carry a whole team's offense on his shoulders for weeks at a time, and it appears that we are in the middle of such a stretch right now, including five jacks in his last six games. He has 10 homers and five doubles over the stretch of his last 16 games, he hits lefties well (as previously mentioned), and given that Hamels has been very hittable in three of his last four starts I would say that Cruz is a worthwhile gamble at a very reasonable price of $4700 against your $50k cap.

Price

Target: Aaron Nola SP ($6000) at the San Diego Padres

There is lots of value to be reaped from the bats today (both Mike Trout and Carlos Correa are under $5k salary), and with the laundry list of options at the top of the SP heap, Nola becomes a great pick for an SP2. The price tag is such that you could even pair him with Clayton Kershaw ($15000) without breaking the bank, allowing for a solid roster of bats. Facing the Padres is a welcome sight for any pitcher, as the team's .293 wOBA and 671 OPS both rank last in baseball, giving Nola the advantage of context. The rookie is a bargain at $6000 against an average opponent – he would need about 12 points to justify that cost yet has bottomed out at 14.3 points in his three big-league starts – so the fact that he is facing baseball's weakest lineup only plays further into Nola's favor.

Avoid: Brandon Phillips 2B ($4400) at Chase Anderson ($5300)

Anderson is having a rough season, but he's not so soft that Phillips would be expected to reignite the spark plugs of youth. With Jason Kipnis on the Disabled List, the $4400 price tag puts Phillips in a tie with Jose Altuve and Brian Dozier as the most expensive second basemen available for tonight's slate. They are trailed by Ian Kinsler ($4300), Ben Zobrist ($4200), Dee Gordon, ($4100), and Kolten Wong ($4100); I would prefer either of these other six options (only one of which has an intimidating matchup, Altuve versus Sonny Gray) over rostering Phillips .

***

Resources used for this article:

Baseball Prospectus Stats and Player Cards

Draft Kings player prices

Brooks Baseball

Baseball-Reference

Doug Thorburn is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Doug's other articles. You can contact Doug by clicking here

Related Content:  Fantasy,  Daily Fantasy

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (08/07)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Rounders: Lays... (08/06)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Rounders: Shal... (08/10)
Next Article >>
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (08/07)

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