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August 28, 2015

Fantasy Rounders

Arms Race

by Doug Thorburn

There is a heap of legit pitching options for tonight's full slate, as all 15 games begin after 7:00pm EST. Check out our DFS choices:

$14,400 Clayton Kershaw vs. CHC

$12,500 Max Scherzer vs. MIA

$11,300 Matt Harvey vs. BOS

$10,800 Danny Salazar vs. LAA

$10,700 Sonny Gray at ARI

$10,300 Michael Wacha at SF

$10,200 Masahiro Tanaka at ATL

$10,000 Francisco Liriano vs. COL

$9,800 Cole Hamels vs. BAL

$9,500 Scott Kazmir at MIN

There are some pricey bats as well, with a dozen hitters at $5k or over and four players at or over $5500. Fund allocation will be a strategic piece of roster construction given the choices in tonight's player pool.

Platoons

Avoid: LHB's Charlie Blackmon OF ($4300, -85 OPS and -.030 ISO vs. LHP) and Carlos Gonzalez OF ($4200, -173 OPS and -.086 ISO vs. LHP) against LHP Francisco Liriano ($10000, -130 OPS and -.068 ISO career vs. LHB)

Liriano is hell on lefties, having surrendered a higher OBP (.290 for his career) than slug (.287) to them in his career as their only defense has been to wait him out for a walk. He has been up to the same old tricks this season, holding left-handed bats to a .200/.286/.280 line through 140 plate appearances. The hitters on the Rockies are flattened when they leave home, but facing a platoon-heavy southpaw adds an additional layer of pessimism for the left-handed bats in the Colorado lineup. Blackmon's career steals-per-game on the road (career 28-of-41 SB) pale in comparison to his home frequency (46-of-59 SB), and his take-off rate is cut by roughly one-third against lefties (just 17-of-23 SB); the fact that his OBP takes a dive on the road and against left-handers adds further fuel to the pessimistic fire that is engulfing his value today despite a reasonable price tag. It seems that CarGo has been smashing everyone lately, but Gonzalez has a modest .269/.310/.443 line for his career against lefties and 2015 has been abysmal, with a slash of .194/.236/.272 in 111 plate appearances when Gonzalez has the platoon disadvantage. The price tag is enticing, but he could be in for an empty day at the plate if Liriano stays in for most of the game.

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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

Target: Manny Machado 3B ($4400, 16-of-22 SB this season) and Gerardo Parra OF ($3800, 11-of-14 SB) against LHP Cole Hamels ($9800, opponents 20-of-22 SB this season)

Hamels is the member of a select club of left-handed pitchers that give up the steals (Jon Lester is the president as well as a client), and the success rate of 91-percent for would-be thieves is even more appalling than the sheer volume of bags that have been swiped (which is the seventh-most in baseball). The Orioles don't have many players who can really take advantage, as Machado is the only player to have stolen more than three bags as a member of the Orioles this season, though the deadline acquisition of Gerardo Parra adds one other player who can take advantage of opportunities on the bases.

Recency Bias

Avoid: RHP Max Scherzer ($12500) at home against the Miami Marlins

Last 4 games (4 starts): 6.86 ERA, 35 baserunners in 21.0 innings and opponents hitting .307/.365/.568 with five homers in 98 plate appearances

Scherzer was on a Cy Young track for most of the season, but he has hit the skids at wrong time if he hopes to helps his disappointing ballclub into the playoffs, let alone win any hardware. His high salary makes him second-costliest pitcher today behind Clayton Kershaw, and though his soft opponent certainly provides optimism, an outlook that is influenced by recency bias will be wary of Scherzer's August performance. He has given up three or more earned runs in all four games, including a six-spot against the Giants two turns ago in a game that had Scherzer bounced by the fourth inning. Granted, he was facing some tough opponents (ARI, SF, COL twice – once in Denver), and Scherzer's 29 strikeouts still provided some value while he was getting ripped by hard-hit baseballs. His last good start was actually against the Marlins on July 30th, a game in which he threw seven shutout innings, but the previous turn was a five-run disappointment against Pittsburgh. Scherzer is an awesome posture who will pull out of his current funk, but the $12500 salary is a steep price to pay in order to find out if that emergence starts today.

Price

Target: RHB Ryan Raburn OF ($2200) against LHP Andrew Heaney

Playing Raburn is always a dicey proposition based simply on the Indians usage of him, as he is likely to exit the ballgame as soon as he is faced with the prospect of a right-handed pitcher (Raburn has just 22 plate appearances against righties this year). But he absolutely shreds lefties, slashing .299/.379/.528 against them this season while carrying a career OPS of 810 with the platoon advantage, and Terry Francona has responded by penciling Raburn into the cleanup spot on days when Cleveland is facing a left-handed starter. He's likely to get no more than three plate appearances, but odds are pretty good that he'll put up the four-to-five points to justify his salary with the upside to go big during his limited exposure.

Temper: RHB Nolan Arenado 3B ($4100) against LHP Francisco Liriano ($10000)

Bats are very reasonably priced in general today, a trait that is likely owed to the breadth of top-tier pitching that is available, both due to a potential adjustment when setting salaries and also due to the price-discounting impact that the high-level arms can have on the population of available hitters. As mentioned earlier, Liriano has been hell on left-handed batters, but righties have enjoyed a reasonable .243/.326/.381 line against the southpaw in his career (this season the righty OPS is just 610). Arenado has been fine on the road this season, with 18 of his 30 homeruns and a .539 slug, however he has not hit southpaws at all in 2015, with just two of those bombs and a collective line of .253/.327/.379 in 101 plate appearances, this after having a much larger platoon split that followed the usual direction for the first two seasons of his career.

***

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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Premium Article Some Projection Left: ... (08/28)
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