With DraftKings’ acquisition of DraftStreet, I will now be using that site’s dollar values to select my players of the day.
Mat Latos ($8,900 CIN v. BOS) – It’s been a bit of a slow burn with Latos, though in fairness he is just 10 games into his season. The ratios are there. He has a strong 3.12 ERA and a tremendous 0.95 WHIP, but the component numbers have lagged a bit thanks to an uninspiring 5.7 K/9 rate. His 2.3 BB/9 rate is actually a career-best, giving him a passable 2.5 K:BB ratio. I still think we’ll see a strikeout surge before year’s end. Even with the modest strikeout totals, he’s logged 20+ points in each of his past two outings and he gets to face an offense that has been baseball’s second-worst against righties since the All-Star break. Of course, the only team below them is Latos’ own Reds at .575, which means runs could be at a premium tonight in Cincy, but I’m still betting on a strong effort from Latos.
J.A. Happ ($6,600 TOR at SEA) – Happ has an incredible 1.71 ERA in his past four starts with 25 Ks and a 4.2 K:BB ratio in 26 1/3 innings of work, including a 12-K, eight-inning gem his last time out against Baltimore (which he lost, 2-1). He has been a boom/bust pitcher throughout his past 10 outings, with a pair of 30+ outings (33.7 v. CWS, 33.8 in that BAL outing) and a pair of negative scoring starts (-2.3 at LAA, -1.6 at CIN). This is a tremendous opportunity to stay white-hot as the Mariners have been one of baseball’s worst teams against lefties this year with a .645 OPS (29th). Happ is my favorite pitcher pick of the day from a cost/production standpoint.
Kyle Hendricks ($6,100 CHC v. MIL) – He didn’t place on the Cubs’ top 10 prospect list this offseason, in large part due to the depth of the system, and yet he’s looked every bit like a solid prospect since his arrival. The Reds got to him for four earned runs in his MLB debut, but he’s allowed just four more earned runs in his last four starts combined, giving him a 2.10 ERA in 34 1/3 innings of work. His two August starts have been particularly impressive, as he’s gone into Los Angeles (Dodgers) and Colorado and emerged with a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings. Sure, the Rockies aren’t exactly whole right now, but you can’t knock an 8 IP/2 ER gem in Coors. The right-hander has dominated righties to the tune of a .197 AVG and .534 OPS so far. He gets essentially a leftyless club in the Brewers on Tuesday night (he could see up to three, but only one of them, Scooter Gennett, is any good).
With today’s full slate, there are several strong options on the mound even beyond my three favorites. Others on the value end of the spectrum include Wily Peralta ($7,500), Shane Greene ($6,800), and Jeremy Hellickson ($5,900). Joe Kelly ($6,400) against the Reds with their aforementioned struggles versus righties is also an intriguing play. In the upper reaches, I like Collin McHugh ($8,700) and Doug Fister ($8,400), but if you really want to spend without completely breaking the bank, Adam Wainwright at $9,500 is almost a bargain with Chris Sale and Jon Lester priced at $3,000 and $2,100 more, respectively. Waino gets the Marlins and he’s coming off of a 24.4-point effort that, thankfully for us, didn’t even raise his price.
Mike Trout ($5,400 LAA v. PHI) – What do I really need to say about Trout? I don’t always pick him because he’s super expensive, but he's often worth it, with an obscene 10.5 PPG average. On a day like today when there are several low-dollar and worthwhile options on the mound, you can afford to spend lavishly on your lineup, which usually includes procuring the services of Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Troy Tulowitzki, or Paul Goldschmidt. Well, three of those four are currently hurt, but the one who isn’t is the one you want most anyway!
Justin Morneau ($4,100 COL at SD) – A Rockies player outside of Coors? Are you nuts? Morneau actually hasn’t had much of a home/road split this year (.879/.848), trading in some power for on-base on the road, but essentially hitting the same (14-point difference in AVG, which is essentially two or three hits given his ABs). Meanwhile, I remain fully skeptical about Odrisamer Despaigne despite his 3.10 ERA through eight starts. He has a paltry 1.4 K:BB ratio (1.0 at home). I like the idea of jumping on one or two Rockies players here because I think they will be underused playing in virtually the polar opposite of their home ballpark.
Conor Gillaspie ($3,400 CWS at SF) – Did you know that Gillaspie is still hitting well above .300 on the season? His .313 AVG is fueled by a .342 mark against righties in 260 at-bats with all four of his homers, all three of his triples, and 21 of his 28 doubles. He gets to face the organization that drafted him in the first round back in 2008. Ryan Vogelsong is having a solid season, but he does let lefties hit .288 with a .762 OPS (.244, .696 v. RHB). It’s a tough hitter’s park, but I like the inexpensive gamble here.
Marlon Byrd ($3,800 PHI at LAA) – Byrd has quietly put together a solid followup campaign to last year’s shocking age-35 breakout (.847 OPS, 24 HRs) by eclipsing the home run pace (he already has 22 in 90 fewer PA than last year) and maintaining a healthy .793 OPS. C.J. Wilson has a 206-point platoon split this year with a .786 OPS against righties, which includes 13 homers allowed (his 1.1 HR/9 this year is a career worst as a starter). Byrd had his first zero since July 30th yesterday afternoon against the Mets. It’s time to start a new streak.