With DraftKings’ acquisition of DraftStreet, I will now be using that site’s dollar values to select my players of the day.
1. Matt Shoemaker ($9,000 LAA at MIN)
Since getting throttled for eight earned in Kansas City back on June 27th, Shoemaker has gone on to be one of baseball’s best pitchers. He has a 1.98 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and a 6.9 K:BB ratio in 63 2/3 innings with 62 strikeouts. He’s 9-2 in those 11 outings, but two were relief wins, so the daily gamers didn’t get a chance to cash those ones in. His most recent work is even better as he’s currently riding a 21 2/3-inning scoreless streak spanning three starts with 22 strikeouts and just three walks. The 27-year old is having a Corey Kluber-like emergence this year using command and control of solid stuff en route to a breakout. I use “Kluber-like” because Kluber’s raw stuff is markedly better at present, but he also took another major step forward so perhaps that is in Shoemaker’s future, too. For now, I’m betting that Shoemaker can continue to deploy his impressive secondary arsenal while using command of his modest 90-92 MPH fastball to make it play up.
2. Alfredo Simon ($6,700 CIN v. NYM)
Simon has gotten back on track in his last two outings, but his price has plummeted into a buying opportunity after a bunch of mediocrity or worse in his previous seven starts. He had a 5.40 ERA in those seven starts before these last two outings, both of which were solid seven-inning outings. The curveball and slider abandoned him during that seven-start run so he was left to lean on his fastball and splitter predominantly (81 percent of his pitches, 70 percent in first 18 starts). Both have been markedly better in these last two starts as have the fastball and splitter (all four pitches yielding OPS totals under .700). The Mets sit just 25th in OPS against righties on the year and it hasn’t been any better since the break (26th overall). Back when he was dominating, he was in the $8,000-$9,000 range. He needed these two starts to jump back over $6,000 (he was under for three starts, that’s how bad he was pitching for a while), but he’s still well priced for profit tonight.
3. Vidal Nuno ($6,700 ARI at LAD)
It looks this trade has been a win-win for the clubs as Nuno has definitely held up his end of the bargain despite a 0-4 record. He has delivered a more-than-respectable 3.23 ERA in his 10 starts along with a sparkling 0.93 WHIP in the 61 1/3 innings of work. He’s walking way fewer (from 3.0 BB/9 with NYY to 1.8 with ARI) and striking out a couple more (from 6.9 to 7.2) en route to a tremendous 4.1 K:BB ratio. Since allowing five earned in four innings against KC, he’s gone on a great four-start run yielding a 2.25 ERA and 6.0 K:BB ratio in 28 innings. The Dodgers have languished in the bottom 10 of OPS against lefties all year long, currently sitting 23rd with a .686 mark.
1. Edwin Encarnacion ($4,600 TOR at BOS)
Encarnacion has sputtered since returning with just a .169/.279/.373 line in 68 PA. I do like the 110-point split between his AVG and OBP, though, as it shows he’s still seeing the ball and taking walks (and in fact he has nine against just eight strikeouts). He also still has three homers in this run, which would pace out to 31 over a full season. With a .146 BABIP, it’s no surprise he’s hitting a buck sixty-nine. His batted ball profile since returning is essentially the same one he had prior to the injury when he hit .277, so I don’t think it’s out of bounds to suggest he has a few more hits coming his way down the stretch. Allen Webster is getting blasted by righties this year to the tune of an .812 OPS, albeit in just 75 PA. However, he’s shown virtually zero ability to command or control the ball resulting in a 7.58 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in his 65 1/3 MLB innings spread out over the last two years (6.69, 1.63 in 35 IP this year).
2. Robinson Cano ($4,700 SEA at TEX)
Let’s jump on another underpriced superstar here in Cano. He’s not on quite the skid of Encarnacion, in fact he’s not really on a skid as it’s just five games where he hasn’t hit all that well (.158 AVG, .368 OPS). But he did get two hits and four RBIs last night in the Texas debut so maybe he’s already turning it around and ready for another huge run like the .910 OPS in 100 games before this mini-lull. Cano has hit Texas pitching hard all year (.851 OPS in 63 PA) and tonight’s pitcher Scott Baker has struggled mightily against lefties with an .808 OPS and eight of his 11 homers allowed have come off of lefty bats despite three fewer plate appearances against southpaws.
3. Erick Aybar ($4,200 LAA at MIN)
Aybar could be pretty popular tonight going against Ricky Nolasco. He’s only the eighth-most expensive (not counting Tulowitzki, who still sits atop the position, but obviously isn’t playing) shortstop tonight despite a great matchup. First off, Aybar has been markedly better against righties this year. The switch-hitter has a .292/.337/.397 line against them this year compared to just .262/.289/.359 against lefties. He’s also a good bit better on the road where his OPS jumps from .658 to .762. And then finally is the fact that he’s facing Nolasco, who has baseball’s third-worst ERA among those with at least 125 innings (5.96 in 128 1/3, ahead of only Edwin Jackson and Justin Masterson). Left-handed batters have brutalized him this year with a .348/.404/.549 line in 294 plate appearances. With that .953 OPS, lefties are essentially something in between Paul Goldschmidt (.938 OPS) and Giancarlo Stanton (.968) against Nolasco this year. Aybar doesn’t quite have the power of either of those guys, but he seems ripe for a multi-hit night and has enough power to leave the yard on occasion, especially if the pitcher is just putting it on a platter as Nolasco has been this year.