The rain took down Cardinals-Cubs yesterday, so we'll be treated to an early-day reboot of Lance Lynn versus Jake Arrieta at Wrigley Field (weather permitting). Mat Latos was an absolute homewrecker, surrendering seven earned runs against the hapless Braves without escaping the first frame. His performance was worth -17.3 points on Draft Kings, dooming the 26.2% of owners that rostered him in the $100K Moonshot (including yours truly). Such an implosion takes an added emphasis on a short day like Tuesday, particularly one with little money available for arms, as the top bats were all widely owned and there was less opportunity to make up ground. Today is a much fuller slate (13 games start at 7:05 pm EST or later), so I'm looking forward to the roster flexibility.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS ($5100)
Home: .323/.397/.565 in 2053 PA
Road: .274/.349/.469 in 2011 PA
If you look at just his road numbers, Tulowitzki would still be considered one of the top offensive shortstops in the game. He has consistently performed away from Coors Field, cracking an 800 OPS or better in each of the last six seasons, but I'm not so sure that he's a $5k player at sea level – a pricing tier that is reserved for the Stanton's, McCutchen's, and Abreu's of the DK world. Tulo has been ridiculous in Denver though, and might be worth $5500 when playing at home (last season he hit .417/.497/.748 in 191 PA at Coors).
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Details ($3 Moonshot):
Adam LaRoche, 1B ($4300)
LHP: .240/.298/.420 in 1422 PA
RHP: .272/.353/.489 in 4423 PA
The White Sox have made some big improvements to the top end of their lineup, but depth is an issue that gets exposed when players with one-sided warts such as LaRoche are still the best options available. The platoon discrepancy has become more glaring in his advanced age, with the split exceeding 225 points between RHP and LHP in each of the past two seasons, and last year's line included a 271-point split and an OPS of just 620 in 155 PA against southpaws. LaRoche faces left-hander Danny Duffy of the Royals today, and the homer-suppressing effects of Kauffman Stadium (park factor of 92 for LHB homers last year) combine with the platoon issues to keep LaRoche far away from my DFS rosters.
Pedro Alvarez, 3B ($4100)
LHP: .196/.267/.321 in 558 PA
RHP: .247/.320/.472 in 1735 PA
Alvarez has faced Mike Leake more times than any other pitcher in his career, with 42 plate appearances in their history of head-to-head matchups. Leake is winning the rivalry with Alvarez thus far, with a .250/.357/.306 line and just two extra-base hits (both doubles), while Johnny Cueto's utter domination of Alvarez suggests that the Reds might have a good idea of how to pitch to the slugger. Despite the history, there are a number of reasons to think that Alvarez can pad his stats against Leake today, from the Pirate's extreme platoon split to the friendly environs of Great American Ball Park, which rated as the second-best ballark for left-handed homers in baseball last season (tops in the National League).
Alvarez vs pitch types, (AVG/SLG)
Hard: .287/.525 in 1110 AB
Breaking: .169/.298 in 550 AB
Off-Speed: .172/.356 in 396 AB
The odds seem to grow increasingly in Alvarez's favor as we dig deeper into the match-up. Alvarez is a dead fastball hitter who struggles against every type of secondary pitch; most batters post their best contact numbers against the hard stuff, but few have such a large discrepancy. Cutters are part of the “hard” equation, and the three pitch types that Alvarez hits best are (in order): sinker, 4-seam, and cutter, each of which has a SLG of .484 or higher and an AVG of .260 or higher. These numbers are more notable when one considers that the highest mark that Alvarez achieves against any non-fastball is a .189 average. So it's a good thing that he's facing Leake, who for his career has thrown the hard stuff on two-thirds of his pitches. Leake throws a sinker on the first pitch more than half the time against opposing left-handers (it was 60 percent in 2014), so expect Alvarez to key on that pitch.
We discussed Lynn's ability to squelch the running game in yesterday's piece, so keep that under your hat when choosing speedy Cubs for the early games.
Carlos Carrasco @ HOU ($8800)
You can pretty much copy-paste what I said two days ago about Kluber. A strikeout pitcher versus a K-prone lineup has obvious upside, and recent history suggests that the carpet matches the drapes – in two starts against Houston late last season, Carrasco struck out 20 Astros across 15 frames with three walks, including a 12-K shutout on September 17th (the day after Kluber spun a dominant gem of his own). I'm a believer in the changes that Carrasco made last season, as he ditched the windup and discovered repetition for the first time in his career, giving him command of already plus stuff. Timing and repetition can be volatile, especially year to year, and last year's improvements may take some time to coalesce in 2015. He had a busy spring between the birth of his child and the massive extension with the Tribe, and his track record is anything but consistent, so there is an extra large risk/reward level with his first start of the year.
Jose Quintana @ KC ($7700)
Quintana is a trustworthy name for today, but the ceiling is likely limited against a Kansas City club that puts the ball in play more often than any other squad in the game (more than 100 fewer strikeouts than the next lowest total in the AL last year). The Royals also don't hit homers, as they were the only club in baseball to fall short of triple-digit blasts last season, and Kauffman further shrinks the power numbers. The White Sox southpaw can mute the bats of Eric Hosmer (-111 OPS vs. LHP) and Mike Moustakas (-98) while turning down the volume on Alex Gordon (-54), making him a safe play with a high floor but a low ceiling, perfect as an SP2 in a 50/50 league on Draft Kings.
Hellickson's performance has been all over the place for the last few seasons, and I contend that his volatility has been rooted in a changing approach from the stretch. He went from an occasional slide step mixed in with regular leg-kicks to a pitcher who used the slide step all the time, and his delivery was particularly impacted by the shortened stride and altered timing patterns of the slide step. It remains to be seen how he approaches the stretch with his new ballclub, but his low price (third-cheapest SP available) is as enticing as his opponent today, facing a Giants lineup that will be without Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt.
Hisashi Iwakuma ($9100)
Iwakuma is dealing with a blister on his pitching hand, and though he was able to get through two innings of a minor-league game last week, he reportedly didn't use his trademark splitter due to the blister problem. This is a known quantity for Iwakuma, who has dealt with multiple blisters over the years, so he knows how to manage it. The splitter is far and away his best pitch, so if the trap-door is compromised or non-existent then his stock takes a massive hit. Iwakuma claims that he'll be fine, but the risk is significant for the second-most expensive pitcher available today, who happens to be facing the big-power offense of the Angels.
Brandon Belt ($4300) left yesterday's game with a groin strain and will have an MRI. Consider him out for today
Ryan Braun's ($4700) MRI on his right side came back clean and he could be back in action today or tomorrow
The Braves reportedly intend to have newly-acquired outfielder Cameron Maybin ($2700) start in CF today.
There's a lot of rain and thunderstorms across the country today, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast. I don't really get worried until the odds crack 60%, but anything at 50% or higher is at least worthy of attention. Today is another good day to seek sanctuary indoors or on the West Coast.
*Rain and thunderstorms continue to ravage the Midwest, putting the early game in Chicago (STL-CHC) in doubt – click here for updates
*Same goes for the early game in Detroit (MIN-DET) – click here for updates
*Cincinnati is at 50-60% precipitation with scattered thunderstorms – click here for updates
*Kansas City is at 60% rain for tonight with scattered “strong” storms – click here for updates
*New York City (TOR-NYY) is at 50% rain for tonight – click here for updates
*Washington D.C. (NYM-WAS) is at 50% rain for tonight – click here for updates
*Philadelphia (BOS-PHI) is looking at light rain, precipitation around 50% but not scheduled to hit until late night – click here for updates
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