Entering gameplay on Monday, the list of busted backstops already included Matt Wieters, Yan Gomes, Devin Mesoraco, and Travis d'Arnaud. Now add Jonathan Lucroy to the list. Catcher is the toughest position on the field, and they are vulnerable to a much greater number of dings and dents than any other player.
There are a lot of questionable arms going today, and though some gems are hiding in the weeds, there are also lots of stacking opportunities with certain lineups. I expect that player overlap will be minimal in today's games, given the plethora of options provided by a full 30-team slate that has all 15 games starting within a 3-hour window. It might be a good day to go with more than one lineup, given the breadth of options available.
There are a bunch of southpaws who are taking the hill today, with a total of 13 left-handed starters on the docket including three games with left-on-left duels. It's a good day to go platoon hunting.
Victor Martinez, 1B ($4800)
vs. LHP: .305/.375/.488 in 1971 PA
vs. RHP: .307/.372/.467 in 4195 PA
The switch-hitter is basically the same badass from both sides of the plate, and though he's a bit better against lefties and is facing right-hander Nate Eovaldi today, the intrigue of his matchup has more to do with the stuff profile.
Martinez vs. pitch types (AVG/SLG)
Hard: .338/.537 in 2223 AB
Breaking: .265/.396 in 566 AB
Off-Speed: .237/.281 in 469 AB
The knock against Eovaldi has long been the lack of an off-speed pitch, but after some failed experiments it looks like he may have finally found a solution with the split-finger. He began toying with the split at the end of last season and has featured the pitch more prominently this year, but the results have been mixed thus far. How well the split is working will play a big role in his duels with V-Mart, as the off-speed pitch is a glaring weakness in Martinez's game. He has absolutely destroyed fastballs in his career and will likely not be intimidated by the high-grade heat of Eovaldi, but V-Mart has done nothing against change-ups and splits. The sheer sample size of at bats that end on fastballs is an indicator of the degree to which he attacks heat, and Eovaldi will have to miss under the bat if he hopes to contain Martinez.
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Details ($3 Moonshot):
Albert Pujols, 1B ($4300)
vs. LHP: .321/.413/.611 in 2318 PA
vs. RHP: .315/.399/.579 in 6976 PA
Facing left-hander Drew Pomeranz, Pujols would seem to have an extra advantage thanks to a 45-point edge in career OPS versus lefties, with a higher walk rate and 26 points of isolated power. Then again, it doesn't really matter who he's facing, because Pujols can apparently mash anyone if looking at just the above numbers. The problem is that Pujols isn't the same hitter that he was in his twenties, and the current model can be expected to put up a heavily-diluted version of those numbers. I realize that this sounds a bit counter-intuitive, but look what happens when we trim the sample size to look at just his last two years:
vs. LHP: .237/.290/.409 in 279 PA
vs. RHP: .273/.336/.469 in 912 PA
Pujols has really lost his way against lefties over the past two seasons, overlapping a period where his collective slugging percentage is just .455 across 1071 at bats. His price is still attractive considering that he ranks below 20 other first basemen in terms of Draft Kings salary.
Buster Posey, C/1B ($4100)
vs. LHP: .330/.390/.573 in 712 PA
vs. RHP: .298/.366/.442 in 1799 PA
Home: .284/.347/.442 in 1198 PA
Road: .327/.396/.524 in 1313 PA
Posey has some dueling splits going on here, facing southpaw Brett Anderson yet dealing with San Francisco weather in a night game next to the bay. AT&T Park has been a rough place to hit throughout Posey's career, with an OPS split that costs him 131 points when playing at home. Of course that's how many points of slugging percentage that Posey gains with a left-hander on the mound, so the effects nearly wash out. At $4100, Posey's price is very attractive when looking at the depleted catcher pool, so all of the stars needn't align in order to get value out of him today. Keep these ratios in mind the next that the plays a lefty on the road – the Rockies have a rotation full of 'em.
Today has a very interesting slate, with 15 games starting at 7:05pm EST or later, yet none of the high-end aces are taking the hill. The most expensive pitcher is just $9000 (Lance Lynn), and the lack of any standout arms means that there will be a lot of variance in terms of ownership. With that in mind, I'm going to lean toward some of the less expensive options to highlight details that might be buried under the surface.
Dan Haren, MIA at PHI ($7000)
The Philadelphia offense is in general disarray. Jeff Francoeur has been consistently batting cleanup, which is the first and biggest red flag, and is trailed by the fact that their only impact bat (Chase Utley) is currently hitting .116 and that Freddy Galvis has the third-highest OPS on the team at 774. Philly does lean very heavily to the left, so they'll have some leverage on the platoon scale, but the matchup favors the other guy pretty much whenever Philadelphia is involved. For his part, the 34-year old Haren has relied on off-speed stuff throughout his career that has contributed to a reverse platoon split, so he won't be intimidated by a lefty-soaked lineup even as the velo continues to drop with age – Haren's averaging just 87.0 mph on his fastball this season.
Tommy Milone, MIN at KC ($5800)
The Royals always make for an interesting opponent due to their extreme standing with very few homers and very few strikeouts, fueling many projections of low-K days for the opposing pitcher. The KC lineup also leans very far to the left, and players like Hosmer, Gordon, and Moustakas are vulnerable to southpaws such as Milone (while lefty-masher Alex Rios is out of the lineup). The Twins left-hander has been surprisingly run-resistant through his first two starts of 2015 (2.08 ERA), and given that he is a pitch-to-contact guy, this is setup to be a BABIP game where the results on contact dictate his overall line. Given the platoon-related power-sapping of the big bats, he could have a quietly effective day.
Jason Marquis, CIN at MIL ($4600)
Marquis is typically a stack target, with a history of long innings and short outings – hence why he's the cheapest guy available. He's not about to reverse course from career-long statistical trends, but Marquis has the opportunity to face a wilted Brewer lineup that has recently been decimated by injuries. Carlos Gomez went on the disabled list earlier this week, and then yesterday they lost Jonathan Lucroy. Even Scooter Gennett has been hurting. The only impact bats remaining are Ryan Braun (who has a 582 OPS through the first dozen games) and Aramis Ramirez, the 37-year old who is just 6-for-46 and has been contemplating retirement after this season. Unless they get some reinforcements soon, the Brewers are going to be a daily target for opposing pitchers in DFS.
I was down on Archer compared to the consensus entering the season, due to a combination of mechanical inconsistency (which manifested in command issues) and a two-pitch repertoire that could be exposed as batters get more looks through a game. Well, he ironed out the consistency issue, and though he still has a slow delivery that many pitchers would struggle to repeat, the early returns of 2015 suggest that he is mastering the timing his own motion.
Archer's fastball velocity is already averaging a chunk higher than last season despite the early date on the calendar, with a gain of 0.7 ticks up to a 96.3 mph average, and he has reached back for several bullets in the 97-98 mph zone. Between the mechanical improvements and the stuff upgrades, Archer has been dominant on the strength of just his fastball and slider, a combination that has worked wonders for Jordan Zimmermann thanks to his stellar pitch command. Archer might have similar upside if he can bring this level of mechanical repetition to the hill for each start.
Jonathan Lucroy's trip to the DL means more playing time for Martin Maldanado ($3100)
Corey Dickerson ($4700) had to leave yesterday's game with plantar fascitis in his foot. The injury is said to be minor, but plantar fascitis problems tend to linger, so keep a close eye on his status and don't be surprised to see a late scratch.
Nolan Arenado (wrist, $5100) is listed as day-to-day (DTD) but is expected to be in the lineup today against the Padres.
Devon Travis (ribs. $3500) is DTD
Mitch Moreland (elbow, $4200) is DTD
Omar Infante (groin, $3500) is DTD
Scooter Gennett (finger, $3900) is DTD
Jose Reyes (ribs, $4500) hopes to be in the lineup today versus the Orioles
Hanley Ramirez (illness, $4500) is expected to play today at Tampa
It's looking like a dry day with no delays or rain-outs.
Resources used for this article:
Draft Kings player prices
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