Today is a day that is full of interesting options, from high-upside arms to big bats, so it's useful to know which of the high-priced players has a couple of weights pulling down his stock. There are so many quality arms that I felt compelled to go with two lineups today; there are some impact players on the agenda, so we'll break down a few of those high-priced targets whose stock might be further impacted by recent context.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B ($5100)
vs. LHP: .322/.414/.610 in 526 PA
vs. RHP: .282/.371/.497 in 1492 PA
Goldschmidt is a good bet any way you slice it, but if spending more than $5k then you want to be on the lookout for potential holes in the system. Goldschmidt doesn't have any particular issues with right-handers, but there is reason to raise an eyebrow at his upcoming matchup with Gerrit Cole. Setting aside the fact that Cole is a hard-worker who has surely done his homework on the Reds, the repertoire happens to match up in a way that leaves the Diamondbacks at considerable risk.
Goldie vs. pitch types (AVG/SLG)
Hard: .324/.591 in 1039 AB
Breaking: .230/.399 in 496 AB
Off-Speed: .266/.489 in 188 AB
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Details ($3 Moonshot):
Cole rarely throws his changeup, registering just a six percent frequency, but he has no qualms going to his slider or curve while showing no mercy to opposing hitters. This plays right into Cole's hands in the face-to-face matchup with Goldschmidt, who feasts on off-speed stuff but has struggled most with breaking pitches, and Cole will have the upper-hand in using his ever-darting fastball to invoke empty swings with an advanced gameplan.
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B ($4300)
vs. LHP: .272/.375/.507 in 1269 PA
vs. RHP: .261/.338/.479 in 3685 PA
On the surface, Encarnacion's head-to-head matchup with Tampa's Drew Smyly seems like a dream scenario. Smyly is returning from an injury-induced layoff, E-5 has a lifetime split that favors southpaws by 56 points of OPS, but the platoon story has been very different for the past couple seasons when compared to how it was prior.
E-5 platoon, 2013-15
vs. LHP: .268/.370/.495 in 216 PA
vs. RHP: .265/.353/.542 in 981 PA
Edwin has had a big reverse split over the last few years, defying the laws of traditional DFS and requiring a deeper analysis to understand his unique context. He's a good hitter regardless of pitcher identity, but rather than over-indulge in an Edwin-infused stack when the Jays are facing a lefty, gamers would be better off employing his services with a righty on the hill, as it has the advantages of not just being more productive, but also more enjoyable. Smyly's pitch repertoire is a good mesh against Encarnacion's particular likes, as the southpaw lacks a discernible off-speed pitch (changeup at 5-percent use).
E-5 vs. pitch types (AVG/SLG)
Hard: .269/.507 in 2139 AB
Breaking: .228/.421 in 356 AB
Off-Speed: .317/.643 in 886 AB
Salvador Perez, C ($3700)
vs. LHP: .307/.346/.499 in 422 PA
vs. RHP: .280/.305/.414 in 1218 PA
vs. Quintana: .364/.400/.697 in 35 PA
Perez is a completely different hitter when a southpaw is on the mound, with double the walk rate and 50-percent more isolated power. The high-contact hitter becomes a masher when he has the platoon advantage, as is the case this afternoon with Jose Quintana taking the slab for the Chicago White Sox. Perez also has a shiny track record against Quintana in his career, the pitcher that he has faced the third-most often in his career, ad the power numbers suggest that he could be a very sneaky play at $3700.
Felix Hernandez, SEA vs. MIN ($11,300)
In 2014, Felix set a career best with a league-low 0.915 WHIP; he's beating that mark so far this year, with a 0.895 WHIP. His 6.5 hits per nine were a career best last year, as well; he's on break to smash it again in 2015. If the season were to end today, his K rate would be the highest of his career at greater than 10 percent, and his development has been so fluid and so efficient that he has seven straight seasons of 200 or more innings in an era where busted arms are raining all around him. The King just continues to get better, and today's outing against a hapless Twins club should act to further establish his reign as King of the American League.
Jon Lester, CHC at CIN ($8700)
Lester has had a harsh introduction to the National League, but the fact that his issues stem from balls in play shines a ray of optimism over the numbers. His 39-percent line drive rate is simply unsustainable, so a bit of regression will bring him closer to league average and therefore closer in line with expectation. Lester had never previously cleared a walk rate lower than 2.8 free passes per nine prior to last season, so the natural expectation is for him to give back a little something with his walk rate. He is facing a Reds ballclub whose top two hitters (Joey Votto, Jay Bruce) are vulnerable to platoon splits against like-sided pitchers, so Lester should be in a great position for a huge day. Of course, the same thing was true before his April 13th start, when he gave up 10 hits and six runs over four innings of work against these same Reds. The underlying thread that could unravel the storyline is woven into Lester's issues with throwing over the first base, and the fact that he will be facing premier base-stealer Billy Hamilton.
Michael Pineda, NYY vs. NYM ($7600)
The Mets take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. First it was the loss of Zack Wheeler in the spring, and recently the club has been bombarded by the hobbling of David Wright and Travis d'Arnaud. But here they are, 11 consecutive wins later, as they head into the interleague Subway Series against the Yankees. Pineda has had trouble staying on the mound in recent years, but when he pitches he has generally been lights out. He gave up more than two runs on just one occasion across 13 starts in 2014, but he has already been tagged for three or more earnies in two of his three starts to kick off this season. The story gets deeper the more you dig, and his upside is captured by the 20 K's and two walks that he has issued this year.
Garrett Richards, LAA vs. TEX ($9500)
Richards missed all of spring training in his recovery from the horrific knee injury that ended his 2014 season. He made his first start of 2015 despite the abbreviated prep period, and typically a drop in velocity would not be cause for worry this time of year, but the specific conditions of Richards' recovery add a layer of concern over the results. The right-hander stood out last season as the rare pitcher who actually increased velocity out of the rotation – he moved out of the 'pen and into a starting role in 2014, and though most pitchers would drop some mileage under those conditions, Richards added more than 1.5 mph to his fastball velocity over the previous season despite his moving to a stretched out role with a more demanding workload.
His breakout was related to this bump in pitch-speed, as it allowed Richards to get away with pitches that missed their targets. His delivery is a classic case of power over stability, and as is common in such a trade-off, Richards would sacrifice balance in the name of the radar gun. This is where the knee injury comes into play, as a pitcher with an already-compromised foundation will struggle further to find a repeatable release point if his balance is disrupted, and bum knees would fall into that category. Here's hoping that everything comes back in rapid fashion for Richards, but his long-term development would best be served by his getting into game shape before putting the pedal to the metal.
Starling Marte ($5100) made an appearance in yesterday's game and might be ready to re-enter the starting lineup today
Ryan Zimmerman ($4500) has been dealing with plantar fasciitis and might see it cut into his playing time in the near future
Dexter Fowler ($4500) has not been starting due to a groin issue. Check his status before rostering
Jose Bautista ($4400) will be probably be out of Friday's lineup with continued shoulder soreness
James Loney ($3200) is expected to be activated today
The rain is following the roofs today, with potential downpours in Miami, Phoenix, and Seattle. Rain is also expected to hit Oakland after the HOU@OAK game – check for updates
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