The purpose of the weather alert at the end of each day's Fantasy Rounders is to help fellow gamers to avoid contests that are postponed, but sometimes there are different circumstances behind a canceled ballgame. Such was the case yesterday in Baltimore, where local violence led to the cancellation of the White Sox-Orioles game (tonight's game has also been canceled). The official announcement of the postponement wasn't released until 40 minutes prior to game time, so a lot of gamers who had stacked against Chicago starter Hector Noesi and didn't check prior to gametime ended up with holes on the roster.
Draft Kings does a great job of addressing this problem, providing banner alerts for suspended games or late roster changes, and when a game is canceled DK changes the involved players to red ink and disallows future adds of these players (they are effectively locked). If you visit an already-constructed roster and see red then that is a cue that a ballgame has been eliminated from the schedule, so the best advice that I can give is to re-check lineups thirty minutes before contests are scheduled to start. There are two sides of the Schwartz with suspended games: the downside that gets hosed by zero-point players and the upside that reaps a competitive advantage by avoiding these traps.
Matt Carpenter, 3B ($4800)
vs. LHP: .280/.351/.434 in 569 PA
vs. RHP: .304/.394/.446 in 1298 PA
Home: .305/.390/.476 in 903 PA
Road: .289/.373/.412 in 964 PA
Carpenter was an MVP candidate in 2013, leading the majors in runs, hits, and doubles on the season. The power disappeared in 2014 but the on-base skills remained mostly intact, and this year he has rediscovered the power. Carpenter has started with a slash of .373/.423/.640 this season and his 11 doubles lead the majors; he has a weird habit of ending seasons with a doubles count that's a multiple of 11, having totaled 33, 55, and 22 dubs over the past three seasons, so I have to assume that he'll land on 44 doubles when the book closes on the 2015 regular season. Carpenter favors right-handers and has raked at Busch Stadium in his career, so today's home matchup with righty Severino Gonzalez (making his MLB debut) has all of the ingredients for a big day at the plate.
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Details ($3 Home Run):
Chris Carter, 1B/OF ($3700)
vs. LHP: .224/.341/.444 in 513 PA
vs. RHP: .217/.296/.450 in 1102 PA
Carter is one of the streakiest players in the game, representing a one-man case for the potential legitimacy of the hot hand. His bat requires a Kelvin scale when it gets cold, such as the .154/.257/.215 line that he has strung up in 74 plate appearances so far in 2015. His splits carry an interesting spike in walks when facing lefties, which won't matter much against starter Tyson Ross today, but there is another facet to the matchup that further paints Carter into a corner.
Carter vs. pitch types (AVG/SLG)
Fastball: .218/.521 in 455 AB, 181 K
Sinker: .274/.534 in 277 AB, 52 K
Slider: .158/.258 in 279 AB, 155 K
Change: .198/.443 in 106 AB, 44 K
Ross is the master of sliders, throwing them at a 41-percent clip last season and a 38-percent frequency in 2015. Carter can handle the heat in the sense that he occasionally runs into a fastball and sends it a long distance, but he has been helpless in his career versus the slider, having struck out in more than half of the at bats that ended on the slide. Ross and Carter have never faced each other, having been teammates in Oakland before going their separate ways to different leagues, but today's interleague tilt between the Astros and Pads will provide the opportunity for a reunion.
Shin-Soo Choo, OF ($3600)
vs. LHP: .240/.338/.339 in 1307 PA
vs. RHP: .297/.400/.499 in 2962 PA
What happened to Shin-Soo Choo? He was an underrated player with all-around skills who was hiding in the obscurity of Cleveland for a good five years, but a big season in Cincy followed by a hefty payday put him on the national radar. His first year in Texas was a disaster of epic proportions, with every phase of his game taking a hit, but the worst-case scenario of the Rangers season made it easier to give Choo a mulligan. Unfortunately, his woes have crossed over the off-season, and his first 63 plate appearances of 2015 have produced a measly .096/.254/.173 line. He has long been vulnerable to left-handed pitchers (platoon split that is 222 points lower vs. LHP), but his recent inability to hit righties has been especially alarming. Don't be surprised if Choo is sitting out with southpaw J.A. Happ on the hill for Seattle tonight, but even if starting I would avoid Choo at any cost.
Kershaw has been somewhat human to start 2015, with a 4.07 ERA and 25 hits allowed in 24.3 innings, but there's blood in the water and the reigning MVP is poised to strike. The most dominant pitcher in the land (or sea) has struck out 21 batters against two walks in 12 innings over the past two starts, the last of which came against these Giants in San Francisco. The only real threat in the San Francisco lineup is Buster Posey, who has a heavy platoon split that favors southpaws, but the head-to-head matchup is more telling: Kershaw has faced Posey more times than any other player in his career (and vice versa), and the result has been .177/.215/.258 with one homer and 14 strikeouts in 65 plate appearances. The cost is highly prohibitive (as it should be), and there is no single player that is more polarizing from an ownership standpoint – expect a lot of zigs and zags in GPP's, but an extremely-high ownership rate of Kershaw in 50/50 tournaments.
Michael Wacha, STL vs. PHI ($8300)
Lance Lynn might ascend to the role of presumptive ace of the Cardinal staff with Adam Wainwright now out for the year, but Wacha is the one who could be spearheading the rotation in a potential playoff series. Wacha has made excellent strides in his development, now featuring a diverse four-pitch mix that he can mix and match to hitters on both sides of the plate. He has a 1.33 ERA and has allowed less than a baserunner per inning this season and today he'll have the pleasure of pitching against the Phillies, a team whose veteran cleanup hitter (Jeff Francoeur) spent the vast majority of last season in the minor leagues.
Clay Buchholz, BOS vs. TOR ($6600)
Buchholz might be the most frustrating pitcher in fantasy baseball, and his rollercoaster performance of 2015 is a good approximation/encapsulation of his career to date. His first start of the season was a tease, taking advantage of the Phillies to the tune of nine strikeouts and just four baserunners in 7.0 frames; five days later, Buchholz was torched for 10 runs against the Yankees. He rebounded with a single-run effort against the Orioles, but 11 hits allowed exposed the extent to which he was trying to walk between raindrops; then he put up a dominant line in his last start, striking out 10 Rays against five baserunners. He's facing an intimidating Blue Jays lineup today, and though the recent absence of Jose Bautista took some of the thump out of the roster (he's set to return today), the sudden ascension of Devon Travis further enhances the power threat. Rostering Buchholz is the ultimate risk/reward play today thanks to the alluring price tag, but I have seen this movie enough times to avoid another viewing.
Odubel Herrera, 2B/OF ($3100)
The patchwork offense that has been constructed in Philadelphia has opened the door of opportunity for Herrera. He has been installed as the team's everyday center fielder and has been hitting regularly in the top two spots in the batting order. His teammates might not provide the best context for RuBI's, but hitting in front of Chase Utley while batting in a spot that's likely to get an extra at bat maximizes his potential to provide value on a daily basis.
The speed has been his most useful tool on the diamond thus far, with two triples and four steals in his first 20 games in the majors (.300/.347/.429 in 75 PA), but his youth and spotty track record cloud his future production. Herrera made the jump from Double-A to the majors this season, and the 23-year old has posted solid walk rates (7.6 percent) yet little power (.083 ISO) in the minors. He might go through some major growing pains, but in the short term Herrera offers outstanding value at $3200. He only needs six or seven points to justify his price tag and his reasonable cost allows for more maneuverability with the rest of the DFS lineup, perhaps allowing one to roster that big bat that was targeted.
Tonight's contest between the White Sox and Orioles has been canceled on account of the riots.
Jose Bautista (shoulder, $5100) has been out for five games but is expected to rejoin the lineup today
Gregory Polanco (groin, $3900) sat out yesterday and might be out today as well.
Jose Reyes (ribs, $4400) has been placed on the DL
Arlington is expecting some rain in the afternoon but it should not interfere with the 7:05pm CST game between the Rangers and Mariners – check here for updates
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Draft Kings player prices
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