Yesterday's slate of games featured a boatload of runs, and DFS scores have been bloated for the past several days. The thin red line of 100 points has not been sufficient for profit, but it has fortunately been my floor for the past eight lineups. I'm also happy to report that Draft Kings has finally removed the shortstop designation from Billy Hamilton (who hasn't played more than one game at short since 2012 in the minors), and he qualifies only as an outfielder.
Before we get started, I just wanted to encourage everyone to watch the White Sox-O's tilt today. After consecutive cancellations due to the local riots, the teams will be playing today's game in front of an audience of none, playing ball in an empty stadium. I don't know if there's going to be a Spring Training vibe or more of a Scooby Doo / Haunted House feel, but get out the ice cream because it's gonna be a whole new brand of #weirdbaseball.
It's a cold corner edition of splits today, adding some data to your decision-making process when choosing a first baseman.
David Ortiz, 1B ($4500)
vs. LHP: .266/.338/.479 in 2690 PA
vs. RHP: .293/.396/.576 in 6243 PA
at Fenway: .310/.407/.582 in 3719 PA
vs. Dickey: .333/.400/.778 in 20 PA
It's no secret that Big Papi has hit right-handers far better than lefties in his career, losing 97 points of slugging and 58 points of OBP with the platoon disadvantage. Of course, none of that really matters when facing a knuckleballer, as the generally accepted attacking principles do not apply when hacking at dancing butterflies. For his part, Ortiz has fared well against R.A. Dickey in the past, going 6-for-18 with two homers, two doubles, a pair of walks and seven strikeouts. Dickey has also been lit for more runs in every successive start, including a nine-spot on record for his last outing, with four homers surrendered in his last two turns. The odds are stacked in favor or Ortiz, who is primed to treat the local fans with a souvenir into the bleachers.
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Details ($3 Moonshot):
Matt Adams, 1B ($4300)
vs. LHP: .188/.221/.312 in 213 PA
vs. RHP: .306/.348/.501 in 825 PA
Home: .302/.338/.492 in 520 PA
Road: .262/.305/.431 in 518 PA
Similar to teammate Matt Carpenter, Adams has enjoyed a much better experience when playing at Busch Stadium than when on the road. The sample is small enough that it could just be a fluke, or perhaps there really is some magic to the Cardinal atmosphere, but the edge that left-handed bats enjoy at Busch (Runs Factor of 104 last season) is not satisfying enough of an answer to stand alone. Adams has been well-protected from southpaws, facing them in just 20.5 percent of his career plate appearances, a strategy that has been necessary for a batter whose OPS is an incredible 316 points lower versus fellow lefties. Today's opponent, Aaron Harang, has been rolling so far this season, but he's likely to fall off the tight rope soon, and the Cards might just provide enough wind to knock him over (while Adams cuts the rope).
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B/3B ($4100)
vs. LHP: .309/.393/.500 in 1307 PA
vs. RHP: .276/.336/.466 in 3967 PA
The injuries that have kept Zimmerman off the field may have obscured his consistency when on it, at least at the plate – in each of the last three years, he has batted between .275 and .282, posted an OBP between .342 and .346, and slugged between .449 and .478. He has also played 140 or more games in four of the past six seasons, for what it's worth. With power that's identical when facing left-handers or righties (an ISO split of .001 amounts to a rounding error), but Zimmerman's other plate skills take a large jump with a southpaw on the mound. It might be all singles, but his batting average jumps 33 points for his career, with a large enough sample size that randomness alone would be an insufficient explanation. Most impressive is his control of the strike zone, as Zimmerman's K rate goes down five percentage points against lefties (18.7 percent to 13.7) while his walk rate goes up nearly four points (from 8.2 percent to 12.1). The result is a K-to-walk ratio that is cut in half, from 2.27 versus right-handers to 1.13 against southpaws. He will be facing Alex Wood today, who has an unparalleled blend of command and funk, and their head-to-head battles will be among the highlights of the ballgame.
Jordan Zimmermann, WAS at ATL ($8600)
You know that you've gone overboard when two Zimmer's find their way into an article that's not specifically about the Nats. Given that I've only covered two Nationals in this space so far this season (tied for the lowest representation among ballclubs), I felt that we were overdue. Zimmermann has been largely unraveled by his defense so far this season, including a couple of non-ruled errors by Michael Taylor that opened the floodgates against Boston. Those are all excuses for optimism, but shadows loom, as Zimmermann's velocity has been noticeably down this month – his 92.5 mph average on the four-seamer is 2.1 ticks lower than it was in April of 2014. His pitch command has also been off-track, and these issues could be tied together by the thread of wayward timing. Enthusiasm should be tempered until he shows us the skills that vaulted him to the top tier in the first place.
Alex Wood, ATL vs. WAS ($8400)
This is the first time that I've utilized both sides of a duel, and given the double-barreled Zimm that was just fired, it should be clear which ballgame I will be watching most closely this evening – let's just hope that rain doesn't artificially shorten anyone's outing. Watching Alex Wood pitch is just plain entertaining; he has one of the weirdest deliveries in the game, and even though everything that he does seems to fly in the face of pitch command, the guy nails targets with regularity. He may not get high marks on the Mechanics Report Card, but it's the oddities in life that draw the most intrigue. He has the platoon advantage on He-Man Bryce Harper, and that match-up alone should be worth the price admission.
Danny Salazar, CLE vs. KC ($9000)
Salazar's 2015 campaign started terribly, just as it had the year before, with a return trip to the minors to right himself before returning to the big club. This time around he had a much quicker return, and he has been a DFS darling for the last few starts, racking up a ridiculous 21 strikeouts and a 2.08 ERA across 13 innings of work. He's certainly not efficient, averaging and even four pitches per plate appearance, so the likelihood of a short outing is high. The high price reflects his recent dominance, checking in as the fourth-highest cost of any pitcher on the day's slate. Today he encounters a red-hot Royals club that excels in making contact, pitting the contest as an interesting battle of extremes between the True Outcome hurler and the balls-in-play offense.
Andrew McCutchen, OF ($4800)
That's about as low of a price as you'll ever see on Cutch, and any other time in the last few years it would have been a no-brainer to roster him at anything under $5k, but then again he is going through his most difficult stretch in recent memory. With a current slash of .179/.296/.299 through 20 games, McCutchen is on pace to hit under the Mendoza line for the first calendar month since September of 2011 (aka just before he became Superman). His lowest OPS of any single month last season was May's 815 mark, and his lowest mark of the last three years was the 693 of August, 2012. The big question is how well his knee is holding up, as a weakened foundation could impact him at the plate, in the field, and on the basepaths. Cutch has a reputation for playing (and succeeding) despite injury, but his presence is too critical to the Pirates postseason hopes to risk exacerbating the problem, and his recent performance suggests that Pittsburgh won't miss him too badly in the short-term.
Matt Shoemaker had to skip his start on Sunday to attend to a personal matter and he is now on the docket for today's game, but keep an eye on this situation if planning to start the right-hander.
Mike Napoli was out of the lineup Tuesday due to an illness, and may be out sporadically over the next few days. He is currently listed as in the lineup for Wednesday.
It will be raining throughout the day in Atlanta (WAS-ATL), though things might clear up in time for the night game – check here for updates
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