Today is the thinnest Monday schedule that we have had so far this season, with just seven games (six starting after 7:00 EST) on the docket. Following an odd weekend of big performances from little-owned players, it will be interesting to see how gamers react to the shallow pool of players. Despite the short slate there are a number of options at the top end of the pitching scale, with pitchers to target for your staff yet avoid with your lineup such as Matt Harvey, Corey Kluber, and Chris Sale, not to mention Cole Hamels attempting to defeat Coors Field with his dastardly changeup.
Five of the 14 starting pitchers who are going today are southpaws, so let's lean on the platoons:
Michael Brantley, OF ($4900)
vs. RHP: .299/.350/.438 with 71-of-88 SB in 2034 PA
Brantley is continuing the consistent yard-raking of last season, including hits in 13 out of 14 games in the month of May, including all four of his homers and a .358/.470/.679 line since the calendar flipped. It's a small window of at bats, but Brantley has also reversed course with his platoon splits as the club enters the quarter turn in 2015, with an 1189 OPS and eight extra-base hits in just 47 plate appearances against lefties this season. He faces Chris Sale today, who despite his recent struggles is an imposing force that can dominate for any given ballgame, and though Brantley hits baseically everyone now he will be tested against the division's premier southpaw. The price point gives no discount for the quality of his opponent, with Brantley's $4900 price tag registering as the fifth-highest among hitters in today's shrunken player pool.
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Khris Davis, OF ($4100)
vs. LHP: .244/.293/.508 in 215 PA
vs. RHP: .254/.323/.464 in 616 PA
Davis has apparently fixed the patience problem that plagued him last year, having already earned 15 free passes in 129 plate appearances this season after taking just 32 walks in 549 PA in 2014. The numbers give the appearance that Davis sells out for homers when facing left-handers, with an ISO that's 54 points higher yet an OBP that's 30 points lower against southpaws. It's a small sample of major-league time, but the splits are a reflection of trends that he showed in the minor leagues. He gets to face Tigers left-hander Kyle Lobstein today with the chance to pad the stats.
Wilin Rosario, C/1B ($3300)
vs. LHP: .329/.363/.645 in 400 PA
vs. RHP: .253/.286/.421 in 999 PA
Home: .306/.347/.541 in 717 PA
Away: .243/.267/.428 in 682 PA
The Rockies had grown tired of Rosario's defense behind the plate, limiting him to the short side of a platoon with Justin Morneau at first base, so they sent him down to the minors for consistent at bats. But Rosario was recalled a week ago and pressed into full-time work due to the disabling of Morneau. Rosario has absolutely mashed lefties in his career, hitting 31 of his 67 career homers against southpaws despite having faced them in just 29-percent of his plate appearances, and carrying an extreme platoon split of 300 points of OPS. He has always enjoyed hitting at Coors Field, and the cherry on the sundae is that he is facing an off-peak Cole Hamels who is has the same vulnerability to altitude as anybody else. Rosario is ridiculously cheap at $3300 and qualifies at both catcher and first base, so there should be plenty of opportunity to squeeze him onto the DFS roster.
Corey Kluber, CLE at CHW ($10100)
The run-prevention numbers were scary prior to his last start but the peripherals were fine, and anecdotal evidence suggested that a lot of weakly-hit balls were finding their way through the infield. Kluber entered his last start with an ERA of 5.04, but he decided to bring regression to its knees with the biggest start by any pitcher this season: 8.0 innings with 18 strikeouts, zero walks, and just one hit allowed. It brings his totals to an AL-leading 64 strikeouts and just nine unintentional walks in 52.7 innings this season, but even after that gem, Kluber's ERA still stands at a non-flattering 4.27 this year. He faces a White Sox club whose best fantasy bats (Jose Abreu, Adam LaRoche, Adam Eaton) have fallen short of expectations thus far this season. That said, Kluber was knocked around the only time that he faced the White Sox this season, enduring his worst start of the season as he gave up 13 hits and six earned runs over six full innings.
Drew Pomeranz, OAK at HOU ($5900)
The lefty has been the master of unearned runs this season, both for the sheer volume (six of his 25 runs allowed have been unearned) and for the start-to-start frequency, as Pomeranz has allowed one or more unearned runs in four of his last five starts. The result is a 4.42 ERA that is concealing a runs-allowed rate of 5.82 tallies per nine innings. At this price, his potential role is to pair with one of the elite hurlers and avoid a blow-up, but I'm not sold on the idea that Pomeranz can hold up his end of the bargain; the Astros have already tagged him for nine runs across ten frames in two starts this seaon.
Aaron Sanchez, TOR vs. LAA ($5400)
Sanchez has a mountain of upside, but he's still making his way past base camp. Thrust into the rotation in the wake of the devastating injury to Marcus Stroman, Sanchez has thus far shown why his exposure is best limited to shorter stints out of the bullpen. In 38 innings this season, Sanchez has already walked a major-league leading 29 batters, a total so high that his 25 K's are nearly irrelevant – consider that his 5.9 rate of K's-per-nine is supported by a mere 14.5-percent frequency due to the volume of batters he faces per inning. The downside is apparent, but he is also facing an Angels club that has the lowest slugging percentage in the American League this season, with a .353 mark that's 11 points behind the next-lowest team. This is a club that had Johnny Giovatella hitting fifth against a right-handed pitcher yesterday, and a pitcher can go into cruise control once Trout and Pujols have had their turns at the dish.
Lance McCullers, HOU vs. OAK ($5700)
Pitch command has long been the question mark for the right-hander. He has a powerful delivery and a quick pace to the plate, efficiently utilizing the lower half to generate kinetic energy, but he has struggled to repeat the timing and sequencing elements of his delivery… that is until recently. Christopher Crawford recently wrote that scouts see a toned-down delivery with better consistency, and the numbers bear that out (naturally with small-sample caveats), though even his improvement leaves behind a below-average walk rate – he has struck out 37.1 percent of batters this season but also walked 9.4 percent of those that he has faced. McCullers is skipping Triple-A and ticketed straight to the majors, and I'm looking forward to seeing whether his velocity variations are intentional or the result of inconsistent mechanics. There are a number of options in this price range but McCullers brings the risk/reward that comes packaged with a pitcher making his debut, with the K upside and blow-up potential to fit a Leroy lineup.
Carlos Gomez (head, $5000) was forced out of yesterday's game after taking a beanball. Early reports are that he avoided a concussion, and he is questionable to take the field for today's game.
Corey Dickerson (foot, $4700) is still dealing with plantar fasciitis, an ailment that kept him out of yesterday's game and has limited him to partial duty a few times recently and could force him to the disabled list.
Carlos Santana (back, $3900) was out of the lineup yesterday and is considered day-to-day
Troy Tulowitzki (quad, $4100) has been out for the last two games after leaving Friday's contest in the third inning. He's considered day-to-day, but attention is always raised when Tulo suffers any type of leg injury.
The skies are looking clear for today's semi-slate of games.
**UPDATE** There are rains coming through Denver tonight, threatening a delay in the Phillies-Rockies game – click here for updates
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