There's a a heavy slate of early games today, so let's get right to it.
Andrew McCutchen, OF ($5400)
vs. RHP: .289/.375/.475 with 114 of 149 SB in 3139 PA
McCutchen started the season on a terrible pace, with lingering knee woes taking the brunt of the blame for his subpar performance. Cutch insisted that he was fine, and sure enough, one month later he is one of the game's hottest bats and earns the highest cost on Draft Kings among today's position players. He has hit five of his seven homers in the last 13 games, including three bombs in his last six contests, a period in which his OPS has risen 105 points. McCutchen has taken southpaws particularly to task in his career, a fact which flashes the warning lights on lefty Brad Hand, who is starting today for the Marlins.
Kole Calhoun, OF ($4100)
vs. LHP: .275/.342/.410 with 1-of-2 SB in 224 PA
vs. RHP: .274/.327/.450 with 10-of-15 SB in 740 PA
He may have gotten off to a bit of a late start, but Calhoun has raked throughout his pro career. The former eighth rounder slashed .320/.403/.545 across 1600 plate appearances in the minor leagues, with a power-speed combo that resulted in 24 triples, 56 homers, and 45 steals before he cracked the majors. Granted, Calhoun has spent nearly his entire minor-league career in the bandboxes of the California League and the Pacific Coast League, but his skills were clear enough to the Angels to have him skip Double-A completely, a very rare move with a prospect, but those same skills were also questioned enough to keep Calhoun in Triple-A far too long. His sock has been especially pungent against right-handed pitchers, though tonight's interleague matchup with Andrew Cashner presents an imposing challenge.
Andrelton Simmons, SS ($3300)
vs. LHP: .242/.303/.390 in 357 PA
vs. RHP: .254/.296/.369 in 1246 PA
Simmons is known best for his electric fieldwork at shortstop, which is good for a couple dozen web gems per season and includes a total of 40 double plays turned that is second to only D.J. LeMahieu among baseball's infielders. The DP's have also been an issue at the plate, where Simmons is tied for the MLB-lead by grounding into 12 double plays, and the over-the-fence power that had previously salvaged some of his value at the plate has not amplified as the 25-year old has progressed through his early twenties. He is certainly young enough to realize substantial gains with the lumber in the near future, and he doesn't need to hit much given that his glovework more than justifies his regular spot in the lineup, but his failure to crack a .250 average and the lack of progress on the power front prevent Simmons from reaching what could be one of the highest overall ceilings in the game. Expect the power outage to continue for Andrelton today against right-hander Zack Greinke and the Dodgers.
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Details ($3 Moonshot):
Gerrit Cole, PIT vs. MIA ($10500)
Cole's price continues to climb as his reign of dominance spreads over the league, and today's matchup with the Marlins is likely to further boost that reputation. The Marlins have been unable to muster anything outside of the occasional Giancarlo Stanton homer lately, losing 13 of their last 16 games and dropping behind the woeful Phillies for last place in the National League East. Christian Yelich has yet to come around and Marcell Ozuna is suffering from a power outage, thwarting the best efforts of Dee Gordon (.399 OBP) atop the Miami order. Cole is a rock, with nine consecutive starts with three or fewer runs allowed and half a dozen or more strikeouts in eight of nine. He's also coming off of his best performance of the season, a 10-K outing against the Mets that fell two outs short of a complete game.
Carlos Carrasco, CLE vs. TEX ($9800)
Twists and turns aside, Carrasco is having an excellent season, that is if one ignores the unsightly 4.74 ERA. With 58 strikeouts and 12 walks in 49.3 innings, he has essentially maintained last season's low walk rate while adding another K-per-inning to an already-high strikeout pace, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.83 that matches last season down to the hundredths place. That said, the issue with runs is tough to ignore. He's surrendered four or more tallies in four of his last six starts, with last turn's count of earnies ranking as his best outing in run prevention this month, but today he catches a Rangers team that is heating up with the weather and just added Josh Hamilton to the roster. Carrasco's stamina has been excellent during this month, throwing 98 or more pitches and getting 18 or more outs in the five May games in which he has taken the ball, and he could have a huge day if he can keep Prince Fielder's bat quiet.
Josh Collmenter, ARI at STL ($5000)
The Cards are less about individual stars and will instead beat a pitcher to death with the depth of their lineup, a scenario that spells disaster for a pitcher like Collmenter who is prone to the longball. The right-hander typically keeps the hit frequency down to corral his ERA into the 3.10-3.75 range, but this season's ERA spike of 5.54 is supported by poor peripherals, a sky-high hit rate, and eight homers allowed in 52 innings of work. The homer problem has been particularly prevalent in his last four games, with seven of his eight homers allowed in his last 16 innings, and though one might forgive the trio of big flies that he allowed in Colorado, it's tougher to excuse the nine earned runs versus three outs generated by Collmenter in his following start in Washington, D.C. Even the Phillies had a good day against him, and the Cards are poised to send Collmenter to the showers early.
Kolten Wong, 2B ($4100)
Wong has taken a massive step forward this season, particularly his ownership of the strike zone. The K rate is down slightly, but Wong's walk frequency has shot up from the 4.9 percent of his first 500 plate appearances to the 8.5 percent of this season. It's easy to assume that his .358 BABIP is unsustainable and thus his .320 batting average is due to come down, but the same line of thinking has to acknowledge the below-average .264 BABIP that brought down his .236 average coming into this season.
His three-for-seven rate of thefts leaves something to be desired, especially after Wong snagged bags on 23 of his first 27 steal attempts, but he has turned the dreadful .292 OBP of last season into the .378 asset of 2015, giving him more opportunities to add fantasy points with his baserunning. He'll have a chance to pad his ratios today against Josh Collmenter, a pitcher whose flyball tendencies and high rate of contact (just 3.56 pitcher per plate appearance) should play right into Wong's hands, as the Hawaiian second baseman has posted his career-best batting line while hitting grounders at a career-low rate. Wong has hits in 19 of his last 23 games, and though yesterday's contest snapped a 9-game run of safeties, the left-handed batter with a slight reverse split is poised to anochor the keystone in St. Louis for the foreseeable future.
Matt Adams (quad, $4200) was diagnosed with a strained quad and is considered day-to-day.
Chris Johnson (hand, $3400) will be activated from the disabled list today.
Ryan Flaherty (groin, $3200) will be ativated from the disabled list and is expected to start for the Orioles against the Astros.
Jose Iglesias (knee, $3100) will be out today but is supposedly available to pinch-hit.
Scattered thunderstorms are rolling into Cleveland (CIN-CLE) this evening, but it shouldn't impact today's early tilt – check here for updates
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