Today we crack open the new format for Fantasy Rounders, covering a wider swath of players and a renewed emphasis on players to target or avoid when constructing your DFS lineup. There are zero aces available on today's slate, so most gamers will have to roll some bigger dice than usual in order to come out victorious.
I also wanted to tip my cap to Jose Altuve, who on Friday simultaneously proved that his hammy was fine and that there was a leak in Nathan Eovaldi's stolen base alarm. The green light has been turned on for Altuve ($4800), and it's too late to slam on the accelerator as he is already on his way to becoming cost prohibitive.
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This is an ideal matchup for Fielder, whose own taste for righty meat is augmented by the struggles that Norris has had against left-handed bats, with a career OPS against that's 110 points higher against left-handed hitters. Batters are barreling up Norris with regularity this season, resulting in his 6.10 ERA and 11.3 hits allowed per nine innings. Expect the AL batting leader to take advantage.
Pearce's struggles this season have officially earmarked his 2014 breakout as a fluke in some circles, causing managers to look the other way, but his recent eligibility at second base has reopened the vault of intrigue. The context has to be just right, but lining up against a mediocre left-hander is as favorable as it gets and $3800 is hardly breaking the bank.
Avoid: Brett Gardner OF ($4600, -36 SLG), versus LHP C.J. Wilson
Gardner is a career .374 slugger when facing southpaws, but the bigger concern is what it does to him on the basepaths – just 18 percent of his career steal attempts have come against southpaws, and his next try against a lefty will be his first of 2015 (he's 15-of-18 on steal attempts versus right-handers).
Chris Davis 1B/3B ($4600, -103 OPS) versus LHP Wandy Rodriguez
There's not much to avoid today, as the weak slate of pitchers effectively shines the light on the positive side of the equation. Even Chris Davis is a weak avoid, as he has turned around a career-long trend by hitting southpaws (.300/.342/.543) better this season than he has right-handers. Sample size caveats abound, but there aren't many bad options in the hitter's talent pool today.
We typically associate southpaws as being tough on opposing baserunners, but Wandy has been very forgiving throughout his career. Baserunners have been perfect in their last 18 stolen base attempts against Rodriguez, stretching back to 2012, and are four-for-four this season. You probably didn't need another reason to roster the surging Machado, but the extra dose of baserunning potential helps to justify his hefty price tag. Moratorium on Orioles for the rest of the article.
Buchholz has not only limited the raw steals against him, but over the past three years he has made runners pay for trying to snag a bag, with opposing thieves just 14-of-28 since the start of 2013. A caught stealing is the only way for a position player to earn negative points on Draft Kings, and a CS on the stat sheet will essentially erase one walk, run, or RBI from that player's performance on the day. This recommendation isn't for a strict avoidance policy, but the starter on the mound for Boston does put a small dent into the gameday valuations of Reyes and Pillar.
He has been playing out of his mind for the past week, mashing baseballs like the Rox did pre-humidor. He has eight homers with 15 RBI in his last seven games, and perhaps most remarkable is that he has cleared half of those fences while playing in the homer-squelching confines of San Francisco's AT&T Park. He floats across the bay to face the A's and Kendall Graveman tonight, where Arenado could add to the surprisingly-high homer count of the Athletics' sinkerballer.
Avoid: Yasiel Puig OF ($4600), facing Allen Webster
Whether or not to actually avoid Puig is up to one's stance on recency, as his recent struggles are outweighed by his soft matchup tonight against Allen Webster. Puig was an excellent value for the first week after he returned from the disabled list, with peak performance coming at a discount price, but as soon as his salary was raised the production began to slip. In his last 12 games, Puig is 7-for-40 with two doubles and a pair of triples, and the matchup carries the possibility of a significant reward.
Target: Joey Gallo 3B ($3300), facing Bud Norris
If Arenado is too pricey then I would go with the budget-conscious option at the hot corner, Joey Gallo. He hasn't hit a homer in ten games, which seems like an eternity for a prospect with 27 days of service time on his resume, but tonight he incurs the platoon advantage against a pitcher who is quite familiar with watching hitters trot around the bags. Oh, right, the Baltimore moratorium. Moving on…
Avoid: C.J. Wilson SP ($8400), facing the New York Yankees
Wilson, like just about every pitcher on tonight's docket, has low upside and the volatility to swing into negative point totals tonight. This is particularly true against a Yankees club that has scored the second-most runs in baseball this season. Wilson isn't an especially poor choice on his own merits, but he is an easy avoid given his status as the most expensive pitcher in today's market.
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