Target: RHB's Adam Jones OF ($4400, +38 OPS and +.034 ISO vs. RHP) and Manny Machado 3B ($4700, +27 OPS and +.024 ISO vs. RHP) plus LHB Chris Davis 1B/3B ($4500, +106 OPS and +.034 ISO vs. RHP) facing RHP Kyle Gibson ($6600, +36 OPS and +.021 ISO vs. LHB)
The Orioles are full of players with reverse splits, particularly right-handed batters who have had more success against same-side pitchers than they have versus southpaws. Their biggest bats this season have been Jones and Machado, and though the splits aren't massive both players are worth rostering regardless of the pitcher's handedness, so facing a soft righty like Gibson is merely a step in the right direction. Davis has remarkably mustered a reverse split this season, hitting lefties better than righties to the tune of a 66-point advantage in OPS, but the larger sample over his entire career puts him into the driver's seat when facing right-handed pitchers. For his part, Gibson has had a minimal polatoon split in his career, opening up the door for batters on either side of the plate to help bring his 3.06 ERA closer to his 4.18 FIP.
Gordon has nearly the same batting average and on-base percentage regardless of the handedness of the opposing pitcher, but his power and his speed take massive hits with a lefty on the mound. Power may not be his calling card, but versus left-handers the pop goes from minimal to non-existent, and the next homer that he hits off of a southpaw will be the first of his career. Gordon is rostered for his speed, but his willingness to take off is greatly compromised against left-handers, with just 33 of his 159 career steals. In addition to Yelich's struggled to get on base against southpaws, but he has also remained chained to the bag when he does work his way onto the basepaths, as just five of his 38 career steals have comes against left-handed pitchers.
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Ross has had a weird season full of walks (he leads MLB), wild pitches (leads the NL), and strikeouts (career high rate). He also stands out on the stolen base scale, leading the majors with 25 steals allowed this season. He's on pace to surrender a ludicrous 50 steals this season, putting the 32 opponent swipes from last season to shame. Surely some of the blame goes to regular catcher Derek Norris, whose presence behind the dish has been a nearly everyday occurrence, but Ross has a target for attempted steals on his back regardless of who's behind the mask.
Avoid: Denard Span OF ($4000, 11-of-11 SB this season) and Michael A. Taylor ($2900, 8-of-10 SB) facing Johnny Cueto ($10100, opponents 1-of-2 SB)
Opposing baserunners are just 23-of-60 against Cueto in his career, with a success rate of just 38 percent, and he hasn't allowed more successful steal attempts than those caught since his rookie season of 2008. Span is currently listed as day-to-day with back spasms, so he may not be in the lineup this evening, but I would avoid him even if the speed-first player is in the starting lineup.
Target: J.D. Martinez OF ($4900), facing RHP Taijuan Walker
Martinez was stumbling under a cloud of regression for much of the season, with a slash that stood at .258/.320/.444 on June 12, but he has rescued his overall line while carrying the Tiger offense by raining homers for the past month. It all started with three homers in three days from June 13-15, followed by his three-homer explosion in a single game a week later, and all told the right-handed slugger has mashed 14 bombs in his last 20 games to raise his line to a massive .290/.344/.573 on the season. The Tigers need his bat now more than ever with Miguel Cabrera out of commission for the next six weeks or more, and Martinez has responded with four homers in his last five games, including one yardball in each of the last three contests. Opposing pitcher Walker has been shutting down just about everybody recently, so we're about to learn what happens when an unstoppable force collides with an immovable object.
Votto's price feels impossibly low, dropping from the high $4000's to his current level in the mid-$3000's, and the name value attached to that price tag will draw the eye of many fantasy managers only to draw their collective ire when Votto fails to put up points yet again. He is hitting a collective .197/.349/.197 over his last 19 games (18 starts), and as one might have guessed from a simple ISO calculation, he hasn't managed an extra-base hit in that span. The slump has dropped his OPS on the season by 93 points, and unless you're playing in a fantasy league that uses isolated walk rate as a category, Votto is a player to avoid until he gets back on track. The fact that he's playing the dominant Max Scherzer today effectively slams the door on the decision to roster Votto.
There are a couple of knocks against Wong, namely a drop in his rate of steals this season (just eight through 81 games after snagging 20 in 113 contests last year) and an empty batting line over the last seven games (4-for-24 with no extra-base hits). Prior to that mini-slump, however, Wong had nine hits in his previous five games including four doubles, and his most recent struggles have been tied to balls in play as he has struck out just four times in the seven games of struggle. The left-handed batter is at a theoretical advantage against right-handed rookie Dallas Beeler, but Wong's career platoon splits are essentially even (+4 OPS versus LHP).
Avoid: Tyson Ross ($9300) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
As mentioned in the thievery section, Ross could get taken advantage of today against a Pirates club that is fourth in the majors with 62 steals this season, as he has a career-long track record of looking the other way while baserunners take off with reckless abandon. His penchant for the free pass – Ross leads the majors with 53 walks this year – will likely grant several opportunities for Pittsburgh to turn those freebies into doubles, and though Ross has kept the ball in the yard (just three homers allowed in 101.7 innings), he is more likely to get beat by small ball given the enhanced likelihood of runners being in scoring position when hits fall in between the Padre defensemen. Ross represents the bottom of a pricing tier but his salary is the sixth-highest on Draft Kings today, and though steals don't directly hurt his line, the runs that ensure will be costly.
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