Target: LHB's Prince Fielder 1B ($5200, +165 OPS and +.067 ISO in career vs. RHP), Shin-Soo Choo OF ($3900, +240 OPS and +.104 ISO vs. RHP), Mitch Moreland 1B ($4400, +153 OPS and +.087 ISO vs. RHP) and Josh Hamilton ($4500, +119 OPS and +.057 ISO vs. RHP) facing RHP Kyle Kendrick ($4000, +83 OPS and +.038 ISO vs. LHB)
The prices are steep, but Ranger bats have a lot going for them today, particularly those hitters that hail from the left side of the dish. When Kendrick pitches in Colorado it's effectively an invitation for crooked numbers on the opponents' half of the scoreboard. Fielder is having a resurgent season, Choo famously flails against left-handed pitchers but can still stick it to righties, and Moreland has found another power level this season, with eight of his 16 bombs on the year having come in the last 28 days.
Rodon has a bright future but his present is highly volatile, making any start of his a significant gamble due to an extremely high walk rate (13.9 percent) and heavy platoon splits thus far in his career. The Cardinals have leaned on pitching and defense to secure the game's best record but their offense has been less impressive, and the team's bat-to-ball skills take a massive hit against left-handed pitchers (a 41-point difference in batting average). Targeting Rodon still involves plenty of potential downside and he is probably best set aside for a GPP entry rather than be rostered in cash games, but the matchup is not nearly as daunting as it appears at first glance.
Avoid: LHB's Brett Gardner OF ($4900, -39 OPS and -.019 ISO vs. LHP) and Jacoby Ellsbury OF ($4300, -49 OPS and .040 ISO vs. LHP) facing LHP Yei-Win Chen ($8500, -70 OPS and -.033 ISO vs. LHB)
Gardner and Ellsbury are fast outfielders who's speed is compromised with a southpaw on the mound, with both players stealing less often against left-handers, and Chen's own astute anti-steal skills (opposing runners have stolen two bags in only three attempts this season) could keep them chained to the bag. Gardner in particular is reticent to run versus left-handers, with only 31 of his 197 career swipes having come against southpaws. Ellsbury hasn't gotten back on the fast track since he came back from the DL, attempting just one steal (and getting caught) since coming back to the lineup on July 8th. The platoon splits aren't overly heavy by any means, but the combined knocks to both the batting line and the running game take some of the value out of the game for Ellsbury and Gardner.
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This is the second consecutive day that Royals appear on the target list for steals, but after KC swiped four bags against yesterday's starter A.J. Burnett (including two for Dyson), it was an easy call to go back to the well tonight against Cole, who has given up more successful steals this season than any other pitcher on today's slate. Beyond Dyson and Cain, additional stolen-base threats include Alex Rios and Alcides Escobar, each of whom has seven successful swipes this year after thieving a bag against Burnett in yesterday's contest. When teammate pitchers appear on the same side of a stolen base list then the blame often falls on the catcher, but Pirate backstops get a reprieve with both Cole and Burnett having endured career-long struggles with preventing steals.
Avoid: Manny Machado 3B ($4600, 13-of-17 SB this season) facing RHP Nate Eovaldi ($5800, opponents 2-of-3 SB)
The last time that I recommended to avoid a base-stealer versus Eovaldi, it was nearly a month ago with Jose Altuve, and Altuve went ahead and swiped a bag anyway. Despite the missed call, I'm going back to the Eovaldi well to caution against the SB likelihood of Baltimore baserunners today. Opposing baserunners are just 10-of-18 on steal attempts versus Eovaldi in his career, with an average of less than three tries per season. Machado has been a surprising source of steals this season on an Oriole club that is otherwise bereft of players who swipe bags, and though he brings an assortment of skills to the table that are worth rostering against a hittable Eovaldi, odds are that Machado will not be increasing his steal total in tonight's ballgame. I certainly wouldn't avoid Machado altogether, but I would temper my expectations for his performance on the basepaths.
The 27-year old Bour may noy be much of a target in keeper leagues, but at $3000 and with a .268/.345/.486 line on the year he makes for a tremendous value play, particularly against a pitcher who has been knocked around for a 5.01 ERA and 9.7 hits per nine innings over the last three seasons. Helix has also been vulnerable to the longball, both this season and throughout his career, and Bour's sensitivity against left-handed pitchers (he has been protected with just 24 PA against southpaws this season) will be obscured so long as Hellickson stays in the ballgame.
The peripheral stats fail to support Gibson's 2.85 ERA, fueling a 4.00 FIP as well as the expectation that things are about to go south for the right-hander. He hasn't given up more than two runs in any of his last five starts, and his entire month of May was a similar tale with six starts of two or fewer runs allowed, but tonight he faces an Angels ballclub that has scored 32 runs in their last six ballgames and have hit double digits in the runs column five times in their last 12 contests. I would be reticent to roster Gibson against anyone at more than $7500, and today's opponent makes for an easy decision to leave him on the bench.
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