Target: LHB's David Ortiz 1B ($4600, +160 OPS and +.072 ISO career vs. RHP) and Pablo Sandoval 3B ($3400, +165 OPS and +.079 ISO vs. RHP) against RHP Jeff Samardzija ($6800, +71 OPS and +.049 ISO career vs. LHB)

Samardzija has been a magnet for big run totals this season, and his recent performance is his worst to date, having given up six or more earned runs in three of last four starts. He did rebound against the Angels in his last turn, giving up just one run in 7.0 innings of rare cleanliness, but the gems are more rare than the implosions these days. The White Sox have shown a willingness to stick with the Shark even when the other club's bats have demonstrated no fear, as the right-hander has stayed in to throw 95 or more pitches in 21 of his 25 starts this season. Ortiz continues to defy typical aging patterns, slugging .507 thus far in his age-39 season, and if he keeps the slug above .500 through the end of the campaign then it will be the 14 time in the last 15 seasons that he has met or cleared that round-number threshold. He takes special aim at right-handed pitchers, and though he was more of an equal-opportunity masher last year, Ortiz is back to his right-killing ways in 2015. Sandoval was once a switch-hitter but has since given up the practice, choosing to stick with the left side of the plate where he has had more success in his career. The Panda has been a disappointment for Red Sox Nation this season, with an OPS that has dropped for the fifth consecutive season, this despite his having a much friendlier home environment for hitting compared to his previous home in San Francisco.

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Target: Lorenzo Cain OF ($4900, 24-of-28 SB this season), Alcides Escobar SS ($3600, 13-of-18 SB) and Jarrod Dyson OF ($3200, 23-of-25 SB) against RHP Ubaldo Jimenez ($7800, opponents 18-of-21 SB this season)

Jimenez has given up 16 or more steals in each of the past five seasons, and opposing runners can take off with near-immunity, given his career success rate of 78 percent for opposing baserunners who are trying to steal. Ubaldo's recent struggles just increase the likelihood that the KC speedsters will find themselves on base with the opportunity for thievery staring them in the face, and perhaps the only way to keep those runners in check is to keep them off the bags in the first place. Cain is six for his last six in steal attempts, inclucding five swipes in his last 13 games, and his OPS breakout this season means that he might earn back his salary even if chooses to stay chained to the bag when on base. Escobar lacks the OPS chops and the steal acumen of Cain, but Alcides has been busier on the basepaths of late with five of his 13 steals coming in the last 17 games as part of a perfect effort over that stretch. Dyson's opportunities boil down to playing time, as he has started just six games for the Royals in the month of August, but his three steals in his last three starts are indicative of the damage that he can do on the basepaths.

Avoid: Billy Burns OF ($3600, 24-of-29 SB this season) and Marcus Semien 3B/SS ($2900, 10-of-14 SB) against RHP Hisashi Iwakuma ($10200, opponents 1-of-3 SB this season)

Rougned Odor tried to steal a bag against Iwakuma in his last outing, only to find out the hard way that the right-hander shuts down all basepaths when he's on the mound (perhaps Odor was just overzealous after knocking a homer in his first at bat of the game). Opposing base thieves have been successful on just one steal out of 11 attempts against Iwakuma spanning the past two seasons. The A's pride themselves on efficiency, both in terms of pitch selection and base thievery, so they are likely to keep their best runners parked on the bag in order to avoid giving away free outs against the division-rival Mariners.

There are lots of baserunners to avoid today, including the Diamondbacks against Lance Lynn (career 21-of-40 SB) and the Astros against Nathan Eovaldi (career 19-of-37 SB). Of course, the last time that the Astros faced Eovaldi I recommended avoiding Jose Altuve, and Altuve went ahead and registered the first swipe of the season off of the Yankee right-hander. Maybe that proves that Altuve can steal against anybody, or maybe he just has a read on Eovaldi, but that one steal was enough to wipe the avoid tag from Altuve's profile for tonight's contest.

Recency Bias

Avoid: RHP Lance Lynn ($9300) against the Arizona Diamondbacks

Last 4 games (4 starts): 4.42 ERA, 35 baserunners in 18.3 innings and opponents hitting .311/.416/.541 in 91 plate appearances

The price tag is actually pretty cheap for Lynn, who has come in under that $9300 figure for just one of his previous ten outings. Part of the price reduction is related to a Diamondbacks ballclub that has been bruising pitchers this season, and though Lynn has a heavy platoon split, the fact that Arizona hits pitchers from either side with equal fortitude eliminates any positives or negatives related to the platoon issue. Lynn had a complete disaster against the Pirates two starts ago, though his ERA was spared by the fact that four of the seven runs against him (in two-thirds of an inning) were unearned. The outing was Lynn's shortest of the season but the poor performance was not an isolated incident, as the prior outing had involved four walks amid 10 baserunners despite none of them crossing the plate, and in his last start Lynn walked five more batters. The recent struggles by the right-hander are thus not reflected in his ERA, which has only gone up 0.23 runs this month despite his surrendering an opponents OPS of 956 during that same stretch.


Target: Pirates Andrew McCutchen OF ($4500), Gregory Polanco OF ($3500), Neil Walker 2B ($3600), Pedro Alvarez 1B/3B ($3200) and Jung Ho Kang SS/3B ($3800) against RHP Tom Koehler ($6000)

I guess I could have saved a bunch of room and just written “Pirates batters,” because virtually everyone on the roster is under-priced for tonight's game against the Marlins. It's as if the Pirates were set to face Jose Fernandez before a late scratch, but he's been on the DL for a couple of weeks now so we are left wondering what motivated the team-wide discount. The “why” is much less important than the “what” in this case, and the fact that the Pirates are facing Tom Koehler with his 4.02 ERA creates a significant opportunity to reap value for DFS managers tonight. The only player who really lacks a discount is Starling Marte at $4700, who is worth that investment when facing a southpaw but struggles to justify such a salary with a righty on the mound. Koehler has a 7.48 ERA over his last five starts, including an 845 OPS against, essentially piling on the reasons to justify a Pittsburgh stack today.


Resources used for this article:

Baseball Prospectus Stats and Player Cards

Draft Kings player prices

Brooks Baseball


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