Target: LHB's Freddie Freeman 1B ($4300, +149 OPS and +.061 ISO vs. RHP) and Nick Markakis OF ($3500, +79 OPS and +.048 ISO vs. RHP) against RHP Tanner Roark ($4200, +126 OPS and +.062 ISO career vs. LHB)
Roark's splits are especially pronounced when looking at the peripheral stats – for his career, Roark's K-to-walk ratio against right-handed batters is 7.10 (149 K and 21 BB in 686 plate appearances) while vs. lefty hitters it's just 1.72 (81 K and 47 BB in 650 PA). He has also allowed 18 more extra-base hits to lefties despite 36 fewer batters faced, with 32 of his 53 career doubles and 18 of his 29 homers surrendered to left-handed bats. The platoon split has been more pronounced this season, albeit in a smaller sample size, as lefty bats have a .500 slug in 152 plate appearances, Having spent most of the year in the bullpen, there's a good chance that Roark's stint will be short this evening, especially considering the expanded rosters and fuller bullpens of September baseball, a factor which is reflected in his cheap price tag. The two biggest bats in the Atlanta lineup get a boost of platoon advantage, and though Freeman has struggled to a sub-700 OPS since returning from his latest DL stint, there's a silver lining of optimism from the fact that 77 of his 101 career homers have come against right-handed pitchers, and that his 2015 split includes an OPS that is 215 points higher with the platoon advantage. Markakis brings very similar hit rates against pitchers of both sides, with a batting average above .285 against righties and lefties, but his power spikes when facing right-handed pitchers.
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Target: Manny Machado 3B ($4700, 17-of-23 SB this season) and Gerardo Parra OF ($4000, 11-of-14 SB) against RHP Drew Hutchison ($7100, opponents 14-of-22 SB this season); Kevin Pillar OF ($3500, 17-of-20 SB) and Ben Revere OF ($3900, 26-of-31 SB) against RHP Ubaldo Jimenez ($6500, opponents 18-of-21 SB)
The matchup today in Toronto has a couple of power-packed clubs playing in a homer-friendly venue, but the pitchers on the mound have a particular vulnerability to steals, so tonight's game could provide a smorgasbord of fantasy stats. It seems like Machado keeps falling on this list, as if the O's are taking a tour of SB-vulnerable pitchers, but he hasn't made much of his opportunities by going just 2-for-4 on the basepaths over his last 30 games. Runners have not been very successful against Hutchison on a rate basis, but they keep trying, so Machado or Parra could see an opportunity to take off in tonight's ballgame. On the other side of the diamond, Ubaldo Jimenez has been one of the easiest pitchers to steal against this season, with a volume and a frequency of successful thefts that are equally alarming. Pillar and Revere are very interesting plays today given Jimenez's struggles with the running game combined with his recent problems with getting batters out, as the Toronto speedster's could find themselves on base a number of times tonight, and with Dalton Pompey back in tow the Jays will have multiple weapons to use on the bases.
There's one early game, but Jon Lester ($9600, league-most 39-of-48 SB this season) is pitching so Diamondbacks base thieves such as A.J. Pollock ($4500, 33-for-39 SB) and Chris Owings ($2900, 16-of-20 SB) get a bump in value for the All Day set of contests. Paul Goldschmidt will be out until Saturday for the birth of his child.
Last 15 games (14 starts): .065/.189/.065, in 53 plate appearances
Grandal has been a favorite in this space, as the switch-hitter has a specialty of mashing right-handed pitchers, and he is frequently underpriced despite some of the top offense at the position this season. Recency bias would keep folks away, however, as a 1-for-32 slump has dropped his price tag – along with his value – below DFS replacement level. The salary is so low that Grandal could easily be a target under the price category, and I wouldn't necessarily shy away from using him if it means fitting the right player on a roster, but there's reason for concern that his issue might extend beyond a simple slump. He has been battling a sore left shoulder that has kept him out of action on several occasions recently, and we've all seen how a hitter's power can be compromised by an ailing shoulder (ask Han;ey Ramirez how that works). He's still walking but that's about it, with seven walks but just three hits over his last 15 games, yet 16 total strikeouts in 46 official at-bats. It's possible that Don Mattingly gives him another day off, and given the late start there's always the risk that one has to scramble to find a late replacement, but in this case the replacement is right in front of us – A.J. Ellis has an identical price tag at $2800.
Head-to-head: .571/.595/1.057 with 5 HR in 37 PA
The idea of recommending anyone against Kluber is madness on the surface, but delve a bit deeper and we see that Cabrera has figured out what Kluber brings to the table – at Club Kluber, Miggy's the bouncer. His 1652 OPS against Kluber is his second-highest amongst all pitchers with more than 20 plate appearances of head-to-head matchups (Steve Trachsel, 1825 OPS in 28 PA), and the highest of those he has faced 30 or more times. The 37 head-to-head matchups is tied for fourth-most among Kluber opponents (everyone atop the list predictably plays in the AL Central), and the five homers that Cabrera has hit is two more than any other batter has managed against Kluber in his career, and are tied for the mostbombs that Miggy has hit against any one player. He has also knocked in 10 runs, and though it's only 37 PA so sample caveats yada yada, Miggy could go 0-for-his-next-30 against Kluber and still own a .307/.328/.569 slash in their head-to-head meetings. I figure that the player vs. batter data is only interesting on the extremes, but Miggy vs. Kluber certainly qualifies.
Target: LHB Adrian Gonzalez ($3300) against RHP James Shields ($8700)
Dodger prices seem to be depressed across the board, and though Shields is a solid pitcher, he hasn't performed so well as to merit such heavy discounts from opposing hitters. My guess is that Petco Park is playing a role here, given the ballpark's reputation for suppressing offense (“marine layer” is on the Petco Park card in Ourburst), but Petco has been close to neutral this season, with a park factor for runs that is a 97 for right-handed bats (38th of the 60 park-related splits) and 101 for lefties (24th of 60). Gonzo hasn't been especially strong recently, with just a .194/.231/.290 slash over his last 16 games (including yesterday's 0-for-5 with three strikeouts), but the $3300 price tag sets a low bar to post a positive return on investment. This might be Adrian's lowest salary of the season, so shoppers need to act now if they hope to lock in this incredibly discounted price.
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