Target: RHB's Brian Dozier 2B ($4300, +143 OPS and +.068 ISO vs. LHP), Miguel Sano 3B ($4800, -46 OPS and -.062 ISO vs. LHP) and Trevor Plouffe 3B ($4000, +116 OPS and +.027 ISO vs. LHP) against LHP Kyle Lobstein ($4300, +187 OPS and +.090 ISO career vs. RHB)
The platoon splits for Sano hardly scream for a roster spot, but keep in mind that this is a player with just 248 career plate appearances, a sample size small enough to allow for wild fluctuations over a short period of time. Sano is hitting .299/.373/.552 in his 75 plate appearances against southpaws this season, so even the relatively lighter fare is enough to fill out the stat sheet, and on top of having the platoon advantage the fact that Sano is playing one of the softest pitchers in the bigs further boosts his stock. Dozier, on the other hand, has a long-standing reputation for mashing left-handers, though the key to his 2015 breakout has been improvement against like-sided arms and his splits are essentially neutral this season. Dozier has only faced Lobstein seven times in his career, with a pair of singles and a walk in those meetings, but tonight's ballgame will provide ample opportunity for him to pad those stats. One will have to choose between rostering Sano or Plouffe, given that both players only qualify at third, and though Sano is clearly the superior player Plouffe can be had for $800 less of cap room and has an more established track record of lefty dominance. The fact that Lobstein is at the same price level as these bats is a solid indicator of the easy matchup for Minnesota.
The Rays are facing another lefty in CC Sabathia ($6200), upping the ante on expected performances from Logan Forsythe ($3500), Evan Longoria ($3800) and the recently-activated Steven Souza ($3300).
Target: Jose Altuve 2B ($4700, 37-of-49 SB this season), Jake Marisnick ($2700, 18-of-25 SB) and George Springer OF ($4100, 14-of-18 SB) against LHP Cole Hamels ($10500, opponents 21-of-23 SB this season)
Hamels is the odd lefty that is vulnerable to stolen bases, as the southpaw refuses to compromise the other elements of his delivery in order to increase his pace to the plate, a factor which likely spares his ERA and batting-against rates over the long haul. Not only do opposing baserunners take off frequently but Hamels rarely catches the thieves, and since coming to the Rangers he has allowed five steals in as many attempts. Altuve has proven that he can steal off of anybody and his offensive production steps up 181 points of OPS when a southpaw is on the mound, a deadly combination that makes Altuve one of the top plays on today's slate despite the prohibitive cost of securing his services. He has stolen seven bags in his last eight attempts covering the past 28 ballgames, and Hamels' recent inconsistency should align with Altuve's penchant for hitting southpaws to create ample opportunities on the basepaths. Springer has only attempted one steal since his return to the Houston lineup, getting caught in yesterday's ballgame, but his legs should be unaffected by the wrist injury that sidelined him for most of the summer. Marisnick is no great shakes with the lumber and will likely have fewer opportunities to snag a bag against Hamels, but expect him to take off if Marisnick finds himself in a stolen-base opportunity. The price is low and stealing represents the bulk of his value, so rostering Marisnick makes as much sense in today's game (provided he's in the starting lineup) as it has at any other point this season.
Temper: RHB Mark Canha 1B/OF ($4200) against LHP John Danks ($6100)
Last 29 games (29 starts): .303/.344/.557 with 16 extra-base hits including 8 homeruns in 131 plate appearances
Canha has been a streaky player this season, and though he was a shrewd pick at a near-minimum salary during the first month of the season, he quickly wore out his welcome and was sporting a .226/.288//.379 line a little over a month ago. But he has turned it back on over the last 28 games, hitting more than half of his season total for homers over that stretch. He has been particularly effective since the calendar flipped to September, including four homers in his last eight ballgames, a factor which is clearly influencing his price tag. His “Temper” label is due to a variety of factors, starting with his current price of $4200 that is at its highest point of the season, continuing with a reverse platoon split that has dropped 285 points of OPS against southpaws this season, and finishing with his 29 strikeouts and only eight walks over the 29-game stretch. A right-handed hitter facing off against John Danks would seem to be a dream scenario, but with a .215/.273/.281 line against lefties this season, Canha is unlikely to contribute a positive return on investment.
Avoid: LHB Adrian Gonzalez ($3800) against RHP Jon Gray ($5900)
Last 25 games (25 starts): .217/.318/.348 in 107 plate appearances
Carrying the platoon advantage against a very hittable pitcher, Gonzalez is a solid play against the Rockies tonight if we take his season stats at face value and ignore his recent struggles. But Gonzo has just six extra-base hits in his last 25 games, with three homers and three doubles to his name, and is coming off the worst month of his season with just a 680 OPS in August. September hasn't been much kinder and Gonzalez has slugged just .386 since the trade deadline, with a mere nine extra-base hits if going back to his previous 38 ballgames. His price tag is low enough to encourage his being rostered by those looking to save a few bucks at the cold corner, but his recent struggles combined with the fact that Gray is not so vulnerable away from Coors Field (he has a 2.35 ERA and an opponents OPS of just 569 in 15.3 road innings this season) make Gonzalez a dicey proposition.
Target: RHB Todd Frazier 1B/3B ($4200) against RHP Tim Hudson ($5100)
Frazier just destroyed baseballs in the first half of the season, then went on to win the Homerun Derby in front of the home crowd at this year's All Star festivities, but he fell into a slump during the second half that saw him hit a meager .211/.254/.356 over a stretch of 49 games (47 starts), including 47 strikeouts and just 11 walks. One doesn't necessarily atone for that type of prolonged ineptitude with one good week, but Frazier has hit three homers in his last five games (equaling his total from the 40 previous contests) with a double and a steal to his credit, putting him on the right track to finish the season strong. He faces the high-contact stylings of Tim Hudson today, and though the $4200 price tag is hardly a steal on face value, his upside far exceeds the other players that are within his salary tier.
Resources used for this article:
Baseball Prospectus Stats and Player Cards
Draft Kings player prices
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