Target: RHB's Jose Altuve 2B ($4700, +188 OPS and +.046 ISO vs. LHP), Carlos Correa SS ($5000, +128 OPS and +.095 ISO vs. LHP) and George Springer OF ($4400, +65 OPS and +.013 ISO vs. LHP) against LHP Felix Doubront ($4300, +45 OPS and +.037 ISO career vs. RHB)
The Astros love facing left-handers, and they have had the pleasure of facing a few of them recently, resulting in a similar recommendation for this same trio of bats just two days ago. Doubront hardly presents a challenge to batters of any ilk, but his vulnerability to right-handed power is especially poignant. In fact, his career batting average against right-handers is virtually the same as it is against lefties (with one point of difference), but the slugging component and isolated power reflect a hefty difference. The Astros middle infielders are likely to have a field day against Doubront, and though Springer's bat has been sluggish since his return from the DL, the right-handed bats in the Houston lineup will all receive a boost from their southpaw opponent tonight.
As bad as Cueto has been recently, he has continued to stick a fork in the running game. He has allowed one steal in as many attempts over the course of his five-game implosion, a total which might even feel high against a pitcher who has allowed just two other successful thefts this season, but the fact that Cueto has allowed 52 baserunners over his last five starts means that opponents have had ample opportunity to test the SB waters. For his career, opposing runners are just 25-of-62 on steal attempts for a paltry 40-percent success rate. Davis might not be in the lineup against a right-hander but there is a high likelihood that Gose will be manning the leadoff spot, though as a player whose value is predicated on speed he will have a tough time justifying his salary on the basepaths against Cueto.
Target: Switch-hitter Francisco Lindor SS ($4000) against LHP Chris Sale ($12200)
Last 24 games (23 starts): .396/.444/.703 with 17 extra-base hits and 5 steals in 102 plate appearances
As he was coming up through the minors, the story on Lindor was that he had otherworldly defensive chops at shortstop and that his bat would be good enough to avoid the label of defensive specialist. His offensive performance has taken off to exceed expectations, flashing all-around skills at the plate and on the basepaths, resulting in 10 doubles, three triples, and four homers in his last 24 games played. He has struck out just a dozen times over that stretch while chipping in seven walks, with 16 runs scored and 16 RBI. Terry Francona has oenciled Lindor into the number two spot in the lineup for 78 of his 81 starts this season, a placement that simultaneously ups the likelihood that he gets an extra plate appearance each game and puts him in position to score runs as well as drive them in. Facing Chris Sale would typically be a death sentence for opposing batters, but Sale's recent struggles open the door for the rookie Lindor to post a positive return on investment.
Avoid: RHP Johnny Cueto ($7700) against the Tigers in Detroit
I wrote about Cueto's struggles in this week's edition of Raising Aces, as the right-hander has been completely off his game for a month now. He is making his ninth start for KC tonight, against a Detroit club that he will be facing for the fourth time since donning the blue uniform, but the version of Cueto that they will face might be a far cry from the ace that shut them down in early August. He has gone a bit haywire with the gamesmanship, throwing all sorts of wrinkles into his delivery in the effort to screw with batter timing, but the only timing that has been screwed has been his mechanical timing, resulting in an inconsistent release point and too many pitches that catch fat patches of plate. The result has been eight homers allowed across his last five turns, including four bombs surrendered to the Orioles in his last start. The $7700 price tag is the lowest it's been on Cueto all season, encouraging DFS gamers to roll the dice in hope that he solves his myriad issues.
Reddick justifies a salary that is a few hundred dollars higher on the regular, but when he faces a right-hander it effectively ups the ante of his expected performance. He's 0-for-7 in his last two ballgames, but in the four preceding contests he tallied eight total hits and a pair of homers, so his price is not likely getting dinged due to recent performance (or lack thereof). Fiers is a bit homer-prone and has given up four longballs in his last two turns, though his one saving grace in this matchup is a reverse split that has seen 13 of his 20 homeruns given up to right-handers this season. The platoon split of Fiers is overshadowed by that of Reddick, however, as the left-handed hitter has slugged 109 points higher versus right-handed pitchers this season than he has against southpaws, and for his career the slugging advantage against righties is 57 points.
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