Target: LHB's Lucas Duda 1B ($3300, +176 OPS and +.093 ISO vs. RHP), Curtis Granderson OF ($4200, +169 OPS and +.061 ISO vs. RHP) and Michael Conforto OF ($3700, +501 OPS and +.262 ISO vs. RHP) against RHP Shelby Miller ($8800, +108 OPS and +.033 ISO career vs. LHB)
Both Duda and Granderson wreck right-handers, and though Conforto lacks the sample to feel confident in the legitimacy of the above numbers, his early success and minor-leage track record suggest that his ability to mash righties is very real. Batters are hitting a collective .316/.365/.482 off of Miller over his last five starts, as he has kept the ball mostly in the yard (two homers allowed) but been beaten to death by doubles (twelve allowed), watching his ERA inflate by half a run in the process. Miller's platoon numbers are more pronounced this season than in the past, allowing lefties to take advantage of him with an OPS that's 136 points higher and an ISO that improves by .060 when compared to his performance against right-handers. His K rate also craters, going from a 22.9-percent strikeout rate against righties to just 17.8-percent against lefty batters this season. Duda has posted a reverse split this season for the first time in his career (the platoon split favored his hitting against right-handers by 400 points of OPS last year), but the greater sample and the extremely low price tag provide all the incentive that one needs to plug him into the roster today against Miller. Granderson is having his best season since the 40-homer days with the Yanks, and right-handers have been the key to his breakout. Curtis has a powerful .284/.393/.507 line in 496 plate appearances against righties this season, but he has failed to show up with southpaws on the hill, amassing just a .165/.261/.248 slash in 138 plate appearances against southpaws in 2015. The Mets have shielded Conforto from southpaws this season, with just 12 of his 142 plate appearances having come with the platoon disadvantage, but his ability to mash southpaws is apparent with a .295/.376/.557 in his first first 141 plate appearances against them at the highest level.
Target: Charlie Blackmon OF ($4700, 38-of-51 SB this season), Jose Reyes SS ($4100, 23-of-29 SB) and DJ LeMahieu 2B/3B ($4300, 23-of-26 SB) against RHP A.J. Burnett ($8000, opponents 30-of-38 SB this season)
Burnett's shaky re-introduction to the mound inspires pessimism for his odds of defeating the thin air of Denver, but with it comes optimism that his Rockie opponents can take advantage with runners on base and steals by the bushel. Burnett ranks third in the majors (in a bad way) with 30 successful steals against him this season despite having thrown 40 fewer innings than the other leaders. The right-hander limits the homers but that just gives opposing baserunners further incentive to play small ball. He was allowing everything in his last four turns prior to the injury, including four homers and a remarkable 12 steals across the four games and he gave up two more swipes against the Cubs in his last turn. Blackmon has stolen ten more bases than last year (with 13 extra attempts) despite eight fewer games played, and a home game against a right-handed pitcher is just the recipe to maximize his steal potential. The Rockies new shortstop, Jose Reyes, is just seven-for-eleven in 40 games since being traded to the purple pinstripes, with twice as many times caught stealing than he had in 69 games with the Jays, but he could very well take advantage of today's opportunity to help bring the SB-efficiency back in line. LeMahieu, on the other hand, has been remarkably efficient this season, and he had a pair of steals in his last ballgame to further solidify his breakout season. His OPS is more than 100 points higher at Coors than it is on the road this season, and should that trend continue then he will have ample opportunity to further pad his stolen base totals tonight against Burnett.
Target: Michael A. Taylor OF ($3200, 15-of-18 SB this season) and Ian Desmond SS ($3400, 12-of-17 SB) against RHP Ubaldo Jimenez ($7500, opponents 21-of-24 SB this season)
Jimenez halted the action on the bases for most of August, but he has given up a successful steal in each of his three September starts. His 21 successful steals surrendered rank as the eighth-highest total in baseball this season, and his 6.58 ERA of the second half ensures that his opponents are a good investment regardless of whether they decide to pad their SB totals. The price tags of Taylor and Desmond are low enough to take a test drive without making too big of a dent in a team's salary cap, and though recent performance might justify those low salaries (Desmond is hitting .120 over his last ten ballgames, Taylor just .145), their soft opponent and ease of access to steals make them both solid plays that won't preclude the rostering of other players. I expect a lot of DFS gamers to roll with a Nationals stack tonight against Jimenez.
Avoid: RHP Jered Weaver ($6200) at the Houston Astros
Last 5 games (5 starts): a 6.25 ERA with 16 K in 28.3 IP; opponents batting .282/..73/.500 in 129 plate appearances
Weaver has never been known for his velocity as a prime asset, but this season's 84-mph average has plunged to new depths and opposing batters are reaping the benefits. The velo has been at an all-time low since returning from the disabled list in early August, averaging less than 83 mph on his fastest throws, resulting in a tightrope act in every game that he pitches. Sometimes he labors through six frames but walks away relatively clean, other times he gets knocked out like Gorgeous George, but the one guarantee is that his K count will be unimpressive – he has yet to K more than seven batters in a game this season. Weaver entered August with a pair of cringe-worthy outings but has walked between the raindrops thus far in September, including a very solid outing against the Astros in which he gave up just two runs across six innings with one of his three games this season in which he struck out seven hitters. The odds of his replicating that performance are low, but it's a great day to stack your DFS lineup with Houston hitters.
Target: RHB Adam Jones OF ($3900) against LHP Gio Gonzalez ($9600)
He might have a reverse platoon split for his career and the last ten days have been a bit subpar for Jones (.240/.250/.440 in his last ten games), but his baseline skills are far too impressive to justify a sub-$4000 salary unless he is facing a top-tier pitcher. Jones is the personification of consistency, with an OPS between 780 and 839 in each of the past five seasons (including this one), and he makes up for a lack of patience at the plate with enough juice in his bat to sock 25 or more homers with 25 or more doubles in each of the past five campaigns. His career line against lefties does take a hit of nearly 50 points of OPS, with a collective slash of .269/.319/.427 in his career against southpaws (with a .462 slug this season), but his place in the middle of the batting order will not be negatively impacted by the handedness of the opposing pitcher and Gonzalez provides the type of blow-up potential that could have Jones facing righty relievers by the sixth inning.
Resources used for this article:
Baseball Prospectus Stats and Player Cards
Draft Kings player prices
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