Target: LHB's Jason Heyward OF ($3200, +183 OPS and +.064 ISO vs. RHP), Matt Carpenter 3B ($4300, +75 OPS and -.005 ISO vs. RHP), Brandon Moss 1B/OF ($2900, +59 OPS and +.066 ISO vs. RHP) and Kolten Wong 2B ($3200, +93 OPS and +.035 ISO vs. RHP) against RHP Charlie Morton ($6200, +192 OPS and +.057 ISO vs. LHB)
The platoon splits of the Cardinal batters are relatively modest, but Morton takes care of the heavy lifting. The right-hander is a soft target, particularly for left-handed batters, who have amassed a slash of .306/.392/..464 against Morton in his career. Jason Heyward stands out among the St. Louis bats, with a .284/.371/.466 line in his career against right-handed pitchers that matches up well with Morton's susceptibility to lefties. His ultra-low price tag might be a reflection of the fact that Heyward doesn't have any extra-base hits in his last dozen ballgames, but Morton is the perfect cure for that type of slump. Carpenter's power doesn't change but he does have an easier time getting on base against right-handers, while the advantage that Moss enjoys is almost entirely saturated in the power components of his production. Wong lacks the track record of the veteran bats, and he has really struggled in the second half of this season with a weak .243/..300/.323 line since the All-Star break that has turned his big step forward into a season that superficially looks like he's just treading water.
Target: Brandon Phillips 2B ($3500, 21-of-24 SB this season), Todd Frazier 3B/1B ($4000, 13-of-20 SB this season) and Joey Votto 1B ($4600, 11-of-14 SB this season) against LHP Jon Lester ($9600, opponents 44-of-55 SB this season)
Somewhere Billy Hamilton is shedding a tear, thinking of June 14th of this year, the day that he stole five bags – three of which were off of the Lester/Montero combo – in an 11-inning game against the Cubs. Billy Ham would have made for an ideal play today against Lester, who has allowed the most steals (on the most attempts) in the game. Phillips has reinjected his game with speed following a five-year sabbatical from the 20-steal club; he only had seven swipes across the last two seasons combined. The Reds have a number of players who could take advantage of Lester's leniency toward base thieves; even Jay Bruce has nine swipes in 14 attempts, and he might look to add a second consecutive season of double-digit steals to his resume. As alluded to in yesterday's piece, Lester is not only the MLB leader in steals against but is also tied for second with 11 baserunners caught, and though he can only share in that responsibility, the sheer multitude of opportunities means that someone will likely be attempting thievery tonight in Cincy, and there's only a 20-percent likelihood that he gets caught Red-handed.
Temper: LHB Shin-Soo Choo OF ($5100) against LHP Matt Boyd ($4200)
Last 27 games (27 starts): .410/.524/.640 with 12 extra-base hits and 45 RuBI in 127 plate appearances
Choo has all sorts of conflicting trend lines when making the decision to roster him today. He has a platoon split that has been notoriously bad against southpaws, with a career split that loses 222 points of OPS when a left-hander is on the hill, yet the fact that the left-hander in question is easy target Matt Boyd encourages rostering Choo. The price tag has been inflated on account of his recent hot streak, making Choo the seventh-most expensive batter (and fourth-priciest outfielder) available in tonight's player pool. In the end, the exorbitant price minimizes the margin for error, and with a southpaw on the hill Choo will have a very tough time triggering a positive return on investment for his $5100 salary.
Avoid: RHB Miguel Cabrera 1B/3B ($4800) against RHP Yovani Gallardo ($5700)
Last 29 games (28 starts): .218/.322/.248 with three doubles, zero homers and 17 RuBI in 118 plate appearances
It's blasphemy to suggest avoiding Cabrera under any circumstances, but recency bias can't help but be influenced by the fact that Miggy hasn't hit a homerun in a month and has just three doubles to show for his last 118 plate appearances. Gallardo was on a roll over the summer but has since been quite hittable, though the opposing pitcher has played little role in Cabrera's recent struggles. He has just 17 homers this season, and though part of that disappointing total is the quarter-season that he lost due to injury, his .191 ISO this season is the lowest of his career and the only time that he has fallen short of the .200 mark. Interestingly, Cab was on a tear just before the slump began, knocking 11 extra-base hits in the 10 games preceding the above sample. At $4800 his services come more cheaply than usual but still represent a significant setback to the payroll, making it easier to look elsewhere.
Target: RHB Miguel Sano 3B ($4100) against RHP Cody Anderson ($7100)
Sano has cooled off a bit from his torrid introduction to the show, but the price has fallen past the point of reaping value, particularly given his lightweight opponent tonight. Sano is an OPS monster with light-tower power who deserves a price tag in excess of $4500 with an average pitcher on the hill, so the fact that he offers an additional discount against Anderson and his contact-heavy approach make Sano one of the best values of the day. The 22-year old carries a slash of .275/.388/.547 in 309 plate appearances this season, with 17 doubles, 17 homers and a triple in less than a half-season of work. With a walk rate of 15.5 percent and a .271 ISO, Sano has become the new incarnation of David Ortiz, but with Big Papi productivity before leaving the twin cities.
Resources used for this article:
Baseball Prospectus Stats and Player Cards
Draft Kings player prices
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