My expert fantasy baseball strategy calls for two middle-tier arms.
Top Pick: Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates, $16,550
2014: 22.6% K, 7.3% BB, 49.6% GB, 3.52 FIP
Braves vs RHP: 22.2% K, 82 wRC+
The Braves are absolutely dreadful against RHP, and Cole has been lights out down the stretch. The Braves have the fifth highest K% versus RHP this year, and they rank next to last in wRC+ against them according to FanGraphs. Since returning from shoulder fatigue in the second half of the season, Cole has a 25.3% K rate and 5.7% BB rate with a 3.00 FIP. I’d prefer to fade the pricier aces and use Cole so that I can grab another solid arm and big ticket bats.
Value Pick: Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians, $15,600
2014: 25.0% K, 7.1% BB, 34.5% GB, 3.60 FIP
Royals vs RHP: 15.7% K, 91 wRC+
The Royals have the lowest K% versus RHP this year, which is a bummer for Salazar, but his ability to miss bats at a high rate should still result in a handful of punchouts. Simply making contact hasn’t been enough to make the Royals offense good against RHP as they rank 21st in wRC+. Salazar struggled in the first half and was ultimately demoted to the minors, but he’s finishing strong with a 24.6% K rate, 5.7% BB rate, and 2.91 FIP in the second half.
Top Pick: Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers, $7,000
2014 vs RHP: 320 PA, 113 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 942 PA, 115 wRC+, .170 ISO, .341 wOBA
The top catchers just aren’t worth their cost. Save money at the position. Avila looks good since he’s ascended to the sixth spot in a talented Tigers offense. Avila is a guy that shouldn’t be shied away from based on his ugly batting average, as he derives his offensive value against RHP from drawing walks and hitting for pop when he makes contact. The overall offensive package has been above average this year and since 2012 versus RHP, and Scott Carroll is a soft pitcher to pick on.
Value Pick: Derek Norris, Oakland Athletics, $6,750
2014 vs LHP: 166 PA, 149 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 432 PA, 143 wRC+, .196 ISO, .376 wOBA
Norris is another stellar cheap option. In addition to being a very good hitter against LHP, facing Wade LeBlanc is exciting. The Angels hurler spent most of the season in Triple-A tallying a 4.04 FIP after being designated for assignment by the Yankees.
Top Pick: Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers, $10,400
2014 vs RHP: 460 PA, 147 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 884 PA, 135 wRC+, .162 ISO, .369 wOBA
As I stated above, Carroll isn’t a bad pitcher for the White Sox, and Martinez will get to take cuts against him from the cleanup spot. Expanding on how bad Carroll is, he’s allowed a staggering .370 wOBA to LHB this year. Martinez is in prime position to tally oodles of points in a Tigers romp.
Value Pick: Kennys Vargas, Minnesota Twins, $6,400
2014 vs LHP: 87 PA, 50 wRC+, .083 ISO, .243 wOBA
A glance at Vargas’ numbers in the majors against LHP probably leaves readers scratching their head at his tout. Vargas is a cleanup hitter for the Twins, and he was very good at the Double-A level against LHP this season. The hulking hitter also posted a .901 OPS in the minors earlier this year.
Top Pick: Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays, $8,400
2014 vs RHP: 460 PA, 106 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,402 PA, 124 wRC+, .160 ISO, .345 wOBA
The switch-hitting Zobrist is better against LHP, but he’s still above average offensively against RHP and looks good sitting atop the Rays order. The best part about using Zobrist is taking advantage of a nasty platoon split for Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox starter has allowed a .356 wOBA to LHB this season.
Value Pick: Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers, $6,800
2014 vs RHP: 426 PA, 120 wRC+
Since 2013 vs RHP: 615 PA, 133 wRC+, .168 ISO, .368 wOBA
Taking cuts against Johnny Cueto isn’t enviable, but as the number two hitter and a guy who rakes against RHP, Gennett is underpriced. Among second basemen with more than 600 PA against RHP since the start of last season, he ranks second in wRC+.
Top Pick: Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics, $9,850
2014 vs LHP: 171 PA, 190 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 464 PA, 170 wRC+, .301 ISO, .414 wOBA
When Donaldson faces a LHP, he should immediately get serious consideration for usage in DFS games. Among qualified third baseman, he has the second highest wRC+ and highest ISO since 2012 versus LHP. The A’s should jump all over LeBlanc, and Donaldson is the favorite to do the most damage.
Value Pick: Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants, $7,350
2014 vs RHP: 414 PA, 138 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,136 PA, 129 wRC+, .166 ISO, .350 wOBA
Zack Greinke is damn good, but at Sandoval’s price point it’s hard to ignore him. He’s the cleanup hitter for the Giants, and he ranks sixth in wRC+since 2012 versus RHP among qualified third basemen. It’s not a perfect scenario, but again, there is enough to like here to overlook the tough pitching matchup.
Top Pick: Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins, $9,900
2014 vs LHP: 195 PA, 124 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 423 PA, 136 wRC+, .222 ISO, .370 wOBA
Dozier hasn’t played a game at shortstop since 2012, but since he’s eligible there, that’s the place to use him tonight. Compared to the qualified shortstops pool, Dozier has the second highest wRC+ and ISO versus LHP since 2012.
Value Pick: Nick Franklin, Tampa Bay Rays, $5,850
2014 vs RHP: 55 PA, 79 wRC+
Since 2013 vs RHP: 332 PA, 99 wRC+, .180 ISO, .314 wOBA
Franklin started and hit fifth against a RHP on September 20, and I’d hazard a guess that he starts again tonight. He’s a switch-hitter who is much better against RHP, and as a LHB he’ll give Buchholz fits. Franklin’s bat was fairly quiet at Triple-A Durham after the Rays acquired him, but he’s hit RHP very well in the minors in the past, and has shown some pop against RHP in his brief big league time.
Top Pick: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates, $11,050
2014 vs LHP: 115 PA, 150 wRC+
Since 2012 vs LHP: 387 PA, 192 wRC+, .264 ISO, .448 wOBA
McCutchen is the type of big expenditure you can squeeze onto your DFS rosters by fading the pricey aces. He has the second highest wRC+ among all qualified hitters since 2012 versus LHP and ranks eighth in ISO. He’s also an efficient base stealer with 17 in 20 chances this year, so if Alex Wood naps, McCutchen is capable of picking up points on the bases too.
Middle of the Pack: Dexter Fowler, Houston Astros, $8,750
2014 vs RHP: 371 PA, 112 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 1,080 PA, 109 wRC+, .153 ISO, .346 wOBA
Nick Martinez is a pitcher you have to get a piece of, and Fowler, the Astros cleanup hitter, makes for a great candidate. Martinez has been rocked this year totaling a 5.22 FIP and allowing a sky high .379 wOBA to LHB.
Value Pick: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox, $6,500
2014 vs RHP: 129 PA, 120 wRC+, 153 ISO, .348 wOBA
Betts shot through the upper minors this year and has made a nearly seamless transition to life in the majors. His transition has been so smooth the Red Sox have have him serving as their leadoff hitter, where his patience and high OBP play well. He’s a capable base stealer with six in the majors and another 33 in the minors earlier this year.
Wild Card: Chris Carter, Houston Astros, $8,000
2014 vs RHP: 398 PA, 121 wRC+
Since 2012 vs RHP: 959 PA, 118 wRC+, .256 ISO, .341 wOBA
Carter is much better against LHP than RHP, but getting another piece of Martinez is a must. While Martinez has been worse against LHB than RHB, he’s still been dreadful against same-handed foes allowing a .337 wOBA. Carter has some holes as a hitter, especially against RHP, but hitting for power isn’t one of them. Among all hitters with a minimum of 900 PA against RHP since 2012, Carter has the eighth highest ISO.