Today’s MLB Daily Baseball Picks to Click finds pitching bargains galore!
What if I told you that you could roster a pair of pitchers that ranked seventh and 48th in ERA in 2013? And are off to solid (albeit abbreviated) starts to the 2014 season for a total cost of less than $24,000? Would that interest you? Of course it would, and I can! Those cheap studly pitchers are joined by a trio of hitters playing at Coors Field, and four Red Sox hitters.
All salaries listed are for DraftDay player pricing.
MLB Daily Baseball Pitchers
My Pick: Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners, $13,000
Iwakuma didn’t make any starts in the month of April while he recovered from a finger injury, but he’s wasted little time in the month of May validating his brilliant 2013 campaign with an equally brilliant beginning to the 2014 season. The split fingered specialist has walked only one batter in 22.2 innings spanning three starts, and he’s struck out 15. The Japanese import has a 1.59 ERA and 0.66 WHIP through three starts, and he’s thrown eight scoreless in consecutive appearances allowing just eight baserunners with 12 strikeouts. He’s facing a Rangers squad that ranks 24th in the league in OPS versus right-handed pitchers this year, and they’re without Prince Fielder. There is no excuse for passing on the ridiculously cheap Iwakuma.
Value Pick: Doug Fister, Washington Nationals, $10,150
Fister, like the aforementioned Iwakuma, didn’t make his first start of the season until the calendar flipped to May. The former Tiger has made two starts now though. The first was a messy one at Oakland, but the second was a brilliant seven inning gem in which he allowed just one earned run on five hits (one was a homer) with six strikeouts and no walks. Fister’s PITCHf/x player card at Brooks Baseball looks fine to me, and it doesn’t seem like he’s suffering any ill effects of the lat strain that sidelined him through April. The right-hander’s assignment is an easier one than it normally would be facing the Reds, thanks to Jay Bruce being on the disabled list and Joey Votto day-to-day (he didn’t play on Monday, and that was the fourth contest he’d missed in a row). Fister gets two thumbs up from this critic.
MLB Daily Baseball Catchers
My Pick: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants, $9,600
Posey is the second most expensive catcher today, but he’s worth the money. He’s a lifetime .335/.400/.582 hitter with a 168 wRC+ in 577 big league plate appearances against southpaws. As a right-handed batter he’ll also enjoy a 117 home run ballpark factor for right-handed hitters at Coors Field, and the boost to run scoring that is awarded to all hitters there. The clincher when ponying up for Posey is that he’s facing Franklin Morales. The left-handed one time reliever has a 5.40 ERA this year and has struggled mightily against right-handed batters over the course of his career, allowing the 994 he’s faced in the to hit .271/.368/.452 with a .357 wOBA against him.
Value Pick: Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati Reds, $6,850
I hate picking hitters against one of my highlighted pitchers, but Mesoraco is a steal at under $7,000. It’s been a stop and start season for the young catcher as he opened the year on the disabled list and landed on it once again shortly after his first activation. When he has been on the diamond though, he’s raked and shown the form that made him a top prospect with glowing scouting reports about his bat. Entering play on Monday he was hitting .500/.541/.870 with four homers and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances. His power and offensive prowess are legit, and he’s a great option for DraftDay gamers looking to pair a pricier pitcher with Iwakuma instead of using Posey and Fister together.
MLB Daily Baseball First Basemen
My Pick: Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers, $9,250
Martinez can do very little wrong this year. He’s not striking out, at all. The former catcher has nine strikeouts this season, and as the ESPN telecast noted when he reached the seats on Monday night against Corey Kluber, his homer total, 11, is greater than his strikeout total. Hitting behind superstar Miguel Cabrera has helped V-Mart pile up RBIs (26) and his .331 batting average and .381 on-base percentage are superb too. I don’t believe he has an easy pitching matchup facing Trevor Bauer (I’m a believer as I note in a piece for The Fantasy Fix this week), but the UCLA product has his hands full today and he isn’t enough to dissuade me from using Martinez at a relatively cheap price compared to his five figure peers at the position.
Value Pick: Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox, $9,100
Considering the tiny gap in price, I’d rather use Martinez than Napoli at first base. Entering more than one lineup into DraftDay games is always advised, and a bit of roster differentiation is a must. Napoli is a nice alternative to Martinez on secondary rosters because of his ability to demolish left-handed pitching. He’ll be facing Blue Jays southpaw J.A. Happ and owns a .275/.384/.519 slash line with a 141 wRC+ in 980 plate appearances against lefties over his career. Playing at Fenway Park is also a plus since right-handed batters have a home run park factor of 106 and a runs park factor of 111 there.
MLB daily Baseball Second Basemen
My Pick: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox, $9,600
Pedroia is another Red Sox player who feasts on lefties. The second baseman has 1,382 plate appearances against southpaws in the Show, and has hit .314/.399/.468 with a 132 wRC+ against them. He also has more walks, 168, than strikeouts, 112. Pedroia hasn’t hit for much power this year, but it is up significantly in the month of May. Since he’s more of a doubles hitter than a big bopper, it warrants mentioning that Fenway Park has a healthy 114 doubles/triples right-handed hitter park factor.
Value Pick: Derek Dietrich, Miami Marlins, $7,100
In his second year in the majors, Dietrich is beginning to emerge as an offensive minded second baseman, especially when the left-handed batting two bagger faces right-handed pitchers. He’s cut back on his strikeout rate from last year, which was high at 24.0 percent, clocking in at a more palatable at 19.6 percent this season. He’s simultaneously upped his walk rate from 4.7 percent to 8.0 percent as well. Dietrich has cut his chase rate (O-swing percentage) nearly in half, and he’s had less empty swings as a result. The young second baseman has muscled up for five homers, and has ascended to second in the Marlins’ order. Phillies starter A.J. Burnett has been inconsistent from start-to-start this year, and if the bad version shows up then Dietrich and the Marlins offense are capable of jumping all over him and hanging a big crooked number in the runs column.
MLB Daily Baseball Third Basemen
My Pick: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays, $9,250
There’s no two ways about it, Longoria’s power has been missing this year. However, without any talk of a lingering injury it seems like it’s only a matter of time before 28-year old third baseman gets back on track launching extra base hits. Today is as good of day as any for him to kick things off since he’s facing left-handed starter Drew Pomeranz. Longo has hit .289/.337/.548 with a 147 wRC+ in 1,018 plate appearances against lefties in the majors. His slow start has him priced outside the top five at the position, and sunk his cost to below the five figure range making him a slightly discounted star level player.
Value Pick: Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals, $7,100
Rendon now has nearly a full season’s worth of plate appearances, with 579 coming in 141 games between the last two seasons. He’s hit .268/.326/.418 with a 104 wRC+ over that span. That’s not a world beater line, but he’s been better this year than last, upping his power while reducing his strikeout rate. He’s also hitting second in his club’s batting order. A showdown with Johnny Cueto is far from ideal, but at such a tiny cost Rendon remains an underpriced asset that can offset pricey expenditures.
MLB Daily Baseball Shortstops
My Pick: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies, $14,850
Speaking of pricey expenditures, Tulowitzki costs more than all but eight starting pitchers toeing the rubber today. As I’ve stated in this column before, circumstances have to be nearly perfect for Tulowitzki to justify using him at such a lofty cost. Things shape up nicely to use him today with a pair of super cheap arms at gamer’s disposal. He’s facing one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game in Madison Bumgarner, but Tulo is locked in and owns left-handed pitchers at Coors Field. Tulowitzki has 573 plate appearances against lefties at Coors Field in his career, and has hit .343/.429/.582 with a 140 wRC+ against them.
Value Pick: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox, $8,350
Bogaerts is the beneficiary of being a member of the Red Sox lineup in a favorable stack situation. He’s a right-handed batter facing a southpaw, Happ, who is really bad against right-handed batters. The Blue Jays starter has faced 2,312 right-handed batters in his big league career, and has allowed them to hit .250/.339/.432 with a .337 wOBA. The Red Sox have plenty of righties to throw Happ’s way, and I expect them to pummel him thoroughly this evening. Bogaerts hasn’t flashed his burgeoning power much yet, but his 111 wRC+ demonstrates that he’s still been an above average hitter in his first full season in the majors.
MLB Daily Baseball Outfielders
My Pick: Michael Morse, San Francisco Giants, $8,200
Morse is a large man with big pop. His 10 homers ranked tied for ninth in the majors this year entering play on Monday, and he’ll be taking his cuts in a ballpark that, as I noted above in Posey’s write-up, enhances right-handed power. The Giants left fielder/first baseman doesn’t have a dramatic split. In fact, he has an identical 121 wRC+ in his career against lefties and righties alike. He will, however, be in a favorable situation facing a lefty that struggles with right-handed batters. That’s good enough for me.
Value Pick: Jonny Gomes, Boston Red Sox, $7,650
Gomes has carved out a nice career in the majors as a platoon outfielder. He’s on the short side of the platoon, but he’s always worth checking in on when he faces a southpaw. The 33-year old outfielder has 1,337 plate appearances against lefties in his career, and has hit .277/.377/.501 with a 136 wRC+ versus them. As I pointed out above, Happ doesn’t deal well with right-handed batters, and that coupled with Gomes mastery of hitting lefties makes him a bargain at less $8,000.
* Batted ball data and splits information comes from that which is provided at FanGraphs unless otherwise stated, and ballpark factors are those found at StatCorner and are for a three-year rolling average.
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