One of our Daily Baseball Selections is found in an ace versus ace showdown.
Listen to the FSL Podcast while you build your lineups.
In order to offset the cost of the big ticket arm, DraftDay gamers should nab a lefty pitching on the west coast tonight. This battle of the aces has trickle down effect on the hitters highlighted in today’s article as well, and I’m opting not to use a single batter for the Tigers or the White Sox. That means there are a ton of teammates suggested. There are a pair of Astros and Orioles that look good, four Blue Jays stand out, but it’s a whopping six Brewers that dominate the love doled out today.
I’ll be mixing and matching my favorite Brewers, Birds, and ‘Stros in my favorite game, the $3.30 Wiz Walkoff! That won’t be the only place you can find me though. Be sure and join me in the Fantasy Sports Live League. The game costs only a buck, and just think about all the goofy, wasteful, nonsense you spend a dollar on. It’s easy to join, and you can gain entry to Saturday’s exclusive freeroll!
All salaries listed use DraftDay pricing.
Daily Baseball Selections – Pitchers
My Pick: Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers, $19,100
Chris Sale has been the better pitcher of the two hurlers starting in the most anticipated game tonight, but he’s also facing the better lineup. John Danks threw a wet blanket over my Wednesday Daily Baseball Selections, and Sale is leaps and bounds better than him. The White Sox southpaw will carve up the Tigers, by and large, and that’s why I’m avoiding using stars such as Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, and Victor Martinez. There is enough fire power to possibly scrape together a run before seeing the Pale Hose bullpen. A few runs, or perhaps only one run, is all that the 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner might need. After all, it’s not as if Scherzer is a slouch.
Among qualified pitchers, Scherzer’s strikeout rate of 27.8 percent is the fifth best mark (in fairness, if Sale had enough innings to qualify he’d be the highest ranked healthy pitcher in strikeout percentage). The White Sox have been good against right-handed pitchers this year, ranking seventh in team wRC+ with a 102 mark, and they destroyed Justin Verlander on Wednesday (but really, who isn’t doing that these days). They also have a propensity to strikeout though. They’re fanning in 23.5 percent of their plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, the second highest mark behind only the Marlins (and by the slenderest of margins). I love both Scherzer and Sale tonight, but when factoring in the lineups and the $2,800 discount that comes with using the Tigers’ ace, he becomes the clear choice for me.
Value Pick: Roenis Elias, Seattle Mariners, $14,950
Elias has surprisingly made the leap from Double-A in 2013 to the majors seamlessly this year, despite a lack of fanfare and prospect chatter. He was respectable in April, but he’s getting better as he settles in. The southpaw has improved his walk rate in each month of the season, and now sits at a respectable rate of 8.7 percent. His strikeout rate has been north of 21.0 percent since the beginning of May too. His plate discipline stats, which are available at FanGraphs, look rock solid, and he has a good matchup tonight. The Yankees have a poor 94 wRC+ against lefties this season, and they’ve already been stymied by Elias once this year. On May 1st Elias pitched seven brilliant innings at Yankee Stadium allowing only two earned runs on six hits, surrendering just two walks with 10 strikeouts. The environment in which he’s pitching, Safeco Field, will be much friendlier than the one he dominated to open the month of May, and I expect him to spin another gem. If he does, that will make him one of the most valuable Daily Baseball Selections tonight from a return on investment perspective.
Daily Baseball Selections- Catchers
My Pick: Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers, $10,250
Lucroy is the first of a plethora of Brewers to be highlighted due to their prowess when assaulting left-handed pitchers. In his rookie season in 2010 he earned a 96 wRC+ against lefties, and it’s the only time in his career that he’s posted a wRC+ south of 135. In 452 plate appearances against southpaws he has hit .325/.366/.556 with a 150 wRC+, and if you strip out his rookie season, he’s hit .334/.379/.582 with a 161 wRC+. Just to get it out of the way, I like Jon Niese, but I like Brewers against lefties more. As far as things go with Niese, he has alternated good and bad years against right-handed batters since 2011, and he’s in the midst of a good one currently. Overall the Mets lefty has faced 2,624 right-handed batters and they’ve hit .267/.329/.407 with a .324 wOBA. Even if Niese had a history of tying up right-handed batters, I’d probably still use a Brewer like Lucroy due to his ability to hammer lefties.
Value Pick: Dioner Navarro, Toronto Blue Jays, $5,900
I’ll keep it short and sweet with Navarro. Lucroy is the only catcher that warrants big bucks being spent on him (sorry Miguel Montero, you’re good but overpriced), and the middle tier has unfavorable circumstances that see me turning my nose up to them. That leaves Navarro due to variables mostly out of his hands. The switch-hitting catcher gets to hit at Rogers Centre tonight, and extra base hits and runs get a boost there. He’s also part of an offense that is posting a gaudy 116 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers this year. Finally, I like second year big leaguer Kevin Gausman, but he hasn’t fared well in the majors as a starter just yet. He was a five and dive guy (and sometimes less) in the minors this year. Not everyone of your Daily Baseball Selections can be a glamorous pricey one, especially when you’re trying to squeeze a pricey pitcher like Scherzer onto your roster.
Daily Baseball Selections- First Basemen
My Pick: Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays, $8,700
Lind enjoys all of the ancillary benefits that teammate Navarro does, but he’s also way better with the lumber. He’s turned into a platoon player, and he’s darn good at the craft of ripping apart right-handed pitchers. Since 2011 he has 1,190 plate appearances against righties, and has hit .288/.353/.501 with a 131 wRC+. One nugget I didn’t mention above when discussing Gausman is that he’s induced groundballs on just 41.5 percent of his pitches in play, while allowing line drives on 26.2 percent of them. It takes a long, long time for line drive rates to stabilize, but if he doesn’t keep the ball on the ground at the Rogers Centre he’s asking for trouble.
Value Pick: Chris Carter, Houston Astros, $7,850
Carter went deep twice on Wednesday, but this isn’t about chasing a hot streak. Even with his outburst he’s still hitting just .199 on the year, but his strikeout rate is down from 36.2 percent in 2013 when he hit .223, to 30.7 percent this year. The drop in average is BABIP driven. Carter will never win a batting title, obviously, but he’s also not a sub-.200 hitter. Furthermore, the right-handed hitter is better against lefties than righties. Carter struggled in his first two tastes of the majors in 2010 and 2011, so I’ve decided to cut him some slack and look at his numbers against lefties since 2012 instead of going back to 2011 as I often do. In 362 plate appearances against them over that span, Carter has slashed .233/.354/.468 with a 129 wRC+ and 18 taters. This hulking man proved that he can make Minute Maid Park look real small on Wednesday, and I’ll take my chances with him against a lefty, Wade Miley, who has allowed the 1,773 right-handed batters he’s faced in the majors hit .263/.320/.433 with a .328 wOBA against him.
Daily Baseball Selections- Second Basemen
My Pick: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros, $9,800
Altuve has become a fan favorite thanks to his diminutive stature and hard nosed playing style. What I care about, though, is the beating he puts on lefties. The right-handed hitting second baseman has 495 plate appearances against southpaws since 2011, and he’s hit .334/.371/.462 with a 131 wRC+ over that span. It’s not just his ability to hit lefties that I like though, I also love the fact that Altuve is one of the best base stealers in the game. Since 2011 he’s stolen 99 bases, a total that is tied for the 12th most in the bigs. The battery of Miley and Montero is a tough one to run on, so I wouldn’t bank on a stolen base from Altuve, but it’s important to recognize that it’s in his goody bag of skills.
Value Pick: Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers, $6,700
Weeks is easily the worst Brewers player I’ve picked today, but his $6,700 cost makes him a thrifty option as one of your Daily Baseball Selections. It’s not all about saving money, either. The 31-year old Weeks isn’t anywhere near his peak form, but he’s still been able to carve out a niche on the short side of a second base platoon due to his ability to continue hitting lefties while the rest of his game erodes. Weeks has hit .249/.363/.399 with a 113 wRC+ in 452 plate appearances against southpaws since the start of the 2011 season. A sub-.400 slugging percentage is nothing to write home about, but getting on-base at a high clip is worth points, and he can still sting the ball. As should be clear by the number of Brewers I’ve picked to write about today, I expect them to score runs.
Daily Baseball Selections- Third Basemen
My Pick: Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers, $8,300
Ramirez’s body has failed him a bit of late, and his bat has lacked some of its trademark potency this season. 158 plate appearances is far too little work to ignore his recent and career long success against lefties though. The third baseman is sporting an exactly league average 100 wRC+ against lefties this year, but he totaled a hearty 144 wRC+ against them last year. Since 2011 he’s hit .313/.353/.564 with a 146 wRC+ in 402 plate appearances. Citi Field is no Miller Park, but over the last three years it does have a 109 right-handed batter homer park factor, and Ramirez is no stranger to putting a ball in the seats. The price is right to roll the dice with Ramirez as one of your Daily Baseball Selections.
Value Pick: Juan Francisco, Toronto Blue Jays, $7,600
My love and hate relationship with Francisco has been more of the latter than the former of late. Thankfully I have a short memory, as all daily fantasy gamers need to have when making Daily Baseball Selections. Francisco’s taters remain long, and even in the midst of his slump he’s still showing better plate discipline than he had prior to this year. His zone contact rate of 81.3 percent is actually palatable, so if he’s able to continue to show some restraint on pitches thrown out of the strike zone, he’ll be able to show off his top shelf power and continue his breakout season. Gambling on elite power, especially from a guy who’s hitting .274/.354/.602 with nine homers and a 163 wRC+ in 127 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers this year is something I’m willing to do.
Daily Baseball Selections- Shortstops
My Pick: Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays, $9,600
Even at the age of 31, Reyes is still an above average offensive shortstop as evidenced by his 106 wRC+ this year. An exciting development with him is that he’s back to being a nightmare for opposing batteries on the bases. The Blue Jays shortstop has stolen 14 bases in 15 chances this season. The switch-hitter has been slightly better against lefties than righties in his career, but since 2011 he’s hit .310/.362/.462 with a 124 wRC+ in 1,422 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers. Reyes is the most expensive shortstop for good reason, but at less than $10,000 he’s not a difficult player to budget for.
Value Pick: J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles, $5,850
Hardy hasn’t hit a homer this year, which is kind of crazy for a guy who’s hit more than 20 each of the last three years. He also doesn’t have favorable career numbers against Mark Buehrle, but batter versus pitcher stats are often such a small sample that very little can be gleaned from them in daily projections. What’s more important to note is how he’s hit against lefties recently. The right-handed shortstop has 563 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers since joining the Orioles in 2011, and he’s hit .268/.320/.445 with a 105 wRC+ over that span. In short, he’s been slightly above average, and that’s a fine haul at little more than the minimum salary.
Daily Baseball Selections- Outfielders
My Pick: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers, $11,500
Your priciest Brewer as a part of the stack is Braun. Anyone that has followed Braun’s career even casually probably saw this daily pick from a mile away. The guy is basically left-handed pitching’s enemy number one. Seriously. Since 2011 he and Andrew McCutchen are tied atop the leaderboard in wRC+ with identical marks of 192. For those that might be concerned about how PED usage could have impacted his performance during that time frame, his numbers this year against lefties (.327/.327/.571 with a 139 wRC+) should ease those concerns. As a player who is well recognized as a lefty killer, it’s almost certain that he’ll be highly rostered on a short slate of games. Ask yourself one question. Do you want to potentially put yourself behind the eight ball by passing on him with one of your Daily Baseball Selections?
Middle of the Pack: Khris Davis, Milwaukee Brewers, $8,650
Davis hasn’t even been in the majors for a full season, but what he’s doing to lefties should probably be deemed illegal. In 107 plate appearances in the majors Davis has rattled off eight doubles, 11 homers, and a stunning slash line of .310/.355/.720 with an unfathomable 195 wRC+. That’s one homer per 9.73 plate appearances against lefties, and and an extra base hit one per 5.63 plate appearances. He’s tallying almost an extra base hit per-game against lefties. Good lord. This is obviously not sustainable, but he did hit lefties hard in the minors. Minor League Central tracks minor league stats back to the beginning of the 2011 season and he’s hit .304/.416/.507 with 11 homers in 329 plate appearances according to their data. I’d say this guy clearly loves facing left-handed pitching, and you should love using him on your DraftDay rosters.
Value Pick: Steve Pearce, Baltimore Orioles, $7,150
Pearce isn’t exactly a household name, but he’s turned into a solid left-handed hitting specialist and latched on with the Orioles. The 31-year old has cobbled together 387 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers in a major league career that dates back to 2007, and he’s hit .269/.351/.459 with a 118 wRC+ during that time. Since joining the Orioles in 2012, Pearce has received 154 plate appearances against lefties and hit .281/.364/.489 with a 131 wRC+. He should get a chance to take some hacks against Buehrle tonight. That said, and as an anecdotal aside, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Delmon Young in the the lineup based on some of manager Buck Showalter’s comments in the past about batter versus pitcher performance influencing lineup decisions. Young has homered three times off of the Blue Jays lefty in 40 plate appearances, and he owns a .368 batting average against him, too. The former first overall pick in the MLB Amateur Draft has never lived up to the lofty expectations that come with that distinction, but he’s hit lefties well in his career. Young makes a sneaky good play for the minimum $5,000 salary if Showalter gives him a starter.
Wild Card: Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers, $11,150
The Brewers stack is complete with the third member of their outfield, and the most valuable over the last two years, Carlos Gomez. The former Met and Twin has turned into a bonafide star with the Beer Makers. He’s hitting .310/.378/.552 with a 157 wRC+ this season, and he’s flashed his power with 12 homers. That’s not to mention his wheels, with 11 stolen bases in 13 chances. The scary thing is, at least for left-handed pitchers, his overall line is actually weighed down a bit by same handed matchups with right-handers. This season he’s hitting .289/.385/.622 with a 176 wRC+ against lefties (his second straight with a wRC+ above 170), and since 2011 the five-tool outfielder has hit .284/.333/.554 with a 139 wRC+.
* 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.