August 26, 2015
The Tiger Den
Target: RHB's J.D. Martinez OF ($4700, +50 OPS and +.028 ISO vs. LHP), Ian Kinsler 2B ($4600, +118 OPS and +.037 ISO vs. LHP), Rajai Davis OF ($3300, +143 OPS and +.047 ISO vs. LHP), Nick Castellanos 3B ($3600, +114 OPS and +.011 ISO vs. LHP) and Jose Iglesias SS/3B ($3100, +127 OPS and +.071 ISO vs. LHP) against LHP Hector Santiago ($7300, +112 OPS and +.102 ISO career vs. RHB)
Pretty much the entire Tiger lineup has a heavy split that favors hitting southpaws. The one exception might be Miguel Cabrera ($5500), who has nearly-neutral splits for his career with an OPS that is 39 points higher against lefties but an identical isolated power of .243 against pitchers from either side. Martinez has really come into his own over the last two seasons, and in doing so he has shown improved performance against right-handed pitchers (particularly this season, with 26 of his 33 homers against righties). Kinsler has been a lefty-killer for his entire career and this season is no different, though his platoon split has been contained to a 37-point OPS advantage against southpaws in 2015. Castellanos has been on fire lately so he might best be suited in the Recency Bias section, while both Rajai Davis and Jose Iglesias go from being hardly playable against right-handers to sought-after bats when a southpaw toes the rubber. At the core of this platoon recommendation is Santiago, who saps the power out of left-handed bats, but right-hander's have been able to get to him throughout his career – notice that nearly all of his OPS split is concentrated in isolated power, as his batting average and on-base percentage against are nearly even against hitters that hail from either side of the plate.
Target: Jason Kipnis 2B ($4200, 11-of-19 SB this season), Michael Brantley ($4600, 14-of-15 SB) and Jose Ramirez 2B/SS ($2800, 9-of-12 SB) against RHP Jimmy Nelson ($8400, opponents 19-of-24 SB this season)
Jason Kipnis had demonstrated excellent efficiency on the basepaths coming into the 2015 season. He had stolen bases at an 81-percent clip or better in each of his three full seasons in the bigs, totaling 83 swipes in 100 attempts. But Kipnis has been a disaster on the bags in 2015, with a 58-percent success rate and a theft total that puts him on pace for a career-low 15 successful steals this season. On the other end of the spectrum is Brantley, who has continued a multi-year run of incredible efficiency as he has stolen 54 bags in 60 attempts (90-percent success rate) since the start of 2013. Brantley is a money play today not only for the boost in steals, but also thanks to an extreme platoon split on the part of Nelson (LHB's enjoy a 229-point advantage in OPS and an edge of .104 in isolated power), giving Brantley a chance to excel in multiple categories. Ramirez has only played 68 games at the big-league level this year so he's on a 20-steal pace when extrapolating the numbers, while his low price and multi-position eligibility at up-the-middle spots make him an intriguing value. Carlos Santana is nine-out-of ten on steal attempts this season and he might see an opportunity to run tonight against Nelson.
Every week I drop in on Cueto Day to remind the DFS-loving public that the right-hander doesn't allow steals. Baserunners have successful on just 37 percent of steal attempts against Cueto in his career (24-of-61 SB), and only twice in eight career seasons has he given up more than three thefts in a campaign. The Orioles are nearly devoid of steal threats (only one player has stolen more than three bags), and even Machado has posted a surprisingly-high number of swipes this year. The Avoid tag is specific to his likelihood to get steals, and though his matchup with the bat-thinning Cueto reinforces the label, his price is so startlingly low that he might be worth the investment regardless of the arguments against.
Target: RHP Justin Verlander ($8200) at home against the Angels
Last 8 games (8 starts): 1.67 ERA, 38 baserunners in 43.0 innings and opponents hitting .208/.235/.279 in 163 plate appearances
Verlander seemed to be a lost cause roughly two months ago (he was dropped and cleared waivers in my AL-only keeper league), but after an eight-start streak of keeping the scoreboard clean, Verlander is once again vying for attention from fantasy managers. He has punched out 40 hitters against just six walks in this eight-game stretch, and the impressive ERA is even more convincing when considering his opponents: Texas, Houston, Boston (twice), Kansas City and Tampa Bay. The velocity hasn't spiked but it has held firm all season and his average speed on the radar gun is 93.4 mph, still above the mean. Verlander seems to be doing a better job of commanding the baseball, an aspect that will be key to his transition into his 30's,
All he does is walk and hit homers, so he's fit in nicely on Chicago's north side. Schwarber has 18 extra-base hits in his first 166 big-league plate appearances, 12 of which have left the yard, and his 12.8-percent walk rate would look much more impressive if he wasn't surrounded by walk machines in the Cubbie lineup. It might not be predictive, but the 35 RBI and 36 runs that Schwarber has scored in just 42 games have paid enormous dividends for the Cubs in their push for the postseason.
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