September 9, 2014
Daily League Strategy
With DraftKings’ acquisition of DraftStreet, I will now be using that site’s dollar values to select my players of the day.
1. Andrew Cashner ($6,600 SD at LAD)
Cashner has rounded back into form quickly after spending more than two months on the disabled list. He’s been given a longer leash each time out, but even with a more managed pitch count he has been able to go six and seven innings in his last two outings. He’s missing bats again, too, with a 13-to-1 K:BB ratio in those last two starts after notching just one strikeout in his first start back. Even if they still hold him under 100 pitches, he can definitely offer a strong six- or seven-inning outing that will easily be worth his scant price tag. I’m definitely surprised that his price tag is still so low, but I’m not complaining.
2. Jacob deGrom ($10,000 NYM v. COL)
deGrom has been turned loose even more than Cashner since returning, although he only missed 15 days with tendinitis. He was given 86 pitches in his return, but he’s gone north of 100 in each of his last two, amassing 13 innings with just two runs allowed, though both were unearned. His strikeouts have been an unexpected surprise this year (8.4 K/9) and they did show up immediately upon his return with 18 in the 19 innings since coming back. deGrom has enjoyed a remarkably impressive rookie season, having pitched like a frontline arm despite a backend projection when he arrived. The 26-year-old gets a Rockies team that has been decimated by injuries and gone back to its sorry ways on the road. In fact, their .626 OPS on the road against righties is the league’s worst and it’s actually been quite a bit worse since the break (.524).
1. Michael Brantley ($5,100 CLE v. MIN)
Keep an eye on the weather here as there is some threat of rain, but otherwise we have a great Cleveland stack opportunity against Trevor May. Things really haven’t gone well for the rookie arm on the Twins. His best start was a five-inning, three-earned-run effort last time out, but he’d allowed 22 ER in 19 innings before that (10.42 ERA). Righties actually hit him harder, so you might consider Yan Gomes, too, but I like the Tribe’s two stars to do big damage against May. Brantley’s breakout season has been fueled by great improvements against righties. He had posted three straight years of solid work against righties in the .757-.785 OPS range, but this year he has taken it to another level with a .917 OPS which includes 14 homers, one short of his total over the past two years again righties (nine in 2013, six in 2012).
2. Carlos Santana ($4,500 CLE v. MIN)
Santana was toting a .604 OPS against righties through May. He hit the concussion DL at the very end of May and stayed on until June 6, a total of nine games missed. Since returning, he’s been the Carlos Santana we are used to seeing. He has a .903 OPS in his last three months (83 games in all) with 19 HR and 56 RBI, figures that would pace to 38 and 110 over a full season. Lefties are getting the bulk of that brunt, but he’s improved to an .853 OPS against righties in that time.
3. Arismendy Alcantara ($3,900 CHC at TOR)
Alcantara has been up and down this year. He got his MLB career off to a fantastic start, slumped severely, and has since plateaued a bit. We are playing the matchup and park a bit here. Alcantara has been markedly better against lefties with a .713 OPS (yes, that’s markedly better than his work v. RHPs) and Mark Buehrle has collapsed in the second half of the season. He has a 5.18 ERA in the second half (nine starts) although he did drop eight shutout innings on the Rays his last time out. Righties have improved from a .711 OPS in the first half to an .815 OPS in the second half and a lot of his damage has come at home (6.31 ERA). I’m not expecting Alcantara to leave the yard, but that improved Cubs offense has a better chance to cash him in if he can collect a couple of hits.
4. Nelson Cruz ($5,100 BAL at BOS)
We generally prefer the platoon split in our favor, but sometimes a same-handed matchup is the way to go, especially since it might not be as commonly used by your competitors. Cruz has been better against lefties from an OPS standpoint, but his power has still been incredible against righties, with a .527 SLG and 31 of his MLB-best 39 HR. It may be his birthday, but I doubt the O’s are going to go easy on Anthony Ranaudo. The now-25-year-old rookie has a passable 4.63 ERA in 23 1/3 innings of work, but his component skills say he’s been quite fortunate to have an ERA that low. He has a sub-1.0 K:BB ratio, a 1.9 HR/9, and 1.41 WHIP, all of which yields a 6.93 FIP. Cruz has done his part to send the reigning champs back to the bottom of the standings with a 1.046 OPS against Boston this year in 60 PA with four homers and 12 RBIs. He has a 1.214 OPS in Fenway in eight of those games (38 PA). Both figures only add to his career success against Boston. He has a 1.104 OPS against Boston in 225 career PA and a 1.180 OPS in 116 PA at Fenway.
5. Kole Calhoun ($4,500 LAA at TEX)
It’s almost become a gag at this point, but I swear it’s not. I have repeatedly selected Calhoun in this very space, but it’s because he is worth it. First off, his price just seems to hold in that low-$4,000s territory regardless of how well he performs. Maybe he’s just overshadowed by the star power on that team, but again, we’re never complaining when a player’s price is too low. His effort in Cleveland on Monday shows his ultimate upside—3-for-3 with a homer, two runs scored, two driven in, and two walks, all good for 28 points. The Angels have been REALLY mean to Colby Lewis this year. He had a solid first outing against them back in May with two runs allowed in 5 2/3 innings en route to a win. Since then they have amassed 16 ER against Lewis in just 8 1/3 innings, including a brutal 2 1/3 IP/11 ER massacre back on July 10. He did fan 10 in his six-inning, five-run outing against them on August 16, but that didn’t stop Calhoun from having a solid 2-for-5 with 2 RBI game. In fact, he has destroyed Lewis in his scant seven plate appearances: 5-for-7 with two doubles, one triple, and three RBI.
Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
Click here to see Paul's other articles.
You can contact Paul by clicking here