MLB DFS WEEK 7 PAYOFF PITCH
Welcome back to The Payoff Pitch, your one thing to look forward to come Monday morning. In this article Chris Kay usually breaks down what has happened in the last week when it comes to injuries, lineups and streaky hitters (and one streaky pitcher) and now I plan to try and simulate that experience. This is a great way to refresh your memory or catch up on a few days lost.
**All prices are from Monday slates when applicable.
**All stats are from games ending Sunday.
Concussions are never minor and Justin Morneau suffered a rather serious one in 2010 while sliding into second base. The following season Morneau suffered another concussion and has not regained his pre-2010 power since. Last year, he led the National League in batting average, which seemed to signify he finally was fully recovered and confident once again. As of Saturday morning, Morneau was placed on the seven day disabled list (DL) after injuring his neck on a dive Wednesday that must have also reactivated his concussion symptoms. It’s a tough blow for Fantasy owners in season long leagues but creates value in DFS as we always love cheap guys stepping into Coors Field. This week, the Rockies (and the Phillies/Giants) will enjoy plenty of time in the favorable ballpark as the team from Denver is slated to play eight games at home this week. Saturday is a scheduled double-header against the Giants. Essentially this injury opens an opportunity for both Wilin Rosario and Rafael Ynoa to find their way into the lineup. Rosario has started on back-to-back days at first and his price has held steady at $3,300 DK/$2,900 FD. With all the monster bats including Troy Tulowitzki in the middle of the lineup, the team’s active career leader in wOBA against LHP is Rosario (.431). The team faces just one left-handed starter this week (Cole Hamels) and it comes on Monday. Do not let the name Hamels overwhelm you; Rosario belongs in lineups at home presumably hitting fifth against a starter who has struggled to keep the ball in the park so far this season (eight HR allowed already).
As for the aforementioned Tulowitzki, his status is up in the air for the upcoming week as well. Fill-in Daniel Descalso ($2,400 DK, $2,500 FD) has been the team’s hottest hitter in the last three games. Starting three straight in Tulowitzki’s place, Descalso has racked up two hits in three straight games and is hitting .600 (6-10) during that streak. If you believe in hot streaks, he is best left for tournaments only as he will likely continue hitting in the eight spot of the order.
Other injuries to keep an eye on: Corey Dickerson (rumor is he may get DL’d for his plantar fasciitis), Mark Teixeira (right big toe contusion) and Carlos Gomez (facial contusion)
Alex Guerrero‘s ($3,300 DK, $3,100 FD) playing time has been sporadic but at least he had usually been given a favorable spot in the lineup when starting. On Sunday, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly apparently was not in a giving mood when he penciled in Guerrero in the eight spot against righty Kyle Kendrick. This comes one night after hitting fifth (although the team was facing a lefty). So far, the handedness of the pitcher hasn’t really affected Guerrero much as he’s hitting at least .316 against both handedness of pitchers with at least two homers (six total) and a .684 SLG. Again, those are the worse of his two splits in each category. As a 28 year old rookie, the guy simply looks like a professional hitter and is worthy of DFS consideration every time he plays, particularly on DraftKings where his salary has remained very low and he holds 2B eligibility. However, if he continues to hit near the bottom of the order, it certainly takes away from some of the upside.
On a lighter note, Jung-Ho Kang has worked his way up to the five spot in the Pirates order. Kang is a player who hit 40 home runs (HR) in the Korean League last season with a .356 batting average (AVG). In other words, his bat is his strong point. Hitting directly behind Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte as opposed to a few spots down in the order should add some RBI opportunities. At only $2,600 on FanDuel, Kang makes for a nice value this week if he continues to hit in the five hole. The only problem is Pittsburgh only plays five games this week and all come at home in a ballpark that played as the 17th best hitters park last season (or slightly below average). Historically, it’s even more pitcher friendly than that.
As a quick final note, Kennys Vargas was optioned to triple-A. There is no clear cut favorite to step into the everyday DH role but that won’t be necessary at the beginning of the week anyways. The Twins begin the week with a two game set in Pittsburgh before they venture to Chicago for a three game series with the White Sox. My guess would be this opens up more at-bats for Eduardo Nunez, Eduardo Escobar, Chris Herrmann and Shane Robinson. Nunez is probably the biggest temporary winner. Also note the Twins have been undergoing a bit of a youth movement calling up both Eddie Rosario and Aaron Hicks.
Heading into Sunday, Jason Kipnis ($5,500 DK, $4,500 FD) had been 16 for his last 26 (.615) with one HR, five RBI and one SB. Kipnis added another hit and scored a run on Sunday to continue his remarkable recent hot streak. When seeing the ball as well as Kipnis is right now, you never want the team to have a break in the action. Cleveland certainly does not this week as they have a game scheduled all seven days coming up. The week begins with a tough matchup against Chris Sale and ends against Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto. All games in between should be safe to deploy the hot hitting second baseman.
Shin-Soo Choo had quietly hit .469 in the last week before going 0/3 on Sunday. After hitting just .096 in the month of April, Choo is now hitting .362 in 69 May ABs. Choo hit three HR and drove in five during the week but Texas’ schedule isn’t incredibly favorable to him this week. Texas plays six games and three of those come against opposing left-handed starters. Choo holds a career wOBA of .390 against RHP but only .312 against LHP. Do not be surprised if he sits at least one of those games against a lefty and should be not in consideration against them even if he does play.
After Sunday’s five inning, three ER outing in Petco Park, Stephen Strasburg has now gone five consecutive starts without registering a quality start. Heading into Sunday, Strasburg’s ERA sat at 6.06 with a 1.71 WHIP. Strasburg has one, count them o-n-e, quality start in eight starts this season. Wow, how the mighty has fallen here. While the guy didn’t quite fall into the elite pitching category last season because his ERA and WHIP were slightly higher than the top tier, he still was amongst the best strikeout pitchers in the game (242 in 215 IP or a 10.13 K/9). Through seven starts, Strasburg has registered 35 Ks in 35.2 IP or under one per inning (8.83 K/9). Either the back injury that plagued him a few starts ago is bothering him more than he is leading on or he is due for a giant bounce back. I am leaning towards the side of believing his numbers will recover but he’s a hard pitcher to roster in DFS until he shows us a bit more.
As for the cold hitters, none stand out more than Coco Crisp. Since returning from the DL, Crisp is now just 2/37 (.054) from the plate after another 0/3 on Sunday. When he finally figures out his swing, he will be a valuable asset in DFS due to his power/speed combination. As for now, he is probably best left unrostered as he may fall lower than the six hole (where he batted Sunday) in the immediate future to take the pressure off of him. Once he rights his wrongs, make sure to pounce especially against right-handers (.327 career wOBA, 226 SB vs RHP vs .314 wOBA, 71 SB vs LHP). In the interim, Crisp’s cold streak is a win for young speedster Billy Burns who will continue to get opportunities to lead off, making him a viable punt play across the industry on days you’re in need of some salary cap relief.