MLB Payoff Pitch Week 4
Welcome to this week’s edition of The Payoff Pitch where I recap the past week and give you a look to what’s ahead of us. In last week’s version, I jinxed my three cold hitters to a home run each by Thursday. It’s those kinds of powers that you can only read about here. I pulled the string a little bit on you this week with a bit of a change up when discussing lineups, but this week has some exciting matchups for us. Let’s take a look at what the end of April has in store for us.
**All stats come from end of MLB action Saturday.
**All prices come from Sunday/Monday slates.
Christian Yelich went down this past week with an ailing back, so he was added to the DL and won’t be back until early to mid-May. Justin Bour ($2,800 DK, $2,200 FD) was called up to take his place, but has only seen one start in five games. He’s a career .303 hitter in 117 AAA games, but doesn’t play outfield. Ichiro Suzuki ($2,900 DK, $2,200 FD) does play outfield and has been hitting in the six or seven hole since the Yelich injury. He has seven hits during his five game hit streak and is pretty cheap around the industry. If he can sneak into the top five, I could see him as a really nice punt play. If he hovers around the six to seven range then he’ll continue to be a strictly matchup based punt play.
The Brewers continue to be in this article and never for good reasons. This time, Jonathan Lucroy broke his toe and was put on the DL. Martin Maldonado ($2,700 DK, $2,200 FD) has caught for the Brew Crew since the injury and only has one extra base hit on the season. He’s consistently hitting eighth in the order, but the team is continuing to struggle. Keep an eye on this order as I could see anything happen with the way they’ve been playing. His splits show that he’s actually been better against RHP in his career (.297 wOBA compared to .258 against LHP). Neither number is flashy, so he’ll have to sneak up the order a bunch to garner any attention.
Ben Zobrist tried sitting out a few games and then DHing to get his knee back into shape, but he couldn’t do it any longer. He was placed on the DL this past week causing an empty spot to appear at the top of the order. With the way Marcus Semien ($4,400 DK, $2,900 FD) has been hitting, it didn’t come as a surprise to see him fill that role on Friday and Saturday. He hit leadoff and second in those two games against both a LHP and RHP. His multi-hit streak ended at three on Saturday, but he did hit his third home run of the season on Friday. All three of his home runs in 2015 have come against RHP, but his career numbers suggest he’s a much better hitters against southpaws (.327 wOBA) than right handers (.295 wOBA). As long as he’s at the top of the order, I would consider him a solid option on DraftKings and a fantastic one on FanDuel.
I’m going to have a different approach to the lineups this week as I noticed something big the other day that is important for us DFS players. I’m going to give you three instances where lineups get ugly and are prime targets for great pitching options. The first one is the Philadelphia Phillies. They already own a terrible lineup, but there are a few instances where it’s almost an auto pick to use a guy against them. The first scenario is if a quality southpaw faces off against them. This is situation that leaves them weak due to their “best” hitters being left handed bats. Ryan Howard is more of a big name then big hitter, but he’s average at best against LHP (career .317 wOBA). Chase Utley has owned a wOBA of .307 or worse in four of the last five seasons against them. When Alex Wood faced the Phillies last week, five of the first six hitters were LHB. They have a weak lineup and can’t do anything to help it when southpaws face them. Keep an eye on this as April ends and May begins.
This past week I’ve been picking on the Brewers with right handed pitchers and it’s worked very well. They’re hitting just .220 against them on the season with a wOBA of .269 and a HR/FB ratio of 6.7%. Those are ridiculously bad numbers that are hard to ignore. This doesn’t come as a surprise though with Lucroy, Carlos Gomez and Scooter Gennett on the DL and Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez struggling. Two pitchers I’m almost guaranteed to roster this week are Johnny Cueto ($9,600 DK, $10,400 FD) and Jake Arrieta ($9,000 DK, $9,600 FD). Cueto has 32 strikeouts in 29 innings while Arrieta has struck out 25 in 26.2 innings. Both will be in great positions to get the win and will be worth the money.
The Twins are a bottom three team when it comes to wOBA (.263) and strikeout percentage against RHP. They also play in a tough park to hit with cold weather this time of year, Target Field. All of these factors should encourage you to look for opposing RHP to target against them this week. Right off the bat we should see two very good options to use against them, Anibal Sanchez ($8,000 DK, $8,300 FD) and Shane Greene ($5,700 DK, $8,300 FD). Both should be in great positions to win and Greene is ridiculously cheap on DraftKings. One final guy to consider will be Jeff Samardzija ($9,100 DK, $8,900 FD) on Sunday. He started against them earlier in the season giving up four runs in seven innings, but they all came in one inning. I don’t expect another blowup inning like that again out of him.
Anthony Rizzo ($5,200 DK, $4,200 FD) is tearing the cover off of the ball and it’s leading to stolen bases. No, that is not a typo. He has four stolen bases in the last week, which is two more than his home run total so far this season. Amazingly, his numbers against LHP are better than RHP in 2015 and the same in 2014. He’s had 11 at bats against southpaws on the season and he has yet to strike out. He’s an option for me against Wily Peralta, a Brewers right-hander that gave up 1.33 HR/9 in 2014. Rizzo could be a really nice option against Jeff Locke with the lefty/lefty matchup scaring people away, but Locke did give up 1.33 HR/9 in 2014 like Peralta.
The Blue Jays have been swinging it well the last few weeks and Devon Travis has been one of their key contributors. He’s been hitting some leadoff with Jose Reyes a bit banged up and he has three home runs in the last week. His season totals are a .383 average with five home runs and 16 RBI. Those are impressive numbers for a rookie second baseman. Travis has limited at bats in his career, so take it with a grain of salt, but his numbers against LHP are crazy good. Three of his five home runs have come against them and he’s only faced them in 14 at bats. He faces TJ House later this week who sports a .474 wOBA against RHP on the season.
Mark Teixeira ($4,600 DK, $4,000 FD) is red hot, just ask the Tigers and Mets. He pounded out five home runs this past week with a .333 average. He’ll face a variety of pitchers in the coming week with Justin Masterson as my favorite target. Masterson gave up a wOBA of .400 last season to left handed bats. His price isn’t inflated, as it’s actually only increased by $100 on DraftKings since Monday, so don’t feel like you’re paying top dollar for Teixeira.
Matt Joyce is known to be a platoon hitter, but I don’t really think that’s the case anymore. He posted only a .337 wOBA against RHP last season and is struggling big time against them in 2015. In a small sample size, his wOBA is .141 against them this season. It’s so bad for him right now that he finally broke a 0 for 26 slump during Sunday’s game with a bloop single and the cold streak has resulted in his descension down the batting order. I’ll be avoiding him this week with the Angels playing in Oakland and San Francisco.
Last season we saw Steve Pearce ($3,800 DK, $3,000 FD) break out and have a monster season. This season he has slumped and found himself hitting just .167 on the season. The good news is that he does have two home runs and has some favorable matchups this week. He’ll face Hector Noesi, a reverse splits pitcher in 2014 who gave up a .367 wOBA to right handed hitters. Later on in the week he’ll face Nate Karns who has given up five home runs in 23.2 innings. Those are two matchups I could see myself taking a flier on if Pearce continues to see his price drop.
Edwin Encarnacion is certainly a guy you can target even though he’s hitting just .160 in the last week due to his ability to hit the long ball. We’re looking for power numbers in DFS and he’s done a little bit of that with two home runs in recent action. He gets a bunch of prime matchups against weak RHP in Rick Porcello and Clay Buchholz mixed with some weak LHP in T.J. House. Keep an eye on EE’s price because if it starts to drop then he’ll be a great buy low option with the week he has ahead of him.