MLB Payoff Pitch Week 5
Welcome to The Payoff Pitch for early May! It seems like just yesterday I was doing this piece for the opening week, but now we’re here one month later. In this article I break down what has happened in the last week when it comes to injuries, lineups, and streaky hitters. This is a great way to refresh your memory or catch up on a few days lost.
**All stats are from end of Saturday’s action.
**All prices are from Sunday/Monday slates.
It’s no surprise to anyone that I’m starting this section off talking about Jose Reyes. He went on the DL this past week due to rib issues and once again we see some Blue Jays with value because of it. Since the injury, the others in the top five in the order have just moved up a spot. They have mixed it around when it comes to the power guys, but they have stayed in the 2/3/4 range. The big value here comes when a guy like Kevin Pillar ($3,700 DK, $2,600 FD) or Danny Valencia ($2,900 DF, $2,400 FD) bump into the five slot due to matchup. Valencia slides into the five slot typically against the left-handed pitchers the Blue Jays face, as he has a .381 career wOBA against them. The red hot Devon Travis is being utilized as the team’s leadoff hitter.
The Jed Lowrie thumb injury that will sideline him for a while hasn’t made anyone a major value, but does provide some situations where it benefits us to know how this injury impacts the team. Marwin Gonzalez ($2,900 DK, $2,200 FD) has seen himself not only play more, but see himself hitting in some nice spots. Since the Lowrie injury, he has hit second, sixth, and eighth. Obviously, you want to catch him when he’s hitting second, but him hitting second for those prices isn’t bad at all at a position like shortstop. In his career, he’s a below average hitter, but he’s better against RHP (.299 wOBA) compared to LHP (.246).
Chris Johnson‘s inability to slide has landed him on the DL due to a hand injury. This doesn’t make Alberto Callaspo ($2,600 DK, $2,200 FD) a new player to look at, but one you can expect to be a consistent punt play when all else fails. He was splitting time with Johnson before the injury, but in the two games since, he has hit second both times. On the season, Callaspo has hit mainly in the two or five hole, so you can expect to see him in those two spots pretty much every night now. He has yet to get a hit off a LHP this season (0-9), but does have a .319 wOBA against RHP. Considering spot in the lineup spot and price, he’s a very solid punt play at second base until Johnson returns to the lineup.
The Indians are starting to get it going, scoring 24 runs in their recent four-game series against the Blue Jays and winning three of their last five. With them playing better, it’s time to consider the one through three of their order as solid mini-stacks. Depending on the matchup, the lineup looks like Kipnis/Aviles/Brantley against LHP and Kipnis/Ramirez/Brantley against RHP. With two of the four hitters being left-handed hitters, I don’t think is a mini-stack option for me. Mike Aviles is a guy to consider against southpaws due to his platoon splits (.319 wOBA) at a price that should be considered very cheap. Against RHP, this is where the mini-stacking could come into play. Jason Kipnis is getting it going, hitting .259 with two home runs in the last seven days (and a big day on Saturday). Jose Ramirez could be a nice punt option at shortstop, but he hasn’t hit well in the last week (2-17 with 0 XBH). And finally, Michael Brantley is hitting .310 in recent days with four extra base hits and two stolen bases.
While it’s not the best of lineups, the Braves have been hitting well at the top of the order as well. Nick Markakis ($3,300 DK, $2,800 FD) is an on-base percentage machine for them, but not a guy I’m considering unless in a giant stack. Andrelton Simmons ($4,000 DK, $2,500 FD) is cheap enough on FanDuel, always a low percentage player, and hitting in front of Freddie Freeman ($4,200 DK, $3,400 FD) making him a solid option at a tough position. Freeman’s price is lower than I thought it would be coming into this week, but he’s producing very well in his last eight games. He has six doubles during that span, three RBI and eight runs scored. A.J. Pierzynski ($3,100 DK, $2,700 FD) is cheap and always a great cash game play with his .377 average and spot in the order (fourth). One last guy to mention is Kelly Johnson ($3,300 DK, $2,700 FD). He’s benefiting from the Chris Johnson injury and consistently finds himself in the four or five hole depending on who is catching.
The Orioles have mixed some things up in recent games, with Manny Machado being the biggest change. He has gone from hitting sixth or seventh early on last week to leadoff in the last two games. While, hitting leadoff wouldn’t be better than hitting between guys like Adam Jones and Chris Davis, it’s much better than hitting at the bottom of the order. An odd move they’ve made this week is moving Delmon Young to third in the order in two of the last four games. Young should be an extremely cheap option on both FanDuel and DraftKings this week but it’s much better to use him when he has the platoon edge.
Nelson Cruz ($4,400 DK, $5,400 FD) is Megan Fox in Transformers hot right now. He’s hitting .407 with four home runs (13 on the season) and a stolen base in the last seven days. Cruz posted a ridiculous .416 wOBA last season against southpaws and he’ll see one Wednesday when he faces the Angels. C.J. Wilson will be on the mound for the Angels bringing along his struggles against RHB (.345 wOBA) compared to LHB (.266). Cruz also had very good numbers against RHP in 2014 (.356 wOBA), so don’t feel like you have to shy away from using him against them.
One A’s hitter to take a look at is Josh Reddick ($4,700 DK, $3,900 FD). He’s tearing the cover off of the ball right now with a .480 average and two home runs (and another on Saturday) in his last seven games. His price on DraftKings is creeping up to a high level and in fact it hasn’t been higher than $4,400 in his last ten games. In his next five games, he’ll be facing right-handed pitchers in nice matchups, but will be at bad parks to hit at (Minnesota and Seattle). To end the week, he’ll be facing a LHP (Happ) and a stud (King Felix), so this might be the week to fade as he won’t have every stat going his way.
Dee Gordon ($4,500 DK, $3,800 FD) is an unstoppable force for the Marlins right now. He is hitting .630 with three stolen bases in the last seven days. With such a high batting average, I’m actually surprised by that stolen base total. Even with six multi-hit games in a row, he still hasn’t changed much if at all in terms of pricing. The only issue with Gordon this week is who he has to face in the coming days. He faces a Nationals rotation of Zimmermann/Strasburg/Scherzer that is extremely difficult to face and tough to pay up for.
Billy Butler ($3,300 DK, $2,600 FD) is colder than ice right now and I don’t believe this week will be the week to ride out his cold streak. He’s hitting .038 in the last seven days and had the day off on Sunday. He should be back to the middle of the order come Monday, but that doesn’t mean we should use him. As I discussed with Reddick before, he faces five straight righties, a weak LHP in J.A. Happ, and then King Felix all in tough hitting parks. In 2014, he posted a .291 wOBA against RHP compared to .368 against LHP. With numbers like that, I’ll wait until the end of the weak against Happ if at all to use this struggling hitter.
Earlier this week, Kyle Seager ($3,600 DK, $2,800 FD) was priced as high as $5,000 on DraftKings, but a cold streak has turned his price to the lowest it’s been in his last 10 games. He’s only hitting .167 in his last 10 games (including Sunday) with only two extra bases hits. In this upcoming series against the Angels, he’ll be facing two RHP (Matt Shoemaker and Garrett Richards) to go along with one LHP (C.J. Wilson). In just 21 innings this season, Shoemaker has given up four home runs and eight doubles. The opposite can be said for Richards who has given up just one home run and one double on the season. With that being said, I’d test out Seager against Shoemaker Monday and then wait until the A’s series to take my chances on him.
Nick Castellanos is only hitting .154 in the last seven days, but he’s been better in more recent days. He definitely struggled on the seven-game road trip, but he wasn’t as bad as the numbers seem. He had two extra base hits and only struck out four times in 22 at bats (including Sunday). While I don’t think using him against guys like Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale is a smart idea, his last four games of the week are reasonable matchups. He faces two weak left-handed pitchers (Quintana and Vargas), one above average RHP that he just faced (Ventura) and one bad RHP (Guthrie). In 2014, Castellanos posted .304 (LHP) and (.308 RHP) wOBAs.