Quick recap of last week’s Creeper:
When I wrote last week’s post, the Red Sox hadn’t yet set their rotation, leaving some of Adam Lind‘s value for this week up in the air. That’s now changed, and Boston’s throwing Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, and Aaron Cook against the Jays. Buchholz was pretty solid in June, posting 25 K and a 2.40/1.00 ERA/WHIP in 30 innings, but has allowed 9 HR to lefties in 51 IP for the season, and lefties have slugged their way to a .907 OPS against him. Beckett’s got a near even platoon split (career 3.65 xFIP v L, 3.58 v R), but has a lifetime HR allowed of 1.05 per 9 IP to lefties. Cook is an extreme pitch-to-contact groundball artist, never striking out more than 4.45 per 9 or inducing wormburners at a rate below 55.1% in his career. Still, LHB have been good for an OPS of .819 against Cook, and he’s only struck out one lefty in 62 PA against them this season. Lind is still slated to face Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda at Yankee Stadium as well, I’d keep him in your lineup this week if possible. For those with locked lineups this week, consider this positive reinforcement.
For week 16, Stephen Drew gets the nod for Creeper status. He’s available in most places, being owned in only 16% of ESPN leagues and 21% of Yahoo leagues. Since coming back from an ankle injury that ended his 2011 season, he’s sat against lefties to ensure regular days off, so it’s to his benefit that the Diamondbacks face only one such pitcher this week — J.A. Happ. Arizona will open the week with a 4-game set in Cincinnati, and close the week at home with a 3-game set against the Astros. Great American Ballpark is cozy, and turning to Statcorner reveals a HR park factor of 120 for LHB, one of the best marks in baseball. Chase Field isn’t far behind with a HR park factor of 114, but has an added bonus of allowing tons of triples; its 3B park factor of 172 is highest in the big leagues (Fangraphs gives Chase a 3B factor of 132, still best in baseball).
A career .277 hitter with 53 HR in 2083 AB against right-handed pitching, Drew will have plenty of opportunities to add to his totals this week. All four of the scheduled starters for the Reds are righties, and three of them have been hammered by lefties. Monday’s starter, Bronson Arroyo, has coughed up 10 HR in 62 innings versus left-handed bats, good for a 1.45 per 9 IP rate. Far from being a one-year anomaly, he’s allowed 1.54 HR per 9 for his career against lefties, and that power has been augmented by a .284 average. Johnny Cueto (blister) pitched a bullpen session on Sunday and is on track for his Tuesday start. All 5 of the HR hit off him this season came from the left side of the plate, and his career HR/9 versus lefties is a favorable 1.12. His BB/9 against LHB is slightly elevated at 3.66, compared to a 2.21 mark against righties. Mat Latos has been death to RHB (.176 AVG, 9.00 K/9) and a boon to LHB (.285 AVG, 1.84 HR/9). He’s also allowed 12 of his 17 HR this season at home, and his home K/9 has been over 2 points lower than his away rate of 9.80. His career platoon splits are about even (3.45 FIP vs L, 3.46 vs R), but Latos benefited from pitching his home games in PETCO, the worst park in baseball for left-handed hitters, before this season. Closing the series with an 11:35 AM start time, Mike Leake carries with him two problem areas this season: elevated HR/9 versus lefties (1.44), as well as a sky-high mark at home (1.63). His career HR/9 versus LHB is 1.40, and he’s allowed 20 HR in 118.2 day-game innings; he’ll be vulnerable to the long ball.
Aside from an elevated walk rate (4.94 BB/9 vs L, 2.81 vs R), Bud Norris has a near even platoon split for his career, with lefties taking him deep 31 times in 244.1 IP. Jordan Lyles has been destroyed by LHB, to the tune of 7 HR in 22.1 innings in 2012. He’s also walked more batters (14) than he’s struck out (12) in those innings. With a local 1:10 PM start time and the roof open, Drew and crew will be poised to put up some crooked numbers in Arizona.
Drew has only accrued 42 plate appearances on the season, so it’s a bit early to draw many conclusions from his peripheral stats at this juncture, but his GB/FB profile (0.73) isn’t out of line with his career norms (career 0.89 GB/FB). He’s hitting line drives at a 36.7% clip, which is high, but we’re dealing with 11 line drives out of 30 balls in play. Plate discipline numbers don’t stabilize until around 100 PA, but for now, his chase rate is a career best 16.5%, and he’s making consistent contact on pitches in the strike zone – 91.1% – a point above his lifetime mark of 90.0%. His BABIP of .267 is 40 points lower than his career .307, and he’s yet to homer in 2012, two areas that are primed to move in a positive direction this week.
With friendly ballparks on tap and excellent matchups to boot, Stephen Drew should be a solid MI option this week. He’ll play at SS in most leagues, too. For deep leaguers in daily formats, Casey McGehee and the Pirates begin a series
on the Moon in Colorado today, and will face lefties Jeff Francis and Christian Friedrich in the first two games of the series. He’s unowned in 95% of ESPN leagues and 93% of Yahoo leagues. Do what you do!