I start my lineups these days in one place: the starting pitcher. They’re the fulcrum upon which all things must work. You can find way more diamonds in the rough among the hitters than you can on the hill, so it behooves you to focus on this position first before attacking the rest.
That doesn’t mean you can’t target hitters, especially when there are Coors games and the like, but those hitters aren’t going to lift you as high if there is a SP in your slots working a negative number.
That said, it doesn’t mean you should just pop the first two pitchers you come to in the salary list and then mine the lineups for values. That happens sometimes, but what you should really do is look at the SP trends, matchups, splits, parks, swinging strike and K-rates to whittle down the slate to a few good men you could live with for the night.
Oh I’ve gone through this process and ended up with some strange birds on the hill. There was a night this season where Joe Blanton, patron saint of gas cans, actually went into Safeco and helped me to a nice payday. Recently, even, Kris Medlen has been helpful with his low salary and decent performances, allowing me to target more prime bats.
As I look at the slate for Wednesday, I was hoping I could log on, take a quick glance and know where I was going, but I couldn’t. This was because the best two SP on the slate happened to be the highest paid as well:
David Price, SP: $12,500
Jake Arrieta, SP: $14,000
Price in Atlanta and Arrieta in Pittsburgh were, at first glance, the best SP, so I had to dig deeper just to be sure and, sure enough, they came through the process on top.
Since they are so high priced, about 6K more than I like to dedicate to the cause, I didn’t automatically ink them in the lineup until I could see if there was indeed enough value in the hitters to make it work. Looking down the list, it was clear that I could roster two or three Phillies, who can hit a lefty fairly well and have a nice home park, to make it happen. Facing Gio Gonzalez, who has a mid 4s SIERA and nearly 800 OPS vs. righties over the last 30 days also made it easy to go that route.
So I did. It looks like a newb move, rosting the top two SP of the night, but you have to trust your process. Other nights, I would lay up short well short of this $$ commitment at SP, but tonight, it’s pay up.
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Welington Castillo, C: $3,600 – I mean, I like Travis d’Arnaud’s ridiculously high wOBA vs. LHP, but his price tag is too high to accommodate my SP, so I need to downshift. Castillo is still hitting well and has a solid wOBA against RHP. They are at home, which helps the numbers, as evidenced by Arizona’s 4.7 run total projection.
Clint Robinson, 1B/OF: $2,500 – I list Clint here because he has great numbers against LHP, but he likely won’t play, which is too bad, because he completely ate a donut on Tuesday and needs to make it up to planet Earth.
Darin Ruf, 1B/OF: $2,100 – So I’ll go with Mr. Ruf, who is a known lefty masher and has power for days. Despite his sub 700 OPS, he is twice as productive against LHP than RHP. Sign me up.
Chris Coghlan, 2B/OF: $3,400 – Coghlan’s been a top hitter in terms of power metrics all year. One of the nice DFS gifts offered to us this season was his second base eligibility. I love life! The matchup isn’t the best against AJ Burnett, but if you didn’t want to pay higher for Rendon, this is a safe landing spot.
David Wright, 3B: $4,400 – We listed him here as he came back into the Mets lineup and announced he was still a real hitter. Looking at him now, he still is! Wright enjoys some heavy, heavy wOBA splits and the Mets have a 4.9 run number, so Wright should be the guy in the middle of the scoring.
Jose Uribe, 3B: $3,100 – Same team, same story. Great wOBA against LHP and should be in that top half of the lineup to enjoy the nearly five run team total.
Andres Blanco, SS/3B: $2,000 – You may be saying, “Enough already with Andres Blanco!” I say ok, if you don’t like a guy at min salary who can press LHP and plays in a nice hitter park while batting in the middle of the lineup, then go ahead and pay for someone else. In fact, I’ll give you someone else to buy…
Carlos Correa, SS: $5,100 – ….Too expensive? Correa has a nice game number against Texas and while he’s slowed down and let Francisco Lindor (another solid play at $4.2K) of the Indians catch up to him, he’s still solid, just too expensive for what we want to do tonight. Blaaaaancoooooooo.
Justin Ruggiano, OF: $2,700 – Mr. Ruggiano has proven to be a useful engine against LHP, batting atop the Dodger lineup. Jorge De La Rosa is the man in charge of lower Justin’s .400 wOBA, but I don’t think he has the goods to slow Ruggiano down right now.
Kyle Schwarber, C/OF: $4,400 – Who can resist the Scwarb? Same as Coghlan, not a premier matchup, but Kyle’s wOBA is much better than his second base teammate. If the game and team totals were higher, I’d go all-in, but instead I’ll pick my places but he will be there, oh yes, he will be there.
Jayson Werth, OF: $4,300 – Five run team total. Strong wOBA vs. LHP. Hitting the ball with a lot of authority over his last 30 days. A reasonable play if there is cap room.
David Peralta, OF: $3,300 – Peralta at home against a RHP has almost been automatic for me this season. The fact he is so low priced means I must have him.
Ryan Raburn, OF: $2,400 – Might be the final call of the year I put out to Raburn, who has had a nice bounce back season as a vs. LHP specialist, hitting close to 1000 OPS this season against southpaws.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
Doing Lines In Vegas
Boston at Baltimore and San Diego at Arizona have the highest game totals of the night at nine runs scored. The Nationals and the Mets have the two highest team totals at 5 and 4.9, respectively. By contrast, the Reds in San Francisco (the worst rated hitting park for 2015) have the lowest team total at 3.1.