Something funky is going on in Denver. At the 2016 all-star break, Charlie Blackmon was a 30 year old OF sporting a career line of .292/.342/.446, good for a 99 wRC+. Since then, he’s been a .327/.375/.612 hitter, which has been good for a 140 wRC+. At the 2016 all-star break, Carlos Gonzalez was a 30 year old OF sporting a .297/.355/.541 line as a member of the Rockies, good for a 125 wRC+. Since then, he’s been a .252/.310/.403 “hitter”, which has been “good” for a 70 wRC+.
At some point during those 5 days right around the 2016 All-Star break, Charlie Blackmon tapped into some dark magic and cast a voodoo spell on Carlos Gonzalez, draining all of Cargo’s talent and keeping it for himself. Blackmon went from being an average-ish centerfielder with decent on-base skills to a legitimately good centerfielder who can hit for average and power. Poor Cargo went from a good power-hitting corner outfielder to a broken shell of a man who has been a liability since the 2016 All Star Break. Even Neifi Perez, the walking embodiment of an all-glove no-bat shortstop, managed to cobble together a .282/.313/.411 triple-slash line as a Rockie, and Cargo can’t even beat that right now! Poor Carlos Gonzalez. Meanwhile, Charlie Blackmon has become a legitimately great DFS hitting centerfielder who bats leadoff for a team playing half their games in Coors Field – mmmmm…tasty. As for how he’s done it, if my theory is correct (and this is a real, scientific theory), that means that Charlie Blackmon is a real life Shang Tsung, and I really don’t want to offend someone who can drain my soul, so please Mr. Blackmon, if you’re reading this, you’re my favorite player and your beard is awesome, although it’s not as good as this one, I still cannot lie.
On to the picks once Shang Tsung steals my soul…
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Stephen Strasburg, SP: $10,400 – Strasburg is facing the Phillies, who struggle vs righties (92 wRC+) and strike out the 7th most in the league and aren’t patient (7.8% walk rate). While Philly should throw a lot of lefties at him, he’s still quite elite vs lefties and is still one of the top plays on the board.
Chris Archer, SP: $9,600 – Archer is cheaper than Strasburg and to put in perspective, Archer vs righties (17% K-BB%) is similar to Strasburg vs lefties (19% K-BB%). Toronto without Donaldson is an unimpressive lineup and when facing a righty it gets downright ugly. Toronto also insists on handicapping themselves by putting Pillar and his 86 wRC+ leadoff. I have no idea why they do this, but if they continue to do this, you should target them with righties (well, you should target them with righties no matter what, but especially so when Pillar leads off). The rest of the lineup (outside of Joey Bats) is average at best. Archer is in play for cash and GPPs and the savings should let you afford another Coors bat.
Danny Salazar, SP: $10,200 – The Royals just finished one of the worst offensive months in recent history and on the season they have hit a robust .214/.274/.341, “good” for a 67 wRC+. When they face righties, they are marginally better .225/.279/.369, “good” for a 76 wRC+. At some point they will snap out of whatever funk they are in, but, you might as well take advantage of it while it’s still going on. Salazar is a flawed pitcher, he walks too many, gives up some bombs, is very inconsistent, but he strikes out a ton and has elite upside and is a great pivot from Strasburg in GPPs.
Mike Foltynewicz, SP: $7,400 – Folty throws mid 90s and the performance doesn’t match the stuff. But he’s capable of throwing a great game and it’s possible a matchup with the St. Louis Cards is that game. The Cards had a few OFers leave the game yesterday and might be missing some fire power. Without Fowler, the Cardinals have 4 lefties on the roster and 2 of them are Greg Garcia (projected 87 wRC+) and Kolten Wong (projected 98 wRC+), who aren’t exactly Barry Bonds. And if Matt Adams isn’t in the starting lineup, it’s a pretty weak lineup vs a righty sinker/slider guy.
Charlie Blackmon, OF: $4,500 – As previously noted, Charlie Blackmon Shang Tsunged Carlos Gonzalez, and now has become a tasty DFS play whenever he’s home and facing a righty. Zach Greinke is far from a pitcher you want to target, but, still, this “new” Charlie Blackmon is worth playing even in less than ideal matchups. I just hope he doesn’t Shang Tsung a pitcher too…
David Peralta, OF, $4,000 – I’m not even going to waste your time recommending Pollock and Goldschmidt, we know those two are great hitters playing in Coors. However, don’t overlook David Peralta. Loyal readers out there will remember on April 7th, I noted that David Peralta murdered the ball in 2015 (.380 wOBA), then was hurt and thus did not murder the ball in 2016 (.308 wOBA). I said that he was healthy in 2017 and thus was likely to go back to murdering the baseball. So far in 2017, he’s doing .326/.382/.511, good for a .383 wOBA, which is, shockingly, very similar to his 2015 wOBA. Simply put, healthy David Peralta murders baseballs, and hurt David Peralta does not. He did not play yesterday with an illness, so that is something to monitor, but unless you think whatever illness he had yesterday will turn him into his 2016 self, we now have a Baseball Murderer going into Coors and facing decent-but-nothing-special German Marquez. Enjoy.
Jake Lamb, 3B: $4,600 – Jake Lamb isn’t as good as his reputation. He gets to hit at Arizona 81 times a year and then gets a few games at Coors on top of that. He’s got power though and he’s hitting in Coors vs a righty, which is where he eats (career .350 wOBA against righties vs .265 vs lefties). It’s a pretty strong, obvious play.
Seth Smith, OF: $2,700 – I hope you played Seth Smith yesterday when he put up a whopping 37.4 without a bomb. If not, you get a chance to do it again today. Smith is facing Miguel Gonzalez, a guy who, to make up for his pedestrian stuff, will throw everything but the kitchen sink at you to try to get you out, and now that I think about it, he would definitely throw the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink and any other sink he can find to try to get you out. Unfortunately for him, not walking guys is just one of the three things someone can do to be a good major league pitcher, and he is well below average at the other two (striking guys out and getting ground balls). Gonzalez doesn’t have a split to take advantage of, but Smith has spent his career smashing righties (.357 wOBA) and for $2,700 and likely leadoff you’re getting a heck of a value to try to get D-Backs in your lineup.
Matt Joyce, OF: $2,500 – I love me some Matt Joyce, he walks and hits home runs (only vs righties, he’s basically unplayable vs lefties). If he’s hitting in the top 2, plugging him in to your lineup should let you get some pretty big upgrades elsewhere. He’s facing Michael Fulmer, who’s reputation is not as good as his stuff and numbers. Fulmer is a nicely average pitcher, he strikes out about an average amount, walks an above average amount and gives up home runs at an average-ish amount, so while it’s not an ideal matchup and not one you target on some slates; on this slate, to get some of the expensive bats, you have to make some decisions somewhere. Of course if Joyce is at the bottom of the lineup, you can safely ignore in cash and in GPPs. Also, you have to be aware they may pinch hit him vs lefties and thus the ABs might be lower than what you are looking for.
Rickie Weeks, OF: $2,300 – Rickie Weeks is good at smashing lefties, in fact, he’s really good. You probably know that since he was the 2nd overall pick in 2003 and was a good, but injury prone 2B in Milwaukee. And you probably know all about his career .370 wOBA vs lefties and .379 wOBA in the last 3 years. Facing Liriano, Weeks is certainly not in a great matchup, but in what has been a theme for all the cheapies on this slate, it’s a decent enough matchup. Francisco Liriano still strikes out righties, because he’s Francisco Liriano and that’s just what he does, but he walks righties, because, again, he’s Francisco Liriano and that’s just what he does, and gives up some homers vs righties. You’re not getting a wart-free cheapie, and I’d want to see Weeks in the top 4 in order to use him in cash games, but he’s cheaper than the other value-play OFs out there, so if you are really trying to cram in expensive bats into the lineup, he’s one of the best ways to do that.
Andrew Toles, OF: $2,700 – Another leadoff guy for under 3k. Toles has added some power this year and has continued to smash righties (.343 wOBA). Chacin is a lot like Fulmer in that he’s nicely average (does it with more ground balls and more walks relative to Fulmer) and while San Diego isn’t an ideal place to hit, it’s probably not as bad as you think for lefties (last year it actually played as a slight hitters park) and most of the reason why we think San Diego is death to hitting is because San Diego has a dearth of hitting talent and is genuinely awful to watch hit (unless you like watching solo home runs at an above-average but not elite rate). So for $2,700 you get a leadoff hitter who can hit one out and lets you afford some of the bigger bats. Beware the pinch hitter though, if it’s close late, he likely won’t get to face a lefty.
Josh Reddick, OF: $2,700 – Reddick takes a long time to reach value because he doesn’t tap into his raw power in game all that often anymore and he doesn’t steal, which makes the games that he starts off 0-3 pretty rough. But if he can get the points rolling early, you look up and he’s got 30 and you’re not sure how. He’s facing Jesse Chavez today, who’s had a bit of a home run problem last year and this year, and is an underwhelming strike thrower who walks a little too many for his lack of swing and miss. I expect the home runs to regress to normal and for him to be a slightly below average starter, which puts Reddick in a pretty good spot, and who knows, he might tap into that raw power (or the regression will be delayed for at least one more start) and you’ll understand how he gets to 30.
John Jaso, 1B: $2,400 – Jaso can hit righties (.349 wOBA). Jimmy Nelson throws with his right hand. Jaso is both cheap and should hit at the top of the order and thus is a very good punt. The only downside here is that Jimmy Nelson is actually somewhat decent vs righties, so if the Pirates alternate left and right (or go righty heavy) it’s going to be harder to sustain the offense, which in turn will limit RBI opportunities for Jaso. But if he can get a few hits, a walk and eke out a run or RBI or 2, you’ll take that all day at that price. He’s basically Josh Reddick-lite, except 1B, cheaper and has dreadlocks.
Jorge Polanco, SS: $2,700 – Polanco has stealthily had a nice start to his career vs lefties (.354 wOBA) and he’s going up against lefty Eduardo Rodriguez who has a nice ground ball allergy (37%). Polanco just happens to hit a lot of line drives and fly balls, especially vs lefties where he does it 2/3 of the time and generates some power (at least for him). He should be apart of the lefty killing top of the Twins lineup because the bottom of the Twins lineup doesn’t hit lefties.
Manny Machado, 3B: $3,600 – The future Yankee is already trying to endear himself to Yankee fans by going on an entertaining (and correct) tirade against the Red Sox and beanballs that I won’t link to because I’ve been told Razzball is a PG site. When Machado isn’t entertaining and delighting non Red Sox fans, he’s really good at baseball – his 2017 batting average dip is just bad luck (.216 BABIP). He has a career high walk rate so far (13.3%) and a career high isolated power (.252). He also doesn’t a career split and he’s facing someone who’s not quite as good. Machado is a $4,000+ player priced at $3,600. He’s as good as any non Coors 3B on the slate.
The Entire White Sox Team – The Chicago White Sox have the fourth worst team wOBA in all of baseball (.291). So why I am recommending them? Because they’ve managed to take the concept of lefty-mashing, which loyal readers of this 5-week old column will know I like to focus on, to a degree even Yasmany Tomas and Edgar Renteria (seriously, check out his career splits, it’s insane) are impressed by in 2017. Against righties, they have a .266 OBP, .336 SLG and a .265 wOBA. It’s dead last in the league and it’s not even remotely close. Against lefties, as a team, they have a .356 OBP (5th best), a .455 SLG (7th best) and a .351 wOBA (5th best). They go from hilariously pathetic to one of the better teams in the league when the opposing pitcher flips from right to left. I guess that’s what happens when your entire lineup is right-handed save for two switch hitters. It’s hard to really recommend anyone specific from this team – maybe Avisail Garcia if you want to chase the comically unsustainable .446 BABIP, but if you’re looking for a cheap team-stack so that you can run a double-stack of a Coors team, another team, and still have the salary for a high-end pitcher, the White Sox may be a good bet for that “other team”. For example, using Tim Anderson ($2500), Matt Davidson ($2300), Geovany Soto ($2400), and Avisail Garcia ($3700), alongside Chris Archer leaves you $3,625 per player to spend on the remaining four slots, allowing you room to go get Rockies or Diamondbacks or any other high-priced team you want. Are the White Sox the best overall team to stack? No. But if you want to get both a high priced pitcher and a full team stack of an expensive offense, you have to make some sacrifices elsewhere, and that’s why I just wrote an entire paragraph recommending a team with the fourth worst wOBA in baseball right now.
Injuries/Suspension – Bryce Harper is really good. He, however, left yesterday’s game with a groin injury, which complicates things since he may not play and even if he does, we don’t know how healthy he is. We’ve seen injured Bryce try to play through pain and anecdotal evidence says when he’s hurt, he isn’t BRYCE HARPER, Destroyer of Worlds, but he’s merely Bryce Harper, Good Major League Player and not worth his price tag. Use him at your own risk. Miguel Sano is having a hearing for his part from Saturday and if he loses, he’ll be suspended. If he’s suspended, obviously don’t play him, but if he’s not suspended, he’ll be of the top 3B non Coors plays of the day vs Eduardo Rodriguez.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
It’s supposed to be rainy (>50% chance of rain) all night in Pittsburgh which would obviously make Jaso unplayable. Philadelphia also has a possibility of rain, which would make the Bryce Harper question answered. Depending on which model you use, New York either has growing chance of rain all night which could lead into Thunderstorms, or there will be a clear window to play the game and there will be late night Thunderstorms. Definitely needs to be monitored throughout the day.
Doing Lines In Vegas
As mentioned earlier, the Cardinals may have a very ugly lineup out tomorrow, so if you’re willing to put money down on the assumption they will be without Fowler or Piscotty tomorrow, I like the Braves -107 if those two don’t play. If you’re a little more cautious, wait until the lineup is announced, and if those two are confirmed as not playing, and the line is still roughly the same, pounce on it then instead. Also, as much as I don’t want to offend Charlie “Shang-Tsung” Blackmon, the Rockies and Diamondbacks shouldn’t be listed as neutral (-110 for both sides), given that Zach Greinke > German Marquez and the Diamondbacks offense is far superior (both offenses feature two great hitters up top, in Pollock/Goldschmidt versus Blackmon/Arenado, but the Diamondbacks actually have other guys who can hit, whereas the Rockies have, I guess if you squint hard enough you can convince yourself Mark Reynolds and Ian Desmond are decent, maybe). Fire away on Arizona.