By Dave Del Grande
TIP OF THE DAY
Always consider the highest-priced pitcher.
Consider, I said. Not blindly embrace.
As stated Monday, I am no longer opposed to diving in big-time on pitchers at FantasyAces. And Tuesday’s No. 2 on the salary charts, the Mets’ Jacob deGrom (FantasyAces $7,520) is an easy choice.
The question is: Do I pair him with the only guy more costly, the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole (FantasyAces $7,750)?
There are several decent alternatives at a variety of prices. In the past, I would have recommended filling in a hitting lineup around deGrom, then seeing how much money is left for a second pitcher.
If you had a lot, then Cole and the Cardinals’ Michael Wacha (FantasyAces $7,100) would be worth considering.
If you could only afford a mid-priced guy, no problem. The Blue Jays’ Mark Buehrle (FantasyAces $5,850), Giants’ Chris Heston (FantasyAces $5,750) and Rays’ Nate Karns (FantasyAces $5,550) have intriguing matchups.
And there’s even a guy near the bottom of the salary charts — the Padres’ Odrisamer Despaigne (FantasyAces $5,000) — who could be a good fit based on his success against the Giants.
Alas, that’s not how I play the game anymore. I focus on pitchers first, and that gets me back to the top of the charts.
So, what about Cole?
Gotta say: I don’t like him. I mean, not in this matchup.
The Royals hit righties well (fifth-best season OPS, .750) and nobody has scored more runs (22) since the All-Star break. Plus, Cole hasn’t been great in his two starts this month (3.00 ERA).
Frankly, Wacha is a better option. His opponent is far weaker. The White Sox are 25th in OPS against right-handers (.673) and they’ve scored half as many runs as the Royals since the break (11).
Wacha’s season splits are on par with Cole, and his price is $650 less.
Actually, I really don’t care about the price. I just want the best pitcher with the best matchup.
Tuesday, that’s Wacha.
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies shortstop (FantasyAces $6,000).
It’s going to be a challenge to fit a $6,000 hitter in with two high-priced pitchers. But it’s a challenge worth taking.
This guy is on one of his hot streaks, and that makes him Priority 1 (among hitters) if the Rockies are at home.
Not only is this game at Coors Field, but the Rockies will be facing a left-hander (Matt Harrison) whose issues I documented when he made his season debut before the break.
He lived up to his not-ready-for-primetime billing that night, giving up six runs, five hits, five RBIs and two walks to the 16 right-handed hitters he faced.
Good luck with Tulowitzki, who is 5-for-9 with two home runs since the All-Star break.
Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers first baseman (FantasyAces $5,650).
If you want to quibble and say Gonzalez is even hotter than the aforementioned Troy Tulowitzki, I won’t debate it. He is 9-for-16 with three home runs since the All-Star break, after all.
On the surface, you’d think Gonzalez would have a nice opportunity to pad those stats against the Braves’ Alex Wood, who doesn’t pitch well at home (1.70 WHIP, highest among Tuesday’s starters) and hasn’t been in good form anywhere in July (8.49 ERA).
But most of the damage against Wood has been done by right-handed hitters, which Gonzalez isn’t. As his .623 OPS indicates, Wood is one of those lefties who gets lefties out.
Want further proof? Consider this: Wood has faced Gonzalez nine times in his career. He’s struck him out on four of those occasions, while giving up a lone single in the other five at-bats.
It’s history vs. hot here, and I’m siding with history.
Speaking of one-side matchups …
Giants catcher Buster Posey (FantasyAces $5,650) has faced Padres right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne 12 times in his career.
Would you believe he’s gone 10-for-12 with four home runs?
Man, you’re gullible.
Actually, Posey has NEVER gotten a hit off the young rival. Yep, 0-for-12.
It’s part of Despaigne’s amazing early success against the Giants, whose current roster has a cumulative .152 batting average against him in a decent sample size (79 at-bats).
That’s why I mentioned Despaigne earlier when discussing pitching options. He certainly is worth considering, at home, at the modest price of $5,000.
Hey, if that’s what it takes to get Troy Tulowitzki in your lineup …
TODAY’S STACK PACK
Rangers vs. Rockies right-hander Kyle Kendrick.
Pick a high-scoring game. Any game other than the Rangers and Rockies. That’s mine.
Here’s a prediction: There will be twice as many runs scored in my game as in yours.
Bold? Perhaps. But not so bold when you look at the matchups.
I’ve already touched upon Rangers starter Matt Harrison. Granted, he’s only pitched once. But he’s got a 13.50 ERA … and it’s about to go up.
Kendrick hasn’t been nearly that bad this season in a much larger sample size. But it’s fair to say he’s been consistently less-than-mediocre.
He doesn’t get batters out on either side of the plate (.932 OPS vs. lefties, .856 vs. righties) and, predictably, he’s got the only home WHIP (1.57) that rivals the aforementioned Alex Wood among Tuesday’s starters.
Has Kendrick faced the Rangers before? Glad you asked.
Outfielders Shin-Soo Choo (FantasyAces $4,600) and Josh Hamilton (FantasyAces $4,750), first baseman Mitch Moreland (FantasyAces $4,750) and designated hitter Prince Fielder (FantasyAces $5,600) each has a lifetime OPS of 1.200 or better against him.
High prices are going to be an issue here in stacking these guys. You also need to consider second baseman Rougned Odor (FantasyAces $4,600), who has seven hits, including two triples and a homer, since the All-Star break.
Choo, with two home runs in 11 career at-bats against Kendrick, would be my first choice.
Austin Barnes, Dodgers catcher (FantasyAces $3,000).
There is absolutely no reason to spend big bucks on a catcher Tuesday.
Two guys in the $4,000 range — the Orioles’ Caleb Joseph (FantasyAces $4,000), who has a brief but powerful history against the Yankees’ Nate Eovaldi, and the Rockies’ Michael McKenry (FantasyAces $4,250), a live body up against the aforementioned Matt Harrison — would suffice.
But Barnes is an even better bargain.
The Dodgers have catcher issues with A.J. Ellis on the disabled list and Yasmani Grandal out at least until Wednesday while recuperating from a concussion.
That opened the door for Barnes to start Monday, and he responded with two hits.
Now he’s up against a lefty (Alex Wood) who struggles with righties. It’s an even more promising opportunity than Monday.
When you’re spending big bucks on pitchers and your shortstop, it’s nice to get at least one complementary guy basically for free.
Getting a modestly-priced Cardinals right-handed hitter or two in your lineup against White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon would seem like a good idea, especially given his .817 OPS against righties.
Outfielder Randal Grichuk (FantasyAces $4,500) would be one such option.
Fellow outfielder Peter Bourjos (FantasyAces $3,650) would be an even bigger bargain if he gets the start.
The Cardinals held outfielder Jason Heyward out of Sunday’s starting lineup because of a leg injury, and there’s really no rush to get the left-handed hitter back in there against the lefty Rodon.
With Tommy Pham having recently been demoted back to Triple-A, that pretty much leaves Bourjos as the logical replacement.
He did just fine in Heyward’s place Sunday, getting on base four times in seven plate appearances. And he’s flashed some power against lefties, having hit two homers in 54 at-bats.
Check the lineups, and I’d recommend Grichuk first. But if that extra $850 in savings pushes you toward Bourjos, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull that trigger.
Want to play more than one first baseman in your lineup? FantasyAces allows you to use more than one player per position! Check out the Scoring tab located on the Gameplay Basics page for more information about our DFS MLB rosters & scoring.
About Mr. Fantasy
Dave Del Grande didn’t invent fantasy sports–it only seems that way. Dave was the first to have a weekly column devoted entirely to fantasy sports published in a daily newspaper, The Oakland Tribune, the birthplace of fantasy football. He also was the first to have a fantasy-sports column syndicated nationally by Universal Press. He authored the original “Ask Mr. Fantasy” column for ESPN.com and also helped launch the highly successful fantasy endeavors of USA Today Sports Weekly and NFL.com. In the meantime, Dave was an award-winning NBA basketball reporter, covering the Golden State Warriors, and continues to cover the Warriors and San Francisco Giants for The Sports Xchange.
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