I love to start batters against left-handed pitchers. I’ve talked about this a bit in the past, but I think there’s a lot of value to be had by targeting right-handed bats who crush southpaws but struggle against righties.
The reason is because although DraftKings’ pricing includes matchup-specific factors, there’s also a component of long-term value. Batters are more or less ranked according to their overall numbers, with some shuffling done each day based on their matchup, the ballpark, and so on.
That means players who excel against lefties can often be quite underpriced since their overall numbers are mostly a reflection of their at-bats against righties. When they face a lefty, their outlook is far more optimistic than those overall stats would suggest. Compare that to a lefty batter who has success against right-handed pitching; for the most part, that success as captured by his overall numbers, and thus he’s less likely to be underpriced.
One of the potential problems we run into when studying batter splits against lefties is a lack of a major sample size. Even over the course of a season, a batter won’t face lefties enough to be as confident in those splits as his numbers against righties.
Thus, I think it’s important to think about which stats you’re analyzing when determining how far back you want to look. With splits versus southpaws, there’s a lot of value in digging into a few seasons worth of data.
NOTE: Today’s plays are for the 7pm ET slate.
San Diego Padres (vs Gio Gonzalez)
I have no idea if the Padres will hit tonight. Vegas seems to think not, projecting San Diego at only 3.0 implied runs. This is one of the cases in which I think DFS value can differ from what’s implied by the Vegas lines, though, because of player pricing.
First, the Padres’ bats are ridiculously cheap. Like you can easily fit Chris Sale and another top arm in your lineup. Second, Gio Gonzalez might be the most underpriced pitcher on DraftKings tonight. I have him as my top value, just ahead of Sale, and I do think he’ll be in a decent number of lineups (maybe 30 percent?).
Because of that, the benefit of hitting on San Diego will be doubled; you’ll pass a bunch of lineups without a Padres stack—like, all of them—and also see lineups with Gonzalez on the hill drop down.
Arizona Diamondbacks (vs John Lackey)
Yet another matchup against a decent arm on a team that will see very low ownership. Arizna is much more popular when facing a lefty—rightfully so—but Lackey hasn’t been particularly sharp lately and also has an above-average tendency for poor games. This season, he has failed to reach half his salary-based expected points in 27 percent of games—above the league-average of 23 percent for pitchers. Again, I have no idea if Arizona is going to get to Lackey, but I do know it’s certainly not out of the realms of possibility and, if it happens, you’ll be sitting in a really good spot in tournaments.
1B Adam LaRoche, Chicago White Sox (vs Rick Porcello) – $2800
The top three first basemen for me in terms of pure value are Edwin Encarnacion, Miguel Cabrera, and Jose Abreu. I think those three will probably be in about half of lineups, combined. Down my list just a tad is Abreu’s teammate—Adam LaRoche—who has struggled this season but picked it up of late with two home runs in his past four games. Vegas likes Chicago tonight, although I’m not in love with their overall offensive upside, but I do like LaRoche and his much superior wOBA against righties.
2B/3B Justin Turner, LA Dodgers (vs David Holmberg) – $3700
Even though he has struggled lately, Turner still has doubled his salary-based expected DraftKings points in 22 percent of games this season—above the league-average of 17 percent. I kind of like the idea of stacking the Dodgers against Holmberg—Vegas likes them at 4.5 implied runs—with Turner and Puig probably being my two favorite bats in the offense.
OF David Peralta, Arizona (vs John Lackey) – $3300
Even though he’s been underpriced for a while when facing a righty, Peralta’s ownership is rarely exorbitant. I wouldn’t say he’s a contrarian play by any means, but I do think he’s generally underutilized and will be that way again tonight at home against Lackey. Peralta has a .232 running 12-month ISO versus righties and an insane 29 percent upside rating (doubling expected points). No player with more than 35 games played over the past year has a higher one.
P Chris Archer, Tampa Bay (vs Minnesota) – $12800
I don’t really think it’s a night to get cute at pitcher with a variety of aces on the hill. If you like a low-priced contrarian stack, that’s even better because you can afford those top arms. I really like Archer and his 10.2 running 12-month K/9. He’s facing a Minnesota offense that excels versus lefties, and Vegas has them at 2.8 implied runs—the lowest total for any offense. Home plate ump Jordan Baker has historically added 1.1 DraftKings points above expectation to pitcher scores.