Reminder: Always double check the lineup card before rosters lock to make sure that a player you've chosen to roster is playing that day, and check the weather to make sure your players won't get rained out of their game.
Three from Early
The early slate is only 4 games, so roster choices will be limited.
1. Pitcher- Clayton Kershaw vs Washington Nationals, $12,800
The Nationals do not have a pretty lineup right now. They're missing Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Denard Span, and Jayson Werth, and in some ways they're missing Ian Desmond as well because he has been nothing near his usual self this year. Kershaw is 2nd in baseball with a 32.7% K% and has the lowest average exit velocity on recorded batted balls among starting pitchers (disclaimer: the average exit velo readings can vary slightly because not all BIP have been recorded). The Dodgers face RHP Doug Fister, a favorable matchup for Kershaw, especially since the Dodgers are the best hitting team vs RHP in baseball. Find value hitters in good situations to fit Kershaw into a budget, such as:
2. 1B- Adam LaRoche vs Jeremy Guthrie, $2,200
I wrote yesterday about some of the reasons I like LaRoche in the 2nd half, especially at the FD minimum:
Despite the subpar year at first glance, LaRoche is still hitting RHP to a 118 wRC+/.188 ISO. He also has noticeable splits between his first and second halves throughout his career: in the first half of his career, LaRoche has been a 103 wRC+/.188 ISO hitter. In the second half, LaRoche's production has jumped up to a 124 wRC+/.230 ISO. With the hot summer weather in Chicago, fly balls will be traveling very well in U.S. Cellular Field...
LaRoche faces Jeremy Guthrie, one of the least effective pitchers in baseball, at home in U.S. Cellular Field. I expect to be playing and recommending LaRoche quite often this summer.
3. OF- Andre Ethier vs Doug Fister, $2,500
Ethier is hitting RHP to a 149 wRC+/.215 ISO in 238 PA this year and has similar career marks over 3800 PA. He's one of the biggest value plays against below average RHP, and faces Doug Fister, currently a below average RHP whose average fastball velocity is not trending in the right direction:
Doug Fister two seam velo: 2013: 88.8 mph 2014: 87.8 mph 2015: 85.8 mph— Timothy Finnegan (@TimFinn521) July 17, 2015
Three from Late
1. Pitcher- Corey Kluber vs Cincinnati Reds, $11,000
Kluber's matchup isn't fantastic because the Reds don't strike out too often against RHP (6th lowest K%) and the park factors are extreme in favor of home runs, but there is something to be said about an elite, high strikeout American League pitcher starting a game in a National League park with National League rules. I suspect this will amplify his effectiveness, moreso than the average K% difference between the AL and NL; I don't have concrete data to prove that, though, it's just an unresearched theory. Kluber has a 30% K% in 14 starts from May-present, up from 25% in April, and the sudden change of league makes me lean towards him tonight as my favorite option.
2. OF- David Murphy vs Anthony DeSclafani, $2,200
I recommended Murphy yesterday and I am doing it again today. The Indians get a huge park upgrade in Great American Ballpark and face a pitcher who has been below average vs LHB throughout his career. Murphy has hit RHP to a 133 wRC+ this year in just under 200 PA with it at 116 in a larger 570 PA sample dating back to 2014. Murphy will likely hit cleanup and be low owned in tournaments, and he's priced at the minimum.
3. 3B- Kris Bryant vs Manny Banuelos, $3,400
Bryant is on his way to becoming one of the game's elite lefty mashers. The sample on him at the MLB level is small at 66 PA, but he's clobbered them to a 151 wRC+/.303 ISO in MLB and destroyed LHP in the minor leagues. Manny Banuelos, I think, is more of a name than substance at this point because of his high prospect ranking with the Yankees a few years back. It's great to see Banuelos get his chance in the big leagues, but he sits around 89 mph with his fastball and hasn't missed bats very often. ZiPS projects a below average 4.25 ERA the rest of the way for Banuelos.
Follow me on Twitter at @TimFinn521, I usually tweet out more good options as lineups are released.