In 43 away games this season, the Colorado Rockies are hitting just .245/.296/.392, which means they are usually overpriced when they hit the road. Sure, the prices come down and they offer some value in hitter’s parks like Milwaukee and Arizona, but it’s just not worth rostering more than a player or two unless there’s a clear split advantage to lean on. Troy Tulowitzki, for instance, is hitting just .264/.367/.464 on the road, versus .447/.529/.780 in Coors Field, and those numbers diminish when he’s facing a righty.
While he’s not the only player on the field, he’s a crucial cog in their production and it’s always beneficial to steer clear of their high-priced outfielders when the splits are not in their favor. If you want to jump on Drew Stubbs, Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson (hamstring, day-to-day) and the rest of the Rockies when their prices drop a bit and they get back to Coors Field, do it—that’s a very good strategy. Just don’t bank on them producing in foreign territory when they rely so much on the long ball in the thin air.
Last week’s Tuesday/Wednesday starter review
Clayton Kershaw, LAD (@KAN)—Kershaw threw eight scoreless innings Tuesday (6 H, 1 BB, 8 SO), then followed that up with another gem on Sunday, tossing seven innings of shutout ball and notching 13 strikeouts to just two walks. He’s now thrown 28 consecutive scoreless innings and while it’s the eighth-longest streak in baseball history and fifth longest in Dodgers history—it’s still less than halfway to alum Orel Hershiser’s record of 59 straight. He’s only the fourth pitcher in MLB history with a 6-0 record, 50-plus strikeouts and an ERA below 1.00 during a calendar month.
Scott Kazmir, OAK (@ NYM) —Kazmir pitched just three innings and faced just 17 batters against the Mets on Tuesday, surrendering eight hits and seven earned runs—yielding negative points in just about every daily fantasy format imaginable. On a day where he faced a weak lineup in Queens and contestants were seeking lower-cost options to Kershaw, he was an absolute disaster—getting touched up with three gopher balls of the five fly balls hit off him. If you want to wait a couple starts to see him settle down, I won’t blame you.
VALUE BONUS: Jesse Hahn, SD (@SFG)—Hahn pitched six innings of solid baseball (4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO) and produced excellent value at his price point in the late game at San Francisco, notching his third win in a row and lowering his season ERA to 2.38. He’ll be worth a look all season if he keeps his walk rate down and continues missing bats.
Garrett Richards, LAA (vs. MIN)—Richards wasn’t spectacular on Wednesday, surrendering two runs on four hits and five walks, but he picked up a win and struck out five Twins in 7 1/3 innings. I still like his upside as a two-pitch power righty and hope we’ll see double-digit strikeout totals from him in a few more games this season.
David Price, TAM (vs. PIT)—Speaking of double-digit K totals, Price struck out 10 or more batters for the fifth consecutive game, going 8 1/3 innings (5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO) and picked up his sixth win of the season in what has been a hard luck year. He’s carrying a 2.54 xFIP and his ERA is 3.63—which is partially attributable to his .317 BABIP, a figure that significantly exceeds his career rate of .284. Expect more wins out of Price in the coming weeks.
CONTRARIAN BONUS: Zack Wheeler, NYM (vs. OAK)—I knew it was as risk including Wheeler here, and he got slugged up something awful facing Oakland—a team that hits quite well both at home and on the road. While I’ll continue to be a proponent on contrarian plays here and there, I’ll probably steer clear of young pitchers coming off 111-pitch complete game shutouts in favor of guys who worked lighter workloads. Mets manager Terry Collins noted after Wednesday’s debacle that Wheeler will be monitored more closely going forward.
This week’s Tuesday-Wednesday Pitcher Spotlight
James Shields, KC (@MIN)—Shields isn’t ever a sure thing, but he’s capable of striking out guys in bunches and he’s getting the benefit of Target Field and a relatively weak-hitting Twins lineup. If you’re looking for a medium risk/high-reward option at a second-tier price, Shields can do wonders for your bottom line.
David Price, TAM (@NYY)—Price and Stephen Strasburg are the top-priced starters on the board, but I like Price’s consistency despite a checkered history against the Yankees. Strasburg is still a viable option and offers plenty of upside against the Rockies, but he got lit up his last couple times out and doesn’t go deep enough into games for my liking. Price neutralizes some of the Yankees boppers with an excellent .250 career wOBA against lefties.
Early: Johnny Cueto, CIN (@SD)—As good as Kershaw has been this season for the Dodgers, Cueto actually has a better season ERA (1.88). While much of that anomaly stems from the minuscule .208 BABIP that the Reds righthander is carrying, I’m still all-in with Cueto against the feeble Padres lineup in Petco. No matter the price, he’s my top pitcher on the board in the early slate of games and I’m only considering others in low-stakes tournament play.
Late: Julio Teheran, ATL (vs. NYM)—There might be some bigger names in the night games, but Teheran has a 2.34 ERA, has pitched out of trouble on a few occasions this season, and has upside versus the Mets. I know—this lineup burned me and my Kazmir fixation last time around, but I can’t imagine them walloping another of my go-to guys two weeks in a row.
NOTE: Make sure you check the weather forecast and any changes in probable starters from the revised schedule. There’s not much worse than a zero from one of your starters—and it’s usually avoidable if you’re prudent about the risks you’re willing to take.
Hitters to watch/target this week
Rangers hitters/Orioles hitters: Neither of these pitching staffs inspire much confidence when faced with the friendly confines of Camden Yards. I’ll be keying on Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz the next few days, and mixing in low-cost options like Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor, J.J. Hardy, and Jonathan Schoop.
Tigers hitters/Athletics hitters: I’m anticipating some high-scoring battles in this series, and even the better pitchers on both squads don’t scare me much because they’ve been so inconsistent this season. While you’ll have to pay up for Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez (ribs), Torii Hunter, Austin Jackson and Rajai Davis are underpriced considering their upside. The Athletics have some high-priced sluggers of their own (Brandon Moss, Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes) and are a great road-hitting team. They also have plenty of value in guys like Craig Gentry, Jed Lowrie and Stephen Vogt.
Other hitters to watch/target this week: Blue Jays hitters, Pirates hitters, Buster Posey, Joey Votto, Jose Abreu, Gordon Beckham, Andre Ethier, Ian Desmond, David Ortiz, Jon Singleton, Matt Joyce, Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Freddie Freeman, Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy.