A few weeks ago, I suggested taking a look at Alex Cobb for his start against the Pirates on June 23. It did not go well. In fact, Cobb has been battered around quite a bit lately, having allowed 13 runs in his last 15 innings pitched. Despite his recent failings, however, I will continue to give Cobb a look going forward. Why? Because his peripherals tell me he should still be an above-average pitcher. His groundball rate (55.7%) and walk rate (2.86), for example, are almost identical to where they were when he posted a 2.76 ERA in 143.1 innings for the Rays last season. Though he has tallied a 4.28 ERA thus far in 2014, his underlying stats tell me he should be getting better results.
This is important to realize in daily fantasy play, as it could help us gain an edge while building our lineups. As we know, a struggling player is likely to see his price drop. Cobb's price currently sits at $5,100 heading into his next start against the Royals on Wednesday. How can locking in on targets such as Cobb benefit us? When we select struggling players who may be due for a turnaround, it can allow us to focus more money in other areas, while still making a selection that has a chance to give us a decent showing.
To the Picks!
Zack Wheeler ($5,200)
The five walks Wheeler surrendered in his last outing against the Braves may make some a bit nervous, but I'm rolling with him again due to his potential for strikeouts, and Texas' struggles against righties this season. Wheeler may have the tendency to get wild, but he has turned himself into a groundball machine, and will face a team that is in the bottom half of the league when it comes to walks versus righty hurlers Sunday.
Yohan Flande is a left-handed pitcher in Coors Field who has tallied a 6.10 ERA in his first two starts this season. While his sample size in the majors is small, it's worth pointing out that he hasn't secured an ERA below 4.00 at any level of professional baseball since 2009.
Hanley Ramirez (SS) ($6,100)
Yasiel Puig (OF) ($7,500)
Scott Van Slyke (OF) ($5,300)
I have cautioned against using Matt Kemp in the past due to his poor numbers against southpaws this season, but he has plummeted from his then-five-figure price, and now sits at a comfortable $3,300, which makes him an ideal candidate for a cheap option Sunday.
The Reds hit righties well enough that even some of their own righties get in on the fun. Yovani Gallardo has pitched well overall this season, but has given up 10 home runs in 59.1 innings against his right-handed brethren.
Devin Mesoraco (C) ($5,600)
Todd Frazier (3B) ($7,200)
PNC Park isn't a great place for offense, but A.J. Burnett has been great for lefties, as he has walked 32 southpaws in 52 innings this season, while carrying a 5.31 xFIP against them over that span.
Neil Walker 2B ($4,700)
Much of my commentary above can be applied to Ricky Nolasco as well, as he has allowed lefties to get on base at a .397 clip against him in 48 innings this season. The Yankees have a few lefties for us to choose from.
Mark Teixeira 1B ($5,100)
The Week at a Glance
Marco Estrada allows homers indiscriminately, and his strikeout edge essentially disappears when facing left-handed hitting. The Phillies will take their lefty boppers to Miller Park on Monday.
Also on Monday, Scott Carroll faces the Red Sox at Fenway. Carroll has struck out just 26 batters in 57 innings this season. Against lefties, he has actually walked more than he's struck out, while carrying a 5.63 xFIP in 34 innings. Need I say more?
Sonny Gray sits at just $6,500 heading into his matchup against the Giants on Tuesday. The Giants are basically a league-average offense against right-handed pitching this season, but are striking out against righties over 21 percent of the time while walking at just a 6.9 percent clip.
Eric Stults versus Jair Jurrjens at Coors Field on Wednesday has the makings of a high-scoring affair. Stults is a soft lefty who gives up homers to right-handers, and Jurrjens allowed eight runs in 4.2 innings in his first start of the season against the Dodgers. It should be noted that Jurrjens was having breathing issues after the outing Friday, which may put his return to the mound in jeopardy, but opportunities should be similarly abundant if the Rockies need to find a replacement for him.
Aaron Harang will take on the Mets at Citi Field on Thursday. The Mets have struggled against right-handed pitching this season, and Harang gets enough strikeouts and limits homers well enough to make this a go.
The last time I suggested stacking against Ubaldo Jimenez, it was due to the short porch at Yankee Stadium. He will need to fade a cadre of left-handed Yankees again Friday, this time at home in Camden Yards.
Mike Minor has given up a few too many homers this season, which will keep his price nice and cheap when he takes on the Cubs on Saturday, who have tallied the highest strikeout rate of any team in the league against left-handed pitching this season.