This article is part of our Draftster MLB series.
Javier Baez became the talk of the fantasy (and actual) baseball world last week, as the 21-year-old prospect hit three home runs in his first three big league games after being called up Tuesday against the Rockies, displaying the power that led to a .545 career slugging percentage in 319 games in the minor leagues. Unfortunately, he also gave us a taste of his 26 percent career strikeout rate, fanning a dizzying 10 times in just 23 at-bats with the Cubs.
How should we go about using Baez when drafting in a format that penalizes us for strikeouts? While it's easy to fall in love with the potential for big points, Baez's present price tag ($8,700) means that I'll likely try to limit my selection of the big man to matchups that include low-strikeout pitchers for the time being. That may seem a bit conservative, but when we consider that a Baez selection Friday saddled owners with a negative point total, despite a hit and a run scored, it raises the question of whether he can be a profitable play in the short term.
This Week's Picks
Alex Cobb ($9,100)
Sunday leaves us with no shortage of viable options for pitching, but I'm going with Cobb because he features a strong skillset (8.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 57.6 percent ground ball rate), and is facing the Cubs, who have been anemic against right-handed pitching this season.
Travis Wood has been able to keep the ball in the park this season, but may be due for an uptick in homers versus righties, as he's tallied a 4.96 xFIP against them in 93 innings. The Rays have a few hitters that specialize in feasting on mediocre lefties this season.
Kyle Kendrick is being hit hard by lefties this season, as they have teed off against him to the tune of a .491 slugging percentage in 56 innings. There are two Metropolitan lefties who are worth looking at here, but one is dirt cheap, while the other will cost you an arm and a leg. For the sake of our payroll, we may want to stick with the former.
Lucas Duda (1B) ($3,000)
With Paul Goldschmidt likely gone for the rest of the season due to a fractured hand, there aren't too many bats we can plug in to exploit Franklin Morales' .403 wOBA against righties this season, but there is at least one lefty masher who should benefit from the fact that he has struck out just 56 right-handed hitters in 75.2 innings.
Mark Trumbo (OF) ($4,100)
Nick Martinez may be one of the worst pitchers to occupy a rotation spot in 2014, as he has allowed 21 earned runs in his last five starts. Needless to say, he is an excellent target from both sides of the platoon but may be let off the hook somewhat by the Astros, who don't have many attractive hitters to choose from.
Jose Altuve (2B) ($7,300)
I should note here that Altuve missed Saturday's game with neck stiffness, but he told the Houston Chronicle that he's "going to be ready [Sunday] 100 percent."
Erasmo Ramirez will head back to the big club Sunday for a spot start against the White Sox. Ramirez has pitched reasonably well in 12 starts for Triple-A Tacoma this season, tallying a 3.76 ERA, but has been roughed up by major league hitters in 2014, allowing 10 homers in 60 innings.
Wade Miley has been a solid pitcher this season but is allowing too many base runners and has surrendered 16 homers in 119.1 innings to right-handers. The Rockies have been largely depleted by injury but still have some lefty mashers in the bunch.
Wilin Rosario (C) ($5,200)
The Week At A Glance
Drew Smyly may have the most drastic platoon split I've seen this season, as he owns a .214 wOBA against lefties while sporting a .385 mark against righties. The Rangers have a few right-handed bats that will merit consideration Monday.
Coming off a career-high 12-strikeout performance against the Orioles, J.A. Happ could be a nice value play Tuesday against the Mariners, who are the second-worst team in the league against left-handed pitching this season behind the Padres.
Miles Mikolas has done what he can after being thrown into the Rangers' makeshift rotation, but he remains a nice stacking option when he faces the Rays at home Wednesday. This is particularly true in regard to left-handed hitters, against whom Mikolas carries a 4.92 xFIP.
Jake Odorizzi has put up some big strikeout numbers in 2014, fanning 139 batters in 122.2 innings. He will face the Rangers on Thursday, who have struggled mightily against righty hurlers this season.
At This point in the season, I feel as though I could recommend Ubaldo Jimenez as a target every week, but things could get especially interesting Friday against the Indians, as Progressive Field has been conducive to left-handed homers this season.
Sonny Gray will square off against the floundering Braves on Saturday, whose 22 percent strikeout rate is fifth worst in the league against right-handed pitching.