By: John Heffelfinger
Felix Hernandez – King Felix had a disastrous last start giving up 7 ER and 5 walks which was easily his worst of the season. He only gave up 7 ER in all of April and 6 ER in May before that last start so I don’t expect another start like that for a long time. Even with that horrendous start, he still has 75 K’s in 75 IP, a sub 1.00 WHIP, a 2.63 ERA, and 8 wins. He does everything well and is going to be pitching at Safeco where is he usually even more dominant. The Rays offense may be alright against left handed pitching, but against righties it is a different story. They have a line of .240 AVG/.306 OBP/.368 SLG with only 31 HR in 1,284 AB’s this year. They have also struck out the 5th most in all of baseball a whopping 441 times which is what makes Felix stand out against the likes of Kershaw, Price, and Bumgarner today. The Rays may hit very slightly better on the road, but Safeco is a pitcher’s paradise and with a lack of power from the Rays, I don’t expect them to do too much. Felix’s home numbers are a little inflated after that last start, but he still has 46 K’s in 40.2 home innings vs. 29 K’s in 34 road innings. Obviously with a low WHIP, he is stingy with giving up hits with teams only batting .205 against him this year as well. Like I said, you can’t really go wrong with any of those top pitchers, but I believe Felix has the best matchup tomorrow, and I believe he will have the best day of the bunch.
Drew Hutchinson – I thought about going with Danny Salazar here as I think he will have a great game, but I will go with more of a value type guy in Drew Hutchinson. Now you may ask, why is a guy with a 5.76 ERA pitching in Toronto a good pick tomorrow. For starters, he is going against the Astros who strike out a ton (507 times 2nd most in the MLB), and are tied for the 2nd worst average in all of baseball. Now we all know what they do well and that is walk and hit home runs. Toronto is definitely a hitter’s park, but for some reason, Hutchinson has been much better at home only giving up 11 ER in 33.1 IP, has only walked 6 guys in those 33.1 innings, has only given up 2 HR, having 32 K’s, and only having a batting average against of .219. Those numbers are all incredible compared to his road stats, and with him doing the things well that the Astros do well (only 6 walks and 2 HR allowed at home) I don’t see why he can’t have a great game tomorrow. Vegas also has the Jays at -160 to win which is as much as the Tigers with David Price on the mound so those extra points would be pivotal. I don’t know if I would pick him for cash games with all of those studs going, but for GPP’s there will be some lower priced guys who outperform them and Hutchinson could definitely be one of those guys.
Buster Posey – Another day, another great matchup for Buster Posey, who hit a HR as my stud yesterday. I still find it odd for batters to hit the same handed pitcher better than the opposite handed pitchers, but that is exactly what Posey does. He has a line against righties this year of .292 AVG/.376 OBP/.451 SLG with 7 HR in 144 AB. He also hits better and for more power on the road (5 of his 8 HR on the road), which only adds to him being a great play today. He is going against Severino Gonzalez who hasn’t been very good this year and is one of the cheapest pitchers on the slate today. Looking at his splits, he does pitch fairly well to righties, which doesn’t help Posey, but lefties destroy him, and there are a lot of them around Posey in the Giants lineup. When it comes down to the splits between a proven stud in Posey and a young struggling pitcher I will go with the stud. The Giants scored 5 runs yesterday and I believe that today they can definitely outperform that total. Look for the top of that lineup to produce some runs and for Posey to be heavily involved.
Russell Martin – I don’t always like to pick the same players back to back days, but today Martin has the favorable matchup against the lefty in Oberholtzer. It may only be 32 AB’s this year, but Martin has terrorized lefties. He has a line of .375 AVG/.474 OBP/.594 SLG against lefties which are all at least 13% higher than righties. The Jays as a whole as a right handed batting team, hit lefties far better than righties posting a ridiculous team line of .309 AVG/.365 OBP/.504 SLG. As I stated yesterday, they have the 2nd best offensive WAR overall, and these numbers against lefties pretty much prove that theory correctly. Getting to Oberholtzer, he has a really small sample size, but he has given up 7 hits in 21 AB’s to righties this year so far, and over the past two years they have hit for a .271 AVG against him. Martin may have gone 0-3 with a BB yesterday, but today I expect him to exceed that total and for him to be a benefit for a Jays stack.
Joey Votto – I thought about going with Miguel Cabrera again today, but Votto has been on a bit of a hot streak lately tallying hits in 6 of his last 7 games, 3 HR in those games, 8 RBI’s, 5 runs and 4 walks in that time frame. He is going against the righty Odrisamer Despaigne, who has pitched well in his last two starts, but overall on the year has been poor. Lefties really aren’t hitting him all that well with a .227 AVG/.301 OBP/.360 SLG line against which is actually great against the opposite hand. He hasn’t pitched well on the road though, giving up 10 ER in 18 IP and allowing a batting average against of .288 which is great for Votto. He may hit for a better average and get on base more against lefties, but his power comes against righties where he has 8 HR in 132 AB’s vs. 2 HR in 60 AB against lefties. The same can be said for his road/home splits where his power comes at home vs. the road. Votto is a great player at a deep position, so he may not be the play every day, but with some good numbers and a great matchup against righties I would roll him or my value play out today.
Brandon Belt – There will be another Giant lefty that cracks this list, but there is no way I could leave Brandon Belt off which Severino Gonzalez’s struggles against left handed hitting. It’s only 28 AB so it could be taken with a grain of salt, but he has given up 15 hits and 2 BB’s which is a line of .536 AVG/.581 OBP/.750 SLG. If those held up obviously they would be historically bad, and while I don’t think they will hold up, there is clearly a trend here. Then there is belt who has been mashing righties all year long. He has a line of .329 AVG/.401 OBP/.593 SLG with 7 HR in 140 AB, which are all pretty darn good numbers. He also has 5 HR in 78 AB on the road this year compared to 2 HR in 92 home at bats. Now while a homer may be nice, Belt can definitely reach his value if he can get on base a few times today. The numbers suggest that is not only possible, but relatively likely so I think he and several Giants can be put in all types of lineups.
Dee Gordon – While I still love Kipnis against the righty Jimenez, I thought I’d change it up a bit here and talk about another guy I really like today in Gordon. Now while Coors might not affect him as much as others because he doesn’t offer much power, it certainly doesn’t hurt for other guys trying to drive him in. He is going against the lefty Chris Rusin who has been decent in his first two starts, but like everyone else, I need to see a little more sample size out of him. He hasn’t pitched much so I won’t post the splits, but they are pretty good against both sides of the plate. With Gordon, there is the lefty on lefty but that doesn’t concern me all too much. He has a split of .345 AVG/.357 OBP/.382 SLG against them which is still solid even though he isn’t walking a lot. The only part of the matchup that bugs me is that he has 17 stolen bases against righties while only 3 against lefties. Now obviously he has been on base more against righties than lefties, but it looks as if the percentage is still higher against righties of stealing a base. Playing at Coors certainly helps and as we saw last night, get on for Stanton and it could be an easy extra couple points for Gordon.
Neil Walker – Walker is going to be going up against Julio Teheran, who has really disappointed so far this year. He has a 1.54 WHIP, 4.87 ERA, and only had 49 K’s in 61 IP. When we dig a little deeper and look at the splits, it makes a lot of sense. He hasn’t done that great against righties, but has been dreadful against lefties. They have a line of .350 AVG/.432 OBP/.602 SLG against him with 6 HR allowed in 103 AB’s. He has also allowed 6 HR against righties this year, so the long ball is something he has been giving up at an alarmingly high rate. Walker also is known to be one of the best power hitting second basemen so this seems like a great match. He might not be able to hit left handed pitching, but against righties he has put together a solid line (.287 AVG/.341 OBP/.427 SLG with 3 HR in 164 AB’s). Now the power numbers may be down, he is still getting hits and getting on base at an above average clip against righties. Then with Teheran giving up the long ball quite often this year, don’t be surprised to see Walker do something big today.
Brandon Crawford – He might not have the usual upside of a typical stud, but the matchup at an affordable price makes him a stud in my books. Now I touched on the trouble that Severino has had against left handed batters giving up 15 hits and 2 walks in 28 AB’s. With those numbers, any lefty is a solid play, but a glue guy like Crawford who can do everything definitely gets a big bump. Crawford has an insane line against lefties this year, but is still getting on base 33% of the time and has 6 HR in 145 AB’s against righties. Looking at the past 3 seasons, he is having a career year this year in just about every category, but he is only 28 so he is in the midst of his prime. I wish he had a little better average against righties, but he has shown some pop against them as well as the ability to take a walk. He is simply another option to add with the Giants stack today, and he will definitely be in a few of my lineups.
Jose Iglesias – He may not get a lot of attention, but Iglesias has quietly put together a solid season so far. He may not have a lot of pop (only 1 HR), but he makes up for that with a lot of hits and some walks sprinkled in there. He is going against the lefty John Danks who has struggled as I expected this year. Iglesias has an amazing line of .405 AVG/.463 OBP/.595 SLG against lefties this year in 37 at bats. Now what I would love to see out of Iglesias is a few more stolen bases. He only has 7 on the year, and when I have seen them play he definitely has some speed. With how much he is getting base, if he could steal some more bases he could definitely be an above average fantasy play. Then there is Danks who has given up a line of .304 AVG/.356 OBP/.584 SLG with 8 HR allowed in 161 AB to righties. I really like a Tigers stack tomorrow with guys like Kinsler and Cabrera with Iglesias which will likely put up some nice points against Danks.
Josh Donaldson – I wouldn’t say that he has struggled since his amazing hot spree he had a couple weeks ago, but he has come back to earth a bit. I really like his matchup today and think he is worth the expense price tag. He is also going against the lefty Bret Oberholtzer who is one of the cheaper pitchers on the slate today and has a pretty small sample size this year. I love the fact that Donaldson has been destroying left handed pitching this year. In 40 AB’s this year he has a line of .450 AVG/.477 OBP/.850 SLG with 4 HR in 40 AB’s. That homer rate is actually lower than I thought and that is a homer every ten at bats. His home numbers are also outstanding where he has an average of .370 and has 10 HR’s in 108 AB’s this year. As I stated for Mr. Martin, righties do have 7 hits in 21 AB’s against Oberholtzer this year so I think there is plenty of reason for optimism today. A Jays stack should be very successful today and Donaldson will likely be in the middle of it.
Nick Castellanos – He is a super cheap option with a solid matchup against John Danks. As I stated with Iglesias, Danks has really struggled with righties this year with a line of .304 AVG/.356 OBP/.584 SLG with 8 HR allowed in 161 AB’s. Castellanos hasn’t hit a HR in 35 AB’s against lefties, but he has batted .257 against lefties as well as getting on base 36.6%. The matchup more so than anything is what makes me like Castellanos because I really don’t like Danks. If you’re going after one of the big pitcher’s today, Castellanos is a really nice cheap option that should allow you to spend on some other batters as well.
Jose Bautista – I love Giancarlo Stanton today and think he may have another huge HR today, but I think Bautista could have a huge game today as well. He has really started to pick it up finally and is getting back to the Bautista of old. He also is going against the lefty Oberholtzer and I think Bautista will flourish in this matchup. He has a line of .265 AVG/.390 OBP//588 SLG with 2 HR in 34 AB’s. Now I wish that HR rate would be a little higher, he is playing in Toronto today where he has a HR rate of 5 HR in 73 AB’s. For an expensive price tag, a HR would be really nice but the fact that he can get on base 39% of the time against lefties helps me pick him today. If he does get on, I expect him to score with the great right handed hitters around him in the lineup. He is more than capable of crushing one 450 feet, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see that happen today.
Lorenzo Cain – I don’t know if I have picked Cain yet this year, but today seems like a great day to do so. He is going against the lefty Wandy Rodriguez who has struggled in his last couple starts which was to be expected. Cain has a great line of .362 AVG/.439 OBP/.552 SLG with 2 HR in 58 AB’s. He may not have a ton of power, but he has shown that he can on base at a great clip against lefties which definitely makes up for that. He has hit slightly better at home, but the splits aren’t enough to sway me away from him. Wandy has somewhat even splits against righties and lefties, but has pitched better on the road which doesn’t help Cain. Like I said though, he has struggled a bit in the last couple starts and Cain should be able to do something against him.
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