1. Dan Haren WAS @ MIA- I know he’s throwing meat these days, but I don’t think the Marlins batters can even hit his fat pitches. I always feel encouraged when I look at the box score after picking a pitcher playing the Marlins. I’m pretty sure that won’t change today. Haren looked a little better in his last start and is still striking out batters at a rate higher than one an inning (10 K/9). There’s not really much else to choose from as far as elite matchups so you’ll have to settle somewhat here, but at least Haren has a proven track record of success against this Marlins lineup minus Stanton. Haren has only given up 1 XBH, a double, to all these pitiful Marlins hitters over a decent 118 at bats sample size.
2. Doug Fister DET @ SEA- The Seattle Offense doesn’t quite pack the punch it had when Mike Morse was hitting in the middle of it. Fister and the Tigers stroll into town with a decent amount of success against the Mariners in recent years. Mariners hitters are hitting a paltry .212 against Fister and a .583 OPS. Fister won’t strikeout a ton of hitters, but I think he’s lock for a win in this one.
3. Barry Zito SF @ MIL- I didn’t want to rank Zito this high on my list, but you can not deny the roll he is on right now. Zito has beaten two of the most potent NL offenses in the Cardinals and Rockies and made them look like the Marlins and Padres. Also no denying that he is spinning that curveball into an incredible win streak. He’s 11-0 over his last 16 starts and the Giants have won all those 16 starts in which he’s pitched stretching into 2012.Milwaukee has had success against Zito in the past, but that was with Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart. Take those guys out of the splits, and Zito has really only struggled with Ryan Braun. He might let a run or two squeak by, but he’s looking more and more like a must-start every time he toes the rubber.
4. A. J. Griffin OAK vs HOU- Houton’s bats are beginning to wake up, but they are still striking out at a historic rate. Griffin has pitched pretty well this year, but let’s call it what is is, this is simply a stream start against a very bad Houston team.
5a. Josh Johnson TOR vs CHW- I struggled with this selection. Josh was totally shelled by the Tigers in his last start and didn’t fare that much better against Boston the start before. You can’t ignore that both the Tigers and Red Sox are some tough opponents, filled with great hitters. To Johnson’s credit, he didn’t give up a home run in that Tiger beat down. I like this matchup because the White Sox haven’t performed very well against Johnson in the past. Over 45 at bats they only have 4 XBH, .200 AVG, and a .658 OPS. He’ll be playing at home. I expect to see a much calmer Josh Johnson today, but you should still keep expectations in check. 6 IPs/ 3 ER/ 6 Ks/ W may be all you can hope for from Johnson these days. I think I’d be fine with that.
5b. Kris Medlen ATL vs KC- You get a bonus in my five starters today. I didn’t feel right leaving Medlen off this list. Now, he is so low and borderline off this list because he hasn’t looked like himself. I’m a huge Braves fan and have watched both of his first two starts. He has an amazing changeup that he has not been able to locate at all. He has totally relied on his decent curveball to get him out of the trouble his missing changeup gets him into. I hope that he can start putting his arsenal together, but he has the risk of getting hit hard right now if he keeps his fastball up and continues to miss with his change. The Braves are also due to lose. But facing Guthrie might help them continue the winning streak. Medlen is high risk/high reward play today.
1. John Buck C NYM @ COL- Keep an eye on the weather conditions and the playing status of Buck today. Teams tend to sit catchers in one of the games in a doubleheader. However, I don’t think the Mets can afford to keep one of the hottest hitters in baseball out of their lineup. In the night game, Buck should draw the dreamy matchup of lefty Jeff Francis. Thin Colorado air, an .875 slugging percentage vs LHP, and a 3,800 dollar price tag for a catcher on DraftKings. Does it get any better than this?
2. Joey Votto 1B CIN vs PHI- Votto hit his first home run in months the other day. I’m a big believer in streakiness and ‘being due’ especially when dealing with baseball. Votto is due to have a streak. Philly pitcher Kyle Kendrick is getting hit with a .480 batting average versus lefty batters so far in 2013. Votto is 4/10 against Kendrick with a HR. You know that being due for a streak part. Votto will hit his second home run today. It has to happen.
3. Bryce Harper OF WAS @ MIA- Sanabia gave up some home runs to the Braves his last time out, and has now raised his AVG against left-handed batters up to .375 and an OPS over 1.063. Sanabia has not struck out a left-handed batter so far in 2013. I think that works to Harper’s strengths. If he throws Harper strikes, then there may be some moon shots hit off the statue. The question is, “If Harper hits a home run off the statue and no one is there to see it, did it really happen.” Chew on that.
4. Prince Fielder 1B DET @ SEA- Fielder is hitting on the highest level right now. He faces righty Aaron Harang who has yet to pitch in 2013. Fielder has had decent success against Harang in the past, 3 HRs over his 44 at bats. Fielder has hit .632 over his last seven days including 2 HRs and 11 RBIs. He may be hard to fit into a line-up with so many possible first basemen today. If you are looking for low risk consistency, I don’t think there is a better option than Fielder today.
5. David Wright 3B NYM @ COL- Here’s another righty going against a mediocre lefty in an environment built for offense. Wright has 3 HRs in 13 at bats versus Francis. You may have missed the fact that Wright has yet to hit a home run in 2013. It is time for him to finally break through. Even if he doesn’t, Wright has found ways to keep himself important to fantasy owners by scoring runs, stealing bases, taking walks, and driving runs in. If you get a home run today, that could just be a bonus.
Five Teams to Stack
1. St. Louis Cardinals vs LHP Jonathan Sanchez- Oh Sanchez is so bad. I think he may be the worst pitcher in baseball. The righty-heavy Cards are built to totally smash lefty Sanchez. Allen Craig, Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran, David Freese, and Matt Holliday should all be sprinkled throughout your lineups today.
2. Altanta Braves vs RHP Jeremy Guthrie- If you have the bankroll to stack, you should be stacking the Braves just about every day. They are one of the few teams that can hit home runs all the way up and down the line-up. Evan Gattis, B.J. Upton, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Andrellton Simmons, Dan Uggla, Juan Francisco, Chris Johnson, and even Ramiro Pena if he wiggles into the lineup.
3. Cincinnati Reds vs RHP Kyle Kendrick- As stated above Kendrick is struggling versus lefty hitters (.480 AVG), and the Reds have three really good lefty hitters in Joey Votto, Shin-Soo Choo, and Jay Bruce. There will be some home runs in this game. I think the Reds may be a stack you might want to use with another team stack like the cheaper Braves hitters.
4. Rockies and Mets vs LHPs Jeff Francis and Aaron Laffey- If you like offense, this game has the potential to be very high scoring. I don’t know the numbers on the potency of teams playing the night game of a double header. I’m guessing there is somewhat of a let-down. If not for that assumption, I’d have both these teams near the top of my stack target list.
5. Los Angeles Angels @ RHP Mike Pelfrey- The sleepy Angels bats are bound to wake up, and Mike Pelfrey will be there ready to give them that opportunity. Who knows if that will be today up in cold Minnesota, but it is coming.
There is so much bad pitching out there, you should also look at stacking Dodgers vs RHP Marquis, Nationals @ RHP Sanabia, Tigers vs RHP Harang, Rangers @ LHP Travis Wood, and Red Sox vs RHP U Jimenez. Yeah, the list is really that long. Today is going to be hard to accurately gauge. Good luck.