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The MLB Fives for April 12

The MLB Fives_03Elite Starting Pitchers

1. Yu Darvish TEX @ SEA- Look out here come the Yu once again atop one of my starter lists. I’m starting to sound like a fanboy, and I am not ashamed. Blister or not, weather or not, Yu seems like the most obvious starter play tonight. Even though the price has sky-rocketed lately, he still should show his worth against the improved but still sub-par Mariners. The M’s will be without their early season sensation, Michael Morse, and won’t replace him with anybody decent enough to handle the Darvish arsenal. I think Rangers win this game, and Yu will have 8+ strikeouts. Find the cap space.

2. Justin Masterson CLE vs CHW- Masterson can look masterful at times. So far this season he’s gone on the road and defeated two very decent teams in the Rays and Jays. He struck out a batter an inning and only surrendered one earned run. Masterson just turned 28 so he very well may be entering the prime of his career. Contrary to what Ventura thinks, the Indians premier bats are better against lefties than righties so Quintana, who labored through his first start, may be in for a difficult night. If Masterson can command his pitches the White Sox don’t have the necessary lefties to challenge him. So far this year, Masterson has only given up one hit to a right-handed batter.  Sox will have a minimum five righties in their line-up. This is a matchup play at its finest.

3. A.J. Burnett PIT vs CIN- Only three other teams have struck out more than the Reds so far this season. Combine that with A.J.’s 19 Ks in 11 innings, and you have a formula for a good day on the rubber. Granted few offenses rival that of Cincy, and at any point, they could bust out for 7+ runs. Surviving Choo, Votto, and Bruce will be his most challenging hurdle. Since most sites value the strikeout above everything other than a win; there is some instant intrigue to Burnett tonight. I can also see the Pirates breaking out of their early season funk against Mike Leake who isn’t anything more than Quad-A starter.

4. Clayton Kershaw LAD @ ARI- Wait, I know what you’re thinking. Why is Kershaw this far down the list. Well, two reasons: the first is that he is going against the lefty-killing lineup of the D’back in their lefty killing stadium, and second is because I think there will be way too many emotions carrying over from the San Diego brawl the night before. Kershaw has been Kershaw-like to start the season, coasting through both games. Today for the first time all year, I think he has risk. Risk that scares me off at his price tag. I’m not saying he won’t be lights out once again, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him give up some runs in this game.

5. Jon Niese NYM @ MIN- It’s going to be cold and snowy. I think this will be a low-scoring game. Niese has looked quite sharp through his first two starts, and there’s little reason not to think he won’t carry over that success. Willingham and Plouffe can, at times, kill left-handed pitching. If Niese makes mistakes against these hitters, he could get touched up a bit. Opposed by Worley, I don’t think the Mets leave Minneapolis without the W. I think Niese should go 6-7 innings with 4 strikeouts, 2 earned runs, and hopefully the win.

Elite Hitters

1. Billy Butler KC vs TOR- You can’t tell me Billy Butler isn’t licking his chops at the prospect of facing LHP JA Happ. Over his career, Butler has killed left-handed pitching with an OPS of .940. Butler hits .316 at home as well. He may be my favorite play of the day, and I will have him in all my lineups.

2. Carlos Beltran STL vs MIL- It is common knowledge that Beltran loves to face Lohse (22 for 39 with 4 HRs). It’s also common knowledge that Lohse owns Busch Stadium (2.09 ERA in 2012). Who will win in this matchup of splits? I’m giving the edge to Beltran. He’ll be fresh off of his first home run of the season, and one thing I’ve observed over the years with Beltran is that he will go on streaks. Lohse seems to be a pitcher he likes to face, and there will be some nerves in this game. Beltran will parlay this game into a solid week or two of success. Book it.

3. Matt Kemp LAD @ ARI- For the same reason I don’t like Kershaw in Arizona, I don’t like Corbin, the D’backs lefty, either. Kemp is going to be very angry and out to prove something. Barring any pre-game suspension, I expect Kemp to be very motivated. When Kemp is motivated there isn’t a better hitter in the game against left-handed pitchers (.343 career AVG). Kemp hits his first home run of the season tonight.

4. Edwin Encarnacion TOR @ KC- Luis Mendoza scares no Major League caliber hitter. Encarnacion, as well as the Jays in general, are on the verge of powering out. E5 is 4 for 5 against Mendoza in the past, and I don’t think that changes today. Encarnacion is 3 for his last 8 with 2 doubles. Don’t sleep on any of the Jays hitters tonight.

5. Giancarlo Stanton MIA vs PHI- I’m betting on a lot of elite sluggers to bust out on the same night. I realize the lunacy with such a prospect, but all these players have excellent matchups. Lannan is a lefty that as soon as last year was laboring in the Minors. Stanton has really struggled to get anything going so far. Pitchers aren’t pitching to him, and why should they? Stanton has four extra base hits in 11 at bats versus Lannan. Stanton also hit a moon shot foul ball versus Braves lefty Mike Minor in the last game. Stanton’s timing may be coming around much to the chagrin of John Lannan.

Value Pitcher/Hitters

1. Nick Swisher OF CLE vs CHW- All switch hitters will favor a side of the plate. For Swisher, that is batting right-handed. Quintana is not an above average lefty. Swisher will bat clean-up today and have several opportunities to drive in runs. He has only one extra base hit which has depressed his price on some sites, but he should find this matchup much more favorable.

2. Pedro Alvarez 3B PIT vs CIN- This pick all depends on his price. He needs to be as cheap as they come. Don’t forget that Alvarez hit 24 HRs in 385 at bats versus right-handed pitching. Leake has a propensity to give up a lot of home runs in a game. Alvarez is a gamble for sure, but I only see him as a bare minimum roster play anyways so what does it really cost you?

3. Justin Ruggiano OF MIA vs PHI- It looks as though I’m going all in on the Marlins tonight. That may be so. Ruggiano has power and speed. He hits left-handed pitching much better than right-handers and needs to prove he can be great for extended stretches. The Marlins don’t have much else, and if they expect to win a game here and there, somebody not named Stanton has to deliver. Ruggiano should get at least one hit and maybe an RBI anything else would be icing. So don’t expect him to set the world on fire tonight.

4. Evan Gattis C/OF ATL @ WAS- I can’t fathom why some sites still have his price so low. Draftkings has El Oso Blanco listed at 2,200 dollars. Everybody in their tourneys will be rostering him. I expect minimum 40+ percent ownership. Like I said two days ago, this guy will not let himself fail. Don’t get cute. On DK, you must have him rostered. All other sites, it will be up to your discretion. I think his swing will find more success against lefties than right-handers, and Detwiler will not be afraid to challenge him.

5. Drew Stubbs OF CLE vs CHW- Here I go with another Cleveland player, but like I said earlier, these Indians right-handed hitters do significantly better against lefty pitching. Stubbs has 22 HRs and an OPS of .818 throughout his career 474 at bats against left-handers. He’ll bat ninth which should cycle him into some run scoring opportunities. I think the Indians will test Chicago’s Gimenez who will be behind the plate for the first time this year. I think we will see Stubbs finally get the green light.

 

**STACK ALERT**

“Stacking” is the term given to playing multiple players from the same team in your lineup. In baseball, it can especially be effective because you get credit for bringing in other players via RBI and scoring runs. So if you stack a few players from the Mets and they score 10 runs, the odds are that your Mets players will have a nice night because of hits, RBIs, and runs scored.

  • New York Mets left-handed batters @ MIN Vance Worley
  • All Toronto Blue Jays @ KC Luis Mendoza
  • All Cleveland Indians vs CHW Jose Quintana
  • Miami Marlins right-handed batters vs PHI John Lannan

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About Ben Pritchett

Member of the FSWA. Top 4 2012 Most Accurate Fantasy Baseball Expert. Top 3 Finisher in the 2012 DSFC football championship. Written for The Hardball Times and Daily Joust.

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