It's a big pitching day for Ohio. Danny Salazar and Homer Bailey will both make their 2015 debuts. However, it might be smarter to target offense at Fenway. Visiting Oriole Chris Tillman is opposed by Clay Buchholz. Both pitchers are known for a degree of inconsistency. Tillman flashes a high ceiling, but occasionally underperforms.
Buchholz is a Jekyll/Hyde type character. His two starts include a seven inning, three hit shutout of the Phillies and a 10 run, 3.1 inning whomping against the Yankees. Both the Red Sox and Orioles possess strong offenses, and Fenway is a decent park for today.
Watch out for storms at Kansas City.
DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH
Jhonny Peralta – SS – STL (FanDuel Price: $3,100) Early
Today includes many imperfect options, especially in the bargain bin. Peralta is an offensive-minded shortstop who usually bats fifth or sixth in the lineup. He'll face Bailey. The Reds' hurler sometimes scuffles with home runs. Since this is his first start back in the majors, there's a chance the Cardinals catch him flat footed.
There is a chance for storms in St. Louis. Watch the weather map.
Brandon Belt – 1B – SFG (FanDuel Price: $3,100)
Belt is off to a miserable start - .077/.143/.077. For proponents of the hot hand, go ahead and stay away. The poor numbers could hint at an underlying problem – mechanical or injury.
Slumps can also create value. If you believe Belt is still a .260/.335/.440 quality hitter (as I do), then his current price tag offers an opportunity. He'll face Diamondbacks right-hander Rubby de la Rosa. The game is at pitcher friendly AT&T Park.
Gregory Polanco – OF – PIT (FanDuel Price: $3,200)
Polanco has struggled with strikeouts through his first 40 plate appearances, but he's also making good contact (36 percent line drive rate). He profiles similarly to several much more expensive players, like teammate Starling Marte. Polanco has the raw power to blast one out of spacious PNC Park. However, he's a better bet to notch multiple hits against Kyle Lohse.
Devon Travis – 2B – TOR (FanDuel Price: $2,800) Early
Last night, Travis was offered the leadoff spot in the absence of Jose Reyes. He made good on the opportunity with a home run and two RBI. He's already blasted three home runs while showing above average bat-to-ball skills. The league may eventually adjust to Travis. For now, he looks like a valuable bargain.
The good news: he'll have the platoon advantage. The bad news: he's against Alex Wood.
David Peralta – OF – ARI (FanDuel Price: $2,700)
When punting a position, it's best to select based upon opportunity. Anybody can find a cheap Andrelton Simmons batting eighth and call it a viable punt. The key is to find guys like Peralta. When he plays, he bats clean up. His cheap price tag alludes to his unimpressive upside. He's an extremely average player. He's up against Chris Heston. Don't expect a home run at AT&T Park.
Erick Aybar – SS – LAA (FanDuel Price: $3,000)
Kole Calhoun returned to action last night, so Aybar will probably bat sixth today. His matchup against Dallas Keuchel is particularly disadvantageous. Keuchel is an extreme ground ball pitcher, and Aybar hits more than his share of worm burners. Research has shown that fly ball hitters perform best against ground ball pitchers. Despite the lousy matchup, Aybar is a viable punt thanks to his speed and contact skills.
Chris Johnson – 3B – ATL (FanDuel Price: $2,700) Early
I bet this one seems weird. I'm modestly encouraged by some offseason changes to Johnson's swing. He should be able to access more power. He's been used in something of a platoon, but I'm betting the Braves will give him the start against R.A. Dickey. Johnson's ability to produce high line drive rates should be beneficial against the knuckleballer. The game is at the best hitter stadium of the day – Toronto's Rogers Centre.
Dustin Ackley – OF – SEA (FanDuel Price: $3,000)
Ackley is a tinkerer. His current swing is producing plenty of loft as evidenced by his three home runs in 26 plate appearances. I spoke with swing expert Dan Farnsworth regarding Ackley. He worries that Ackley will revert to a flatter swing plane. Until that happens, he's a solid source for power. He's opposed by hittable righty Colby Lewis. Safeco Field is deceptively neutral for left-handed power.
C.J. Cron – 1B – LAA (FanDuel Price: $2,200)
The designated hitter should play against Keuchel. Unlike Aybar, Cron is a fly ball hitter, which makes him a good match against ground ball specialists. Minute Maid Park is the second best offensive stadium today. Cron has a shot to provide some power at the cheapest possible price.
Do note his .095/.174/.095 line in 23 plate appearances. If he was mashing the ball, he wouldn't cost $2,200.