We have split action for today's contests, with nine of 15 games to be played in the "early" contest. Let's do our best to focus our attention between the two time slots.
The early contest features a game of plenty at U.S. Cellular Field. Yankees left-hander Vidal Nuno is opposed by White Sox lefty John Danks. The exciting part to this contest is the park - right-handed hitters see a 28 percent increase in their home run rate compared to a neutral park. Can you picture all those righties with the platoon advantage this afternoon?
If you prefer the late contest, you'll find much less exciting fare. We could try stacking against Tony Cingrani, who had a rough return from the disabled list. He's deceptive, with a funky front arm movement that hides the baseball, so I'd rather not bet against him. The alternative is to target Brandon Maurer. He faces the Houston Astros at Safeco Field, so there are a few factors against an offensive outburst.
Adrian Gonzalez - LAD: AGon the Conqueror is opposed by newcomer David Buchanan. If you haven't heard of the unranked, 25-year-old Phillies prospect, don't worry about it. He's a contact oriented pitcher without a strong command and control profile. Those sorts of pitchers usually don't hang on for very long, especially out of the rotation.
Chris Davis - BAL: Usually we want our top shelf picks to be low-risk, high-reward choices. Against underrated Indians righty Corey Kluber, Davis falls into the high risk category. He could easily take a collar for the day, but Klubs is a bit homer prone and Davis has considerable power upside. As we saw the other night, Davis has the ability to carry your team if you catch the right night.
Hanley Ramirez - LAD: As pleasant as it would be vary things up, tomorrow isn't the best for top shelf plays. The corollary is you'll have more bulk purchase opportunities than we can possibly list. Maybe you'll be able to build a strong lineup with a top pitcher. In any event, Ramirez does NOT have the platoon advantage, yet he probably has a considerable skills advantage against Buchanan.
Matt Holliday - STL: A slow start to the season has Holliday inching towards the bargain bin. The only truly perturbing thing in his season line is a lack of home runs - just two to date. He'll have the platoon advantage against Cingrani in a park that really aids right-handed home runs.
Todd Frazier - CIN: Never the sexiest of picks, Frazier is having a career year. With nine home runs already in the bag, he'll see if he can make it 10 against Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia. As a hitter, Frazier is about 20 percent better against southpaws. As with Holliday, don't forget the park, it boosts right-handed home runs by 28 percent.
Daniel Murphy - NYM: The Mets two-hole hitter will see a way-over-the-top righty in Josh Collmenter. As with most over-the-top pitchers, Collmenter features a rather extreme platoon split. The main issue is his inability to strike out left-handed batters. Murphy is one such left-handed batter; the Mets lineup has others you may want to consider. Much ado is made about CitiField suppressing runs, but it leans on the side of friendly for home runs.
Dayan Viciedo - CWS: We headlined with Vidal Nuno for a reason - he's exploitable. Give him credit for working hard, but he walks too many batters, strikes out too few, and allows way too many fly balls. With U.S. Cellular Bandbox in play, we have a very exploitable combination. Viciedo will probably hit cleanup, which obviously helps his RBI opportunities. You'll notice a couple other White Sox in the "also consider" section.
Allen Craig - STL: We've already been over the matchup. Tony Cingrani isn't an easy opponent, but he might not be on top of his game. More important is the park, the platoon advantage, and the latent power. The only issue with Craig is he hits way too many ground balls. When he lays into one, it's impressive.
Matt Joyce - TAM: Everybody remembers when Jake Peavy was the stud of studs. Some people still mistakenly think he's still a usable fantasy pitcher - he's not. He's far too hittable and fly ball oriented for comfort. If Joyce wasn't at home, he'd be close to a must-play. Alas, Tropicana Field is not a great place for power output. At his price, it's worth taking a spin anyway.
Stephen Strasburg - WAS: Well, who did you expect? He's facing a mediocre Pirates offense in a notorious pitchers park. He's so expensive that he almost can't live up to his price, yet there's always the chance for a 13 strikeout no hitter. He had a couple shaky outings early in the season, but those appear to be behind him.
Dallas Keuchel - HOU: An early front runner for breakout pitcher of the year, Keuchel has a juicy matchup against a heavily left-handed Mariners. Aside from Corey Hart (currently on the disabled list), the entire lineup struggles against southpaws. Meanwhile, Keuchel is coming off two excellent outings against the Rangers and Angels. Those are teams with considerably better offenses than the Astros. Anything can happen, because it's baseball, but this matchup looks too good to skip.
Juan Nicasio - COL: If you want somebody cheap, Nicasio is probably your guy. He'll pitch in Atlanta rather than his usual mile high stomping grounds. Atlanta is deceptively elevated, but it's not that elevated. The Braves have a tendency to strikeout and hit home runs. Nicasio is not great at generating heaping helpings of strikeouts, but he can go on a run when he's sharp. Home runs can be a problem, but he tries to keep the ball on the ground to minimize the damage. If this doesn't read like a glowing recommendation, it's because it isn't.