Welcome back from the All-Star Break. Most of the league is rested and ready to approach the stretch with a bang. One of the challenges for today is finding a tasty stack. Most teams were able to arrange for one of their best starters to take the hill tonight. However, the Diamondbacks will turn to Trevor Cahill. He's downright struggled as a starter this season. His numbers out of the bullpen were actually decent, but only enough to bring his overall ERA down to 5.66. His biggest problem is the walk. He allowed nearly 15 percent free passes (6.62 BB/9) in four major league starts and a 17 percent rate (6.35 BB/9) in a recent six appearance minor league assignment. He also has heavy platoon splits this season, although his career numbers are less problematic. Still, with the increase in walks, he may remain prone to left-handed hitters.
While the Cubs don't possess a ferocious offense, they are exceedingly affordable, which makes this a stack you can pair with some top players. Chase Field is friendly to home runs and Cahill allows his share of deep shots.
Troy Tulowitzki - COL: It's been a long, long time since Tulo was affordable on most platforms. He's crept back down into the very expensive range, which makes him a decent play against left-hander Francisco Liriano in his return from the disabled list. The platoon advantage is a nice thing, but we need to remember that PNC Park is one of the stingiest for offense, and Liriano is always unpredictable.
George Springer - HOU: I've begun to treat Springer like Pedro Alvarez on steroids. He's one of the best bets in baseball to pop two home runs in a game, but he much more likely to win the golden sombrero. Today he'll take his hacks at U.S. Cellular Field, which allows 28 percent more home runs to right-handed hitters than a neutral park. He's opposed by Jose Quintana, who's pretty good at whiffing hitters.
Brandon Moss - OAK: I usually avoid high priced players at Oakland's Coliseum, but Moss has one of the better matchups of the day against struggling righty Chris Tillman. Despite pretty lousy peripherals, Tillman has managed to keep his ERA just north of 4.00. Moss is poised to eclipse his career best 30 home runs from last season - today could provide number 22.
Miguel Montero - ARI: The All-Star catcher bats cleanup for a Diamondbacks team that will face Edwin Jackson. The Cubs' starter doesn't limit home runs, and Montero will benefit from the platoon advantage. The best part is his catcher eligibility.
Bryce Harper - WAS: The last couple weeks, we discussed Jason Kipnis' low price and the value of inexpensive, explosive hitters. Harper is one of those. He has been in a deep slump since returning from the disabled list, but nobody doubts he can mash with the best in the league. He'll face a good pitcher in Kyle Lohse, but he'll have the platoon advantage for most of the game.
Jay Bruce - CIN: The Reds face mediocre starter David Phelps at Yankee Stadium. Bruce will be taking pot shots at the short right field porch. It's really not any more complicated than that - matchup plus ballpark equals go.
Logan Morrison - SEA: If you're looking for an inexpensive first baseman, Morrison against Jered Weaver is the pick. While I recommend you target a more valuable first sacker, Morrison has been hitting well of late and once possessed the tools of a poor man's Joey Votto. He's battled injury over the last four seasons, but he's still young enough that you can look at a hot streak and hope to catch a piece of his 2010 season. Unless you're trying to start Yu Darvish, you should be able to afford better today.
Arismendy Alcantara - CHC: The Cubs have a slew of high profile shortstop prospects, but the least recognizable name - Alcantara - made it to the bigs first. He has good pop for a guy listed at 5'10'' and can swipe his share of bases. In many ways, his game is similar to that of Jimmy Rollins, except with more strikeouts. The Cubs seem inclined to let him run with the second base job, but he's no guarantee to start tonight.
Jed Lowrie - OAK: Lowrie is having trouble getting going this season, especially with his power stroke. His value in recent seasons has been an ability to pop more home runs than the typical shortstop. This season, he's channeling the same powers as J.J. Hardy, which has pushed him into the bargain. The good news is there is reason to believe the power is still there. You can buy a share for half the price of a Tulowitzki. Of course, he's probably half as good as Tulo, so that math makes sense.
Madison Bumgarner - SFG: Bumgarner will face Miami at pitcher friendly Marlins Stadium. The left-handed ace is almost perfectly replicating his 2013 season, except for one important but fluky peripheral - a .326 BABIP. He strikes out about a batter per inning, keeps walks and home runs to a minimum, and averages over six innings a start. All of the ingredients are there for a strong start, assuming he can avoid Giancarlo Stanton's barrel.
Jose Quintana - CWS: Like most mid-priced assets, Quintana comes with his share of risk. The lefty will see the Astros at U.S. Cellular Field. That combines a fairly powerful lineup with a very home run friendly park. Along with power, the Astros are prone to strikeouts - in fact they lead the league in strikeout rate. Quintana will have a chance to buff his already good strikeout rate, and the quality of his outing will probably come down to avoiding any bleacher balls.
Clay Buchholz - BOS: Buchholz is in the midst of one of his worst season, but he's also coming off one of the finest outings of his career. Last time around, he struck out 12 Astros in a complete game shutout. You may recall how well Buchholz pitched last season before injuries eroded his velocity. He spent more time on the disabled list this season and came back with the 92 mph heat he demonstrated in 2013. Since returning, he's made four starts, allowed five home runs, and otherwise pitched well. So there's your risk-reward proposition - do you get the 2013 version of Buchholz or the homer prone 2014 version? He'll face a Royals offense that can spray hits in bunches but rarely blasts a long ball.