For Daily League owners, tonight features a full 15 games in the evening contest. The best parks for offensive action include Camden Yards, Great American Ballpark, and Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field. It's at this last bandbox where we find tonight's top stack - the New York Yankees versus Hector Noesi.
A closer look at his peripherals suggests he's not been nearly as bad as his 7.31 ERA. A mid-4's ERA would be much more in keeping with the strikeout, walk, and home run rates he's posted. Yet we're also dealing with a tiny sample of data. What we know is he's a fly ball pitcher, posts slightly below average strikeout and walk rates, and pitches in one of the friendliest hitter parks in baseball. With a high quantity of fly balls in play, he's a risk to give up multiple home runs every outing. For their part, the Yankees have plenty of left-handed bats to use against Noesi. In truth, the club is a bit banged up, but probably not enough to let Noesi off the hook.
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Adam Jones - BAL: Wednesday's extra inning affair between the Indians and Tigers set a series of event in motion. First, Cleveland used Josh Tomlin to get through the late innings of Wednesday's contest. Then they moved Justin Masterson up a day from Friday to Thursday. Lastly, T.J. House has been tabbed to pitch today. The left-handed House is a relative unknown, except he's left-handed, possesses a fastball of about 92 mph, and he's shown decent control in the minors. Jones doesn't have strong platoon splits for his career, but he has shown a rather extreme split this season. He's punished lefties unceasingly while righties have punished him. Playing at Camden Yards helps his stock.
Nelson Cruz - BAL: We're picking on House a bit, but it's to be expected when a rookie is both untested and untouted. Unlike Jones, Cruz has long shown a platoon preference for left-handed pitchers. For his career, he's 30 percent above average versus lefties compared to just 10 percent above average against righties. Like Jones, he's showing a massive split this season. Using both outfielders might be particularly profitable.
Miguel Cabrera - DET: It's usually best to target hitters with the platoon advantage. You want to get value for every dollar you spend, especially when you're throwing down the big bucks for a guy like Cabrera. However, the Rangers are sending Scott Baker to the mound today. The 32-year-old veteran survives on smoke and mirrors with an 88 mph fastball and a complete inability to record strikeouts. The only positive thing to say is he doesn't walk anybody, but a sky-high fly ball rate makes him a dangerous start in any park. In other words, Miggy looks tasty if you have the budget.
Michael Saunders - SEA: The Mariners two-hole has a bit of power, a bit of speed, and an exploitable matchup against Brad Peacock. All he lacks is a good park for hitting. Saunders has a fairly lengthy track record of mediocrity, but he's closer to adequate when he faces left-handed pitching. He's not the most reliable asset to target, but he's good enough if you want to try out a Mariners stack.
Evan Longoria - TAM: Anytime Longoria's price declines enough to be considered a bulk purchase, it's time to jump on board. His power numbers are way down this year, but in all statistical likelihood it's probably more fluke than problem. Slugging numbers take a long time to become predictive - well over a season. Player skill sets can change in a day, but there's been no sign to suggest all of Longoria's power went away. While it usually doesn't make sense to target a hitter at Tropicana Field against a decent, same-handed pitcher like John Lackey, the day lacks enticing alternatives.
John Jaso - OAK: He's been surprisingly useful to daily leaguers this season, but his lack of power makes him an atypical choice for DFS. He's drawing a lot of starts as the two-hole for the A's due to his high OBP against right-handed pitchers. He's doing it yet again with a .378 OBP (.376 career). His value is an ability to reach base and score, which makes him a low risk, low reward play. From the catcher position you can do a whole lot worse. Since we aren't looking for bombs, playing at Tropicana scarcely matters. What does matter is a slightly flaky opposing pitcher in Chris Archer.
J.J. Hardy - BAL: As we've discussed, bulking up on Orioles isn't a bad idea. Hardy has been positively homerless through his first 37 games, which has served to keep his price low, low, low. His average fly ball distance is down nine feet, but that's probably a function of his lack of home runs rather than a sign of a sudden collapse. He doesn't occupy a great position in the lineup, but he's so very cheap.
Danny Valencia - KAN: The Royals will face Angels' starter C.J. Wilson. The left-hander is talented - we should usually avoid him altogether when picking lineups. However, Valencia costs close to the minimum on some platforms, and he's always been pretty good at swatting lefties. The cost-benefit analysis suggests he's a suitable roster patch.
Adam Eaton - CWS: He costs a little more than the other bargain bin picks, but he's still quite inexpensive. He's set to leadoff against Hiroki Kuroda, which is a good thing for daily league owners. The extra plate appearances means more opportunity for home runs, runs scored, and stolen bases. On the one hand, his matchup isn't as good as the others on this list. On the other hand, he plays in a hitter's paradise and is considerably more talented than the other guys in this section.
Felix Hernandez - SEA: Here's a fun Astros fact - they do NOT lead the league in strikeouts. The White Sox hold that dubious honor. The Astros are second in swinging their way back to the bench, which is still plenty exploitable for a pitcher of Hernandez's ilk. If you've been monitoring his starts, you may have noticed some weird results and fluctuating velocities. The changes in speed are normal for Hernandez and don't seem to affect his performance. He's now two starts removed from his zero strikeout outing against the Athletics, and he's looked fine in both of them. You'll want better than fine for his price, but if anyone is going to deliver a huge night on the hill, it's him.
Marco Estrada - MIL: Right or wrong, Estrada has earned a reputation as a homer prone pitcher. You'll be pleased to learn today's game will be played at Miami's massive field, which reduces home runs by 22 percent. The rest of his profile is excellent. He strikes out almost a batter per inning, limits walks to a bit over seven percent of hitters, and limits opponents' batting averages. The Marlins have a ridiculous home record, but it's probably just a fluke. It's a fun storyline, but these kinds of things have never been proven to be real. The home field advantage is generally accepted to be around four or five percent in baseball.
Charlie Morton - PIT: He's quietly turned himself into a reliable sinker ball pitcher. Like many sinker ballers, his weakness is left-handed hitters. The Nationals have both Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche on the disabled list, so they have few left-handed bats to call upon. Morton won't strike out many batters, but he should keep the Pirates in the game. The upside is disappointing, but he makes for a stable asset. Bonus points: the game is to be played at Pittsburgh's stingy PNC Park.