We have a full slate of night baseball today. With 15 games and only a few weather threats (New York, St. Louis, Atlanta, Washington D.C.), there will be plenty of ways to build a winning roster.
One such way might be to target an inexperienced pitcher at Coors Field. We all know the stadium is the most hitter friendly in baseball - teams score 30 percent more runs and hit 26 percent more home runs in Denver compared with a neutral stadium. Pitchers also complain of decreased movement, which certainly doesn't help. That's the environment Diamondbacks rookie Chase Anderson will be introduced to today. Anderson is a contact oriented changeup pitcher. If he qualified, his 28 percent ground ball rate would be the second lowest in baseball behind Chris Young. Allowing line drives and fly balls at Coors is a recipe for disaster, so Anderson will need to find a way to buck the trend.
Nelson Cruz - BAL: Globe Life Park in Arlington is a pleasant place to hit. Run production and right-handed home runs are buffed by 12 percent, which is one reason to target Cruz. He's also quite productive against left-handed pitchers, as evidenced by his career .290/.365/.529 line against them. As if that weren't enough, the lefty in question is Joe Saunders. Right-handed hitters have scorched him to the tune of a .289/.350/.477 line over nearly 4,500 plate appearances.
Paul Goldschmidt - ARI: Even if you're not comfortable using any other Diamondbacks, it's hard to dismiss Goldy with the platoon advantage. If you liked Cruz's career line, check out Goldschmidt's .314/.397/.593 showing against southpaws. Of course, the game is at Coors Field, so you can expect more. Like Saunders, de la Rosa gets hit around a bit by righties.
Carlos Gonzalez - COL: On the other side of the Coors Field matchup is Gonzalez. He's been disappointingly ordinary this season due to career lows in power and line drive rate. Maybe he's playing hurt, in which case he should be avoided. If he's healthy, then a breakout is only a matter of time. Be there when it happens. A matchup against Chase Anderson is a good place to start.
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Andrew McCutchen - PIT: He's too good to waste away in the bargain bin. The Padres will debut right-hander Jesse Hahn. The scouting report on Hahn mentions a mid-90's fastball and uncertain secondary stuff. His curveball is reportedly ahead of his changeup. McCutchen will look for a mistake out over the plate to hammer.
Adam Jones - BAL: His price has been all over the map this season. He began in a deep slump, which put him in the bargain bin. Then he caught fire and burst to the top tier. Now he's populating the middle layer. Jones' matchup against Saunders is too good to pass up at this price.
Adam LaRoche - WAS: If you want a quietly effective target for today, it's LaRoche. He has the platoon advantage against Phillies starter David Buchanan. Buchanan lets his fielders do the work for him by allowing a ton of balls in play. As such, he'll have his share of clunkers when the BABIP gods turn against him. LaRoche is somebody who could take advantage with a couple doubles.
Adam Eaton - CWS: The Sox leadoff hitter makes for a nice find in the bargain bin. He hasn't hit for much power since returning from the disabled list, but he features a dynamic skill set with a bit of pop and plenty of speed. When you pick Eaton, you're hoping for a three hit game with a couple doubles and a steal. His matchup against Dan Haren is only so-so.
Tommy La Stella - ATL: Excluding his professional debut in 2011, La Stella has walked more than he's struck out at every level of the organizational ladder. That can be a warning sign of an inferior hitter with a superior eye, but in La Stella's case, the scouting reports suggest he's a .300 average guy with on base skills to boot. He should be batting leadoff for the Braves - he probably will someday. Until the day arrives, he'll remain a cheap roster plug. Like with Eaton, he lacks for power so you're hoping for multiple hits when you roster him.
Oswaldo Arcia - MIN: He's back in the cleanup slot for Minnesota. While a game against Yovani Gallardo isn't the easiest, it's not the hardest either. The rare lefty in the Minnesota lineup, Arcia will have the platoon advantage at a park that favors left-handed power. He reminds me of a lower-powered Pedro Alvarez. You'll get home runs and a ton of strikeouts.
Zack Wheeler - NYM: After walking six batters on May 13, Wheeler has allowed just three free passes over his last three starts (19 innings). Command and control is probably his biggest issue, so it's nice to see him succeed in one way. He's coming off a great start in Philadelphia and will face arguably the worst offense in baseball today - the Chicago Cubs. He has the stuff to win you money, it's all up to his command and control.
Jaime Garcia - STL: Garcia will make his fourth start of the 2014 season, which partially accounts for his cheap price. He's a left-handed ground ball specialist with a 90 mph fastball. Surprisingly, he records a high rate of swings and misses (nearly 13 percent), which has led to a career best 26 percent strikeout rate. Typically, his strikeout rate is lower because he ends a lot of plate appearances early. As such, he's a nice bet to last deep into a ball game. He's opposed by the Kansas City Royals - they're one of the worst teams in baseball against lefty pitchers.
Collin McHugh - HOU: As recently as last season, McHugh was a reliable target for DFS owners. This year, he's making a name for himself with a 2.80 ERA. Almost every time a pitcher has a sub-3.00 ERA, there are peripheral statistics pointing to imminent regression. Not so with McHugh. Common ERA estimators range from 2.65 to 2.99. A lofty 28 percent strikeout rate and solid seven percent walk rate help account for the strong numbers. His strikeout rate doesn't smell fishy either - batters have whiffed 12 percent of the time they've swung. He has no single dominant pitch. Instead, he relies on a five pitch arsenal. The Angels do make for a tough assignment.