It's another travel day, so there are only 11 games to choose from. They split between a four game early contest and a seven game late contest. These small contests seem to provide a better return for lineups based on a solid process - there is less opportunity for fluky outcomes. Seemingly half the league has a 50 percent chance of storms today, so keep the weather page open and plan to make adjustments. The games most likely to be affected are in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Boston, and New York. In other words, nearly half of the games aren't safe.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday night's MLB games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Thursday. Here's the FanDuel link.
If you're looking for an obvious top stack, it's not out there. Your choices range between good lineups pitted against merely decent pitchers and weak pitchers against similarly weak opponents. Jon Niese is a pretty good pitcher. He has a strong 2.68 ERA with decent peripherals. Tomorrow he'll face one of the most deadly lineups against left-handed pitchers. Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy, and Aramis Ramirez are among the best hitters against left-handed pitching. Niese will probably face that quartet back-to-back. You wouldn't know it based on the media's characterization of CitiField, but it's not really pitcher or hitter friendly. The Brew Crew is liable to pop a home run or two. A full stack might be ill advised; it could be best to take a guess as to which hitter is the one to go deep.
Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy - MIL: Let's just cover all three in one fell swoop. They're unreasonably unfair to left-handed pitchers, they'll be facing one such lefty, and it's not somebody elite like Chris Sale. They cost a lot of money, but we know it comes with Chisenhallian upside. Lucroy isn't quite in the same class, but he provides his value out of the catcher slot.
Freddie Freeman - ATL: Freeman was kind enough to provide a home run against the last right-handed pitcher he faced at Coors Field. Jhoulys Chacin has been rather wild this season, so DFS owners will hope Freeman runs into a mistake pitch. Freeman's definitely more of a line drive than power hitter, but that could work out too. There's a lot of room for liners and fliners to fall in the outfield.
George Springer - HOU: He's your classic high variance pick, which makes him useful for GPP's. With your Springer selection, you're entitled to massive power potential and way too many strikeouts. He's opposed by left-hander Wade Miley, who's hittable, doesn't record many strikeouts, and does allow plenty of fly balls. It's all music to Springer's ears.
Joey Votto - CIN: Is a matchup against Zack Greinke ever wholly desirable? Probably not, but Votto at a bulk purchase price comes pretty close. He's one of the best pure hitters in baseball. He doesn't have the most power, contact skills, or the best plate discipline, but the combination of those traits in Votto is something special. The platoon advantage at Great American Ballpark is never a bad thing, even if the opposing pitcher is good.
Miguel Montero - ARI: It's nice to see a player bounce back from a dreadful season. He puts the ball in play and can lay a charge into mistakes. Scott Feldman is merely adequate as a starter, so the matchup is pretty decent. Montero's pretty dreadful against same-handed pitching, thankfully Feldman is a righty, so he should get at least two or three plate appearances before a lefty specialist comes into play.
Justin Morneau - COL: Morneau got off to a fast start this season, sort of like opposing pitcher Ervin Santana. They've both cooled since their initial race to greatness. A meeting at Coors Field could prove eventful for Morneau. Santana has a history of allowing home runs, and we all know how the gods of Denver feel about those. Santana's slider is liable to lose a bit of bite, but his changeup could remain fully effective.
Jace Peterson - SDP: How about a real sleeper? He's super cheap on most platforms, probably because he's been terrible AND bats eighth in a bad lineup. His plate discipline has crumbled at the major league level, but he's considered to have the best hit tool and discipline in the Padres' system. In terms of prospect comps, he profiles as a poor man's Francisco Lindor or J.P. Crawford. A game against Kyle Kendrick isn't the worst matchup.
J.J. Hardy - BAL: We've had our chats about Hardy and the quest for home run number one. It's hard to believe it's been nearly two and a half months without a bomb. He's now one of the cheapest players on most platforms. Lefty Mark Buehrle is tough on righty bats, but it's hard to pass up the platoon advantage at Camden Yards - especially at such a cheap price.
Aramis Ramirez - MIL: In terms of cost, he's in the gray area between the bargain bin and bulk pricing. As we discussed in the outset, Niese isn't a typical target pitcher, but the Brewers offense could still put together a fireworks display. Per an advanced metric, Ramirez has been 35 percent above average against lefties over the course of his career, which includes a .297/..355/.561 triple slash. He's not quite the same player he was when he posted those numbers, yet he's still pretty close when healthy.
Jon Lester - BOS: Lester may be having his finest season. He's achieved career bests in strikeout and walk rate, which goes a long way towards predicting pitcher performance. The Indians have had a few fits against left-handed pitching, what with many of their principle hitters batting lefty. They have a compliment of switch hitters and right-handed platoon bats, but those have struggled. Add it all together and you have a good pitcher at a neutral-ish park against a lineup that can be shutdown.
Tim Hudson - ATL: Take a look at the pitchers in the early contest. Do you really want to use any of them besides Hudson? Odds are, he'll be a popular choice simply because everybody else is either bad or pitching at a hitters ballpark. While the sinker ball specialist doesn't strike out a ton of batters, he lasts deep into games. AT&T Park is extremely pitcher friendly which is another point in his favor. Hudson is the best bet to provide the most points among the early contest pitchers, but he's still far from a lock.
Chase Whitley - NYY: Finding Whitley in the bargain bin is a nice surprise. He's pitched rather well - mostly by disallowing free passes. The main blemish against him is the duration of his outings. He's averaged just over five innings and 81 pitches per start. If he can last deeper into the game against a mediocre Mariners lineup, he could be the steal of the day.