This afternoon includes Christian Bergman and Wade Miley at Coors Field, Jamey Wright and Jacob Turner at Wrigley Field, and various other exploitable pitchers like John Danks, Anthony Swarzak, and Nick Tepesch, I count 10 starters I could eagerly target. Picking just one as a "best" stack is a challenge.
Forced with a choice, I'll pile up Cubbies against Wright. The reliever is making a spot start in place of Hyun-Jin Ryu. Wright never succeeded in the rotation, and it took a move to the bullpen for him to blossom into a viable major league pitcher. The Dodgers are in the midst of a pennant race, so they'll get a few innings from Wright and move along. Even if he pitches fine, the Dodger bullpen is a liability. The Cubs could run away with this one in a dozen different ways. Their youthful, explosive offense could earn a strong return.
Anthony Rendon - WAS: A game at Marlins Stadium is usually something to avoid. In the case of Rendon, his ability to spray hard hits should serve him well with the spacious outfield in play. While a home run might be hard to come by, a multi-hit game is within easy reach against Nate Eovaldi. Only seven pitchers have allowed more hits this season than the Marlins righty, and several of those have thrown a LOT more innings than Eovaldi (i.e. David Price).
David Ortiz - BOS: In case you missed yesterday's column, here is why you should always consider Ortiz at Camden Yards. Ortiz hits a bunch of home runs at Fenway, right? Boston's stadium has a home run park factor of 84 for lefties - meaning it suppresses home runs by 16 percent. Baltimore's park has a 128 park factor for lefty bombs. That means Ortiz is 44 percent more likely to hit home runs at Camden Yards. He'll face Miguel Gonzalez.
Adrian Gonzalez - LAD: We're a day late on Gonzalez, who blasted two home runs yesterday. Today he's up against Jacob Turner - a pitcher with good stuff but extremely suspect command. The righty makes frequent mistake pitches, which leads to high walk and hit rates. Wrigley Field is one of just five offense friendly parks today.
Wilin Rosario - COL: He's looking rather platoony this season, which is just fine this afternoon. He'll face Wade Miley and the Diamondbacks at Coors Field. He's compiled a .313/.337/.625 slash against southpaws. That line tells us two things: he hits lefties well and he doesn't mess around with walks. The combination offers the potential for a good return on investment.
Adam LaRoche - WAS: If LaRoche only faced righties, he'd be one of three players to have more walks than strikeouts (Victor Martinez and Jose Bautista are the others). His .276/.388/.500 line against northpaws is more than respectable for a bulk purchase selection. As we've discussed home runs are a challenge at Marlins Stadium. You're looking for a multi-hit game.
Evan Longoria - TAM: With exploitable lefty John Danks on the hill, we can once against take advantage of Longoria's friendly platoon splits. His .275/.381/.450 slash against southpaws isn't Bautistian, but it is useful coming from a fairly scarce position. The Rays have a few lesser righties who could provide Longoria opportunities for runs and RBI.
Chris Coghlan - CHC: We were a day late on Gonzalez, and we're a day late on Coghlan. The lefty leadoff man popped two home runs and four hits yesterday. He won't repeat the massively valuable performance. I can just about guarantee that. He's still an excellent play with Wright the opposing starter and a handful of crappy relievers slated to pitch throughout the game.
Marlon Byrd - PHI: Byrd is a risky selection in that his opposing pitcher is lefty Scott Kazmir. We're betting on another Kazmir meltdown in picking Byrd. Finding value in inexpensive packages requires gambles, we knew that right? Byrd hasn't featured a strong platoon split this season, but they have been present in the past.
Chase Headley - NYY: Since coming over to New York, Headley has been quietly solid. The switch hitter will be plinking shots as the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium against Drew Hutchison. He's a decent righty, but he has allowed a .254/.333/.464 line to left-handed hitters. Headley has better power when hitting lefty, although that could be a product of his home parks (San Diego's Petco Park is 32 percent friendlier to left-handed power).
Corey Kluber - CLE: Yea, he costs too much to squeeze onto most rosters. He's also has a near lock for a win against Anthony Swarzak and the Twins. Seven or more innings, double digit strikeouts, and the all-important W are well within Kluber's grasp.
Hisashi Iwakuma - SEA: I'm sure you've noticed that Spencer, Chet, and I have our own unique preferences. With pitchers, I like to try to pick the win and let the other stats follow. In the case of Iwakuma, I'm selecting a pitcher who should last deep into his start. The Astros strikeout more than any other club, which should further help Iwakuma's point total. Where the wrinkle comes into play is with Collin McHugh - the opposing pitcher. McHugh is every bit as good as Iwakuma. A win is far from guaranteed for Iwakuma or McHugh.
Nate Karns - TAM: Nobody doubts that Karns can pile up strikeouts, which is a valuable trait in the bargain bin. However, he made 27 minor league starts with a 5.08 ERA this season, which has to give you some pause before jumping on the bandwagon. The White Sox lack an imposing lineup and opposing starter John Danks is known to allow runs in bunches. Tropicana Field can also work in Karns' favor.