It’s Jackie Robinson Day around baseball and most, if not all, players will be wearing #42 to honor Robinson. Every team in baseball is playing today with four games in the early slate (two start at 2:00 ET so pay attention) and the remaining 11 starting at 7:00 ET or later. Weather looks good for the games, although the Marlins-Braves afternoon tilt could see some precipitation. Plan accordingly for a possible delay, especially with the starting pitchers. Here are the players I like for today’s games.
Jon Niese vs Philadelphia (FD: 7,800)
In game that got aggressive with HBP by both teams, the Phillies did a good job scoring on Matt Harvey, hitting a couple home runs off the hard-throwing righty. Today those same Phillies will face the lefty Niese. Six of the nine guys in the order yesterday were left-handed, including both guys who hit homers. Earlier this year when facing a left-handed starter, the Phillies trotted out a lineup with names like Darin Ruf, Cameron Rupp, and Andres Blanco. Niese is an established starter with a solid track record and has a very affordable price facing a below-average lineup.
Brandon Morrow vs Arizona (FD: 6,600)
In his first start of the season, offseason addition Morrow threw seven shutout innings against the Giants and received a no decision. Morrow has had an up and down career, and while no one ever questioned his pure stuff, injuries and inconsistency hindered him from reaching his full potential. If FanDuel is going to keep pricing him low I am going to use him often when he starts as he possesses above average strikeout potential, and the HRs that have killed him in the past should be limited because of his move to Petco Park.
Jayson Werth vs Red Sox (FD: 3,400)
Although he has yet to get a hit in seven at-bats since returning from injury, I still really like Werth for today’s contest. Werth hit in the two hole in Tuesday’s game and hopefully he will return to that spot as it should allow him RBI and run scoring chances. However, the real reason I love him today is he had a wOBA of .410 last season against left-handed pitching and is facing Wade Miley in today’s contest. Today will be the day Werth breaks out.
Brandon Crawford vs Rockies (FD: 2,500)
Similar to the reasoning behind my Werth selection, I am recommending Crawford because of what he does to left-handed pitching. Last season against lefties his wOBA was .383 and while the split is not as large, he has been better against lefties his whole career despite hitting left-handed himself. Rockies’ starter Tyler Matzek is left-handed so I like my chances with the extremely cheap Crawford.
Devin Mesoraco vs Cubs (FD: 3,200)
Continuing with the theme of guys with good platoon splits, Mesoraco and the Reds face Travis Wood and the Cubs. Wood does not impress me as a pitcher and I believe he is well below average and struggles with the long ball. Enter Mesoraco, a power hitting catcher with big career numbers against lefties. In his career he has posted a wOBA of .369. Expect him to have a big day today and finally have a good game in his 2015 season.
Blue Jays vs Rays
The Rays will be starting Erasmo Ramirez today versus the vaunted Blue Jays lineup. Ramirez has struggled to keep the ball in the yard in his career with a HR/9 of 1.34 despite pitching at Safeco for his first three seasons. Get as many Blue Jays as you can into your lineups. The big guys like Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Josh Donaldson could be pricey so this stack could be difficult, but Russell Martin is a pretty cheap option with power.
Royals vs Twins
Kyle Gibson is starting for Minnesota, and after a very average first extended look in the bigs last season he got roughed up in his first start of 2015. The Royals’ offense has been terrific this season, scoring the third-most runs in baseball. I expect their high scoring output to continue and Gibson’s struggles to continue as well. He has been worse against lefties in his career (.338 vs .316 wOBA) so give boosts to the lefties in the order like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, and the swtich-hitting Kendrys Morales.