What happens when you take the second-best slugging team in MLB and pit them against pitcher notorious for giving up the deep ball? Well, we are about to find out tonight when the Tigers take on Phil Hughes and the Twins. Despite his career struggles, Hughes has actually been decent as of late. However, pitching on the road in Detroit is more than enough to reverse his good fortune. The Tigers couldn’t muster a whole lot of offense vs Hughes on April 26, but they still hit him hard for long fly-ball outs that didn’t translate into scoring. That type of luck is unlikely to follow him on the road, and it’s tough to envision Hughes putting up another quality outing against this daunting Detroit lineup.
Over the past three years, Hughes has a .367 wOBA and massive 1.89HR/9IP allowed to right-handers. Some of that is inflated due to pitching in Yankee Stadium, but Hughes fly ball tendencies make him a prime candidate to stack opposing batters, especially when he faces a hard-hitting team like Detroit on the road.
Miguel Cabrera is the obvious “captain” of this Tiger stack, with Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez, and Austin Jackson serving as the next suitable contenders.
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Paul Goldschmidt – ARI: It appears that Troy Tulowitzki has shared his video game cheat code with Goldschmidt, as the two fight back and forth for the title of “hottest hitter on the planet”. Goldy has achieved multiple hits in his past five games and a HR in three of the past four. Andre Rienzo is one of the bottom five pitchers in action, exemplified by his .343 wOBA vs RHB and 1.44HR/9IP. The 1B position is loaded tonight, and you will likely have to choose between Cabrera and Goldschmidt when looking at the “top dogs” of the position. It’s tough to go wrong with either (cue the next pick)…
Miguel Cabrera – DET: Today marks the third straight day Cabrera has been labeled a top shelf recommendation in The Forecast. We usually like to switch it up players day-to-day as situations transcend, but Miggy is comfortable exception to that rule. Batter vs Pitcher statistics are usually meaningless, but his 15-28, 5 HR, 12 RBI career numbers against Phil Hughes accurately reflect the matchup potential at hand.
Buster Posey – SF: Posey is the only Catcher you will find near the top shelf, with the exception of possibly Victor Martinez. Buster’s .428 wOBA vs left-handed pitching puts him in elite company, ranked higher than sluggers like the aforementioned Miguel Cabrera and Giancarlo Stanton. Facing a subpar lefty in Paul Maholm only adds fuel to the fire.
Also Consider: Mike Trout - LAA, Sin Soo-Choo - TEX, Freddie Freeman - ATL
Michael Brantley – CLE: Keep an eye on Cleveland’s left-handed bats against Jake Odorizzi. The Indians were in consideration for the “stack of the day”, led by Brantley’s 8 game hitting streak that includes 6 hits and 6 RBI’s in the past three games.
Torii Hunter – DET: As I mentioned in the introduction, Hunter is in a fantastic position this evening against fly ball pitcher Phil Hughes. He is a balmy 8-17 against Hughes in his career (.471), including a 3-4 outing earlier this season. Hitting ahead of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez gives him incredible run scoring potential, and Hunter has some HR/RBI upside of his own in this matchup.
Anthony Rendon – WAS: Any time Rendon faces a left-handed pitcher, fantasy enthusiasts should take notice. While the sample size is small, Rendon is hitting southpaws at a phenomenal .400 wOBA clip, which is comparable to the likes of established sluggers Hanley Ramirez and Evan Longoria. Everything Rendon has shown so far this season backs that metric up, and he should keep it going against Oakland’s lefty, Tommy Milone.
Also Consider: Victor Martinez – DET, Hunter Pence – SF, Daniel Murphy -- NYM
Adam Jones -- BAL: I know what you may be thinking…”since when was Adam Jones a bargain pick?” Believe it or not, Jones is only listed for a salary cap price of $2,700 on FanDuel, which puts him in the third tier amongst outfielders for tonight. He’s heating up with multiple hits in his last two games (including 2 HR on Tue), which inspires confidence against the mediocre pitching of Scott Feldman and the tumultuous Astros bullpen.
George Springer – HOU: Eight game hitting streak, a 3-4 outing earlier this week, and his first career homerun yesterday…I think the rookie is starting to figure it out. Springer is still priced near the minimum on salary cap sites ($2,300 on FanDuel), which would allow you to take a few top shelf items in your lineup. A nice righty/lefty matchup in a hitter-friendly ballpark doesn’t hurt his cause either.
Juan Francisco – TOR: Francisco was a featured item from the bargain bin yesterday, and I’m going right back to the well once again tonight. Like Springer, Francisco also has an eight game hitting streak, topped off by a 3-3 and 1 HR performance last night. The Angels’ Garrett Richards has been a quality pitcher so far this year, but he does have a moderate susceptibility to left-handed batters (.336 wOBA), leaving the door open for Francisco in the middle of a red-hot Toronto lineup.
Also Consider: Gerardo Parra - ARI, John Jaso – OAK, Billy Butler – KC
Jose Fernandez – MIA: One of the top pitchers in baseball against one of the worst offenses in the league. You don’t need much more analysis to justify this pick, as Fernandez is clearly the #1 pitching option of the day. Some may allude to the fact that his road ERA (3.50) is much higher than his home career ERA (1.19), but that is a moot point when considering he will be pitching in the friendly Petco Park against a power-challenged Padres lineup.
Michael Wacha – STL: Wacha is a “second-tier” type of pitcher who is fully capable of tossing like a bona fide ace from time to time. He’s listed as a slim favorite over the Pirates this evening, and playing in the pitching-friendly confines of PNC Park gives him an added dimension of security. The only real concern with Wacha has been the lack of run support provided by the Cardinal bats. There’s a reasonable chance they jump on top of a struggling Francisco Liriano this evening, lining Wacha up with a good position for the win.
Tyson Ross – SD: Ross may not have good odds at achieving a victory tonight, but I still believe he is a safe play in what should be a pitcher’s duel vs Fernandez and the Marlins. Ross loves pitching at home, sporting a 3.24 ERA at Petco Park compared to 4.84 career ERA on the road. He’s a great cheap target in daily leagues, and you can consider him as a spot starter in yearly leagues as well. Don’t count on a win, but Ross should piece together a quality start and enough strikeouts to leave fantasy owners satisfied.
Also Consider: Justin Verlander – DET, Wei-Yin Chen - BAL