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Who are the best and worst plays for Thursday, April 17th? Our very own Oracle, Ray Flowers, has mined the data, scoured the stats, surveyed the landscape and come up with a list of batters and pitchers to target, or avoid, for game action Thursday.
DISH DIAMONDS – The Best Hitting Matchups of the Day
Charlie Blackmon is pretty much hitting everything this season. He's also batting .485 against right-handed pitching. He starts against Ian Kennedy who he's gotten three hits off of in 10 career at-bats.
Michael Brantley loves to see him some hard throwing Tiger righties on the hill. In 38 at-bats against Justin Verlander Mr. Brantley has hit .395 with six RBIs while stealing four bases. Teammate Michael Bourn, just off the DL, has hit .389 with three steals over 18 at-bats against Verlander.
Dexter Fowler has been slumping since he missed time while hospitalized, but he faces left Bruce Chen Thursday. As you may know, I'm no Chen fan to begin with. Toss in the fact that Fowler has hit .295 with a .385 OBP against lefties in his career and I'm buying stock in Fowler.
Paul Konerko cannot be stopped when the man on the hill is Red Sox ace Jon Lester. Twenty nine times the twosome has battled and there is no disputing who the winner has been – it's Konerko who is batting .400 with three homers and seven RBIs over 25 at-bats. Dayan Viciedo has also had success going 5-for-11 with a homer.
Evan Longoria is a must start Thursday against CC Sabathia. Not only has the big fella lost about four mph off his fastball, but he simply has no answer to get out Longo who has the following stupendous line against Sabathia: .396/.515/.849. That line includes six bombs, 13 RBIs and 12 walks. It doesn't get much better than that. Teammate Yunel Escobar has hit .306 with a .942 OPS in 36 at-bats that also includes two bombs and 10 RBIs.
Hunter Pence has only faced Hyun-Jin Ryu 17 times but he's hit .400 with a .471 OBP and five RBIs. He's goofy as all get out to watch, but Pence sure gets it done. Pence's teammate Brandon Hicks is 2-for-2 against Ryu. Of course that means nothing. However, have you noticed that Hicks has gotten on base half the time he's come to the plate this season?
DISH DISASTERS – Worst Hitting Matchups of the Day
Pedro Alvarez has is lucky if he even puts the ball in play against Yovani Gallardo since he has 10 punchouts in 22 at-bats. He's also only produced on hit leading to a .045 batter average. Shockingly Clint Barmes is almost as bad with one hit in 20 at-bats (.050).
Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez cannot hit Tim Lincecum, a fact I noted earlier this week in this very column. Well turns out the duo cannot hit Madison Bumgarner either. Kemp has hit .182 with a .507 OPS over 25 plate appearances. A-Gone has hit .130 with a .348 OPS over 23 plate appearances. They aren't the only ones who suck eggs versus the lefty: Hanley Ramirez (.200 in 20 ABs) and Andre Ethier (.125 in 24 ABs).
I had no idea that there was such a thing as a two-toned lobster. It's pretty amazing.
Carlos Santana may have as much chance of getting a hit off Justin Verlander Thursday as I do. Literally. In 32 at-bats Santana has somehow managed to blast three long balls but he's only come up with three other hits leading to a .188 batting average. Unfortunately for the Indians, he isn't alone struggling against Verlander. The numbers are ugly: Jason Kipnis (.125 in 24 at-bats), Mike Aviles (.227 in 22 at-bats), Asdrubal Cabrera (.204 in 54 at-bats) & Nick Swisher (.200 in 65 at-bats).
B.J. Upton has been bad. OK, that's being kind. He's been really bad. Too kind still? Awful? LOL Don't expect that to change Wednesday, at least if A.J. Burnett (groin) is healthy enough to be effective. In 46 career at-bats Upton has hit .196 with 17 punchouts. Lordie.
You would be wise to bookmark the following three sources to check daily after you read this wondrous piece (I'm so afraid of giving myself props).
Fantasy Alarm Lineups
MOUND MAVENS – Starting Pitchers to Target
Madison Bumgarner versus the Dodgers. He's held HanRam, Kemp, Gonzalez and Ethier to a .157 batting average over 89 at-bats. He's the proud owner of a 2.60 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 13 outings against the Dodgers.
Throwing caution to the wind one more time, start Scott Feldman. Not only has he allowed one run in three starts but he's had lots of success against the Royals. Not only does he own a 3.12 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over 66.1 innings against the club but he's also dominated a few of their batters as well: Billy Butler (.538 OPS in 27 ABs), Alcides Escobar (one hit in 12 at-bats), Mike Moustakas (one hit in 11 at-bats) and Eric Hosmer (one hit 10 at-bats).
Ian Kennedy deserves a look Thursday. Through three starts her has 16 Ks in 17 innings. He's also posted a 5.33 K/BB ratio. The game is taking place in San Diego. In 14 starts in Petco he has a 2.85 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 101 Ks in 82 innings. He does face the Rockies, but when you hold down Carlos Gonzalez (.138.167/.310 with 13 Ks in 29 at-bats) and Troy Tulowitzki (.240 average in 25 at-bats though he does have three homers), well, then you aren't that bad a start.
Can't explain it, but if you feel like taking a ride on the wild side, I'm talking flying around the corner at 55 mph on a gravel road while driving a Ford Festiva, then you might consider starting Mike Pelfrey. He's held current Blue Jays to a .235/.329/.324 line over 68 at-bats.
David Price has a 9-4 record with a 3.65 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 21 appearances at home against the Yankees. He posted very similar numbers at home last season with a 3.61 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over 12 starts.
Why didn't I think of this before? I need it for my collection.
Chris Sale. Amazingly he's yet to make a start in his career against the Red Sox. I like an ace level pitcher against a team that has literally only had 25 at-bats against him, don't you?
Justin Verlander. You read about all the Indians that struggle against him above.
MOUND MESSES – Starting Pitchers to Avoid
Kyle Gibson has allowed two runs in two starts this season, but he's long been more about promise than production. He also owns a 6.67 ERA and 1.99 WHIP over six starts at Target Field. Pretty sure he's also not going to be able to hold righties to a .071 batting average much longer (one hit in 17 at-bats).
CC Sabathia cannot get Longoria out as I noted above (I almost typed Roberto Luongo. Wrong sport. He's the keeper for the Florida Panthers. Don't get me started as to why Florida has two hockey teams either). Sabathia has an impressive 21 Ks in 19 innings, and his 7.00 K/BB ratio is fantastic. Still, it's not all good news. When he's made a mistake this season he's been hammered, he's allowed five homers in three starts, and his ERA site at 6.63. The current Rays' roster also has an .800 OPS off the big fella.
I want Danny Salazar for the year, but after his last start he's tough to trust against the Tigers. At least Miguel Cabrera isn't operating at 100 percent. Still, even though Salazar has a 15:1 K/BB ratio in two starts against the Tigers he's probably best left on the bench in this matchup.
Hyun-Jin Ryu has been fantastic in three of his four starts this season allowing zero runs in three of them. The one time he allowed runs was back on April 4th against the Giants who pounded him for eight runs, six earned, in just two innings. Don't know how you could trust him against the Giants Thursday after that beating.
Make sure you tune in to the Fantasy Alarm's Daily Game Show at 6 PM EDT, Monday through Friday on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius210, XM87) as Jeff Mans and Ted Schuster will help you to set your daily lineups.