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July 10th is a special day in the Flowers household. It's not a birthday or anniversary, in fact, it's nothing directly related to anyone I know. However, it's still a very special day because of my affinity for a drink – the pina colada. July 10th is National Pina Colada Day. You can have one. I will probably have three. As for the baseball, my thoughts on Thursday matchups follow.
* NOTE: Players are listed in alphabetical order for the sake of making them easily sortable/findable. The matchups are also generated based on Batter vs. Pitcher data. Just because a player is not listed does not mean that he is a bad or good play. The players listed below are mentioned merely because of the BVP data for the matchup.
DISH DIAMONDS – The Best Hitting Matchups of the Day
Billy Butler has six hits in 11 at-bats against Drew Smyly.
Chris Denorfia has nine hits in 29 trips to the plate against Clayton Kershaw. He's gone deep three times on his his way to a .310 batting average and .412 OBP. Do you have the guts to play him against the best pitcher in baseball?
Matt Holliday has had a rough year in some respects but he he has a matchup to exploit against Edinson Volquez. Matt has hit .370 with a 1.030 OPS as he's gone deep twice, driven in five and stolen a bag. Mark Ellis is also at .333 over 24 at-bats and Allen Craig is 5-for-12 with four RBIs.
Ian Kinsler versus Jeremy Guthrie – that matchup goes to the hitter. Kinsler has a .353 average over 34 at-bats. Torii Hunter has hit .300 and he's suddenly been hot against everyone the last week. Alex Avila is only batting .269 against Jeremy but he does have three homers and nine RBIs over 26 at-bats.
Shelby Miller has been lost of late (see The Mailbag). That makes guys like Andrew McCutchen (.313 in 16 ABs) and Neil Walker (.333 in 15 ABs) & Russell Martin (.364-2-3 in 11 ABs). solid plays Thursday.
Anthony Rizzo loves hitting righties. He also thrives in the matchup with Homer Bailey as he's hit a homer while batting .375 over 16 at-bats. Nate Schierholtz has also channeled his inner Tony Gwynn in the matchup batting .400 with a homer in 20 at-bats.
B.J. Upton is finally starting to hit. I know, shocker (a bit). He's had success in the matchup with Bartolo Colon having hit .310 with a homer and five RBIs over 29 at-bats. He's also walked four times leading to a .412 OBP.
David Wright has a .423 average and robust 1.192 OPS over 31 plate appearances against Aaron Harang. He's gone deep once with seven RBIs. Chris Young has three homers an a steal over his 27 at-bats while Daniel Murphy has hit .353 with a homer and five RBIs in his 17 trips to the dish.
DISH DISASTERS – Worst Hitting Matchups of the Day
Starlin Castro has had a nice bounce back season for the Cubs. The bounce Thursday might be his butt back to the bench after he tries to get a hit against Homer Bailey. In 32 at-bats Castro does have to homers and five RBIs but he's also batting .1888 with a .257 OBP. That smokes what Luis Valbuena has done – one hit in 14 at-bats. Junior Lake, Justin Ruggiano and Mike Olt are a combined 0-for-17.
Alex Gordon simply doesn't see the ball out of Drew Smyly's hand. It has to be something like that. Gordon has two hits leading to a .118 batting average. Obviously that's awful. Unfortunately he's also got a hideous nine punchouts as well. He's just lost in this matchup – and he has a sore wrist. Eric Hosmer only has four strikeouts in his 15 at-bats as he's hit .200.
Chase Headley finally started to hit, and here comes Clayton Kershaw. In 48 at-bats Headley has failed to go deep, has struck out 10 times and produced a .553 OPS. Cameron Maybin can only wish. He's hit .125 with a steal in 16 at-bats.
Howie Kendrick has been too hot to touch the past couple of weeks but Colby Lewis has always been able to slow him down. Over 23 at-bats Kendrick is batting .217 with seven strikeouts an a .671 OPS. Erick Aybar has one hit in his 10 at-bats.
Bookmark the following three sources to check daily after you read this piece.
MOUND MAVENS – Starting Pitchers to Target
Homer Bailey faces the Cubs at home. Bailey has a 3.59 ERA at home this year and he's allowed 10 hits and one run over his last two starts covering 17 innings.
Gio Gonzalez has won his last three starts. That's what happens when you don't allow a run – you win. He's also struck out 14 while walking on three in his last two outings. He pitches against the Orioles on the road, and in seven starts at night this year he owns a 2.41 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.
I have no idea why someone would do this, but a tiny burrito being eaten by a tiny hamster.
Jeremy Guthrie has a 3.39 ERA at home this year. He faced the Tigers on June 18th an allowed one run over 6.2 innings. In four of his last five stats he's allowed two earned runs or less. Over his last nine outings it's two earned runs or less seven times.
Aaron Harang pitches at home against the Mets. He's won his last three starts despite allowing four homers and 26 hits. Doesn't exactly inspire confidence but there it is (he did throw three “quality” starts as well, so that's something). He also tossed six shutout innings against the Mets over seven innings in their last battle.
Clayton Kershaw is the best there is. He faces the Padres in Los Angeles. Over his last six starts he's allowed two runs as his ERA has gone from 3.57 to 1.85.
Ready to play a risk? Edinson Volquez has a 3.88 ERA on the year. He’s allowed a total of two run in his last three starts covering 21 innings. In four of his last five starts in fact he's allowed zero or one run. He takes on the Cardinal in St. Louis and the Cards are merely 22nd in baseball in OPS against righties.
MOUND MESSES – Starting Pitchers to Avoid
Bartolo Colon takes the bump against the Braves in New York. After a long run of effectiveness the rotund one has lost both his last two starts allowed three homers and 10 runs in the process. Only the Braves being 4th from the bottom in OPS against righties is something to get excited about.
Shelby Miller versus the Pirates at home. As I linked to above, Miller has been awful with a WHIP over two his last four starts. No reason to be starting him.
Just cause. Tight pants with Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon.
David Phelps is on a nice little run. He was blown up on June 24th, but in four of his last five starts he's allowed two or fewer earned runs. He faces a Cleveland club that have scored one run against him over 12.2 career innings. Still the Indians are 7th in baseball in OPS against righties and Phelps numbers on the road this season don't exactly inspire fantastical hope (1-3, 4.75 ERA, 1.38 WHIP over 55 innings).
Hector Santiago is 0-7 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. Not good. He faces the Rangers in Texas. Back on May 2nd he allowed five runs in six innings against the Rangers to pick up the loss and he's allowed nine runs over his last 16.2 innings. Just not much to like.
Drew Smyly starts on the road where he has a 3.99 ERA and 1.51 WHIP this season. He faces a Royals club that he held to two runs over seven innings back on June 18th. Unfortunately he's hit a major bump in the road his last two starts allowing 15 hits, three walks,
and nine runs in just 8.2 innings.
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