Reminder: Always double check the lineup card before rosters lock to make sure that a player you've chosen to roster is playing that day, and check the weather to make sure your players won't get rained out of their game.
The early game is very limited and a little ugly, so I'll probably avoid it, but here's one guy who strongly sticks out if you decide to play the early game:
OF- Adam Jones vs Tommy Milone, $3,300
In 229 PA vs LHP since 2014, Jones has hit LHP to an elite 177 wRC+/.254 ISO combo, including a 163 wRC+ vs LHP this year. Milone has a below average 4.47 FIP in 257 IP vs RHB since 2013.
Our own Heath Capps (who you should follow on twitter at @HeathCapps) has a theory that some stud pitchers may overlook/exhale against/underperform against bad competition to some degree, limiting the value of great pitchers in what should be great matchups. That is an interesting theory. It might be something to consider with some pitchers if they begin to demonstrate a habit of under performing against bad teams. I tend to view it as randomness/variance/selective memory, but it isn't impossible.
This brings me to Clayton Kershaw ($12,500): he faces the rotten Phillies, who have a hideous -131 run differential on the year. Their offensive numbers actually aren't bad against LHP, though (about middle of the pack), and they start a lefty against a Dodger lineup that is strongest against righties. On the surface, Kershaw at home against by far the worst team in baseball sounds like a dream matchup, but digging a little bit deeper, it might not be as ideal as it seems at first glance. All that said, I'm still starting him, because I think he represents the best chance among pitchers at generating the highest point total. Since he's expensive, a fantasy owner will need to find productive value hitters to build a strong lineup. Here are some value hitting options to be considered:
OF- Shin Soo Choo vs Jeremy Hellickson, $2,700
In 207 PA vs RHP this year, Choo has a strong 135 wRC+/.215 ISO, which isn't too far off his career 147 wRC+/.204 ISO line vs RHP. Hellickson has a below average 4.37 FIP vs LHB this year, with it at 4.14 in 169 IP since 2013.
2B- Rougned Odor vs Jeremy Hellickson, $2,800
Odor has been amazing since his demotion to the minor leagues. He tore up AAA to a 183 wRC+, and since his recall, this is his stat line in MLB: 162 wRC+, .209 ISO, 12% K%. He's been hitting at the top of the order vs RHP and faces a below average RHP. Odor is one of my favorite plays today based on his matchup and price.
OF- Mitch Moreland vs Jeremy Hellickson, $3,100
Moreland has hit RHP to a 160 wRC+/.295 ISO in a 168 PA sample this year.
1B- Billy Butler vs CC Sabathia, $2,600
In 242 PA vs LHP since 2014, Butler has a 125 wRC+, with it at 113 this year in 88 PA. He faces CC Sabathia, who has been absolutely awful vs RHB this year with a 5.62 FIP. Butler gets a big park upgrade in Yankee Stadium and hit a park aided low fly ball/liner home run in last night's Yankees/A's game off a lefty, something that has a realistic chance at happening again tonight off a pitcher who is very poor vs righties.
3B- Pablo Sandoval vs Tom Koehler, $2,500
Sandoval continues to be undervalued in matchups against RHP, and he will remain a solid salary relief choice against average to below average RHP for the forseeable future. Sandoval has hit RHP to a 129 wRC+ this year, and Koehler has a below average 4.14 FIP vs LHB since 2013.
OF- David Murphy vs Dan Straily, $2,200
Murphy has hit RHP to a 116 wRC+ in 550 PA dating back to the start of last year, with it at 134 this year in 174 PA. He hit cleanup yesterday, and today will face Dan Straily, a pitcher who has been hit hard in recent years and owns a career 5.43 FIP vs LHB.
SS- Marcus Semien vs CC Sabathia, $2,200
Semien should be considered for similar reasons as Butler. He has hit LHP to a 118 wRC+ this year and owns a career wRC+ of 110 vs LHP. He faces CC Sabathia, that of a 5.62 FIP vs RHB, and gets a big park upgrade. Semien's one downside is that he has been hitting at the bottom of the A's lineup which hurts his fantasy value a lot, but I'm hoping the A's move him up in the order vs the LHP today to maximize his cracks at CC. I still find him useful as a punt play in Yankee Stadium even if he bats 9th, especially from the SS position.
A few of the most expensive hitters have strong matchups tonight. Lefty killers Josh Donaldson ($4,900) and Jose Bautista ($5,200) face the ineffective John Danks in U.S. Cellular Field. Mike Trout ($5,600) and Albert Pujols ($4,800) hit in Coors Field against a lefty. Current Ruth clone Bryce Harper ($4,900) faces a RHP with a 7.08 FIP this year vs LHB. Jason Kipnis ($4,200) faces a RHP with a career 5.43 FIP vs LHB. These are all strong matchups, but Donaldson, Bautista, Trout and Pujols have the best park effects for run scoring. If a fantasy owner decides to go cheap on a pitcher to load up on hitting, these are the stud bats that should be heavily considered.
Follow me on Twitter at @TimFinn521, I usually tweet out more good options as lineups are released.