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By the Numbers: Pitchers impacted by park factors

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Matt Cain has evolved into an elite Fantasy starting pitcher, but how different would his value be if he played for a team other than the Giants?

Cain's flyball tendencies play well at AT&T Park, but on the road, he gives up home runs at a higher rate and sports a career 3.57 ERA and 1.22 WHIP that pale in comparison to his home stats (3.06 ERA, 1.13 WHIP). Cain is good enough on the road to start regardless of venue, but there are plenty of other pitchers whose Fantasy value is shaped much more strongly by where they pitch.

The Giants play in one of the majors' best parks for pitchers, especially when it comes to containing the home run. That has made a difference for their staff as a whole, as they allowed the fewest homers (53) in the majors at home in 2012, but tied for the 10th-highest total of home runs allowed (89) on the road.

Several other clubs play in parks that similarly favor pitching, while other stadiums are highly skewed towards batters. For pitchers who fall short of must-start status, those park effects can make all the difference as to whether you should start or sit them.

In last week's column on park effects and hitters, I outlined the criteria used to determine which venues are considered to be extreme parks for pitchers and hitters. The emphasis in this week's analysis will once again be on the effect that stadiums have on home runs, as this is where parks generally make their greatest impact. We will highlight the most extreme pitcher's and hitter's parks and identify the starting pitchers who stand to gain or lose the most value from their home stadiums.

I have taken PETCO Park and Safeco Field out of the analysis, however. Though both parks have traditionally been havens for pitchers, we have yet to see how the recent changes to their dimensions could affect the pitchers who play their home games there.

Note: All stats are current for games played through Monday, April 15.

Homer-Squelching Parks

Angels (Angel Stadium of Anaheim): As a Mariner, Jason Vargas benefited from pitching home games at Safeco Field, having compiled a 3.38 ERA there. He should have similar success at Angel Stadium, which could supplant Safeco as the American League's premier pitcher's park. Owners just have to be careful about starting Vargas in hitter-friendly road venues. If Tommy Hanson's velocity ever comes back, he could at least be worth starting in his home games, as the Angels' park should limit the damage caused by his mild flyball tendencies.

Giants (AT&T Park): Tim Lincecum's propensity to allow homers and walks has gotten so bad that he should be benched in standard mixed leagues, but even during his dismal 2012 season, he allowed only seven home runs over 102 home innings. If you're going to trust Lincecum, do it for his home starts. Some owners may look to bench Ryan Vogelsong on the road, as his ERA away from AT&T Park is just 3.82 since joining the Giants in 2011. However, those road splits have more to do with his strand rate than his homer rate, but as long as he continues to keep the ball in the park, he should be a safe start most weeks.

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Marlins (Marlins Park): Aside from Jose Fernandez, the Marlins don't have starters worth using in standard mixed leagues, but a couple of deeper-league options have more value when pitching at home. Wade LeBlanc and Kevin Slowey are too flyball-prone to trust in most venues, but at Marlins Park, both are must-starts in NL-only leagues. LeBlanc in particular has a history of good splits at pitcher's parks, having fared well in home starts as both a Marlin and a Padre.

Athletics (O.co Coliseum; vs. LHB only): Southpaw Tommy Milone has actually had more problems with homers against lefties than righties, so it's little surprise that he has had great home splits as a member of the A's, given how tough his home park is on left-handed batters. In 17 starts at O.co Coliseum, Milone has allowed only eight home runs over 112 1/3 innings with a 2.72 ERA. When he pitches in Oakland, Milone can be used even in one-start weeks in standard mixed leagues.

Twins (Target Field; vs. LHB only): Of the Twins' top four starters, Vance Worley is the least reliant on ground balls to have success, so especially as a righty, he would seem to benefit from having Target Field as his home park. However, Worley has had more trouble containing righties over his career, and Target Field plays as a neutral power park for right-handed hitters. Fantasy owners can disregard the park factor for Twins pitchers, including Worley, in their home starts.

Red Sox (Fenway Park; vs. LHB only): The Red Sox starter who would probably benefit the most from pitching at Fenway Park is John Lackey (biceps), but he's stuck on the 15-day disabled list. Also, it's been since 2010 since we have seen evidence of Lackey getting a boost from his home splits, and even then, a .334 home BABIP erased whatever advantage he might have enjoyed from a low homer rate. There's not much of a Fantasy impact here for Boston's rotation.

Indians (Progressive Field vs. RHB only): Brett Myers has infamously struggled with the long ball over his career, but Progressive Field just might be the cure for what ails him. He has been more homer-prone versus righties, so Myers' new home park could help to keep his home run rate in check. It won't be enough to make him viable in standard mixed leagues, but Myers can be started in deeper leagues when he's at home.

Pirates (PNC Park; vs. RHB only): Better command made a difference for A.J. Burnett last season, but his move from Yankee Stadium to PNC Park played a role, too. Allowing only eight home runs over 110 1/3 innings helped Burnett to limit his home ERA to 3.10, so if you're ever going to sit him, it should be when he's on the road. James McDonald had favorable home splits in each of his two full seasons with the Bucs, and Monday's debacle at the hands of the Cardinals aside, McDonald should be used for home starts in deeper mixed leagues, even in some one-start weeks.

Cardinals (Busch Stadium; vs. RHB only): Lance Lynn is being started in 78 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com, but with a career 4.37 ERA in away games, should he be benched when pitching on the road? Lynn's HR/9 rate in away games (1.0) is considerably higher than in home games (0.6), but he should still be good enough to use in most weeks, regardless of venue. Lynn has been penalized on the road with a .350 BABIP that is bound to shrink going forward.

Homer-Friendly Parks

White Sox (U.S. Cellular Field): Contact pitchers with decent walk and ground ball rates are easier to find than a Kardashian in a grocery store tabloid, so there's no reason to go out of your way to get Jose Quintana in a mixed league. If you do own him in a deeper format, you can at least trust him when he makes starts on the road. Not surprisingly, Quintana has been taken out of U.S. Cellular Field nine times in his 69 1/3 innings there, contributing to a 4.54 home ERA. Away from his launching pad of a home park, Quintana has a 3.12 ERA and a 0.7 HR/9 rate. Quintana has probably overperformed a bit on the road, but he should still be worth a deep-league start when away from the Windy City.

Orioles (Oriole Park at Camden Yards): With high flyball rates, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez both profile as pitchers who would fare worse at Camden Yards than away from it, and that has actually been the case. Chen's ERA and WHIP splits are actually not very drastic, as he has piled up more strikeouts in home starts. Gonzalez, on the other hand, has been a far better pitcher overall on the road than at home. Having pitched fewer than 40 career innings at home, perhaps Gonzalez's splits will narrow. Both pitchers have strong enough flyball tendencies, though, that they are risky in home starts. Unless they are facing particularly weak lineups, they should be sat when pitching in Baltimore.

Rockies (Coors Field): Is Jhoulys Chacin back to his rookie form? His early ERA and WHIP say "yes," but a 6.5 percent whiff rate says "maybe not." Even assuming the best for Chacin, he has not been immune to the Coors Effect, so he is a risk to start at home. If he continues to induce grounders like he has in the early going, Chacin should be safe to use in away games, and a 3.01 career road ERA attests to that.

Reds (Great American Ball Park): Homer Bailey has been aptly named for his home starts, and even during last season's breakout, he allowed 21 of his 26 homers at GABP. He may not match last year's 2.32 road ERA, but Bailey is good enough at limiting home runs away from Cincinnati to be a worthwhile start in most formats. Mike Leake also has lopsided splits, but he's had enough trouble with homers on the road (career 1.1 HR/9) that he is still just a deep league option during road trips.

Brewers (Miller Park): Kyle Lohse comes to Miller Park after enjoying low home run rates as a Cardinal, which were aided by pitching home games at Busch Stadium. He may be trustworthy most weeks on the road, but he is not an automatic start at home. Mike Fiers has issues other than this flyball tendencies, as his starts are being skipped for now. Even if he resumes getting regular turns in the rotation, Fiers should be avoided some weeks at home, where he has allowed 12 home runs in 74 2/3 career innings.

Yankees (Yankee Stadium; vs. LHB only): Both Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova have lopsided HR/9 splits. Nova's 5.02 ERA from last season has rightfully soured owners in many mixed leagues, but Hughes' 3.70 ERA from June forward last year showed that he still has value. He's still not all that safe at home, though, and he relied on an 80 percent strand rate (per FanGraphs.com) to post a 3.74 ERA at Yankee Stadium in 2012. Hughes is worth owning in mixed leagues, but he should be used with caution whenever he has home starts.

Rangers (Rangers Ballpark at Arlington; vs. LHB only): Derek Holland has been good at containing lefties, so you might think that he is capable of taming his home park. However, the Ballpark at Arlington is also a pretty good -- if not extreme -- venue for right-handed power hitters. That has certainly factored into Holland's career 5.20 home ERA. With a 3.50 road ERA going back to 2011, Holland is a solid option for standard mixed leagues when he's on road trips.

Indians (Progressive Field; vs. LHB only): Lefties have taken Zach McAllister out of Progressive Field nine times in just 49 1/3 innings, so his home park is clearly not working for him. He's mainly an AL-only option anyway, but even in those formats, owners should consider sitting the righty during homestands.

Blue Jays (Rogers Centre; vs. RHB only): Like fellow southpaw Holland, J.A. Happ has been much better at handling lefty batters, but his struggles with righties could be especially problematic at Rogers Centre. Happ made strides last season in improving his ground ball and walk rates, so he is worth owning in mixed leagues, but his splits make him a gamble to start when he pitches at home.

Phillies (Citizens Bank Park; vs. LHB only): Lefty batters have frequently taken both Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan deep over the course of their respective careers, but that won't have much of a Fantasy impact for either pitcher. While both are dangerous to use when starting in Philadelphia, neither is a recommended option on the road either.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Diamondbacks' Randall Delgado facing a roster crunch
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:48 pm ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Randall Delgado is facing a roster crunch, according to azcentral.com.

Delgado had some success after adding a slider last season, but faces a lot of competition this spring. While the competition for the fifth starter spot contains a lot of players, Delgado's experience in the bullpen last year could help him make the club. On top of that, he's out of options, giving him a better chance of breaking camp on the 25-man roster. 

Bullpen coach Mel Stottlemyre said he believes Delgado could get the job done. "He can be a valuable piece in that bullpen, knowing that there might be some guys that are going to get protected," Stottlemyre said. "The fact that he can pitch in some different roles — he can give you some length, he can come in and strike a guy out. I saw this guy go through the middle of lineups on some good ballclubs and make the hitters look bad. It's there."

The 25-year-old Delgado posted a 4.87 ERA over 77 2/3 innings last season.


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(8:57 pm ET) The Nationals have signed outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to a minor-league deal, the team announced. 

Gwynn will be invited to major-league camp with the deal. The 32-year-old hit .152 over 105 at-bats with the Phillies last season. 


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by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:31 pm ET) Nationals pitcher Matt Purke is hoping to throw off a mound in a few weeks, according to MLB.com.

Purke had Tommy John surgery last May, and has struggled with injuries since being selected in the third round of the 2011 draft. Purke was actually released by the club during the offseason, but came back on a minor-league deal. 

Purke said he was frustrated by the injuries, but understands he has to take it all in stride. "It's just something you have to take in stride, keep moving forward," he explained. "I'm ready to keep progressing the best I can and really get myself out there and pitch and perform. When my number is called, I'll be able to help when I can."

Purke is currently in the middle of a throwing program. He's been able to long toss, and hopes to throw off a mound in a few weeks. The team is still unsure when Purke will be ready for game action.


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by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
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"I didn't know how to play the outfield and I needed a lot of work," he said to MLB.com. "It wasn't hard, because I have the ability to play many positions. But the hard part was being in center field and throwing to the bases. At shortstop, you throw from different angles. In the outfield, you need to be on top to throw."

Santana hit .319 with 40 RBI and 70 runs scored in 405 plate appearances in 2014.

"There's a lot of people here who believed in Danny Santana's future for a long time. We were able to get a glimpse of that last year," manager Paul Molitor said. "I have a lot of confidence in that kid. He's going about his business very professionally. He's really a good listener and applier. Some guys listen well and have trouble taking it out there. He's pretty good at taking information and putting it into play."


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by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:07 pm ET) Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin will hit leadoff in the team's first spring game, according to MLB.com.

Manager Bud Black basically confirmed the news, though he wouldn't make it official as he prefers to let the player know before the media. Maybin is the forgotten man in the team's outfield heading into camp. While he's proven he can play center field, the club is expected to go with Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Justin Upton when the regular season starts. 

Maybin, 27, hit .235/.290/.331 over 251 at-bats last season. 


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by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:43 pm ET) The Giants are experimenting with using outfielder Norichika Aoki in the leadoff spot, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Aoki will hit leadoff on Tuesday with Angel Pagan sidelined. While Pagan is expected to claim the role once the regular season begins, manager Bruce Bochy said he would consider using Aoki in the leadoff role occasionally. When that happens, Pagan would hit in the third spot in the order. 

Aoki, 33, hit .285/.349/.360 over 491 at-bats last year. 


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Perkins was shut down at the end of last season due to forearm and elbow issues. He hasn't experienced any of those issues this spring. "Really the barometer on how my arm feels is the bite on my slider," Perkins said. "If my slider is loopy, then my arm is probably tired, especially my forearm."

Perkins added that he threw a few sliders during a recent bullpen session, and was happy with how they looked. "I told them it was coming and they swung and missed at a few," he said. "It's got good movement right now. That means obviously I'm fresh, but also I'm strong and healthy."

Perkins is expected to pitch during an exhibition game on Wednesday. He posted a 3.65 ERA over 61 2/3 innings last season. 


Red Sox OFs Betts, Castillo to share time in CF this spring
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:30 pm ET) Red Sox manager John Farrell said Sunday that outfielders Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo will get equal playing time in center field this spring, MLB.com reports.

"Like we said at the outset of camp, we'll take all of camp to determine that," said Farrell. "They're going to get equal playing time. But I think it's important they both get comfortable with the combination of the guys on the flank because of communication, the responsibilities for balls in the gap, fly ball communication and those priorities."

While Betts had ample time to make an impression on the team during his rookie season, the Red Sox are still getting to know Castillo and his capabilities.

"With Rusney, I think it's a matter of frequent at-bats, more games played," Farrell said. "Particularly after our season concluded, he went to the [Arizona] Fall League and Puerto Rico, and through repetition, I think he's just gotten better timing and consistent routes in the outfield and he's looked very good here in camp so far."

Castillo went 12 for 36 in his short time with the Red Sox last season.


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(7:16 pm ET) The Red Sox and Phillies have not made progress on a deal for pitcher Cole Hamels, according to the Boston Herald. 

The Red Sox have been mentioned as a contender for Hamels in the past, but the club is hesitant to give up their top prospects for the pitcher. Though Phillies' special assistant to the general manager Charley Kerfeld was spotted at Red Sox facilities on Monday, two sources told the Herald that no progress has been made on a deal. 

The Phillies are said to covet either Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart, but Boston has refused to include either player in a deal.

Hamels, 31, posted a 2.46 ERA over 204 2/3 innings last year.


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by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:04 pm ET) Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter hopes to combine the aggressiveness he displayed in 2013 with the patience he showed in 2014, MLB.com reports.

"I've had both extremes of it," Carpenter said. "I've had it where I've led the leagues in walks [2014], and I've had where I've led the league in hits [2013]. I'm trying to search for that perfect balance where you're aggressive, but you're still patient.

"In the postseason, I felt that I was more aggressive than I had been at any point in my career, but at the same time, I wasn't flailing at balls. I didn't lose anything. Now, it's finding the perfect balance to where I'm swinging the bat, I'm being aggressive, I'm trying to do damage, but at the same time, I'm a guy who can walk a lot, get on base and set the tone as a leadoff hitter. I think that's part of growing up as a baseball player. You learn and you adapt and you continue to try to figure out who you are as a hitter."

Carpenter homered four times during last year's postseason after hitting just eight home runs during the regular season, with his first two postseason blasts coming on the first pitch of his at-bats. He's looking to capture that approach more often this season.

"I think he's a smart enough guy to do it because he knows what he does really well," hitting coach John Mabry said. "That's what you take pride in -- those guys who put in all the work to get to where they are and then say, 'I'm not happy.' They want to put in the extra work to get to that next step, the next level."

Carpenter is looking to build off a 2014 season in which he hit .272/.375/.375 with eight home runs and 59 RBI in 595 at-bats.


 
 
 
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