Closing Time: Digging for deeper pickups

Chicago White Sox’s Daniel Palka is a sneaky source for power for those in deeper fantasy leagues (AP Photo).
Chicago White Sox’s Daniel Palka is a sneaky source for power for those in deeper fantasy leagues (AP Photo).

Daniel Palka homered Wednesday for the third time over the last two games, and while he’s batting just .235 on the year and isn’t guaranteed regular playing time with Avisail Garcia back, the rookie is up to 10 homers over 187 at bats and has intriguing underlying stats. Palka entered Wednesday with the No. 11 ranked Barrel%, sandwiched between Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. His exit velocity (93.0 mph) is top-15, and his average HR (419 ft) is top-10. Palka strikes out a ton and is a mess defensively, but he has “60” power and plays in a home park that’s increased HR for LHB by 22 percent over the past three seasons, which is the third-highest in MLB over that span. If you’re looking for home runs, Palka is available in 99 percent of Yahoo leagues.

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Andrew Suarez held the Rockies to just one run over seven innings Wednesday but took a loss in a pitcher’s duel, as Tyler Anderson hurled eight scoreless frames for his second consecutive start. Suarez has allowed two runs or fewer in five straight outings and was strong in Coors, with his lone run scoring on a homer to Chris Iannetta that was just barely fair. He shows up low on fantasy ranks thanks in part to having just three wins on the season, but the rookie owns an impressive 72:15 K:BB ratio over 78.0 innings and a 3.55 FIP. With Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija both soon returning, this performance by Suarez likely ticketed Chris Stratton out of San Francisco’s rotation.

Meanwhile, Anderson is starting to look worthy of being a former first round pick, as he now sports an 8.3 K/9 rate and a 1.22 WHIP despite pitching half his games in Coors Field. He has a 2.18 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP over his last six starts (41.1 innings) and a 12.1 SwStr% that ranks top-20 among starters, and he’s holding hitters to a lowly 28.8 Hard Hit%. Both Suarez and Anderson are owned in fewer than 15 percent of leagues. Wednesday’s 1-0 game was brutal for DFS owners who stacked Coors Field, and the Giants leave Colorado having scored just three runs over a three-game sweep.

Gleyber Torres was put on the disabled list Wednesday with a right hip strain, and Neil Walker should get most of the playing time at second base for New York while he’s out. Walker has been abysmal this season (his 42 wRC+ would rank third-worst if he qualified), but he got a late start to spring training and recorded a 114 wRC+ last year (122 the year before that). Yankee Stadium has boosted home runs an MLB-high 31 percent over the past three seasons, and hitting in arguably the league’s best lineup will also be plenty beneficial to his fantasy value. Walker owns a .240 BABIP this year, well below his career mark (.303). He reached base in 3-of-4 plate appearances Wednesday and is owned in just four percent of leagues.

Brad Miller homered and is now batting .343/.410/.600 over his first 35 at bats with Milwaukee. He’s one season removed from hitting 30 homers in one of the toughest environments for power and now finds himself in an everyday role (Orlando Arcia has been sent to Triple-A) hitting fifth in a park that’s boosted homers for lefties more than any other than Yankee Stadium over the past three seasons. Miller is 1B/2B/SS eligible and is available in more than 95 percent of leagues. He owns a 50.8 Hard Hit% this year (league average = 34.1%).

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