Challenge Week 15: Four-game teams have the advantage
Each week, Tristan H. Cockcroft offers his strategies for the Baseball Challenge game. Look for his best bargains, busts and daily specials every Sunday. All statistics are through the games of Thursday, July 5.Good team matchups
Chicago Cubs (HOU-4): First baseman Derrek Lee (5.5 price tag) loves hitting at home; he has hit all six of his home runs there and has a .377 batting average and 1.042 OPS there in 40 games. ... Cleveland Indians (KC-3): Shortstop Jhonny Peralta (5.4) is a .333/1.013 hitter in 41 home games this year, .284/.837 for his career (compared with .249/.701 on the road). ... Boston Red Sox (TOR-4): The Red Sox should face nothing but right-handers, which bodes well for designated hitter David Ortiz (5.9). Incredibly, he's only a .258/.678 hitter against left-handers this year, but .340/1.116 against righties. Also, although Ortiz assuredly will face Roy Halladay, he's 19-for-66 (.288) with five homers lifetime against the Blue Jays ace. ... Florida Marlins (WAS-3): Shortstop Hanley Ramirez (6.3) is a .338/.904 hitter in 39 games at Dolphin Stadium this season. He's also 13-for-39 (.333) with 13 runs scored in nine games against the Nationals this year. ... New York Yankees (@TB-4): ... Designated hitter Hideki Matsui (5.4) is a .347 hitter (43-for-124) with four homers and 30 RBIs in 34 career games at Tropicana Field. He's also 5-for-12 (.417) with two homers in his past three games. ... Philadelphia Phillies (STL-3): Center fielder Aaron Rowand (5.1) is a .312/.926 hitter in 43 home games this season. Keep in mind he's also 9-for-17 (.529) lifetime against Cardinals left-hander Mike Maroth, whom he should face.Individual bargains
Carlos Delgado, 1B, Mets (5.1 price tag): Since the start of last season, he has batted .263 with a .901 OPS against right-handers. The Mets face four of them in Week 15, including Kyle Lohse, against whom Delgado is 6-for-12 (.500) with one home run in his career.
Shawn Green, RF, Mets (4.3) He's a .309/.867 hitter against right-handers this season, numbers even more favorable than Delgado's, and a .274/.832 hitter at home. Green is especially productive against Aaron Harang; he's 5-for-11 (.455) lifetime against the right-hander.
Kenny Lofton, CF, Rangers (5.1): Texas faces only right-handers in its three games in Week 15, and Lofton is a .312/.834 hitter against that side. He's particularly successful against Bartolo Colon, going 7-for-16 (.438) with one homer lifetime against the righty.
Matt Stairs, LF, Blue Jays (4.4): He's Toronto's most effective hitter against right-handers, with .297/.934 rates, and his team faces four of them in Week 15. He's also a .305 hitter (40-for-131) with 12 homers in 40 games since becoming a regular.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals (5.7): Washington battles two left-handers in its three games in Week 15, and Zimmerman is a .364/1.034 hitter against that side. He's a .438 lifetime hitter (7-for-16) against Dontrelle Willis, whom he'll face Friday.Poor team matchups
Arizona Diamondbacks (SD-3): Left fielder Chris B. Young (4.3 price tag) is a .234/.727 hitter against right-handers this season, and the Diamondbacks could face three of them in Week 15. ... Houston Astros (@CHC-4): Second baseman Craig Biggio (4.2) is a .206/.577 hitter on the road this season, including a 2-for-13 performance (.154) in three games at Wrigley Field. He also will face two right-handers, a concern because he hits them at .230/.639 rates. ... San Francisco Giants (LAD-3): Second baseman Ray Durham (4.5) is a .246/.678 hitter against right-handers this season, and the Giants will see three of them in Week 15. He's also a .232 hitter (26-for-122) with three homers and 12 RBIs in his past 29 games. ... Texas Rangers (@LAA-3): Right fielder Sammy Sosa (5.1) is a .203/.637 hitter in 35 road games. He's also a .220/.673 hitter against right-handers, with his Rangers facing three of them. ... Toronto Blue Jays (@BOS-4): Second baseman Aaron Hill (5.0) is a .201/.626 hitter in 42 road games. He's also a .241/.691 hitter against right-handers, and his Blue Jays should see four of them in Week 15.Individual busts
Paul Lo Duca, C, Mets (3.5 price tag): He's a .219/.566 hitter in 61 games at Shea Stadium this season, so don't get too excited about his Week 15 matchups, four games or not. The Mets face four right-handers, and Lo Duca is only a .255/.631 hitter against that side.
Luis Gonzalez, LF, Dodgers (5.6): Since the start of the 2004 season, Gonzalez is a .255 hitter (26-for-102) with two homers and eight RBIs at AT&T Park. He's also a .185 hitter (5-for-27) with no homers and eight strikeouts in his past eight games.
Aubrey Huff, DH, Orioles (4.3): He's a .261 hitter (40-for-153) with two homers in his past 42 games, and a .231/.616 hitter on the road. He's also a combined 9-for-46 (.196) with three homers against the White Sox's Jose Contreras, Jon Garland and Javier Vazquez.
Nick Markakis, RF, Orioles (5.2): Assuming Mark Buehrle remains with the White Sox through the All-Star break, the Orioles will face two left-handers in four games. He's a .252/.672 hitter against lefties this year and a .185 hitter (5-for-27) in his past eight games.Daily Specials
THURSDAY: Tigers left fielder Craig Monroe (4.4 price tag) is a .318 hitter (7-for-22) with three homers in his career against Mariners left-hander Jarrod Washburn. For the season, he's a .333 hitter (22-for-66) with four homers, 15 RBIs and a .949 OPS.
FRIDAY: Brewers left fielder Geoff Jenkins (3.6) is a .517 hitter (15-for-29) with four homers and nine RBIs in his career against Rockies right-hander Josh Fogg. He's also a .309/.961 hitter at Miller Park, and a 284/.872 hitter against righties, this season.
SATURDAY: Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon (4.2) is 3-for-4 with two homers in his career against Devil Rays right-hander James Shields. He's also a .288 hitter (74-for-257) with 43 RBIs in 60 career games at Tropicana Field.
SUNDAY: Astros first baseman Lance Berkman (5.9) is a .586 hitter (17-for-29) with one homer and 10 RBIs in his career against Cubs right-hander Jason Marquis. He's also a .293 hitter (17-for-58) with six homers and 17 RBIs in his past 14 games.
Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.
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