Daily Notes: Wang versus Webb
Micah Bowie, LHP (2-2, 3.79 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) versus
Daniel Cabrera, RHP (5-6, 4.70 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Ramon Hernandez, C, (groin, DL)
Game Story: Bowie has been a pleasant surprise so far for the Nationals, filling in adequately for the injured Jason Bergmann. Adequate, however, is as good as he's likely to get, so he's not recommended in shallower leagues even against a Baltimore team that's struggling offensively. The Orioles do hit left-handers somewhat better than they do right-handers, but they don't hit anyone well. As most of the team has never faced Bowie, start only your big-name Orioles. The same goes for Washington hitters, who are mostly unfamiliar with Cabrera, who is off to his usual sometimes-brilliant-but-inconsistent start. An exception can be made for the hot-hitting Dmitri Young, who spent many years in the American League and is 3-for-5 with a double and a home run versus Cabrera.
Aaron Cook, RHP (4-2, 4.54 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) versus
Tim Wakefield, RHP (5-7, 4.22 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: After a torrid start to the 2007 season, Wakefield has been knocked around hard over the last few weeks. Cook isn't in great recent form either, having surrendered five earned runs in each of his last two starts. Cook isn't recommended against the potent Boston offense, but J.D. Drew certainly is recommended against Cook. Drew followed up his big seven-RBIs day with a 3-for-5 performance and appears to be on the verge of breaking out. Against Cook he's 4-for-8 with a double, triple, homer and five RBIs. As for Wakefield, he just might have the advantage of surprise over Rockies players that have an aggregate total of one at-bat lifetime against him (Todd Helton) and probably have not seen many at-bats against knuckleballers at any level. Start Wakefield if you've got him, and start only your best Rockies.
Jeff Suppan, RHP (7-6, 3.92 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) versus
Justin Verlander, RHP (6-2, 3.12 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
Game Story: Former Red Sox and Royals starter Jeff Suppan has seen a lot of Detroit over the years, and generally hasn't liked it. He hasn't fared well in Comerica, nor against several longtime Tigers hitters. Ordonez has been his primary nemesis, but Ivan Rodriguez, Sean Casey, Guillen and Brandon Inge are all hitting .333 or better against Suppan. Verlander is a stranger to the Brewers and is having another fine season. Start only your best Brewers.
Brandon Webb, RHP (6-3, 3.13 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) versus
Chien-Ming Wang, RHP (5-4, 3.73 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Sinkerballers square off as the Yankees and D-Backs play a rematch of 2001's November Series. The visiting Webb is the marquee name, but it's safe to start Wang as well against a punchless Arizona offense that hasn't topped five runs in any of its last 10 games. Wang has pitched well lately, tossing a complete game in his last turn and not surrendering more than three earned runs in any of his last five starts. Two pitchers in fine form suggest that you start only your big-name hitters from both sides.
Greg Maddux, RHP (5-3, 3.82 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) versus
Scott Kazmir, LHP (4-3, 3.92 ERA, 1.49 WHIP)
Game Story: Kazmir has had control problems throughout his disappointing 2007, but he should be in line for a fine outing at home against a Padres team batting only .253 against left-handers. Opposing starter Maddux has been around so long that you'd expect him to have a history with many of the Rays players, but Ty Wigginton is the only Tampa hitter who's logged enough time in the National League to have more than five at-bats against Maddux (6-for-23). Maddux has improved in each of his last three outings and is a good play here against a Devil Rays team that has hit left-handers much better than right-handers this year. In addition to the obvious hitters, Tampa shortstop Brendan Harris makes for a good spot start. He and Wigginton are the team's hottest hitters right now.
Brad Thompson, RHP (4-1, 4.56 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) versus
Brian Bannister, RHP (2-3 3.33 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Cardinals' bats finally have awakened, with the team scoring six or more runs in six of its last 10 games. Royals starter Bannister has been pitching very well recently, and no Cardinals hitter has a single at-bat against him, but he's still not recommended against the hot-hitting visitors. David Eckstein and Juan Encarnacion have led their team's offensive resurgence in the last week or so and are good choices if you need spot starters at their positions. Cards starter Thompson has been shaky recently, so start any Kansas City hitters whom you normally would.
Kyle Davies, RHP (3-4, 5.31 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) versus
Kevin Slowey, RHP (1-0, 4.09 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)
Game Story: Twenty-three-year-olds take the mound for both teams in this indoor affair. Fortunately for the hitters, both starters are right-handers, and both of these clubs hit lefties quite poorly. Slowey has only made two starts while Davies has been in the rotation all year, but neither pitcher has given us any reason to expect consistency. Neither starter is recommended, and it's almost impossible to predict what kind of outing the youngsters will have. No hitters beyond the big names stand out on either side, as neither club has been doing good work with the bats recently. One exception is the rookie infielder Yunel Escobar, who has been sensational thus far while filling in for Chipper Jones at third base. Escobar makes a good short-term pickup if you need help at the hot corner. Even if Jones is ready to come off the DL Tuesday, the team's official Web site reports that it would be to serve as the designated hitter.
Jose Contreras, RHP (4-6, 4.23 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) versus
Cole Hamels, LHP (8-2, 3.57 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Jerry Owens, OF, (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: Cole Hamels must be licking his chops, as the Sox are the worst-hitting team in the major leagues versus left-handed pitchers. Bench all but the star performers on the Sox roster. Oh wait&bench everybody but Jermaine Dye. Even Jim Thome needs a day off from your roster against this tough left-hander in a DH-less park. Jose Contreras hasn't fared well lately, and the Phillies' lineup is one of the best in baseball versus right-handers, so start all your Phillies hitters.
Kevin Millwood, RHP (2-5, 7.57 ERA, 1.91 WHIP) versus
Zach Duke, LHP (2-6, 5.75 ERA, 1.68 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Mark Teixeira, 1B, (quadriceps, DL)
Game Story: Brad Wilkerson makes a fine pickup these days, as his playing time at first base is assured while Teixeira is on the DL. Even though Wilkerson is a lefty, he's been better in his career against left-handed pitchers, so it's safe to start him against the struggling Duke. The Rangers have been very solid against left-handers as a team this year, so play all of your Rangers. Marlon Byrd has been on fire since his callup and makes a great spot starter here. Resist the urge to put Rangers "ace" Millwood back in your lineup until he shows something, as he's been mauled in two starts since returning from the DL.
Fausto Carmona, RHP (7-1, 3.11 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) versus
Scott Olsen, LHP (4-5, 5.27 ERA, 1.65 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Carmona is having a sensational year, yet is still available in most leagues. This is a great time to pick him up, as he faces a Florida team that struggles with right-handed pitching. Keep the struggling Olsen on the bench against the potent Cleveland offense. Play only the big-name Marlins, but be more liberal allowing Indians hitters to crack your lineup. I recommended Ryan Garko last week, and he still makes a fine pickup, for the long-term as well as this matchup.
Kelvim Escobar, RHP (7-3, 2.76 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) versus
Bronson Arroyo, RHP (2-7, 5.01 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)
Game Story: Escobar has been excellent this season, but Reds starter Arroyo might have trouble holding up his end of what would have looked like a pitching duel in the preseason. Arroyo has been tagged for at least six earned runs in four consecutive starts, giving up five of the six home runs he's surrendered in total this year. Needless to say, keep him firmly planted on the bench until he figures out what's wrong. The Angels hit right-handers well, and all Angels make good plays against a starter that's struggling like Arroyo has recently. One especially good option is Casey Kotchman, who leads the majors with a .533 batting average over the last week. Play only the big-name Reds versus Escobar.
Jarrod Washburn, LHP (5-5, 3.94 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) versus
Rich Hill, LHP (5-4, 2.71 ERA, 0.98 WHIP)
Game Story: Seattle loves to face left-handers. The Mariners are hitting them at a .294 clip this season, third-best in the majors. But that's not enough to bench Hill, who has been spectacular this year, with 74 strikeouts already and a WHIP under 1.00. Use only the best Mariners in this matchup. The same goes for the Cubs' hitters. Washburn has been merely decent, and hasn't even been that in his last two starts, but the Cubs struggle against lefties and aren't very familiar with Washburn. Even Alfonso Soriano, who has seen more of the Mariners than any other Cubs hitter, is only 4-for-25 against Washburn. The Mariners' lefty makes a good play here if you need a starting pitcher.
Joe Kennedy, LHP (2-4, 3.23 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) versus
Roy Oswalt, RHP (6-4, 3.38 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
Game Story: Houston is another team that hits lefties well, and the Astros' bats have been heating up of late. That could be bad news for Kennedy, who has generally pitched well this year. Keep Kennedy on the bench for this one. Start only the big-name A's against Houston ace Oswalt, but play all of your Astros. Expect Morgan Ensberg to get the start at third base versus the left-hander Kennedy, and keep an eye on Lance Berkman. He's been issued a suspension and most likely still will be appealing when this game begins, but double check in case he has decided to go ahead and sit this one out. The status of Scott and Buck is also worth double-checking late, since both of these day-to-day hitters were among the hottest in baseball over the last week before their injuries. They're good options if they're in the lineup.
A.J. Burnett, RHP (5-5, 4.013 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) versus
Noah Lowry, LHP (5-5, 3.49 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Fred Lewis, OF, (side, DL)
Game Story: Burnett has seen a lot of the Giants from his time with the Marlins, and he's dominated most of their hitters. Pedro Feliz, Ray Durham, Barry Bonds, Ryan Klesko and Omar Vizquel are all hitting .200 or lower against Burnett. The lefty-killing Jays, on the other hand, might just have their way with host starter Lowry. Start all of your Jays, but bench all the Giants. Not even Bonds is recommended if you have a decent alternative.
Fantasy Game Notes for Tuesday: National League
John Maine, RHP (6-3, 2.78 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) versus
Hong-Chih Kuo, LHP (0-1, 4.85 ERA, 1.62 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Last week I recommended picking up Kuo against the Padres, and he performed very well, although his bullpen denied him a win by surrendering five ninth-inning runs. This matchup, however, is probably not the time to gamble on the inconsistent Taiwanese fireballer, as the Mets are extremely tough on left-handed pitching, with a National League-leading.315 batting average and an .844 OPS. Shawn Green has hit Kuo very well in his career, and there's a chance he will be activated from the DL just in time for Tuesday's game. Maine has fared very well thus far in 2007, and surely will enjoy his first-ever start in Dodger Stadium. It's hard to recommend any Dodgers aside from the big names.
Dmitri Young, 1B, WAS @ Baltimore Orioles
Tim Wakefield, SP, BOS versus Colorado Rockies
J.D. Drew, OF, BOS versus Colorado Rockies
Sean Casey, 1B, DET @ Milwaukee Brewers
Chien-Ming Wang, SP, NYY versus Arizona Diamondbacks
Greg Maddux, SP, SD @ Tampa Bay Devil Rays
David Eckstein, SS, STL @ Kansas City Royals
Juan Encarnacion, OF, STL @ Kansas City Royals
Yunel Escobar, 3B, ATL @ Minnesota Twins
Marlon Byrd, OF, TEX @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Brad Wilkerson, 1B, TEX @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Ryan Garko, 1B, CLE @ Florida Marlins
Casey Kotchman, 1B, LAA @ Cincinnati Reds
Jarrod Washburn, SP, SEA @ Chicago Cubs
Please Note that the notable injuries are not meant to be a comprehensive report of each team's disabled list. For brevity, we include only day-to-day injuries or new DL additions for players you might otherwise consider using in these games. Long-term DL or day-to-day injuries to starting pitchers who were not scheduled to appear are omitted.
Will Harris is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at willharris@TalentedMrRoto.com
FANTASY TOP HEADLINES
- Berry: Love, hate and good cheer
- Week 17 flex rankings
- Harris: Week 17 free-agent finds
- Matthew Berry's fantasy football top 200 for Week 17