Daily Notes: Start Wandy Rodriguez at home
Andy Pettitte, LHP (7-7, 3.97 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) versus
Jesse Litsch, RHP (4-4, 3.47 ERA, 1.48 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Jorge Posada, C (knee, day-to-day)
Game Story: New York has a .947 OPS since the All-Star break and could do some serious damage to a fantasy team playing Litsch. Besides, the Yankees chased Litsch before he could get out of the first inning on May 30. Expect some baserunners for Pettitte -- only Detroit hits southpaws better than Toronto. Still, Pettitte has done well preventing the Jays from crossing the plate this season, holding down a 1.26 ERA in 14 innings against Toronto. The heart of Toronto's order historically hits Pettitte well: Troy Glaus is 10-for-34 (.294) with three home runs, Frank Thomas is 17-for-45 (.378) with three home runs and Vernon Wells is 11-for-26 (.423). Feel free to bench Lyle Overbay who is 1-for-15 (.067) against Pettitte.
Edwin Jackson, RHP (2-11, 6.56 ERA, 1.80 WHIP) versus
Justin Verlander, RHP (11-4, 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Carlos Guillen, SS (knee, day-to-day)
Game Story: These two offenses have been going different directions since the All-Star break. Detroit is 13th in OPS since then and Tampa Bay is sixth. Verlander was fairly average for the month of July, posting a 4.50 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. The Devil Rays offense has been firing on all cylinders the past week, but they're strongest against southpaws so Verlander should be all right. Don't even dream of touching Jackson.
Paul Byrd, RHP (9-4, 4.43 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) versus
Carlos Silva, RHP (9-11, 4.61 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: None
Game Story: Byrd has been walking more batters of late but is still putting up numbers slightly better than the league average. If you look at his monthly splits this seasons, June was is the only month that wouldn't qualify as fantasy worthy. Minnesota has scored the fewest runs in baseball since the All-Star break and is 23rd in team OPS since then (.713). Byrd should be in line for a win and a quality start, but with a WHIP a little higher than you'd like. Justin Morneau has hit him hard in his career, but Byrd has kept Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer below the Mendoza Line. Silva may be coming off one of his better outings, but the Indians have had his number this season. He has a 6.55 ERA in two starts versus Cleveland this year and has a 5.11 ERA against the Indians in his career. Grady Sizemore, Casey Blake, Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez all rake against Silva; Sizemore and Martinez especially, each with an OPS better than 1.400 in at least 27 at-bats. Although he hasn't been in the lineup as often lately, Trot Nixon gets some starts against right-handers and has four hits in his last nine plate appearances.
Dallas Braden, LHP (1-6, 5.38 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) versus
John Rheinecker, LHP (1-0, 5.74 ERA, 1.85 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Eric Chavez, 3B (back, DL)
Game Story: Braden is starting to look like Oakland has found another version of Lenny DiNardo; tempting for fantasy, but not always lasting long enough into games to make his starts usable. Rheinecker's stats may be from a small sample size (four games) but they are in line with what he put up in 70 innings last season. I'd stay away from both pitchers in this one. Travis Buck is hot right now, so his strong splits against southpaws makes him a must-start. Frank Catalanotto is starting to settle into the leadoff role -- hitting .316 the past seven days. You can consider him for spot starts when you need a boost in average or runs. Nelson Cruz is also making an impact after the Rangers were sellers at the trade deadline. Cruz has eight hits in his last 22 at-bats (.364) with a home run.
Curt Schilling, RHP (6-4, 4.20 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) versus
Jered Weaver, RHP (7-5, 4.00 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: J.D. Drew, OF (personal, day-to-day); Curt Schilling, SP (shoulder, activated from DL)
Game Story: Of course, you have to take the conservative approach with Schilling. Still, it will be nice for fantasy managers who are depending on Schilling to see him pitch. I'm sure he is as recovered as he will be from the shoulder tendinitis that crippled his fastball in mid-June, but the Angels offense and a possible low pitch-count means you should bench him. On the other side, David Ortiz might single-handedly convince you to bench Weaver; Big Papi is 4-for-5 against him. Beyond Ortiz, Weaver is on a bit of a cold stretch, allowing six earned runs in each of his previous two outings. I'd avoid him if possible. After a July drop in his numbers, Dustin Pedroia is swinging a hot bat again. He is 9-for-his-last-24 and is available in 80 percent of ESPN leagues. If you want to talk about someone who is widely available and a somewhat useful as a fill-in; how about Maicer Izturis? He is batting a reasonable .286 the last seven days and has a combo deal over that span (one steal, one homer). Izturis hit .040 points better after the break last season (.303 compared to .261) and appears to be in line for regular playing time as long as Howie Kendrick is out.
Rich Hill, LHP (6-6, 3.67 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) versus
Wandy Rodriguez, LHP (7-10, 4.72 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Aramis Ramirez, 3B (knee, day-to-day)
Game Story: Rodriguez' stupendous home-away splits will be tested again. Until further notice though, he is a terrific start at home, where he carries a 1.76 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP this season. It's a trend in his numbers that has defied all matchups so far, so I wouldn't be worried even though the Cubs hammered him at Wrigley. Because of Way-Rod's numbers at Minute Maid Park, try to stick with only your superstar Cubbies if you have another option (which you may not have with this light schedule). Hill has excelled in strikeouts but has been much closer to average everywhere else this season. He is still going through brief bouts of inconsistency during which he will have two or three rough outings in a row and then regain his dominance. The career at-bats against Hill are very limited for the Astros; nevertheless, Brad Ausmus is the only Astro with a hit against Hill. Hill's jump-start on an Astros squad that is unfamiliar with him will cancel out Houston's 10th-ranked OPS versus southpaws, and Hill should have a decent-enough line to start in any league but the shallowest. Mike Lamb makes a rewarding spot start for your corner-infield spot; he hits lefties quite well.
David Wells, LHP (5-7, 5.18 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) versus
Braden Looper, RHP (8-9, 5.23 ERA, 1.43 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Milton Bradley (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: Start most Cardinals here. Wells has been lit up in his last few outings, coughing up 19 earned runs in 12 and 2/3 innings. So Taguchi -- with his .045 point improvement in average versus southpaws -- stands out. Scott Rolen should also be a good play; he is starting to hit the ball better lately and is 7-for-22 (.444) with three home runs versus Wells. Looper has been very inconsistent, unable to string together back-to-back quality starts since May 12. But his numbers at home have been very respectable (4-3, 3.51 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) and I'd use him here for a win; just don't ask for many strikeouts. I especially like Looper with recent catalyst Bradley slowed by injury. Bradley, with a clean bill of health, is mixed-league ready as a Padre. He is hitting .360 since the trade from Oakland, but in his current status, he should probably be benched even if he plays.
Claudio Vargas, RHP (9-3, 4.78 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) versus
Josh Fogg, RHP (5-7, 4.87 ERA, 1.49 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: None
Game Story: Vargas is not the kind of pitcher you just send out in Coors Field without thinking twice about it. In fact, a struggling Brewers offense (23rd in team OPS post All-Star break) means Vargas isn't even a strong gamble for a win, begging the question of why you would use him at all here. Combined, the heart of the Rockies order (Garrett Atkins, Matt Holliday, Todd Helton) is hitting better than .300 against Vargas in their careers. Since there aren't too many pitchers I am recommending today, I'm going out on a limb to support Fogg as a spot-start option in NL-only leagues. Fogg hasn't thrown a stinker since June 29 and his ground-ball-inducing style should play well against Milwaukee, which plays with more power than speed. Colorado is 10th in team OPS the past seven days, so its offense should be able to help Fogg to a win. Only Geoff Jenkins poses a very serious threat based on career numbers. Jenkins is 15-for-29 (.517) with four home runs versus Fogg.
John Lannan, LHP (1-0, 5.40 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) versus
Tim Lincecum, RHP (6-2, 3.75 ERA, 1.19 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Rich Aurilia, 1B (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: Lannan has the chance to make a name for himself in a negative way again. He is already cursed by many a fantasy owner for crunching Chase Utley's fingers, now he is in line to cough up No. 756 to Barry Bonds. Lincecum has been downright dominant over his eight previous starts. Basically, go heavy on Giants bats and light on any Nationals.
Trot Nixon, OF, CLE @ Minnesota Twins
Travis Buck, OF, OAK @ Texas Rangers
Frank Catalanotto, OF, TEX versus Oakland Athletics
Nelson Cruz, OF, TEX versus Oakland Athletics
Dustin Pedroia, 2B/SS, BOS @ Los Angeles Angels
Maicer Izturis, SS/2B/3B, LAA versus Boston Red Sox
So Taguchi, OF, STL versus San Diego Padres
Scott Rolen, 3B, STL versus San Diego Padres
Braden Looper, SP, STL versus San Diego Padres
Wandy Rodriguez, SP, HOU versus Chicago Cubs
Mike Lamb, 3B/1B, HOU versus Chicago Cubs
Josh Fogg, SP, COL versus Milwaukee Brewers
Geoff Jenkins, OF, MIL @ Colorado Rockies
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.
Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at alla_rino@TalentedMrRoto.com