Daily Notes: Giants, Bucs play two
Jeremy Guthrie, RHP (7-4, 3.22 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) versus
Chien-Ming Wang, RHP (13-6, 3.94 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
Game Story: Guthrie has been extremely homer-prone of late, allowing 12 home runs since June 20. He has faced the Yankees twice in that span, though, and held them to a combined four runs in 12 1/3 inning. The problem is the Yankees are hitting .329/.397/.559 as a team since the All-Star break, and as the saying goes, if you play with fire you will get burned. Melky Cabrera has hit so well that it seems the Yanks must keep him in center; he's hitting .370 since July 1. The Orioles have hit well as a team recently, too. Good individual fantasy performances, however, have been hard to come by. Wang was blasted by a poor Blue Jays offense recently, but has been lights-out at home (2.77 ERA).
Chad Gaudin, RHP (8-8, 4.18 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) versus
Chad Durbin, RHP (7-4, 4.44 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Placido Polanco, 2B (thumb, day-to-day)
Game Story: Gaudin has imploded against nearly every team he has faced the past month; he has an 8.66 ERA in his past six starts. The Tigers are no longer setting pace in the majors in terms of offense; their bats have declined but they're still potent enough. Marcus Thames has started every game since returning from the disabled list and is 5-for-11 with two home runs, so expect him to see regular playing time. Durbin walks too many batters and is homer-prone, so even against the Athletics he's an underwhelming spot start. Mark Ellis is hitting .310 with three home runs this month, and Jack Cust is hitting .348, which has helped the team to a .766 OPS this month -- a modest improvement on the season.
James Shields, RHP (9-7, 4.32 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) versus
Tim Wakefield, RHP (13-10, 4.81 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Shields has done a great job limiting baserunners thanks to his miniscule walk rate, but he has almost as many home runs (25) as walks (29), and despite hitters having a .289 on-base percentage against him, they're still slugging .429. As one would expect, the Sox have steadily been one of the league's best offenses all season long. While Coco Crisp's hot streak has subsided (.212 in August), Dustin Pedroia is hitting .474 on the month, and if you toss out his poor April, he's hit .358. The Devil Rays are unimpressive against righties, but Wakefield has an even 6.00 ERA since June. The D-Rays won't necessarily light him up, but it does make Wakefield too risky to start.
Jesse Litsch, RHP (4-4, 3.64 ERA, 1.51 WHIP) versus
Odalis Perez, LHP (6-11, 5.87 ERA, 1.66 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Litsch has been decent enough, although his 22-strikouts to 20 walks inspires little confidence. Although Alex Gordon may be heating up -- he has two home runs this month and is slugging .600 -- the Royals are lacking in performance right now, with even their best hitters struggling immensely. That makes Litsch a possible option if you're fairly desperate. Perez plays to the Blue Jays' strengths simply by being left-handed, and his performance, or lack thereof, doesn't help. The Blue Jays now have the best OPS in the majors against lefties (.840); Aaron Hill (.878 OPS, five homers), Frank Thomas (.325, six homers) and Reed Johnson (.371, two homers) are great options as a result.
Johan Santana, LHP (12-9, 2.98 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) versus
Felix Hernandez, RHP (8-6, 3.97 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Johan should be Johan, even though the Mariners are solid against lefties. Santana held them to one run in seven innings earlier in the season, although Jose Guillen (hitting .381 against lefties) and Yuniesky Betancourt (.326) do damage to southpaws. King Felix's 4.92 ERA in his past four starts is worrisome, especially considering the offenses he faced are about average, but he still managed 23 strikeouts to just six walks allowed in that span. Hernandez lasted 1/3 of an inning against the Twins in his only start against them this season, but that was all the way back in April when he tweaked his elbow.
Matt Cain, RHP (4-12, 3.77 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) versus
Paul Maholm LHP (7-14, 4.59 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
Game Story: The Pirates are running hot so far this month, hitting .320 as a team; Freddy Sanchez (.343 with five home runs since the break), Ronny Paulino (.294 with three home runs in August) and Adam LaRoche (.322 with seven home runs since July) have led the charge. That means Cain isn't such an automatic start, especially with his inconsistency. He has been fine in his past three starts, although two of those outings were against weak offenses, but in the four starts prior to that Cain was quite average. Maholm has a 3.96 ERA in 12 starts since June, thanks primarily to just five home runs allowed in that span. Randy Winn is a threat against lefties, as he's hitting .346 against them this season, but otherwise the Giants struggle against lefties for the most part.
San Francisco Giants @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Noah Lowry, LHP (12-7, 3.32 ERA, 1.45 WHIP) versus
Shane Youman, LHP (2-3, 4.76 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Dave Roberts, OF (knee, questionable); Xavier Nady, OF (hamstring, questionable)
Game Story: The difference between Lowry at home (2.62 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) and on the road (4.03 ERA, 1.54 WHIP) has been striking. He even has 40 walks compared to 29 strikeouts on the road, and while the Pirates usually have a weak offense, they have stepped it up this month. Youman's ability to prevent home runs is great -- he has allowed only one in 34 innings -- but otherwise, as his 15-to-13K/BB (strikeout to walk ratio) suggests, he's best left alone.
Roy Oswalt, RHP (12-6, 3.42 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) versus
Chad Billingsley, RHP (7-3, 3.34 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Delwyn Young, OF (calf, day-to-day)
Game Story: Oswalt has allowed only two runs in past 25 innings, and the Dodgers have simultaneously resumed their offensive struggles, with a weak .273/.322/.398 line since the break. Billingsley too has been effective with a 2.75 ERA in his past six starts. He hasn't been as dominant as Oswalt, with six home runs and a 41-to-22 K-BB ratio, but nonetheless it should be a fine pitching duel. The Astros can't hit either, ranking 25th in OPS since the break, so the hitting options are limited on both sides.
Melky Cabrera, OF, NYY versus Baltimore Orioles
Marcus Thames, OF, DET versus Oakland Athletics
Jack Cust, OF, OAK @ Detroit Tigers
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS versus Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Alex Gordon, 3B, KC versus Toronto Blue Jays
Frank Thomas, DH, TOR @ Kansas City Royals
Reed Johnson, OF, TOR @ Kansas City Royals
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, SEA versus Minnesota Twins
Adam LaRoche, 1B, PIT versus San Francisco Giants
Freddy Sanchez, 2B, PIT versus San Francisco Giants
Paul Maholm, SP, PIT versus San Francisco Giants
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.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at Adam@TalentedMrRoto.com