Commentary

Daily Notes: Zambrano highlights SNB

Updated: August 18, 2007, 1:40 PM ET
By Sean Allen | Special to ESPN.com

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Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: American League

Yankee Stadium (outdoor) 1:05 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 78 degrees)
Jeremy Bonderman, RHP (10-5, 4.65 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) versus
Chien-Ming Wang. RHP (13-6, 4.09 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Placido Polanco, 2B (flu, questionable)

Game Story: Bonderman pitched well in his most recent outing against Cleveland, but is he really an automatic start with a 7.53 ERA since the All-Star break and no wins since July 13? I don't think he's someone you can trust against top offenses anymore. He fared well against Cleveland though, right? Well, Cleveland is 29th in team OPS since the break (.704) and the Yankees are No. 1 in that category (.922). Send Bonderman to the bench. Wang's six-inning, five earned run outing against Baltimore in his previous start was the first time he has missed a quality start at home since May 10. He should be just fine. Not enough fantasy owners have taken notice of how well Jason Giambi has come back. He has four home runs over the previous seven days.

Rogers Stadium (indoor/retractable roof) 1:07 p.m. ET
Jeremy Guthrie, RHP (7-4, 3.50 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) versus
Roy Halladay, RHP (14-5, 3.99 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: none

Game Story: Halladay has had his poise back of late. He hasn't faced Baltimore this season yet, but in four games last season he went 3-0 with a 2.76 ERA. Start him. In three August starts, Guthrie hasn't pitched past the sixth and has watched his ERA shoot from 2.89 to 3.50 in the process. He's not an automatic start here, but after looking at some of the teams he has faced lately I am going to recommend him. Guthrie has drawn the Yankees twice, Seattle twice plus Boston and Oakland in his last six starts, and when facing the A's in there managed a seven-inning, two-hit shutout. As long as the competition isn't among the league's elite, Guthrie has been fine. Aubrey Huff continues to stay hot, 8-for-his-last-22 with two home runs.

Tropicana Field (indoor) 1:40 p.m. ET
C.C. Sabathia, LHP (14-6, 3.48 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) versus
James Shields, RHP (9-8, 4.22 ERA, 1.12 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Ryan Garko, 1B (groin, should play); Travis Hafner, DH (hamstring/knee, should play); Trot Nixon, OF (flu, questionable)

Game Story: Shields is proving that his little blowup against the Yankees on July 22 was an isolated incident. He has three straight quality starts; the last two with just one earned run. As mentioned, Cleveland ranks 29th in team OPS since the break and will provide Shields with a great line at the end of the day. The Indians have been Shields' biggest strikeout victims, with 22 in 14 1/3 innings this season. Tampa has been falling down the rankings for OPS versus left-handers lately (now tenth in the majors), making Sabathia an easy call to start. He has two outings against the Devil Rays this season; both of them seven-inning, two-earned run, eight-strikeout performances. With all the bumps and bruises on the Indians, deep leagues can almost surely count on a start from Kelly Shoppach. When the Devil Rays face a lefty, Akinori Iwamura is always an option (.325 average versus LHP).

Fenway Park (outdoor) 2:05 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 77 degrees)
Joe Saunders, LHP (6-1, 3.50 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) versus
Tim Wakefield, RHP (14-10, 4.55 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Doug Mirabelli, C (calf, DL); Howie Kendrick, 2B (finger, DL/might be activated)

Game Story: He is not going to get you strikeouts or pretty-up your WHIP, but Saunders is going to get real close to a quality start and give you a better than average chance for a win. If that's what you need, feel free to use him. He had a quality start against Toronto into his previous outing and while the Sox are no slouches, the Jays lead the league in OPS versus southpaws. The Angels chewed up Wakefield on August 7 and you'd have to be a much riskier gambler than I to try him out in this game, so soon after coughing up six earned runs to the Halos and without his personal catcher for the knuckleball. Start whatever offense you need to from both teams in this game.

Metrodome (indoor) 2:10 p.m. ET
Kevin Millwood, RHP (8-9, 5.63 ERA, 1.64 WHIP) versus
Johan Santana, LHP (12-9, 3.02 ERA, 1.05 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Jason Bartlett, SS (hamstring, day-to-day); Jason Kubel, OF (oblique, questionable)

Game Story: The Twins rank 29th in team OPS for the month of August and outside of one real stinker, Millwood has been pretty-darn good since the start of July. His Strikeouts have even been showing up on occasion of late. I like him for AL-only, but I think there are better options today for mixed. Santana is much closer to average for his ERA at home this season, but his peripherals (WHIP, K's) are there. Besides, who ever benches Santana? Ian Kinsler's ownership in ESPN leagues is still not universal. He is back from the DL and on fire for Texas, yet available in 34 percent of ESPN leagues. Not that Johan is your average southpaw, but Kinsler hits lefties for a 1.024 OPS. Now might be a good time to pick him up.

Safeco Field (outdoor/retractable roof) 4:05p.m. ET
Jon Garland, RHP (8-8, 4.63 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) versus
Felix Hernandez, RHP (8-6, 3.86 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Paul Konerko, 1B (bereavement list, out)

Game Story: Figure this out: Hernandez's home ERA is better than his road, his WHIP at home is much worse, his strikeouts are way higher in Safeco, but his batting average against while away is 30 points lower. Take from that what you will, but I'll recommend Hernandez in this game simply because the White Sox are 16th in OPS since the All-Star break and 28th in OPS over the previous seven days. Garland has too many extremely damaging blowups in the past two months to recommend using him against the team that ranks fourth in OPS for August. That, and Raul Ibanez has been hot enough without factoring in his .391 average (18-for-46) and 1.070 OPS versus Garland. If home runs is what you need, Josh Fields continues to be a low-average source of home runs. He has two more in the previous week.

McAfee Coliseum (outdoor) 4:05 p.m. ET (sunny, high 70 degrees)
Kyle Davies, RHP (5-9, 5.72 ERA, 1.58 WHIP) versus
Lenny DiNardo, LHP (7-6, 3.29 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Mark Kotsay, OF (back, DL); Travis Buck, OF (leg, questionable)

Game Story: Despite pitching better since coming to the Royals, Davies' WHIP is still too high to use him, even in AL-only leagues. DiNardo is looking a little less appealing as a spot start lately, but is still usable at home where his ERA is 2.96. After a hot July, the Royals OPS is back down to 27th in the league for August so DiNardo should be in for the win and close to a quality start. Alex Gordon is on another streak (9-for-his-last-24, .375) and has two home runs in the last week. He remains widely available in ESPN leagues (16 percent owned). Jeff DaVanon is up covering for some of the injuries on Oakland. He always remains a threat for speed and average when he gets playing time.

Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: National League

Turner Field (outdoor) 1:10 p.m. ET (partly cloudy, high of 97 degrees)
Yusmeiro Petit, RHP (2-3, 4.23 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) versus
John Smoltz, RHP (10-6, 3.09 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Edgar Renteria, SS (ankle, DL/may return)

Game Story: Petit is a flyball pitcher through and through, and Turner Field is slightly in his favor as far as limiting home runs goes. For that reason I like him for NL-only. Take away his rotten game in Petco Park and Petit has pretty much gone as the Park Factor dictates, with other poor outings coming in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park and Chase Field. Despite the tear that Arizona has been on, they still rank down at 20th for team OPS in August so Smoltz is a fine start. Is there anyone hotter than Chris B. Young? His five home runs in the last week should wake up a lot of fantasy players to his speed and power combination; you might even say it should wake up an owner in 74 percent ESPN leagues.

Dolphins Stadium (outdoor) 1:05 p.m. ET (50 percent chance of showers, high 89 degrees)
Noah Lowry, LHP (13-7, 3.28 ERA, 1.46 WHIP) versus
Dontrelle Willis, LHP (8-12, 4.93 ERA, 1.63 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Miguel Olivo, C (groin, questionable)

Game Story: He is not going to be kind to your WHIP, but the other categories are there for Lowry lately. However, the Marlins eat left-handers alive, so you may want to exercise caution with him, especially considering all the men he allows on base. It's going to take more than Willis' previous 11 strikeout performance before I allow him to get a free pass on being a recommended fantasy start. I will note that his numbers against the Giants have been less than stellar in his career. Willis has allowed a 5.08 ERA in five starts against the Giants and has less than a strikeout for every two innings against them. I will however, rebuke that fact with this one: The Giants have a league-worst .688 OPS versus left-handers this year. I'm going to meet this one in the middle and say Willis is high-risk/high-reward start here. I don't expect something in the middle; only a gem or a stinker. You decide if you need to risk it.

PNC Park (outdoor) 1:35 p.m. ET (30 percent chance of showers, high 72 degrees)
Kyle Lohse, RHP (7-12, 4.57 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) versus
Ian Snell, RHP (7-10, 3.87 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Xavier Nady, OF (hamstring, pinch hitting only); Jack Wilson, SS (asthma, day-to-day)

Game Story: The results were positive against the Mets after the Pirates worked on having Snell find the inside of the plate more often. No reason to think he won't bring more of the same against the Phillies. I always feel safer with a good pitcher that was struggling, when a specific problem is pointed out and worked on, and I feel safe using Snell here and for the rest of the season. Count Freddy Sanchez, Jason Bay, Jose Bautista and Adam LaRoche among the Pirates who bat below the Mendoza Line against Lohse. That said, the Bucs trail only the Yankees for OPS in the month of August and hot bats have a way of finding the ball against soft-tossers like Lohse. Josh Phelps has hit .455 in limited playing time over the last week (5-for-11) and has two home runs. Nate McLouth is someone to add for all around production, he has seven runs, three doubles, two home runs, five RBIs and three steals over the last seven days. Pat Burrell is also still hitting everything he sees (.316 in previous week).

RFK Stadium (outdoor) 1:35 p.m. ET (partly cloudy, high 78 degrees)
Orlando Hernandez, RHP (7-4, 3.12 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) versus
Shawn Hill, RHP (3-3, 2.41 ERA, 0.98 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Ramon Castro, C (back questionable); Carlos Delgado, 1B (leg, questionable); Lastings Milledge, OF (flu, questionable)

Game Story: Both teams are bringing strong hitting this month as the Mets are third in August OPS (.884) and the Nationals are ninth (.796), but I'm betting on the pitchers in this one. Hernandez has been lights out since the All-Star break, sporting a 2.96 ERA and a stellar .177 batting average against. Hill, meantime, was dominating before hitting the DL in May and dominated in his first start back against a tough Philadelphia squad. Both pitchers are available in plenty of ESPN leagues (Hernandez 42 percent, Hill 98 percent) and are worth a spot start in mixed leagues. If Arizona's Young isn't the hottest hitter over the last week, Moises Alou is. Alou is still widely available and is batting .385 over the last seven days and has four home runs in that span.

Miller Park (indoor/retractable roof) 2:05 p.m. ET
Aaron Harang, RHP (12-3, 3.50 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) versus
Chris Capuano, LHP (5-10, 5.23 ERA, 1.51 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Alex Gonzalez, SS (bereavement list, questionable)

Game Story: This is likely Capuano's last chance to prove he deserves to stick in the struggling Brewers' rotation, and I like his chances to stay around. He has fooled Cincinnati to a 0.66 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in two starts this season; as recently as July 23. The Reds also remain 28th in the majors for OPS versus southpaws. Harang was also in that pitchers duel between the two clubs on July 23, but he lasted ten innings and struck out ten. I think he knows how to beat this lineup just fine. Josh Hamilton isn't showing too many ill effects from his wrist injury, and deserves a look if you need power. He is 6-for-16 with a home run since returning. Norris Hopper should also get the start against a lefty and is batting .533 over the previous week.

Petco Park (outdoor) 4:05 p.m. ET (mostly sunny, high of 77 degrees)
Matt Albers, RHP (3-5, 5.99 ERA, 1.61 WHIP) versus
Greg Maddux, RHP (8-9, 4.00 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Milton Bradley, OF (hamstring, questionable)

Game Story: As is the case when you play in a pitcher-friendly environment like Petco, Maddux remains a spot start option at home. Although Albers has some intriguing upside at Petco, I'd stay away. Albers has allowed 12 runs in 14 innings for August. Craig Biggio knows Maddux well and has been on a modest streak (5-for-16 with a home run). He should be worth plugging in. Luke Scott is 3-for-3 in his career against Maddux. Check if he starts Saturday before planning on using him though. After having a quiet bat for a while, Kevin Kouzmanoff has been stroking again. He's hitting .375 over the previous seven days with a home run.

Dodger Stadium (outdoor) 4:10 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 85 degrees)
Jeff Francis, LHP (13-6, 4.43 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) versus
Brett Tomko, RHP (2-10, 5.67 ERA, 1.57 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: none

Game Story: Francis has been doing everything right this season, and has a solid 2-0 record with a 2.51 ERA versus the Dodgers in two starts this year. The way the Dodgers have been hitting (30th in team OPS for August, .637), this game should be easy as pie for Francis. It's rare to see a solid start out of Tomko and the Rockies have been hitting this month (sixth in team OPS for August, .835); stay far, far away. Even though he doesn't hit as well against right-handers, Ryan Spilborghs still remains an option as long as Willy Taveras is on the DL. It's hard to believe Troy Tulowitzki is still hanging around in 51 percent of ESPN leagues. He has nine RBIs over the last week.

Wrigley Field (outdoor) 8:05 p.m. ET (70 percent chance of showers, high of 80 degrees)
Kip Wells, RHP (6-13, 5.24 ERA, 1.53 WHIP) versus
Carlos Zambrano, RHP (14-9, 3.86 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Cliff Floyd, OF (bereavement list, questionable)

Game Story: We'll see if the unresolved contract issues were a burden on Zambrano or not, now that he is inked to the tune of 91-million dollars for five years. It's possible the looming deal could have played a role in Big Z's horrific performance against the Reds. With his emotions on his sleeve, Zambrano can be easily distracted. He has a tidy 2.03 ERA in two starts versus the Cardinals and no Cardinals regular with double-digit career at-bats against him (except for Aaron Miles) has a batting average better than .250. Even Albert Pujols hits .205 against Zambrano. I'd trust Zambrano in any format for this game. I think Wells can duel with Zambrano a bit in this game. Wells actually has a 2.37 ERA in three August starts and a 3.63 ERA since the All-Star break. The strikeouts have even been there for Wells lately. I'm OK with starting him in NL-only, but wouldn't stretch my luck to mixed. Both Jacque Jones and Aramis Ramirez hit better than .400 against Wells in 17 and 20 at-bats, respectively.

Waiver Wire Pickups

Jason Giambi, 1B, NYY versus Detroit Tigers
Aubrey Huff, 1B/3B/OF, BAL @ Toronto Blue Jays
Kelly Shoppach, C, CLE @ Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Akinori Iwamura, 3B, TB versus Cleveland Indians
Joe Saunders, SP, LAA versus Boston Red Sox
Josh Fields, 3B, CHW @ Minnesota Twins
Alex Gordon, 3B, KC @Oakland Athletics
Jeff DaVanon, OF, OAK versus Kansas City Royals
Chris B. Young, OF ARI @ Atlanta Braves
Pat Burrell, OF, PHI @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Nate McLouth, OF, PIT versus Philadelphia Phillies
Moises Alou, OF, NYM @ Washington Nationals
Josh Hamilton, OF, CIN @ Milwaukee Brewers
Norris Hopper, OF, CIN @ Milwaukee Brewers
Craig Biggio, 2B, HOU @ San Diego Padres
Luke Scott, OF, HOU @ San Diego Padres
Greg Maddux, SP, SD versus Houston Astros
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, SD versus Houston Astros
Ryan Spilborghs, OF, COL @ Los Angeles Dodgers
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL @ Los Angeles Dodgers
Kip Wells, SP, STL @ 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.

Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at alla_rino@TalentedMrRoto.com

Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He was the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hockey Writer of the Year. You can tweet him @seanard.

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