- Sean Allen
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Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: American League
Comerica Park (outdoor) 1:05 p.m. ET (sunny, with a high of 79 degrees)
Phil Hughes, RHP (2-1, 4.96 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) versus
Jair Jurrjens, RHP (1-1, 3.29 ERA, 0.88 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Gary Sheffield, DH (shoulder, doubtful)
Game Story: Coming off six-plus innings of one-hit ball, it's Jurrjens not Hughes that seems to be intriguing as a spot start. However, the Yankees haven't taken their foot off the gas pedal and still lead the majors in OPS for the month of August (.907). Considering that Jurrjens performance came against the team that is 27th in August OPS (Cleveland), he doesn't seem nearly as tempting. Hughes, meantime, has one better-than-average, one average and two below-average starts since his August return from the DL. The Tigers have not been a force to reckon with offensively in August, yet I'd still have qualms about starting Hughes considering his one solid game this month came against that same Cleveland team that hasn't been hitting. Everyone in the Yankees lineup has been "on" this month, including Melky Cabrera (84 percent available ESPN leagues). With Sheffield aching, Cameron Maybin should have an easier time getting into the starting lineup (especially the way Marcus Thames hits righties), and the rookie has been doing pretty well over the previous week (1 HR, 2 SB, .267). Facing the young Hughes might be a good time to try him out.
Oriole Park (outdoor) 1:35 p.m. ET (60 percent chance of showers, high of 87 degrees)
Scott Baker, RHP (6-6, 4.50 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) versus
Erik Bedard, LHP (13-4, 2.97 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Scott Baker, SP (personal, doubtful)
Game Story: Be careful hanging your week in H2H leagues on Bedard as the chance of showers is highlighted in the forecast. Consider picking up a backup option if you need some stats. If the game goes as scheduled, expect another mow-down from Bedard, who has been hotter than the temperature in Memphis lately. Be even more careful depending on Baker in this outing. According to MLB.com, his wife went into labor on Friday, and he has flown back to Louisiana to be with her. The same report says he'd fly back to start Sunday's game, but I wouldn't bet on that happening. Kevin Slowey would be the logical call up to fill in and has been red-hot since being demoted to Triple-A after a brief stint with the Twins in June. Since Baltimore hasn't been anything resembling a dangerous team offensively this month (22nd in team OPS, .744), I'd consider Slowey in deep AL-only leagues. Aubrey Huff is still widely available and still smacking home runs (two in the previous week). I'd consider starting only Torii Hunter and Justin Morneau against Bedard, as they both hit him better than .400 in their careers with two home runs each.
Tropicana Field (indoor) 1:40 p.m. ET
Dan Haren, RHP (14-4, 2.66 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) versus
Andy Sonnanstine, RHP (2-9, 6.53 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Shannon Stewart, OF (toe, probable)
Game Story: Forget the fact that an AL Cy Young contender is opposing him on the hill, Sonnanstine has other concerns. Tampa Bay has lost 12 of the 15 games he has started. Opponents are batting .324 against him in Tropicana Field, so Oakland should have an enjoyable day on offense. Pick up Jack Cust for some power (89 percent available in ESPN leagues) and Dan Johnson for some average (99 percent available in ESPN leagues). The only real knock on Haren lately is that a string of seven- and eight-inning games before the All-Star break turned into a string of five- and six-inning games since then. He's still effective enough and definitely warrants a start against teams like Tampa Bay. Stewart's questionable availability is more fuel to speculate that Jeff DaVanon will get a start (he has been starting lately even with Stewart healthy), and DaVanon is always good for some base-hits and a run or two in AL-only.
U.S. Cellular Field (outdoor) 2:05 p.m. ET (sunny, with a high of 79 degrees)
Julian Tavarez, RHP (6-9, 5.01 ERA, 1.51 WHIP) versus
Javier Vazquez, RHP (11-6, 3.66 ERA, 1.12 WHIP)
Game Story: Vazquez's recent track record outweighs the might of the Red Sox lineup, and Vazquez is someone to start in this game. Vazquez has a 3.18 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP at home and already has a quality start logged against Boston. Tavarez, on the other hand, can be safely ignored. His only redeeming quality is that he pitches for the winningest team in baseball, but I expect Vazquez to shut down the Red Sox, so Tavarez won't even offer a "W". Josh Fields continues to crank out home runs, for anyone looking for some cheap power.
Kauffman Stadium (outdoor) 2:10 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 88 degrees)
Fausto Carmona, RHP (14-8, 3.11 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) versus
Gil Meche, RHP (7-11, 3.88 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Mark Teahen, OF (elbow, DL)
Game Story: To anyone in the preseason who would have pegged this as a strong pitchers' duel, please forward me your picks for the next lottery. Yet, here we are with two pitchers managing an ERA in the 3.00's and notching more than 100 strikeouts thus far. Kansas City ranks 28th in August OPS (.690) and Cleveland ranks 29th (.681), so yes, both pitchers are terrific starts. I'd still start Casey Blake and Victor Martinez, who each have 18 at-bats against Meche, resulting in seven and six RBIs respectively. Jhonny Peralta also shouldn't be benched unless you have a much better option as he sports a 6-for-10 (.600) career mark versus Meche. Any other Tribe member can ride the pine though. Alex Gordon also appears safe for the Royals, as he has tormented Carmona this season with a .750 average (6-for-8). Despite these strong histories, I still expect a low-scoring game and some solid lines from both pitchers.
Angel Stadium (outdoor) 3:35 p.m. ET (cloudy, high of 84 degrees)
Dustin McGowan, RHP (8-7, 4.19 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) versus
Kelvim Escobar, RHP (14-6, 2.85 ERA, 1.19 WHIP)
Game Story: Escobar has been able to consistently dial it up a degree against his former team, keeping a tidy 1.98 ERA in 41 innings and notching 46 strikeouts versus Toronto. Of the Jays with a significant number of at-bats against him, only Reed Johnson has a really strong history versus Escobar (7-for-18). McGowan also looks like a solid spot start for anyone looking for some strikeouts. It was just more than a week ago when McGowan logged a quality start against these Angels while striking out seven of them (and that was with Figgins and Kotchman in the lineup). If you are looking for a spot-start Angel, Maicer Izturis doubled and knocked in a run on August 16 against McGowan and is 10-for-his-last-25 (.400) entering Saturday.
Rangers Ballpark (outdoor) 8:35 p.m. ET (clear, low of 79 degrees)
Jarrod Washburn, LHP (9-10, 4.11 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) versus
Vicente Padilla, RHP (3-9, 6.55 ERA, 1.78 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Gerald Laird, C (flu, day-to-day)
Game Story: If you aren't concerned about strikeouts, Washburn has an ERA almost a full-run better on the road and more than two runs better at night. Since this isn't a home, day game, he looks like a good spot start. He lasted only into the sixth inning allowing three earned runs in July in Arlington, but Mark Teixeira and Kenny Lofton did some of the damage. I highly doubt they'll be factors in this game. The bloom fell off Padilla pretty quick after a shutout return from the DL turned into six earned runs his next time out. This will be his third start since returning to the rotation, and I suspect it will have more similarities to his most recent outing. On May 31, Seattle knocked Padilla out after three innings, charging him with seven earned runs. I would be remiss not to mention Michael Young's 19-for-53 (.358) history against Washburn, but I don't think Young can single-handedly tag him with too many runs. Adrian Beltre is notable, as he has five hits versus Padilla, four of them home runs.
Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: National League
Great American Ball Park (outdoor) 1:15 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 86 degrees)
Daniel Barone, RHP (0-1, 4.40 ERA, 1.88 WHIP) versus
Mike Gosling, LHP (2-0, 4.50 ERA, 2.04 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Bobby Livingston, SP (shoulder, DL/scheduled starter)
Game Story: The actual Reds starter is listed as TBA, but MLB.com reports that Gosling is the strongest option. If that is officially the case, grab Cody Ross right away. With a 47 at-bat sample size this season, he has a 1.299 OPS versus southpaws, five home runs and 19 RBIs. Even look at that split for his career and he has a 1.011 OPS versus lefties. He's stronger than some of your best outfield options as long as the Marlins face a left-hander; especially one with a 2.04 WHIP like Gosling. There isn't enough of a book on Barone in the majors to risk playing him against the Reds and their fifth best team OPS in August (.851). Josh Hamilton's wrist looks better, as he has knocked two out of the park over the last seven days. Put him back on your radar screen.
Citizens Bank Park (outdoor) 1:35 p.m. ET (40 percent chance of showers, cloudy, high of 90 degrees)
Tim Stauffer, RHP (0-0, 17.18 ERA, 1.91 WHIP) versus
Kyle Kendrick, RHP (6-3, 4.06 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)
Game Story: Don't even think about trying out Stauffer against a Phillies lineup that may just get their catalyst back. Check the latest, but there is a chance Utley returns for this one. With someone of his caliber, he deserves immediate activation from your DL. While he might be a good bet to win this game, I wouldn't gamble with Kendrick. Every single Padres regular is batting better than .300 over the previous week. That is not an exaggeration at all. Brian Giles (.346), Mike Cameron (.368), Milton Bradley (.400), Adrian Gonzalez (.414), Khalil Greene (.357), Kevin Kouzmanoff (.318), Josh Bard (.500) and Marcus Giles (.364) have all been on fire over the past seven days. Use as you see fit. For the Phillies, get Shane Victorino back in your lineup. A stolen base is evidence that his calf is doing just fine.
Minute Maid Park (indoor) 2:05 p.m. ET
Tony Armas, RHP (2-4, 7.08 ERA, 1.73 WHIP) versus
Wandy Rodriguez, LHP (7-12, 4.58 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Xavier Nady, OF (hamstring, questionable)
Game Story: I'm going against the "Wandy Rule" here and saying avoid him. His home ERA is still a pleasant 2.28, and his home WHIP a tidy 1.00, but in his last start he was rocked by the Nationals in Minute Maid for seven earned runs and was chased in the sixth. But that isn't my real concern. More alarming is the Pirates' August OPS of .878. Only the Mariners and Yankees have been hitting better. Adam LaRoche and Nady (if he plays) will account for much of the damage (both batting better than .400 over the last week), while Nate McLouth has been terrific setting the table. In fact, McLouth is still at only 5 percent ownership in ESPN leagues despite his seven home runs and six stolen bases in August. Add 17 RBIs to those numbers and it becomes criminal that more fantasy teams aren't using him. Bottom line; the Pirates are hot, and don't start Wandy at home. Houston has had a terrible OPS in August (.714) and Armas actually looks like a decent start in what's been a pitcher-friendly environment this year. I mostly support Armas for NL-only because he should come close to a quality start and get a win from his blistering-hot offense.
Busch Stadium (outdoor) 2:15 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 88 degrees)
Jo-Jo Reyes, LHP (0-1, 9.62 ERA, 2.05 WHIP) versus
Adam Wainwright, RHP (11-9, 3.97 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Edgar Renteria, SS (ankle, DL)
Game Story: It's a red-hot pitcher (Wainwright) versus a red-hot offense (Atlanta) and one of them will have to break. Wainwright's ERA is nearly a full-run worse at home, but that fact can be countered with his seven-inning, seven-strikeout domination of the Braves on July 20. The Braves didn't have Teixeira then, and I think he is the difference-maker that makes me shy away from starting Wainwright. The Braves .859 OPS (fourth in the majors) in August doesn't help make a case for Wainwright either. Reyes' last two starts equal a 14.29 ERA and a 2.02 WHIP in 5 and 2/3 innings. Even Wainwright (6-for-17, .353 with a home run versus LHP) should get in on the Reyes action. Even though Rick Ankiel hit lefties for a better average than righties in the minors this season, he still isn't getting starts against them, so don't count on his power. With the dismissal of Bob Wickman, almost 80 percent of ESPN leagues have an elite closer available on the waiver wire in Rafael Soriano. Pounce on him now.
Coors Field (outdoor) 3:05 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 94 degrees)
Joel Hanrahan, RHP (3-1, 3.42 ERA, 1.63 WHIP) versus
Elmer Dessens, RHP (1-1, 6.66 ERA, 1.77 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The 1.63 WHIP is the most telling of all Hanrahan's stats. Besides, Coors Field is not the place to gamble with seemingly decent young arms. Dessens is a ground-ball pitcher, but that is still no reason to try your luck with him or his track record. There is something unseemly about his ERA, too. No, this is a game to pull out your offense. Wily Mo Pena, and his three home runs as a National, hitting in Coors Field sounds like a match made in heaven. Garrett Atkins is batting .208 over the previous week, so if the Rockies lose Saturday, I'd go out on a limb and say Ian Stewart (.313 since his call up) might start Sunday as Colorado goes for the series win. Stewart's worth playing if you know when he'll be in the lineup. I seem to say this every Sunday, but here we go again: Troy Tulowitzki is swinging a hot bat, is a top-5 shortstop in the NL and is available in nearly 40 percent of ESPN leagues.
AT&T Park (outdoor) 4:05 p.m. ET (clearing, high of 71 degrees)
Dave Bush, RHP (10-9, 4.93 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) versus
Tim Lincecum, RHP (7-4, 3.91 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Prince Fielder, 1B (suspension, will return)
Game Story: Bush strikes out out a lot of batters, but usually struggles and coughs up some runs. That shouldn't be an issue playing against the woeful Giants. Barry Bonds & Co. are 29th in total OPS, and 23rd in August OPS, representing some easy pickings for Bush. Besides running into a red-hot Pirates team, Lincecum hasn't allowed more than three earned runs since June 19. He and Bush should make this a pitcher's duel, so start only your reliable guys on offense. Gabe Gross deserves attention. He is being given another chance to hit in the majors with regularity (always against righties), and has a .440 average with three home runs and eight RBIs in 25 August at-bats.
Chase Field (indoor/retractable roof) 4:40 p.m. ET
Jason Marquis, RHP (10-7, 4.12 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) versus
Yusmeiro Petit, RHP (2-4, 5.14 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Stay the heck away from Petit; a fly-ball pitcher in a home run-friendly park. For that matter, start any Cub with some power. We should see some Chicago home runs in this game, despite the fact that Arizona and Chicago are tied for 21st in August OPS (.742). Marquis, on the other hand, has some recent good outings, a quality start against the Diamondbacks on July 20 and a 2.28 career ERA in four Chase Field starts. Factor in Eric Byrnes and Orlando Hudson both having sub-.200 averages against Marquis, and he looks like a good NL-only or deep mixed-league option.
Shea Stadium (outdoor) 8:05 p.m. ET (30 percet chance of showers, low of 71 degrees)
David Wells, LHP (5-8, 5.54 ERA, 1.59 WHIP) versus
John Maine, RHP (13-7, 3.64 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Luis Castillo, 2B (knee, questionable)
Game Story: So the Dodgers decided to cut ties with a pitcher sporting a 5.80 ERA, 1.60 WHIP and 79 strikeouts for a pitcher with a 5.54 ERA, 1.59 WHIP and 63 strikeouts. Boy, did those Dodgers find their hero in Boomer by dismissing Brett Tomko, eh? Wells gets the start against the Mets and their .803 OPS versus lefties (fifth best in majors). Believe me, the Dodgers have made a poor choice, and it's up to us fantasy players not to compound the issue by giving Wells the same reprieve. Start all your Mets regulars. Maine seems to be wearing down a bit; not lasting past the sixth inning since July 24. Thankfully, the Dodgers are a putrid 30th in team OPS this August (.675). Start him.
Waiver Wire Pickups
Melky Cabrera, OF, NYY @ Detroit Tigers
Aubrey Huff, OF, BAL versus Minnesota Twins
Jack Cust, DH, OAK @ Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Dan Johnson, 1B, OAK @ Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Jeff DaVanon, OF, OAK @ Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Josh Fields, 3B, CHW versus Boston Red Sox
Alex Gordon, 3B, KC versus Cleveland Indians
Dustin McGowan, SP, TOR @ Los Angeles Angels
Maicer Izturis, 3B, LAA versus Toronto Blue Jays
Jarrod Washburn, SP, SEA @ Texas Rangers
Cody Ross, OF, FLA @ Cincinnati Reds
Josh Hamilton, OF, CIN versus Florida Marlins
Adam LaRoche, 1B, PIT @ Houston Astros
Nate McLouth, OF, PIT @ Houston Astros
Tony Armas, SP, PIT @ Houston Astros
Rafael Soriano, RP, ATL @ St. Louis Cardinals
Wily Mo Pena, OF, WAS @ Colorado Rockies
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL versus Washington Nationals
Dave Bush, SP, MIL @ San Francisco Giants
Gabe Gross, OF, MIL @ San Francisco Giants
Jason Marquis, SP, CHC @ Arizona Diamondbacks
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